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A Genius
Posts: **94**Registered User Junior Member

Is it possible for someone who is "bad" at math to become a math major? And I mean a successful one.

By bad, I mean struggling in Calculus. Let's say that <-

By bad, I mean struggling in Calculus. Let's say that <-

Post edited by A Genius on

## Replies to: Is it possible for someone who is bad at math

299Registered User Junior Member7Registered User New Member2,863Registered User Senior MemberI still ended up with a B.S. in Computational Mathematics with a pretty big concentration in Computer Science. I still got hired right out college for Westinghouse Energy Systems. I have been doing software engineering/I.T. for almost 20 years and grabbed along the way a M.S. in Systems Engineering (U-Wisconsin, 3.8 gpa), Project Management Certification (PMP), Oracle Certs and obtained a Top-Secret security clearance.

Not tooting horn...just mentioning how one can parlay their career if they did not light up their undergrad years academically. Also...and maybe I am off-base but it has happened to me, there is still an industry "notion" that if you can complete a "math degree", you can do/learn almost anything else so you would be "thrown" into some engineering positions "just because".

94Registered User Junior MemberThe reason I am "bad" at mathematics, or Calculus anyway, is the fact that my teacher doesn't teach. He makes students show homework and that's the lesson.

Also, if I chose to major in Math, I don't think I could have a 4.0 or 3.7+ GPA

2,863Registered User Senior MemberSometimes when you have a bad prof, you may have to do some additional work outside of the classroom to learn the material. When it comes to Calculus, it's mostly about learning the concepts. Check for some book on Amazon that strictly go over Calculus concepts so that you have that foundation. That will help when you get to the more detailed parts of the Calculus problems.

Also (as many have said on here on other threads), the math courses get easier after Calculus I/II except for stuff like Real Analysis/Advanced Calculus. Courses like Calculus II, Diff Eq, Combinatorics, Optimization/O.R. have a lot of applications and tend to make more sense.

4,660Registered User Senior MemberMaybe you can share your actual performance, rather than your causal attributions for it. That is, post what you have gotten in all your math courses, and maybe THEN your belief about the reasons for your performance (which may or may not be correct-- as in most of us are not good at knowing the answer to why we struggle sometimes).

Dont' get discouraged. Sometimes having the odd bad teacher is a GREAT thing as you learn how to learn from it..you know, how to find extra help when needed, how to find where exactly you are stuck, how to persevere, how to teach yourself when necessary. All great stuff for college, for any major. Most get stuck for various reasons at different points but if you breezed through HS with all great teachers, you might be in for a shocker at college when you hit a wall.

And another question to ask and answer might be: do you LIKE math? Have you always liked math?

Also why would you need a 3.7/4.0 in math? That certainly shouldnt' be the criteria for choosing a major, and nor is that standard necessary for almost anything you want to do after your degree.

94Registered User Junior MemberFor your second conern: (These are my high school grades)

Algebra II - A - (Good teacher)

Geometry - A - (Great teacher)

Precalculus - A (Great teacher)

Calculus - B+ (Bad teacher)

I don't need a 3.7/4.0 in MATH, per se. I just want to graduate college with a 3.7 at the lowest because it's important to me.

For your other concern, I do like math. I think I always have. I just don't know if the challenge of a mathematics major would be too over my head.

Thanks,

A Genius

78Registered User Junior MemberIf you don't believe that you are good at math, as long as you make up your mind, you can start working on improving it and then try to see if you are treading on the right territory once you are in college. Consider working on math outside of class, if not to "catch up," then to get ahead. Consider even getting on the subjects in-depth, beyond/outside the scope of your class, and trying out problems that require creative use of what you learn (and thus letting you consolidate your foundation). I'm not sure about college and private schools, but personally, I view that the standard in the U.S., especially in math and technical subjects, set for high school is too low. There are many gaps left to fulfill, much knowledge to consolidate, and subsequently the students are left confused (it might sound less like a paradox when you consider how hard teachers let your learn more).

This year, I have on several occasions help a student who is very weak at math. I have observed a few things:

-His approach to solving problem is too mechanical; that is, he relies too much on formula without understanding the formula, and pretty much following examples step-by-step.

-His basics are extremely weak (does not even remember the formulae for the area of a square and the volume of a cube; I gave him a visual interpretation of how the formulae came about, which brings back to the point above about being mechanical and too formula-focus).

-Wrong mindset: try only as far as he can complete his homework; does not attempt to understand the expected amount of material nor beyond that amount (I notice this since I tend to sit in class figuring out the things the teacher doesn't tell or has yet to tell).

That said, it will be hard to proceed without knowing where to step, so I would like suggest some resources (that I can only recommend, unfortunately, based on others' impression):

Math Books

-If you want to give a firmer understanding on Calculus:

Internet Archive: Free Download: Introduction To Calculus (this one starts with sequences and series; I just started it, and I already got kinda lost, so I will ask my teacher for help)

Calculus

The most enlightening Calculus books

Use mathematical competitions to test your progress.

I know a lot of this post is quite irrelevant directly to the questions at hand. Consider this as a prospective math major passing on his aspiration.

P.S. I have received some advises that many prospective math major change their mind when they get to studying proof, so you may want to get your hand on that topic early.

94Registered User Junior MemberIt's just that I can't see a problem like: http://www.iwu.edu/~lstout/series/img125.gif

being easy.

I'm sure with work, it's possible.

But I don't know if math comes naturally to me and if hard work will actually pay off.

396Registered User MemberGrr.

69Registered User Junior Member4,660Registered User Senior MemberAs for the 3.7...come on, be honest, this isn't a random number out of a hat. Why isn't 3.84 important to you? What happens if its 3.6? Unless you have a valid reason here, it seems like a pretty non-mature way to choose a major (I don't mean to be so harsh but maybe it's worth stating if the advice saves you from yourself: you should be choosing a major you love, one that you can build a wonderful career with, not because it will or will not give you a magic number GPA that has no relevance in the real world).

961Registered User Member70Registered User Junior MemberYour performance in calculus is not a good predictor as to how you will perform in actual math classes like algebra and analysis. I know a handfull of people who got C's in their calculus sequence (mainly because they were partying too much) and then went on to get A's in algebra, topology, algebraic geometry, analysis, and published papers.

I myself got a wonderful 32% in my 7th grade algebra 1 class. Haha.

94Registered User Junior Member