My Advice to a New Math 207 Student:
Calculus I (Math 207) can have a strong impact on how one looks at many situations. To make calculus a valuable class, there is one constant reminder a student needs to believe: “I have the potential.” In other words, one must assure oneself of their ability to make a success out of Calculus I. Success is not the grade you receive but rather the understanding and applying of the acquired knowledge to life.
To achieve this success, I will mention what I wish I knew the first week of class. I wish I knew that calculus does pertain to everyday life. It will help the student with problem solving, analysis, thinking skills, and (needless to say) patience. Also, calculus can be related to things one encounters everyday—frogs approaching the ends of diving boards, volumes of tulip petals, airplane descent, food product structure, and economics. In addition to everyday experiences, this class will provide a challenge and require self-discipline—so keep a good attitude.
Besides maintaining a good outlook on the class, one might want to review some math fundamentals—trigonometry and algebra. As a suggestion, one might ask the professor for a past Math 151 exam in order to review key pre-calculus concepts. One should also practice graphing skills. In a majority of calculus, the graph will help with the understanding of many problems and test questions.
For me, I have found difficulty at times to understand some concepts. Calculus may at times seem exotic and foreign; and sometimes the professor’s doctorate-understanding definition does not seem clear to the student. However, there is a solution: write down the professor’s definition, try some problems in the homework, and even read the book. Then, once you understand the concept, write the definition in your own words in your notes. This will help a lot when one gets to the tests.
Understanding is essential in a smooth transition to college mathematics, and even in everyday college life. It is just as important to persist at calculus until one understands the concepts as it is to understanding that your roommate might get upset if one accidentally locks his or her roommate out when you leave not remembering he or she if just down the hall. In a new experience, mistakes happen. But to improve, one needs to remember certain things. However, in college mathematics one can no longer memorize formulas. One must understand how to use formulas. To attain this understanding I suggest practice, practice, and more practice. So, when one becomes discouraged, take a break. Don’t give up mid way through the semester! You can always get help from tutors and the professor. Tutors help students to talk out the problem and find out where the error was. Asking the professor for help is a great way to establish a one-on-one relationship with him or her. All the effort from homework and help is sure to pay off in one’s ability to understand calculus.
From what I have mentioned, calculus may seem overwhelming. To aid in retaining the great accumulation of calculus knowledge along with two to four other classes, one should make a smooth transition into college life. One should eat and sleep well as well as find ways to relieve stress and allow for some rewarding free time. All of these will help with one’s patience, motivation, and happiness—essentials in making college a success!
Calculus I has offered me a challenge. I assure that myself and other Calculus I students will use the acquired understanding in problem solving and situational analysis; and one does learn some interesting things. After all, I have acquired the ability to find the volume of a triple-scoop waffle cone. And if I don’t understand the problem at first, I can figure out the rate at which the waffle cone is decreasing!
Amber, Biomedical Major