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I want to become an electrical engineer, I have been good with math my entire life but I struggle a little with pre-calculus, does this mean I should pick a different major in college?

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I am an African female. I am 17 years old. I am in 12th grade. I am a christian. I want to become an electrical engineer. #electrical-engineering #college #math

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Ashley’s Answer

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Hi Mercy,

I hope you are doing well. Every student faces a hardship with a course, but that does not mean you should change your dreams. Pre-calculus can be a challenging subject, but not impossible. Universities tend to offer tutoring programs to help students succeed in their courses. This might be an opportunity you should take advantage of when faced with an obstacle in a course. Some professors also have Learning Assistants (LA's) in their courses which are previous students that were successful in their class, who are now helping others. From personal experience, chemistry was not my best subject, but I modified my style of studying and ended up getting a minor on it. An advice would be to see how you are studying, it could be doing more practice problems, group study, or even watching crash-courses on YouTube. Never be afraid to ask for help from teachers and/or professors. Remember to always work hard, stay positive, and soon enough you will achieve your dream of becoming an Electrical Engineer.

Stay safe!

Kind regards,
Ashley Garcia
Thank you so much. I really needed this. mercy A. Translate
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Michael’s Answer

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Any engineering major is going to be very heavy in math. You're going to have a minimum of 4 semesters of College level Calculus and differential equations. You should really look for some help in math at the high school level and give yourself every chance for success..
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Daniel’s Answer

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I suspect you are picking up on a common thread in the answers that you are seeing from others - most everything worth doing will have some degree of difficulty. So don't let challenges or hiccups divert you from pursuing what you want to do; it may mean you'll need to put in some more effort, or get help from someone else to get past the current block, but that effort will be worth the work. If nothing else, it will help you figure out how you overcome challenges, and that's a really valuable lesson for the rest of your life (and I'm afraid to say, there will be lots of challenges in life ahead). In fact, the determination to work though one's problems is one of the most accurate predictors of how successful that person will become later in life; you may want to look through some of the recent research on this topic - most call it grit - from a researcher named Angela Duckworth. Grit is a very helpful trait to cultivate.

I guess my only contribution that's different from others have already mentioned, is to ask you what type of troubles you are experiencing with the concepts in precalc. A tutor or friend in the same class might be able to help you pinpoint some area that is giving you particular difficulty. And if that is the case, spending a little time going back to retrace the earlier lessons in that area could help you get a more clear understanding, which may then allow you to more easily grasp the concepts that you are encountering in precalc. Khan Academy is a great resource to help pinpoint and reinforce any such problem areas. Alternatively, if the troubles are caused by other factors - not having enough time to do the work, or difficulties understanding what the instructor is presenting, or even challenges posed by distance learning (I assume that you, like most students right now, are attending class via some online platform), then maybe some other strategies might help more. But please don't change course if the only reason is that you don't quite get a particular concept/lesson. I remember having a tough time in multiple areas in math, and was only partially successful in getting past some of them. But I still loved doing engineering work, and was able to work on some great projects in industry.

Lastly, electrical engineering is a relatively broad field, with literally hundreds (if not more) distinct specialties. Those specialties do not always utilize the same types of math skills, or with the same amount of rigor, You will get to choose which of those specialties you want to concentrate in once you get past your lower division classes in college. So if you really are considering whether to change your focus/track, you may want to talk with your course advisor or guidance counselor first. S/he may be able to give you more insight on what type of knowledge/skills are critical for the specialties of interest to you (and by extension, which are not).

Wish you the best,
Dan
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Julia’s Answer

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Hi Mercy,

I don't think struggling in pre-calc means that you should look at a different career necessarily. Calculus is well known in the college world for being one of the most challenging classes no matter how good at math you are. Just make sure that you have a clear understanding of geometry before taking the class as this is a very important pre-requisite. Professor Leonard on youtube is amazing and breaking down the complex concepts of calculus so if you find yourself getting really stuck, I would check there.

Either way I think you can absolutely pass pre-calc and calc you just may have to put a little more effort into finding learning resources that work best for you.

Good luck!!
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Julia’s Answer

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Hi Mercy,

I don't think struggling in pre-calc means that you should look at a different career necessarily. Calculus is well known in the college world for being one of the most challenging classes no matter how good at math you are. Just make sure that you have a clear understanding of geometry before taking the class as this is a very important pre-requisite. Professor Leonard on youtube is amazing and breaking down the complex concepts of calculus so if you find yourself getting really stuck, I would check there.

Either way I think you can absolutely pass pre-calc and calc you just may have to put a little more effort into finding learning resources that work best for you.

Good luck!!
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Riley’s Answer

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If you have excelled in math your entire life up until pre-calc, then no I do not think you should change your major. Pre-calculus is probably the hardest course you have taken in math yet because it requires a lot of complex thinking. However, you could also be struggling because your teacher might not be teaching it in a style that is helpful to you. I would suggest going to see a tutor to improve you grade, and in college you will probably need to spend some time with tutors but I think you will be able to handle it if you typically enjoy math.
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John’s Answer

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I'd look for someone to tutor you in calculus. Will your teacher help you outside of class? Don't let one thing stop you from everything.
Thank you so much mercy A. Translate
You're very welcome. Best wishes on the calculus. John Lowe Translate
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Tim’s Answer

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Not at all, just because a subject is a struggle does not mean you should change your major. One of the best teachers I know struggled in many subject's, but his passion for teaching made him a great teacher.
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Nicholas’s Answer

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Hi Mercy,

Good question. I’ll tell you this, don’t be discouraged if you’re having difficulty in math or science and want to be an engineer. I graduated as a mechanical engineer, it took some time, but I persisted, and I do not consider myself the smartest in the room. In fact, I failed trigonometry, calc 1, and a few engineering courses. What I’m trying to say is that it isn’t impossible...

Like a few other posters said, engineering is very math and physics oriented, so it’s good to have a strong fundamental understanding of math. If pre calc doesn’t feel impossible, maybe a bit difficult, then don’t be discouraged, you might experience an “ah ha” moment we’re everything comes together (happened to me many times).

A few tips:
- Definitely utilize tutoring programs and teacher/professor office hours for any course.. this is time well spent.
- Consider going to community college to take higher level mathematics classes at a fraction of the price of university tuition. This will give you the chance to take college level math without risking you university transcript or inquiring heavy costs.
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Michael’s Answer

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Any engineering major is going to be very heavy in math. You're going to have a minimum of 4 semesters of College level Calculus and differential equations. You should really look for some help in math at the high school level and give yourself every chance for success..
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