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jjclarkson's avatar

How does a busy working adult learn higher math?

Asked by jjclarkson (31points) February 24th, 2010

I work full time and have a family, but what are some ways I can learn higher math skills like advanced algebra, calculus, and trigonometry?

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9 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Start with trig; calculus requires a rigorous foundation in both algebra and trig.

Take an on-line course. Find a local community college. Get a text book and discipline yourself to doing one chapter a week.

How old are your kids? Take their math courses with them.

May the change in delta x over delta y be with you.

edit; Geometry is necessary also to procede further into the math occult.

Ltryptophan's avatar

Hi…er…Hire higher math tutor.

h2osprey's avatar

If you don’t have the time to take actual courses, textbooks help a lot—find out relevant textbooks for various classes (this is easily done through google or browsing college course catalogues online), and borrow/buy them for self-study. Math takes a lot of discipline, though—to get anywhere without taking classes you have to constantly review the material and practice, practice, practice. It’s all about doing problems, which makes it one of the harder things to pick up especially when you’re a busy working adult since it consumes so much time.

Of course, this only works up to a certain level. Elementary calculus, trigonometry and geometry and perhaps some linear algebra can be picked up by studying yourself; after that, for a truly rigorous foundation in higher level math (i.e. analysis, algebra etc.) you’ll definitely need to take classes at a college.

noyesa's avatar

Math requires a lot of time spent outside of the classroom. Most of the books you’ll find at the local book stores (The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Calculus, Calculus for Dummies, etc) are usually pretty thin on the exercises and are meant to supplement a proper calculus book.

Once of the most important things in a Math class is practice. I think they might also sell accompanying exercise books for these, but the standard calculus textbook comes loaded with easily a hundred or more exercises per section. I haven’t any experience with the Thompson book, but Stewart’s Calculus (this is a college textbook) is pretty good and helped me deal with some pretty awful calculus professors without affecting my GPA.

It’s also really farking expensive.

Another option would be to take classes at a community college. They usually have classes or seminars for non-degree-seeking people, meaning you can just take a math class for whatever personal benefit. Even the best book can’t make up for personal instruction, so if you’re looking for the best learning experience I recommend taking a class.

I didn’t have much trouble teaching myself discrete mathematics, linear algebra, or anything below pre-calculus, but there’s no way in hell I would have made it through Integral Calculus (Calc II at most colleges) or Multi-variable Calculus (Calc III) without the help of professors and TAs.

ratboy's avatar

There are numerous sites like this, some of which are interactive.

mattbrowne's avatar

Try inexpensive online tutoring

lilikoi's avatar

Find online courses or go to night school. The community college system where I live has math all the way up to calculus. Math is a subject that could easily be taught online so such programs must exist. Once you have mastered calculus, check out this site.

gailcalled's avatar

Due to this question, I found my old text book, “Intro to Calculus.” Remember that tangent to an arc? I couldn’t even face rereading the first chapter.

quizquest's avatar

If you can afford it, find an online or distance ed course through a university. (I’m assuming the work and family constraints mean that you don’t have the ability to take night classes at a community college.) If you have self-discipline and the ability to learn from books, a course that is online or other distance ed may be the answer b/c you can work when and where you get the chance. If you need a tutor to help one on one, then sometimes you can find a teacher at the local high school to help you (or a college student in a math major who enjoys teaching).

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