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Advanced Online Math Classes?

milehighmilehigh Registered User regular
edited January 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
So I procrastinated registering for this semester due to some family and job issues (wasn't sure if I was going to do any classes this semester) and am now quite limited in my choices. I'm trying to stick to online classes (and only take 2 of them) since I do work 40 hours per week (with pressure coming down in the next few months that could go up to 50-55/week)

In any case I'm going to be taking an "Intro to Social Psychology" course, which I've been lead to believe is fairly easy from those who've already taken it. There's a few other options if I'm willing to go to campus, but there's one other online course that's I need to take and still has spots open....Linear algebra and differential equations. I just completed the prereq for the course (Calc 2) with a B, that was in a normal classroom setting however.

From what I hear though this is one of the toughest math (actually one of the toughest classes period) I'll have to take in my college career.

I guess I'm looking for experiences with linear algebra/diff eq and if it's crazy for me to even think about doing this, or maybe by putting in my normal math study time (1.5 hours per day, 7 days a week) I could irk out a B or C. Any advice/observations would be greatly appreciated.

milehigh on


  • ceresceres When the last moon is cast over the last star of morning And the future has past without even a last desperate warningRegistered User, Moderator mod
    edited January 2010
    Unless you are VERY, VERY good at learning things entirely by yourself, I wouldn't take either of those classes online. Math is fun, but if you're aren't great at self-teaching then that sort of thing it's really hard, and I know I wouldn't have been able to hack calculus if I hadn't heard the teacher say everything twice.

    If it was regular algebra or geometry I'd say go for it, but not something as advanced as either of the two you mentioned unless you are very good with math already.

    ceres on
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  • SavantSavant Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    Linear algebra is very different from Calculus. It deals more with stuff like systems of equations and matrices. I'm guessing that you probably don't have much of a background that would lead into Linear Algebra cleanly, because even if the course isn't set at the level to be extremely difficult it may have a lot of unfamiliar material that takes some getting used to. My impression is that high school level mathematics education will only barely touch on subjects that lead well into linear algebra, if it does at all.

    Differential equations is more like Calculus, but it is likely going to be a step up in difficulty, and depending on how deep the class gets into it you'll have to be pretty comfortable with linear algebra to do well in it. Differential equations is also one of the ways you can go down the rabbit hole to go deeper into mathematics, as a lot of really interesting and important real life uses for differential equations have no straightforward closed form solution, necessitating coming up with methods of solving numerically to approximate the answer.

    Also, when you took Calc 2, what did that cover? Are we talking like integration and series convergence, or multivariable calculus?

    Savant on
  • L|amaL|ama Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    Linear algebra wasn't terribly hard by itself once I got a handle on it, but it was all almost completely new. Differential equations was more stuff I was familiar with but quite a bit harder.
    I got an A on the previous maths paper I did and a B on this one, but that was due to me stuffing my exam timing more than not being able to do the actual stuff.
    I have no idea how much harder this would all be with an online course, but it's fairly common stuff so there are a lot of online resources available to get different perspectives on it all (MIT even have a full set of streamable lectures available to anyone here and here, along with notes and stuff to go along with them).

    L|ama on
  • mrcheesypantsmrcheesypants Registered User regular
    edited January 2010
    My suggestion is to look for a dover book from amazon. They're cheap and I find them better for self-studying math than a textbook.

    mrcheesypants on
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  • Pure DinPure Din Boston-areaRegistered User regular
    edited January 2010
    I took Linear Algebra as a summer class which was not online, but the instructor didn't speak English so I mostly had to teach myself. At the time it seemed much easier than Calculus, and I did very well in the class. But now that I'm out of college, Linear Algebra is very important to what I do, and I wish I had focused more on learning the material and not just passing the exam.

    However I guess it depends on your field. I've never taken Differential Equations or needed to know how to use one, but my experience might be different if I were say, a chemist.

    Pure Din on
  • Hamster_styleHamster_style Registered User
    edited January 2010
    I want to second llama's posting of the introductory level courses at MIT. I've looked at the some of the lectures for differential equations, and they're good. The links he's posted, and which I reposted below because I didn't read it earlier haha, have video lectures, course notes, assignments, and solutions. It's solid.

    I highly suggest you look at the syllabus for your course, and then look up supplemental lectures / notes / etc on the subjects and learn them.

    Diff eq's:

    Linear Algebra:

    If those don't seem like the right things, there's a listing on that website of all their courses they have online, it's possible you may be at a different level.

    Hamster_style on
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