Teaching myself through calculus

Teaching myself through calculus

Imagine. It’s my first day of winter quarter, I wake up at seven just so I can look decently attractive for my first class because who knows who will be in it, grab my coffee and a banana on the way and sit in the second row from the back (so I’m not a total slacker but not a brown-noser in the front row, obviously). People sleepily start to trickle in, I know a few of them so things are already looking up even at 8 AM. Then, the professor walks in-- a short, brown-haired guy with glasses, wearing a dorky tie, classic math professor. Then boom. He opens his mouth and I know I’m going to be doomed for the rest of the quarter. In a thick Argentinian accent he manages to eek out the words, “He...Hello class...sss. W...welcome...ome to ma...ath elev...ven.”

Now I know what you’re thinking here, “DROP THE CLASS NOW!!!!” But, wait a minute. It’s all going to be okay. I’m going to show you 5 easy steps to remedy the situation without having to push back your entire four-year plan just to take a different calculus class.

  • Step 1: Take a deep breath and pick up the syllabus he just passed out because it is now your bible for the quarter. It will tell you everything you need to know. It lists how and when you need to turn in assignments, when it’s time to start studying, when office hours are, and more often than not, outside resources just in case your teacher DOESN’T SPEAK ENGLISH.
  • Step 2: Act early!! The sooner you reach out for help, the more your professor knows you care and the better your grade will be from the get-go. That means going sending emails, going to office hours, turning everything in on time and to the best of your ability.
  • Step 3: If you realize that maybe your professor isn’t actually the most helpful (which I did), then it’s time to broaden your search. Every school has a tutoring program with students just sitting around waiting to help you with your calc homework. They’re hired for a reason so they are qualified and totally willing to help so take advantage! If you’re lucky like I was, your roommate will be a math major and be super pumped to talk about curves and derivatives and random letters that are supposed to mean something.
  • Step 4: As hard as it is, try your best not to put things off. We all know that procrastination leads to rushed and often incorrect work, especially when it comes to exams. So don’t do it. That Tuesday Night Turn Up can wait.
  • Step 5: The last resort is to withdraw from the class, but I reiterate...LAST RESORT. Don’t consider this option until you have exhausted all of your resources because taking a W does actually have consequences. Whether that be a future employer thinking negatively of you or just seriously messing up your schedule, take some real time to think about dropping.

Now I leave you to your studies. So next time you find yourself taking a calculus class at 8 AM with a professor who stutters in broken english, don’t freak out and run away! Remember: breath, your syllabus is your bible, act early, don’t procrastinate, and think before you drop.

- Casey Mills Santa Clara University '18. Casey is a psychology spanish double major.

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