What every College Bound Math Student Should Know
(a guide to help students transition between high school and college)
Below is a list of general guidelines for what to expect in college-preparatory mathematics courses. It is far from comprehensive but is intended to help the student understand the difference between core mathematical requirements (through Algebra II) and those beyond (Pre-Calculus and Calculus).
1) The goal of college bound math students is more than just being able to reproduce what was told to you in the classroom. Expect to be able to apply what you have learned in new situations.
2) Expect material to be covered at what seems to be an increased pace. Retention of previous material is essential to further development of the concepts and success. It is expected that students have mastered the concepts of the pre-requisite courses and having to relearn these concepts while expanding and applying them will cause additional stress.
3) Classroom time is at a premium so it must be used efficiently. Do not expect to be able to get your homework done in class as well as learn new material simultaneously. Also, do not expect to do homework for another class and be successful in this one.
4) Take notes in class! Since learning the material is your responsibility, having the information written by your own hand will increase your opportunity to learn and retain the information.
5) You cannot be “taught” everything inside the classroom as experience working the problems and combining the theory takes time and practice. Therefore it is essential that you do your homework to give you this needed time to process the material.
6) The instructor’s job is to provide a solid framework with some particulars to guide the student into learning the concepts and methods which comprise the material of the course. It is NOT to “program” you with isolated facts and problem types that you can simply regurgitate.
7) You must use your textbook to guide you through the class. There are two different approaches:
a. Read for the first time the appropriate section(s) of the book before the material is presented in the classroom. As the material is taught, you can then process and sort the specific content into what you have generally learned. Being prepared for class makes the accelerated pace more manageable (recommended for most students).
b. Try to pick up what you can from the lecture by absorbing the general idea or through taking notes. Then read through the appropriate section(s) of the book to sort through the learned material properly (not recommended for most students as this tends to cause “information overload”).
8) Ask questions in class. Though it may appear most people are “getting it,” chances are more people will appreciate your question rather than resent your asking it (provided that your question shows that you have been fully engaged in the classroom discussion).
9) Study with other students in the class. This will greatly decrease your chances of “learning the material wrong.” More importantly, it will give you the opportunity to engage others in the discussion of the material which will help clarify everyone’s knowledge.