Sunday, July 27, 2014

College Majors

Personally I didn't have a clue back when I was doing college.  I was lucky enough to be able to go back to college, after a hitch in the Air Force, and get a degree in electrical engineering, which served me well thruout my working career. 
  To choose your major wisely, you really have to know what you want to do after graduation.  Of course, if you are wondering about what to major in, you probably don't have a clue about your future career, again, I didn't at the time.
   In the usual case, when you don't really know what you want to do with your life,  you oughta keep your options open.  College majors fall into four catagories.  science sechnology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) , liberal arts , job training (business, education ,pre med, pre law, computer science) and nothing majors (gender studies, sociology, political science).  You don't want to rule out anything too early. 
   Which means you want to take calculus freshman year.  All the STEM majors are calculus based.  Without calculus the course material will be meaningless to you.  If you don't have calculus, the whole STEM field will be closed to you.  Smart planning doesn't close out a broad avenue of study for no good reason.
   Calculus isn't hard.  The concepts are totally new to students coming up from algebra and trig, and can be hard to accept.  They aren't hard to remember, but  they are aren't readily believable like two plus two equals four, something everyone accepts.  Some people simply cannot get their heads around calculus, no matter how hard they try.  A lot more people shy away from it 'cause "math is hard".  The forward looking student ought to try it, 'cause without out calculus, whole realms of learning are forever closed to them. 
  Calculus requires preparation in high school.  You need algebra, perhaps two years of algebra, and trigonometry.  A lot of calculus work uses trigonometric functions, equalities and transformations which you have to know.  Now a days, schools tend to label the trigonometry course "pre-calculus" but it is still trig.  A course in plain geometry is nice, but not essential.  If you don't get this stuff in high school, you will have to pick it up in college, before you can take calculus.  If you don't do calculus until sophomore year, you won't be able to take STEM courses until junior year.  Which is pretty late.  So start planning in high school and get your math courses in early. 
   If, by junior year, you decide to major in liberal arts or job training, go for it.  But you will have the option of STEM majors if you want them.  Which is a better place to be than wanting to do a STEM major but being locked out of it thru lack of calculus.

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