Do you Struggle with Calculus?


Post #68 When Calculus is Too Tough for Engineering Students

Your engineering discipline is almost a perfect fit for you.  Except that you don’t like calculus.  In fact, you may despise it.  You force yourself to do the homework and go through the motions just to get calculus over with.  Read on if this applies to you.  Engineers need calculus like the body needs food.


Narrow your Problem Down

Why exactly do you struggle with calculus?  Your struggles could look very different from someone else’s struggles.  For example, you may be the type of student who needs to hear/read new material 4 or 5 times over before it sinks in. If this is the case, your solution could be a matter of dedicating more time to calculus.  Perhaps you have difficulty with the professors.  There are ways of dealing with this issue (teaching assistants, tutors, mentors, etc.).  Could the problem be that calculus doesn’t make sense to you – that you can’t understand how to apply it?  In general, the more calculus you take, the more comfortable it will become.  Like many other skills, practice helps.  But one thing is certain: if you struggle, you must seek help.  Otherwise, you may just set yourself up to fail.  And failing a course, by the way, is not the end of your career (see Post #32 and Post #33).

Struggling vs Hating

Many students struggle with many courses despite their major.  I’d like you to think about the kinds of challenges you are having with calculus.  Are they more like bumps in the road that you must work extra hard to overcome?  Or, do your struggles make you feel misery, as if it’s torture?  This is an important question to answer for yourself.  On one hand, calculus may challenge you in a positive way that forces you to work harder, concentrate harder and creatively think outside the box.  This type of challenge is probably doable and could be rewarding.  On the other hand, calculus may bring about negative feelings. You may feel dread and unhappiness as calculus courses are being forced upon you.  If you more than struggle with calculus, or if you hate it, your engineering road will be a long one.  As an engineering student, there’s a lot more calculus coming your way.  And if you truly hate calculus, are you open to investigating other technical majors?



What might be other technical majors for you to consider?  Firstly, you could investigate various business majors.  For example, finance or accounting may be enough to satisfy your technical needs.  Secondly, have you investigated the science department?  There may be technical science majors that don’t require as much calculus as engineering.  Thirdly, look into your technology department.  It is very common for engineering students to transfer into technology.  It is especially common for those engineering students to transfer when they struggle with calculus.  This could be a great department for you as it tends to be more hands-on, still technical but with a lot less calculus.

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