Discussion: Advice from the Past

NOTE: Please leave your response to this discussion prompt below (on this site, NOT on the Spring 2019 site)

In Spring 2019 I taught this course and at the end of the semester, I gave my students the following assignment:

Imagine that you are invited to speak on the first day of MAT 2680, to give advice to entering students.  Write at least three sentences … describing what you would tell them.

To see the assignment and the students’ responses, follow this link.

Your assignment, due at the beginning of class next Thursday, February 18th, is to:

  1. Read through ALL the responses (there are 44 of them, but many of these are short replies to other comments).
  2. Write a reply to this post (1 paragraph) responding to all of the following:
    1. What advice seemed most relevant to you personally? Why? (you can copy/paste a short statement, or put it in your own words)
    2. Based on this advice, what changes can you make right now to help you succeed in this course?

Extra Credit. For extra credit, write a response to one of your classmates’ comments.  Do you have any advice?  Be kind.


  1. Mohammad Masud

    I think the most important advice I got is that I need to brush up on my Cal 1 and Cal 2 knowledge. Sometimes I get stuck if the prof. takes a short cut. If he explains it later, it gets really easy. Otherwise, I go back to the problem later on and understand it. I will go back to my notes to refresh my knowledge. Also, I will watch youtube videos in the future to supplement my lessons. Solving similar problems gives a better understanding of the material

    • Micheal Lewis

      Completely agree. For example the chain rule I cant even remember the last time I used that on a problem. So I had to refresh my knowledge on those topics. An advice I would give which I also need to take is to just focus alot more on this work and like u said going back to your notes after class.

  2. Jeremy Babb-Edwards

    I agree with Jennifer’s advice. Future students should practice derivative and integration problems before going into differential equations. If you don’t fully understand the work during the lecture or want to study on your own, there are other online sources to use. For example, I sometimes watch videos on youtube. A channel I recommend is Krista King. https://youtube.com/c/Integralcalc she has videos ranging from pre calc to differential equations.

    • Faisal

      yea I agree too, try using youtube videos, demos calculator, and even khan academy it really helps. and if you are really lost you can take help from professors or even tutoring math classes help. I took tutoring class in my cal 1 classes where it was so hard for me to understand derivatives but then tutors in city tech help me alot.

    • Mohammad Masud

      Thank you for the link. It is a helpful resource.

  3. Showmik K. Chowdhury

    After reading all those student’s commons I got this advice that whatever I learn in Cal 1 and Cal 2 class will come useful for this class. I also realized that with my good effort of learning all topic I could be successful for this class. I get to do lot of practice to learn all those new math skills. So, far I am getting all the material for this class. I will attend to the office hours if I need extra helps. I believe by following all those steps I will be successful.

  4. Faisal

    the advice that I would give to myself and my friends would be is to learn derivatives and antiderivatives and integral and know the basics of it. If you don’t know even a little bit of the math from the previous class, you will be in big trouble so try practicing from youtube, khan academy that helps and ask questions in class. so you don’t get stuck in future problems

    • Erika

      Totally true! I find myself constantly second guessing myself and referring to old notes when I get stuck but sometimes that doesn’t even help. A really strong foundation in those topics are really key for this class. I really wish we could do a mini review of those topics, like 1 or 2 questions in the homework section just to further build a stronger foundation.

  5. Micheal Lewis

    I mostly connected with Dillen Pantua’s comment when they said “I would say the hardest topic… is where we start to learn about differential equations.” I connected with that line because I also feel as though right now this is the hardest topic even though right now its the only topic. I believe that this class is built on the foundation of this class will be the differential equations and the different types. Based on the multiple advices I have read I now know that I need to brush up on my integration skills like integration by parts, u-substitution, chain rule, etc. Also I can look at YouTube videos for further guidance on this and upcoming topics.

    • Gianfranco Espinoza

      I have also found the tutoring system in this college is effective as well.
      There’s more information on the college website

  6. Erika

    The most relevant information is this students response.
    “I wish I had been told how important many of the fundamentals of calculus I/II were to
    this course. Having a good grasp of finding the derivative and integral of various
    functions will make it earlier to focus on the new information and techniques being
    thought in Differential Equations. ”
    Learning Calculus 1/2 during a pandemic was one of the roughest. I use to go to math tutoring everyday just to keep my mind in practice when I was taking other math courses. Not being able to do that really has left me struggling , I understand and can do some topics but I don’t practice enough. Being in school while wearing the many different hats of motherhood is not an easy job especially when it comes to my school work. Free time for me is 10 pm when the house is quiet but by that time I’m tired. I have made changes this semester and I really hope it works out for me. I have signed up for tutoring, and I am consistently watching and re-watching the videos the professor has posted and tutorials I find on YouTube. I finally found a reliable babysitter for a few hours so i can have a dedicated study time to do homework/ study or whatever else is school related. I hope this works in my favor this semester so I can get back to being the A student I know I can be.

    • zcruz22

      Wow I know how hard it is. I totally agree with you and having my 7 month old I can relate plus work etc. That’s great you found a babysitter to have a few hours to study. Basically we have to practice practice practice and it’ll get easier. Khan Academy is definitely helpful with the calc 1 and 2 topics that we need for this class. You got this!

  7. Mahadi Sakib

    The issue I’m most familiar with among all these responses would be many struggled due to being out of practice with Calculus. As Calculus is required to understand the new material presented in this class. So first things first would be to refresh my memory on integration and differentiation. Considering these are the issues I’m already having as I attempt the problems given from class.

    • Kymora

      I, as well as others in our class, are having the same problems with the memorization of calculus. In my opinion, I believe that what makes all types of math difficult yet interesting is the memorization for formulas and rules. A piece of advice that I can give would be to make a formula sheet and take some time to go over it weekly for memorization purposes. This is advise that I am going to try to follow as well. If you need any help with this class, you can always ask a classmate including myself. Good luck!!

  8. zcruz22

    It’s been many years since I last took Calculus 2. After reading all the 2019 comments I can see they all pretty much said to review integration techniques, derivatives, the chain rule and product rule and algebra. As well as watching YouTube videos and taking advantage of the office hours to ask questions. I personally agree with everyone’s comments. I can personally relate to YuFang, who would constantly question if it’s correct or if it’s the right approach, while trying to solve a single problem and sometimes still getting it wrong. I plan to follow YuFang ‘s advice by “practicing more”, so that everything becomes easier and asking the professor where I went wrong. Watching the YouTube and Khan academy videos has helped me refresh my memory a lot, but I still need to practice more and review integration by parts. Also, something that helps me is seeing the procedure on a problem I’m not sure about. Hoping putting into practice all of these techniques will help me succeed in this course.

  9. Gianfranco Espinoza

    If I had to give any form of advice it would be to understand the ins and outs of each theorem.
    Its good when you can identify them and solve problems concerning these theorems however Calculus becomes much easier to understand when you know why each theorem is the way it is. It makes back tracking much more simple.

    As for now, the only advice i can think of is to ask for help when needed and study your note prior to class.

  10. Adrian Fernandez

    I strongly agree with review as much as we can from Calc 1 & 2. Unfortunately I had to take Calc 2 online due to the pandemic and that was really tough. It was a totally different style of learning than what many of us are use to. This style requires a lot of studying and doing some research on your own. Youtube is highly recommended for studying. A lot have people mentioned the channel Khan Academy and I agree that they are one of the best channels when it comes to reviewing any kind of math.

    • Zawad Ahmed

      I agree it was really hard for me in the beginning of the semester , when I was taking calculus 2 online. Classes online had made it hard for me to be able to pay attention but , also be able to understand certain topics. The organic chemistry tutor on YouTube was really helpful in showing the steps to solving a problem , and types of question there are.

  11. Saikat Babu

    At the beginning on the class i had few problem to understand few topic, but after reviewing my old notes and spending some time watching youtube videos i understand much better now. i would say the important thing is to ask question if you are stuck on something. most of the time i just google it or search it on youtube to have better understanding.

    • Alberto Garib

      Yes, agree to never be afraid to ask questions. By no asking on time can be a problem later on and may be too late to practice. Professor Leonard is also great on YouTube, check it out.

  12. Alberto Garib

    I would definitely go back and review calculus 1 and 2 for some refreshment. Also, I will recommend to stay positive in the class, Professor Reitz is very energetic and this is a great impact into staying positive, he is very helpful and explain very clear. And remember “Don’t be afraid to ask questions” try to clear something before it is too late.

    • Oscar Ramirez

      I totally agree that taking a step back and refreshing with calculus 1 and 2 material will really help in the long run of this class. Also the idea of a positive and energetic professor will make the students feel more intrigued and involve to learn. Also asking question is very important because its better to receive an answer from him at the moment of your confusion rather to wait and be confuse forever.

  13. Angel Velazquez Reyes

    The advice I would give to myself for this class is to know how to work with derivatives and integrals, Specially when solving problems that require trig or exponential and logarithmic solutions. It will then be necessary to practice the given problems using many intuitive formulas that will only be learned through practice and guidance from the material leaned in class and with help of other sources. Many mistakes will be done, but being able to see the mistakes will help learn the material and solve other similar problems.

  14. Chris Berry

    Looking back now, I wish I’d master the basics of Calculus 1 and 2. The advice I’d give to entering students would be that these basic are very important and are thus far the foundation of MAT 2680. These would have to be practiced until it becomes almost instant, this is easier said then done however. Furthermore, the most important advice would be to manage time, with some classes, it would be alright to study for last minute; however with Calculus, this wouldn’t be a good idea. Whenever you’re taking Calculus for a semester, it is most likely that this class should take up most of your studying time. This class (MAT 2680) and the other Calculus classes would need to be studied every day or every other day. The changes I can make right now for this current semester would be not to procrastinate and to study almost every day or every other day, and review the basics of Calculus 2, so I can have an easier time with MAT 2680.

  15. Oscar Ramirez

    Base on the other classes post and what I have realize this being the second time I’m taking differential equation that having a good understand on what you learn in Cal 1 and Cal2 is a good thing to remember or refresh on. The reason is for what ever you learn in those class will be use here and as the class goes on the material will get tricky to understand and a lot of more work will be done in the short amount time the class last for. So my advice is to take time to practice the problem, go over your notes, and also ask question to the professor for maybe his method is probably different from what you see online or other professors.

  16. Zawad Ahmed

    A piece of advice I would give to everyone taking MAT 2680 this semester, is to brush up on their calculus. I personally will be looking back at my calculus notes to remember things such as implicit differentiation , and chain rule . I believe by looking at these notes it will be very helpful in being used to solve problems that require certain steps of an operation. YouTube is also a very good place to search for videos on calculus and math in general. The organic chemistry tutor was one of the channels I found to be the most helpful in explanations. The last thing I would like to suggest to everyone is to start assignments ahead of time and try spending time on understanding them and the steps to solving it.

  17. Harold

    I’ve read many advices but the one that seemed most relevant to me was one from “umaira shah” where it says that students need to have basic knowledge of integration and differentiation and also it says that it is important to regularly attend the class. I agree with this advice because since the first day of this class on the review assignment we had to do derivatives and integration. Also I agree 100% with attending the class because even though the class is recorded, you won’ t be able to ask questions on the recording. Based on this advice the changes that I will make to succeed on this course is to review my notes from calculus 1 and 2 so that I can be fully prepared for the course

  18. Abdalrahman Abari

    the advice that I liked the most, or that I found important to me was the one about going through the past calculus classes and checking the materials. As a soldier in the US Army, it was hard for me to attend most of my classes and I had to study for calculus 2 by myself using youtube, and that’s why I couldn’t understand much of the materials at the beginning. what I see that I should do from now on is to go back to the videos I used to watch and watch them again and try to learn again about all the materials that I took last year so I can be on track with the current class.

  19. Dariel Mella

    The most important advice would be to review and have notes for calc 1 and calc 2 courses. This is crucial because, it is necessary to be highly successful from moving on to the next math course, everything is like a puzzle which you start at an early age and than used all of what you’ve mostly learned to solve harder and more complex problems. The changes I would make is to take this class as a high priority first and foremost, and ask someone who previously did a course like this (tutoring) for help with the homework problems and fully be able to grasp it so you can do it on your own.

  20. Anik Islam

    After reading through all the comments in the Advice post from 2019, the advice that resonated with me was from Dillen Pantua. They spoke about how the new topics discussed in Differential Equations were foreign and that it would be helpful if we were introduced to it prior to the class. I resonate with this advice because I am facing the same issue and if I had some experience with these topics earlier it would be a bit easier for me to understand these concepts.
    Based on the advice given from past semesters, some changes I can make right now would be to review concepts from Calc 2 as well as to read up on current and future topics to be discussed from the Course Schedule. Also, I can attend Office Hours when possible to help clear confusion from anything I am struggling with.

  21. Kymora

    I resonate most with William Santiago’s statement. Differential equations work can seem to become more demanding depending of your understanding and background of calculus. This is because of the amount of memorization that is required in both calculus and differential equations. However, I do believe that the demand does decrease due to practice. A lot of the time, I forget that I am not alone in certain classes and I do have a variety of options to reach out for help. Starting today, I will start using those resources in order to decrease the demand of this class because practicing with others is more efficient then practicing alone.

  22. Erik Santos Castelan

    The advice that seems the most relevant to me personally is to practice calculus I and II material to better understand topics for this class. First order differential equations were a bit difficult for me to understand. When I took calculus II I tend to practice topics I had problems with to better understand them and I could already tell I need to do the same for this class. Base on Umaira Shah’s advice this will come very important to understanding topics of this class.

  23. Michael Toussaint

    The advice that seems relevant to me i’d say would be is to constantly practice and practice Calc I and Calc II concepts, also just a good solid base in calculus in general. They’re all cumulative and play a role in every advanced math course. It also reflects on how well you did in these courses too. Working together in groups and really getting the help further helps me understand the concept and how to solve these problems. Practice makes perfect and that’s what’s math is all about. loooots and looots of practice. Once done, you can achieve anything! Work hard and it ALWAYS pays off in the end. The only thing that’s in the way is the pandemic and being able to do it online can throw many ppl off and bring down their motivation. Consistency is key and the sky is the limit.

  24. Risul Rashed

    I remember a quote by Elon mask which amazed me is “If you need inspiring words don’t do it”. We always talk about motivation if we want to success in something. After I realize that motivation is just an illusion and holds no power to push someone to excellency. If I were to give myself and advice, I would say “when I am studying something, I should try to enjoy it rather than doing it because I have to do it.” I found that when I try to enjoy myself studying something, I actually understanding and grasp it very easily and in exam I tend to do good.

  25. Mebi

    Jennifer’s advice resonates with me, she mentioned that we should Practice integration and derivatives to enable us do well in this class. Tutoring is another thing she mentioned, which I totally agree with, it helps us gain different ways of solving problems from tutors.

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