Discussion: Advice from the Past

NOTE: Please leave your response at the bottom of this page (on this site, NOT on the Spring 2023 site where the actual advice from the past appears)

In Spring 2023 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 on Wednesday, February 7, is to:

  1. Read through ALL the responses (there are 43 of them).
  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. Oscar Ponce

    Personally reviewing over previous calculus material, which was mentioned on most of the comments. I had trouble initially in calculus 2 because of not remembering certain rules and derivatives so I can relate to those same comments for this course. Practice is mentioned a lot so doing problems on the topics discussed in class will help finding where previous knowledge of calculus is missing. Doing WebWork assignments can be done now, that was also mentioned in most of the comments, to help with practice an overall grade in the class.

    • Kingston Ditsch

      Reviewing previous calculus material isn’t a bad idea, I should probably get on that. For practice problems, while I do find WebWork to be helpful I feel like how some of their problems are worded can be a bit confusing so another good place to look for practice problems would be the textbook or some YouTube videos. Thanks for the reminder that I should get practicing! 😀

  2. Manuel

    Some advice I read from the past class that resonated with me was from Maya and she wrote “Even for someone who is good at Calculus, this course is indeed intense and demands a significant amount of your time. Make sure to stay ahead with your studies and assignments. The more proactive you are, the less overwhelmed you will be.” I can relate to this because while I was studying calculus 2, I didn’t really feel nervous going into the test. I had dedicated a significant time to webwork and making sure I understood the problems. 3 weeks before the semester finished, I started reading what topics we were going to learn that day before class. This helped me a lot when my teacher explained things and then revealed what the topic was. At least this way I would already have an idea of what he was talking about and following his lecture would be easier. I feel like this is something I can do to help me succeed in this course. 

    • Nikolai Markov

      I agree that scouting the topics before the professor explains them gives a significant advantage to actually learning it. There’s a name for this learning technique, where you first prime the brains with knowledge a little bit, and then get into the details, but I forgot what it was called. Nonetheless, that’s a great way to go about it. Seems like Calc 2 is a learning-technique-awakening class for everybody.

  3. Julian Ruiz

    To me, the most influential advice the seems relevant was needing to consistently practice with my math. I have begun doing this back in calc 2 and hope to continue onward. The problem is i sometimes slack off. Based on this statement, a change I want to conduct is to have a set schedule so that I can have time to study and practice my math and many other subject that I could get better (including life)

    • Skye

      I like the idea of having a set schedule and I’ll definitely try to incorporate that in this course and also my other courses in order to excel and stay on top of my game so I appreciate your comment.

  4. Arin Tang

    Important advice for this class would be to take good notes and do the homework. There will be a significant amount of information to be covered within a brief period. Therefore, it is crucial that I take good notes during lectures, showing step-by-step how to solve equations. Completing the Webwork questions is beneficial for familiarizing myself with the material. With well-organized notes, it becomes easier for me to reference the steps when I’m working on homework and studying for exams. It is also important for me to be on time for class, avoid absences, and ask the professor questions if I’m having issues.

  5. Randy Mojum

    Upon reviewing some of the responses, I found that the advice that seemed most relevant to me personally is to ensure that the prior groundwork is solidified. Having a strong foundation in Algebra and Calculus is fundamental to solving and comprehending differential equations, which is going to be used frequently in the course. One technique that I’ve used in the past was writing the steps for a specific topic, and then highlighting or marking it as something I could locate and reference later. As of right now I should continue to diligently take notes and add annotations to remind myself how to perform a certain step in a problem. Also, I will review rules and conditions in calculus that can be applied in differential equations. Additionally, understanding and identifying a problem’s methods or formulas to be used are crucial for efficiently and effectively solving problems.

    • Ariana

      I took away similar key points about ensuring I have a strong foundation by reviewing material we’ve learned in calculus 1 and 2 but I like in addition to that you spoke about proper note taking. It’s something I don’t dedicate allot of attention to, but notes are actually really import when you have to look back when doing homework or trying to remember key points on an exam to help you solve a problem.

  6. Kahou Puan

    After reviewing several responses, I realized that the most important advice for me is to solidify my foundational knowledge. It’s essential to have a robust understanding of several Calculus topics such as Integrals and Derivatives, as these are the cornerstones for tackling and understanding differential equations, which are a frequent component of the course. A strategy I’ve previously employed involves documenting the procedural steps for specific topics and then marking them for easy future reference. Currently, my focus should be on organized notetaking and adding explanatory notes, which will aid in recalling the necessary steps for solving problems. Moreover, I intend to revisit calculus principles that are applicable in differential equations. Additionally, the ability to recognize and apply the appropriate methods or formulas for a given problem is vital for solving it efficiently and effectively.

  7. Skye

    One of the most relevant advice from the students from the past to me is “If your algebra and precalculus skills are shaky, try to review and solidify them before diving into differential equations”. I struggled quite a bit with my Calculus 2 class so I know for a fact that I would definitely have problems with this class if I don’t solidify and build upon the foundation I already have.

    Also, another one was “Mathematics is not a passive subject that can be memorized; it requires regular problem-solving and critical thinking. By dedicating time each day to practice problems, seeking clarification when needed, and actively participating in class, you can reinforce your understanding and truly excel in this course.” I also think this is relevant because I’ve realized that whether I’m naturally good in a topic or simply understand the concepts, I still struggle on quizzes and exams (which causes me to realize I’m not that guy) because I choose not to practice or just not practice enough.

    Based on the advice I’ve seen, I’m currently reviewing Calculus and Calculus 2 material, gonna start reviewing my work more often, do the homework asap or maybe a day or 2 after class since it would be still fresh on my mind and I’ll try to attend office hours and ask questions more in class when I don’t understand a certain section or topic.

    • Randy Mojum

      The second quote you referenced is great because practicing, clarifying, and participating are important factors to ensure we are engaged in the topic to fully understand it. We should use this method of learning throughout the semester to ensure all prior content is understood.

    • Chaquan

      I agree that mathematics requires a good amount of practice and a basic understanding to excel. If there are any issues finding the answer, it’s always best to take a step back, review the material, and identify what is missing to improve your problem-solving skills.

  8. Freddy P

    After reading through out all the responses i found the best piece of advice to be , to go over previous math knowledge because this is gonna build upon it and also to complete the homework right after class because it will be fresh ,rather then waiting about a week later and doing it right before its due. Also i read how taking proper notes is key in being able to go back and do it on your own once at home , being able to organize the problems on how its done step by step. Based on these advices i should start doing my homework as early as possible and ask all the neccesarry questions to be able to understand everything thats going on, also i should ask more questions during class.

    • Oscar Ponce

      I agree with reviewing over old material. What I found best for me personally is to try to do a problem that is new to find where I am not understanding is usually its from previous material because it is the basis of the new material, at least from my experience.

  9. Ariana

    For me that advice that seems the most relevant is that “Mathematics is not a passive subject” I’ve learned this in calculus 1, 2, and 3. When you get to higher level math you must practice not just with the new material but with things you’ve learned previously. After reading the responses the main piece of advice seems to be to review and sharpen your previous skills learned in calc 1 and 2 then practice new material we learn in differentials. After reading through the responses, I plan on setting some time aside to go over all I have learned in my previous calculus classes to ensure I will be successful in the course.

  10. Nikolai Markov

    1) Most relevant advice to me was from Elliott S., That is ” It honestly only gets difficult when you remain unorganized with your work or slack off on it. … you want to save yourself the extra work as much as possible.” It’s relevant because it’s mainly my approach to all math classes past Calc 1. I developed this mindset during Calc 2, and it will probably come in handy this semester.

    2) A bunch of other replies on the 2023 course suggested the use of limits in this class, which would be nice to review. As well as the derivative / integral rules, such as power, chain, etc. would be nice to go through just as a light refresher. I just hope I don’t need to review pre-calc topics.

    • Catherine Velasquez

      I agree it would be nice to have a review even if it’s a quick one on derivatives rules such as chain, product, quotient, and power. Or at the very least a resource to refer to and brush up on those skills. I will say that in class when someone mentioned doing the chain rule I completely forgot how to do it because the previous semester I had Calculus 2 and that was more integral based than derivatives. Limits were touched upon, but a bulk of Calculus 2 is integrals and when/how to use them. In all I agree with reviewing previous materials such as derivatives, limits, and integrals. As well as it’s best to stay on top of work and making sure that work isn’t unorganized.

  11. Shane Stanton

    A) Morel’s post about math being a daily activity and not something you can memorize easily. The more you practice the more you will sharpen your skills when it’s time to put them to use on test day. To me this was the most relevant advice because I honestly do complete more assignments and digest the material better when I engage with the coursework at least 2-3 days throughout the week outside of class. I have also been the type of student to save things for last and I appreciate the heads up by the prior students advising against it.

    B) The simple changes I can make are to break up the webwork hw over multiple days rather than doing it all on one day so my mind can digest the material better. Also to study the textbook as well to kind of recap class and to garnish better study notes.

  12. Dariel

    After reading all of the responses, the advice that would be most relevant to me is taking good notes, because it is key to this class and will be easy to search for what I’m looking for, making it easy to look up the steps when doing homework. As well as  consistent practice and active engagement.And reviewing the derivatives and integrals I learned in calculus 1 and 2 as they are used frequently in this class. Based of this advice being more engaged during class and outside of class with the material will help in succeeding in this class, as well taking organized notes to help me study and well complete my web work assignments

  13. Aaron Jones

    Some of the responses I read emphasize the importance of solidifying foundational knowledge to entering students.Highlighted the significance of a robust understanding of calculus topics, particularly Integrals, and Derivatives, as they serve as the building blocks for comprehending and solving differential equations. Using this information I should be focus on organized notetaking, documenting procedural steps, and adding explanatory notes for future reference. Additionally, dedicating time to revisit and reinforce calculus principles relevant to differential equations will enhance problem-solving skills. Recognizing and applying the appropriate methods or formulas for specific problems is crucial, and I found that maintaining a systematic approach and practicing consistently contributed significantly to my success in the course.

    • Dario Vil

      Developing a strong foundation in knowledge can undoubtedly increase a person’s chances of succeeding in a differential equation class. You make a valid point when you suggest reviewing earlier work to strengthen one’s calculus proficiency, and I will do the same.

  14. Joseph Moise

    By reviewing these comments, I saw that my case is pretty different because I am a transfer student from a different country, and I remember taking calculus for more than 10 years ago. To be honest I feel like a little bit rusty. Before the beginning of class I was very anxious but when I go over the assignment in the webwork I feel pretty comfortable. My advice for this class is to complete the assignment on the webwork on a weekly basis and to not hesitate to seek for help with the Professor. As I can see, the professor is very down to earth.

  15. Abdur Razzaq Twaheel

    What advice seemed most relevant to you personally? Why? (you can copy/paste a short statement, or put it in your own words)

    After reading through all the advices given from these past students. The most relevant to me personally is what Orel Shimoonov stated. for me I always taught that mathematics was a bunch a formula you memorize and apply these formulas to problem solving. And from bad experiences of having this mentality made me fail any sort of math class over and over. But then I realize that Mathematics is not something you memorize but rather it requires critical thinking that will help you create an easier solution to any problems. 

    Based on this advice, what changes can you make right now to help you succeed in this course?

    the changes I can make right now that I think will help me through this course is to review the basic calculus concepts such as; Derivatives, antiderivative, antiderivative techniques, function etc. and most importantly dedicate more time and effort into this class materials.

    • Mathew Huiracocha

      I totally agree with you on your first paragraph. I was also taught to just memorize the formulas without really understanding why we use them. As I struggled with mathematics I forced myself to try to understand any method given to help me have an easier time to create a solution for a problem.

  16. Atta Tariq

    The advice that seemed most relevant to me is to take thorough notes. I really believe that keeping thorough notes is essential because in those rare moments when you are at a loss for answers, you can refer back to your notes to see how you handled the situation previously and draw lessons from it. I always do my best to take detailed notes, and going forward, I’ll make sure everything is orderly and clear. I also think another good advice is to practice as often as you can. Based on my own experience, I have found that practicing is essential to improving your math skills. As everyone knows, a man becomes flawless through practice. 

    • Kunal Surujprasad

      I also agree. Practice is a good way of finding out what you don’t know whist refining what you do know. “The more you sweat in practice, the less you bleed in battle” -Richard Marcinko.

  17. Catherine Velasquez

    A. What advice seemed most relevant to you personally? Why? (you can copy/paste a short statement, or put it in your own words)

    The advice that seemed most relevant to me was from a student, Orel C Shimoonov who stated “Mathematics is not a passive subject that can be memorized; it requires regular problem-solving and critical thinking.” This statement rings true because while I admit some things can be memorized an example being time tables which can be helpful, but I find that just memorizing answers to a problem or copying a solution step by step didn’t help in previous calculus courses or algebra. As many have said, math builds up and if you haven’t understood the fundamentals then as we continue to go further in math it will be difficult to grasp certain topics because they are built off what we’ve learned from previous courses. However, I would like to note that my attitude has changed towards math from when I attended high school which was just memorizing how to do something. I’ve found that in precalculus that’s when my attitude shifted and just memorizing wasn’t enough for me. Nowadays if I were to look up something to help me answer a question I am unsatisfied if there is no explanation or the explanation is unclear. The answer to a solution doesn’t matter to me as much as the process now.

    B. Based on this advice, what changes can you make right now to help you succeed in this course?

    For one, I need to brush up on my derivatives because being honest I forget a good deal of the rules such as chain rule. I remember the names, but how to do chain rule for example I’ve forgotten most of it. I can easily find the derivative of constants and powers, which are basic. However, I need to go back and review derivatives. As for integrals I am more familiar with considering last semester I had Calculus 2 and the material has still stuck with me. Another thing I can do is brush up on vocabulary to succeed on this course because to be honest when the webwork asked for anti-derivatives I immediately thought: “What’s an anti-derivative?” When I looked it up I saw that it was just finding the integrals, so whenever I see anti-derivatives now I think in integrals. I have a sneaking suspicion that the language in this class will confuse me because my previous professor in Calculus 2 said that it gets messy when we use too many variables. An example would be for integration using substitution we used the variable w instead of v. For integration by parts we used v and u. Only time will tell, but I’ll have to be more careful when it comes to variables.

    • Sean Suarez

      I also have the same issue with previous topics such as chain rule. I guess there’s no pushing forgotten topics to the side as they appeared in our class a few days ago. I need to review certain topics so I once again remember how to do them, which isn’t hard.. I just tend to slack off which is on me.

  18. Sebastian Torres

    The advice that seemed most relevant for me was from Kevindra, who stated, “The duration of this class is shorter than the previous math classes. Thus, a sizable amount of information and topics get covered within a short period of time. It is important to take great notes”. This class runs for an hour and 15 minutes, while my previous math classes have run for about an hour and 45 minutes, and that 30 minutes difference really helped in understanding the material and going through examples and asking questions. Without it, it’s very important that I pay attention and have good notes to look back to in case I’m lost in doing the webwork assignments or studying for tests. Some changes I can make is to make sure I write down the problems or theories that stump me and ask the professor if he can elaborate on it, as well as asking my peers for help in understanding the topic. Kevindra also mentions that the homework should be completed within the week and to not wait till the last minute, which is something I need to work on by managing my time so that I can work on it sooner rather than doing it on the day it’s due.

  19. Sean Suarez

    What personally resonated with me was the advice Sumya Sultana provided. The lecture does go by fast and it is extremely helpful, however I should review my lecture notes some time after class the same day. I usually review my notes a couple days before a test, however I shall review them more often as it seems that most students suggest reviewing notes and Webwork review is very important, especially in this class. It also doesn’t help that I’ve been late to class multiple times already… Going forward I’ll arrive early to class as well as review my notes more often that usual.

  20. Nour

    the advice that stood out me was about practicing problems regularly. make change by dedicating daily time to solve more equations problems. also I will make changes by planing my study schedule in advance, ensuring that I begin each chapter early and distribute my efforts consistently. this way I can avoid last min stress and better absorb the material.

  21. Dario Vil

    A) What advice seemed most relevant to you personally? Why? (you can copy/paste a short statement, or put it in your own words)

    After reading over each response from the previous semester of this course, I decided that the two students named Edmond Lee and Orel C. Shimoonov had the most helpful recommendations. The advice that Edmond Lee gave that I took to heart was taking good notes while in class and doing homework during the week instead of the last day. Lee’s advice emphasizes the need for consistency and developing a strong work ethic, to which I also adhere. Similar in nature to the advice Lee gave, Orel C. Shimoonov’s advice was one of consistent practice and active engagement with the material. Since a person’s confidence in their mathematical abilities might fluctuate based just on memory, Shimoonov emphasizes the idea that mathematics involves more than simply memorization but rather participation and dedication. This advice from Shimoonov reminds me not to only memorize but also to engage.

    B) Based on this advice, what changes can you make right now to help you succeed in this course?

    Even when a change is necessary and will benefit you in the long run, it can still be challenging to make because it requires you to leave your comfort zone. There are three changes I will implement right now for this class based on the advice of both Edmond Lee and Orel C. Shimoonov. One change will be from Lee’s advice, as I found that I have a tendency to leave homework until the last day and want to stop this habit for this class immediately. This simple change of doing homework during the week rather than just the last day can truly help develop my work ethic and consistency. Lastly, two changes I will utilize from Shimoonov’s advice are dedicating time each day to practice problems and seeking the guidance of the professor if I get stuck on a homework problem. All in all, these are the changes I will strive to apply now during the spring semester of this class.

  22. Matthew Guncay Jimenez

    Out of all the advice I read, the advice that seems more relevant to me is to take good notes. Having the opportunity of being able to look back at your notes when stuck in a homework question or when reviewing a topic outside of class is valuable. When I took Calculus II last semester, my notes were either sloppy, incomplete, or disorganized. It got to the point that looking over my notes made me more confused than before. I was unmotivated to open my notebook. For this class I’m attempting to write my work neatly and organized. If it doesn’t look like I can fit a second example on a page, I’ll write it on the next one.

  23. Chaquan

    A. What advice seemed most relevant to you personally? Why? (you can copy/paste a short statement, or put it in your own words)

    Upon reading Louis’s statement, “At the start of this class, I wish I would have been told to try to focus more on understanding the reasoning and explanations behind certain methods that we use in class,” Louis makes a good point about understanding why we use certain methods in math. It’s like learning a new language; if we only learn the basics without digging into the reasons, solving math problems becomes tough. Math isn’t just about memorizing formulas; it is about knowing why we do things a certain way.

    B. Based on this advice, what changes can you make right now to help you succeed in this course?

    Learn to understand how to use certain methods more rather than trying to memorize them. Then practice by solving other problems that will lead to the answer.

  24. Kingston Ditsch

    What advice seemed most relevant to you personally? Why? (you can copy/paste a short statement, or put it in your own words)

    The advice that seemed the most relevant to me was the “importance of consistent practice and active engagement with the material.” while I do give myself adequate time to practice I also find myself becoming very frustrated with the material if there is something I am just not understanding and then I become very distant to it. So, the emphasis on the importance of active engagement is something that I must be mindful of as I make my way through this course.

    Based on this advice, what changes can you make right now to help you succeed in this course?

    Based on the advice I quoted from a previous student of this course, a change I could make to help me succeed would be to stay patient with the material, and if there is something I’m finding myself becoming frustrated with then maybe just step away from the practice problems for a bit or take them to office hours.

  25. Matthew Smith

    What advice seemed most relevant to you personally? Why? (you can copy/paste a short statement, or put it in your own words)

    The advice that seemed most relevant to me was from Sumya Sultana who stated that because the class times were very short, reviewing their notes later in the afternoon step by step would have been very helpful to clear up any confusion.

    Based on this advice, what changes can you make right now to help you succeed in this course?

    I tend to learn better by example and constant practice, so I will be adding a reviewing session for the same days material later in the afternoon to retain the information that we learn in class easier.

  26. Mathew Huiracocha

    One advice that I really took interest was by Pamela Barba. She talked about how in order to succeed in class you need to review previous materials such as Calc 1 and 2. I do believe for someone who had trouble with previous math class should really consider in order to understand and be able to keep up with this semester’s materials. She also mentioned to take well written notes and do the webworks before the due date. As someone who can sometimes procrastinate I would like to change this semester and complete the assignments before the due date to complete all the assignments. Adding on to the beginning of the paragraph reviewing the materials is really important as I can sometimes be confused when it comes to trigonometry functions. As integrals, derivatives and partial fractions are things I have basic understanding, trig is something I do lack and want to work on.

  27. Mathew Huiracocha

    Based on this advice, what changes can you make right now to help you succeed in this course?

    Based on my comment earlier I believe Time management, Reviewing materials and understand how to use certain methods. As we are going to use webwork and assignments on Openlab I want to be able to complete every assignments at least a day before the due date in order to fully complete and understand each assignment given. Reviewing materials will really help me understand and refresh materials that I might have forgotten. Lastly understanding the use of each method can help me tackle any question given without freaking out and just using any method blindly and have no understanding.

  28. Robert

    A new semester means time has passed since the last. We all are familiar with the term “Data Dumping”. Unless you live by Math, it is very unlikely that you kept up with the past material. In my opinion/experience you have to brush up and keep up with the past material just as much as the current material. If you don’t have your fundamentals down packet, it wont be an easy time grasping the new material. Do not underestimate the material. Extra Tutoring can go a long way.

  29. Kunal Surujprasad

    1. What advice seemed most relevant to you personally? Why? (you can copy/paste a short statement, or put it in your own words)

    Pauline Katindig’s advice of taking  “advice of taking good notes”. in her word she stated that “Taking good notes is key to this class because it will be easy to search what you’re looking for, easy to look up the steps when doing homework”. I resonated with this as I generally use my notes to study so taking better note will overall improve my studying time.

    1. Based on this advice, what changes can you make right now to help you succeed in this course?

    I can take more detailed notes with personalized remarks on the finer details so that I wont get confused when reviewing.

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