Professor Kate Poirier | D772 | Spring 2023

OpenLab assignment: time machine

Comment due Monday, May 22

Congratulations on making it to the end of the semester! Do you feel like a different person from who you were at the beginning of the semester??? You’re so much more knowledgeable and mature!

For this assignment, pretend you could get into a time machine and visit yourself from January. What do you know now that you wish you knew then? Write a letter to deliver to your past self explaining how this semester went for you and how you figured out what it takes to succeed in this class. Include any tips you have for your past self and anything you wish you had done differently semester this semester. How would you motivate your past self to work hard for their upcoming 17 weeks? What do you want your past self to know about where you are now?

Submit your letter as a comment on this post. Your letters may be used for future students of this class!


  1. Javier Garcia

    I didn’t have much to share because I was confident to speak and push students to communicate and share. What I would like to tell others is to share each other’s work which no one did not until the third exam, hence why many passed. Many of the students either did not want to share that information because they were scared of being judged, called out, or thought they were cheating when it was helping each other out. Also, if you are going to ask for help all the time and expect people to answer right away, be patient. If you are going to receive it, don’t forget to give it as well, an equal exchange. Some students were frustrating to work with, so I had to ignore them because If I helped you with at least 3-6 assignments and I only asked for one, and you ignored me, I would block you. Don’t be that person. The last thing I would tell others is to go at least twice to after-hours. As much as I didn’t do too well this semester, it doesn’t mean to give up. Just because you failed your first test doesn’t mean you can try to end up getting a C in this class. Never let failure stop you from what you are doing.

    • Wellington D Verduga

      Hi Javier! My name is [your name] and I am a current student in MAT 2680. Your letter to your past self is helpful to me now because [give some reasons you found their letter helpful; be as specific as possible and state either how you are following similar or advice already or plan to follow their advice moving forward]

      Hi Javier, my name is Wellington and I am a current student in MAT 2680. Your comments really resonate with me because I am usually very reserved and take too long to ask for help or share with other students. It is something that I have always been aware of and always try to improve even though I feel like I am always taking baby steps. Hopefully, I get to share more this semester and keep improving. I will keep in mind your suggestions about helping and sharing etiquette.

  2. Luijen Payano

    This semester will be long but you will have the time to do everything if you don’t procrastinate. Webwork is important make sure to do it like before the weekend so its more fresh in your mind the lessons you’ve learned. It feels good to do good, to not feel like your walking a razors edge of failure. Working with classmates has been vital and will be towards developing a full understanding of the lessons we learned, seeing how others tackle things compared to how you were trying too. I’ve done well enough, let slip a few things but overall its been well. Do not let yourself fall to laziness.

    • Qing Chen(Charlotte)

      Hello Luijen,

      My name is Charlotte and I am a current student in MAT 2680. 

      I wanted to express my appreciation for the advice and insights you’ve shared regarding MAT2680. Your perspective on time management and the importance of staying on top of Webwork assignments resonates with me.

      I absolutely agree that tackling Webwork early in the week helps reinforce our understanding of the lessons. It’s reassuring to hear about your overall positive experience in the course and the value you’ve found in collaborating with classmates. Learning from each other’s approaches can indeed enhance our grasp of the material.

      Your words serve as a motivating reminder to remain diligent and not succumb to procrastination. I’m looking forward to applying these principles to the upcoming semester and ensuring a productive and successful journey through MAT2680.

      Thank you once again for sharing your wisdom, and I wish you continued success in your academic endeavors.

    • Erick Hidalgo

      Hi Luijen, my name is Erick Hidalgo and im currently taking MAT 2680 and i agree with your response. Procrastination is a disease and it can make you back track. I still have some work to do but I am trying my best to avoid it. Being a computer engineer major is alot but that doesnt mean passing is impossible, as long as I put in the work. And I agree that working with classmates is helpful and I hope to learn from my classmates throughout the semester. I do not want to fall into laziness and I will try my best not to. I will take your advice and hope everything goes out well for me!

  3. Juan Giraldo

    This class can make you feel very stressed and frustrated sometimes. I remember e-mailing professor Poirier about the very first webwork set, “Linear homogenous” if I remember correctly. I remember inputting things in webwork and nothing seemed to work. After going to a couple office hours and practicing in my free time, the problems became clearer and was able to go on from there. To add on, this class requires a lot of your own time, so make time for it. One very important aspect is webwork because it helps you practice the material, which strengthens your understanding of the steps involved to solve differential equations. Make sure you do the webwork, not only because it is the most valuable in the class, but because it will help you on the long run Also, for the projects, it is important to have a solid base on what you want to do and then build up from there. Finally, for the exams, you’re going to want to constantly study those 2-3 days prior to it so everything stays somewhat fresh in your head for the day of the exam. If you feel like not doing anything which you will, just remember is 17 weeks of mental work, so make sure that clock is in your favor.

    • Brandon Payne

      Hi Juan! My name is Brandon Payne and I am a current student in MAT 2680. Your letter to your past self is helpful to me now because it makes me want to get ahead of all of my work and do everything to pass this course. I would usually try to study ahead of time for exams, but I will for sure take your advice to prep even earlier as webwork has been a little difficult for me.

  4. Ken Mei

    I wouldn’t stress about not performing well early on, just knowing you need to do better is enough of a motivation to yourself to try harder if you wish to not fall behind or fail. Something I figured out by now that I wished I knew early on is that I would have access to a lot more help than I initially imagined either from classmates or from the professor. Tips I could offer is that if your schedule allows you to attend office hours, then never miss the opportunity to attend office hours because that helps clarify a lot of questions regarding webwork and the projects. I would also suggest making your cheat sheet or formula sheet as neat as possible and try to add any sort of example problem that’s solved correctly from topics you struggled with. This is a way of studying as you’re reviewing old homework questions or class examples that correspond to the exam topics. To motivate myself I would simply have to tell myself to take one thing at a time and not try to do too much at once because it could backfire and cause a burnout. I would even add to that by telling myself to not feel overwhelmed by the number of assignments. By completing the assignments one at a time you can slowly get through it, you might not be the fastest to get it done but you certainly would complete it by the end.

    • Emily Murphy

      “Hi, Ken Mei! My name is Emily, and I’m a current student in MAT 2680. Your letter to your past self is helpful to me now because, as a student returning to school after several years, I feel a lot of pressure to perform perfectly right off the bat. Hearing some reassurance that taking everything one step at a time, reaching out for all the help we have available to us, and motivating yourself to try your best will lead to success in this class makes me feel much more confident!

  5. Javier Bonilla

    This class can seem confusing at the beginning with the idea of solving differential variables in equations. Still, it will get easier when we reach the first-order equations and even more with the second-differential equations that at first sight could look more difficult to solve. With respect to webwork, I suggest dedicating an evening just focusing on webwork, and if turns complicated ask for help from classmates that sure they will have the pleasure to help, it was for me in the group chat they did. A suggestion that seems obvious is that always ask a question to the professor in class if a topic doesn’t look that easy to understand. This class requires patience and time to get success in exercises, especially in the last month of the semester.

  6. Jocelyn Nacimba

    The journey of this class has been challenging. Throughout this semester, I discovered that consistency and organization are key factors in doing well in this class. From day one stay committed to a structured study schedule, and devote some of your time to this class.  By staying organized, last-minute rush can be avoided and can reduce unnecessary stress. Webwork is very important and don’t rush on it because by taking your time you are training yourself to solve the problems and you are reviewing the material which is helpful for when taking the exams. Another crucial aspect of success is to seek help when needed. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your professors or classmates whenever you encounter challenges. As for motivation, envision the end goal and the sense of accomplishment that awaits you. Visualize yourself succeeding in this class, absorbing new knowledge, and growing as an individual. Embrace this journey, stay focused, and remember to enjoy the process. 

    • Joanna Q.

      Hi, Jocelyn Nacimba! My name is Joanna Quizhpe, and I’m a current student in MAT 2680. Your letter to your past self is helpful to me now because I totally agree on not leaving everything last minute, it does create a lot of unnecessary stress and that’s a habit I want to leave behind. Thanks for your advice it was very helpful

  7. kevin

    I would tell myself, this is not an easy class at lot, but is not impossible. This class is a lot of work, but can be simple with a lot of effort. You would need to make sure you keep up with the webwork and the open lab stuff. Its a lot of work, but do not start to feel overwhelm. Create a system that would work for you. So started it the same day you had class. You just learned how to do it, time to test what you learned. Theses question take times to do. So be prepared to see a lot of red after trying a million time. But make sure to go to office hours, ask people in the group chat, and go to the tutoring session. Its ok if it takes time to understand the topic. Its ok to ask for help. For studying for exams, make sure you re-due webwork questions and question from the textbook. Ask people from the chat to post their questions so you can practice them. Also make study groups. Study groups will allow you to really ask questions and solve problems together. Its a great way to bounce ideas back in forwards to see what is the right way todo the question. Do not be scared to take risk in the class. Also take good notes. Make sure they are clear and organized.

    • Angelica Tellez

      Hi Kevin, thank you for the advice! My name is Angelica Tellez, and I am a current student in MAT 2680. Your letter to your past self is helpful to me now because I will focus on creating a system in order to manage this class. Your advice doesn’t make me afraid of this class, it makes me feel like I can conquer it. Thanks again!

  8. Rubab Tariq

    This class is really hard if you will not practice your lesson every day, you will be completely lost. Especially in the first weeks I feel so lost but manage to do my webwork within the time so it was not stressful for me in the end. webwork gives me a hard time because the answers seem right but little signs of mistakes or the way I put answers Webwork doesn’t accept and that aggravates me so many times. It’s like a rollercoaster for me but I’m happy I make it to the end.

    • Phoebe Narcisse

      Hi Rubab! My name is Phoebe and I am a current student in MAT 2680. Your letter to your past self is helpful to me now because I also struggle using Webwork for that same reason. Your advice is very helpful to keep trying with Webwork even if its frustrating because it does help with preparing for tests and understanding the lessons.

  9. Opemipo Odugbemi

    Firstly, I want you to relax, smile and be confident because you have one of the best prof in City tech teaching you. Make use of all the opportunity you get. Office hours, discord and WhatsApp.

    Secondly, you have to be hardworking and always ask questions when you need help. Your notes are very much important and will be helpful as you go through the semester.

    Lastly, some of the work you will do as the semester progresses will be lengthy and takes time to sole them. Don’t be put off by that. When I experienced that I just write the notes down and go to office hours and ask prof what to do. Or I just find similar question online, use the textbook and use them to answer my questions.

    Remember your webwork are very important, your class mates can be very helpful and be on your stuff.

    • Jonathan Lee

      Hey Opemipo! My name is Jonathan Lee and I’m a current student in MAT 2680. Your words resonate with me. The workload in this class was significant, but you had great advice in that we should ask the professor questions when we need help. Luckily for us, like you said, this professor is wonderful and has given everyone a fair chance to do well in the class!

  10. Atta Tariq

    If I could go back in time and say something to myself. It would be to relax, pay attention, and practice as much as you can. Especially in math, practice is essential if you want to become proficient in the area of study. Continue to solve examples, and keep up the good work.

    • Tamika

      “Hi Atta! My name is Leslyn Hodgson, and I am a current student in MAT 2680. Your letter to your past self is helpful to me now because your advice will help me to practice every day like any other class and take a lot of notes that will help me prepare to do excellent in this class. I am already practicing and solving difficult problems that will help me especially for tests. Thanks for your advice!

  11. Damian Kyle Brathwaite

    Dear Me, I know it seems like alot at the moment and I’m not going to lie to you it will suck, really suck, but if you stay strong and persevere you will be able to do well in this course. Make sure to use as much resources as you can such as the discord which is part of the reason why I was able to pass my last two tests. Talk with your peers, they may understand something you do not and can help you learn how to solve certain problems. Finally, try your best to complete all given assignments for the course even the webworks because since tests are only 10% most of the workload is done at home. Good luck and have a great, strong semester.

    • Allan Yunayev

      Hi Damian Kyle Brathwaite! My name is Allan Yunayev and I am a current student in MAT 2680. Your letter to your past self is helpful to me now because this also happened to me. In my clac 3 class the day before the final exam we had a online review lecture and I did not see it. I only saw it when a classmate told me on the class discord. this was late afternoon when i found out and I was studying the department final review before and when studying the lecture it was more inline to the final then the department review so I would have had a bad mark on the exam that was worth 40% of my grade.So what you said about relying on other students is so true.

  12. charlie

    As the semester comes to an end I am very grateful to finally understand how to solve differential equations. Going into the class I was fairly scared that I wouldn’t understand the material, but that wasn’t the case. In order to succeed in this class I definitely recommend practicing the fundamentals of derivatives and integrals. Most of the work that comes from this class is not too hard but something to keep in mind is to always do your homework and don’t be afraid to ask for help. If there was one thing that I could tell my past self is to do your homework as it is something that I do lack but eventually found myself slowly getting into. The homework helps you better understand the concepts as well as refining your math skills. However, now that I am at the end of the road, something that I’d tell my past self about where we ended up is that everything turned out okay and we got really good at differential equations thanks to the professor. Professor Poirier has been a great professor and honestly one of my favorites as well, she has taught me so much and I love that she dedicates herself to making sure all students understand the material. My final advice for all future students is to trust the process, stay organized, do your homework, and don’t be afraid to rely on professor Poirier as she will always be there for you!

    • Ethan Lo

      Hey Charlie – my name is Ethan and I’m a current student in MAT 2680. Your letter is super helpful because I’m already seeing that the webwork is uncompromising when it comes to testing derivitives and integration – trig integrals are particularly gnarly. I’m planning to drill those going forward. Thanks!

  13. Kunal Surujprasad

    If I could get in a time machine, I would tell my past self that I didn’t make it to the end to encourage him to not underestimate this class and to put more effort in studying and keeping up on the work. I would also tell him to stop procrastinating and to pace yourself as to not overwhelm yourself at the finish line.

  14. Michael Krisno

    A few things that I would like to tell myself from the past is to practice better consistency. It has been my weakest point for a while. Somedays I feel like I have a boost in strength that allows me to do anything no matter how much work. Other days I don’t feel like doing anything at all even though the work is trivial and requires very little effort. This is one of those class that requires consistency and constant effort. Most of the work you will do in this class is done outside of classroom, whether it’s in the form of webwork or other projects. Try to spare just 2 hour in your week and it will go a long way. Your future self will greatly appreciate it.

    • Shawn Suraj

      Hello Michael Krisno! My name is Shawn Suraj and I am a current student of MT 2680. Your letter to your past self is helpful to me because I too often find myself struggling with practicing consistency. I always wait up until the day before to study and it has be stressed a lot of the times. A lot of the times I too don’t feel like anything some days. But sparing 2 hours a week just to study for this class is a great idea and believe it will do me well for this class. Moving forward I will put a side at least 2-3 hours a week to study which I believe will help me succeed in this class. Thank you Michael!!

    • Shaolong

      Hi Michael! My name is Shaolong and I am a current student in MAT 2680. Your letter to your past self is helpful to me now because you said that “Try to spare just 2 hour in your week and it will go a long way. Your future self will greatly appreciate it.” I try to spare two hours like you, but unfortunately, two hours in this week are still not enough.

    • Kunal Surujprasad

      Hi Michael Krisno! My name is Kunal Surujprasad and I am a current student in MAT 2680. Your letter to your past self is helpful to me now because as I also struggle to make the time to practice and to be consistent with it. Especially when it comes webwork (of which I have an absolute distain for). Moving forward when it comes to my other classes, I will make the time to study/do homework being as efficient as possible. I might try some effective studying methods such as the Feynman technique.

    • Benjamin Tolbert

      Hi Michael Krisno! My name is Benjamin Tolbert and I am a current student in MAT 2680. This letter to your past self resonated with me as I constantly deal with procrastination and try to allow time for myself to perform tasks. I often tend to do things at the last minute, yet still manage to somehow get a good grade. That unfortunately isn’t good for my stress levels, but managing my time will certainly help avoid having to do all-nighters or rushed assignments.

  15. Shadman

    Dude. Get your sh*t together man. Drop the 8:30am class immediately. I don’t even know why we thought we could handle that. After that, just show up to class once a week minimum. It’s that simple. And in march, go to nyu. Preferably sooner, but the worst month was march. Oh and also delete FIFA. The rest you already know. Just do it.

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