Experiences of Former Students

Experiences of Former ACC Math Students

Ed

I received an offer of employment today from the Lockhart ISD and wanted to share the good news and thank you for all you did to help me train as a better teacher! It was such a pleasure to work with you at the Pinnacle; I wish that tutoring was a full-time job because I loved it so much. Please give my sincere regards to all of the tutoring staff members, and thanks to Nancy for her excellent advice!

In summary, Austin Community College was a tremendous asset to me in my effort to re-enter the teaching profession. The math courses were excellent and the staff went out of their way to support me as a student and as an employee. This institution is, in my opinion, the best thing that ever happened to central Texas. Wish me luck and please keep in touch!


Carrie

Background

My name is Carrie McDevitt and I am what the University of Texas at Austin refers to as a non-traditional student. That means (among other things) that I took a few years off between high school and entering college. When I was in high school, math wasn't my passion or my best subject. I never hated it; it was just a necessary evil. However, during the extended break in my education, I found I really did use math all the time.

When I decided to start my college education by enrolling at Austin Community College, I studied really hard for the T-Compass and as a result, I actually tested out of trig and into precalculus. I decided, however, to start with college algebra and work my way up. Because the sequence of math courses takes a while, I filled my schedule with all sorts of courses. I took classes in biology, chemistry, physics, and personal finance, and I ran into math in each of them. In each of my math classes at ACC I would form a study group and would usually wind up explaining concepts to my classmates. That is when I realized that I really liked math, that I was good at it, that I could make it approachable, and that I could explain concepts. So I got a job tutoring math for ACC.

Then I applied to the University of Texas at Austin. After a long and arduous wait, I was accepted into the UTeach program for a BS in math. I was worried that after all the wonderful professors and small classes at ACC I would get lost in the crowd at UT. But, I have found the professors at UT are approachable and encourage you to take advantage of office hours. And the teaching assistants are terrific for answering questions. I have also found that I can scan my homework and email it with questions and get a timely response. All in all, the transfer from ACC to UT has been great. I miss Simon's (the ACC food service) potato, egg, and cheese tacos, and ACC's small campuses, but I love that I am nearing my goal. And I thank my lucky stars that I found the courage to take the first step onto ACC's campus.

Letter #1 from Carrie to Dr. Stephen Rodi, ACC Professor of Mathematics

Hello Dr. Rodi!

This is Carrie McDevitt (the crazy math major) from your Calc 3 class last semester. I am writing to update you on my math experience at UT so far.

I am taking four math classes this semester (was going to take 5 but that didn't work out.) They are: Structures of Modern Geometry, Foundations of Number Systems, Linear Algebra and Matrix Theory, and Advanced Calculus for Applications. I love my Linear Algebra class, I feel very prepared with the background you gave me in vectors and dot product and cross product. My advanced calculus class is also fine. Partial derivatives are really handy there, and I understand all the terminology (so far.) As far as the other two (and the one I was going to take), they are all very proof based. It is different watching a proof being done on the board and actually writing one. We got into how to write proofs in my linear algebra class today. I just wish that I had a stronger background in that area. Mostly the terminology and abbreviations. But I do feel, thus far, that I am prepared for my math classes.

I will update you throughout the semester and over the next year with any startling insights I may have.

Carrie McDevitt

Letter #2 from Carrie to Dr. Stephen Rodi and Mr. John Thomason, ACC Professors of Mathematics

It is Carrie McDevitt again with a mid-semester update on my math classes at UT.

As you know, I am taking a total of four math classes--Linear Algebra, Differential Equations, Structures of Modern Geometry, and Foundations of Number Systems. My least favorite class is Linear Algebra right now. My teacher is very proof oriented and I am still struggling with those. I believe that all math students at ACC should pay careful attention to how proofs are done starting in College Algebra--it comes in really handy. I suggest to future transfers to take M325K (Discrete Math) before taking Linear Algebra--it is not required, but it would be extremely helpful. I really like my Differential Equations class. I really feel that Dr. Rodi gave me a good background in partial differentiation and determinants and Professor Gilmer gave me a great background in power series, and those have turned out to be invaluable. If you find you have issues with sequences or series, take advantage of the free tutoring ACC offers, because you will use these concepts A LOT.

My other two math classes are specific to the UTeach program that I am enrolled in, but they are both going fine. It was really difficult to remember Geometry when the last time I had it was 16 years ago, but it is all coming back to me now. My Number Systems class baffles me because I have a hard time remembering what I don't know (a.k.a. I cannot add three numbers together yet)and everything goes step by step, but it is interesting learning how I originally learned what I know now.

I spend all my free time on campus in office hours right now, making sure I am on the right track with my assignments. I hope to take advantage of the Gregory Gym soon so I can work out my body as well as my brain. My classmates are awesome. Since I am enrolled in four total UTeach classes, I run into them in two or three classes. They are very helpful in understanding concepts that are taught in component courses that I haven't taken yet.

Tips for transferring students:
  1. A new club was formed this semester for the over 25 age group. It is called "Over 25's" and it is a great place to meet students that are considered non-traditional and to just have a good time.
  2. Get a copy of the university catalog, don't just go by the course descriptions in the course guide. I wound up taking a class that had a teaching component that required a total of 30 hours throughout the semester working in a public school. This was not listed in the course guide, but it was listed in the catalog.
  3. No matter how badly you want to finish your education and move onto the career part of your agenda, DO NOT take more than 15 hours. I am taking 17 right now (plus that extra teaching time) and sleep is nothing but a fond memory.
  4. Ask for help! The TA's for my classes are great, they understand I have a very tight schedule and will communicate with me by email. I also found out a girl in one of my classes is a grader for another class I take, so she helps me with my homework.

Well, that's what has been going on here, I'll update you towards the end of the semester!

Carrie


Sara

Background

I grew up disliking math because I had some very bad experiences with it. From really bad teachers to the "boys are better" theory, I had a fear of math for most of my adolescence. I worked hard but I think that the environment and professors in class at ACC Northridge were a big part of my self-esteem boost in the Math area. It was a great environment to start in because I got more one on one attention and it was a lot easier to fit in.  I started with (MATH0330) Basic Math because I missed something in my fundamentals growing up.  The professor in this class was very encouraging and I challenged myself to do better on each test or quiz. She was so encouraging that I worked ahead in the book and she helped me realize that I had a knack for Math. I always came to class prepared because I enjoyed it and I began to learn what methods worked for me when studying math. I did really well in Basic Math and went on to take elementary, intermediate algebra, and trigonometry. I noticed that I not only really like to study for these classes but enjoyed helping other classmates. It was very helpful that my professors were encouraging and that I worked closely with Nancy Miller in CRU.  It was at ACC that I decided to change my major and apply to UT under Math, Secondary Education in the UTeach program. I will graduate this spring and will have taken 17 math classes total.  I really enjoyed my time at ACC and did really well in my classes. I remember all of my professors' names and I get to see some of them on campus occasionally. In fact, I had one professor from ACC teach me Applied Statistics this summer at UT and it was a great class. ACC was a great foundation for UT because it gave me time to get good grades to transfer (while paying less tuition), find and develop the skills needed to help become successful in Math, and find my path for my college career.

Some Basic Advice for Math Majors

One of the best things I could have done was to take trigonometry at ACC; this class really helps out in Calculus. I was much more prepared than several of my classmates and it really helped the transition to UT. Talk with your professors and take advantage of office hours in the Math department at UT and ACC. Also, remember that you are grouped with all types of majors like Pure Math, Engineering, CS, or Grad students. Don't be discouraged if you do not get the highest grade in the class because it can be competitive but it will feel great to know that you can compete with this group of students. Never be afraid to seek out help at any school, like tutors or other classmates to study with. Besides, you never know who will be your new best friend.

Things to Remember for ACC-UT Transition

1. Study a little everyday and try not to get behind.
2. Find a study method that works for you (I use note cards and even read the math textbook).
3. Look for helpful resources first day. UT (Learning center in Jester/tutors/advisors are your friends) ACC (learning labs)
4. If you don't like big classes, sit in the front; it made me feel like I was in a smaller room.

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