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All,

I am hoping to wade into an Electrical Engineering or Mechanical Engineering degree, but I have been out of college for almost 10 years. My last major exposure to math was good grades in Algebra 2, half of the Advanced Math textbook, and an elective level (about half the book) in Physics - all in High School.

If I spend good time on Math, I tend to grasp it well. Currently I am working in the Computer Science field as a Database Admin/Data Analyst/Business Intelligence Engineer, but I am having a bit of a crisis as I do not like my current line of work all that much. Also, to progress further it is extremely helpful to have more Math + Stats (e.g. to become a legit Data Scientist). An Engineering Degree with a minor focus on stats/research would give me the chance to diversify my current career while also learning in an area that gives me career change options.

I know that there are many others in my situation (wanting to return to STEM college programs/learning after many years out of high school), so my question is:

How does one quickly review Algebra 2 + Advanced Math, take the prerequisite Calculus and Physics needed to get into an engineering program, and then assess any other remaining areas that may still need brushing up on? I am trying to get the educator's perspective on the best resources for going it alone or in a limited web class setting, as I cannot do formal campus classes until I would be ready to enroll in a program. Also, it is really important that I do not spend a ton of time on wrote review if I can avoid it - that tends to really kill my enthusiasm when I am working problem sets that are super fundamental. With that in mind, are there resources targeted for people in my situation?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Mike Pierce, Brendan W. Sullivan, Daniel Hast, Xander Henderson, JoeTaxpayer Dec 10 '18 at 0:04

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ I support the proposal of a "returning students" tag! However, this question is simultaneously too broad and too specific. It's too broad in the sense that you are asking about reviewing a wide range of topics. It's too specific in the sense that we would need to know much more about your background, your understanding of relevant concepts, and how you learn best to make targeted recommendations for you. Perhaps someone can provide general advice that might help you and others in similar situations but, honestly, I think your best bet is to speak with someone 1-on-1 for advice for you. $\endgroup$ – Brendan W. Sullivan Nov 28 '18 at 23:02
  • $\begingroup$ I guess the first question to narrow the topic would be some type of topic list for grades 10-12 that are normally covered in math textbooks. That way when I talk to this community or to someone one-on-one, I am speaking the same language as the teacher. For you guys with lessons plans, I suspect you subdivide topics like "Advanced Polynomial Equations" into 4-5 sub areas - however, someone like me doesn't normally recall math concepts by sub area and so can't research or point out what I know/am strong at by area. Do you have, in a manner of speaking, a taxonomy I could look at? $\endgroup$ – PrometheusRising Nov 29 '18 at 15:28
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Our Math department uses ALEKS to assess incoming students. As I understand it, for a small fee (~$30) you can take a 35 question adaptive placement test. The results will tell you areas of strength/weakness and then provides 6(?) weeks of access to their remediation materials.

The main pro is that it is individualized to your strengths and weaknesses. The main con is that the material is still very traditional in its presentation and the remediation is not as interactive/motivational as some students would like.

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PR, this is what you need. Schaum's review of everything before calculus. It is a little easier to follow than the massive long individual textbooks used for most courses. Work 100% of the problems, please. If you have issues with some of the topics (e.g. trig), than check out some online videos or a longer book. But seriously, often it is easier to learn from one of these simpler shorter Schaum's review books.

https://www.amazon.com/First-College-Mathematics-Frank-Ayres/dp/B009NNXQF6

If you have a choice, go with an older edition (50s), but even the later ones are OK.

If you do 100% of the problems, I forecast you will be fine in terms of readiness for calculus. But the key is problems, problems, problems. If you have any hard spots go and get another problem book and work more problems (one brand is called "humongous").

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