Algebra in the college setting is a lot different than in high school for a lot of important reasons. One of the main differences is the lower amount of time spent in class each week and the larger emphasis on the student learning things on their own. Most college algebra problems that students have revolve around not understanding something, and to solve these problems, you’ve got to learn how to learn more efficiently.
Let’s use a quick example. A lot of people come to this website looking for Algebra 1 help, but sometimes they aren’t able to use the resources that we have provided because they don’t have good study skills. This isn’t completely the student’s fault, but the fact of the matter is that most college algebra problems can be overcome by simply learning better ways to study. So instead of trying to look at specific types of problems that you might encounter in college algebra, we’re going to try to tackle the source of the problems here.
First off, add some structure to your study time. Remove the distractions and have in front of you only the things that you need to focus on. This will probably include your lecture notes, your textbook and any extra printouts you may have. Now pin-point exactly what it is you’re working on and focus on that for a period of time. You might be trying to improve your understanding of something you already have a rough understanding of, and this could involve working through college algebra problems out of your textbook or hand-outs. On the other hand, you might be completely clueless about some topic and you’re trying to gain some level of understanding. In this case, you’ll probably be going over your lecture notes very carefully in a step-by-step fashion.
The hardest part of dealing with college algebra is when you find yourself completely not understanding some topic. Usually what happens is that you’ll be looking at your lecture notes or notes out of the textbook and there will be some jump in logic from one step to the next that you don’t understand. When this happens, your best bet is to work at trying to figure it out for a short period of time in the range of 10 to 15 minutes. If you don’t get it in that period of time, it’s time to find a resource that can help you to understand. This could be a teacher, a tutor, a website or a library book, but this is the most efficient way to fill in the gap between the steps.