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I hated math in school and asked this same question, over and over. In the end, I'm glad I took the class and am starting to wish I'd paid more attention to some of the cooncepts. Fortunately, the algebra you'll use the most is relatively easy.

There are three answers that you might consider. All have truth to them, but no one is the 'right' answer.

1. Once you learn algebra and it becomes second nature to you you'll use it all the time, especially in whatever career you end up in. I used it just yesterday building shelves in my garage (I had N length of wood, the frame used (4*H + S*W) feet of wood where H was the height, W was the width, and S was the number of shelves. N > 4*H + S*W, plug in a few numbers for W, H, and S and see what happens). I also estimated my average speed biking to work (Distance = rate * time, distance and time was known, solve for rate). I use it even without thinking about it at times. I couldn't remember what I paid for a part to fix my bathtub. I knew I'd paid for that and something else (around $4) with a $20. I had $6 left. Really easy to do in your head if you know algebra: 4 + X + 6= 20. You'll have to think a little longer if you don't use algebra. Basically any time you have a "story problem" Algebra comes in handy, and since life tends to give you story problems rather than equations... you get the idea.

I work in computer programming, so I use it all the time at work. Your career choices may vary, but you'd be surprised how many of them use algebra.

2. Algebra is a stepping stone to other classes in college and even high school. Consider it a foundation. Algebra teaches principles, not application, but then you take classes like Statistics and put a lot of it to use. Once you take those classes you'll see more use for algebra and it'll start to get easier. I had a teacher once who said you take Calculus to learn your algebra, and Probability to learn calculus.

3. Algebra teaches you a way to think and gives you a notation to use to organize thoughts. It's very logical and methodical. The concept of variables and equations change the way you do simple math. You can eat pizza at a restaurant with four friends and split the bill four ways easily without algebra. But what if two ordered drinks and two didnt? Sure, you can solve this without algebra. It's not even that hard. But my point here is that, with algebra, you THINK of the problem in a different way. And when the problem does start to get more and more complicated, algebra starts to be come the more attractive option.

Now calculus... I have yet to find a really good real world application for calculus. But Algebra comes up all the time.

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