By Carl R., IvyWise Master Tutor
Mathematics is one of the most useful skills to gain in high school and college, as it helps open the door for many lucrative and fulfilling careers. As a math student and a professor, I’ve seen a lot of students go on to do great things with their math degrees. Math majors can get hired as actuaries, statisticians, financial planners, cryptographers, and accountants straight out of college. Of course, math and engineering majors of all kinds also have the option of continuing their education as far as the Ph.D. level, if desired.
Math curricula can sometimes get very challenging and monotonous, but there’s actually a lot more to a math major than just solving equations. Here’s is a list of five things to keep in mind if you want to pursue a math major.
Don’t Expect to Understand Everything the First Time You See It
This can be extremely demoralizing the first time it happens! As math majors, we typically breezed through high school math and we fell in love with it because math made sense to us. This phenomenon tends to die out in college-level calculus. This doesn’t mean that you aren’t as good at math as you thought you were! This “struggle” to understand the material is inherently mathematical – you need to be open to trying and thinking about concepts in new ways. When in doubt, redo problems, even if you’ve solved them already. Getting used to the process of solving can be incredibly useful.
Do Your Homework!
I mean this literally. In college, much of your homework might not be mandatory, so you may be tempted to skip some. Don’t do this. College math professors and TAs will not want to spend hours upon hours grading homework assignments, so many of these will not have due dates or turn-in requirements. However, math (particularly advanced math) is best learned by doing and practicing. The homework you are assigned is part of the curriculum. In other words, its completion is integral to your understanding of the material. Take the time to do this work, as if it were time that you take to attend a lecture.
Don’t Take Just Math Courses
If possible, balance out your math curriculum with humanities courses. This might actually be a requirement for you, depending on the school you attend. Regardless, it is a great idea. Not only does this allow you to make friends and gain experiences outside of your math cohort, but these literature and history classes will give you practice writing essays and expressing ideas through words, which bring me to the next priority…
Be Prepared to Write About Math
Your major will very likely require you to write a thesis, which will incorporate mathematical examples and verbal descriptions, detailing your process, both in technical and non-technical language. As a math major, you will be trained to explain your business to both colleagues and laypeople. This is an invaluable skill to gain early on, as this ability will be a huge boon to you professionally.
Consider Graduate School
Whether you pursue a master’s or Ph.D. path, math graduate students are always in high demand at many top universities. A higher degree can open up many professional doors, and many universities offer teaching fellowships, which usually include complete tuition remission plus a healthy stipend. In other words, many universities will pay you to earn a math graduate degree – a true win/win! You could also catch the “teaching bug,” which can open up even more professional doors for you!
Choosing a major or course of study when applying to college can be daunting, so it’s important to do your research on how different colleges approach different majors and how that aligns with your higher education goals. At IvyWise, we work with students to not only achieve great grades and test scores through tutoring and test prep, we also help guide students through the process of finding the best-fit college and program of study for them. Contact us today for more information on how we can help you with your college admissions journey.