Math and university success

Math and future careers

1. How important is mathematics as an entrance requirement to university programs?

Students who choose to ignore Mathematics, or not take it seriously in High School, forfeit many future career opportunities that they could have. They essentially turn their backs on more than half the job market (see the areas listed below). The vast majority of university degrees require Mathematics. The importance of Mathematics for potential future careers cannot be more emphasized.

For example, degrees in the following areas require good knowledge of Mathematics and Statistics:

  • the physical sciences (like Chemistry, Physics, Engineering),

  • the life and health sciences (like Biology, Psychology, Pharmacy, Nursing, Optometry),

  • the social sciences (including Anthropology, Communications, Economics, Linguistics, Education, Geography)

  • the tech sciences (like Computer Science, Networking, Software development),

  • Business and Commerce,

  • Actuarial science (used by insurance companies)

  • Medicine

2. That marks are important and have a strong bearing on, not only entrance to university, but also success upon their arrival in their first year.

Yes, students would be wise to enter university with a good background in Mathematics. Experience has shown that students who come to university with a poor grade in Math (or who choose to skip Math in high school) have a difficult time progressing in the disciplines they have chosen to major in. So we strongly recommend students take Mathematics seriously during their high school years and score at least a B to be able to do reasonably well in university Mathematics. This is in the student’s best interest.  Nevertheless, the Mathematics Department at UNBC offers MATH 115 for students who did not take MATH 12, to help such students bridge their transition to university life.

3. The challenges that face first year students. (Work load, Math topics covered, how students cope with the transition from high school.)

Indeed, there are cultural differences and challenges. In the university setting students are treated as adults who are responsible for their own welfare and course work.  Normally, students take 5 courses per semester so as to complete the degree requirements in 4 years (which are normally 120 credits, though some degrees have more).  However, help is available in terms of tutorials, support from the Learning Skills Center, office hours, and collaboration with fellow students.  Our faculty have a proven record of being helpful and supportive of their students (something which we often hear rumored by our students).

4. The many uses of mathematics in the university setting.

The answer to question 1 shows just how pervasive Mathematics is in the university and in the many other degrees that UNBC offers.  Mathematics courses are required for students who want to major in the following areas: Business, Marketing, Finance, Commerce, Biology, Economics, Chemistry, Computer Science, Physics, Environmental Engineering, Forestry, Psychology, Nursing, Health and Human Sciences.

5. Your experiences with mathematics as it is used in a variety of career areas.

Every area of Mathematics has its own unique applications to the different career options. For example, Algebra is very important for computer science, cryptology, networking, study of symmetry in Chemistry and Physics. Calculus (including differential equations) is used in Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Engineering, the motion of water (hydrodynamics), rocket science, molecular structure, option price modeling in Business and Economics models, etc.

6. Any other motivational topic that will help students understand the competative nature of the working world and the importance of being successful in math.

Students are encouraged to give serious attention to their future. The career world is competitive. The competition and the opportunities in the career world become a serious problem for students if they do not do well in Mathematics, because then they are excluding themselves from the many career paths that need Mathematics. We therefore exhort all our high school students to take matters in their own hands, to study hard, achieve a level of excellence, and take such a fundamental discipline like Mathematics seriously if they think they may go into any of the Physical, Social, Health Sciences, Business, Medicine, or related areas.

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