Major Monday: Mathematics

Last week, the guidance department met with juniors to review some Naviance features and talk about requesting letters of recommendation.  Students were given some free time to research colleges, and as we walked around we fielded quite a few questions about majoring in math.  Clearly it’s the perfect topic for a Major Monday post!

In looking for a good description of this major, I stumbled upon Merrimack College’s Mathematics Department website.  I love the way they describe the discipline:

Math, at heart, is about finding patterns in the world around us, studying them by making conjectures, and then proving them.  These patterns could be about numbers, but there is much more than that.  When an airline company needs to plan its flight routes across the country, they need to find a mathematical pattern.  When an artist wants to make a sculpture or painting that uses symmetry (say, of the human body, or a tree, or a cube), that symmetry will follow a mathematical pattern.  When a chemist needs to understand how different molecules will fit together to form chemical bonds, a mathematical pattern will govern how this works.  When a lawyer makes an argument to a jury or reads a legal document, a pattern of logic will be behind the scenes, making it work.  (Click here for Merrimack College’s Mathematics department’s website and full description)

As you can see, math is an enormously practical field.  But according to the College Board’s Book of Majors, the number of students seeking bachelor’s degrees in math is on the decline.  Why is that?  Perhaps students aren’t seeing that such a practical major can lead to many job possibilities.  Students who study math in college develop critical and logical thinking skills that can be used in a wide variety of careers.  The job outlook for majors is good – employers (and grad schools) tend to be impressed with math degrees.  Math majors can go on to work in business, finance, education, or scientific settings (just to name a few possibilities).  Some colleges (like Temple University) combine math and computer science, which leads to even more career possibilities for students.  If you love math and want to continue to study it at the college level, it’s important that you look at individual programs to see if they align with your interests.  Some colleges offer a combined math and education program (like Rivier College).  At Boston University, you can major in Mathematics, Mathematics & Computer Science, Mathematics Education, or Mathematics & Philosophy.

Other colleges offering degrees in mathematics:  Amherst College (MA), Drexel University (PA), Fairfield University (CT), Hartwick College (NY), James Madison University (VA)



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