It’s natural for humans to be inquisitive when faced with a scary and daunting prospect. If you’ve ever gone sky-diving or started a serious new job, you know the feeling – you have a thousand and one questions running through your head. “What will I need to prepare for this?” “What do I do if x happens?” “Is it as scary as everyone says?”
University math can have that effect on an outgoing high school student. Not only are students faced with the unprecedented challenge of leaving their comfortable high school routine, but they have an entire summer to worry about the academic road ahead.
Let’s alleviate some of that tension. In this post, let’s answer some frequently asked questions high school students have about university math.
Table of Contents
“Is University Math Really that Hard?”
This is probably the most popular question you hear a high schooler ask. And it makes sense: university math’s difficulty has taken on near mythic proportions in the public imagination, fed by Hollywood movies depicting blackboards covered top-to-bottom in unreadable equations.
There’s some truth to this. Yes, university math is a significant leap forward from high school math. But it’s not unreasonable; university math programs aren’t keen to fail a significant portion of their students. And taking the right high school courses can prepare you for the leap. Speaking of…
“How Do You Prepare for University Math Courses?”
The best way to prepare for university math courses is to take “university-level” high school courses in grade 12. Courses like MHF4U Advanced Functions and MCV4U Calculus and Vectors prepare you for the rigors of university, introducing you to higher-level concepts and applications. Consider taking these courses at a self-paced online school to ensure that you fully absorb the concepts and develop the requisite skills.
“Isn’t Math Just for Math Programs?”
No, math rears its head in several university programs, including business, engineering, economics and science. These degrees may require you to take calculus courses, physics, linear algebra and more.
As such, grade 12 math proficiency is often an entry requirement for many programs. If your math grades look a little light heading into the spring semester, consider taking high school upgrade courses online.
“Do You Need English to Study Math? If So, Why?”
“I’m heading to university math courses – finally, I can do away with all this English class business!” Not so fast.
Pretty much all math or math-requiring programs require you to demonstrate English proficiency, often with a solid mark in grade 12 English. Although mathematics is primarily concerned with numbers, structures, space and shapes, you need English to communicate those concepts effectively. Moreover, you need English to apply math skills in the workplace. And speaking of workplaces…
What Kinds of Jobs Do Math Grads Get?”
Most courses that involve math have clear pipelines toward careers. For instance, business degrees funnel toward executive jobs or sales careers; engineering degrees prepare students for engineering positions, etc.
A cut-and-dry math degree is fairly open-ended career-wise. Some math grads continue on to become actuaries and accountants; others become research analysts; some oversee the financial operations of companies. And some math enthusiasts stay in the university system, hoping to hop on a tenure track and become university math professors themselves.
To summarize, don’t worry too much. University math is challenging, but you can prepare with university-level high school courses and other prerequisites.