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Math Business Major to Math Major

  1. May 18, 2012 #1
    Hello everybody,
    I started school in 2006 and studied like crazy to get out. I could have graduated in 3.5 years but became burned out after countless hours for studying of useless economcis classes. The economy hit the skids my junior year which threw me into a bit of depression since I felt I had been cheated by my professors. One of my finance professors was chuckling that now was a great time to be in the field since so many "interesting things were happening." I bummed around for another year taking random classes while partying a lot and chasing girls. Since I went to an in-state school, my tuition was paid for and I graduated with no debt. I never really tried to find a full time job but at my school's career fair they only had openings for sales people, a position I would loath.
    During this "bum period" I began to read things which interested me personally such as literature and philosophy. I soon made the decision to study some sort of science so I moved back home and enrolled in in some classes at the local community college witht the intentions of being an engineer while working at a low-paying job.
    During the last year of study, I have become deeply fascinated with mathematics. I ended up with a D in chemistry because I didn't find it at all interesting, not like Calculus. I only felt that studying for chemistry exams took up time I could have been studying mathematics. I ended up with a B(87%) in CalcI but rebounded with an A in CalcII.
    Anyway, my concerns are that I am too old to pursue mathematics academically. I turn 24 in a month. It seems most mathematicians start at a young age, like professional athletes. That is my primary concern. My goal right now is to get a Master's degree and then work in either the insurance or the computer industry (not likely since I know little about computers but, would like to know more). Would employers see all this time in school negatively? I do plan on working at least part-time but these jobs would be menial. Ideally, if I do well enough, I would consider a Ph.D., but I am concerned about my age. Thank you for reading my post and any useful advice, anecdotes or information.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 19, 2012 #2
    If you are looking to work in the insurance industry, why not self study for the actuary exams? I heard that most of the work they do isn't exactly one hundred percent challenging but it is a path you could take if you want to go insurance.
  4. May 19, 2012 #3
    Yea if you like computational math maybe you could combine that with your business background to get some kind of finance job. If you like pure math then that's a different matter.
  5. May 19, 2012 #4


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    I would not recommend this for most people without a really strong mathematics background.

    With the actuarial work, you will be drowning in a lot of techniques and results that you have to apply and it is nothing like the normal 'nice' and 'clean' math that is typically taught in science coursework.

    To the OP if you want to do actuarial work, or at least think about going in this direction, get an intuitive understanding of statistics so that when you see the different applications for actuarial work, it won't confuse you and give you enough of a background to know what is going, let alone to pass the exams.

    I know that there are a lot of people from a non-stats background that do become actuaries, but often a lot of these people will have some kind of technical background like physics, engineering, finance, or economics.

    Take the intro statistics course and sit the probability exam and so how you go if you are interested.
  6. May 19, 2012 #5


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    Hey SolomonX and welcome to the forums.

    The only thing I would advise is that you be aware of the realities of mathematics just like the realities of anything else when making a major decision.

    I like mathematics and a lot of other people here do as well and for me, I'm glad I chose this path over potential others.

    But like any kind of pursuit or endeavor there are boring parts, frustrating parts, and other things that have to be encountered somewhere in the journey. The question you will need to ask yourself once you have a more complete picture, is whether the benefits outweigh the hindrances or 'non-benefits' for you personally. This is the biggest thing I think you will need to do.

    You are going to get a lot of opinions from a lot of people of all experience, age, and so on and it's a good idea to hear the pessismistic opinions alongside the more optimistic ones. Both are constructive in their own way and it's probably a better thing for you to get a realistic picture rather than some kind of completely magestic picture you would find in a popular science book.

    Of course thankfully there are lots of different roles requiring lots of skillsets, personalities, abilities and talents in a wide range of areas which is a great thing since you don't have to be the best at everything, but if you are good at a few things or even one really important thing then that is still ok.
  7. May 19, 2012 #6
    Thanks for the responses so far. I think the mathematics degree will be very benefical to me, perhaps not financially but mentally and personally. I am fully cognizant of the fact that it will be a hard road but I will enjoy the challenge. Going to my calculus lectures and doing the coursework is very enjoyable.
    As far as a career is concerned, I still haven't quite figured it out but everyday I narrow my choices and my focus my efforts. I do think that mathematics will provide a sound basis for whatever it is I end up doing. I guess my biggest career goal is to contribute something to the world, whatever community I belong to, my family and friends and myself.
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