Getting a mathematics mentor in high school?

  • #1
High school student here...

Over the past year or so, I've developed an intense interest in mathematics. I work problems every day and I am constantly working to grow my knowledge.

As a junior, I am currently in AP calculus and will most likely be eligible for Calc 3 my senior year. I'm currently trying to complete 1 proof at the undergraduate level every week and have been pretty successful so far.

Has anyone on PF ever had the experience of having a professor mentor them in high school? I live close to multiple colleges and I can't help but want to learn more. There is a math tutor at my school who helps me sometimes. He checks my proofs when I finish them. Unfortunately, he didn't study that much math in college, so when I ask questions about things like complex analysis he doesn't have a lot of info to go off of and my questions eventually go unanswered or I go on Math SE.

I don't know if a professor would be willing to spare the time although I 100% would be willing to put my best effort forth in whatever they could teach me. It's hard not knowing anyone who is as interested as I am in math and who is willing to endure my questions and ideas all the time. It's hard keeping everything in my head all of the time. Is there any advice that can be given for this situation?
 
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  • #2
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I imagine you'd have a hard time finding a professor to mentor you in that way, as professors are very busy. However, I have known high school students who have done research with professors at nearby universities (especially if they plan to attend), so it's not totally out of the question.

Have you spoken to your academic advisor about whether you could take mathematics classes at one of the nearby universities?
 
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  • #3
I have talked to some people about taking math classes at a college, but I go to a cyber school. The relationships with teachers are a little impersonal, so it's sometimes difficult to prove my abilities beyond grades. For example, I opened up to the regular calculus teacher about my issue and his response was "You should wait a little bit. There's something in college math called proofs that might be tricky." I understand where he's coming from, but he isn't aware that I understand and am capable of completing proofs with little to no outside guidance.
 
  • #4
FactChecker
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When you say that you can complete proofs, do you have a mathematician look at your proofs? It may be hard to judge whether your own proof is valid.

You should be able to find an advanced highschool or college math student who is willing to mentor you if you are willing to pay. If you want it for free, that may be harder.
Without that, Math SE or this forum should be able to answer many of your questions.
 
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  • #5
When you say that you can complete proofs, do you have a mathematician look at your proofs? It may be hard to judge whether your own proof is valid.

You should be able to find an advanced highschool or college math student who is willing to mentor you if you are willing to pay. If you want it for free, that may be harder.
Without that, Math SE or this forum should be able to answer many of your questions.
Yes, the math tutor at my school checks them. He studied math in college, but not very extensively, which is why it's difficult to ask him more abstract questions. So far, all of my proofs have been correct.
 
  • #6
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It's important not to lose sight of the long game. You need to make sure that your number one goal is to get into a good college. Mathematics will still be there a year from now. That doesn't mean you should sit on your hands, but it would be bad to start something very advanced and let your grades slip.
 
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  • #7
It's important not to lose sight of the long game. You need to make sure that your number one goal is to get into a good college. Mathematics will still be there a year from now. That doesn't mean you should sit on your hands, but it would be bad to start something very advanced and let your grades slip.
That seems to be what every adult says. I guess it's for a reason, despite being very frustrating.
 
  • #8
berkeman
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I live close to multiple colleges and I can't help but want to learn more.
Do you have any community colleges nearby? Often, you can take CC classes while you are in high school, and earn college credit for the classes. Have you taken calculus yet in HS? You can ask your academic advisor if your cyber school has the ability to help you link up with a local CC to take more advanced math classes...
 
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  • #9
Do you have any community colleges nearby? Often, you can take CC classes while you are in high school, and earn college credit for the classes. Have you taken calculus yet in HS? You can ask your academic advisor if your cyber school has the ability to help you link up with a local CC to take more advanced math classes...
Yes, I'm about 10 minutes from a CC actually. I'm taking calculus right now, so I could try and ask for next year.
 
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  • #10
berkeman
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Yes, I'm about 10 minutes from a CC actually. I'm taking calculus right now, so I could try and ask for next year.
Perfect! I took a couple CC classes in HS my senior year, because I had already max'ed out the available math classes that they had to offer at my HS. It was a good experience in several ways, including the harder math classes, and starting to learn what it was like to navigate a college campus and get to know college students. :smile:
 
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  • #11
Perfect! I took a couple CC classes in HS my senior year, because I had already max'ed out the available math classes that they had to offer at my HS. It was a good experience in several ways, including the harder math classes, and starting to learn what it was like to navigate a college campus and get to know college students. :smile:
Thank you for the suggestion. It sounds like that is my most realistic option at this point. That's something I can look forward to for next year :)
 
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  • #12
verty
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That seems to be what every adult says. I guess it's for a reason, despite being very frustrating.
It's because you only get one shot and you can't redo it. And school marks count, believe it or not. Some top schools need A's to get in. And you can get your studies paid for in some cases. And it counts for your CV, so it's very important.
 
  • #13
Dr. Courtney
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Yes, I'm about 10 minutes from a CC actually. I'm taking calculus right now, so I could try and ask for next year.
Why not next semester instead? No need to wait.

Another idea would be to develop a math project for your local ISEF-affiliated science fair. The judges at a lot of fairs are math faculty at local colleges and this provides an opportunity to meet and impress them if you've done a good job. My daughter began a correspondence with a judge from her math project her junior year of high school, and he became something of a mentor for her - helping her fix some of the deficiencies in her project and prepare it for publication. This fellow was a faculty member at a big name school and he was impressed both by my daughter's work ethic as well as her willingness to accept advice and correction where she had made mistakes. Not only did he help her with the math, but when the time came, his letter of recommendation was also important for those admissions and scholarship applications.

My sons weren't in need of math mentors, but they certainly impressed their math instructors in their dual enrollment courses as 11th and 12th graders taking college classes through Calc 3. They were both invited to join the competitive math teams and made the college look good in the contests, and my older son also served as a math tutor in the college tutoring center. I think with this much positive impression and interaction with the math faculty, they could have easily found a mentor for math, had they asked around.

Start by impressing some local college math faculty.
 
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  • #14
Why not next semester instead? No need to wait.

Another idea would be to develop a math project for your local ISEF-affiliated science fair. The judges at a lot of fairs are math faculty at local colleges and this provides an opportunity to meet and impress them if you've done a good job. My daughter began a correspondence with a judge from her math project her junior year of high school, and he became something of a mentor for her - helping her fix some of the deficiencies in her project and prepare it for publication. This fellow was a faculty member at a big name school and he was impressed both by my daughter's work ethic as well as her willingness to accept advice and correction where she had made mistakes. Not only did he help her with the math, but when the time came, his letter of recommendation was also important for those admissions and scholarship applications.

My sons weren't in need of math mentors, but they certainly impressed their math instructors in their dual enrollment courses as 11th and 12th graders taking college classes through Calc 3. They were both invited to join the competitive math teams and made the college look good in the contests, and my older son also served as a math tutor in the college tutoring center. I think with this much positive impression and interaction with the math faculty, they could have easily found a mentor for math, had they asked around.

Start by impressing some local college math faculty.
I do have a robotics competition coming up at a local college. Maybe it's worth talking to some people about opportunities there. Also, I could apply for a CC class even before finishing out the school year?
 
  • #15
Dr. Courtney
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I do have a robotics competition coming up at a local college. Maybe it's worth talking to some people about opportunities there. Also, I could apply for a CC class even before finishing out the school year?
In most of the programs I know of, the deadlines have not passed yet for spring semester dual enrollment. But I'd get on it quickly.
 

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