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I don't know what I'm doing?

  1. Sep 28, 2011 #1
    I'm an older student working on completing my first degree. It is difficult. My major is [currently] mathematics. :) Please, help me by answering these questions!

    1) How much time should I be putting into my courses daily??

    I actually want to remember this stuff. The bad thing is I don't remember much of geometry, trig, and calculus.

    My courses for this semester are: complex analysis, differential equations, transitions to advanced math, Japanese I [shouldn't have taken it], and linear algebra.

    2) My school doesn't require a year of physics for a BS mathematics degree, but should I take it to be competitive for jobs/graduate school programs?

    3) Should I go for a BA or a BS in mathematics??

    I really want to learn Japanese, but I see now that higher level math courses require much more than just working the problems. Also, Japanese is time consuming, too [must complete 2 years of Japanese for a BA]. Will having two years of Japanese help me career/graduate school wise?

    4) What other advice do you have for someone like me? Should I completely switch majors??
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 28, 2011 #2


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    In what country do you live and where do you want to be employed after graduation? Knowing this will help members taylor advice to your current needs and future goals.
  4. Sep 28, 2011 #3

    Sorry about that!

    I'm in the USA. I ultimately want to work for a software/engineering company, but I know that I won't have the necessary skill, so I plan on teaching remedial math at a community college while working on an applied math graduate degree.
  5. Sep 28, 2011 #4
    I know Japanese fairly well, and it was useful to me as I did end up living in Japan for over a year. But otherwise I cannot vouch for how useful it would be.

    As for the rest, if you do not understand the basics, I would suggest getting familiar with them. You should be doing as many hours as your require to fully understand the material and to keep up the same pace as the course.

    BA or BS in mathematics... If you wish to work for an software/engineering company I'd wager a BS is a little more beneficial.
  6. Sep 28, 2011 #5
    While I am not a mathematician, I do know full well that math builds on itself. You must have a good foundation to move ahead in it successfully. Calculus and trigonometry are quite important, the former being very important.

    I would take physics. It is where pure math connects to reality.

    Whether you switch majors is your decision. I took a number of graduate math courses while working on my doctorate in ME. I found them more difficult than my engineering courses. I like to see numbers but one sees few numbers in higher level math courses.
  7. Oct 4, 2011 #6
    Thanks for the replies.

    I am lost. I am too old to be lost. I have no interests. I pursued math because it was easy for me in HIGH school. I am lost.
  8. Oct 4, 2011 #7
    If it was easy for you in high school, chances are you have a shot at it in college. All you need is a refresher. I don't know about complex analysis, but in diff eq's calculus is pretty important to know and to know thoroughly.
  9. Oct 4, 2011 #8
    If you don't really have interest in math, you probably shouldn't be a math major. You should try to find something you do have an interest in. Just realize that if you switch your major to something like Japanese, you might not have as many job opportunities after graduation as a STEM degree.
  10. Oct 4, 2011 #9
    I know. I am trying to be realistic. I was going to switch my major to computer science because I took a basic intro to programming course (we used raptor) and I liked it, but I hear the horror stories of real computer science. Not just that, I want to finish asap because I feel like my life is passing me by. I hate my job, I hate my life, so I'm just trying to finish. I am closest to finishing a math degree, so my plan was to finish a BA/BS in math, hopefully find a more enjoyable job, and then complete the requirements for a MS in software engineering/computer science/computational math while working.

    Honestly, I don't even like Japanese now because language classes put me outside of my comfort zone. I would rather just try to learn it at a language institute at a later time, so I won't be registering for Japanese II.

    @AngryCitizen... yes, I'm getting a taste of that in differential equations! :) I need to review my integrals and derivatives. Well, everything.

    I am trying to stay with math because I've been changing my mind for so long. I went from engineering to physics to math. I changed majors in the past because I don't like labs. They make me feel very uncomfortable because I'm sort of a recluse. I didn't want to feel that way for the next X amount of years.

    Thank you for your replies. I am trying to keep moving forward. I wish I had a different outlook, a different personality...
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2011
  11. Oct 4, 2011 #10


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    You did not prepare enough before returning to school for Mathematics study. This is maybe your biggest problem. If you do not remember much Trigonometry and Calculus, then you are not genuinely qualified to study all at once Complex Analysis and Differential Equations.
    Lab class sections are difficult because you are doing practical exercises for which you have limited time to learn often things which are new to you. Lab work sometimes or often feels different outside of an academic science lab class. In industry or a job, you learn how to do the same or similar things over many weeks.

    My impression is that you are pushing yourself too hard to do things without having enough preparation. You also have not yet felt the difference between a lab class and doing lab work in the normal working world.
  12. Nov 17, 2011 #11

    You're right. I need to make a new plan....

    Thanks for your replies.
  13. Nov 17, 2011 #12
    If your ultimate goal is to be working for a software/engineering company, why would you not specialize in these fields?
  14. Nov 17, 2011 #13
    Hi nts :smile: I am 31 and just finished my degree(s). I am still a little lost. I have narrowed it down quite a bit, but the problem is that I just like everything too much. For the longest time I thought that I had 'no interests' ... but come to discover that I have the exact opposite problem. Everything is just so interesting that I had a hard time choosing. I too started off thinking that math would be the right choice for me. But after looking around a little, I found that the types of jobs I would be likely to get with a math degree were not jobs I was crazy about.

    After taking some physics courses, I fell in love with 'the way things work' types of courses. I eventually decided on Mechanical Engineering and really enjoyed my studies and have some potential job prospects lined up.

    From my personal experience, I would have to recommend that you at least look at an engineering program to see what kind of time scale you would be looking at. Try not to worry so much about finishing your degree ASAP. I know the feeling. But think of how bad you will feel if you rush through a degree only to find out that you really don't like it.

    Also, no matter what job you get, you will have to deal with people, so don't let a few labs get you down or hold you back. Yeah, I know, people suck and working in some groups can really suck. But that is what undergrad can be like. Working in a real group with like-minded, mature people can be a really great experience.

    If you like math and programming, it might be worth looking into your school's EE program. Many schools couple an EE degree with a CE (computer engineering) degree. Maybe this would be a nice choice for you? Who knows? At least look around!

    Best of luck :smile:
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