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Tough Choices ?

  1. Mar 4, 2010 #1
    Tough Choices ??????????

    I am fairly new to the site. I am 31 years old, unemployed and have a Bachelors in Political Science. Long story how I got here. I had My own business for the last 7 years, which I closed due to the recession. I have never had a job where I have used my Degree. I have been uncessfull for a year and half trying to find any work.

    I am now sure that I need to go back to school, but I am torn in two completely different directions. When I was in 7th and 8th grade I scored in the top 1% of the country in Math and Science. I was asked to be in Gifted and Talented, but I was to cool and lazy to join. I did just enough to get bye.

    I am a totaly different person today. This past year I have applied to Graduate School, Law School and entertained the idea of pursuing a second Bachelors in a Math related field. While waiting for responses from Law School and Graduate School I figured brush up on some basic Math to see if it even comes back to me, so I am currently in the middle of Intermediate Algerbra.

    I understand for Math and Science people this is a elemtary class, but I am 31 and haven't seen Algerbra since the 9th grade (I am 31 years old). I have gotten a 100% on all my tests. This has helped with my confidence. I am scheduled to take Pre-Calc in the summer, and Calc 1 in the Fall. I absolutely love doing Math Problems. Not really sure why, or if that will change once the material gets harder.

    The reason I called this tough choices is, because I have recently been accepted to Widener Law School. Since I have a BA in Political Science, Law School would be the best way to advanced my degree.

    I know this is a decesion that I have to make, but I am torn between moving forward with what I have already completed, and fixing something I should have a long time ago. I know there are some really smart people on this site, so I hope to get a lot of responses.


  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 4, 2010 #2
    Re: Tough Choices ??????????

    This is indeed a tough choice. I think you need to ask yourself what exactly you want to do with math. If the material comes that easily to you after so many years of using no math, then you certainly have some talent. How much talent you have is impossible to tell, and success at lower levels does not necessarily correlate with success at higher levels. You need to at least get through calculus, and possibly more, before you can confidently say that you will be able to complete a math-heavy degree. And even if you are able to do it, it will NOT come easily. Everyone, no matter how talented, has to work very hard to advance in math. This would be true even if you were Terence Tao (and you're not). But don't let that put you off! If you really love math and science, then pursue it. After you get your law degree, if you think to yourself "I really wish I had pursued more math", you will not be able to go back. So do whatever your heart is telling you -- if it's telling you to pursue math or science, then do so! If you love law and political science more, then take that route.

    I don't have much real experience (I'm a 20-year-old college freshman), so these are just unfounded opinions, but I think they're right.
  4. Mar 4, 2010 #3
    Re: Tough Choices ??????????

    To be honest, I'd wait until you've taken at least Calculus II before deciding to venture into math or science. For a lot of people that is a "weeding out" type class. If you find that you like what you're doing in Calculus, even in Calc I, then go for it. Life is short, so do what you like to do.

    It's great that you've already made the decision to go back to school. In my opinion law school seems more difficult than a bachelor's in Math or a science, but may be a quicker route to land a well-paying job.

    Let's say you do decide to go for math or a science... what would you want to do with that? What kind of job would you imagine yourself doing if you had the brains of one of the awesome moderators on this site that help me with all my homework (lol)? Maybe that answer can help you make the decision.
  5. Mar 4, 2010 #4
    Re: Tough Choices ??????????

    I'm not actually sure what this choice is.

    You were accepted to a law school. Going there is one option. You didn't clearly explain what the other option is, and here's why: Graduating from a law school will more or less directly open up a large number of career avenues, but graduating with a mathematics degree will not. A math degree is something that needs to be planned out more carefully, and you will need to critically analyze what it is you are actually hoping to gain in the long run.

    Truly I don't mean this to sound harsh. I'm just worried that you haven't laid out this choice very explicitly, and it makes me wonder if you really know what you want to do with this study of mathematics or if you're just pursuing it out of its intrinsic appeal.

    Pursuing mathematics out of its intrinsic appeal is a choice that many make, myself included, but it's a risky decision because a mathematics degree with no specialization of any kind is not that useful unless you want to go to graduate school. Graduate study of mathematics is a very intellectually rewarding path, but is it one you want to take? Certainly it's a bad decision if all you're wanting is a better job! Mathematics with a strong specialization--say in computer science and software development or perhaps actuarial science--is a different story.

    I'm also worried because higher mathematics is very unlike intermediate algebra. Some people cannot find purpose in the abstraction. For some people beauty and elegance alone are not enough, and I don't know how you'd know which crowd you fall in until it's too late, more or less. Unfortunately it is difficult to give someone a genuine taste of higher mathematics at an early stage simply because the prerequisites are so... high. The barrier is not one of intelligence or anything like that. Higher mathematics is separated from intermediate algebra by many things; it involves essentially a new way of thinking, the problems are of a completely different nature (they concern proving or deducing truths rather than computing results), and the language is filled with hundreds and hundreds of unfamiliar terms that embody unfamiliar and often exotic ideas, each of which requires careful study to master.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2010
  6. Mar 5, 2010 #5
    Re: Tough Choices ??????????

    Zpconn, in regards to my plan with my Math degree I plan on getting 30 credits which will allow me to teach in NJ, since I already have a Bachelors. I also looked at majoring in Computational Science, which will still allow me to teach but will open more doors. Hope that clarfies some more.

  7. Mar 5, 2010 #6
    Re: Tough Choices ??????????

    I'm not sure what the choice is here. When you are in law school, finish up your calculus class, and once you have your law degree keep taking math classes on the side. Once you have some basic calculus and some experience as a practicing lawyer, I'm pretty sure that you can figure out ways of studying science and math in ways that are professionally useful.
  8. Mar 5, 2010 #7
    Re: Tough Choices ??????????

    I am a college freshman in my mid-20s. That should allow you to put a value of some kind to my advice.

    My opinion is that you should attend law school for the following reasons: you have Political Science knowledge and 7 years experience running your own business (i.e. thinking independently). Those two reasons will be hugely beneficial to you in law school. Most important reason is that you need a better safety net than the one you have now; a law degree will do that for you.

    At the same time, attending law school does not prevent you from continuing your mathematics studies on your own. You may always combine the knowledge gained in law school with the mathematical/scientific knowledge you gain on an alternate track in fields such as forensic science, to name one.

    Just make sure you never stop feeding your stomach and your brain.
  9. Mar 5, 2010 #8
    Re: Tough Choices ??????????

    Unless you really hate law school, I think you would be better off finishing that up first and then learning math on the side. One thing that you will be able to get with a law degree is a reliable source of income, which isn't a minor thing.

    The problem is that any bachelor-level math/science degree by itself isn't likely to produce the type of income that you would get with a law degree. Conversely, once you get a law degree, any math/science extra courses that you take are likely to make that law degree much more valuable. If you have a law degree and you take even some very basic physics or engineering courses, this would be really useful for things like liability cases.
  10. Mar 5, 2010 #9
    Re: Tough Choices ??????????

    first and foremost you need to do what you love. if you don't love anything, and its pretty much even between mathematics/science and law, go with the law. If it isn't clear to you that you love math, perhaps making more money will make you happier being a lawyer than a teacher
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