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What math should I specialize in? Help!

  1. Jan 24, 2012 #1
    Hello, I am a grade 12 Highschool student and I plan on, if all goes well, attending the University of Toronto. I love math and enjoy solving the problems. I do well in math contests and in the math courses, such as Calculus, at my school.

    Anyways, I need to pick a specialist program at UofT, but I would love to hear personal experiences from anywhere and anyone.
    I need someone's expertise to help me sort out the differences between the different kind of undergraduate programs you can take in the Mathematics area of study.

    First of all, I am considering the regular "Mathematics" specialist program. I hear it is extremely challenging but I think I would enjoy doing it and I get excited when I hear the material that is going to be taught at the course. What I don't like about it is, (and PLEASE correct me if I'm wrong), that it's going to be hard to find a rewarding job. I will most likely do graduate school but I don't want to become a professor, or work in research - These seem like the only options available to pure Mathematics specialist majors. It seems like Finance and Risk Management (Insurance) companies would rather hire a Finance major or "Mathematics and Economics" Major.

    There is also "Applied Mathematics", but I don't have a lot of information about it. I'm interested in applying it with physics and all, but I feel like I will get a lot of irrevelant information that will never help me in life.

    Another option that interests me is Mathematical Applications in Economics & Finance (specialist program). The thing is, even though I don't know much economics or finance, and I do know that both have great job opportunities in the future, from what I hear they seem to be really boring.
    Computational Mathematics seems cool, but I don't know what it is about computer's that repels me. I'm fine with working in front of a computer, but to specialize in them, or their applications doesn't appeal to me.

    All in all, my mind is contorting from everything I listed above. I think I am leaning towards the Mathematics specialist major, and if someone can inform me about the possibilities after completing grad school math that would be great.

    All help would be greatly appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 24, 2012 #2
    Do you really need to decide already? At my university, you wouldn't really need to decide until year 3 or so as applied and pure mathematicians take the same classes for a while (including real analysis and algebra). In terms of job opportunities, there are more in applied math outside of academia but you need to do what you like if you have the ability for either.
  4. Jan 24, 2012 #3
  5. Jan 24, 2012 #4
    Thanks, I never knew you don't have to worry about that until 3rd year. However, I would still like to know the major differences between each of the specialist programs.
  6. Jan 24, 2012 #5
    You decide in second year....
    If you're not sure you can take:
    MAT157Y (Eq. to two courses)
    CSC108H(Skip this if you already have some background in OOP)
    ECO100Y (Eq. to two courses)
    And take another two courses outside of these fields that interest you

    You will have all the background for the programs you listed above and you can pick the one that interests you the most after first year after having some exposure to different areas
  7. Jan 24, 2012 #6
    Thank you so much!
  8. Jan 25, 2012 #7
    Just a suggestion. You might try looking into operations research for another option. It makes use of a lot of cool math like graph theory, optimization, probability, queuing theory, and more.
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