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Be Practical About your Future! Study math!

I shared this article with my students back in October. It discusses recent findings from about the top earning professions. Twenty-eight of the top thirty jobs requires math! I tell my students every year about this time when we are deciding on which math course they should take next year, to keep their minds open to a major that might require math and to not close doors to a STEM career at age 14.

I often share my math in college story. My very first class at UCSD was a calculus class. I am sure my professor was a brilliant mathematician, but he was a lousy teacher, especially when compared to the dedicated and passionate teachers that I was fortunate enough to have when I was in high school. My calculus professor didn't turn around from the board once during his hour lecture, spoke with a heavy accent and wasn't at all engaging. Only after reading the section from our textbook did I realize that he was explaining an integral, something I had learned the year before. This story isn't meant to dissuade my students from taking math, rather it is meant to encourage them to pursue higher level math while in high school, where they have teachers who were hired to teach (and not to do research).

Even if my students are sure they will be majoring in Art or English, it is likely that they will change their minds many times before they graduate from college. I hope that they will be practical and balance their interest in the humanities with the need to be employable when they graduate. A compromise: double major?It is key that we not only foster an interest in math and science in our students, but that we also support them by teaching them the skills they need and thus boosting their confidence to choose a STEM major despite the math prerequisites.