So what should you do to prepare for life as a math major? The following tips can help you make a smooth transition from high school to college.
- First, take as much math as you can in high school. You should take Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry. If you take Precalculus, you will be well prepared for success in college-level math courses and ready to go directly into Calculus if you wish.
- Think about replacing one or two semesters of college Calculus with AP Calculus if it’s available at your high school—this enables you to take higher-level math classes more quickly. A score of at least 3 on the AP Calculus AB exam will get you credit for Calculus I (4 semester credits) and a score of at least 4 on the AP Calculus BC exam will get you credit for Calculus I and II (8 semester credits).
- Review for the Andrews University Mathematics Placement Examination (MPE). This test measures how much arithmetic and high school algebra you know. Students who earn satisfactory scores will be able to enroll in courses like Reasoning with Functions, Precalculus, Calculus, General Physics, and others. Students with a low score may need to take a noncredit course to review arithmetic and high school algebra. Click here to see information about the MPE, including a self-test.
- If you are interested in choosing math as your major, spend some time learning about the many career opportunities you will enjoy during and after college.
What to expect
Some university courses will be required, but others will be electives, which means you will get to choose courses that interest you. A faculty member will serve as your academic advisor and help you plan each semester’s schedule of classes.
Your serious mathematical study will start with Calculus I, II, and III. After Calculus, many doors open. You will want to take Differential Equations (finding solutions of equations involving derivatives), elementary Linear Algebra (a powerful extension of the study of simultaneous linear equations), and Statistics and Probability. All these are studies with many applications in science, technology, and business.
For you to take Discrete Mathematics in the spring of your first or second year is important. In this course you will learn the fundamentals of logic and proof on which many of your advanced courses will depend. You will also learn about the role of large prime numbers in encryption systems.
Here are a few other courses you may take:
- Advanced Calculus, which will teach you to think with complete precision about the ideas of continuity and limit that you explored first in Calculus.
- Abstract Algebra, which will teach you about structures called groups, rings, and fields and show you much more about algebra than what you learned in high school.
- Geometry, which will not only teach you about both ancient and modern geometry but will change the way you think about mathematics itself.