Perhaps one of the more traditional subjects to study is mathematics.
What starts off in primary schools up and down the country can either turn into a life-long passion for numbers and problem-solving… or it can be the bane of someone’s childhood. For me, my relationship with maths started quite well and I ended up taking the subject at A Level. Ultimately it got all a bit theoretical for me, but some people revel in it, all the way through an A Level in further maths and beyond into university.
It’s no secret that maths is one of the harder school and university school subjects. You can expect to be tested in complex algebra to even, at degree level, quantum mathematics and special relativity. Maths has such a wide range of applications that it means that during your education you’re going to probably come across a fair few other subjects along the way:
- As part of A Level maths you may well find yourself doing a statistics module. This is potentially the result of doing the GCSE statistics course. Statistics can be found in most walks of life and will likely test your analytical skills.
- Those among you have always been lovers of the sciences will be glad to know that science has a key link to mathematics. Physics is highly maths-base and, for me, the first half of AS Level Chemistry was purely maths-based learning. Whether it be atomic weight or atomic energy, maths and science work famously well together.
- Business and enterprise subjects make good use of mathematical concepts, such as statistics, percentages and algebra.
- It is interesting to note that you may well find a great deal in slightly unusual areas, such as geography. Percentages and other measures are useful in both human and physical geography.
Ultimately then, you’ll find that your skills are in demand from employers. Here’s why….
- Well, to start off with, you’re probably one of the sharper tools in the box. That’s nothing against people who study other subjects, but studying mathematics gives across a perception of intelligence to people. When one considers the fact that you studied one of the toughest A Levels in Further Maths (often a requirement for degree-level Maths) and then persevered through a degree, employers are going to see a highly-intelligent individual.
- Even then, you may not find that you’re in a strictly-mathematical domain. It has become recently apparent that the degree you study does not always equate to what you end up doing in a job after you graduate. Arguably, the same could be said for maths – you might find yourself open to many different areas without being a mathematician, so to speak. At the end of the day, you will have a lot of options with such a broad topic. Just think, all that statistical work could see you being an analyst of some description, the algebra in forecasting.
- Your ability to solve problems and puzzles will be almost unrivalled. Being able to dissect a problem and create multiple steps through to find an answer is something that business will love. You could find yourself in strategically planning activities and projects.
- Sometimes, there is nothing like solid hard facts presented to you. Whatever field you end up in, a prospective employer will like the fact that you can show your methodology and a structured path to an answer. There is little theory to explain in mathematics and sometimes it is easy to just come to an answer through lots of solid calculations.
- There is a lot of tradition behind maths. Often seen as a traditional subject and one of the ‘purest’ fields out there, employers and managers may well see a lot of prestige in that. For example, as part of a maths degree you could find yourself looking at some of the oldest mathematical conundrums around (Fermat’s Theorem, to name one). Being able to look at some of the great challenges such as this with relative ease is going to be impressive.
Suddenly, things are looking bright for you (if you had any doubt!) Now all of a sudden you are looking at a vast array of employment and internship opportunities…
Yes, remarkably you can get on in the world of engineering without a degree in that exact field. A knowledge of mechanics and movement will certainly be a valuable addition to a team of engineers. Whilst they will no doubt have more experience in construction and practicalities, you won’t be beaten when it comes down to theory and number-crunching.
There’s no shortage of engineering fields. You could find yourself in aeronautical engineering, civil engineering, military engineering… the list goes on and on.
Investment / Finance
Let’s face it, anyone who can work with numbers so efficiently as a maths graduate would do well to look at the finance sector. Your ability to forecast and analyse statistics will put you a cut above even some experienced financial experts. Investment is about taking risks and getting returns, both of which can come down to probabilities and statistics. A company looking at investment risk will look to your analytical mind to make informed decisions.
I do hear people say ‘well, isn’t that for the economists?’ Short answer, yes it can be. In reality, however, a maths graduate could easily find a space doing the same job. Whilst a background knowledge of economics is not part of your degree, your ability to take numbers on face value and look into why X and Y happened will be valuable. This comes down to the notion that the degree doesn’t have to be strictly related.
Bear with me on this – geography and weather go hand in hand I know. However, there is a certain science and skill to predicting the weather and a lot of it comes down to some mathematical principles. If you’ve ever read up on the Chaos Theory, you’ll understand that small changes in one area can cause massive changes elsewhere (the butterfly effect – the idea that a butterfly flapping its wings over in Place A can make the difference of causing a hurricane in Place B.)
Meteorology uses a surprising amount of mathematics and forecasting to look at the weather. Sometimes, the application of the human mind and use of theories such as the Chaos Theory are more effective than using a computer.
With mathematics students at A Level on the decline, graduates could see themselves being an inspiring figure.
If you look at the figures posted by the Department for Education, you’ll find that currently only half of maths teachers actually have maths degree. Pretty shocking yes, but also see it as an opportunity to have a massive head-start in a job market. The BBC reported last year that the government was concerned about a shortage of teachers in the maths field. Has there been a better time?
One way that maths students among you might find as a good way to earn some money and get some great experience is maths online tutoring. This is not only fun and exciting, but can also help people who are struggling or need extra help – surely a great experience to have?