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Use of Math in Various Careers

Date: 11/06/2004 at 17:07:06
From: Amanda
Subject: persuading classmates math is important in every career

Just briefly, how is math related to history, poly sci, visual 
communications, business, and psychology?  I've researched some of 
these, but I just wanted a simple personal perspective as well. 

I have to persuade a number of "anti-math" students that math is 
essential and important in every career and in life in general.

I am supposed to be giving a persuasive speech to a group of college 
freshmen and I want to make them realize how important it is to have 
math in their background.  I want to relate to each of them so I had 
them take a survey so I knew if they liked math and what their 
majors were so I could reach everyone's concerns.



Date: 11/06/2004 at 18:50:35
From: Doctor Jordan
Subject: Re: persuading classmates math is important in every career

Hi Amanda,

I think in business, basic to intermediate math skills are pretty 
important, and lots of business people need to be very quick with 
amortization, calculating cumulative rates of return on investment 
(which comes down to knowing powers), and other things like that.

Psychologists often need to use a lot of statistics, and statistics 
requires some background knowledge of calculus and linear algebra, 
usually the first year university level.

I expect people in political science would also need to know 
statistics fairly well, and might need to know some economics, which 
math is important for.

I don't think history or visual arts use much math, but I could be 
wrong.

However, another very useful reason to study math is to develop 
precise thinking skills.  This is much less measurable than knowing 
how to, say, take the derivative, but it is handy.  One thing people 
that take math tend to be fairly good at is taking a problem and 
figuring out what the essential nature of it is.  I've heard that law 
schools often look very favorably at students with math degrees; I 
know I read a fairly respectable source a year or two ago that said 
that per capita, math students have by a decent percentage the best 
chance of getting into law school.  I've spent the last half hour 
trying to find it, but I haven't been able to.  Obviously the 
percentage of math students in law school is much smaller than 
English or political science, but people that study math, from what I 
saw, have a better chance of getting into law school than students of 
both of those disciplines.  This is second hand information though, so 
before you stress this you might want to look into it.

One reason I've heard from a relative who wrote the LSAT is that the 
questions on it tend not to be focused on the kinds of things that you 
focus on in political science and English, but rather critical 
thinking (I don't mean these majors don't develop that, I just mean 
that they also develop writing skills, knowledge about human 
relations, etc.).  Math is all about precise thinking, and it might 
be good preparation for the LSAT and law school.

Does this help?  My favorite part of math is just that it seems 
beautiful, but I know many people don't think so!  There are still 
good practical reasons to study it.  If you have any questions, please 
write me back!

- Doctor Jordan, The Math Forum
  http://mathforum.org/dr.math/ 
Associated Topics:
High School About Math
Middle School About Math

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