Career guidance needed. HELP (in Off-topic)

Gandalf April 6 2012 9:02 AM EDT

To those that don't know me that well, probably most..

I'm studying a maths degree at the moment and in short i hate it. Mainly because its far from the 'maths' I'm used to, I'm currently studying modules which are not related to the outside world in the slightest.

I find myself this second glaring at a piece of coursework what i've looked blankly at for hours and hours, i've watched youtube videos and read notes, but NOTHING makes sense. This module is about groups, subgroups, co-sets, isomorphisms and lots more pointless stuff. (Well it seems pointless to me)

I know most will say.. it may seem pointless but just stick with it and u'll get a good degree out of it. My answer is i really honestly deep down i know i wont pass the degree and if i by some miracle do i'll get a 2.2 at the best. Which in this day and age is unemployable for a professional job, with such competition out there.

It's not a case i don't put the hours in i do. However its like im learning a subject i had zero prior knowledge too, basically liked ive been blind folded prior to university and picked a subject at random.

This has made me depressed, very depressed.. and i don't know what to do. I have to quit, i know i do. No 2 ways about it.

My lifeline maybes.. I've been offered a place at my old highschool, to start off being a maths mentor for the students their, give them extra help and help out in the classroom. The school would also fund me to do a open university degree and eventually i will qualify to be a teacher.

Now i've had to research the open university and see what its all about, basically you get notes online and its all self study. Do tests online and you get to pick your own modules. I could mix and match maybes some maths i like and some business type courses to build up my points. It takes about 5 years to complete however alot less full on I've been told as it would have to be doing a 35 hour week at the school. I also would get paid ᆪ15,000.00 a year till i became fully qualified.

Now i've not yet fully made up my mind if this is for me, however it certainly is a lifeline i've been given.

Thoughts please? Always can trust in the CB community for neutral comments. Well i hope so. Thanks in advance.

P.S I've not proof read it and bits maybe missed/not make sense, but you'll get my drift i.m really not happy at the moment.

AdminNightStrike April 6 2012 10:22 AM EDT

The first question that pops into my head, simply, Why'd you choose to major in mathematics in the first place? Start there, and we can fix the rest.

AdminQBnovice [Cult of the Valaraukar] April 6 2012 11:19 AM EDT

While it may not seem like it now, this is a perfect place to be.

You know what you don't want to do, and you've already got options.

Teaching isn't for everyone, but those who find it's something they love talk about it like it's the single most rewarding thing someone could do for a living.

Gandalf April 6 2012 11:46 AM EDT

I really enjoyed maths in school, it was fun and rewarding. Seemed like i was achieving things when i worked stuff out.

I was very eager to do a maths degree because i really enjoyed it when doing my a levels. I knew it would be tough however didn't think it would cover the things i'm seeing in my modules.

I do believe i'd enjoy teaching as I have helped in alot of maths classes and when i could relate my knowledge to the kids, sometimes in a simpler method than the teacher did, it was a great achievement for me as they understood it.

Another thing you maybe asking is, will you not fail your degree again if you do it at open uni? I'm hoping not as i will be able to pick exact modules to put towards my course, as its all done in a points system. Also i will have a very good set of maths teachers who are really awesome and would be willing to help me.

Mikel April 6 2012 11:55 AM EDT

Well firstly, you need to figure out what you enjoy.
Once you do that, possibly change your major, most of your credits will work so you won't be starting all over again. And in most cases, your current math levels will have far surpassed most requirements for your new degree.
I know, I did the same thing, changed my degree when I was half way done with my original degree and still was able to finish in good time, it added an extra term or two, but I made up for it by taking more classes each term and went during the summer to get back on track.

On the other hand, teaching can be rewarding (if you enjoy that), and math is a requirement for all schools so at least you will have a fairly high demand subject/profession.

ON a side note, is the school offer a program where they pay back your student loans (I'm just guessing you are using loans)? If so, then they technically are paying you more than 15 a year. Maybe it's different where you are, but we have those programs here.

Gandalf April 6 2012 12:03 PM EDT

That's an idea i've thought about Mikel - not sure what major I'd go for. Definitely something to do with numbers - maybes in the finance industry... Stockbrokering something like that would interest me.

As for the fees, they would pay the cost of the degree + ᆪ15,000.00 . So really I'll be benefiting from around ᆪ20,000.00 a year util completion.

Eorlas April 6 2012 12:13 PM EDT

Gandalf, I think I can offer quite a bit of assistance.

I am a junior at a University now, a university I came to thinking I would leave with a degree in pathobiology and I would move on to a professional school and become a veterinarian.

I assure you that right now this plan will not play out.

As of right now, I really detest the school I'm attending, and I've come to learn that the college experience was not the way to go for me if I wanted to be successful. This school year has been the worst, and I've pretty much attended maybe 10% of my classes because it's been absolute hell trying to cope with it.

However, I knew the whole time that I had good alternative options, and I plan on seeking those out.

What you have to realize is that although you came with a plan, it just isn't working out for you, and that's ok. Plans change. And that garbage people say that "everything is relevant, just stick it out and you'll have an awesome degree that will answer all your problems" is bull. A degree is not going to suddenly create the dream job, and it is not going to start the beautiful flow of money into the bank. If anything, it is going to be a nightmare to finish, and you'll be owing money for a long time instead (at least that's how it is for me now.)

You have an alternative, and you definitely should seriously consider how that can benefit you; what you can do in the future with it. A lot of people will spit upon your choice to leave school behind to do something else, but that's because a lot of people are hung up on the idea that school is the answer to everything, and that you can't do anything without it.

Well that's the trash my high school threw at me for years, and I'm just about fed up with it. Do not subscribe to this point of view, or you will not see that there's so much more out there for you.

In the end, you must decide what is best for you. School isn't always what is best. If you need it later in life to progress, at least you'll know it's for something you actually WANT to do, and you won't be wasting your time.

Best of luck to you with whatever you decide.

Gandalf April 6 2012 12:20 PM EDT

Thanks for the advice, wise words indeed. Just a very tough decision. I hopefully will figure my alternative out, i'm not doing something for another 2 years what makes my life this bad.

Eliteofdelete [Battle Royale] April 6 2012 1:40 PM EDT

If you liked doing math where you solved things you should have tried engineering. Not saying it is or would have been the degree for you but at least it would have had a more practical approach to the problems you were solving.

Personally, I can't stand high level math theory x].

BestNUB April 6 2012 2:16 PM EDT

Engineering is a great career choice. It opens up many doors for you in terms of employment. Also, engineers enjoy easy hours and a decent salary :)

BestNUB April 6 2012 2:17 PM EDT

Oh, and the math in engineering is not necessarily hard, if you know what you're doing! It builds upon simple concepts you learned in math and never goes beyond those concepts!

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] April 6 2012 3:01 PM EDT

Gandalf, you seem to be int he exact same position I was in, when I went to uni.

I enjoyed and exceled in Maths tought up to 'A' Levels, and thought a Pure MAthematics degree was the right choice for me.

I quickly found my prio education was at best second rate, and I started Uni at a disadvantage to the rest of my Peers. I hadn't even heard of some of the stuff they took for granted. Partial Fractions or Complex Numbers, to name but two.

Distracted by life, beer, women and a growing sense that the 'higher' maths were turning out to be a little to circular for my tatses (let's start this module by assuming 'x'. Now look, we can prove everything. But what happens if you didn't assume 'x' at the start?), I generally gave up.

And only cramed for exams. I started too far behind everyone else to have the enthusiam to put in the extra effort to catch up, let alone surpase my peers. It no longer appealed to me.

It wasn't good. In the end, I eaked out the lowest Degree you could possibly get, and my favorite parts of Maths were Groups (the stuff you don't like) and a historical study of the origin of modern mathematics.

Looking back now, I would have loved to do something else at uni. From as different as Politics, Philospohy and Economics, to Maths with a Twist. Cognative Science and the Theory of AI was something I would have killed to swap to now... /sigh

But I have a maths degree.

Never had to use any of it since leaving uni. But having a degree looks nice on my CV. I'm sure it's helped get the two jobs I've since leaving uni nearly 15 years ago. But maybe not.

I would have also loved to morph my mathematics into some sort of programming.

If you don't like 'pure' maths, and have the option to swap some stuff around, maybe se if there a course with a mathematical bent you might like instead?

Sickone April 6 2012 5:01 PM EDT

Pure maths is very dry, and of limited "life" use as a standalone subject matter. Now, APPLIED maths, that's a different story.
I can't tell you how many times (in my latter years of engineering studies) I've facepalmed and said to myself "if only I would have paid more attention to this when they thought it to us in the first two years".

Basically, I'm blaming it on the teachers, or better said, the whole learning experience.
They should start with the part where they tell you what it's good for and where you need it, THEN teach you just enough of it to make it work, and make further study into the math part optional.
But nooooo, they HAVE to start with all the dry stuff with no framework to use it on, don't they ? Feh !

Just think about this : math does not exist in a vacuum. ALL the mathematical tools and disciplines were NEEDED to solve some problem at some point, otherwise the whole field would never have had a chance to develop.
Basically, math can rock. Given the proper context. Without context, it sticks out like a sore thumb. If they won't give you the context, make your own. Well, better said, FIND the context in which what they teach you is useful. Then all of a sudden, learning all that stuff becomes a whole lot easier without even having to try hard.

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] April 6 2012 5:09 PM EDT

It doesn't help that our Mechanics teacher couldn't speak English, and no one could learn form him. He got *very* angry when students asked for clarifications.

The entire cohort boycotted his lessons.

Sickone April 6 2012 5:17 PM EDT

I hadn't even heard of some of the stuff they took for granted. Partial Fractions or Complex Numbers, to name but two.

*blinks* if memory serves right, we started learning about complex numbers in the 6th grade... or was it the 7th grade? Ouch, talk about getting shafted education-wise, when you go to college and find that out. I can imagine how disheartening that must have felt.

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] April 6 2012 5:31 PM EDT

I was 18 when I went to Uni (not sure how GCSE's - 'secondary' education you get at 16, or 'A Levels' - at 18) match up to your grades.


Oh how I remember you now...

The sub-dean took the first lecture of our Uni course, to the opening words of;

"I know you've all had a very long summer break, so this term will just be a light refresher, to get everyone back into the swing of things. We'll cover things like..."

Recived by knowing nods from most, and a kind of sinking dumbfounded feeling by myself.

So I went of and sampled the 7 bars we had on campus.

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] April 6 2012 5:34 PM EDT

I later fond out the A level syllabus I studied was a chopped down version designed to get East End kids an A level to go get a job with.

We were obviously too thick to be taught the proper stuff...

But this was a college that refused to mark some coursework I'd actually engaged with and spent time on in my Art class, claiming it was pornographic. /sigh

Oh and they refused to let my Sister (a straight A student) send her UCAS (Uni entry form) off to Cambridge/Oxford, becuase there's no way, she'd get in right. So she got straight A's and went to Bath unconditionally.
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