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People Skills 313 views Sep 25, 2018
A parent’s guide to Maths at university

Here is everything you need to know about your teen’s Mathematics degree course

From a young age, we are all taught that mathematics is one of the key subjects we need to learn, and rightly so. Numbers feature in every part of our lives, from managing money to managing time, so a flair for the mathematical side of life can really stand you in good stead.

Which means that if your teen is thinking of undertaking a Mathematics degree at university, you should be pleased. However, you probably also want to know more about what their degree will entail. We’re going to show you what your teen can expect from a Maths course, and how you can improve their chances of success.

What is Mathematics?

A typical Mathematics university degree will focus on three main areas of study under the umbrella of ‘maths’. These are mathematics itself, statistics and operational research.

Mathematics: This is the aspect of the subject which really gets to the heart of numbers in their purest form. Mathematicians study all aspects of the world including number, shape and space. They also become used to breaking down complex problems into simpler ones, classifying objects and proving that certain phenomenon is or isn’t possible. They will also get to grips with central pillars of mathematics like calculus.

Statistics: The statistics aspect of maths is more about applying skills to real world problems, especially ones which can’t be so easily broken down into smaller parts. Examining data will allow your teen to flex their statistical muscles, helping gather information which can then be analysed to determine probability and further action.

Operational Research (OR): OR focuses on the managerial side of maths. The main focus of this school of maths is to analyse decision-making processes, especially within complex organisations and multinational companies. It may also involve game theory and analysing voting systems.

What skills will they gain?

Now that you understand a little more about the kinds of things your teen will be studying, you may be wondering how these subject matters apply themselves to real life skills. All three areas of mathematical study will help your teen develop their numeracy skills, as well as their logical thinking, analytical skills and problem solving.

They will also learn to present their ideas logically, with clear verbal skills that show an ability to break down complex problems.

How much work can they expect to receive?

A typical Mathematics degree usually requires a lot of work. Lessons are taught in lectures and seminar groups, and regular coursework is a common method of testing your teen’s skills.  They will be expected to partake in a significant amount of private study outside of contact hours, revising their material in preparation for exams at the end of each unit of study.

A degree may also include at least one instance of group study, which may be part of a substantial project. Their may also be internship opportunities, particularly for those who are interested in teaching the subject after they graduate.

How can you help them prepare?

It’s always best to ensure your teen is as prepared for university as possible. Help boost their university application by aligning their activities and interests with their chosen subject, and highlighting any relevant experience they may have had.

One great way to boost your teen’s application and help them feel more prepared is to enrol them in a summer school programme. Cambridge Immerse is a two-week maths summer programme held in the Cambridge University Colleges. Participants can get a taste of their chosen subject at university level, whether it’s Mathematics or something else entirely, while also understanding a bit more about university life.