Let’s be honest, math is not an easy major at Lawrence. The professors are going to make you work. They are going to give you long and difficult problem sets, and they are going to be picky graders. However, they do this, because they genuinely want students to improve their thinking abilities and gain a good understanding of mathematics. While the math professors may be some of the most difficult on campus, they are also some of the best humored and most dedicated to their students. Their willingness to work with students comes across during office hours. While their lectures are thrilling, insightful, and engaging, office hours provide students with a time to learn one on one from the exceptionally qualified math faculty. I am a frequent visitor to my professor’s office hours and always have a long list of questions. Even though I am occasionally teased about my numerous questions, it is evident that they are delighted to answer each and every question. Not only are they genuinely glad to have helped a student, but they love math so much that it is fun for them to think through the questions. This love for math is infectious and inspirational.
What I love about the math major experience is that the term “busy work” does not apply–ever. Now this means that the term “work” does apply and when you’ve been working on a problem set for hours without making any progress at all this may no longer seem like a positive thing. However, anyone pursuing a math major will soon find the extraordinary relief/joy/intellectual curiosity that comes from finishing a problem set that, for me at least, makes it all worth while. And with any luck, in the processes they will get to meet the wonderful, quirky personalities that make up the faculty and students of the LU Math Department.
Also, don’t forget all the perks–studying abroad in Budapest, getting paid to do summer research in topics that interest you, math tea (free cookies), math picnic, occasional trips to the VR with the math Profs…basically all the fun stuff!
I had no idea what it was really going to be like when I decided to be a math major. I enjoyed the idea of being a math major. I had a strong desire to learn and I was ready for it to be hard! What I wasn’t ready for was a thing I like to call being Math Frustrated!! I experience this sensation quite frequently when I am in the midst of a math class. It is very different than just being frustrated. Math Frustrated is awful and awesome at the same time. It is when you are in the middle of a problem and nothing is working. You have spent hours staring at the problem, you went to office hours and still nothing is working. You are so close and yet so far at the same time. You get Math Frustrated and just when you are about to give up, throw the pencil down and pick a different major, something clicks! Suddenly it just makes sense. All of the hours are totally worth it because there is absolutely nothing more satisfying than solving that really difficult proof. When I’m about to give up, I just remember how it feels when I finally get it! I feel like the math faculty has made me a stronger person because they always challenge me and have so much faith in my abilities.
Being a math major means you’ll learn a lot, you’ll train your mind a lot, and you’ll find out that doing math is extremely fun (and even creative). That is, if you stick around until after calculus 3!
Being a math major at Lawrence means everyone thinks you’re smart. Most of the students here have had a math class, and all of them thought it was hard. They will be really impressed that you decided to stay with it and take classes from the hardest (and best!) professors on campus.
I never took calculus here, so I don’t really know about intro classes, but I’m the kind of person who speaks a lot in class. It’s math—sometimes all the equations flying around are tough to handle but just relax and keep it laid-back and math is fun. Make sure to ask questions in lectures even if they seem stupid. I can’t tell you how helpful a simple clarification is and usually someone else is confused about it, too. Make sure to start problem sets early and do work, son!
Being a math major at Lawrence opens up a lot of opportunities—many that you wouldn’t expect. And it’s fun, too!
I am currently working as the Director of Fixed Income Investment Risk Management at Wells Capital Management, Inc. in Menomonee Falls, WI. My team is tasked with understanding and monitoring the risks being taken by our fixed income portfolio management teams and making these risks transparent to the teams and senior management. To do this, we need to identify, quantify, and evaluate exposures within our products and make a judgment as to whether these exposures could lead to extreme performance. We work with senior management and the portfolio management teams to make sure all parties understand the exposures and are comfortable with the risk in the context of the client mandate.
The work my team does requires the use of a wide range of technical, quantitative, and statistical techniques. While the courses I took within the math department provided specific knowledge applicable to many of the problems we see on a daily basis, I have found that the problem-solving skills developed in these classes have been even more valuable. Applying these skills in close collaboration with my team members, another skill honed at Lawrence, allows us to tackle almost any problem with which we are presented.
I graduated with a double major in math and economics along with two years of Chinese classes. An essential part of my experience at Lawrence was an internship in the summer of 2006 in Ohio and China with A.O. Smith, a Milwaukee-based manufacturer of electric motors and water heaters. Prior to the internship, I had no business experience and did not know what I could do with my majors. I learned a lot about business and China during that summer, but the most important thing that I gained was a new-found confidence in myself, my educational background, and my preparation for the future. I have been working for A.O. Smith since graduation at their China headquarters in Nanjing.
My current responsibilities are varied, and include market research for new business opportunities, translation, overseeing the company’s online learning management system in China, etc. My day-to-day work in Nanjing has few direct links to coursework in my majors, but I’ve learned that the valuable skills I developed through my math and economics classes (problem-solving, logic, analysis, writing, research, just to name a few) along with the breadth and depth of my Lawrence education have prepared me to take on any challenge, even in completely unfamiliar fields and foreign countries.
I am a doctoral candidate in the Applied Mathematics and Computational Sciences program at the University of Iowa with anticipated graduation in May 2010. My success in applied mathematics hinges on my broad mathematical background and an ability to adapt quickly to new topics.
Lawrence University laid a strong foundation for my future work in graduate school. At Lawrence, I took courses in pure mathematics (algebra, analysis, topology), applied math topics (optimization, differential equations), and computer programming. These courses
combined with valuable one-on-one time with the mathematics faculty, gave me a solid background in mathematics and the confidence to pursue graduate work. Long after graduation, the Lawrence mathematics faculty continues to play a support role in my education and career
choices. I would highly recommend prospective undergraduates to take a good look at Lawrence University, even if their desired field of study lies far from mathematics.