Category: Classroom Experiences

Katherine Goode, ’13

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.

Aubrey Neumann, ’12

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!

Paige Koebele, ’14

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.

Peter Vanney, ‘11

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.

Rob Rashid, ‘11

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!

Rachel Roberts, ’09

Being both a small and friendly department (with a good sense of humor), Lawrence’s math department is close-knit and supportive. We have Math Tea together each week and students have all-nighters together the nights before problem sets are due. Of course I don’t condone beginning work on math homework late enough that you must stay up all night to be able to finish it, as it’s not the best way to understand the material and do well in a course, but it can be fun and sometimes necessary given the workload Lawrence deals students from time to time.

All in all, the best way I’ve found to study math is to start as early as possible and work until you can’t progress further and then go talk to your professor with questions, or just to clear your head. Lawrence math professors are incredibly supportive and approachable and want to help students in any way possible. Also, given that it is a rather small department in a small school, professors have the time to work with each student individually in their office hours and are more than willing to talk to students about math or just chat during non-office hours as well. I am happy to have decided to be a math major at Lawrence and am very grateful to my professors for what I have learned from them and the relationships I’ve had with them.

Evan Neuens, ’09

The thing that really stands out is when we used to sit in the library to work on our Foundations of Algebra problem sets and everybody else thought we were speaking a foreign language. I’m not sure if this helpful information, but it was fun!

Dan Fulton, ’09

It’s hard to get a more personalized experience at Lawrence than in the small computer science classes. At times, the students more than the professors can guide the topic of study. Math classes are excellent as well, and the department strongly encourages students to be independent in their mathematical ability. I feel privileged to take classes with professors who are so clearly passionate about their discipline. For students who enjoy mathematics, I would think it would be difficult to find a better environment.