Don’t sweat it: math is a workout for your mind

“Math is like fitness,” associate professor Ben Weng says. “It takes time to grow.”

Skills in math have perhaps never been more important than in today’s job market, and studies show that success in math correlates to success in college overall. However, many students still feel a certain anxiety when they see the math requirements for their degree. Pangwen “Ben” Weng, associate professor, Mathematics, believes this anxiety may be caused by the perceived rigidity of the subject matter: “There is no way around a wrong answer, almost to the point of cruelty.”

If you are feeling dread at the thought of registering for your math course, keep in mind that getting a wrong answer is okay. According to Weng, it is your ability to keep going when you encounter a difficult problem that will determine your success. “Through studying math, one learns skills that can be used in other areas,” says Weng. “The most important: perseverance.”

Weng recommends beginning your math requirements early and taking advantage of learning resources. These include the tutoring center, as well as working with your professor during office hours. Studying a little at a time can help students absorb what they are learning. “Math is like fitness,” Weng says. “It takes time to grow.”

Be sure to select a math course that fits your skill level and education goals. Math 98: Introduction to Mathematical Thinking is perfect for students to brush up on their math skills before taking a more advanced course. For students pursuing a degree in the liberal arts, Metropolitan State offers Math 110: Math for Liberal Arts.

Students should also consider taking a statistics course rather than algebra. “People are recognizing that statistics are more important to the general public than algebra,” Weng says. Metropolitan State now offers a statistics minor, and there are plans to introduce a major in the near future.

No matter which math class you take, remember that the instructors are here to help you. “Math is challenging for many students,” Weng says. “I am able to make a difference.”