Advice

I found the following links helpful. Maybe you will, too!

  • Are you looking for free, open-source math books?  You can’t beat the price!
  • Are you thinking about majoring in math? You should do it!
    • Here’s some general career info from the MAA about what you can do with a math major.
    • W&L is a great place to major in math! The faculty are friendly, the courses are fun, and we have summer research opportunities right here on campus. Yes, you get paid to do math! You can see what my students have done in the past by checking out my student research page.
    • Oh! And yes, I’m always happy to talk with you about being your adviser (for your major, your minor, an honors thesis, summer research, and so on); just stop by my office. And if for whatever reason I can’t do it (I might already have too many students, or maybe you’re interested in a different area of math), I can direct you to another one of our many enthusiastic and super-friendly math faculty members.
    • There are also lots of great summer research options at different schools around the country; these are called REU’s (Research Experience for Undergraduates), and yes, they will pay you!
  • Are you thinking about teaching math in high school? It can be a rewarding career.
    • I spent a year teaching at a private high school in Texas before I went back to graduate school to get my PhD, and I would be happy to chat with you about it.
    • For private schools, you don’t need a teaching license or an education degree.
    • Some students have used recruitment agencies like Southern Teachers (located in Charlottesville!) or Carney Sandoe, while other students have contacted high schools directly.
  • Are you thinking about being an actuary? It can be a rewarding (and lucrative) career. Check out all the information on my actuary page.
  • Are you thinking about going to graduate school and getting a PhD?
    • Here’s some general career info from the AMS about being a mathematician.
    • Read the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed for the lowdown on what it’s like to work at a college or university.
    • For mathematics and statistics, the situation is pretty good once you get a PhD. The AMS publishes detailed annual reports on the demographics, salaries, and employment status of new PhD’s. The last time I checked, a recent graduating class (2014-15) had an unemployment rate of only 6.1%.
    • Also, math/stats graduate programs pay you to get your degree! Typically, you get a stipend between $20,000 and $30,000.
    • Here’s Bob Henderson’s interesting article on getting a PhD in physics, and how it didn’t quite work out the way he thought it would.
    • I’d advise against graduate school in the humanities; see Pannapacker’s old but still-relevant article, “Graduate School In The Humanities: Just Don’t Go“.
    • Still thinking about graduate school in the humanities? Fine, but be honest with yourself about where you’d like to be in ten years. If you’re thinking of working at a place like W&L (which would be wonderful), then look at who is currently working in your desired field and where they got their degrees. For example, in classics, the current and recent W&L classics professors have PhD’s from Harvard, Harvard, Columbia, Yale, and Berkeley. If you want the same kind of job, you’ll have to (at a minimum!) go to the same kind of graduate program.