2 Jan 2018

# The Power of Math

Doc Seidman Says……

……Few of us really enjoy mathematics. We know we need it but we’re not always sure why. Those Algebra II equations we were forced to learn? Never saw them again. A Trigonometry formula? Haven’t seen one since the final exam, way back when.

So, what’s the big deal? Why is the subject of math pressed in our heads so much in school?  I thought about this for years until I finally was able to understand “why.” Turns out, understanding mathematics is very important after all. Math enables us to not just do some quick calculations in our daily routine- Siri can help us with them now- but to help us succeed— to really succeed—in life. Here’s how:

1. Math teaches our brains how to figure things out.

This is probably math’s biggest asset. If we can push our brains to figure out something that is complicated, like the quadratic equation, we can push our brains to figure out problems and challenges at work. When it gets down to it, that’s what companies hire us to do; figure things out and make things better.

1. Math can accurately predict our success in college.

Consider me among the first to point out the flaws with the ACT, SAT, GRE, and GMAT exams. We are told the so-called statistical “experts” say that these exams are key predictors of our success in college, particularly the math and reasoning sections. Guess what? They are right. For as flawed as the exams may be, their predictive validity is still robust. Like anything else in statistics (and life), there are outliers. There are people who scored highly on these exams who did not do well in college. Conversely, there are many people who did not do well on these exams yet excelled in college. Most of us, however, reside in the statistical middle, or within the “confidence level.” Accept it and know that math counts.

Here is something else very Important that all college-bound high school students should know. Taking one class beyond Algebra II in high school can double someone’s chances of graduating college. Considering our nation’s six-year college completion rate is only 59%, those are odds worth taking. Math can certainly play an integral role in predicting college success.

1. It saves us a lot of money.

What’s the difference between a 550 and 600 math score on the SAT?  The obvious answer is 50 points. Another possible answer is \$95,320. That is the amount of extra tuition you would pay to attend a moderately-selective four-year private university versus a public or state university. Here’s why- by under-performing on SAT math, it reduces the options of college programs one can be accepted to. That might lead someone no choice but to enroll in a more expensive private college with lower admission standards (because they need tuition dollars to operate), versus the much less expensive state college, which is funded by state taxes. I know the public versus private college option is much more complicated than that, but if you are one of the many college applicants whose funds are limited, it is something to consider.

This doesn’t just apply to bachelor’s degree candidates but graduate school candidates as well.  An MBA at a typical private university can cost \$40,000 or more per year than the state school option. If you are a grad school applicant who is returning to school after a long period of time, the thought of going back to study math is repulsive. Math was hard enough to learn the first time around let alone learn it all over again. But with further reflection, relearning math and raising a GRE or GMAT math score is worth it. Not only could graduate school tuition be more cost effective, it can greatly reduce the amount of money needed to borrow with which to return to school. A \$150/month student loan payback plan sounds much more palatable than a \$350/month payback.

In conclusion, studying and understanding mathematics adds up. All college-bound students are strongly encouraged to take the time to not only learn math, but excel at it. It can be a ticket to many good things. It can lead to succeeding not only in college but in a career as well. One can also save hundreds of dollars a month on a student loan. That adds up to many good things—and I didn’t need math to figure that out!

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