“I hate Math.”

by Carolyn Babcock, Ph.D.

+ × ÷ ≤ ≥ = √

For some people, the line above might look like a swear word, for others it IS definitely profanity!  Math …  It is sometimes the curse of the Non-Traditional Student (NTS), unless, of course, you have decided to return to school to pursue a math-related major.  But, for many, Math can be an obstacle too tall, too intimidating to overcome.  And, the more time that passes as you debate the decision of whether or not to return to school, the more that courses, like Math, loom large in influencing that decision.

Perhaps you wrestled with all forms of math in high school.  You simply did not get it.  Now, years later, you have not found those high school algebra courses to have been all that helpful, so, you still do not understand why math is required.  The problem here (no pun intended) is that you may be remembering the emotional struggle with math, rather than the math itself.  It is possible, that because you took the high school math course as a requirement, you trudged through, did the homework, and were just glad when it was over.  With a mindset of impatience and lack of confidence, it would be difficult to understand how math has been incorporated into your life.

By the time you are old enough to be a NTS, things have dramatically changed.  You have been employed for many years and perhaps you have a family.  Those adult responsibilities will help to put those “dreaded” courses, like Math or English Composition, in a whole new light.  You will find that Algebra, with its word problems and equations, actually has real-life applications.  For instance, learning how to do word problems can be very helpful when traveling or estimating invoices.  Equations promote logical thinking and can help you work through real life problems that need to be broken down step-by-step.

I was one of those who put off school because of Math.  It terrified me.  However, upon returning to school as a NTS, I discovered how many different ways I could use Algebra.  (My favorite uses were to estimate a tax return or my net pay after a raise!)  And, of course, this applied to those other courses too, that had little to do with my major, but were required – such as, English Composition, Science and more Math courses.  Any of these courses may be what is keeping you from returning to college.  But, those courses do not mean the same thing now as they did in high school.  As an adult in those classes, you will be able to make the connection between what is being taught in the classroom and how you will be able to use it when you leave the classroom.

The different perspective that comes with being an adult may change the “I hate math” from high school to “I get it, now.”  It will all add up.

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