I have always been decent at math. Not phenomenal. But I know that 2+2 will always equal 4. So maybe average is a better word to describe my math abilities. But before last semester, I hadn’t taken a math class in, oh, the better of fifteen years. So, when my college advisor advised me to take this new math class offered through Carnegie, mentioning it was fast-paced and stuffed full of things I had surely forgotten how to do, I tried to talk her out of letting me join. I failed.
And let me tell you, she wasn’t wrong about the amount of work. There’s homework every, single day. Sometimes two to three hours’ worth. And you attend class four days a week. Every day is a new lesson, and if you miss a day, it can be difficult to get caught back up. You will get frustrated. You will want to throw your book AND break your pencil. (Heaven knows I did!)
I attended math tutoring almost every day. You will also be forced to work in groups, which I absolutely hated for about the first two weeks of class. But now that class is over, I am sad I won’t get to spend as much time with my classmates, who are now my friends.
I have always been the type of person who hates being wrong and I definitely hated struggling to figure something out. But the way this course is set up and laid out, I’ve learned it’s okay to not know what’s going on or not know how to solve a problem. It’s totally okay to struggle and it’s totally okay to get the answer wrong.
In order to succeed, you must be willing to fail. It will build character. Don’t give up and keep pushing yourself. Ask questions, and if you’re lucky enough to have an amazing math Professor like I did, (SHOUT OUT to Jan Miller at Bay Mills Community College ), there will never be a silly or wrong question to ask. Plus, it will force you to take a different approach to a problem, to think outside of the box.
This class has taught me a lot, and not just about math. I know it sounds cliché, but this class changed my life. And after finding new ways to grow my brain and access problems with a new set of skills, I feel my next math courses will be, if just a tiny bit, easier to manage.
You don’t have to be a math person to figure out how to do math, you just need to keep an open mind. Remember, it’s okay to struggle. I just hope you can find it within yourself to stick with it. Take the leap and have faith. I’m glad I did.
Stephanne Johnson took Quantway this past spring at Bay Mills Community College in Michigan. She identifies with the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians. Her instructor was Jan Miller.