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Introduction

You might be
surprised to find that there are 250 students majoring in
mathematics at CSUS, 45% of whom are women. Many of the
mathematics majors are members of the Mathematical Society, the
University’s mathematics club. The Math Society (Math Club)
meets weekly during each semester—every other week there is
a guest speaker on a topic of mathematical interest, and in the
alternating weeks the meetings are held to plan events, work
recreational mathematics problems, and discuss business. Club
events range from fundraisers, such as book sales, to social
events, such as pizza parties, to service functions, such as a
workshop for prospective secondary mathematics teachers in the
credential program. The club is also used by the department as a
way of getting information to students about job opportunities or
departmental events. Finally, the club is a support group for
students in a difficult major. It is a good place to find
commiseration, and advice about courses and instructors.

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Math Careers

Although you may
not have decided about your choice of career yet, it is a good
idea to think about it. Math majors generally go on to one of
five areas after graduation. Some go into teaching in the junior
high schools or high schools. There is a well-publicized need for
more qualified teachers of mathematics around the country. In the
Sacramento Valley there is no real shortage yet, but there are
jobs and there will be more jobs. Some math majors go on to
graduate school, either in masters degree or Ph.D. programs.
There is a serious shortage of Ph.D. mathematicians in this
country. It is our duty to encourage any strong students with an
interest in graduate study to pursue it--there is usually support
available for good students in graduate schools. Some students go
on to work in public or private sector jobs after graduation.
These seem to fall into three categories: engineering
applications, computer science, and statistics. These jobs are
more plentiful in large metropolitan areas, such as San Francisco
or Los Angeles, but our students have gotten jobs in the
Sacramento area. Students interested in engineering applications
should probably choose elective courses such as Math 1O5AB (Math
for Science and Engineering), Math 104 (Vector Analysis), Math
134 (Complex Variables), or Stat 155 (Operations Research).
Students interested in computer science jobs should probably
choose elective courses such as Math 150 (Numerical Analysis),
Math 170 (Linear Programming), or Stat 155 (Operations Research).
Students interested in statistics should take Stat 115AB
(Probability and Statistics), Stat 155 (Operations Research), or
any of the soon-to-be-introduced courses in applied statistics.
Students interested in statistics should consider pursuing
actuarial careers.

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Which Option in
the Major?

Which of the five
areas (teaching, grad school, engineering, computer science, and
statistics) you choose might help determine the option in the
mathematics major that suits you best. Secondary teachers would
probably want the single subject waiver program; those interested
in grad school would probably choose the pure major (maybe not if
they already know the area of mathematics they want to emphasize
in grad school); those interested in engineering would probably
want the emphasis in applied mathematics and statistics; those
interested in statistics would probably want the emphasis in
applied math and statistics.

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Advising

Advisors are
faculty members who are knowledgeable about the program you have
chosen in mathematics. It is important that you pay your advisor
a visit during your first semester at CSUS, if only to make
contact. It is a good idea to see your advisor frequently, for
help in planning your schedule, career planning, or for other
advice. It is very important that you see your advisor when you
plan your upper division coursework, as there are many decisions
that your advisor can help you with that are not obvious from
reading the catalog (e.g., which courses take a great time
commitment, which courses are better in your senior year, etc.).
If you decide to change major advisors, simply get the OK from
your new advisor and tell the department office about your desire
to change.

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Schedule Planning

Although the
mathematics major requires relatively few upper division units,
they are quite challenging. Try to avoid taking too many classes
in a semester, as this will more likely result in extra semesters
in the university because of grades that are not in line with
your potential.

The most
difficult courses are probably the upper division core courses:
Math 108 (Intro to Formal Math), Math 110AB (Modern Algebra), and
Math 13OAB (Advanced Calculus). It is important that you plan to
put in a great deal of effort on these courses, because they are
demanding, and because if you can do well in these courses, then
you have achieved the mathematical sophistication to do well in
other courses with comparatively little effort. Do not take Math
110A and Math 130A in the same semester. Students who attempt
this are rarely successful.

Notice that the
prerequisites for courses lead to a sequence in which some
courses must be taken. For example, Math 130B requires Math 130A,
which requires Math 108, which requires Math 35, which requires
Math 30. Also notice that some courses are not offered every
semester.

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Campus Employment

There are
numerous opportunities for employment on campus for budding
mathematicians. The math department hires students as graders,
grading the homework assignments from lower division mathematics
courses. The mathematics department hires students to work as
tutors for the Intermediate Algebra class (Math 9), which is
taught in multimedia format (Up to 40 students per class). The
Learning Skills Center teaches the remedial mathematics classes
on campus, and hires undergraduates to tutor in structured and
supervised classes. All of these tutorial jobs are excellent ways
to learn to teach for students who plan to enter the high school
or junior high school teaching credential program. The department
also maintains a Math Lab in BRH 118, which is a drop-in help
center for mathematics. Students with math questions come here to
find tutors who can help them (which doesn’t mean just
giving them the answer). The Math Lab is mostly staffed by
graduate students, but some of the Math Lab tutors are
undergraduate mathematics majors. We also strongly recommend the
Math Lab as a place to study your math. If you have questions
about how to apply for any of these job opportunities, inquire in
the mathematics department office (BRH 141).

There are other
jobs on campus for math tutors, in programs such as AMP, CAMP,
EOP, or MEP. These are programs aimed at supporting minority
students in various majors. There are also opportunities for
private tutoring. Oftentimes high school students will call the
department seeking tutors, or students in lower division math
classes need a tutor on a regular basis. We give all of these
requests to the Math Society, which maintains a database of
tutors. So if you are interested in tutoring privately, contact
the Math Society.

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In Summary

We suggest that
you become aggressive consumers of education. Find out about
courses and instructors. Ask what courses are going to be offered
next year. Ask for a specific course to be offered at a specific
time, if you need it. Tell the department how it can better serve
your needs. Join the Math Society. Help this to be a better
department for future students.