Taking a college math class is something almost every college student must do. At South University, the general education requirement for every undergraduate degree program includes at least one math class (and sometimes more). So what do you do if the thought of taking another math class strikes dread in your heart? We talked with Dr. Ruth Roberman, the Program Director for Mathematics at South University, Online Programs, to find out what it takes to succeed in one of our college math classes.
1. Set aside preconceived notions about your math skills
Even if you had a less-than-perfect experience with math in high school, do your best to avoid negative self-talk. “Do not let these past experiences define you!” Roberman emphasizes. “Think of this as a fresh start.”
While people tend to believe that they are either good or bad at math, your ability to do well in a college math class is far from pre-determined. For determining your success, your belief in yourself and your willingness to work hard and keep trying is way more influential than your genetics. “Do not confuse ‘This is hard’ with ‘This takes practice.’ Kicking a football 40 yards is hard for us, but not for a professional kicker. Why? Practice. Reading a book is hard for a child, but not for us? Why? Practice,” says Roberman. “We started learning letters, then sounds, then words. Then we learned how to read phrases, sentences, paragraphs, chapters, and then books. Math is like these examples. It just takes practice.”
2. Be actively engaged in learning
While your instructors will help set you up for success, it comes down to you to do the work. From the start of your class, carefully read your course syllabus to get an overview of what you’ll be learning and doing throughout the course. Whether you’re taking your math class online or on campus, plan to devote time each day to your coursework and participate as much as possible in class discussions. Stay on top of your assignments and be sure you understand how each assignment is graded. (Ask your instructor if you’re unsure!) Any time you are given a chance to try again on an assignment or quiz, take advantage of that opportunity!
Throughout your course, stay on the lookout for communication and updates from your instructor. “Check your university email every day for reminders, hints and tips,” Roberman shares. If your instructor shares a resource, posts an announcement or starts a discussion thread online, review it carefully and, where needed, respond sooner rather than later so that doing so doesn’t slip your mind. If you’re not able to respond to your instructor right away, you should set a reminder in your calendar to follow up at a free moment in your day.
3. Use the help available to support you
The third thing you can do to improve your performance in your college math class is to seek help when you need it, starting with talking to your instructors. Whether it’s a simple question about an assignment or informing them of an emergency that will prohibit you from doing your coursework, contact your instructors right away. “Your instructor will have office hours, but you are encouraged to reach out to him or her whenever you have a concern or question,” says Roberman. “Your math instructors here at South University want you to do well. Their top priority is to help you understand the concepts.”
In addition, South University offers online tutoring 24/7 available to students at no additional charge. On our campuses, students can also make appointments with the academic success centers for tutoring at a time that best suits your schedule. You can also ask your classmates questions about an assignment, but no matter what, your work should always be your own. Never copy someone else’s work or turn in work from someone else that you found during an internet search. Doing so could cost you a good grade and even your degree. Instead, practice your math skills, remain dedicated to your coursework, and use all of the resources available to you, so that you can succeed and do your very best in your college math classes. You might just surprise yourself with how well you do!