Should I drop maths?

Should I drop maths in Year 10? Ask yourself these questions first.

1. Do you know for sure that your career won’t need maths?

Studying maths seriously prepares you for any career. It’s great for developing excellent problem-solving skills and thinking critically. You’ll be amazed to find out how mathematically trained people use what they know in almost every field you could possibly think of.

2. Have you got the basic maths skills you need?

Whether you want to finish maths in high school or take it all the way to a PhD, you need to build the basics first. Maths at school is taught in sequences to help it all make sense; if you skip any of the groundwork you may be in trouble later.

But don’t stress if you didn’t do high-level maths at school and still want to go to uni. Most universities offer bridging courses to help you get to HSC-level maths to be able to continue your studies.

3. Want to work for a cool coding company one day?

Many of the fastest-growing careers – particularly in technology – value maths skills. “Data literacy is more important than ever: just knowing Excel doesn’t do it anymore,” says UNSW Sydney statistics fellow Peter Straka, who recommends budding mathematicians also get to know some code programs such as Python or R.

You can also try a free online resource like Khan Academy, Math Planet and Math Warehouse to up your maths skills.

Still asking yourself Should I drop maths?

… Keep reading to see how these mad maths skills get put to use.

1. Get cooking

MasterChef fans everywhere know how important it is to get a recipe right. “I use maths all day, every day,” says Ashlie Manganaro, an apprentice chef at Bluetrain restaurant in Melbourne. In her job she measures portions, calculates meal costs and converts measurements.

2. Build games

Kevin Chan is the technical director of games studio, Robot Circus. He went into game development after getting his software engineering degree at the University of Melbourne. Software engineers use maths skills to reason with abstract objects and structures.

3. Pilot the skies

Royal Australian Air Force fighter test pilot Peter Tippner flies high in the sky. His Bachelor of Science (double major in science and maths) gets a workout when he uses geometry and trigonometry to assess flight courses, while direction compasses help Peter calculate angles and avoid hazards.

4. Start a business

Matt Bullock, head of Spinify, is one successful guy. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science (majoring in mathematics) at the University of Wollongong before starting the online payment gateways eWAY and Spinify. This platform – based on ‘game theory’ – utilises high-level maths, statistics and probability to motivate sales staff.

5. Be a human rights champ

Field statistician Romesh Silva did a Bachelor of Science and German Studies double degree, majoring in maths, at UNSW Sydney before turning his expertise to human rights issues. Romesh now uses technology and statistics at the Human Rights Data Analysis Group in San Francisco to quantify human rights abuses.

Fran Molloy

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