Why You Should Study Math and Why You Should Do It At PUC

Dr. Steve Waters has taught at PUC for 35 years, many of which he served as chair for the department of mathematics. We asked Dr. Waters to share some of his thoughts about studying mathematics, and the advantages of studying it at PUC. This is what he had to say.

Should you study mathematics in college?

The answer is a definite “yes!” if any of the following descriptions apply to you. 

  • You are fascinated by patterns—seeing how things fit together and discovering connections between seemingly very different things.
  • You love knowing why, not just how.
  • You see beauty in carefully crafted and refined ideas.
  • You enjoy finding new perspectives that change apparently hard problems into easy ones.
  • You find satisfaction in sticking with a hard problem until the thrill of a solution presents itself.

But what can you do with a mathematics degree?

The first thing that comes to mind for many people when asked this question is working as a teacher in elementary schools, high schools, and colleges. While it is true that there is a great demand for qualified mathematics teachers at all levels, and that these can be very rewarding careers, only a small fraction of people with mathematical training actually work in the teaching profession. Qualified mathematical thinkers are sought throughout government and industry to help teams make sense of data, design new products, create forecasts—work on anything involving pattern recognition and analysis. These teams often involve a fusion of computer science, engineering, psychology, marketing, communication, and many other areas, so mathematicians are always learning new things and exploring new ideas.

So what do mathematicians actually do?

I’ll let Keith Devlin (NPR’s “Math Guy”) answer this:

“What the mathematician does is examine abstract “patterns”—numerical patterns, patterns of shape, patterns of motion, patterns of behavior, voting patterns in a population, patterns of repeating chance events, and so on. Those patterns can be either real or imagined, visual or mental, static or dynamic, qualitative or quantitative, purely utilitarian or of little more than recreational interest. They can arise from the world around us, from the depths of space and time, or from the workings of the human mind. Different kinds of patterns give rise to different branches of mathematics.”

It’s worth noting very little in the description has to do with “arithmetic.” Mathematical studies open up a whole world of critical and creative thought far beyond the ideas of elementary-school number manipulation.

Knowing that mathematics provides a way to work with fascinating ideas and people, make a real difference in the world, and get paid for it!, why should you study the subject at Pacific Union College?

The short answer is PUC is a Seventh-day Adventist college with mathematics teachers who are dedicated to your success. Your classes will not be taught by graduate students, but by professors whose primary focus is on teaching. In addition to excellent classes, you will also have opportunities to do research with your professors—many of our students have presented work at national and international conferences, and had papers published in prestigious journals.

The department of mathematics, along with physics & engineering, works hard to create a family feel that welcomes all students, regardless of their backgrounds. Your teachers will quickly become your friends and mentors as you work and talk with them in their offices, as well as in the classrooms, across campus, and in their homes. Perhaps best of all, PUC gives you the opportunity to commune with God’s nature, with hundreds of acres of forest preserve filled with hiking and biking trails. It is truly a place “where nature and revelation unite in education.” We’re ready to welcome you into the family.

To learn more about studying math at PUC, visit our Admissions website or call (800) 862-7080 to talk with an enrollment counselor today!