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Help understanding college math program rankings

vikow74vikow74 2 replies1 postsRegistered User New Member
My son is interested in becoming a pilot. However, after speaking to some pilots and visiting some universities with aviation programs it seems clear the best path forward is to get a non-aviation degree and do flight training afterwards. So we are both thinking a math degree (particularly an applied math degree) might be the most versatile thing to do. Additionally if his pilot career never gets of the ground he has a solid foundation to move on to engineering or the sciences.

So I have some questions that hopefully you guys could help with.

What makes a math program at one college better than at another? I keep seeing lists of best math schools but I just don't understand what differentiates them.

While my son is a pretty good student (in math and in general) he isn't likely going to be aiming for the schools listed at the top of those best math program lists. What schools are good matches for a student that wants to major in math but isn't hyper competitive?

If it helps, we are in California. However, we are looking mostly at private out of state schools. Thanks for the help.
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Replies to: Help understanding college math program rankings

  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77234 replies672 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 9
    Math as career preparation does somewhat depend on in-major and related electives. Colleges can vary in what areas are covered (some types of courses may be in the math department or other departments). For example:

    * Pure math (pre-PhD). Subareas include analysis, algebra, topology, logic, etc..
    * Finance, actuarial, risk management.
    * Statistics or data science.
    * Computing (e.g. theory, cryptography).
    * Operations research (e.g. solving problems like scheduling aircraft, air crew, and ground crew within constraints of time and cost).
    * High school math teaching.
    edited July 9
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77234 replies672 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Why private out of state schools?
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  • vikow74vikow74 2 replies1 postsRegistered User New Member
    Out of state private for a couple reasons.

    Out of state so he can have an environment that is different that what he used too. Besides it seems like our in state public schools are seriously impacted and/or commuter campuses.

    Private cause the out of state public school tuition hit is hard to swallow. He'd love to go to Purdue or Ohio State but that price increase is insane. Plus it seems like there would be a better shot at financial aid with a private school.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77234 replies672 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Private schools with the best financial aid are typically the most selective, often reaches for everyone. The same goes for those with the largest endowments and the least impaction or other rationing of courses and majors once students get into the college (which is effectively highly impacted at the admission gate).

    If he has a chance to get into those most desirable private schools, it is likely that he will get into a more residential UC, rather than need to go to a CSU (most of which are more commuter heavy).
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  • circuitridercircuitrider 3297 replies166 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Run the net price calculators for some of those private eastern colleges and if they make sense, explore some of the smaller liberal arts colleges. Williams has one of the most highly regarded undergraduate math departments. It won't show up in any of those Math surveys because those are mostly based on graduate school rigor and faculty publishing, neither of which are important at the undergraduate level. Liberal arts colleges mainntain their positions largely because of the level of classroom teaching. Wesleyan is very similar to Williams in educational philosophy, is slightly larger and *does* have a small PhD program in Math (mainly, Topology) which comes in handy should your son burn through all the intermediate level courses available.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77234 replies672 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Note also that California is a big state with many different environments, including the locations of the public universities.
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  • vikow74vikow74 2 replies1 postsRegistered User New Member
    Thanks for your perspective on the LACs. My son is a fencer so Drew University is on our radar. However, I cannot find out anything about their math program.
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