Advice for potential Math major

I’m currently searching for my best “fit” college and am realizing one important factor: math is a very difficult major and I would probably do best at a school that offers a LOT of support to those students. I read that over 50% of math majors switch their major. So I want to find a school that will help me muscle through the rigor. I’m not afraid of hard work but I don’t appreciate a “sink or swim” agenda. I know that some large schools can be just as supportive as smaller schools, so I don’t want to make an assumption based on size. Does anyone have knowledge of particular schools that offer excellent guidance to their math majors? Thoughts? (My in state schools: UT and TxA&M are both MASSIVE schools but perhaps their math programs are smaller and supportive? I have no idea) I’m willing to go anywhere, as long as it’s a great program.


What math will you complete by the time you finish high school?

The nature of math changes between college frosh/soph level math (calculus, multivariable calculus, linear algebra, differential equations) and college junior/senior level math (abstract algebra, real analysis, complex analysis, etc.). Typically, the lower level math tends to have a more computational emphasis, since these courses are shared with students in other majors for whom math is mainly a tool for other subjects. But upper level math emphasizes proofs and theory much more, and that change may be the cause of some students changing away from the math major. At some colleges, there are honors versions of lower level math courses that emphasize proofs and theory more to give a better taste of what upper level math is like. Some other colleges have an “introduction to proof techniques” or a similar course that frosh/soph math majors take to prepare for upper level math courses.

Thanks. Rice is 100% a perfect fit for me…I have family that went there and I live it!! but I have to also be realistic and assume I will not get in there, so that my heart doesn’t get crushed when they reject me. After all, it’s such a small acceptance rate. So I’m hoping to find a school that may be a little more doable.

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Let’s just say NO budget right now. My parents have saved a significant amount of money after the passing of my grandma and so it’s not a primary concern. We are open

My son goes to Wake Forest and I liked some of the diverse math major options there (I was a math major in my day). He chose the business school as they have a mathematical business major there which is a bit unique with a minor in statistics. They also have a mathematical economics major. Some interesting combinations to consider…

I think many schools have excellent math programs.
I think if you target smaller private schools (WF including) you can’t go wrong.
Most LACs actually have excellent math programs … Clairmont Colleges etc

You’re asking a really good question about support systems in colleges. From my research, most colleges provide more comprehensive resources for support than high schools. If you go on each college’s website and search for tutoring, you can see how they help students who need assistance. Most colleges (large and small) have a math/quantitive center. Also check in to see how easy it is to book tutoring. Some colleges list which classes (mostly intro) have available tutors. Some colleges have online booking for tutoring and you can also set up a recurring tutor. It’s also a good idea to check if the college provides training for the tutors. I think the key is knowing when you need help and being proactive.


I think support is more about students willing to use it versus its availability. It is unlikely at a lot of schools for people to reach out help. But if you take the first step, many will be willing to help. A good example is office hours. Many students never use them or wait until it is too late. Prof’s and TA’s love it when a motivated student comes in not right before an exam.

However, that can be less true if the OP is highly advanced in math already (math beyond single variable calculus / calculus BC while in high school).

tongue-in-cheek I assume :slight_smile:

“Does anyone have knowledge of particular schools that offer excellent guidance to their math majors?”

With this in mind, Hamilton’s math department, as described in this article, would be difficult to beat:


This site may offer you further ideas for schools to research: