Tips for Success as a Mathematics Student

The following list of helpful tips was compiled by both mathematics students and professors here at Montclair State University.

Basic Tips for Success in College

  1. Attend class regularly and pay close attention.
  2. Review notes the same day after class and make note of things you do not understand so you can clarify them during the next class.
  3. Make time to study math every day. Doing homework is not enough; you need to spend time reading and thinking about the material. Highlight important material in the assigned text and notes.
  4. Do not wait until a test or quiz to study.
  5. Review example problems solved in the text and notes on a regular basis. Keep going back to older topics covered in the course so you do not forget the basics.
  6. When solving problems, especially when you are not quite sure of the solution strategy, pursue every line of thinking and make note of it clearly in your notebook. When you have received the final solution, compare it against your own attempts to figure out flaws in your thinking. It is important to pay attention to your tendencies – good and bad – and make the necessary adjustments.
  7. Pay attention to the syllabus carefully at the beginning of the semester. Review course policy as outlined in the syllabus and on tests and other assignments.
  8. Before attending class, preview the appropriate chapter in the textbook and read over notes from the last class period.
  9. Ask questions in class about homework, problems or material discussed in that day’s class.
  10. Attend Office Hours regularly.
  11. Find out about additional support available through the university and department such as the Math Center, a math tutor or the Study Skills Center.
  12. Always review your work after you are finished, whether on a test or homework.
  13. Show respect to your classmates and professor.

Preparing for Life After College

  1. Develop good study skills and discipline which will serve you well in your future.
  2. Start thinking about next steps and life after college as early as possible. By the time you are in your junior year, it is good to have some idea of possible career paths you might want to pursue.
  3. Even as a freshman meet with the department advisor to find out about program options. The Math department offers various undergraduate, double major, and BS/MS programs which you might want to learn about. Some of these programs require you to take specific courses early on so you may complete the program on time.
  4. Get to know the department; explore the department website and talk to faculty members, even those who are not your instructors, when you get the opportunity.
  5. Meet with your faculty advisor and discuss courses, career options, and anything else of interest to you. Connect with advisors early and meet them at least once a semester.
  6. Attend events organized by the department such as career workshops, graduate school preparation, seminars, etc. These provide excellent opportunities to network with others in the department and learn about opportunities you may not have known about.
  7. Participate in the Math Community Canvas page. Review the page regularly.
  8. Become a member of the Math Club.
  9. By the time you are in your senior year, it is good to have a resume and portfolio ready no matter what your future path. The Math Department can help you put together a portfolio.