Math majors at UCCS find difficulties in job hunt

12 November 2019

William Pham

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An ever-growing stigma about math majors is that they cannot get a job after graduation. Many believe that math, although practical at the core, envelopes and verges too much on the realm of abstract once one gets deep into the field. As a result, math majors often find themselves trapped between a teaching job, actuarial positions or unemployment. What do UCCS math professors have to say about this?

The golden question – what you want to do with your major after graduation – is an inquiry most college students are familiar with. The current job market is not as liberal as it once was since doctors, computer scientists and engineers are so high in demand.

Whether it is math, art, English, or anything else beyond the realm of technology, people argue that majoring in such subjects is a waste of time and money. But upon further inspection, does this mentality actually hold?

Although, graduating from an ivy league will usually make finding a job after graduation easier, the majority of students are not Brown scholars nor field experts.

With a rather healthy number of undergraduate math graduates at UCCS, this is an issue that many will have to face. As rumors have surfaced, many companies and job markets within Colorado Springs are not so eager to hire UCCS math graduates, so a true investigation of all factors affecting this issue must take place.

UCCS math professor, Greg Oman, gave his thoughts about the current phenomena. Oman, similar to other faculty in the program, works firsthand with undergraduate and graduate students through research, mentoring and teaching.

He teaches advanced math courses including Linear Algebra and Modern Algebra, and his views are reflective of many perspectives shared within the math department at UCCS.

Oman begins by discussing the benefits of a math degree. Deductive reasoning skills and problem-solving skills are continually valued in the workforce, so math, being based on logic, teaches individuals to solve and analyze problems in different ways than other fields of study.

Oman then elaborates, explaining employers are not necessarily looking purely at desired degrees but also at aspects relating to gained aptitude and potential. Students who successfully finished a vigorous math program show a level of the dedication, perseverance, intelligence and overall trainability that is desirable in most fields from engineering and data science to government.

Oman responds to the discrepancy between UCCS math graduates and the hiring rate of these graduates. To address the issue, Dr. Oman attempts to balance out the positives and negatives of obtaining a math degree at UCCS.

A positive, given by Oman, is that UCCS, being a bigger university in Colorado Springs, offers more advanced math courses. He believes UCCS is likely the best place for undergraduates to choose to study mathematics in Colorado Springs.

Oman also explains the reality of the issue by explaining how the problem is not related solely to the school or the city but rather to the grander and more serious problems within the education system.

Oman states, “A lot of the teachers are not making them [the students] actually become competent, and instead of trying to put responsibility on the student’s shoulders, the students are not required to grow up.” Oman is referring not only to higher education, but also to elementary and secondary school systems as well.

According to Oman’s perspective, the entire education system works to lower the bar for many students instead of challenging and raising them to their full potential. Teachers and faculty, especially from elementary and secondary schools, do not teach students to work hard but focus instead on making the students look better, creating a sense of artificial happiness. The problem worsens in college as expectations are higher.

What then happens is that unprepared students, with the perception of preparedness, come into college and continue to either be unprepared or experience a rude awakening. To Oman, “It’s not an intelligence problem, it’s not that; it’s a preparedness and discipline problem”.

UCCS has a high acceptance rate, and students who enter the program can range from the hardworking those who barely get by. Often, students who enroll to get mathematics degrees do not push themselves, and they get by with minimal study skills and without the work ethic often needed in the work force.

Because of this, UCCS graduates who apply to jobs around the city are often let down and declined.

These habits start before college though. Oman states, “Getting at the core of the issue, it ultimately is going to have to come from the elementary, middle, high school [levels], and [the] parents”.

Oman explains that it is not the math program offered at UCCS that is the issue, but rather the overall educational experiences of students in the area that makes getting a job after graduation difficult for math majors.