College/University Preparation

“Amazing prof! Was an enjoyable class. And he was hilarious! Coming into this class I was nervous because I didn’t have a strong background in math. He made it very easy to understand and explained things very well! The best math teacher I’ve had throughout high school, college, and university!”

After his stellar NBA career, Charles Barkley worked as a television basketball commentator. Here’s an excerpt from the blog of Tim Kiely, a producer on Barkley’s TV show:

One time an intern was studying very earnestly for an exam she was about to take. Chuck took one look and said “Whatcha doing?”

The reply came, “I’m studying for a big math exam.”

To which Chuck said, “Only two numbers ya gotta worry about baby — 20 and 10 — 20 points and 10 rebounds. That’s what got me through college.”

To Barkley’s credit, he speaks to high school students to promote the value of education. He cautions students very strongly to forget about playing professional sports, because the chances of making it are extremely low. He tells students not to view him as a role model, but rather to honour their own parents and teachers, and to aspire to be teachers, doctors, lawyers, … .

Not everyone has the freakish athleticism of Charles Barkley. Probably the shortest power forward in NBA history, at 6’4″, he nevertheless was one of the top rebounders in history, leading the NBA in rebounds several times, thanks to his low centre of gravity, his quickness, his strength, his amazing leaping ability, and his intelligence.

If you have the athleticism of Charles Barkley, you won’t need to worry about learning math. But if your plans include being a teacher, doctor, nurse, lawyer, economist, social scientist, business person, technician, technologist, trades person, and many other professions, then you’ll need to learn some mathematics. For starters, you’ll have to pass MCAT, LSAT, GRE, or other entrance exams to get accepted by a medical school, law school, graduate school, or other professional school. (Indeed, many students are required to have high scores on SAT tests, ACT tests, or similar tests, just to be accepted into undergraduate college/university programs.) All of the tests just listed have mathematics components, and some also have science components.

And if your goal is to become a scientist, engineer, economist, actuary, statistician, mathematician, or work in many fields involving computers, then you’ll need to learn a lot of mathematics.

Superb preparation combined with consistent work ensures success

Unfortunately, many students are ill-prepared for success in college and university programs because their mathematics skills and ability are not strong enough. This is not the fault of students, who are smarter than ever, and who generally work towards succeeding within the system presented to them. And it is not the fault of elementary teachers or high-school teachers, who are generally enthusiastic and work extremely hard to help our children succeed, and do so with pedagogy that is better than ever. Both students and teachers are hampered by systemic problems not of their own making; these are political problems that we must all work together to resolve. However, in the meantime, your children need support now to ensure their success with elementary and high-school mathematics. Your children also need to be well-prepared for success in higher-education programs that require mathematics and science. We are here to lend support to your children now; resolving systemic problems in our education system may take time, and your children need support now.

I was saddened to hear the heart-breaking story of a student of mine a few years ago, when I was teaching first-year calculus at a university. A young woman whom I’ll call L. came to my office in tears. “I got an A in math every year in high school. I wanted to be a math teacher. But I am failing calculus!” Despite getting very good grades in high school mathematics, L. was not well prepared for university mathematics, and she was bewildered about how this could be.

As I said before, this is not the fault of L., who did all her work in good faith, nor is it the fault of L.’s teachers in elementary school or high school. Part of the problem is the way mathematics courses are structured and graded. Student are awarded partial credit (“part-marks”), and they are not required to demonstrate mastery of all essential skills and concepts. University mathematics and science courses are very fast-paced, and therefore very unforgiving of students who fall behind. But if students have not mastered essential prerequisite concepts and skills, falling behind is almost inevitable. University courses are a sprint, with 12 or 13 weeks per semester, and they are pitched at a very fast pace compared to high-school courses. University courses make many demands on students that they are not used to; there is very little class time, very little individual attention from professors, and university students are expected to learn a lot on their own. However, many university students (especially first-year students) are bewildered about what activities they should be engaging in when it comes to studying, completing their work, and preparing for exams. (This situation is also not the fault of university professors, who are extremely over-worked themselves, and are under intense pressure to produce good research, which means that most of them cannot devote as much time on their teaching as they would like. In any case, typical first-year courses contain hundreds of students, and it is physically impossible for a professor of such a course to devote individual attention to each student.)

The result of all of these systemic problems is that many students, despite being plenty smart and willing to work hard, are ill-prepared for college or university, and do not know exactly what to do when they arrive. As a result, many students work inefficiently and ineffectively, and under-perform while experiencing a mountain of stress and anxiety.

The flip side: with a little guidance, and solid preparation, these same students could have the excellent results that they desire, in the programs of their choice, with a lot less stress and strife.

This is the purpose of FoMaP, and my intention in providing support for your children in achieving their goals. So if your children are in high school and planning on pursuing a higher-education program that includes some mathematics, take action now to ensure that they are superbly well-prepared by the time they graduate from high school.

If you’d like to set up a personal learning program for your child, contact me by clicking on “Contact“.

For more information about tutoring for your child, click on “Tutoring“.

For more information about the university preparation courses we offer, click on “Courses“.

To register in a course, click on “Register“.

Click here to read more about how a specially designed individual program can help your child.