Outside the Box: Getting started with more than just your classes
There is nothing that captures the spirit of the mathematical sciences
better than the desire to play with ideas by challenging old ones
and putting forward new approaches.
The mathematical sciences are huge in extent and depth,
and it's a seemingly daunting task to get started with anything,
but the process begins, as with study in each class, by taking steps
to work through
the details, often sharing your thoughts, and collaborating with others
to pull these together into a synthesis that is often remarkable.
It's exciting. It's called discovery and it's the essence of
research. Even discovering a know fact on your own is remarkable.
Think about your opportunities. Most students starting out have
not done anything that goes beyond
their class work. Often that's quite a lot by itself, and we want to
encourage you to do well in these first and foremost, but we also want
you to think about stretching your grasp of the topics you are studying
in math and the physical sciences, and to think about opportunities
for doing more than just showing that you can pass tests. If you are
struggling a bit more than you expected in your math classes (and it's
often the case that good students who breezed through high school
hit a snag with some of their classes at college), don't get discouraged.
Make use of your instructor, go to their office hours for extra help,
or get tutoring support.
You can also start by forming a study group. We provide a room,
Laplace (Maxcy 329) for students to use for this purpose (and we even
provide the coffee maker and the coffee). Make use of it, do well in
We are here to help get you started on the path to success in whatever
direction you feel that should take.
Also, examine some
previous topics for research done in the
Department in recent years, or look through the faculty web pages,
or the compendium of Faculty research interests we maintain.
How to go about it.
Whether you are a new student, or possibly even starting your Junior
year at UNH, get involved with the faculty teaching your classes.
Ask questions in classes that excite you, let your instructor know that
a topic interests you. See if the discussion leads to something of interest
for both of you, and pursue it.
Another route is to contact the Department if you are interested in
pursuing undergraduate research, or are interested in other events,
such as student competitions, or attending meetings of a professional
society. One established road to undergraduate research is through
the Honors Program,
however even if this is not what you are wanting, there are opportunities
to work individually with faculty in the Department to write a thesis,
or to work on a presentation or paper for publication.
The purpose of it all. So now you've taken on a mountain of extra work
and you're wondering whether there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Rest assured that there is not only light, but at some point that long
tunnel opens into a lush valley of increased opportunities. Success
in the mathematical sciences depends on having prepared yourself, much like
training for an athlete, and just like that Olympian the more you've put
into the effort to build yourself up, the more likely it is that can
win gold. Whether you are interested in going to graduate school
or into industry or teaching, that extra preparation makes you stand out.
In a highly competitive standing out from the crowd is important.
That's the market side of it, but more substantially, the
reason that all of this extra effort is worthwhile is because you
have expanded your mind to see the world in ways you may never have
You go to university to learn, but you should also go there to discover
who you are and what your true potential is. This is part of that process.