Why is it so difficult for many students to do mathematics at university level, even though they were good at mathematics in high school? Has high school not prepared them properly? Is it intelligence? ADD?

Mathematics in secondary and mathematics at university level are two different issues.

Mathematics in high school is mainly about applying pre-chewed algorithms to pretty stereotypes model problems almost blindly.

University-level mathematics is a creative discipline that requires rather insight, logical and problem-solving thinking ability.

The two have really little to do with each other despite the similarity in name.This is mainly the difference in approach. There are bridging courses to cope with this difference in approach, such as Introduction to Mathematical Thinking | Coursera.

One of the best books that indicts mathematics as it is given at high School level is a mathematician’s Lament: How School Cheats Us Out of Our Most Fascinating and Imaginative Art Form by Paul Lockhart.An absolute must!

To be clear: of course, the amount of learning material and the difficulty of mathematics is also a major factor!In that respect, it is no more than normal for students to have more difficulty at university than in high school, but there is more to it.

I was very good at mathematics in high school.I then went to study mathematics because it seemed to me the easiest profession and I was too lazy to read books.

On uni I found out that I was nothing special.Everyone had been the super-nerd of his or her high school. However, I was able to follow it well the first two years. Mathematics was, as expected, just secondary-school mathematics at a slightly higher level.

However, on the 3rd year I was disturbed. Especially the algebraic Geometri I did not snap a ball of.While I was accustomed to being able to hang most mathematics from my physical intuition, I now had to understand things that were much more abstract and did not have a physical interpretation.

Math is something you really need talent for.And as the level gets higher, you need more talent. You can also be the best student of high school in sports or music. If you then try to make a career as a professional musician or sportsman/woman, it is likely that you do not have enough talent.

So mathematics is nothing but other subjects that demand a certain talent.It is different from the social sciences (for example) where you can reach a very end by working hard.

What also saves you is that in most subjects you can get an end by being kind to the teacher and around cocks in tentamers and writing theses.You score a lot of points in many subjects by simply quoting the existing literary literature and how to make a good word. That doesn’t work in mathematics. Mathematics is Genadenloos. If your answer is wrong then it is simply wrong. So when you reach the limit of your talent then it’s Game Over.

I then made the choice to become a statistician.For that you don’t need very advanced math, only you should be able to relate it to real-world problems.

I can recommend this for anyone who likes high school math but uni-mathematics still too difficult to find.There are many nice jobs in statistics.

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