Dec 4, 2017 at 12:00am ET By Alyssa Walker

Although a physicist might disagree, some say that mathematics is one of the purest forms of science. While many see it as abstract, hard to understand, and sometimes intimidating, mathematics is relevant and necessary to understand the world—and for everyday living.

Here’s why you should study mathematics:

1.  Mathematics applies to many fields

Some people think that math applies only if you’re going to study STEM fields. Not true.

You need math for everything. Like to cook? You need to understand proportions. Want to make money? You need basic math and economics.

Numbers and math help you keep track of things—in sports, music, money, time, distance, cooking, balancing a checkbook, measuring for home improvement, budgeting, buying within your budget… the list goes on.

To problem solve on a daily basis requires that you have math skills—it requires that you can think logically.

Math is also useful for leisure and relaxation. Like video games? You need math. If you like card games, crossword puzzles, and Sudoku puzzles, you need a logical understanding of math, too.

Here’s a good one: to be a great philosopher, you should study math. How do we ever get to the number one if numbers—and decimals—are infinite?

Thinking philosophically requires the capacity to think logically, engage in new ideas, try new hypotheses, accept or reject assumptions based on fact.

Want to know how to think and make sense of the world (see #3)? Study mathematics.

2.  It makes everything else easy

Once you’ve tamed the beast that is mathematics, you’ll have the skills to think about everything else—and everything else will feel easy.

Math will serve you well—in thinking, logic, problem-solving, and yes—even reading and writing. How? Math is a way to think, and ways to think yield insights on how you get from Point A to Point B. Isn’t that what math is all about?

3.  It’s the best way to make sense of the world

Welcome to the Language of the Universe.

Your math vocabulary shapes what you’re capable of thinking of, even nothing, which we quantify as “0.”

In Wired’s aptly named article, “Why Math Is The Bst Way To Make Sense of the World,” the author, Ariel Bleicher tells the story of Rebecca Goldin, a mathematics professor at George Mason University who suggested that university students “take more math and science than is required.”

Goldin said, “I can think of no better tool than quantitative thinking to process the information that is thrown at me.”

She has made it her mission to make quantitative literacy a priority.

Goldin currently directs STATS, an organization that seeks to improve “communication, transparency, and the use of evidence in the sciences.” Her goal is to “change the culture of journalism so that people recognize the importance of using quantitative arguments and thinking about quantitative issues before they come to conclusions.”

In other words, using the universal language of mathematics to support truth.

4.  Jobs!

In 2013, an article in The Atlantic published a study about the Cleveland Fed that showed students who advanced further in high school mathematics have higher wages and are less likely to be unemployed than those who did not.  That is—those who made it at least to Algebra II.

What does this mean? One takeaway is that those who have mathematics skills are more likely to find employment than those who don’t.

Mathematics majors are in high demand, and are needed across a variety of industries and career paths.

There are the obvious ones like careers in STEM-related fields like biosciences and chemistry, accounting and aerospace, but also in less obvious ones like national defense, automotive, business support services, education, consulting, and geology, to name just a few.

What makes a mathematician so valuable? We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: critical thinking and problem-solving. There is no equal subject to study when it comes to improving those skills—and applying them to the greater good.

 

Learn more about studying mathematics

Alyssa Walker is a freelance writer, educator, and nonprofit consultant. She lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire with her family.

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