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Meet the Major: Mathematics with a Teaching Concentration

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Meet the Major: Math with a Teaching Concentration

Zoe and Philip, two students studying mathematics with a teaching concentration at UMass Amherst, have dreams of becoming math teachers someday! Let's hear what they have to say about their major and being students at UMass.

Why did you decide to come to UMass Amherst?

Zoe says she chose to attend UMass because it’s “the place for anyone and everyone. No matter what kind of person you are, you can find your home here.” She describes how she quickly fell in love with the energy and spirit of the UMass Amherst campus, especially the students. “Every student at UMass wants to succeed, push themselves, and encourage others to do the same,” she states.

Philip has a bit of a different story. He transferred to UMass after the fall of his freshman year at another college. “I went to a small Massachusetts state school and realized very quickly that it was too small,” Philip says. 

He ultimately decided that transferring to UMass would fit him much better, both academically and socially. “UMass is such a great school and has so many different things to do on the weekends, like hockey and football games, spending time in downtown Amherst, club trips, and tons of other opportunities that are on campus,” Philip tells me.

Why did you choose your major?

Zoe decided to major in math with the goal of becoming a math teacher after being inspired by her own high school math teacher. “She was supportive, exciting, and showed us real life math applications,” Zoe says. 

Philip has known he wanted to be a teacher since third grade. He decided on math in high school, “My best subject was math and I had always enjoyed math, so I just decided to stick with what I was good at and pursue my career as a math teacher,” he says. He also loves the idea of getting summers off from work!

Zoe adds, “If you were to ask a middle or high student what their least favorite subject is, odds are that most times it would be math. In my opinion, part of the reason for that is because math is often not taught in an engaging way, and I would love to be a part of fixing that.”

How are your classes?

“Classes are tough, I’m not going to try to sugarcoat it. But when you reach out and get the help you need (office hours, Calculus tutoring center in Lederle Tower, the tutoring that is offered in the library, and reaching out to other classmates who are going through the same thing as you) it becomes much easier,” Philip says about his classes. He describes how he has loved all of his classes so far, even the difficult ones like Calculus 2 and Computer Science. Philip even describes how past professors have reached out to him the following year to see how his classes were going!

What are the professors like?

“The professors at UMass are outstanding. They want you to succeed and be able to use your knowledge outside of the classroom,” Zoe says. “Another thing I love about professors is that they have all worked or done research in their field, which they always talk about during lectures.” 

How do you plan to use your degree?

Both Zoe and Philip plan to become math teachers after graduating from UMass. Zoe would love to teach middle or high school, and says, “If I could choose the subject it would be geometry or advanced calculus.” Philip plans on also becoming a high school math teacher.

Both students also plan on getting their Master's in Education. Zoe tells me how she plans on applying to the UMass grad school program to earn her Master's degree and licensure in one year. Philip states that in the future, “I would love to go back to school and get a Master’s Degree in School Administration and become a principal, but we will cross the bridge when we get there.” 

What do you do to stay busy outside of classes and studying?

Another thing that Philip and Zoe have in common is that they are both tour guides at UMass! “I love my job as a tour guide, and all the people I have met and work with are some of the kindest, and craziest may I add, people I have ever met,” Philip states. 

Besides this, Zoe is also involved in the UMass Marching Band! “The UMMB is the largest collegiate marching band in the Northeast, has over 400 members, and has students from nearly every academic major on campus. I have met so many lifelong friends and had some of my best memories of my freshman year while being involved in the band,” she says.

Any advice for students looking to major in mathematics?

Philip and Zoe leave us with some words of advice. Philip says to “be prepared for some tough classes. You can get through it, but also be aware of all the resources that are available to you on campus. All of those resources are here for YOU!!!” 

Zoe tells us she cannot recommend the math program at UMass enough, saying, “My biggest tip for students looking to be a math major is to DO IT! I was very nervous to be a math major because I often thought that I wasn’t 'smart' enough to take advanced math classes, but UMass sets you up to be successful.”


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Dear Maddie,

Hey me my senior year of high school, I’m writing to you three years later as a junior in college! I know you’re probably super stressed right now from juggling school, extracurriculars and choosing where to go to college but I hope that by writing you this letter, as a junior in college now, I could ease your stress a little and give you a few tips.