Maths – Surviving First Year!
Now the buzz of Fresher’s has subsided you’re probably starting to realise…maths at Warwick is really quite hard! And whilst there’s no denying that the course here is demanding, it’s exactly what makes it extremely rewarding. Although, perhaps that’s hard to remember when it’s only week 3 and you’re trying to juggle a test, three assignments and 20 contact hours already…so here are three things that will hopefully make this all a little easier!
Make friends…who do maths!
Whilst I have no personal vendetta against other students (and in fact my closest friends are outside of the department), I cannot stress how important my maths friends have been to me and here’s why:
– They get it. 20 contact hours a week? 3 assignments due in Monday? 14 exams at the end of the year? You’re not alone – so laugh, cry, revise together!
– They can help. Maths is much more collaborative than you might think, and whilst it’s not a matter of saying ‘Hey, can you send me the answers?’, it can be really beneficial to bounce ideas and develop solutions to tricky problems together.
– They’re like-minded. Whilst, you may have different career goals, by having a network of people in the department you’re going to find out more about what opportunities there are for you. Whether your friends are applying to a Spring Week or a URSS it can be both inspiring and informative to spend time around other ambitious people in your field.
– TIP: In your second term, there will be modules where you get the chance to work in a pair or small group. Particularly, Maths by Computer is a core, course-work based module where you have the chance to work in a pair, so try not to dissociate yourself from all other mathematicians and maybe have someone in mind you can work on this module with!
Stay on the ball!
A friendly warning : although a few (particularly core) modules overlap with some A-Level material, this isn’t going to last forever… Suddenly (yes – suddenly!) Differential Equations is going to become more than the FTC and Foundations isn’t just going to be about De Moivre’s Theorem. So, be wise – don’t underestimate the course, whilst you’re finding things easy make sure you’re staying on top of your assignments and the material to give yourself some leeway when the difficulty ramps up!
– Tip: Look through assignments and lecture notes before the relevant tutorials, seminars and supervisions; come prepared with questions on anything you’re finding tricky – these hours are the perfect opportunity to get through more challenging material with the help of someone who has been through exactly what you’re going through!
Take care of yourself!
Whilst the hours are demanding and sometimes you will have 2am nights to meet deadlines, never compromise your health. Make sure you sleep. Make sure you eat. Whilst Week 7’s Analysis I booklet might seem like it’s going to decide the fate of your degree, you must remember it’s one of nine booklets that makes up 7.5% of a 24 CAT module that makes up 20% of your first year, that makes up 10% of your degree…and, well, I’ll let you do the maths. Try not to get caught up in striving for perfection in every single assignment and always have a perspective of the bigger picture. Don’t forget how important it is to be a well-rounded individual and whether it’s climbing, volunteering or ballet – let yourself take advantage of the many opportunities the university has to offer outside of maths – I promise it will be these other activities that help you stay sane!
I hope these tips help, any questions – don’t be afraid to comment!