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Anyone who studies math must have a talent for the subject! The course is considered particularly difficult. Every second breaks off again. This means that math has the highest drop-out rate of all STEM subjects. So is a math degree really only for high-flyers? And is the reputation that math students “nerds” right?

From: Friederike Kühn

As of: December 16, 2019

Math students are not all high-flyers, but of course you should have been good at school. However, those who believe that they are among the best in maths with 15 points in their Abitur will often experience disappointment. Because: Mathematics at university has little to do with math at school, says Julia Kraus. She did a Master of Science in mathematics.

"At school you learn how to do arithmetic. You learn rules how to divide correctly, and if you practice that often enough, you will eventually know how it works. At university, on the other hand, you learn how to come up with these rules, one proves. There is actually no longer such a calculation with numbers. It becomes much more abstract, less tangible. "

Julia Kraus, Mathematics Master of Science

This kind of logical, abstract thinking is difficult for many freshmen. According to a study by the German Center for University and Science Research DZHW, every second first-year student drops out. Not understanding everything at once is completely normal when studying maths. The pace in the lectures in the major subjects linear algebra, analysis and stochastics is fast. The students have to work on the material again afterwards. Solving exercises is also part of the course. It is important to network with fellow students, says Niklas Weber, math student in the master’s course, and to have problems that you do not understand yourself explained by others.

"If you've been staring at any part of the book for three hours and you think I don't get it, then the message comes from the other person: 'Look inside for an hour longer: I think' I've understood something now. 'And then maybe you invest another hour. That way you can push each other. Not because one would be better than the other, but you don't always do the jumps at the same time. That way, I got along quite well with my friends. "

Niklas Weber, master's degree in finance and actuarial mathematics

So you have to invest a lot of time to cope with this difficult study. To ponder over individual questions for hours is part of it. Nevertheless, mathematics students are not “nerds”, says Carolin Bauernhenne, who is enrolled in the elite “Topmath” course at the Technical University of Munich.

“I would say there are very different types of people who have a place in maths.” Carolin doesn't look like a nerd at all, although she is a real math ace. After completing her bachelor's degree, she immediately writes her doctoral thesis.

"In my opinion, the most important thing is to enjoy abstract thinking. And of course you need patience if you can't solve a problem. Not at the first step, not at the second. But if you enjoy abstract thinking enough then patience comes automatically. "

Carolin Bauerhenne, Topmath Technical University of Munich

Many women are now studying mathematics. According to the Federal Statistical Office, it is even more than 60% in the teaching profession. In the scientific courses of study, the Bachelor and Master of Science, only around 35%. So that math isn't for girls is one of the myths that doesn't apply. But women are still in the minority in the scientific courses.

Mathematicians have good career prospects

The chances on the job market for mathematicians are excellent. According to an estimate by the German Mathematicians Association, unemployment is only 0.8%. Practically full employment. Graduates are in demand in almost all industries. Because they approach problems in a structured manner, do not shy away from highly complex questions, and can think logically and precisely, they can be used universally. And especially in the course of digitization, new fields of work are emerging that are suitable for mathematicians.

After graduating, Julia Kraus immediately found a job with a household appliance company in Munich. She works in the “Data Science & Analytics Architecture” department. For the company, she uses algorithms to evaluate large amounts of data that have recently been generated, for example, in the increasingly digitized production of household appliances. Your boss, an economist, values ​​the competence of her employee.

Mathematicians are also in demand in management consultancies, in banking and insurance. That is why there are now also mathematical courses that combine mathematics with economics. Mathematicians are valuable in the finance and insurance industries because they can systematically assess risks or make predictions.

Studying mathematics therefore offers many opportunities and career opportunities. Anyone who enjoys abstract, logical thinking and has perseverance and tenacity should therefore dare!

Development of drop-out rates at German universities (determined by the DZHW)Format: PDFSize: 1.04 MB

Study by the University of Duisburg on the job market opportunities of mathematicians Format: PDFSize: 143.97 KB