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Pursuing math education: Why don't more people do it? And why does it matter?

A meeting of local mathematicians, students, and college professors reveals a gap in those majoring in math.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A meeting of the minds at Columbia College revealed a gap in the math field.

A group of professors, mathematicians, scientists, and students gathered to share their research and ideas. However, there were only about 30 or 40 people in attendance. 

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Math department chair for Columbia College Dr. Alexandru Atim says disliking math has become a trend in the last 10 years.

"Middle schools and high schools should do a better job at promoting math," Dr. Atim said. "It's sad that students get the idea that it is hard, which is the worst that can happen. Then that's why they just move on because if you know it's hard, why would you do it?"

Students like Delvin Peterson from Allen University say there aren't a lot of people studying math, but he would encourage others to try it.

"At my school, we have more people in biology, sports management, and business, but math is iffy ... Math is hard but success is not an easy road," Peterson stated.

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This disinterest in the subject reflects locally, as well. Math scores for SCReady show a decline post-pandemic. Just 39% of students met or exceeded expectations last school year.

Math major Jarrell Washington said there are typically only 5 or so people in his classes. He would love to see other young people find a passion to pursue math as well.

"It has to be broadcasted more and it needs to be put out there so people feel more comfortable until it becomes more of a norm," said Washington.

Dr. Atim explained that fewer colleges and universities in South Carolina are offering math as a major now. News 19 researched and found 20 colleges around the state that do not offer math as a degree to major in.

Although there is less interest in pursuing math as a career, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found, there is actually a 23% increase in demand for people with math degrees right now. 

The average salary of a person using their math degree in their career is about $75,000.

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