My Ode to Math

Numbers don’t always number right!

Math and me, we struggle.

I can safely say that I rarely, if ever, actually understand a higher-level math concept on the first try. Maybe six or seven practice problems later, with someone skilled walking me through each step and explaining everything and answering all my questions – typically the same ones over and over, because numbers do not sit right in my head.

I’ve failed one college math class and one high school math thus far, and I’m not itching to go for another anytime soon. (I did barely pass tenth grade geometry with a whopping 60%, which if it had been one percent lower, that would have been failing. I’m positive that my teacher only passed me because it was the spring of 2020 and he felt sorry for me). However, because I failed my summer math class (pro tip: do NOT take a class you struggle in online! Sounds obvious, but sometimes one learns the hard way by experience), I am now here, in the same class, for the semester, trying, yet again, to pass this crazy class so I can graduate on time.

One would think that because I took the class before, I would at least remember some of the things we went over previously.

Wrong. When I said I failed, I really failed. I don’t remember anything I was supposed to learn, save for one concept that was fairly easy because all I needed was a calculator. Mind you, in both classes that I failed, it wasn’t because I stopped trying. I show up every day I can, I ask questions, I do my homework the best I can. Unfortunately, even then the numbers don’t always behave themselves by the time I get to the exam.


My point here is that life is never easy. Sometimes we try our hardest and do everything we think is right, and the end result is still less than satisfactory. I know that in my real world, the world all my math teachers keep telling me that I will one day need these skills, all these numbers and all these formulas are not going to be a part of it. I’m a psychology major. I work as a daycare teacher. I write for a college newspaper. My main math comes from adding the weights on my rack at the gym, and even then, I have my phone with a built-in calculator handy if I really want it. Any jobs I look for in the future will probably not involve multiplying 4×4 matrices by hand. If they do, then I picked the wrong field of study.

My calculator is my best friend in math class. Photo by Katie Leier.

So, here I am, in the basement of West Dining Hall, typing this as I wait for my tutor session, half-dreading the end result. Will it help? Will I fail? Is time travel invented so I can skip over this unpleasant scenario? 

I’m sorry if this sounds depressing, but if there is a class you struggle in, all I can say is keep doing your best. It pays off to look back and see the hard work that leads to success. Or, if you’re like me and you fail, just jump back in and try again, with the knowledge that you did your best and you can do so again. Good things often take hard work.

As for my tutor session, I’ve used ACE tutoring before, and it really helps! Take advantage of it if you need to (IT’S FREE FOR STUDENTS!) Whether it be algebra or biology or physics or English or whatever you need, the hard work is worth it and sometimes it takes some extra help along the way.

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