I’ve spent a few weeks wondering what I can write about for my first post here. I’m a first-year PhD student with an endless supply of questions but without much wisdom or insight to share yet about my short graduate life. As a recent college graduate, however, I have spent years thinking about how my friends and peers perceive my mathematical interests and my career choices. And while I’m still learning about graduate life, I have a wealth of opinions about how we approach communicating math and statistics to students, clients, and colleagues interested primarily in other areas.

In college, I asked many other students to clarify why they don’t like math. I got two answers over and over again- it’s boring, and it’s too hard. The chain rule and the shell method of integration do not strike them as relevant to their future careers or to their broader understanding of the world around them. Moreover, they have been told from a young age that math is too hard, so why bother trying?

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