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I decided to go for math at 36. Is this idea possible? I studied literature, political science and international relations and still I am not really sure what I am doing. Since I was kid, I was not good at math and I remember, I had hard time to pass the college math courses, but with the help of short brush up course and with some dedicated weeks, I passed it.

But now, later years, I just think, I want to change my career and degree at all. I really need some insightful advice. is it OK, if I go for undergraduate math degree?

In order to get a familiar with math and to love can you recommend me some inspiring stories or books?

Thank you, Khora

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closed as off topic by quid, Mark Grant, Andy Putman, Chris Godsil, Anthony Quas Feb 12 '13 at 22:36

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Welcome to MO! In principle this site is for advanced and focused questions on math itself not for general advice. Sometimes there is an excepttion though. However, regarding your first question whether it is "OK, if [you] go for undergraduate math degree?" it is not quite clear what type of answer you expect. I cannot imagine why it should not be "OK" in a global/abstract sense, and the implict question whether it is a good idea for you, well, how do you want anybody to answer this in a meaningful way based on the information you provide. Voted to close, sorry. (Some links in next c.) –  quid Feb 12 '13 at 12:13
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Some related things we had here: A question too old for advanced math mathoverflow.net/questions/7120/… Mathematicians that were late learners mathoverflow.net/questions/3591/… Famous mathematicians with backgrounds in arts and humanities mathoverflow.net/questions/76580/… –  quid Feb 12 '13 at 12:16
    
If this is to remain open, it should be made Community Wiki. –  Todd Trimble Feb 12 '13 at 12:21
    
@Todd Trimble: yes, I flagged for it already. (Just forgot to mention it and did not want to write three comments in a row.) –  quid Feb 12 '13 at 12:30
    
Thank you members for providing interesting links and advises. Greatly appreciate!! –  Khora Feb 12 '13 at 13:27
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1 Answer 1

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Follow your dreams!

One thing you should be aware of is that there is a disconnect between the math that non-mathematicians are familiar with --- everything in calculus and below --- and the stuff that comes after. A lot of people are surprised when they get there.

The stuff that comes after calculus is very abstract. There's no simple procedure to get the answer. Every problem is different, and you are expected to be clever and figure out how it's done. This does not adequately express what it's like. Some people find it beautiful and hypnotic, and it's easily enough to keep a person occupied for the rest of their life. But for other people it is terrifying.

If you are really "in the groove of it," then doing higher math is an extremely gratifying experience, unlike anything else in life. But a lot of people find that math is more than what they bargained for, and if you struggled in your college math classes, this might be something to think about. I do not wish to discourage you; just to convey some idea of what you are signing up for. Whatever you decide, I wish you great success!

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Beautiful answer! –  André Henriques Feb 12 '13 at 12:33
    
Thank you, Andre! –  Nick Thomas Feb 12 '13 at 12:49
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Thank you dear Nick for your encouraging words and advises. I'm just lost at the moment of my life and I want really go for new thing that will give me a new dream and hope. –  Khora Feb 12 '13 at 13:20
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