Best Math department in the Nation, where are you?

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Discus: College Search and Selection: April 2004 Archive: Best Math department in the Nation, where are you?
By Kousuke (Kousuke) on Sunday, April 18, 2004 - 11:33 pm: Edit

i was looking into majoring in possible mathematics/statistics, or actuarial studies, and becoming an actuary. does anyone know what schools have the best math programs in the nation? i dont care how competitive the school is, what are they?

By Kousuke (Kousuke) on Monday, April 19, 2004 - 12:17 am: Edit


By Masterchris (Masterchris) on Monday, April 19, 2004 - 12:20 am: Edit

I know mit, stanford, princeton, cal tech are all strong in math. im not sure about actuarial math/

By Sgburke79 (Sgburke79) on Monday, April 26, 2004 - 03:41 pm: Edit

Cool, this is the first time I've come across my rather obscure choice of profession in these forums. :)

Some of the best-regarded actuarial science programs include (in no particular order) Wharton, Boston University, Connecticut, Illinois-Urbana-Champaign, Wisconsin-Madison, Nebraska, Georgia State, Drake, Penn State, and Temple. NYU Stern also has an actuarial science program, and NYU has a world-class reputation in applied math.

As you can see, there's not much overlap between the set of schools with good math/stats programs (I'd throw Berkeley in there as well, it's probably top 5 in both) and the set of schools with good actuarial science programs. The latter set is clearly inferior in terms of overall reputation. I'll stick to hard facts firm has in recent years expressed a strong preference for actuarial science majors because they typically have passed 3-4 exams by the time they graduate. However, a course of studies in actuarial science is *really* narrow. A few years down the road you may greatly appreciate (as I did) the greater recognition and broader array of options afforded by the math/stats major.

A word of advice...unless you are absolutely sure you want to keep your studies on a narrow technical track (such as actuarial science), whether or not a particular school's "program" is "best" should not be the primary determinant of where you choose to do your undergraduate studies. Save the focus on the quality of "programs" for graduate school, where it's crucially important. It's much more reasonable to choose a school based on its overall quality of undergraduate education (in your case, with some weight given to its strength in math and science). Go someplace best suited to you as a whole person, where you'll excel in your coursework, develop strong relationships with your professors and other students, and learn about what you truly want out of life. Trust me, I've been in your shoes before.

By Perintastic (Perintastic) on Monday, April 26, 2004 - 06:36 pm: Edit

i want to be an actuary too but i'm not headed to a really amazing school. =/

i have a feeling that i'm doomed, lol.

By Sgburke79 (Sgburke79) on Monday, April 26, 2004 - 06:53 pm: Edit

One of the wonderful things about the actuarial profession is that going to a non-prestigious school won't hurt you if you can pass exams. Many actuaries have attended such schools...senior people in my practice have gone to places like Queens College, NJIT, Rutgers, Drexel, Iowa, and Texas. In the long run, your ability to pass exams quickly and overall business acumen will be quite a bit more important than how famous your undergraduate institution is.

By Perintastic (Perintastic) on Monday, April 26, 2004 - 07:02 pm: Edit

i know this. but part of me is saying, "you fool! you could have done better in high school and you'd be going to an amazing school next year, but you messed up! you had such potential and you wasted it!" and i know that if it comes down to me and Jill Ivy looking for a job and she's like, my exact clone, but she went to a fabulous school and i went to a good-but-not-great school, they'd pick her over me.

i was waitlisted at my first choice school which is actually a school better suited for just about anything BUT math (GWU) but i think that the atmosphere there would be perfect for me and i'd succeed pretty well...barring a GW miracle i'll be going to university of delaware and going into their relatively new "math and economics" major which is good for kids like me who want to be actuaries, and they help with tests.

i guess though, that tests are tests, and if i know the material on a test and how to take the test, i should do well. i hope.

i still feel like i'm an underachiever though and that i'll be the most underpaid and underappreciated actuary in the country.

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