High school students who are going to major in arts or humanities in college rarely bother to actually study math. But then they change their mind or simply have a mandatory math-related course that they find themselves totally unprepared for. Learning basic math as an adult might be challenging and somewhat humiliating. But it’s possible as long as you’re in the right headspace and are willing to put in quite a bit of effort.
Start from the basics
Sure, we’ve all studied math, computer science, statistics, calculus, algebra, geometry, and other math-related courses in high school. In the perfect world, this would mean that even college students who major in humanities know basic math. But sadly, this isn’t always the case. Most high-school students already know what degree they are going to pursue. So they often neglect the classes they think they won’t need in the future.
So the first thing you might need to do once you realize you lack math knowledge is to get back to the basics and try to master it quickly (at least the things you might need for college courses). How far back you need to go depends on your current level. But even if you’re wondering, “what does sum mean in math,” all isn’t lost.
Work on your self-efficacy
One thing you’ll need to get through the years and years of missed math knowledge is self-efficacy. It’s a concept from psychology and education that refers to one’s belief in their abilities. Someone high in self-efficacy recognizes their weaknesses but still believes they can do anything with enough hard work and inspiration. Whatever you do in life, it’s the right attitude.
If self-efficacy is something you are still working on, consider getting some help. First, it might be a good idea to get professional homework help for your first math-related homework or two. Also, follow experts’ advice on how to improve your self-efficacy. Set SMART goals and reframe any obstacle you are concerned about (one of the best strategies for this is the so-called “if-then planning”).
Find a study buddy who is decent at math
Try to find a peer who knows math better than you and can help you with math-related assignments. Sure, it isn’t fair to exploit someone and take advantage of their kindness. But you can form a mutually beneficial study partnership. You can help them with the classes they struggle with (for example, languages), while they will tutor you on any course that has anything to do with math.
Make the most out of helpful resources
Finally, don’t underestimate the power of the Internet and mobile apps. There are plenty of affordable and even free resources that can help you master the basics of math. Many of them start with something as easy as the answer to the question of “what does sum mean in math” and proceed to cover pretty advanced topics, such as combinatorics and data analysis. Awesome places to start are Khan Academy, Colorado’s PhET, and Photomath (perfect for checking yourself and learning from your mistakes).