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maths and languages degree advice

(32 Posts)
Wildberries Thu 12-Nov-15 12:17:13

My daughter is in Y11, thinking about A-Levels and degrees.
She always did well in maths, but didn't really enjoyed it, said it was boring. She always enjoyed humanity subjects and I thought she would do history or languages degree.
She did GCSE Maths in Y10, got A* and is now doing Additional maths. She is enjoying additional maths very much. She says she doesn't want to do any humanity degree but wants to do maths and a language degree, either continue with French that she likes or starting a new language.
I don't know if it is a good idea to combine maths and a language. Is it very hard? How is it considered by employers?
Is it better to do just maths degree and learn a language separately?
She is planning to do Maths, Further Maths, French and History for A-Level.

Kennington Thu 12-Nov-15 12:22:32

Great idea
Try imperial college
Teaches both and sends you to France for a year
Plus is in the French bit of london

neuroticnicky Thu 12-Nov-15 12:52:51

I know three children of friends who have not completed maths degrees at RG unis (including Oxbridge), two of whom abandoned their course with undue haste. I would therefore be wary of maths unless your DD really loves the subject and is happy in the company of the anorak brigade. How about a combined Economics (for which both maths and history are useful) and French degree?

disquisitiones Thu 12-Nov-15 13:19:22

The drop out rates of maths degrees are not higher than those of subjects such as Economics. Neither are all maths students the "anorak brigade". (Stereotyping really isn't helpful to anyone.) There are about 40,000 undergraduates in maths in the UK, and they span a wide range of personalities/interests/backgrounds.

There are degrees available in maths with languages, which are just as well respected by employers as straight maths degrees. They require a year spent abroad.

Other options would be maths degrees with an Erasmus year spent abroad or a maths degree with a summer placement abroad to keep up the language.

Her A level choices would give her many other options if she changes her mind later: MFL, History, Economics, Maths with Economics etc.

I'm not sure how much having a language helps in getting jobs. Top companies recruit internationally, and many international applicants will be fluent in their native language, English and often another language too, so to compete with this one probably has to be absolutely fluent in a sought after language.

partialderivative Thu 12-Nov-15 14:57:14

happy in the company of the anorak brigade.


BoboChic Thu 12-Nov-15 15:00:05

I agree with disquisitiones - languages are only useful for competing in the graduate job market if you are fluent and able to hit the ground running operationally.

Large firms sometimes pay for their existing employees to improve/learn a language, but it tends to be an additional language for someone who is already fluent in a few.

partialderivative Thu 12-Nov-15 15:06:01

I think that a Maths/Modern Language combination would be an excellent choice.

There are very few unemployed Maths graduates, and another language will only add to the 'value' of a graduate.

Of course, you should not chose a degree course solely on your employability (is that a word?), but the diversity of such a course would stretch a student in many ways.

MummaGiles Thu 12-Nov-15 15:37:32

I think it would be a great mix of subjects. It's very unlikely she'll be able to start a new language from scratch at university when she is only studying one language but maths and French should make her very employable.

MummaGiles Thu 12-Nov-15 15:38:53

Most importantly though she should study what she enjoys as that is what she will get the most from. A year abroad (which you will get with any degree level language whether you combine it with another subject or not)will broaden her horizons too. My year abroad made me.

CMOTDibbler Thu 12-Nov-15 15:42:05

I have a friend who did french and physics joint honours and loved it. She then did her PhD in conjunction with an overseas facility where fluent french was a real advantage.

Kennington Thu 12-Nov-15 16:27:46

French was really useful fore finding and keeping a job.
I didn't speak it absolutely fluently at first and my written French isn't great but honestly I would be able to work where I do without it.
Maths is super important and will make her much much more employable than your average graduate.

Millymollymama Thu 12-Nov-15 16:45:49

Lots of people study a language for pleasure, not because they will actually use it in a job. However, there are opportunities for linguists in the French speaking offices of large companies so job placements can be more varied and interesting. I think studying a language as well as another subject shows a student is multi-dimensional and has been able to sample an alternative way of life. At a recent interview, where DD was successful, she was asked to tell them about an achievement of which she was proud and why. She told them about her year aboad. It is not always a year that goes smoothly and students really do have to be mature and organised to have a successful year. This will always look good on a CV! The job has no MFL requirement but is in a highly competitive field. Sometimes doing something you love means you can talk about it with enthusiasm. Such a degree will be really hard work, but employers will know that.

noblegiraffe Thu 12-Nov-15 17:15:13

I did maths with a year abroad. I enjoyed the maths but the year abroad was a great experience. Maths on its own would have been a bit dry I think.

ggirl Thu 12-Nov-15 17:20:49

my dd did economics and french at university
she loved it
graduated this summer and has a decent job

roguedad Thu 12-Nov-15 18:30:31

UCL has a great Maths and MFL degree as do a few other unis. It has some very good students who are very much in demand for jobs at serious places. Most universities offer non-degree language courses for people doing a single subject degree as well, so there is a choice to be made between full joint honours and attending language courses outside a single honours degree.

Maths at Uni is rather different from A level - some people love the extra depth and rigour and others just do not like it. It's worth doing your homework and maybe attending some taster days to see what it's about. I did it and loved it. It's quite common at Cambridge for people to change subject at the end of the first year, maybe to Physics, or to softer stuff if they find it's not for them. It's not a reason to not do a maths degree, but finding out what uni maths is about is really quite important.

BackforGood Fri 13-Nov-15 00:38:41

Another who thinks maths with a language is a great combination.

I was told at the weekend of a graduate job that originally had 32,000 applicants. Apparently fluency in a 2nd language was one of the criteria they used to make swathing cuts.

Of course, not all are that ridiculous, but a year spent in another country to gain fluency in a language has got to be a plus on ANY job application - from accountant or buisness leader, to lorry driver, tbh.

Anotherusername1 Fri 13-Nov-15 08:48:47

A Maths/languages combination sounds great. The year abroad is the best bit - I wouldn't have missed mine, and indeed, went back for another year to do a Masters! Even if you never use the language for work and I think most employers see fluency in a language as a plus, not a minus, it's an experience not to be missed.

senua Fri 13-Nov-15 09:49:01

Maths is a linear subject. Back in my day, subjects you could take in third year were dependent on what you had already done in second year. Compare and contrast to my DCs' humanities degrees where it seems that pretty much every module is a stand-alone.
So if she only has half the topics to choose from in the first place (because the other half is the language) will this send her down a very narrow track with limited room for manoeuvrability if she finds that she doesn't like a topic after all? She needs to think long in advance about the implications of choices.

Ancienchateau Fri 13-Nov-15 10:08:47

Great combination. DH did something similar. He is trilingual and has had a brilliant career. His languages mixed with maths/business have been a huge asset. MFLs are obviously an in-depth study of that language's literature so it's not just a case of great at maths, speaks a foreign language. The creativity and ability to analyse acquired in any literature degree has limitless possibilities, imo.

I would definitely recommend studying something you really enjoy though. As others have said, it's not just about your career. My own degree on the outside is not related with what I do professionally. I agree with other posters as well who said UCL and Imperial have some very interesting courses.

SquadGoals Fri 13-Nov-15 10:21:21

I did French and Management at university (graduating 4 years ago) and absolutely loved it. About half of those doing French were doing it as Joint Honours with another subject, so it is very common to combine subjects.

My BFF did French and Maths at Birmingham and now works in an awesome job for one of the top UK companies, worldwide brand name etc and is loving it.

My year abroad was the best year of my life (met 4 best friends and now DH). Compared to friends who had not done a year abroad, I felt much more equipped for the real world after graduating.

I'm now working for an international company abroad, in my fourth country in six years.

roguedad Fri 13-Nov-15 19:10:19

senua - you are right about the dependencies in maths but bear in mind that the people who design the programmes are well aware of it! On the UCL Maths with MFL course the compulsory maths courses in years 1 and 2 are set so as to keep as many options open as possible for later, rather than cutting off routes. A couple of applications courses are replaced by languages modules, keeping core material on which later material is dependent within the syllabus. It's something worth checking though, as I only known about this uni.

ragged Fri 13-Nov-15 19:12:58

I work with mathematicians & have dated & socialised with them over yrs.

As a group they're more introverted than avg. Which is fine. Just suggesting consider the common character of other likely students on the course.

roguedad Fri 13-Nov-15 21:10:40

Please can we not have the inane stereotypical drivel ragged? Mathematicians at least spend their time solving interesting/hard problems and can contribute something useful to society. Unlike twats with pointless degrees in theology, media studies, psychology, golf course management, art history, business studies (there's a nice quote by Alan Sugar on that), communications, theatre arts, fashion design, sociology, liberal arts, hospitality and all the other pointless soft crap. Go watch some of Marcus du Sautoy's work on maths communication. I dated a few English, Classics and Oriental Studies graduates and found them all to woolly-minded to put up with, by the way. No grasp of cause and effect - some of them were so whacko they even believed in homeopathy. Introvert math-smart is way better than extrovert stupid.

Mumoftwoyoungkids Fri 13-Nov-15 21:20:06

It's actually quite fun smashing stereotypes. I always say "my insides don't match my outsides" which means that I am blonde, (was once!) rather pretty, spent my university years playing loads of sports and wearing tiny skirts....... And absolutely love maths!

I know quite a few people with Maths and a language.

ragged Fri 13-Nov-15 21:27:46

Are people only supposed to share real life experiences as long as they don't fit someone else's stereotype.
Bloody hell, can someone add that to a formal list of MN rules.
Report my post as offensive to people who haven't had the same real life experiences. Go on, I dare ya'.

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