So, Math Camp — what is it? Do you need it? Is it painful? Just to give you an idea of where I stood when I took it, I’m a software engineer, so I had a quant background. But I hadn’t taken a math class since college, so I felt a little rusty.
After taking it, I felt it was a pretty good overview of the math you’d need for your MBA classes. There’s a quiz included with the flyer on Math Camp, it’s worth looking at, since it’ll give you a decent idea of the kinds of things that are covered. Even if you can’t make Math Camp, you should probably at least study up.
The kinds of topics they cover are:
- Arithmetic, Sets, Counting Rules
- Random Variables
- Algebra I
- Algebra II
- Differential Calculus I
- Differential Calculus II
- Compounding and Discounting
- Annuities and Perpetuities
Annuities and Perpetuities are especially important; they probably weren’t covered in your undergrad math class, and they’re used a lot in your MBA classes, so pay attention to that one. Your professors in the core classes you take first semester are going to assume you know the things from Math Camp, so be ready. Camp last for three days, and costs $350.
Bottom line, if you don’t do a lot of math in your day-to-day work and don’t want to have to jump into things cold, Math Camp’s a good idea. The lectures are done by Professor Lele, who’s a good guy that you’ll probably have classes with.
There are a few things they don’t tell you that you’ll want to know. Firstly, if you’re not familiar with College Park campus (which is where Math Camp is held), it is not within walking distance from the Metro. There’s a shuttle usually, but over the summer it doesn’t run on weekends, so check the Shuttle-UM site to see if you need to make other arrangements. Also be aware that the building where they do the classes has the air conditioning turned down when they do Math Camp, so dress for summer. By the last day even Lele was in shorts and sandals. By the way, if you’re wondering what kind of calculator you need, they say you need a financial calculator, but I was fine with the TI that everyone uses in high school. The work load isn’t bad, some lectures followed by a few problems they give you to practice.
Overall it’s a class worth taking. Even if you have a math background, it’s better to know you’re ready than to hope you’re ready; when you start in on a finance class you’ll want to be straight on all your math skills. And you’ll make some great contacts with your fellow Smiths from the other cohorts that will last through the program and beyond.
Robert Goodman is a 2012 graduate of the Smith PT MBA program. A project management and IT professional, he has worked in both the financial and government contracting arenas in the DC area. He currently is a managing director at Advanced Valuation Analytics and CTO of MBA Cocktail, a start-up focused on bringing together MBA students and alumni for networking and career advancement.