9/18/2013 5:02 PM
Having been on campus for about a month now, I’ve been looking back over my experiences thus far and taking stock. Among the most pleasantly surprising was is my three days in Prof. Peter Regan’s Math Camp, which started for participants on the Wednesday before Orientation.
That morning, seventy-odd first-years walked apprehensively into the classroom, formula-filled course binders and padfolios in hand. A large number of us had been exposed to a great deal of the material covered in the course and so were there only partially for a touch-up, or for some preliminary exposure to some key concepts we’d be seeing once classes started a few weeks further on. In my case, I’d studied economics in college, and so used my experience in that field as trading currency when we waded into some of the finance material I’d never covered. It’s amazing how quickly a barter system emerged – people were busily swapping marginal cost explanations for insights into annuities as if they were traders on an old-school commodities floor.
Dr. Peter Regan - the man himself
It was actually this interaction, and not the material covered, that was the most helpful to me. Of course, this isn’t to say that the program wasn’t useful, it’s just that it is clearly designed to be a platform for basic exposure only, with a great deal of the value added coming from time students are supposed to put in on our own. Far more valuable were the relationships built among a group of near-total strangers who were placed together cheek-by-jowl in a classroom and forced to learn together.
The people I got to know a little bit during the program have already become some of my most ready friends – and a much-appreciated source of social stability once the other 210 members of the class showed up a few days later. It was great to know a few faces when several hundred people were mingling together in the Atrium and running through the paces of their first “who are you/where are you from/what did you do?” conversations. Everyone I know who participated in Math Camp definitely appreciated how much even three days of mutual exposure helped us grease the social skids a bit.
The moral of my little story? I was on the fence about going to Math Camp, but am very happy with my decision to come up a few days early. Come for the math, but stay for the people.