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Going back to Undergraduate Math?

I have been an excel monkey for a year in finance out of HYP undergrad with a 3.55 GPA in something NON-quantitative. The closest thing to a quant class I took at HYP was one on first-order logic my senior year. Since starting my job I have gained a strong curiosity for math. I read a book on set theory on the side and have started Rudin's book on analysis. As a result of not taking a single math course in college I can't even apply to 1-year math masters programs!

So my question is the following: should I take 4-5 undergraduate classes next semester at NYU/Columbia (I'm in NY) to get my feet wet in a quantitative setting and allow myself to pursue a masters afterward if I can cut it? Or is it too late? I would be allowed to take Discrete Math, Calc III, Probability & Statistics, Combinatorics, and Linear Algebra at NYU since I got a 5 on my Calc BC in high school (6 years ago!).

To what extent does this destroy a career? To what extent can one be delusional with regard to his ability to do something he's really interested in and seems to be able to do on the side?


Math Student
I can't comment on whether or not it would destroy your career, although I don't see why it would. But in regards to your ability - you have a good GPA from a top school, and even though it was in a non-quant major, it shows that you have aptitude and/or are persistent enough to do well in school. That combined with your interest in math (which is a source of motivation to do well) should be a recipe for success.

I used to major in business management before transferring to math, and the only "math" course I had taken in the 3 years prior to transferring was a stats course. I haven't had any problem doing well.

You'll be fine.
I am a TA for Calc 1. College based Calc isn't the same as HS based Calc. I see students who scored high enough to go into Calc 2 or 3 fail tests in Calc 1. I know that at Cornell Calc 3 or maybe it was 2 is integrated with DE so it is at a very fast pace. With that being said, I really think it would be in your best interest to start at Calc 1. Or see if you could even CLEP out of Calc 1 or 2. The test cost like $20 at most universities. If you can't, you shouldn't take Calc 3. You could take Discrete at the same time as Calc 1. However, Discrete will test your probability, basic set theory, combinatorial ability, lattices, and sup and inf with some other topics sprinkled in between.
Ive been out of undergrad for 3 years, working in finance/investments. Going back for undergrad maths now (calc 1 - Linear alg). IMO, no way would it hurt your career. Quant background is great for several things, so it only broadens your oppourtunites. Im going back so i can pre-req up for MMF. But thats just one thing that can come out of it. Go with it.
And doing it while working and have your company reimburse for the cost is even better.
Agreed. I am following a similar strategy - brushing up my quantitative skills by taking math and probability courses at Columbia while getting reimbursed for most of it.
i did all the reserch i cud but still cudnt decide,,,,,at first i thought i wanted to be an actuary but now that i'v heard of being a quant it seems even more exciting! which of the two are likely to get senior positions at work?
I am a TA for Calc 1. College based Calc isn't the same as HS based Calc.

I agree if you mean the usual HS calculus. But not if you mean the AP BC exam in calculus. If he stills knows that material, he's going to be bored stiff going through it again. He should start with Calc 3. If he really has to repeat, he should take the toughest Calc 1 or honors sequence around (I think at Cornell they had an honors sequence for those who got a 5 on the AP BC, using Hubbard's Vector Calculus, Linear Algebra, and Differential Forms).