Summer Math

Today’s blog post is from our summer tour guide, Emily Hwang ’20. Enjoy!

Hi everyone! I’m Emily, a rising sophomore, and I’m here to talk about summers here at Harvey Mudd.

So I think a lot of people will agree that summer vacation is pretty great. You can go to the beach with your friends, chill out at home, become a couch potato, or hungrily wait for that next episode of Game of Thrones. Or, as almost 100 Mudd freshmen choose to do, you can do calculus!

I’m talking about our Summer Math program here at Mudd. During our Core Curriculum, underclassmen take 3 semesters of math, or six half-semester courses: Calculus, Probability/Statistics, Linear Algebra, Differential Equations, Multivariable Calculus, and Linear Algebra/Differential Equations II. Between freshmen and sophomore year here at Mudd, students have the option to take these last 2 classes (Multivariable Calculus and Linear Algebra/Differential Equations II) during the summer instead of the normal sequence in the fall semester. But there’s a catch–instead of a normal 15 weeks of classes, everything is squished into 3 weeks. So after spring semester finals in May, some freshmen choose go stay on campus for another 3 weeks, doing nothing but math.

Let me walk you through a normal day during summer math: first, wake up for class, which starts at 9AM. This alone is a monumental hurdle if you are not a morning person and require gallons of coffee to wake up that early, like me. You then make the long trek (a whole 10 minute walk!) down to the newly renovated Galileo Hall.

Rows of blue and green upholstered chairs

Galileo! It looks so new and pretty

You then have class for another 3 hours, until lunch where you go eat at the Hoch, our dining hall. Then, you start your homework. Go to office hours. And then eat dinner. And then do more work. And more. And more. Until you go to sleep. Then, wake up the next day, and repeat! And possibly fall asleep during lecture:

Makoto grins as Richard falls asleep

left to right, Makoto Nara (’20) and Richard Zhang (’20)

Before you ask yourself why anyone would subject themselves to this horror, it’s really not as bad as it sounds. For one thing, you have at least 90 classmates, so there are plenty of people to socialize with! Chances are, you’ll know at least a couple people (after all, each freshman class is only 200 people) from classes during the school year, so you find a group of friends to study and do work with. Math somewhat starts to consume your life from staring at problems and proofs all day long—I found myself making too many linear algebra-related puns or just being reminded of functions by things like trees. So talking to people can really keep you sane during those stressful 3 weeks!

A panorama of a classroom, with white boards and rows of tables and chairs

One of my group’s usual study spaces, one of the Shanahan Center’s 24 hour study rooms

It’s actually a great bonding experience–I got to know a lot of people and became a lot closer with people I did already know. There’s nothing quite like staying up until 5AM doing math that really helps you bond with someone! Plus, there are lots of people still on campus doing research or working jobs, so there’s still lots of people to meet and friends to make! So even though it may sound like we only do work here at Mudd, we still had fun, with Yogurtland runs (for those hot Socal days), birthday celebrations, board games, and lots and lots of late night In-N-Out.

Anya stands fully clothed in a shower stall

It was this lovely person’s birthday during Summer Math! Anya Wallace (’20)

So that was a rundown of one of your summer options here. I hope I didn’t scare you off too much! But even if a math bootcamp isn’t your ideal summer vacation, there’s never a dull moment here at Mudd!