1. Be creative in choosing your major elective courses.
- Look for courses that are at a higher level than the minimal requirement. For example, take MA 501 or MA 534 instead of MA 401; MA 580 instead of MA 427 or MA 428; MA 421 followed by ST 372 instead of ST 371–372.
- Warning 1: Check prerequisites (e.g. MA 534 requires MA 425).
- Warning 2: Some 500-level courses do not count for the Math Honors Program: MA 502, MA 506–512, and MA 591 when it is used as an alternate number for MA 426. If in doubt, check with the honors program director.
- “Why take two when one will do?” works for courses as well as paper towels. For example, MA 580 is cross-listed in Mathematics and Computer Science, so it counts as a major elective course for both majors and counts toward satisfying honors program requirements in both majors.
- If there’s a subject you want to study and it’s not listed in the catalog, ask if it can be taught as a special topics class or perhaps as independent study.
- Sometimes a course taught in a different department will satisfy Math Honors Program requirements (e.g. ST 521–522, which won’t count as a math elective since it’s not cross-listed, but can count as one of the 500-level classes). It won’t usually work, but it doesn’t hurt to ask (politely).
2. Be creative in choosing your GER courses.
- Look for a course that interests you (seems obvious, doesn’t it?). Maybe you’ve always wanted to get down and dirty about what Henry VIII was really up to—check out History of Tudor and Stuart England.
- Look at the size of the class. Would you like a section of 200 in BIO 100 so you can use the back row catch up on your sleep or would you rather take a course in ethno-zoology and learn all about that Amazonian tree frog that might slow down that obnoxious roommate of yours?
- Look for good teachers. Ask your friends—they might have some good tips (if you haven’t fed them any Amazonian tree frogs lately).
3. Push a little (politely, of course). Some prerequisites are really prerequisites and some are … flexible. It can’t hurt to ask.
4. Get to know your teachers. Each semester, pick a professor in one of your classes and get to know him or her. Go to office hours, ask questions about the classwork or about related topics, and ask the professor about his/her work. (Professors love to talk about their research.) If you succeed just half the time, by the time you finish school, you’ll have gotten to know four professors fairly well, which probably enriches your school experience significantly, and is invaluable when it comes to asking for letters of recommendation.
5. Study abroad is good, but plan on doing it before your last year at NC State. It’s really tough to apply to graduate school or look for a job in the United States if you’re in Budapest or even France or Germany.
6. Use your summers wisely. Summer school or jobs are always possibilities, but if you want grad schools or employers to sit up and take notice, consider:
- Summer Research. The National Science Foundation sponsors summer REUs (Research Experiences for Undergraduates). More information is here on our website.
- Job internships. An internship is a good way to get experience in your field without the time commitment of co-oping.
7. Get a life. A double major is fine; study abroad or co-oping is fine. Doing a triple major and a double minor and study abroad and co-oping is not so fine. Nobody except you (and maybe your parents) is going to spend much time counting your gold stars. Grad schools are really only interested in how you did in the courses and research work relevant to your graduate studies and, to a lesser degree, in your overall GPA. Employers are interested in how you did in the courses that are useful for the job they want you to do. Set some priorities, making sure you complete at least one major, and register for that pottery course you’ve always been meaning to take.
8. If in doubt, ask. Check with your adviser first. If you still have questions or doubt the answer, check with Dr. Alina Duca. If you have any questions about the honors program, check with Dr. Kang. Stop by our offices, give us a call or email us, but ask. We will respond. That’s a promise.