Letter to the Editor Response: Personal finance class should fulfill math requirement

The following Letter to the Editor from Xandra Potter is in response to the Sept. 10 opinion piece by Rose vonHatten, “Personal Finance class should fulfill math requirement.”

Re: “Personal finance class should fulfill math requirement”

I was disappointed that an article that brought up several valid points began by alienating a significant group of people – namely, those who do not agree that “math sucks.” While math majors are a relatively small portion of Truman’s population, several more majors incorporate significant amounts of mathematics into their curriculum. When we take into account all of the math, physics, chemistry, computer science, and accounting majors, as well as students in disciplines such as biology and psychology that sometimes utilize math and statistics, it is more apparent how many people willingly engage and even enjoy aspects of mathematics. You may mean well when you tell math or accounting majors that “they are braver” than you are because you “cannot fathom handling the work involved in their classes,” this may also come across as alienating.

I am often told the same thing, and rather than feeling complimented I feel sad and slightly offended. It sounds as though you are treating my passion like something to be feared rather than appreciating our differing views, whether you mean this or not.

This is not to minimize the genuine frustration and struggle that many Truman students face during math courses with significant online components. As a math GTRA, I interact daily with frustrated students as I teach College Algebra lectures and work in the tutoring lab. While many students will never factor a quadratic equation outside of MATH 156, I believe that doing so now provides a useful brain workout to exercise logical thinking and problem solving skills. Frustration or confusion in these situations is valid and understandable, and I am happy to provide assistance and clarification.

However, I have less empathy for students who are frustrated yet do not take advantage of either the lecture sessions or the tutoring hours available for MATH 156, 157, and 186 (9am-6pm Monday-Friday, 5-8pm Sunday in VH 1200).

You make excellent points about the value of a personal finance course in college, especially given the prevalence of student loan debt. As of now, the mathematical components of BSAD 200 are not sufficient to fulfill the math mode of a liberal arts program.

Perhaps if the course were restructured or augmented, it could provide a viable math mode option with the added benefit of higher applicability to students’ lives.

If you truly wish to encourage Truman’s administration to consider this possibility, I believe that you have the beginnings of a good case. However, it took me additional time to appreciate this because of how frustrated I was at your assertion that most people can agree that math sucks. Truman’s administration has plenty to deal with as it is, and would likely not take additional time to appreciate your case after such alienating remarks. In the future, I hope that you will continue to express your opinions while maintaining courtesy towards those who feel differently.


Xandra Potter