Anonymous asked in Education & ReferenceHigher Education (University +) · 11 months ago

will anyone studying these majors that require calculus ever use calculus after graduation?

Am i just wasting money on Trigonometry, Calculus, and Precalc courses when studying music to become a conductor. The college requires these useless classes, possibly to keep people with otherwise useless knowledge employed. Vocal Music majors must take these classes, last time i checked one doesnt need that knowledge to belt out a pop song.

I also know a geography major in that class and how is calculus that needed to know where New york is and that new york is far from Iowa. Do engineering majors need to know this to make a bridge. Why do students need to learn physics and understand relativity. Relativity is something theoretical and no one knows how light really works.

are most of these classes useless bullshit and a way to make students waste money?

7 Answers

  • 11 months ago
    Favorite Answer

    You're right about it being a waste for music majors (no sarcasm). A lot of these extra requirements may be unnecessary. They had plenty of time to educate us on these breadth topics when we all went through compulsory education in our earlier years, so why didn't they? They actually did, we all took mathematics, history, english, literature, and so on. So, why wasn't that enough? We'd have to ask them. It doesn't make obvious sense, why a music major needs calculus. They'd need to make the case for it, but perhaps it's just viewed as "settled".

    I used to be on the other side of this and advocate some kind of tangential benefits that couldn't quite be described in exact terms, but that this knowledge would help you in your everyday life moving forward in ways you can't anticipate. I used to think that a university has an understandable prerogative to set a bar for their students for general knowledge: "every student should at least be this competent in these foundational topics". BS like this I used to genuinely agree with. It "sounds" right, but as I've gotten older I found it still doesn't quite sit right.

    I work in STEM, and yes I personally need mathematics every work day of my life. It's not a reach for me to say that, it's every minute of every work hour (when not in meetings). You can't do engineering research or even have a conversation with someone else at work without talking about details which rely on significant mathematics education. So, I need those courses, but you certainly don't. A lot of majors don't. Why are they required? Tradition, optics, and money maybe, perhaps other reasons.

    The reality is that a lot of college graduates who were forced to take these courses still can't calculate a tip on their dinner bill, so what did they achieve by making them required? Do these unrelated courses do anything beyond just helping the university check all their boxes and help they look good on paper? See above for some guesses, but ultimately who knows? I'm suspect it's one of those things that has been required for so long, that it never gets brought up in committees. Further, every other university is doing it, it allows them to be comfortable not thinking about changes.

    I agree with you that a lot of majors should *not* be required to take classes so far outside their major, e.g. chemistry, physics, mathematics. Examples of majors that don't need these include what you listed like music, but also majors like english, literature, languages, and so on. So, I do generally agree with you, but it doesn't mean I agree with everything you said, because you were wrong about a few things. I address these a little below:


    Vocal Music majors must take these classes, last time i checked one doesnt need that knowledge to belt out a pop song


    100% agree with you on that.


    also know a geography major in that class and how is calculus that needed to know where New york is and that new york is far from Iowa.


    Don't agree with this one. I don't want to make fun of you, but this was funny for me to read! Because the one "counter example" you did bring up to make your point about not needing calculus is exactly an example where you do need calculus. Probably you think you could calculate this distance based on what you know and just get the right answer, but you would get the wrong answer. That's because you can't calculate distance on a curved surface the same way you do on a flat surface which is the only way you know how. For distances this large, the curvature does matter, it's why flight paths are draw in curves, not straight lines on a map. Look up "geodesic", "Riemannian metric", "Christoffel symbols", etc. if you want to get a sense of how complicated this "simple" task is. It's not too complicated, but it's not trivial like you seem to be suggesting. Maybe you'd fire back about how they can just use a computer to look it up or that they'd have some specialized software for geographers. It depends on the level of the person's job, someone who's being trained to do a small thing doesn't need to know much than steps. But, at least *someone* has to know how that software works, and that requires mathematics education (among other things). Innovation further rests on understanding the foundation you're using. If you only know how to turn knobs and press buttons, you'll never know how to design a new knob/button.


    Do engineering majors need to know this to make a bridge.


    Absolutely, building and designing a bridge is a lot more complicated than you think. Step into any class or look at what someone who is doing this actually does, and you'll see that suggesting math can be removed from this task is absurd. It's not a reach at all. It is in involved in most every step along the way. People don't just draw pictures.


    Why do students need to learn physics and understand relativity. Relativity is something theoretical and no one knows how light really works.


    You mean YOU don't know how light really works*. You're actually being arrogant here even though you think you're being humbled by how complicated you think the phenomena really are (or perhaps you confuse requiring divine-level knowledge of phenomena in order for it to be useful to people, that's not true). You would be *blown away* by how well people understand phenomena such as light, and what people achieve with predictions and its applications. Don't underestimate progress so easily just because you've seen a few physics documentaries that go out of their way to intrigue the viewer by pretending physics is so mysterious. It's their job to make you see the wonder in the unknown, but quite a lot is known. These are just movies. Something that people have made movies about that you can check out to see achievement (rather than "wow quantum physics is so weird") is a documentary on big science/engineering projects. Watch a documentary on the engineering that goes into a nuclear reactor, or the large hadron collider. You'll get a better impression about how much knowledge has really advanced, the details they pay attention to, the precision they achieve, and the phenomena they have to account for. Big science is one example of something really impressive that's easy to appreciate (and interesting).

    You're likely overreaching here too in regard to wondering why students need to take this. Perhaps *only* physics students take general relativity. Nobody else does, it doesn't concern us.

  • 9 months ago

    No I won’t but it’s good for engineering majors

  • John
    Lv 6
    11 months ago

    I would have to agree that I don't see much use for a music major to take advanced math courses. I would recommend that, since you seem to dislike your school, you look to transfer. Be certain to check the new college's required courses for music majors before you do so.

    On different points, however, you (1) seem to have a bizarre belief that any form of knowledge outside of your music major is useless to everyone, and (2) a real lack of knowledge of the basic skills necessary for any career other than music. College is a time when you should be expanding your horizons, and learning more about the world. You seem to be going backwards in that area.

  • Daniel
    Lv 7
    11 months ago

    I can answer your part about engineering majors. They sure as hell need to take calculus--they need at least a couple of classes beyond Calc 3.

    Part of the idea of getting a degree is to get a well rounded education. That means math, physics, history, chemistry, English, foreign languages, biology, philosophy, humanities, etc.

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  • 11 months ago

    Normally, music majors must take college level math in college. They don't normally need that class to be calculus. You're normally offered several math classes, including college algebra and statistics, to fulfill the college math requirement. What college are you at where they require calc for music majors?

  • 11 months ago

    Actually, there is a very strong correlation between mathematical abilities & music talent. And physics of sound is crucial to music, recording it, engineering recordings, etc.

    Bachelor's degrees in the US emphasize a broad basis, especially in the first 2 yrs, the distribution or general education requirements, to help people explore a lot of alternatives, have a basic background in lots of different areas, and then they can apply these in lots of different ways.

    Some people arrogantly disdain all kinds of knowledge, intellectual skills, etc. Sign more of stupidity - lack of thinking things through - than anything else. E.g. did you know that all that work, especially ages 5-7, in learning to print & write letters & numbers is CRUCIAL to brain development, especially developing long-term memory, as well as developing fine motor skills? Few people stop to learn about how important that is! Same goes for lots of the things taught in schools, from nursery school, through kindergarten, elementary, middle & high school, AND college.

  • Paul
    Lv 6
    11 months ago

    Maybe you are in the wrong college.

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