Admissions Blog

Math Camp 101

By Julia Chung '19
Posted Jul 11 2019

I’m sure by now you’ve heard that economics and other quantitative coursework are key components of international and public affairs. One of the ways SIPA tries to prepare incoming students for the quantitative courses they’ll be taking is Math Camp. But, what is Math Camp? Do students go camping in the woods and recite the multiplication table around a fire? Not exactly. But, it’s almost just as fun!

What is Math Camp? Math Camp is held in during orientation week for incoming students starting the fall semester. Starting on the second day of orientation, you and your classmates will be participating in Math Camp and learning from one of our great Microeconomics or Macroeconomics professors. It is strongly recommended for all first-year students attend. You start off reviewing algebra and eventually move to calculus. Math Camp culminates in a mandatory take-home Math Quiz that helps determine the student’s proficiency. The scores don’t count towards your GPA, but does determine if you’re eligible for Math Lab, which are Saturday courses to continue reviewing math skills, or a private tutor to help you master the skills.

What’s the point of Math Camp? Don’t remember how to do derivatives or what a log is? For the students who are not comfortable in math or have not taken a math course in a while, Math Camp is a great refresher course. Some of our core classes do require some math skills and so to be successful in Microeconomics and Quantitative Analysis I, feeling confident in doing algebra and calculus is crucial.

Perspective from students who just took Math Camp Steven Reid, IFEP concentration, said that “It was useful. I took pre-Calculus and Calculus in undergrad, so it was good to do a refresher. It kind of helps for 6400, but the pace of 6400 is super fast so it gives a little bit of a foundation but doing some micro and macro theory or intro will probably prepare you better. [Math Camp] might do more for 6300.”

Note: There are two levels of Microeconomics and Macroeconomics. They’re referred to as “6300” and “6400” by students. Both cover the basics of economic theory, but “6400” is considered to be more math-heavy and “6300” is more theoretical.

Marta Aparicio, USP concentration, said that “Prior to SIPA, I only did math in high school, which was up to pre-calc. I’ve tutored high school students in algebra, so some of the concepts were fresh in my mind. … Math camp was helpful in terms of the material that we were provided with the explanations, examples, and practice problems.” Marta recommends students to spend time reviewing the materials given – watch online videos, do the practice problems, and review the concepts herself -- in order to prepare for the math quiz and upcoming courses.