My fiance is in art school; it seems odd that he has to take a math class. But I think he may have stumbled upon the one useful math class that the world has ever known. I helped him with his homework last night because he was having some difficulty with it, and I think I might have even learned something useful.

The current unit is about interest rates and loans, and it explains the difference between simple interest and compound interest. Until helping him with his homework, I never realized that bank accounts typically have compound interest-I though that when you got interest it always worked like that (and thus my brain wanted to call it simple interest).

Some of the problems he had to do were to determine how much money you would need to invest, if you wanted to end up with a certain amount of money after a certain number of years. The problems gave the interest rate, and the formula that his teacher had given them showed you how to calculate the requisite number to answer the problem. But more than just plugging in numbers, this math problem actually had a real world application. If you wanted to calculate how much money you would need to invest now to make a downpayment for a house in 10 years, you could use the formula to determine that. Similarly, you could calculate how much you should invest to create a reasonable college fund for your children when they are college aged. The best part about this math book was that it presented the problems in precisely this way-showing the students how they would be able to use the math they were learning in the real world.

When I was in college, I suspect that the math problems were similar to what he's learning now. However, the hypothetical scenarios were either non-existent or not as practical. It seems like they're really trying to make college students understand why it's useful to learn a bit of math, even if it has nothing to do with their major. The book that his school uses seems to be a relatively popular one, so perhaps the math book writers are finally trying to answer the question of "when will I ever use this in the real world?"