Teenagers need math to land dream jobs

What do doctors, lawyers and architects have in common?

For one, they are among teens’ hottest career choices. They also require a significant understanding of math at work every day.

Despite this, many teens are not motivated to take advanced math classes to help them prepare for success in these future careers.

A telephone survey of 1,000 12- to 17-year-olds commissioned by Texas Instruments revealed that four of five teenagers believe math is important for achieving their goals of being doctors, scientists, executives and lawyers, but only half are planning to take advanced math classes beyond their schools’ minimum requirements.

The survey showed 80 percent of teens want to pursue careers in medicine, sports, science, education, business, military, law or architecture — many of which require advanced college degrees with significant focus on mathematics and science.

Experts advise parents to work with their teen-agers starting in middle school to plan their course schedules. Parents can seek out resources to help teens understand the value of math and plan for their careers, including MomsForMath.org or CareerVoyages.gov.

More tips from experts include:

• Make math fun. Tie math into the things that already interest teens — their hobbies, television or movies.

• Provide encouragement. Challenge teens to take harder upper-level math courses even though they may not make straight A’s.

Parents can make a difference simply by applauding teens for the effort it takes to participate in those classes. Reinforcing everyday use of math at home, while shopping, budgeting, baking or gardening can also help increase students’ interest in math.

• Get involved. Get teens involved in school or community programs such as science fairs or math team competitions that stimulate them intellectually and hone their analytical skills.

• Identify career role models. Find local professionals and inquire about mentorship opportunities that match teens’ career interests.

• Set the example. They may not want you to know it, but teens look to their parents as role models. Let your teens see that you are interested in math and show them how you use it each day — at home and in your own career.