The World’s Oldest Math Major

Before I begin to tell you why I fancy myself the world’s oldest math major, a couple of disclaimers are in order.

First, although I have undergraduate and graduate degrees in non-Math subjects, I’m technically a visiting student at the local community college. So, if you don’t like the idea of some non-matriculated old guy declaring a major, you may feel I haven’t lived up to your expectations.

The second disclaimer here is that I haven’t gone out and scoured the world’s universities to see if some old codger, older and codgerlier than me, is working toward a math degree. So it’s not like I can give you a proof – and certainly not a mathematical one – that I’m the world’s oldest math major.

Consider it an axiom.

As I write this, I’m 64 years old. It’s 2024, and I’ve just taken my first major exam in Calculus 1. Some 40 years have elapsed since I took pre-calculus, so needless to say, I had to brush up on a few fundamentals first.

At 64, my Calculus-for-credit adventure begins. This same year, I will become eligible for Medicare.

To-may-to, to-mah-to.

Assuming I don’t run out of money, my career as a software developer is behind me. I didn’t study Computer Science in school, partly because I was talked out of it by a well-meaning but ignorant Humanities teacher.

Even more to the point, Calculus was a pre-requisite for a Computer Science degree, and there was no way I was taking that. I saw other people taking it because they had to – and they didn’t look too happy about it. Moreover, though I was once good at math, I felt my High School algebra teacher had traumatized me enough. Finally, there was the delicate business of maintaining a good GPA while over-indulging in partying and other young adult shenanigans.

So, this year, I finally did it. No more brushing things up. No more pressure-free, panty-waist YouTube Calculus for me. Today, I face the beast, armed only with my wits, several hundred sheets of three-hole graph paper, and my shiny new TI-84+ calculator.

That calculator, by the way, was responsible for a significant portion of the learning curve in the first few days. TWO minus signs? What’s up with that?

Nothing that the world’s oldest math major can’t handle.

The test results are in. Including the bonus question, I scored 103 points on a 100-point scale.

Not bad for an old guy.