During primary, secondary, and CÉGEP, mathematics is pretty similar in its style. Essentially, the idea is to give students the tools and skills necessary to be able to solve various problems (both in pure mathematics and applications such as physics or chemistry). There is a large focus on formulas and strategies to solve problems.

However, there’s one key distinction between this education and the “real world” of working within these disciplines: the problems for the former have solutions, while the ones for the latter are *waiting* for solutions. This is important, because it means the skills and work ethic that got you to the discipline throughout school won’t necessarily work now.

It’s a reminder that we cannot stay complacent about our progress. Yes, it’s incredibly important that we learn and retain the knowledge from our education, but there is a large difference between struggling with a question and being able to peak at a few steps of the solution to help you get on the right track and banging your head against the wall because you’re breaking new ground and you find yourself stuck.

Remember, the forefront of a discipline is much different than the path to it.