Professor Interview (Outcome 5)

Professor: Nick Ahlstrom (Math 1040)

Professor Ahlstrom

Recommended Questions:

What do you do in addition to teaching? I’m a grad student here at Clemson and that takes up most of my time outside of teaching.

Why did you decide this career/position? I’m good at math, I’ve always enjoyed it, and I had good, interesting teachers in middle and high school that helped grow my interest for the subject.

What was your major in college? Math, specifically stochastics as a grad student.

What do you like best about your job? I enjoy when I help make something click for students that they are having a hard time understanding a particular topic or rule. I also enjoy interacting with other teachers and figuring things out with them. One example is if we don’t like how something is worded and we figure out a different way to say it that makes it easier for students to understand.

Did you always want to be in this career/position? I wanted to do something professionally with math since about freshman or sophomore year of high school.

What do you do for fun? Lots of softball, also other sports like hockey back home in New York. Last summer I played 170 games of softball in about 100 days so definitely a lot of softball.

How do you balance grad school, work, and teaching? I try to be productive the whole day and set smaller short-term goals to help continually make progress all day long and every day. This helps to stay productive and not get as overwhelmed.

What general advice would you give college students? Exactly how I try to balance everything, stay ahead and set short term goals, keep a plan and road map.

What are the most common mistakes that students make? Getting behind, and not understanding why we assign homework. I have students come ask me if they can make up these homework assignments so they can get the grade for it. Tests make up 80% of the grade in this class, homework isn’t really for the grade all that much, it’s to help you learn the material.

How do you define learning? Recognizing what you don’t know and recognizing what you need to do to know and understand it.

What subject was most difficult for you as a college student and why?

Abstract algebra. There were no tests and a lot of homework. The homework had problems that were so confusing and made you think about them for hours.

What non-academic skill do you think is the most important for college students? Time-management

How can college students develop this skill at Clemson University? Create a schedule and try to follow it.

What is the greatest non-academic skill that college students today lack? Ability to focus. They often can’t sit down for two hours working on one subject. Then the exams come around and that’s what they have to do but they aren’t used to it.

My Questions:

Why Clemson? To get away from the cold, I applied to a bunch of schools down south and got accepted here. And for grad school.

What sports did you play? Basketball and baseball

What music do you like? Mostly country, also terrible 90’s and early 2000’s music, and 70s-80s rock. The 90’s and early 2000’s music is the big hits that were popular but now I listen to them because they were awesome but I realize they are terrible.

What school did you go to for undergraduate? SUNY Fredonia

I chose to interview professor Ahlstrom mainly because he is young, seemed pretty friendly, and on the first day of class I guessed he had played baseball and I was right and that is common ground. Also I don’t think my chemistry professor seems nice, my engineering professor had been chosen, and those are my only professors outside of CU 1010 which is the class this interview was required for. The only answer I was surprised by was that he spends a lot of time on being a graduate student because I did not know he was a graduate student. I liked his answer to what music he likes. Outside of that I thought the other questions and answers were mostly straight forward and maybe a little mundane. I learned that it can be nice and laid back talking to some professors at least if that is the intention. I also learned some tips and advice although I have probably heard most of them in some form before. I think this process made me think of professor Ahlstrom as a pretty cool guy who is kind of just another student here at Clemson but maybe a little weird for going to graduate school. It makes me slightly more inclined to want to talk to my professors a little more and to at least give some of them a chance. I also found out that I do not particularly like Adobe Spark and I feel that it has to many limitations and not enough convenient features.

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