Even many people who go on to have fruitful careers in mathematics-related fields will look back at their early college or university days and think, "whew, that was challenging!"

Such is the nature of post-secondary mathematics. Wading into the increasingly complex and granularly technical territory, the courses demand your utmost attention and dedication to succeed. People often say it’s like learning a new language because it is: Math has grammar, vocabulary and structure all of its own.

But you shouldn’t be afraid of post-secondary math courses – and you certainly shouldn't feel deterred from taking them. Once you hit a rhythm and understand what the courses ask of you, all you need to do is put in the hours.

Nevertheless, if you’re a senior in high school (or a recent post-secondary student transferring to a math program), there are certain steps you can take to get ready. Below are four ways to prepare for university or college math courses.

“Know Thy Enemy”

Alright, math courses aren’t your enemy, per se, but this Sun Tzu quotes from The Art of War remains pertinent. You need to know what you’re up against so that you can better understand your current abilities and limits in relation.

Research what courses you will likely take when you reach college or university. In all likelihood, you will find sample curriculum and reading lists, which you can peruse to get an advanced sense of what you will learn.

Take Advanced Functions

Grade 12 MHF4U Advanced Functions is a fantastic course for post-secondary math preparation. Students in MHF4U investigate the properties of several functions central to university math: polynomial, logarithmic, rational and trigonometric. Moreover, the course helps you consolidate your understanding of math before you dive into (relatively) unfamiliar post-secondary territory.

And as if that wasn’t enough motivation, Advanced Functions is also a prerequisite course for many math programs. Take the course online if you want a flexible, self-paced environment in which to absorb and digest its challenging concepts.

Accept Some Tutoring

Want to bridge the gap between high school math and post-secondary math? Look for a skilled, knowledgeable tutor. Accepting help can be daunting at times, but, in this case, the results are worth the trouble. Several tutors of high-level, post-secondary math are students themselves (albeit grad students usually), so they have a fresh memory of the courses you’re about to take.

Take to the Forums

Forums can be a rich source of information specific to the student experience. In particular, search user-generated forums populated by other students who’ve gone through your (or a similar) program.

You can find these forums on Facebook groups, university/program/niche subreddits on Reddit, or, occasionally, Quora. For example, this thread on r/learnmath contains actionable, hyper-specific advice for incoming university math students.

You hear a lot about how challenging post-secondary math can be, and sometimes, the chorus of voices can be overwhelming. But with some straightforward, proactive preparation, you can face the challenges smartly, coolly – and, some might say, mathematically.