Everyone has to start somewhere, no matter what they are doing. There are many challenges you must face when starting something new too. One of the largest obstacles I had to overcome with the start of my first year of college at Carroll University with the actuarial science major was knowing what classes I had to take, the knowledge I would need before my first actuarial related class, and how much of a time commitment it would be.
Every college is different in what order you take actuarial related classes, especially if you come in with credits from high school AP classes or previous college classes. It’s always best to go to your college’s department that handles all major related information and talk to a counselor that can help you construct a four year plan and keep on track. For me, I would take the class in Spring semester that helps you study for the Financial Mathematics exam. Before starting the class though, I needed to have completed calculus I and II. I am aware that most colleges start the actuarial classes Sophomore year instead of Freshmen year though, so you get most of the math and general education classes out of the way. Either way, your first exam will be either Financial Mathematics or Probability, so those would be the first classes taken.
So far, in my experience, my actuarial classes have taken much more precedence over my regular classes. The material requires much more attention, studying, review, and practice than any other course. I found that it works best to set aside an hour or two each day to work on that course work, and then fill in the other time gaps with work from your other classes. This will help you meet the recommended amount of study time (roughly 300 hours) for the Financial Mathematics and Probability exams. Also, keeping a schedule of by when you want to have each section completed is extremely useful. It keeps you on track of the material so you don’t get behind, and also allows you to pace yourself so you don’t feel rushed. I would recommend that you start studying roughly 4 to 5 months in advance to have enough time to know the material well enough and not skim over anything.
Overall, actuarial science is a great major, even though getting into the rhythm of things can be very difficult. The most important things to take away from this are to make sure you’re putting in enough time, keep things organized, make a schedule and keep on track, and lastly have a future plan in mind, just in case something doesn’t go as you had hoped.