I minored in Math, but that doesn’t mean I can add. I majored in Physics, but that doesn’t mean I discovered the mysteries of the universe. You’d be surprised or not on how many people assume these things just because of what I studied in college. Yes, I can do math. I can derive, integrate, write in Mathematica code, write proofs, solve arithmetic, and things similar. I cannot always do it in my head, but yes I can do it. Just because you fire ‘WHAT’S 652 TIMES 50697?!’ at me and in three seconds you yell ‘COME ON, I THOUGHT YOU STUDIED MATH!’ because I didn’t give you an answer or pulled out my calculator does not indicate that I did not study math.
My degree is written in technicalities, but in reality I have a degree in problem solving. Math and physics teach you how to look at the world a different way. Of course there are numbers actually a crap ton of numbers but beneath those digits, there are concepts, ideas, the real world. I learned how to look at a problem and determine an adequate solution; in most cases, there are multiple solutions, it depends on what you’re looking for. That’s what I loved about the math modeling competitions I participated in; you could do whatever the hell you wanted and it wasn’t necessarily wrong. The numbers don’t matter. That is, unless you are calculating the allowed weight for a bridge you just designed for the city or the height of a building verses the fly zones of airplanes, then perhaps numbers matter. But in the sense of learning basic physics/math, the numbers are just there to throw you off. It’s how you look at the problem and tackle it. It’s your process of thinking. It’s figuring out the best way to get from Point A to Point G and avoiding Points B and E. Problem solving. Fun Fact: Did you know that students who study physics do better on the MCAT than those who studied premed? It pretty much also says any other standardized test – physics students know how to pick apart questions and well, solve problems.
So to put it all togetherrrrrrrr: Yes, I can do math. Yes, I can do physics. But most of all I have learned how to problem solve. Just because I have studied this does not mean I can answer all questions thrown at me. After all, it is just a bachelor’s degree. If I had my PhD in physics/math, go ahead throw everythin’ at me! I’m sure people who have studied other subjects feel the same way. For example, ‘you studied Sociology, now create world peace!’, and ‘you studied Psychology, what type of mental disorder do I have?’. It gets annoying sometimes.
Also in regards to any subject, asking super specific questions, then being unsatisfied with a ‘I don’t know’ does not constitute saying ‘You have a degree in this and you can’t answer the question?’. Chances are you are asking a rather basic question, perhaps high school level. In these terms, the person being asked the question has been studying much more than basic level for the last (at least) four years of their lives. They don’t think on the same level any more. In some cases, the basics by name don’t matter. “What is this function and why is it named this way? How do you take the derivative of this using the limit?” “I don’t remember.” “But you studied math! You should know this!” The problem is, I do know it, but taking the derivative by use of the limit is highly annoying when you can use all the shortcuts. So you remember the shortcuts. Certainly it mattered to do the long way, or to remember the name of every function at that given time – you were being graded on it. Also you needed to know the importance of that way before getting to the shortcut. You have to learn the rules before you can break them. Didn’t we all do this with division? Those who remember doing division by hand…
So in defense of everyone who gets asked super specific questions, then shot down and begin to lose confidence, don’t worry. It just happens; people who haven’t been there don’t understand. There is always something we don’t know and there is always something we know that others don’t. That is what makes life interesting.