Mathematician Ellen Clardy, who got her Ph.D. in economics from Rice University, has a love of logic. It shows most astutely when she recommends that potential pupils consider a tutor before October hits — when it's often too late to turn around a lousy semester in algebra. If you really want to conquer algebra (a baffling yet required math course for many), meet with her early for a few sessions of pre-algebra. Clardy says not to feel alone if you feel inadequate with word problems — that's everyone's bugaboo. After her soothing instruction, you'll likely never again scratch your head at those "If two trains are traveling at the same rate of speed, what color is the sky on Neptune's moons?" conundrums.