Wednesday, October 11, 2017


I've reversed my earlier decision to move this blog to Medium and will instead keep it here at Blogger. No school like the old school, &c.

OK, so where was I? Oh yeah, I said I was going back to school to finish up my Econ degree and that I would start blogging about it again. Well, here we are almost half way through the semester and I haven't blogged a bit. Time to fix that.

The semester so far has been a bit of a mixed bag.

I'm really enjoying my Economic Statistics class. The professor, who has been teaching this course at UT for over 20 years, is an excellent teacher. The course is carefully designed and includes a good mix of lectures, reading, homework assignments, quizzes, in-class exercises, and exams. And the subject matter is challenging without being overwhelming. We just got our first midterm exam scores, and I'm happy (and relieved) to report that I scored 101.7%. That exam only counts for 15% of the overall grade in the class so I certainly can't coast, but I'm feeling good about it.

My Macro Theory class is proving to be a different story. The professor is a newly-minted Ph.D. and while he has mastered the material, he hasn't yet mastered the art of teaching. Lectures consist of his presenting prepared slides, occasionally going off on some arcane mathematical proof, and not much else. There isn't much time for discussion, which is a shame given how interesting and consequential the material is. There are no graded homework assignments, no papers, no quizzes, and no textbook. I feel like I haven't learned much so far, which makes the midterm coming up next week rather daunting.

Yesterday the professor posted a sample midterm, giving the first concrete idea of what next week's exam will look like. If I were to take the sample exam without any further preparation, I estimate my grade would be in the 20's. So, lots of studying to do before next Tuesday.

To prepare, I'll study the lecture slides and accompanying notes, re-read the corresponding sections in a widely-used intermediate macro textbook, and make sure my answers to the provided practice problems somewhat match the given solutions. I'll do what it takes to perform well on the test, but I'm left with the feeling I could have gotten just as much from reading a textbook as I will from taking this course.

Overall, I'm satisfied with my decision to go back to school. But I'm reminded that the value of the experience is largely dependent on the quality of the professors, which can be uneven.