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Thread: Princeton Course Advice

  1. #1
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    Econ Course Advice

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    Hi all,

    I was hoping to get some course advice from the Brain Trust here. I recently obtained an RA position at Princeton for the next two years. It's with a sociologist, so I'm aware it won't be the most fruitful endeavor recommendation-wise (I took it more for the content of research and access to Princeton, both of which I'm really excited about). Since I'm here and looking towards a PhD in econ, and since my profile isn't super strong, I'm looking to take chooses to boost my application. Things that may be important to know:

    I’m 24, just finished a master’s in ed policy at a top 5 ed school
    I took probability P/F In undergrad
    I got a C+ in real analysis in undergrad (more out of laziness/family issues than ability)
    I’m spending the summer brushing up on calc and linear

    I'd already planned to take real analysis in the spring and take grad micro next fall. The question for this semester seems to be: should I take probability (or something else, like an undergrad intro proofs, multivariable, or a grad-level field class), or jump right into first semester metrics? At other places I wouldn't consider it, but Princeton seems to have their first semester metrics set up in two parts, where the first is a prob/stat review “from the beginning.” They even put in the course description that it will include the “necessary background in probability theory and statistics.” (Course description below)

    “A first-year course in the first-year econometrics sequence: it is divided into two parts. The first gives students the necessary background in probability theory and statistics. Topics include definitions and axioms of probability, moments, some univariate distributions, the multivariate normal distribution, sampling distributions, introduction to asymptotic theory, estimation and testing. The second part introduces the linear regression model and develops associated tools. Properties of the ordinary least squares estimator will be studied in detail and a number of tests developed.”

    I’ve looked up previous syllabi, and it seems the first half often even pulls from standard prob/stat undergrad textbooks (e.g., Hogg, McKean, and Craig), so that seemed promising. I guess I’m just wondering if there’s a point to taking undergrad prob if their grad-level econometrics is going to a.) cover the important parts, b.) carry the option of taking a class with an economist who, all things well, could write a recommendation letter, and c.) be a better signal for my application. The question, then, is any of that true?

    Ultimately, the question becomes: with two years and a top 5 econ program (ideally) at my disposal, what do you all think would be best for me, course-wise, in terms of improving my application/best preparing me for grad school in economics?

    Thanks for your help, friends!
    Last edited by ledmonds049; 05-21-2017 at 07:36 PM.

  2. #2
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    Re: Princeton Course Advice

    My advice is not to take any field courses. You'd be much better off upgrading your math background. Take whatever you think will help survive the grad micro sequence (like real analysis, multivariate calculus, probability).

    Taking field courses before you've gone through the first year of PhD is a waste of time.

    (Sorry if that's not super informative, I have certain regrets about time wasted taking those).
    Attending: UCSD!

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    Re: Princeton Course Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by fantinity View Post
    My advice is not to take any field courses. You'd be much better off upgrading your math background. Take whatever you think will help survive the grad micro sequence (like real analysis, multivariate calculus, probability).

    Taking field courses before you've gone through the first year of PhD is a waste of time.

    (Sorry if that's not super informative, I have certain regrets about time wasted taking those).
    That's helpful! Thanks! I think I've been in a bit of a rush to take econ classes so I could (hopefully) position myself for a recommendation letter, but goal one should definitely be shoring up the math

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    Re: Princeton Course Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by fantinity View Post
    My advice is not to take any field courses. You'd be much better off upgrading your math background. Take whatever you think will help survive the grad micro sequence (like real analysis, multivariate calculus, probability).

    Taking field courses before you've gone through the first year of PhD is a waste of time.

    (Sorry if that's not super informative, I have certain regrets about time wasted taking those).
    Could you elaborate? I am finishing up my RA-ship and have found auditing field courses pretty useful. Actually taking them is definitely more demanding, though.

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