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View Poll Results: What's the best way to prepare for the first year?

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  • Read MWG

    6 18.75%
  • Read an analysis text (e.g., Rudin)

    3 9.38%
  • Read a mathematical econ text (e.g., De La Fuente, Simon & Blume)

    16 50.00%
  • Brush up on calculus and linear algebra (e.g., Apostol, Stewart)

    7 21.88%
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Thread: What's the best way to prepare for the first year?

  1. #1
    I'm on my way! Skipper's Avatar
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    What's the best way to prepare for the first year?

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    I have a few months before school starts, and I want to spend it wisely, but I'm not sure what the best use of my time is.
    Attending: Northwestern

  2. #2
    Within my grasp!
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    Travel, Enjoy Life, Volunteer, You Need A Break....the Past Few Months Must Have Been Stressfull With All The Applications, Exams And Stuff....if You Have Been Admitted To Norwestern Then They Beleive You Have All The Tools You Need To Succeed....

  3. #3
    I'm on my way! Skipper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by quantwanabe View Post
    Travel, Enjoy Life, Volunteer, You Need A Break....the Past Few Months Must Have Been Stressfull With All The Applications, Exams And Stuff....if You Have Been Admitted To Norwestern Then They Beleive You Have All The Tools You Need To Succeed....
    I'm sure that's good advice for most people, but I've been out of school for a while, and my math skills are rusty!
    Attending: Northwestern

  4. #4
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    Well, I can tell you what is NOT the best way to prepare for first year: trying to cover all the first year material by yourself over the summer. :no:

    Having a PhD already is not a prerequisite for enrolling in first year classes. They really do plan to teach you this stuff starting in September. And it's much, much more productive to learn from your professors and classmates than by trying to read MWG. At best, you will get frustrated, and at worst, you will get confused.

    If it really has been a while since you've done any math, then reviewing basic calculus (multivar, total derivatives, etc.) is useful, and your professors won't spend time on that during math camp. Similarly, linear algebra is a basic tool that shouldn't require much though, so working through old notes or problems could be helpful. But for math beyond that, especially math you haven't ever learned before, I'd suggest just waiting. Self-study of real analysis or dynamic programing is frustrating and low-yield. If you have strong basics, you will learn these things when school starts. And it's better to come to them fresh than confused and frustrated.

    What you should do, in my mind, is start thinking like an economist. Subscribe to the NBER digests as soon as you have a .edu e-mail address, and read a few papers that sound interesting to you. Start keeping a notebook of research ideas -- things that you see in the paper that make you say "hmm, really?" or other ideas you stumble across in daily life. If you don't already, start reading the Economist. And find a few academic articles (ideally, the seminal articles in your field, but if you can't get anyone to suggest those, then settle for papers presented in the seminar series for your field last year). Read those just to get an idea of what the end goal of the PhD really is, and to give yourself an idea of how the first year course work will fit in to the type of research you want to do.

    Other than that, enjoy the summer!

  5. #5
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    I'd be interested ti know this as well since I've been a year out of school. I'm most concerned about preparing for microeconomics, and I don't think they use MWG at UCLA. So far my plan is just to go over various parts of my analysis book (any ideas which parts I should focus on most?) and review linear algebra a bit to make sure I haven't forgotten anything (any ideas where I should focus in this subject would be welcome as well). Thanks to anyone who responds.

  6. #6
    Trying to make mom and pop proud Blin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skipper View Post
    I'm sure that's good advice for most people, but I've been out of school for a while, and my math skills are rusty!
    I've also been out of school for a year too so I will spend some of my time reviewing some math so that I would have a good start but I plan not to stress myself out before school start.
    Will Be Joining: Georgetown .

  7. #7
    Let's Go Hokies! DismalScientist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by asquare View Post
    Well, I can tell you what is NOT the best way to prepare for first year: trying to cover all the first year material by yourself over the summer. :no:

    Having a PhD already is not a prerequisite for enrolling in first year classes. They really do plan to teach you this stuff starting in September. And it's much, much more productive to learn from your professors and classmates than by trying to read MWG. At best, you will get frustrated, and at worst, you will get confused.
    Asquare has very good points. I think the best way to prepare is to review the math that you already know (i.e. the math the got you where you are now). It should also be useful to go over any kind of math that might be useful in first year courses without overworking yourself.

  8. #8
    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage
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    If you think you're rusty and want to refresh your multivar calc, linear algebra skills, I think Simon and Blume is a good, simple read. It'll allow you to review what you already know, and perhaps pick up a few applications you don't know. I preferred that to going over my own course notes since I wanted a slightly difference perspective.

    I agree with most everything others have said. Don't go crazy or anything, and find ways to enjoy yourself, but I don't think it would hurt to look through a couple chapters every now and then when you want to give your brain a little exercise. You can do that and still enjoy yourself. I never bought the argument that taking a break means you can't ever look at a textbook.

  9. #9
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    I've heard advice that it would be good to read relevant sections of an advanced undergrad text such as Varian's Intermediate Micro, to make sure one has the 'intuition' to complement the rigor that will be provided by the micro sequence. I imagine this would only be required by those without a strong econ background (such as myself).

    Personally, I will also be going through Simon and Blume, as I need to brush up on linear algebra.

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