I would go with the math appendixes of the grad econ textbooks I will be using and develop skills in Stata, R & possibly Python. Math textbooks are inefficient IMO since not all techniques in any subjects (calc, LA, RA) will be used.
I know the standard advice is "enjoy your last summer before grad school" but I'm definitely going to be reviewing before classes start since I've been out of undergrad for two years and my school's economics major wasn't very rigorous.
I've been working through a calculus book (Kline) to sharpen up basic skills, and was planning to do the same for linear algebra. I have Simon and Blume "Mathematics for Economists" that I bought at the recommendation of a professor and want to work through as well. Is this a good plan? Anyone have other recommendations?
Enjoy the summer is actually pretty good advice.
But a little brushing up on math is not a bad idea. You might see if there is a math camp syllabus. You may find the Arizona math camp, Math Camp 2020, useful.
It is probably not worth your time learning Stata, R, or Python now, although it is likely it will be later. If you have never used LaTeX, you may want to get an introduction to that.
You may also want to review a mathematical probability & statistics textbook, which will help with metrics.
Simon & Blume is a good resource as well. Some of the topics in that book are more geared toward what you'll actually see in your graduate-level courses (e.g. optimization, quadratic forms, basic linear algebra).
Last edited by coloradoecon; 04-17-2021 at 08:51 AM.
If you have no exposure to LaTeX, try LyX out. It's a gentle introduction to the LaTeX language and is very point-and-click like Microsoft Word. Plus, it also shows you what the end-result is like without having to compile the document and doesn't require you to remember a bunch of commands and which brackets go where like in Overleaf.
It only took me about 2-3 weeks to get into it, and I've never opened a Word Document since.
In case people are unaware, for some courses (macro, in my case), the professors expect the problem set submissions to be typed out in LaTeX, so it's a lot less stressful to pick it up now when you have free time, rather than trying to pick it up in between problem sets during the semester.
I agree with the advice that you'll likely use many of these software packages in your work and so good to learn them. But in terms of preparing specifically for the first year, these are good questions to ask your program director and some of the current students. We send our incoming students some suggestions for how to prepare for the first year, but I'm sure some programs don't. In any case, it is fairly straightforward for them to tell you that, for example, it is incredibly helpful to know Stata, or Latex, or whatever, for first year coursework.
Enjoy the summer, though, is definitely the best advice. Everything else is second order.
Please, please please, take some time off this summer to relax. You're about to start a 6 year stint of your life where you will always, always feel like there is something you "could" or "should" be doing: studying for quals, working on research, applying to jobs. Reward yourself for the huge accomplishment of getting into a PhD program with some well-earned downtime!
Maybe, maybe, review some math like in the 2 weeks before math camp, but don't spend your summer self-studying stuff that you might not even use in the first year or might go over during math camp anyway. In my personal opinion it is very hard to teach yourself a programming language from scratch on your own, you'll likely have better success debugging and figuring things out with peers with the defined goal of problem set... and programming in Matlab is unlikely to be the hardest part of the first year.
Actually, if I could recommend something... read! Read interesting journal articles, read books by sociologists and historians, read the Economist and the New Yorker, read whatever you find compelling! What makes a good economist is not proving fixed-point theorems, but rather having an interesting question to ask about the way the world works that economic tools can answer. Exposure to diverse perspectives is the key to coming up with original research ideas.
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