5 things I wished someone had told me before studying Economics
Hi everyone! I hope everyone is doing well since everything is slowly returning back to normal. A lot has happened since the last time I wrote here, hence this post is dedicated to my fellow Economics students, or anyone who plans to study Economics. I am here to bust the myths when studying Economics. Take it from me, I have been studying Economics for three years.
#1 Econometrics ≠ Maths
Why do you want to study Economics? For me, I decided to study Economics because I love Maths and writing, and I figured that Economics is the best combination for the two. Yes, in first year, I did some Statistics, and we do need to learn some formulas, but Econometrics is NOT Mathematics. I would really suggest aspiring Economics students to look up Econometrics on Google, look at the problem sets (trust me they’re everywhere on the internet, you can find MIT Econometrics problem sets within seconds as you read this) and ask yourself, “is this something I’d be interested in?” “If this is a challenge, will I be willing to take it?”. I genuinely don’t mean to scare you off, but no one can escape Econometrics when they take Bachelor of Science (BSc) Economics, I can’t say the same for Bachelor of Arts. But trust me when I tell you, it does get fulfilling once you understand Econometrics, because it will then be so easy when you read Economics journals and papers because you actually know what they are talking about.
#2 Economics has a large cohort size
Well, this isn’t actually a surprise. But it was for me, because while I did expect that I will be a small fish in a big pond, I really AM a small fish in a pond filled with smart students. This comes at a price, sometimes it gets too large, you get really shy to ask questions in a large lecture hall. When lecturers ask questions, you are dying to answer it, but because there are hundreds of other students with better answers, you decide to stay silent. It is too large, when you don’t have your own circle of friends, you keep having different seat partners every time. In first year, I find it hard to ask questions during the lectures, especially when everyone is listening to you. But always remember the reason you are here in the first place, to learn. You may think you’re the only one who is questioning a topic, but perhaps other people have the same question too. So in a way, you are doing the other students a favour too. Another solution is to go to their office hours. And go to it early. The queue to go to the office hours is long, especially when its nearing an exam or a test. Hence, don’t be daunted by the large cohort size. Anticipate it, but don’t daunt it.
#3 Consistency is key
Based on my experience, it gets hard to be consistent, as it depends on what modules you choose. Especially if that module is graded 100% on summer exams, because you don’t have that constant motivation to study or make notes for it. University is all about self-motivation and self-initiation. In A-Levels or GCSE, you are constantly bombarded with homework. We do have seminar work here too, but we are not disciplined to do it, so it’s all on you. Hence, be consistent. Do your seminar work, make notes, ask questions when you need to. It will help you so much when you need to revise for your summer exams.
#4 There’s no such thing as a dumb question
Reiterating point #2, I find it hard to ask questions because I’d think that I will be asking a dumb question and the lecturers may refuse to answer the question. However, I have come to realise that there is no such thing as a dumb question. If you need to be clarified on something, do so. Just go ahead and ask. Ask them personally if you feel scared to ask in lectures or in a room full of other students.
#5 Help each other, they are not your competition
I believe this is something I felt Economics students genuinely struggle with. We are so used to the competitive environment, especially when it comes to academics or job hunting. We are so worried that our friends would get better grades or better jobs than us that we end up working as a lone wolf than a team.
Believe me when I say, you will be so much better off when you lift that chip off your shoulder, and help one another. If you know how to answer a seminar question, and your friend doesn’t, please don’t hesitate to help them out. Empower one another. Create study groups. In fact, if you’re afraid to go to your lecturer’s office hours by yourself, you can get your study buddy to go in with you and compile all the questions the both of you had in mind. Wouldn’t it be nicer to succeed as a team than succeed by yourself? It can get lonely when you’re at the top all by yourself.
These are the things I wished someone had told me before taking Economics. I hope this will help in preparation to study Economics, at the University of Warwick, or wherever you go.