How to prepare for starting your Economics degree
As promised in my previous post, I’m here with a post on how to prepare for your Economics degree. Before I begin, I just want to give you some insight into my background so that I can give general advice but also for people who have similar backgrounds to mine. I studied the International Baccalaureate, but I also couldn’t do economics in the IB because my school didn’t offer the subject. So essentially, I hadn’t studied economics before so when I was starting uni, I was apprehensive about how difficult it would be and if the course would start from the basics. To those who are in the same situation, I would say don’t worry, because they do start from the basics, or at least it is a level playing field. I didn’t feel like I was at a disadvantage because the course content is quite different from what you learn in A-levels or IB (at least according to what I’ve been told by coursemates.)
It’s definitely still useful to do some prep before you begin, whether you’ve studied economics already or not so here is my advice:
- Practice your math:
The math content you have covered will depend on your background as will your mathematical ability but it is one of the main skills needed for your econ degree so it’s important to practice and go over the math you’ve already studied. One of the core modules was EC120, which encompasses Mathematical Techniques (EC123), Statistical Techniques (EC124) and Computing and Data Analysis (EC125). In IB Math HL, I also did a statistics course, so I had the basic knowledge needed for the stats module. If you don’t have any stats background, it would be useful to look at a stats textbook and skim through the basic concepts. Similarly, for the math techniques module, I would recommend practicing your calculus because it builds from univariate calculus learnt in most high school syllabi to multivariate calculus.
If you have chosen to do an economics degree, I think it’s safe to assume you’re quite interested in the subject. So, the best thing to do to prepare is to read anything and everything related to economics! If you’re not in the mood for serious reading, you can check out books like The Undercover Economist or Freakonomics which will give you a light discussion of economic concepts using real life examples. If you want to explore different areas of economics, you can try reading books such as Poor Economics, written by the winners of the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics which explores development economics or Thinking, Fast and Slow, which explores behavioural economics. If you want to get started on uni economics, you can check out some textbooks such as “Economics” from Krugman and Wells or the macro and micro textbooks from Mankiw and Taylor.
Besides learning the concepts, it’s also important to be commercially aware and know what is going on in the world, both related to economics and otherwise. To do this, just try to stay up to date with the news (some good sources are the Financial Times or The Economist). Podcasts are also currently very popular so if you are feeling too lazy to read, you can listen to news briefings or podcasts on different topics from the aforementioned sources. If you are feeling absolutely out of it and just want to watch Netflix, that’s okay too because you can watch movies like The Big Short or the Wolf of Wall Street.
I think that’s it from me in terms of how to prepare but I do think it’s important to also take a break this summer between high school and uni for you. You’ve all worked hard to get where you are and you deserve to celebrate your success (although, given the circumstances, that can be hard). On the flip side, don’t lose sight of your goals and do keep at it once you start uni, because your academic career at university does completely depend on your efforts. It will be up to you to take charge of your studies so use this time wisely to take a break but when you get to uni in September, keep your eye on the ball!