Distractions, reflections

David Ing, at large … Sometimes, my mind wanders

Currently Viewing Posts Tagged University-of-British-Columbia

Economists need (more) math?

The arts program at U. of Toronto has a prerequisite of TWO high school math courses, which is one more than other universities.
Eric has to pick his Grade 12 classes tomorrow, and was asking about various courses. (I’m really not a fan of business, economics and law classes, because they’re content that universities typically build from the ground up). Eric was planning on taking 8 classes and dropping two. The presumed minimum is English and one math class, then electives.

Just to make sure, I thought I’d check the admission requirements at U. of Toronto. Eric isn’t exactly sure what he’ll study, but he isn’t a math guy. He could end up in international relations, or economics or something along those lines. For the U. of T. faculty of arts and science, we found …

Minimum Admission Requirements

  • Ontario Secondary School Diploma
  • Six Grade 12 U/M courses, one of which must be English 4U
  • Grade 12 U/M courses for specific program of interest

Humanities and Social Sciences (including Economics)

  • Six Grade 12 U/M courses must include English 4U. Students applying to the Economics program must have Advanced Functions and Introductory Calculus, as well as either Geometry and Discrete Mathematics or Mathematics of Data Management.

That’s two Grade 12 math courses, not one. That’s a higher standard than the admission requirements at Queen’s University, UBC or McGill.

We’ve been encouraging Eric to keep up his math, because he’s pretty sure to need the first year university math course, to get into the requisite statistics class that comes in second year university.

I wonder how many high schools targeting arts programs will get surprised a year from now, when they’re writing their applications to the U. of Toronto.

Tues. Nov. 15, 2006: Book before dissertation

I’ll be writing books before finishing my dissertation … which is okay, in Finland!
David doesn’t behave like the normal Ph.D. student, which is acceptable in Finland.

(by David): I had to prepare for the dissertation seminar, which is mostly a coaching session for people who haven’t done extensive research in their careers. I have to say that I’ve found this a strong point in the training at HUT. This seemed to be something that was missing in my education when I was at UBC. Last year, I was sitting in a class taught by my friend Annaleena, where she stepped the master’s students through how to do library searches (e.g. the Web of Science database). Annaleena has said that the professors at HUT may not be the most dynamic speakers, but they’re good researchers. I would add that they’re generous with their time with Ph.D. students who are apprentices. This is despite the fact that in North America, where a professor supervising five students would be considered heavy, and Stanford chaired professors aim for one — Finnish professors may supervisor as many as 25 students. They’re really overworked, so I mostly try to stay out of their way.

That being said, I’m still a Ph.D. student here, and participate in the doctoral seminar. To be up front, I haven’t done that much writing on the dissertation since I was here in the spring, but I’m not going to hide behind that. One result of aligning my dissertation research on innovation with the research relevant to my day job is that I’m now making advances on book, to be co-authored with some friends at work. Thus, it’s become an interesting pitch at the university. I’ll probably get the book done and published before I finish the dissertation, which itself will be done sometime before I finish my course work. It’s certainly everything backwards from the normal student.

In my university role, I’ve come to prepare fewer slides, and find that writing on the blackboard works well with students for whom English isn’t the first language. It slows down my talk — I really work on speaking slowly, already — but for the dissertation seminar, I put together a lot of the slides that I used at the conference in Florida in September. I created three slides up front to explain the outline and direction of the book. The whole presentation deck was 35 slides.

At the dissertation seminar, I decided to only speak to 3 slides. I’m sure everyone was happier.

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