Posted by: thebylog | December 16, 2006

Gratefully Led

PhD programs in general are more theoretical than practical in nature, so it should come as little surprise that among those classmates of mine who have taken a statistical consulting class, it has not proven popular. This consulting experience is mandatory for graduate students here, and consists not only of offering statistical advice in a report form to a client (usually another graduate student from another department), but also aims to teach a few of the finer points of consulting as an art form. As in the real world, these projects often don’t fit nicely into a statistical frameworks with which students are familiar, and that as well as some of the real and/or perceived idiosyncracies of the course contribute to its unpopularity.

A large portion of our class isn’t taking the class this semester. This includes me, and after hearing so much negative talk about it I’m not sad that I didn’t. In fact, next semester it appears as if the class will be adjusted to enable it to sustain more students with less faculty. It appears that this will result in somewhat less of a workload, though I won’t be so bold as to assume this outright.

At any rate, if it is indeed a better experience than this semester, I would add this to the list of things that I feel very fortunate about with respect to my graduate experience here. Let’s see if I can list a few:

:: The year before we got here, some of the first-year grad students had a horrible experience in a required math course. When I took the class, the professor was among the best I have ever had.

:: This year for the asymptotic theory course, we had a wonderful professor. Last year, they had another professor who was using our professor’s notes, and the result was issues with how the material was presented. And next year, the good professor is going on sabbatical, so who knows who will teach it.

:: The rumor is that the PhD qualifying exam committee churns out more doable exams every other year, and I’ve fallen on the right year. Of course, I’m not counting on this. I was looking through some old exams today and they’re enough to almost make me physically weak just looking at them.



  1. I love the title of this post, By! It’s so appropriate!

  2. Have a very Merry Christmas, Byran! It is always interesting, heartening and humbling to reflect upon all the blessings we have through even the “little things,” such as what semester we wind up taking a class, isn’t it? To God be the glory!

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