Statistically speaking

Two things seem to have become a recurring theme in Grad School so far: Cerebral-wrestling on a Saturday morning, courtesy of Terry Dalton’s Statistics program, and Themed Parties.

Having successfully completed Stats I last quarter, I am now bumped up to Stats II, the class that I am actually required to complete in order to graduate from the GFTEI program. I must say, I have absolutely no regrets about taking the Stats I “warm-up” class last quarter in anticipation of the more applied statistical work this time round, even if it meant giving up 5 credits I could have “spent“ on taking another more stimulating class like “Globalisation and Development: The Case of Coffee and Chocolate” (just one of many awesome class offerings here at Korbel, which you may want to peruse at Not that Statistics did not scare the hell out of me initially…oh it did. But in the end it turned out fine, and the real benefit I garnered from it was a level of comfort with what statistics is all about and the unnecessarily complicated terminology that goes with it which enables me to confront this quarter’s challenges on more of a level playing field than that which my SHEER TERROR would have precluded me doing before.

If you have never taken statistics, I would definitely recommend this path if you come to Korbel, rather than jumping straight into Stats II or Statistics for International Affairs like some (but by no means the majority) of my cohort did. Chi-square goodness of fit? ANOVA? Levene’s Test? Multiple regression? Degrees of Freedom? Yes, having Stats on a Saturday morning for the better part of a year certainly does limit my degrees of freedom, but now I know that this is not what this particular concept is referring to. There’s no doubt that this quarter’s workload is on a whole other level than last, but I have to say I feel a helluva lot more confident that I might ultimately be able to handle it thanks to the foundational grounding I got in the Fall. Let’s hope so, because I’ve got another requisite – ECONOMETRICS – coming up next quarter, and Statistics II is a prequisite for that! JOY!

On this note, if any of you are wondering if the GFTEI program may not be for you, not only because it has a really long and SERIOUS name (you’ll definitely have the best “Words-Behind-Your-Name to Dollar-Spent ratio at Korbel, that’s for sure…), but because it has this “quantitative“ element that doesn‘t jive well with your undegrad major in, say, linguistics: Don’t let that deter you. GFTEI is for smart people, sure. But so are the rest of the Korbel programs. And I am also no math genius. Not by any stretch of the imagination. But do you need to be a “math” person to do GFTEI? I haven’t completed all my quantititative prerequisites, but I would venture to say No.

You need to be ready to apply yourself to a social science and work hard, but essentially GFTEI is about preparing people to be thinkers, working in the field of international economic affairs in a broad sense. Unless you have a solid econ background in underground, or are planning to go on to do further econ studies, this is not going to put you on the path to becoming an economist for the UN… Sorry. Rather it’s about giving you the skills to interpret the type of data that economists produce, and to know your p-value from your t-critical. You can come away with a very valuable set of practical skills – statistics, econometrics, project management, communications, campaign management… The offerings are very diverse and oriented to the type of careers people who are interested in international affairs are looking for. But do you need to be a whiz at calculus? No. I most certainly am not. And if you don’t believe me about whether this precludes you from being “the right fit”, ask the program directors – George DeMartino and Ilene Grabel. Not only are they fantastic professors (in fact they regularly received the highest rankings of all Korbel professors when it comes to student evaluations!) but also extremely accessible and approachable people. On a side note, DeMartino’s trade course is one of the reasons I came to Korbel, and I am very happy to have got a spot in the class this quarter ahead of this summer. It’s perfect mix of theory, both classical and modern, and stimulating debate/discussion, with a highly enthusiastic professor. I’ve definitely had my interest in this field reinforced.

Meanwhile, besides from Saturday-morning Statistics, the other running theme of Grad School so far has been Themed Parties. Barely a weekend seems to pass without someone creating an invite to some obscurely conceptual party. Not that I’ve been able to attend all of them… no, hangovers, economic development and statistics do not mix well, but I’ve seen (and eaten) enough to say that if we weren’t at Grad School for International Affairs, I’m fairly sure we’d have some world class party planning and catering careers ahead of us.

There’s the October Moustache Party:


Halloween, ofcourse:

A Knight? Or a Gladiator? It's open to interpretation...

The November Inflatable Obstacle Course Party:
Ready to Rumble

The December Christmas Ugly Sweater Party:

Impressively Ugly

Not to mention the Games Night which is currently underway, the Bib and Dip party (didn’t get to attend but heard great things), the Swap Party (bring old clothes and accessories, swap with friends, and voila! What’s old to me is new to you, and vice versa. Perfect student shopping experience). And I’d be remiss if I did not mention the “Just Chicks 2.0” party hosted by my good friend Majo this weekend, and the Zoo Party that’s in the pipeline (Hosts advise: “Please come dressed as your favorite zoo-dweller (e.g. lion, penguin, elephant, okapi, tapir, lemur, etc). We expect animal print, lots of furry shit, and other animal-related garb.”).

So there you have it – Korbel in a nutshell: Work hard, play hard, dress bad.

Any questions, post them below! (And refer to the highly informative Admissions blog, if you have not already, at…Admissions Director, Brad, and his deputy, Nicole, do a great job at answering a lot of the questions you may have before you even know you want to ask them 😉

Posted on January 21, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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