Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Stay Classy, San Diego

Today I completed my first official course, math for idiots (Econ is ongoing, I start accounting and math for not quite as dumb folks tomorrow). I thought that made this the perfect time to stop and reflect on the academic life of pre-term.

First off is the really shocking part-- I'm actually loving the classes. Your 'core' during pre-term is stats, accounting, and econ (plus math for dummies if you're me). Fair disclosure, accounting does not start until tomorrow and my goodwill toward it now is based 100% on my discovery that I could easily switch into the 10am (vs. 8am) section and thus sleep 'late' two weekdays. Math camp was definitely challenging, and I have a lot of work ahead of me to pass Monday's test. But I remembered for the first time in a long time what it was like to enjoy math, and I've been able to help my classmates a number of times. Granted, this is more a testament to their low ability level than any super-aptitude on my part. However, I know many of you will be as shocked as I am that so far, I am liking the academic part of business school.

One reason I may be liking things so far is they have stacked the classes with very charismatic professors. Our MGEC (managerial economics, we all call it "Magic" out here-- yes, I am going to b-school and attending magic class three times a week) professor did a complete reenactment of an old Prego spaghetti sauce commercial, complete with fake Jersey-Italian accent, to tell us how to address the issue of assuming constants were in a demand function. Our stat professor left the math field for a while to become an opera singer, and regularly tells us bizarre coming-of-age-stories about his pre-pubescent love of the magical number 'e'.

I do know that this is all going to kick me in the rear when I have a full load of classes plus extracurriculars plus a job hunt going on, not to mention that the classes I'm in now are meant to teach you what you already should know going in to business school. But I'm hoping my attitude remains the same throughout the rest of my time here.

The other classes I'm taking are all electives, for which you have to bid. Wharton puts all non-required classes up for auction, a process taking several rounds and involving the use of points. A high number of students speculate on the auction and boost their points by reselling popular classes, believe it or not. I just used it to get pre-term classes I thought would be helpful, since these points do not transfer over to the real terms. But come fall, I plan to be a ruthless trader in my pursuit of the super-expensive (points-wise) global immersion trip to China.

The classes I succesfully bid on were intermediate Excel, advanced Excel, Learning Examples of Marketing & Stats Through Fun Examples, The Entertainment Industry: Overview and Decision Models, and two pure recreational activities (the Phillies Pirates game and a night at the Philadelphia Art Museum). So far, I've just had intermediate excel which they could've renamed beginning excel. I learned some interesting shortcuts and some very cool functions I didn't know before. Maybe the class wasn't the issue, but the preparedness of some of my classmates left a little to be desired-- one person asked the instructor to stop and show exactly how he had 'cut' and 'paste' some data. Side note on excel-- I have always loved excel, but I feel like every time I learn something new in excel, I fall in love a little bit more. If excel were a guy, I would make out with him. The best present you could give me would be an 'excel tip of the day' calendar. I would run from my bed each morning eager to tear off the new day and learn something new. My favorite today was either the nested IF functions or control shift 4. I heart excel.

That's the news that's fit to print, except that I'm typing this from my new desk (thank you, Target, for the free and speedy shipping), which means you, dear reader, deserve a new furniture count. Well, that's pretty much the only addition. But word is my furniture is on a whirlwind tour of Missouri and could be here just in time to ruin my cram time for the math test.

And finally:
Philly Phashion
Spotted outside whole foods, a young man with a clean-shaven head except for a strip two inches wide by five inches long running up from just above his left ear about halfway up his head. Out of this strip (which was about 3/4 of an inch long, hairwise) came one tiny braid, about two inches long, sticking straight out.


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