If you’re thinking about studying maths at Imperial, you might be wondering what kind of problems first year studenst are supposed to solve in the tutorials. Last term I was a graduate teaching assistant (GTA) for a course Probability and Statistics I. Let’s see an example of a question posed by the lecturer, prof. Emma McCoy.
Imagine that n people, including yourself and a friend, are seated at random in a row of n chairs. What is the probability that you sit next to your friend?
This problem is easier than you think, especially after following the lectures. I’ll explain how to tackle this problem here.
Mental health and university… recently I feel like I’m discussing this problem every single day. As a student representative I communicate this issue to colleagues, staff members, university support systems, external panels etc. I also wrote about mental and PhD – even if you’re not a PhD student, have a read, it might apply to you as well.
However, not everyone is talking about it. Some aren’t aware that this issue is important, some don’t care and many just are afraid or don’t know how to offer support to someone who might struggle. Tomorrow is a great opportunity to give it a try – Time to Talk Day 2018.
The MSc in Business analytics is an intense year of rigorous technical and quantitative training. It prepares students to solve business problems using a variety of statistical, operations research and machine learning techniques.
What you learn in class is usually just a small part of what you end up doing in group projects and homework. There is a huge amount of good resources you can use to learn new material or enhance your knowledge in a topic.
In this blog, I wanted to share the most useful sources I found in case you’re planning to pursue this program at Imperial.
Before you start the program: the basics
Statistics and probability
Start by revising your math skills in statistics and probability.
Let’s face it: doing a PhD isn’t always rainbows and unicorns. The process can be painful and annoying, and at some point you’re probably going to get completely stuck. If you’ve ever done any research, you definitely know what I’m talking about.
There’s something you need to do, usually some task that was supposed to be easy – a toy example, an almost standard code, a “quick” experiment to check your hypothesis. And here you are, spending long hours, days, weeks, even months, not even closer to solving your problem. You’ve tried everything, used all possible sources you could find, but this devil isn’t giving up.
Best part of doing a PhD? Conferences! When you finally manage to do some meaningful research, it’s time to present it to a wider audience. In other words, pack your suitcases and bon voyage! I know that attending conferences might be a bit overwhelming in the beginning, so here are a few tips to make the most of them.
- Find a good conference. If you’re as lucky as I am and have a great supervisor, she or he will suggest interesting events to you. Otherwise you’ll need to do the work yourself. However, at Imperial we’re flooded with e-mails advertising scientific events, there’s also Google and your colleagues who can give you some advice.
I’m sure that your English is fluent enough for you to study in the UK (if you aren’t confident, take a look at my post about studying in English). I’m also sure that you’re able to communicate with international students withouth any problems. But do you understand what locals, i.e. English people really mean? It took me a while (and a few awkward situations), so here are a few surprising things Brits say.
- How are you? You’ll hear this question dozens of times every day. In the beginning I thought: “wow, these Brits are so nice, they really care about me”.
It’s not a secret that grad school might be dangerous for mental health. In recent years people started to talk about it openly, numerous studies on this topic have been done (eg. on suicides or depression). The awareness of mental health is rising, which definitely makes it easier to get help when needed. However, this isn’t the full story.
A few years ago I started to consider a possiblity of pursuing a PhD. So I googled around – big mistake. Phrases such as “grad school mental health” returned thousands of websites suggesting that the coming years will be filled with pain and tears.
While for undergrads university means plenty of tests and homework, PhD students spend long hours marking their work. If you’re the one submitting solutions, these are ten ways to annoy the marker.
- Write your solutions in random places of the page. Don’t waste any space – make sure that this little gap in the middle of question 1 is filled with your answer to question 3.
- Use a pencil or, even better, a red pen. Don’t forget about correction fluid! Surely the instructions to write only in black or blue were just a joke.
- Provide a few answers to the same question, with a comment: “Choose the correct one”.
A PhD is hard. Plenty of people have blogged about mental health problems while doing a PhD e.g.
In some ways I have an advantage as in addition to my Asperger Syndrome diagnosis I have a long history of anxiety and depression going right back to my early teens so am already equipped for dealing with mental health difficulties. Here is what I have found:
You have your undergraduate degree, you’re about to finish your masters and you aren’t sure what to do next. Get a proper job or maybe become an eternal student and apply for a PhD? I opted for the latter and so far I don’t regret (ok, I do regret sometimes, but more about it later).
Doing a PhD is something between studying and working, which surprised me. I expected a similar experience to my previous degrees. I thought I would still study, just the subjects might get harder and more detailed. I was so wrong!
If you want to pursue a PhD in order to explore your area, then I’d discourage you from this decision.