Who Said School was Easy? (Part 1)
How well do you prepare yourself to take a coursework in the USA? People may read the relevant textbook before the school start. In my personal experience, a good study plan plays a big role. Graduating from economics major for bachelor degree in Universitas Gadjah Mada and having a two-years’ experience in a think-tank related to economics, felt like I already knew what I would be going through. After any ups and downs that I have been through in pursuing master degree of economics at Boston University, learning will take you to another (different) journey. Here I want to share my experience that might be useful while taking the coursework.
Taking an economics major for master needs persistence and great motivation. The math is so heavy (at least, for me at that time). Even though I had the same classes before in my undergraduate study, for instance micro and macroeconomics, statistics and econometrics, it was still not that easy as I thought at first. I mean, school is not easy. It challenges you in some ways and it brings the best (and worst) out of . There are definitely ups and downs that you will encounter during the study. Here are some tips from my experience that can help during the study
- Plan the whole semester very carefully
The syllabus is the key. For me, I plan the whole semester based on the syllabus. I make my own calendar (synchronized with my e-mail and my mobile phone). I make a study plan for the entire semester. Usually, the weekly schedule will be blocked by classes, library time, problem set deadlines, exams, and other appointments or events that come up during the week. By mapping the whole semester, you will get the sense on how you will manage your time effectively and work accordingly.
- Have a study buddy
It benefits me for solving problem set, preparing for exams and going through notes in general. You are supposed to do the problem set by yourself, but having someone for discussion is always good. When you don’t really understand about certain things, you have someone to ask. When you really understand it, you can even help and teach them, which is good for the learning process. Ultimately, both of you will get another perspective in understanding and explaining the solutions of each problem.
- Use the office hour (of professor and tutor)
One privilege that we get by studying in many American universities is the availability of the professors or tutors for helping us to explore our interests. They have an office hour policy for every student. The office hour really helps me during the study. In office hour, I could ask about anything related to the syllabus, class material, or anything related to the master program. This gives a way of building good relation with the professor out of class and you can get to know more about them and their projects. Build a good network since they might be helpful for future references and sources for great opportunities.
We do the best that we can and we push ourselves to the limit. But sometimes, things just happen unexpectedly. Feeling too burnt out for our workload, failing in certain classes despite our hard work, or some external forces such as situations at home or on campus. These could lead to a potential break down if we are not aware. All I can say is that learning process is a journey. I will explore more in the Part 2 on how to identify and take care of any potential breakdown that might happen to us or to those around us.
Photos provided by author
Andrea Adhi currently works as a research associate at J-PAL Southeast Asia. Prior to joining J-PAL, she worked at the Republic of Indonesia’s National Team for Acceleration of Poverty Reduction (TNP2K). She was a Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Professional Fellow in 2014. Andrea holds a bachelor’s degree from Universitas Gadjah Mada in 2012 and a master’s degree from Boston University in 2016, both in economics major. In her spare time, Andrea enjoys watching art and music performance, playing piano and ukulele, or wandering around with her adventurous mind.