Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect those of the Morningside Post.
What was the probability of survival for a third class male passenger on the Titanic?
You will be able to answer this question (and many more) if you take Prof. Doru Cojoc’s Quantitative Analysis I for International and Public Affairs. The course is a requirement for both MPAs and MIAs, so I suggest to take it as soon as possible to get access to the upper-level statistics classes offered at SIPA, as well as other departments at Columbia (QMSS, GSAS). Apart from learning statistical trivia about one of the most famous shipwrecks of the 20th century you’ll also gain valuable practical knowledge about the fundamentals of data analysis.
If you have taken any introductory statistics class, the first half of the course will be a breeze. If you haven’t, don’t worry; Prof. Cojoc always manages to gather up an army and half of teaching assistants, holding countless office hours and review sessions. The teaching style of very watered down to cater to students from all types of backgrounds and the class moves fairly slowly.
Weekly problem sets are a given, so choose your problem set partner wisely as a nice friendship based on p-values and confidence intervals could blossom (or not).
The first few weeks of Quant I cover the basics: probability, central limit theorem, as well as basic hypothesis testing. You will also be held by the hand as you are introduced to the world of STATA. The first half is capped by the midterm, which was pretty straightforward.
The second part of the course is a little trickier. Right around Halloween, and after the first midterm new topics such as Linear Regression will come up. Don’t be intimidated, though, regression and ANOVA are NOT as terrifying as they seem. Regardless, the final is really out there, and almost nobody finished.
- Go to lecture (even if the topics seem basic at first, your next November-self will thank you for it!)
- Go to the labs (knowing fundamental STATA looks nice on your resume and makes the problem sets MUCH easier)
- Take advantage of all the resources offered (e.g. study guides, review sessions)
- Don’t buy the textbook, unless you strongly believe you will be lost. Lecture slides, class notes, and lab summaries are enough to get a good grasp of the material.
- For those with textbook FOMO, there are PDF versions of older editions floating around the internet :)
Hope this review was helpful! Have a great semester!