What to do with all the time?

I am now done being an undergraduate. I'm still short a piece of paper as of this writing but it appears that I hold a BA in economics and a minor in mathematics. I racked up a total of four Bs in three years of schooling, which was a bit of a disappointment, but I will get over it once I am safely enrolled in grad school.

I think that my last semester gave me a pretty good taste of what grad studies will be like. Perhaps two of my four classes were about as hard as first-year grad work (at least my analysis class was, based on comparisons by my classmate who was in this class and grad micro at the same time) and I still worked about 20-24 hrs./wk over most of the semester at my job and RA work. I also completed 2 grad school applications during finals time. Plus the psychic cost of pure math classes versus any course putatively related to economics in some concrete-ish way was, for me, very high. I am THRILLED to be done with pure math classes (meaning no disrespect, pure math, you just aren't my cup of tea). Thus ends three years of nonstop schooling. Spring, summer, fall, spring, summer, fall, spring, summer, fall.

One thing that was a good sign for the future was that I absolutely loved working on my honors thesis. It was a study examining the link between the principal labor market in Chicago high schools under school reform, where principals are hired and fired by parent-majority local school councils, and student outcomes. This was a pretty good proxy for working on a dissertation and also doing research as a future economist and I loved it and was totally obsessed with the project. Digging through data and doing background research and thinking about the nuts and bolts of applied research was just a really rewarding and thrilling experience. It turned out rather well too (with considerable help from a fourth year grad student friend and my project supervisor).

So I now wait for grad school decisions to be made. I believe I am a safe bet to get into my alma mater, which would be a really decent outcome and is allowing me to rest considerably easier than I otherwise would. Additional admissions would just be gravy. Still, it will be a big relief to know what the next four to five years will hold, as the range of possibilities is pretty varied, particularly a couple of long shots that would involve relocation.

But for now I wait and sort of relax. There is something funny about becoming so expert in keeping all the balls of work, school and family in the air at one time. Now that one ball is taken away my rhythm is a bit awkward, even though it is easier overall. I have been enjoying spending extra time with my daughter and wife (though I like to think I kept the family balance pretty reasonable during my studies). But I cannot rest for too long. I have already begun to dig into some self-study. I got a taste of how subpar my econometrics coursework was while doing my honors thesis so I am now trying to do the work that a quality econometrics course should have put me through. I am also endeavoring to wade into the mathematical material I will be seeing this fall and am also planning to sit in on a grad health economics course. Take my spare time, please!

At any rate, I also hope to return to this blog a bit more regularly and also to take it back to a less solipsistic place. There is much to discuss and I'm going to try to do so with some regularity. Thanks for continuing to read…



About theunlikelyeconomist

theunlikelyeconomist is in the midst of the long slog to attain a PhD in economics.
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