4 Years of Uni in 3 Graphs

I AM DONE! My last final exam ended an hour ago. This means that I’m finally done with undergrad. It has been quite the journey, from classes to research to learning to live in a dorm. Did I mention a pandemic?
Instead of doing some sappy reflection piece, I present a 3 graph summary.

Colours: red = econ, purple = behavioural science, blue= maths, orange = other

My parents told me that uni is the place to make lifelong friends. They were also scared that my tendency to rant about the USSR would make me an outcast. So… I pivoted to ranting about research and collected a nice little social circle.

Most of these are from econ research club (AM, EF, GK, PG, SG, ZL), the cornerstone of my social life. It starts with SG and DK. SG is the founder of ERC and currently a PhD student at one of the top programmes. DK is my year and will be joining SG at said top school. Both of them are like academic older brothers and pushed/comforted me when things got hard. I’ll never forget the meetings where it was just the two of them explaining a paper to me, or their consistent reassurances that I will go far as well as the significant help when needed.

EF and GK are my team. Since connecting in 2021, we’ve been inseparable. They are some of the few people that I truly care about. AM was the “president” this last year and put up with me longer than I expected. Finally, ZL and PG are just good friends. I didn’t interact with them as much as I’d have liked, but they always had my back, especially when I was struggling with something not academic, aka, when the freezer in my dorm broke and I needed someplace to store 20lbs of chicken for a few months.

I met IL and RQ at a summer programme. They are special because I’ve never managed to stay friends with anyone from summer programmes. We still message regularly. RQ is going to be in Cali for grad school and IL hopes to. Cheers to California Grad School Research Village

DY, WX and JC are behavioural science friends. DY and WX are grad students at SDS. JC is currently a first year consumer behaviour student at a top programme that I met when we were both undergrads. They have been an invaluable resource not only for the research discussion and application support, but also for the way they made me feel welcome in the research community. In econ, I was always the one asking for help. It felt really nice to be the one providing input.

AS and TL are “functional” friends that turned into something else. AS is an econ grad student I met when auditing a class I had no business being in. My thesis had a model. He’s the reason it got done. But… his real value has been in increasing my “human” capital. Thanks to him, I actually started leaving campus for fun. TL is my primary maths friend who spent hours helping me with analysis. Outside of the maths, we had a good time chatting, going to the gym and even cooking on occassion.

With all that said, I clearly never blossomed into a social butterfly to put it mildly. Who cares. I am cautiously optimistic that I will still be in touch with them in 5 years. I do know that they have helped make undergrad bearable, even enjoyable

I would have made the node shape correspond to department but was too lazy ><

Colours: red = econ, purple = behavioural science. Unidirectional arrow = “advised”, bidirectional = colleague or co-author

This “professional network” is one of the things I’m most proud of. They say it take a village to raise a child. Well, it took 12 profs across 4 department from 3 schools and some help from industry to get me where I am.

Some of them stick out as exceptional: JD was my first boss and the reason I decided to pursue research in behavioural science. She hired me three weeks into freshman year and invited me to attend lab meetings. I kind of just… never left.

CO was my first proper advisor. Although I had trouble meeting his standards, he kept working with me despite my failures. Guess what, I was “by far not the most difficult student I[he] has worked with”. As the only undergrad he’s supervised, I consider it a win.

LA and AK are the reason I didn’t gave up on econ. Both of them opened their offices when I really struggled, including fixing my poor attempts to write models and sending me encouraging messages when I wasn’t doing as well as I’d have liked. AK also became a personal hero when he reassured me that “typos are good” after I complained about my advisor at the time.

Two people are not in this graph because I haven’t formally worked for them, but 100% deserve a shoutout: JB and UG. JB is getting a shoutout because I’ve never worked with him yet he spent hours helping me with my thesis and understanding content that I did not have the background for. UG is my academic hero. I’ve read almost every one of his papers and, up until mid march, was convinced I’d be his student. My interests have diverged a bit, but I still hope i can work with him in the future.

I omitted compulsory, completely useless “freshman core” classes and a gender studies class that was a big waste of time

Colours: Colours: red = econ, purple = behavioural science, blue= maths, orange = history, green = stats. Arrows indicate if a class was a prerequisite of another.

My plan in high school was to major in Russian Studies. That plan fell apart when every uni except CMU rejected me. Plan B was to major in behavioual economics and history. That plan did not fall apart but it did change quite significantly. History major didn’t happen, pivoted towards econ and took 5 more maths classes than planned (thanks ERC). Not pictured are a slapdash (quickly abandoned) plan to add a psych minor, 2 independent projects and a game theory class that I wish I could erase from memory.

Overall, I really enjoyed my classes. All my professors were wonderful, supportive people, even if class experience varied. Some of them genuinely made an impact. Diff eq convinced me that maths wasn’t so bad. The professor managed to make an online class engaging and it inspired me to keep going and social network analysis has become my obsession. I didn’t take this class, but information economics changed the way I looked at the world.

Sidenote: CMU has a reputation for being a tough school. This can be true. I took the easy way out. Most of my classes were either extremely easy or extremely leniently graded. For the harder classes, I fell back on a robust support team of in-person friends and 2 discord servers. In some ways, this allowed me to focus more on research and build the previous graph of advisors. In other ways, it’s kind of left me in a compromised position. I’m going to have to take much harder classes in grad school and I’m not sure I’m prepared to handle the workload. It’ll… be…. fine…. ><

Wapping up

(insert sappy conclusion about looking forward)

… yeah….. I don’t do conclusions. I’ll just say that I’m super excited to get started in grad school!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: