My Surprising Experience With Auditing Courses

As you all know, I’m taking advantage of the relative scarcity of work for me to do in the lead-up to my thesis defense by auditing a number of undergraduate courses in subjects which I have always found interesting/necessary, but never had time/opportunity to take.

I had initially wanted to take macroeconomics, computer science and creative writing. I was compelled, unfortunately, to not take creative writing on the ground that, as I could only audit it, I wouldn’t be given any feedback, so there was little point. So macroeconomics and computer science it was.

Macroeconomics has been disappointing thus far. It is well-taught, but frankly, being an introductory course, it is so elementary that I find myself constantly bored out of my head during each lecture. I am still considering enrolling in a Master’s program for employment reasons, but it’s looking less and less likely.

My Java course, on the other hand, has proved to be absolutely amazing. For a physicist, I know shamefully little of programming*, so each day is a revelation. Plus, it has this lovely creative problem-solving aspect, which has been so sorely missed from my physics courses of late. And I am, perhaps unsurprisingly, quite adept at thinking like a computer.

In any case, I’m amused that my courses each turned out to be pretty much the precise opposite of what I had been expecting.


*I’ve only ever worked on one project that involved numerical modelling. My professor insisted that I would ‘learn it as I go,’ except I’m afraid that that did not work at all.


About thevenerablecorvex

I have the heart of a poet, the brain of a theoretical physicist, and the wingspan of an albatross. I am also notable for my humility.
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8 Responses to My Surprising Experience With Auditing Courses

  1. I took economics (the AP version of both micro and macro) in high school. I remember only that I found the entire experience a hideous waste of time, because it was just applying some very simple logical rules, and once you understood the 2-4 rules, everything else was easy. I got perfect scores on the tests, and didn’t have to put any thought into it. But I also hated it… so incredibly mindnumbingly boring! Programming is super fun though. 🙂

  2. zinemin says:

    I like your combination of classes, too bad the creative writing one did not work out!
    I have always wanted to know more about macro-economics too. But it doesn’t surprise me too much that an introductory class at the University is probably the wrong level if you are used to working on Physics problems. It would be great if they could try to condense the entire economy Master into a 1- or 2-year program for people with a Physics or Maths degree. Doing classes that are going too slowly for one’s brain is just such a painful experience… I saw that there is a online “economics for scientists” class on coursera which has recently started, but even that might be too slow.

    • Oh, they would already allow me to take the economics master’s with my physics background. I’m just taking it at an undergraduate level right now to see whether or not it’s interesting.

      • zinemin says:

        Wow, that is nice! I need to check whether they also do that at my University. I always thought I would have to start again from scratch in case I wanted to get a 2nd degree outside of natural science.

  3. Anon says:

    So, are you considering perhaps doing a Masters or whatnot in comp sci/programming now, instead of Econ?

    • It’s a possibility, but probably not. You see, the advantage of Econ was that the Master’s program didn’t actually require any previous knowledge of the subject; I doubt that that would be the case with Comp Sci.

  4. n8chz says:

    This post reminds me of my easy and hard things to learn post because macroeconomics and object-oriented programming (i.e., Java) are both on my short list for hard things to learn. Please forgive my envy (but also accept my heartfelt admiration) upon learning that to you, macroeconomics is already second nature and the undergraduate course has nothing to teach you, and you take to Java like a duck to water. I’ve also read that you’re in the tutoring business…

    n8chz at yahoo dot ca

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