Wednesday, May 21, 2008

How I Spent (and will spend) My Summer Vacation

In preparation for my return to school in the fall (see Mid-life Crisis), I have been studying statistics in my free time. My return to school is for what Karyn refers to as my encore career. I start back at Boise State University in the fall for a second degree program in Biology with an Emphasis in Ecology.

I decided to start my studies early for a few reasons. First, I believe that I need to retrain myself for studying.  Being 17 years since I have completed a college course, I suspect my skills are a bit rusty. I also expect that I will need some study discipline work. One of my areas of concern is that in my current employment I have been a generalist with less emphasis on detail for close to 17 years. Many of my expected study areas will require a much higher focus on detail. Second, is that Boise State has accepted many of my previous degree credits as prerequisites for the new work.  Some of that prerequisite knowledge will be required in my future coursework. Since I completed these prerequisites 20 to 24 years ago, I am a bit concerned about my retained knowledge. The two specific areas I have identified where I will need that retained knowledge is in statistics and chemistry. Statistics knowledge will be required in many of my Biology courses. My Chemistry knowledge will be required for Organic Chemistry, which very well may be the hardest course I need to complete.

I chose to start with a focus on statistics.  I purchased the statistics book which is used by Boise State's statistics class so I could most closely align with the prerequisite expectations.

Introduction to the Practice of Statistics w/CD-ROM
by David S. Moore, George P. McCabe

Read more about this book...

To date I have completed a third of the book with exercises. This has enabled me to get into the daily studying routine. My observations so far have been very interesting. First, I am glad that I took this on as I remember less about statistics than I expected. The high level concepts are retained, but the detailed analysis and calculations seem completely foreign.  Second, the content has been easier than I expected.  This is probably due to some residual knowledge that I don't consciously realize that I have. I was surprised at the ease as I remember statistics being one of my hardest classes. I did have a higher level math stats course than what I am refreshing on now.  That could be the difference. I could also find that the remainder of the book gets much more difficult. Lastly, in completing the exercises my fear about details has proven to be true. I continuously make simple errors buried in the details such as simple mathematical errors that have nothing to do with the statistic concepts but definitely impact the results. I clearly need to step up my focus on the details which I have been focusing on for the past few study sessions.  It appears my investment in preparation is already paying dividends. I expect to complete the statistics work and start working ahead on my fall classes before the semester starts. In this way I would definitely fit the "non-traditional student" category.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

No comments: