Wow!

My copy of Introduction to Analysis came in the mail this morning. That was quick. Go Amazon. A quick scan of the TOC and contents has given me the distinct impression that I’ve been wasting my time in freshman calculus courses…

Anyway, my previous post got me thinking. Grad school will be the first time I’ll be in charge of my own agenda. I’ll be able to decide what to study and when to study it. This wasn’t true in undergrad or at work.

In school, besides the few electives I was allowed, the classes I took were pre-determined by the programs I was in. I didn’t choose the reading material or the topics to cover. My job was to show up and learn the material.

I do have to admit that I’ve had a lot of leeway in my job. The folks there have given me the space to explore new things and new ways of doing things. Ultimately however, I was beholden to their agenda. I didn’t set strategy, I followed their strategy.

So grad school will be an opportunity to set my own strategy, to decide what is important. This is liberating and exciting, but I’m afraid that I’m not entirely sure how to handle the logistics. How do you decide, among the many things you want to study, what to actually spend your time on? How do balance researching a broad set of topics with the need to have in-depth knowledge in some areas?

I’ve already run into this problem with my growing to-read (or re-read) pile. Added to my routine reading, I have my econ textbooks to review. Math, statistics and econometrics. Japanese history. Several important economics books. Several other fun things I want to read. The question, “What to read first?” puts me a certain state of paralysis. Because I can’t decide were to start, I have hard time starting.

I guess it hit me that grad school or not, time to study is limited. Yet the number of things to study (in terms of subjects and depth within a subject) is limitless. My optimization problem then is to figure out what and when to study.

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