Economics + Computer Science
At a Glance
Hi there! My name is Andrew and I'm currently in my fourth year out of five here at Western. I am a student in both the faculty of Science and Social Science pursuing a Double Honours Specialization in Economics and Computer Science.
WHY ECONOMICS AND COMPUTER SCIENCE?
Looking back it's funny how where I thought I was going looks nothing like where I ended up. I had always been a math guy, writing not so much. In grade 11/12 I started to get really into finance and accounting, so I thought IVEY would be a natural fit. Economics seems like a good place to start as it was mostly math, and it would set me up well for the business side of things by third year.
I wanted to go to Queen’s, but getting in (probably the essay, again I don’t write well). I am from Waterloo so I had applied to a finance and accounting program there. I made a deal to myself, either I get AEO and go to Wetsern, or don’t and go to Waterloo. I didn’t think too much about the choice after that. Once the AEO letter came in, I was going.
Economics was challenging, interesting, and fun for me. By the end of first year, I didn’t want to go to IVEY anymore. My parents are both CS majors, so I was required to take CS 1026, did well and thought why not do more CS in undergrad. With some technical restriction and course conflicts, I went from doing an Honours Specialization and a Major, to two Honours Specializations. Would have taken me five years either way with the administrative issues that came up.
MY FIRST YEAR COURSES
As I mentioned I started in first year as an Economics student. So while I eventually needed CS 1026 and CS 1027 for the CompSci side of things, I did not take CS 1027 in first year (which I continue to regret). Economics is generally a smaller program, but the classes you take in first year are similar to a lot of other programs. ECON 1021 is taken by 800 students every year. Honours Economics has 2.5 mandatory credits and 2.5 elective.
I was warned about this class in high school, not the one at Western specifically, but Linear Algebra in general. The first bit is vector, you will have seen it before. Then things start getting out of hand. Midterm average was 80%, the average for the final exam was 45%. Marks were partly due to material, partly teaching style, but I can’t stress enough how on top of this class you have to be. The sad part is you will almost never use the class material again in undergrad, unless like me you take unnecessary advanced math classes in third and fourth year.
So for economics, you need a full credit of calculus to be in honours the following year. You have a few options, either take 1000, then take 1301 and get an 85% in the class, or 1501 and get at least a 65%. As you continue to read about my first year, you will find I took the former route. I mentioned I am a math person, so knowing I would do well in most first year math courses, I went for the easier class and the higher requirement. It worked out for me, and if you did well in highschool (AP math maybe), the 85% in 1301 is doable.
First semester calculus was fairly straightforward. I only did regular grade 12 math, and the course was just review for the first two months. Things started to pick up after the midterm, but was still manageable. For this class, practice and specifically practice tests are key. The bookstore sells practice and old exams for Calc 1000. They are very helpful as final exam questions are not usually like textbook questions. The more practice you do the better, and I would focus on practice exams.
Second semester calculus starts off as a review of first semester. You may, like me, get too comfortable and think it's too easy and put it on the back burner. It does sneak up on you. Staying on top of this class is necessary, and just like Calc 1000, practice exams are key.
For anyone that has coded before, this is a simple class. The progression is straightforward, and the material is understandable. The assignments do take some time, but it can be manageable as long as you start early. The only thing about the course that can be irritating is that code for exams is written by hand, and syntax is a hard thing to maintain on just paper.
Probably the course that took the most time week on week. This is a memorization course. There are four exams, all multiple choice. Very few practice questions are provided, the readings are important. Taking very accurate notes on the readings and lectures are essential.
There are two essays in this class as well. This may be your first essay of undergrad, so a few things to keep in mind:
Your basic paragraph structure you learned in high school is not necessary.
Edit edit edit your paper (get others to edit too)
Outline your work, used the TA’s and profs as walls to bounce idea’s off
First semester economics is micro (supply demand, game theory, etc). While economics is mostly a math discipline, the first year classes are very easy on the math (equation of a line kinda stuff). This course is about understanding over memorization. How things work is much more important to then trying to memorize every case. There are usually quizzes each week, two midterm and a final.
This is one of two first year MOS classes, Accounting and Finance. This is another memorization class. Detailed notes of each lecture and the respective readings will get you far. Class is just two midterms and a final, and the average generally increases after each exam.
My favorite class of first year. Being a math person I thought it was a good choice. This course is very much an introduction of social security. The class is a combination of memorization and understanding, and is also a good way to learn about how government programs work. The value of this class extends far beyond your undergraduate experience.
Second semester economics is marco (GDP, unemployment, trade, etc). The math can be a little more complicated, and the course builds on the first semester pretty heavily. The course ends with a chapter combining work from the entire semester, so forgetting early sections after the midterms will not do you any favours.
KEY BUILDINGS ON CAMPUS
1151 Richmond St, London, ON N6A 3K7
UNIVERSITY COMMUNITY CENTRE
1151 Richmond St, London, ON N6A 2K5
SOCIAL SCIENCE CENTRE
1151 Richmond St, London, ON N6G 2V4
MY FAVOURITE STUDY SPOTS ON CAMPUS
Grad club (basement of middlesex)
Residence study rooms
If someone started a facebook chat for your program/class, find it (or if you don’t find it, start it
MATH HELP CENTRE
The math department runs a help center every day 2-6pm in middlesex collage. It is staffed by graduate students and you can go in whenever, sit down, and when you have a question just raise your hand. They can help in any and all undergraduate course (ie, even after first year)
ECON HELP CENTRE
The economics department funds a group of mainly fourth year students to run a help centre throughout the week. They help with any undergraduate economics class, and have all done well in their program thus far.
FINAL WORDS OF WISDOM
YOUR HABITS DETERMINE YOUR OUTCOMES
I have lived in residence for four years, and some things remain consistent. Past success in high school does not guarantee success in first year (or after for that matter). Habits, good and bad, will determine your outcomes. Progress is never a 180 degree turnaround. Take marginal steps to get closer to where you want to be. No one has ever said you can’t be successful in school and have fun while doing it.
Ask for help as well. You will run into a wall in at least one class no matter the program, I guarantee it. There is help around you, in and out of residence, TA’s and profs, resources on campus, use them. Every single year I have seen that the most successful students are the ones that admit they need help, and seek it out before the worst happens.