Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Word Problems

What to do, what to do?
I need to register for another semester. But fall is a notoriously busy time, what with being strapped onto a freight train to Christmas beginning the day after Labor Day, so I need to choose carefully. I need some writing classes (because they’re required) but all of the classes available involve research and at least 3 papers. Not just work, but a SHITLOAD of work. So, I’m considering two possible options. My degree program requires two computer-related courses. I took one last year, so I have one more to go. One that looks interesting is titled “Introduction to Algorithms and Problem-Solving”. Really, it’s a math class, but there are no listed pre-requisites, so I might squeak through it relatively unscathed. After all, I can always use some more techniques in problem-solving, right? I have problems all the time! The “algorithm” part raises a red flag, but the “Introduction” is reassuring. See, the thing I like about a math class is that while I really have no talent for math, taking a math class involves showing up, studying and doing the classwork, taking a few tests, et voila. No projects, no research, no writer’s block, no looming deadlines…all of this is very appealing. Still, it’s math.

My other option is to take an elective, since I still need some credits. I’m thinking history. There are many classes which interest me, so my dilemma here is:
Class focusing on subject about which I know little or nothing? More interesting, but more work. OR
Class on US History, either 1900-1945, or 1945 to present day. About 20th century American history, I know a (comparative, when one considers that algorithms are on the table) SHITLOAD, so I could get a class out of the way, with little effort, but I probably wouldn’t learn much. And there’d probably be a damn research paper, too.

I have an advisor, but does she advise me? She does not. She tells me which classes I need and when and in which order I can take them, information which I can and do obtain myself with periodic degree progress audits that I can do online. If I asked her “which one should I take? Seriously, ADVISE me here”, she’d say something like “well, I think you have to consider your options and weigh your alternatives and make the decision that’s best for you at this particular juncture.” Not just unhelpful obfuscation but a SHITLOAD of unhelpful obfuscation. This is why I come to you, beloved and esteemed readers. Please comment and tell me which class you think I should take, and why.


Sauntering Soul said...

The thought of having to ever take another math class is probably the main reason I've never gone back to school post-bachelor's degree. So while my opinion is completely based on my total hatred of math, I vote for a history class.

FranIAm said...

See - I hate math. Seriously - hate, fear and loathe math. If only I had teachers like Mathman or MattyBoy when I was young.

But I did not.

That said - I vote math.

Really. Go. Do work. It will be fine.

If not I will erase this comment when you start stone cold hating on me!

CDP said...

SS--thank you! One vote history!

Fran--you shock me! I wouldn't have expected the math vote from you, but I will take it under advisement. I look forward to MM's and Matty's comments, though I know what they'll advise. And stone cold hate on you? Silly girl.

DCup said...

You know me, I vote history. I'm enamored of the period 1900-1945.

And whatorithms? Please. Just stop right there. You're making my teeth hurt. That's like supper talk or something at our house. (It's not easy to eat with my fingers in my ears.)

CDP said...

Dcup--you should have been born in about 1910, I think. And now your vote doesn't count, since you and Doug will cancel each other out.

jolie said...

OK, I'm weighing in here! I vote for the intro to algorithms class. I'm not math-y and totally would rather read, early 20th century history especially, but it sounds to me like you're looking for something that would reduce your writing burden; math would do that.

either way - good luck! and we know you'll do just fine, whichever choice you make.


Mathman6293 said...

Take from a Math Teacher go for the History Class. Most math teachers are boring as hell, not me of course.

The Lady Who Doesn't Lunch: said...

Take the history class and do the Jumble in the Sunday paper if you want to solve puzzles.

Algorithms is very risky and you are likely to get a teacher who is an arrogant ass.

Matty Boy said...

Fear not the algorithm. It's just a fancy word from Arabic that means "method". It comes from the name of Mohammed Ibn Musa Abu Jafar Al-Khowarizmi, and Al-Khowarizmi got changed to algorithm over time.

Find out what language they want you to write programs in and then I can give you some more specific advice.

Matty Boy said...

Oh, yeah. P.S. You got an award over at my place.

CDP said...


Mathman--you threw me a curve! See, if I knew that you or Matty would be the instructor, I'd sign up without hesitation.

Lady--well, that would be my natural inclination, but the thing is that I need one more computer-related course, and the algorithm one seems like the least loathsome of the available possibilities.

Matty--Thank you, I will definitely seek additional advice. And thanks for the awesome award!

Falwless said...

I dunno, I vote for the math. You're right -- no paper-writing, no complicated essay questions on exams. Go with the math, definitely. And if it turns out the math was a really, really poor choice, well, that's what this little garbage can icon is for underneath this comment of mine.

(You'll never be able to prove anything!)

BeckEye said...

I would never consider a class with the word "algorithm" in its name as an option. I wouldn't consider it anything but torture!

Jess Wundrun said...

Math sucks. I can count on one hand the six times I've failed at math.

Do the 1900-1945 history class and consider just how much of the repercussions of that era we are still suffering today. Hell, I'll write your paper for you.

(I looooooooooooooooooove writing papers. Seriously. No, Seriously. No I don't have a brown nose. Really)

CDP said...

Fal--I took a screen shot, sister, so you're on record.

Beck--trust me, it's the least dreadful of the (required) computer classes that I could choose from.

Jess--I like writing papers just fine, as long as someone else does the research and the citations. Can you be my graduate assistant? Thanks!

dguzman said...

I vote for history, but that is a lot of reading. Still--that is a great period to read about, almost as good as 1945 to now.

I'm taking chemistry this semester, which is STILL better than math! However, Matty Boy is great at helping you online with stuff--I emailed him several times and he always came through for me with the helps. THANK GOD I'm done with my math credits!

CDP said...

Dguzman--just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in. I'm still torn, but I will take Matty's advice and send him some more info on the course when I have it. Then maybe he can tell me whether I should take it or run like hell. Good luck with chem!

enc said...

Oh boy, well, I'm late to this party, but I'll plunge in. I vote go for the math, and then try to pad your schedule with easy stuff to counteract the cr@pulousness that is math.

Distributorcap said...

i have a sure shot A (aka as a gut)
no, not Italian Cinema, but Presidential Scholars of the 21st century

pistols at dawn said...

I would have taken the 1900-1945 history course for two reasons: 1) it stops 5 years short of the century's halfway mark, making it theoretically easier, and 2) learning about the Zimmerman Telegram is its own reward.

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