How college is going

Being back at university studying mathematics more or less for the hell of it is actually quite an interesting experience. The whole independent study thing is hard from time to time, but what’s hardest about it is you have to do actual rent paying work around it and somehow, study is more fun on occasion. I’m just done with a block looking at iteration and matrices which was quite interesting, and also, with a stats block dealing with time series. The thing about time series – in one respect – is that they get used a lot on a very superficial by a lot of people…but in depth, there’s kind of a lot more, particularly in terms of predictive modelling.

I scored very, very well on both assignments linked to these modules and am about to move into calculus (again) and multivariates between the maths and the stats.

What people can’t quite get to grips with is that I’m actually doing this. Why, if you already have a degree and a couple of postgrads, and a job, would you go back and so something like maths. Maths is hard.

And it’s not like I need to.

This leads me to wonder about people’s motivation sometimes. When I look around, the people whose opinion I have, over the years, tended to value most, think that going back to college is a terrific thing, and that it’s awesome that I’m doing it. The ones who question the sanity of it, I have noticed, tend to be slightly more negative in their outlook about most of their daily life, and in particular, about the impact that decisions outside their control have on their lives. On balance, I wonder how many people assert control over their lives and how many just coast.

I was looking at maths courses for 2-3 years before I eventually signed up to the Open University. Dublin really only has one part time option which is the DIT and at the time I eventually rejected it, I was pretty sure it wasn’t right for me. The Open University while requiring a lot of independent time with the books, has proven to be more helpful. At the time which I started the course, there were some reorganisations going on at work, and quite a lot of people were suggesting that I, maybe, wait and see.

I have come to the conclusion that sometimes, “wait and see” is a corrosive piece of advice. If, for example, I had waited and seen a year in 2011, the changes in funding for OU courses would have made it financially out of the question. Sometimes, you really need to identify the right decision for yourself regardless of what other people think.

I scored 94 in the last maths assignment. It’s probably the highest mark I have gotten in anything since I was about 17 years old and I knew that the max I’d be scored from was 97 anyway. So I’m really, really pleased with this.

I don’t think waiting and seeing would have been the right thing to do. I’m very, very glad I did this even if it means I spend a lot of time curled up with numbers and symbols.