My impressions of college: a follow up of another topic
Some months ago I opened this topic because I had no idea of what I should study in college. Here: http://www.theverge.com/2013/11/29/5156274/i-need-to-choose-what-ill-study-in-college
Well, I thought it would be nice if I made a follow-up article, and here it goes (sorry for the poor English, it's pretty rusty, and for the length of the post):
First of all, I passed both FGV vestibulares, the one for the Law school and for the Economics school. I did very, very well at the Law one (56th - 155 people have been approved) and well enough at the Economics exam (144th out of 165). I did fairly well at USP's exam but I haven't been approved. However, I did get into USP's History school - I'll talk about this later.
I've chosen the Sao Paulo School of Economics (FGV-EESP). I'm currently fairly sure that I made the right field choice, but I think I would be happier at University of Sao Paulo (USP)'s FEA - School of Economics, Business and Accounting. More on this later too.
My impressions: FGV-EESP is a school without any parallel. The grand total of undergraduate students is 140. To give you an idea, FGV-EAESP, FGV's school of Business and Public Policy has 1700. The Law School has 210. This size is an amazing feature of EESP: I could say that I know every single rookie and 3/4 of the sophomores of my school. It's located in a narrow, fairly tall building next to the larger EAESP one.
It is hard to get through EESP. The 3rd year (I don't know the name of it in American colleges) has mere 20 students, out of 55 that got into it. Why? Well, many may quit because they end up not liking economics, but 15 of them have been or expelled because of "poor" academic performance or quitted because they were in the brink of it. It's easily the most difficult course in Sao Paulo city, and probably the 3rd most difficult in Brazil, after the two military engineering schools, ITA and IME (both of them have dropouts as EESP rookies, amazingly).
EESP uses the PBL - Problem Based Learning - method. It's quite strange to study Calculus or Financial Maths in tutorial discussions, but the overall experience has been nice. I usually go to EESP by subway at 8 AM and go back home from 3 to 7 PM, depending of the tutorial studies I have to do. My classes/tutorials start at 9 AM, ending at 1 PM. For a person that never studied after getting back from school, it's a very difficult routine, but I'm enjoying it. We have a studies area in the 5th floor that is amazing.
My "Opening Class" was with Brazil's Economy Minister (it's officially the Fazenda Minister, but Economy minister is a better translation) Guido Mantega. Even if I disagree with many of his policies, its management of inflation, etcetera, it was a nice experience. After he quits the government, he we'll get back to FGV, and will be a professor at EESP. Before getting into the government, he taught at FGV-EAESP. He "quitted" FGV before EESP was created.
In the first trimester, we have started Maths I, a semestral course (It is the equivalent of Calculus I and II in Brazil (both of them normally thought in 1 semester each), or 101 and 102 in the US (not sure of the latter, though)), Programming and Problem Solving (Excel + VBA + Matlab), Financial Maths (fancy interest calculations, amortization, HP 12C usage), Introduction to Economics (basic concepts such as efficiency, elasticity, supply/demand curves...), as well as an Introduction to PBL course.
In the meantime, USP opened it's "rechoice" phase of the FUVEST exam. I've applied for the Engineering School, but I've been able to apply for some unfilled spots at USP's FFLCH - School of Philosophy, Linguistics and Humanities - History school. I've passed. I had classes at night for a week and then quitted. It was too hard to study for EESP and do a second, "hobby" university at night.
I made a lot of friends at EESP, many of them are Libertarian. I'me one of them, but I could say that i had never met a Libertarian personally before college. Why I'm saying this right after my paragraph about FFLCH? Well, USP, and especially FFLCH school is mainly known as the most staunchly left-wing school in the nation. The History/Geography building is widely known for it's communist ads (such as one condemning the "Euro-Fascist coup in Ukraine, standing with the Ukrainian proletariat", made by FFLCH's "Marxist-Leninist" Group. And yes, there are still Leninists in 2014, at least at FFLCH).
Well, everything was doing well until I started having problems with Calculus. We are already beginning integral (every other school in Brazil, with the exception of IME and ITA, is still beginning differentiation). Then came the tests. At Introduction to Economics partial test I had EESP's rookies highest grade, 9,75/10. At Maths I, however, things have been quite different. I would be overestimating by grade I scored 4/10 - the grades haven't been announced yet.
That made me think: should I stay at EESP? I like Economics, but EESP's focus, Financial Services Economics, applied Microeconomics and Econometrics, are far from my interests or abilities (with the exception of Microeconomics). I'm a great humanist, but I'm absolutely terrible at "pure" maths. A friend of mine at EESP (an ITA dropout) says that I'll make peace with maths when I start learning Statistics, but I'm not so sure. If I want to go to FEA-USP (where the focus is Macroeconomics and the "humanist" part of Economics) I need to drop out of EESP (or "lock" the course, being able to get back for two years) in the next semester, as I need to get into one of the vestibular-preparatory courses. With my FUVEST grade I would get into FEA-USP's Economics course, but by a very thin margin (I scored 649, the worst entrant scored 638). I got pretty rusty after some months without practicing Algebra, Writing or Physics. Economics has the fourth highest grade of admission, being lower than the Medical School, the Polytechnic School of Engineering and the Aeronautical Engineering course of the upstate Sao Carlos Engineering School.
I'm fairly clueless of what to do. I don't know if I stay at EESP, if I move to FEA or if I move to one of the two courses of FGV-EAESP, Public Policy or Business, both of them are a lot easier to get trough. If you can advice me, I would be happy.
If I go to Public Policy, my professional future would be pretty limited - it's a very, very interesting course and a dramatically easier to get trough, as 90% of the classes are about humanities. If I go to Business School, I would have a broad professional field, but I still think that it is a course that would not help me at all on broadening the way I see the world - this is something that I value a lot.
If I go to FEA, I would be worried of not finding a great job, because the abilities of its undergraduates are not that rewarded by the professional market. If I stay at EESP, I worry that I will be forced to drop-out. But I still think that would be nice to be "employable" by Investment Banks, which offer the best-paying jobs in Brazil, by a wide margin. It's a very stressful job, though. An EESP senior that is currently an intern once said to me that its bonus for the first year at Credit Suisse would be "well over $150,000", but he only gets back home after 1 AM.
Sorry for the lengthy post, but I expressed my feelings, and I hope there's some economist here that could guide me.
At the ending, a few pics of EESP: