Expert advice for intending students

01 November 2018

Expert advice for intending students

Are you keen to study undergraduate statistics at the University of Auckland? If so, you may get to know Christine Miller and David Smith.

Both are Professional Teaching Fellows in the Department of Statistics, but they have also been the department’s undergraduate advisers for more than 20 years each – so they are experts at guiding students.

The pair’s main role is to help students work out what courses best suit their needs.

Some students arrive with no idea what they want to study, says Christine, while others want to know what courses match their preferred career path.

Some need help navigating programme and degree regulations or getting their timetables in order. Weaker students may need help to work out which courses are still open to them – some courses have additional entry requirements.

In general, students are advised to read course information and regulations before they see an adviser, says Christine, but she adds that “sometimes this is what has confused students and leads them to come and see us”.

Ask Christine and David their top tips for intending students, they come up with a useful list – it’s a good primer for any student not just those pursuing statistics:

  • Some students think that year 1 means they study only stage 1 courses, year 2 all stage 2 courses, and year 3 all stage 3 courses – but students can actually mix and match levels, as long as they have done the prerequisites. However, says David, it’s not a good idea for students to set up their programmes so that they are doing large blocks of stage 3 courses in their last semester: “That’s a heavy workload”.
  • Students need to pace themselves.  Four courses a semester is enough. If students are failing, doing five courses in one semester to catch up is risky. Christine and David have noted that a fifth paper in a semester usually leads to slightly lower grades for all courses across that semester.
  • If students need to repeat a course and can do it at summer school, it’s best that this course is their only summer school activity. “Repeating a course in summer school and focusing on just that course tends to lead to a far better outcome,” says David.
  • It is likely that students will change their mind about their direction during their programme or degree, so it’s a good idea they have the groundwork courses covered – the ones that students must have to advance – so they can change without costing extra time and possibly money.

And most importantly, says David, students should study topics that they are interested in and enjoy, as they are more likely to do well.

Christine Miller
Christine Miller
David Smith
David Smith