When you have BAD Grades

If there is one true teaching of Buddha, it is this: what you did in the past will follow you long after you forgetten them.

Likewise, my bad karma is my grade.

When I was looking for the general requirement for Graduate Schools, I noticed that I couldn't get pass any of the GPA requirement (for top-tier school). I want to get in top schools nonetheless, so what should I do to fix this? Here are the choices I can think of:

1. Get another degree first
- In my country, this is called "chooptua" or (figurative) coating yourself with shiny new degree to hide the ugliness underneath. I prefer to think of it as cleansing and reinventing yourself. This is overall the most reasonable choice. However, you must be financially secure (rich) to do this.

2. Get a stellar score on GMAT,GRE,TOEFL, or any test that the schools accept
- this way is quite difficult for a normal person, but it won't be much of a problem if you are smart and diligent enough (very)

3. Get an outstanding letter of recommendation (preferably from a famous professor)
- A glowing letter can easily tips the scale of the application commitee. It is another way to say that "I have an evidences that I'm qualified, besides my grades."

4. Experiences in the field
- How important this is depends on your position, the company you work for, times spent, and the field you're going to apply.

For me, I've already got some of #4. I hope to do #2, then get into #1 which also make #3 possible,all the while reinforcing #4.


Another Cross-road in Life

After working for 2 years since graduation, I thought that I have accumulated enough working experience and office politics. I began to realize that being a code monkey (programmer) is not what I want to do for the rest of my life. I want to explore other fields or careers. I also want to work abroad.

After some consideration, I thought that studying abroad would be my best chance. I get to see the world, which I wanted to do since I was a child, and the degree would make career change easier. It also enables me to work abroad.

So in order to do that, I resigned and started preparing for Graduate School.

However, choosing what to study has been more difficult that I expected. I know that I don't want to be JUST a programmer, but I don't know much about anything else. I also had dismal grades from my undergraduate adventures, but I decide that they will not limit my options.

Because of the high cost of Graduate Education, I take the decision very seriously. I asked myself what are the important criterias in choosing the field (that leads to a career), and came up with these 4 :

1. Interest - This is the most important values. I love challenges. I like the field that have a lot of them. I believe I can do any job in any field, but to do something for life, I must love doing it.

2. Environment - I cherish independence more than anything. The sheer thought of someone controlling me would destroy my productivity. Also, I like to be with smart people because they always have interesting things to say. (and also remind me how stupid I am)

3. Money (Family) - I want to earn at least enough money to feed my family. By feeding, I mean capable of supporting an upper middle-class family. I don't have an urge to have a big house or a fancy car, but in term of important things such as education, I want my family to have only the best.

4. Altruism - Lastly, I work for something that benefits mankind. No, I didn't mean it in a grand and dramatic way, but in a much smaller scale -- like having a shop in the neighbourhood so that people can buy stuff easier, or making a product that people can use.

Some of you might think that this is more like choosing a job than choosing a field, but I think they are all related. Some jobs are available in all fields, but some jobs aren't. Hence, we must find out what we like to do, in a particular field.

At the moment, I can picture myself doing these jobs: International Economist ( Economics), Financial Engineer (Finance), Software Architect (Computer Science), Psychologist (Psychology), Consultant (various fields), Researcher (various field), and Business Owner (MBA?)

I am very confused for the time being. I will definitely write up a new blog entry when I made up my mind.

Hell, I might be all of this combined -- An Owner of business which does research and give advices about International Financial Products (derivative securities) modeling. Hahahahahaa!

Have Faith in Facts

Do you think you are a reasonable person?
Do you think logically and base your decision on facts?

I used to think I'm quite a fact-based decider, but after reading Thomas Sowell's articles, I'm not sure anymore. (By the way, Thomas Sowell is a famous economist, and also my hero.)

Studies Prove: Part I
Studies Prove: Part II
Studies Prove: Part III

The articles are mainly about the decision that is based on "studies" or "evidence", is in fact not true at all. Many government funded studies, such as Global Warming, try to provide one-sided evidences that is conformed to what people want to believe.

Sowell himself used to read one scientific study which cited 6 other studies. He somehow doubted the validity of this study, and went to check all 6 references. Shockingly, he found out that these 6 references all cited the same other study! So he went to check that particular study, and to his horror, it was a study of a very different situation from the latest study (which cited it!)

So What should we do?

It would be time-consuming, and sometime impossible for the average person to check ALL the references. In other word, most of the time we have to trust the source that it is telling the truth.

But there are other method to make the right decision. You can make a lot of decisions until you find the right one. This is sometimes the best method because it actually saved more time and effort than to analyze the decision first.

Lately, I tend to notice that I use the study-it-first method for all the decision I made. I hoard data by reading books, interviewing people, and searching the internet before carefully making a decision. The result is, I am still wrong sometime, and it was VERY time consuming.

Perhaps, it is better to fail as much as possible, than attempting to succeed at the first try!

Minimum Wage Debate

It turns out that increasing minimum wage doesn't affect unemployment as much as we think, according to this article.

In fact, the power of the minimum wage to kill jobs has been greatly overestimated. Nowadays, most labor economists will tell you that that minimum wages have at most a tiny impact on employment.

Twenty years ago, they'd have told you otherwise. Back then, dozens of published studies concluded that minimum wages had put a lot of people (especially teenagers, blacks, and women) out of work.

As the studies continued to pile up, you might think we'd have grown more confident about their common conclusion. Instead, the opposite happened. Even though the studies were all in agreement, they managed to
undercut each other.