ISU classes: A Review

The School of Athens

The School of Athens

I had my last ever final paper today at ISU.

Here's a review of all the classes I took during my time here.

Spring 2021

I started classes at ISU from Malaysia, and I remember one of the labs was at 3 a.m every Wednesday. I had to sleep at 10 a.m. and wake up at 3 for the lab, do a quiz at the end of the lab, and go back to sleep at 5 a.m. I had to do this for a semester. Other classes are all around 11 p.m.

  • STAT 341: Introduction to the Theory of Probability and Statistics I
    • my first statistics class where I was introduced to transformation of random variables, moment generating functions, joint distributions. The class was online, so I would 2x the lecture videos from an indian professor with a heavy accent. The Chinese TA was nice, her lab sessions helped a lot.
  • COM S 227: Object-Oriented Programming
    • My first ever time touching Java, and unfortunately wasn't my last. I hate Eclipse, horrible software. Labs were fun tho, I can still hear the voice effects of Webex when you get admitted into a room like it was yesterday. It was my first exposure to Zybooks and writing code on a text input area in a lockdown browser. It was stressful times, I remember my laptop crashing during the exam.
  • LD ST 322: Leadership in a Diverse Society
    • I really liked the positive vibes of the professor, he would have weekly recorded videos, and I learned about things like gender equality, power, privilege, emotional intelligence, and social identities. I also got the chance to interview Dale, a super kind and loving church friend.
  • ENGL 150: Critical Thinking and Communication
    • lots of writing exercises, wrote about failing my driving test, made a poster about DJI FPV and presented it. It was funny reading my writing from 2 years ago. Realize I did achieve some of the goals I set for myself, and never realized I had that drive and attitude back then.

Summer 2021

  • COM S 228: Introduction to Data Structures
    • the professor was interesting, he would write in a matrix themed text editor as he taught the class. Learned about inheritance and polymorphism, search, linked list, stacks, trees, maps, hashtables and heaps, and graphs.

Fall 2021

I flew in to ISU in this semester. Felt really free after being trapped in the house for a year.

  • STAT 110: Statistics Orientation
    • I met some friendly people here. We would have weekly compulsory activities and had to take pictures of ourselves meeting up. Never saw them since the class.
  • STAT 301: Intermediate Statistical Concepts And Methods
    • This class was standard statistics stuff like regression, anova, hypo test, etc. I had to use JMP, a software for boomers to do statistics. I liked making the two page cheatsheets for the exams. I had to work some americans in a team for the project and labs.
  • STAT 342: Introduction To The Theory Of Probability And Statistics II
    • This class is supposed to be hard, but the professors made it easy in exams? I remember she gave us back the test papers to "correct our mistake" to give us more marks. As someone from Malaysia, this was funny, but also made me realize the quality of education here. It had topics like Method of Moments, MLE, bias and unbiased, factorization theorem, MVUE, sufficient statistics. All these heavy stats concepts. I remember this korean dude that always went to me for answers, and would swear in korean under his breath during the exams.
  • COM S 230: Discrete Computational Structures
    • this is the most theoretical CS class I had to take for my minor. taught by a former MIT undergrad student. It's basically a math course but for cs. I remember getting a pretty low score in my first exam, which scared me into taking this class more seriously. The logic, proofs, sets, counting and graphs were fine, but relations and set cardinality were hard to grasp. The TA, Jonathan is the hard carry in helping my friends and I get through this course. I have major respect for good TAs.
  • ENGL 250: Written, Oral, Visual, And Electronic Composition
    • my first ever in person english class experience in the US. It was just me and J who were not americans and white and loud. I felt discriminated in this class, maybe it was just in my head, but it was hard to fit in. I went through my assignments and found that I wrote an interview piece with Harry Styles for his Fine Line album lol. The in-class and outdoors activities were a huge struggle to get out of my comfort zone, but it was a good experience nonetheless.
  • U ST 110 International First Year Seminar
    • This class is basically meeting up once a week for some activities, talks from ISU staff, one time the police came to talk about safety. I got to give a panel talk this year for this class, full circle.

Spring 2022

I came back from Malaysia and had a really bad flare up where I couldn't swallow food. I had to apply for a medical reduced course load. So I only took these two classes.

  • COM S 311: Introduction To The Design And Analysis Of Algorithms
    • this class was challenging and fun. Taught me how to think like a computer scientist and learned some important concepts in CS: the sorting and searching algorithms, data structures, graphs, and NP-completeness. I remember working on the HWs with my friends at the library, discussing about the solutions together. I was also surprised that I got good grades in my finals, I remember thinking, "wait, I did well?"
  • THTRE 110: Theatre and Society
    • took this class cause it was required. basically just got answers from a friend for the online quizzes.

Fall 2022

I came back from California and felt pretty depressed. Really disliked Iowa ever since. I missed the highs in the bay area, the friends, and the energy.

  • STAT 471: Introduction to Experimental Design
    • this class is interesting and relates to experimentation in tech, but it was hard to relate the concepts and fully comprehend them. I felt like I was just getting by. Concepts like subsampling, variance components, interaction, factorial treatment, split plots, blocking. It all felt really agriculture-centric. I wish a CS professor taught me this class.
  • STAT 475: Introduction to Multivariate Data Analysis
    • The chinese professor teaching this class was literally just reading the slides. I could see his inexperience in teaching. I stopped going classes after two weeks. The exams were open book. I remember listening to music on my airpods while taking the test lol.
  • STAT 484: Computer Processing of Scientific Data
    • I had to learn SAS in this class. A SQL-like and boring language that I'll never have to use ever in my life. Just use Python guys.
  • ENGL 314: Technical Communication
    • This class is a joke, I got a B+. I wrote a technical document about air fryers and how to make a fruit fly trap. If only ChatGPT came out during this time.

Spring 2023

I went to Tokyo and then Malaysia, and came back in the cold and depressing land of corn. At this point, I really wanted to get done. I was applying for internships since the previous semester, and wasn't getting anything at all.

  • STAT 486: Introduction To Statistical Computing
    • my research professor taught this class, it's weird to take a class with someone you work with, especially when he knows you skip his class, and says things like "if you came to my class you would know X or Y"
  • STAT 474: Introduction To Bayesian Data Analysis
    • This is the hardest statistics class I took at my time here. I thought it would be fun and interesting, but oh boy was I wrong. I got the lowest in a class of 11 of other grad students in the first exam, and overall a B+. Maybe it was because I barely studied or reviewed the materials, but I felt pretty dumb in this class, like there's a concept that I just couldn't hold in my hands, it kept slipping away like sand. Maybe I had to concentrate my efforts more, be more curious, and hard working.
  • S E 419: Software Tools For Large Scale Data Analysis
    • took this class for fun because it kinda relates to data engineering, but it taught pretty old stuff, and never liked the professors classes, so I lost interest really quick. I only went to the required labs, which forced me to borrow a windows for school to do the assignments.
  • COM S 472: Principles Of Artificial Intelligence
    • I had fun with the programming exercises. Never went to class after the first 2 weeks. studying for midterms and finals just involved 2x speed a few days before, and taking notes on notion.

Fall 2023

I left this one final class so I could graduate with my sister. Initially I felt like it was bad planning, I could've just graduated in May and went full time at Tesla, but this entire semester was chill and I got to experience things I never did before and do things I enjoy, which I'm grateful about.

  • STAT 483: Empirical Methods For The Computational Sciences
    • This was my last statistics class and I just completely lost interest in statistics. The professor (Kris De Brabanter) was actually nice and enthusiastic, but with the things I went through during this semester, it was just a means to an end. His exams were open notes and easy, so I'm thankful for that.

Overall, was a statistics degree worth it? Am I now a statistician? Do I have more statistics knowledge than an average person? I am not sure. I read through some of the lectures and exams and a lot of those concepts seem remote to me. I couldn't even recognize my own homeworks.

Maybe majoring in software engineering/CS could've given me a better transition into a CS grad degree, and I could've hung out with my friends more in their classes, but hindsight is always 20/20.

I can only move forward, and focus on going into the next stage of my life.