Chapter Twenty-Two: The Mathematical Solution to Decision Making – At Last! (~jinghan)

And so I went to see the academic advisor at the science student center after making an appointment- they were  only able to give me vague details, but directed me to see the Graduate School of Science. (That makes sense.)

And so I totter up the Graduate School of Science, and am pleasantly surprised to be talked to on the stop without all the appointment making you have to do at the Science Student Center. (I guess they don’t have 1500+ students to deal with…) I’m told how likely I’ll get into the course and that I can apply for both Masters of Science and  Masters of Teaching and put a preference order and decline if I change my mind after getting an acceptance. That’s good! That’ll get the deadlines off my shoulders at least while I continue to find out more about what I want to do. But they don’t know anything about the lineup of possible subjects I’ve been dragging around hoping someone can help me with, instead they direct me to the co-ordinator of the masters in maths.

I go to see the co-ordinator of the masters in maths. He’s more than happy to encourage me to do masters, tells me about potential changes to the prerequisites to subjects I wanted to do which works out well for me. Reassures me that I have lots of time to work out what my research project should be.

Okay so it feels like things are more sorted out in terms of what I need to do in terms of applications and subjects I will do… but I’m still not sure whether I want to do this. “But Mum, I’m worried that I’ll run out of motivation for it by the end…” I tell my mum as I think about how maths is no longer that subject that I enjoy because it just makes sense straight off, and how now I am finally starting to understand what other students mean when they ask “what’s the point of all this?” as they struggle with maths through high school. “It’s not about motivation, really. You can’t depend on that. It’s about determination. You can do anything if you put your mind to it.” It’s somewhat reassuring, but really, I just switched from asking myself “do I have the motivation for it?” to “do I have the determination for it?”

In such a manner I am lamenting to a friend. She offers an interesting solution that her Dad uses.

Dad’s way of deciding tricky things:
You make two columns: one for positives and one for negatives. Then you rate each positive/negative out of ten in terms of how much it matters to you. Add up the totals and compare them. 
It’s a pretty good method (gotta let your emotions drive the ratings, though, or else you’ll just end up doing something which makes intellectual sense but is actually stupid). I’ve used it once or twice when I really wasn’t sure what to do. It helps get one’s thoughts in order.

What do I have to loose? So following an example she gave me I write up my columns:

To do masters in maths:

Flexibility for career change if I don’t want to teach later +3
Teaching opportunities/potential for teacher qualification requirements to go up +5
Opportunity to experience research/different education style +3
More time to settle back into melbourne life/get a grip of myself +3
Opportunity to keep doing volunteer work in schools/tutor undergrads +3
Chance to learn statistics and to see applied side of maths +3
Can always do teaching afterwards +1

total: 21

Two years more of study +1
Might run out of motivation determination +4
Might not be smart enough for it/run out of ego +2
I’m not sure I’m all that crash hot on research +5
Have to spend a lot of time working out which research I want to do +1

total: 13

So the positives win. I was sort of expecting it all along, but I wasn’t expecting it to feel so clear cut at the end. And there’s always something nice about using maths to sort out problems… well at least for me. Something nice and definitive about it.

“Haha I like it,” I write back to my friend, “I realise that I have a lot going for doing masters, but I have stronger fears about running out of determination/ego and being wary of research that in my head the balance is less clear cut. But in light of the above I feel like I should just suck it up =p”