Facing Our Fears

MLHR students come from a variety of academic disciplines: art, music, business, economics, psychology, film, and journalism, just to name a few that I have heard during the past few weeks. Some have recently graduated with bachelor’s degrees, others have been out for a while, and there are a handful who are jointly tackling the program as undergraduates.

We all seem to have at least one class that intimidates us, though. And, in my completely unscientific, un-HR approved random sampling (aka overhearing classmate chatter), it seems like statistics scares the heck out of a lot of us. Maybe “scare” is too strong of a word, but there is an intimidation factor.

As an editor I worked with other folks who had journalism or English degrees. In my last job, “I’m an English major, you do the math,” was our group motto. Not exactly cheerleaders for statistics and probability. And yet, I get geeked looking at data spreads in the newspaper, or when I would compile the business review for our department. I don’t know how to reconcile this fear of stats class with my nerdy need to, as they would say in J school, “follow the numbers.”

Alas, statistical analysis is part of the MLHR curriculum and I understand why it is so important. Our professor is quite cognizant that some of us get nervous around numbers and does his best to “leave no man behind.” I appreciate that. After taking statistics 135 as an undergraduate in a large, sterile setting that only ignited my fear of scary numbers, I understand better the importance of a professor who genuinely wants us all to do well. For that, we thank you VB!

So as we all came together this week to turn in our first homework and take our first quiz, I could see that some of my classmates were just as nervous as me. There’s a strange comfort to that. Thankfully, the quiz was not the nightmare of my undergrad stats class, and I actually gained a little confidence. Now…what’s the probability that we’ll come out of this statistical success stories? I don’t know, but I think it’s pretty high.