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Freshman, Here’s What to Expect in a First Semester College Statistics Course!

Updated: Dec 12, 2018



Today is the first day of class. Some students are excited to learn about statistics while others may be slightly nervous because they have heard the horror stories about taking statistics. There are those who believe the class will be hard. On the other hand, there are those who don’t know what to expect at all.


As a professor, I’ve encountered numerous students who simply didn’t know what to expect in a first semester statistics course. Often times, when students don’t know what to expect, they are not fully prepared. Thus, it can (in some instances) affect their success in the course.


So, what can you expect?


First, be advised many first semester statistics courses are referred to as introductory statistics or elementary statistics. These courses provide an introduction in the world of statistics. There will be depth to these courses but not an overwhelming amount of content.


Second, these courses tend to focus on an applied approach to statistics. Since the course is applied, almost every problem will be a word problem. I am aware many students absolutely hate word problems. However, in order to apply the usefulness of statistics in various situations, word problems are required.


Third, many formulas and concepts will most likely be new to you. Unlike a typical algebra course, students haven’t encountered many statistical concepts in K-12. They may have learned some basic concepts such as computing a mean and drawing a bar graph. However, they haven’t delved into more advanced statistical concepts until now.


Fourth, you will encounter Greek letters. Students often joke and ask if this is Greek. Well yes, it is Greek! Greek letters will be used throughout the course to represent quantities. Greek letters are also often used in many statistical formulas. (Take a sneak peek at some of the formulas you can expect to see by viewing the Formulas and Tables in our free textbook!)


Fifth, you’ll be required to use critical thinking skills. The beauty of statistics is that you can see why and how it works. You can see the usefulness in action. It’s applicable to many fields of study. To thoroughly understand those applications, you’ll have to use critical thinking skills, logical thinking skills and analytical thinking skills.


Sixth and most importantly, you’ll be expected to know how to apply statistical concepts and not simply “do the math”. I’ve heard students tell me they can “do the math” but they don’t know how to apply the statistical concepts. Statistics is more than just doing the math. It involves collecting, organizing, summarizing and analyzing data. As professors, we ultimately want our students to draw conclusions, make decisions and communicate results. Even more so, we want our students to understand what “the numbers mean”. By using evidence and data, we want our students to make sound arguments to prove and/or question information.


Recall, you’re in college. It’s Not a High School Class. Professors are going to treat the course like a college level course. As a result, you are expected to perform at a collegiate level. Come to class prepared, listen in class, practice by doing your homework, study hard and you’ll be on a path to success in a first semester statistics course!


As a professor and the creator of Your Stat Class (a free online elementary statistics course that includes a textbook, videos, homework and tests), I've helped thousands of students learn statistics. Check out these resources today to see what you can expect! They're free! Click on the Introduction tab above to get started! www.yourstatclass.com

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