Information about Economics Classes for Incoming Freshmen in the Class of 2017
Welcome to Cornell, and thank you for your interest in Economics!
As undeclared students, your main contacts in the Department of Economics will be Professor Ted O'Donoghue, who is the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS), and Professor Jennifer Wissink, who is the Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies (Associate DUS). Professor O'Donoghue and Professor Wissink will both hold regular office hours during the academic year. In addition, they will both monitor and respond to emails sent to the Economics DUS email account (email@example.com).
As you should know, the College of Arts & Sciences will hold an Open House for incoming students on Sunday, August 25th from 1pm-3pm (details will come from the College). The Economics Department will have an information table at the Open House, and Professor O'Donoghue and Professor Wissink will both be present. We encourage you to drop by our table to meet us, and to get answers to any questions that you might have.
In the meantime, we have put together the following list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) designed to cover many points of confusion for incoming freshman. If your question is not on the list below, and if you'd like an answer prior to the Arts & Sciences Open House, please feel welcome to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. (The questions below are limited to issues that apply to incoming freshmen --- for a more extensive set of FAQs covering the full Economics Major, explore the rest of this site.)
Note: We understand that incoming freshman have been asked in July to enroll for their fall courses. However, students will have ample opportunity to adjust their schedules after arriving on campus in late August. Hence, again, we encourage you to drop by our table at the Arts & Sciences Open House on August 25th to ask questions, and then you can adjust your schedules at that time.
FAQs about ECON Classes (primarily) for Incoming Freshmen
Q1: If I have placed out of Intro Micro (Intro Macro) --- e.g., by receiving a 4 or 5 on the AP exam --- should I take Intermediate Micro (Intermediate Macro), Accelerated Micro (Accelerated Macro), or take the intro class again for good measure?
In general, if you have placed out of an intro class, you should feel
ready to take the intermediate class in that area. If you want, however,
you are allowed to forfeit the AP credit and take the intro class again
at Cornell. Whether or not you should immediately enroll in the intermediate
class depends on how strong your econ background is and how strong your
math and study skills are coming into Cornell. You should also consider
how much you want to push yourself during your first semester at Cornell.
As you think about enrolling in intermediate classes, please keep two things in mind. First, Intermediate Micro and Accelerated Micro (Intermediate Macro and Accelerated Macro) both require calculus as a prerequisite (Math 1110 or an equivalent). Second, Accelerated Micro and Macro are designed to serve as an elective course for non-majors who have strong analytical skills and a strong mathematical background, and the courses also serve Economics Majors with strong analytical skills and strong mathematical backgrounds who can handle a more advanced treatment. These courses can have a large number of non-freshman, which is also something to keep in mind.
Finally, we note that a common plan for people who place out of both Intro Micro and Intro Macro is to take a math course in the fall (either Math 1110 or a subsequent course in multi-variable calculus) and then take an intermediate class in the spring. Similarly, a common plan for people who place out of only one of Intro Micro and Intro Macro is to take the other course in the fall along with a math course, and then take an intermediate class in the spring.
If after reading this you are still unsure which route to take, your best bet is to talk with Prof. O'Donoghue or Professor Wissink when you arrive at Cornell --- e.g., at the Arts & Sciences Open House --- so that they can suggest a plan that best fits your situation.
Q2: Does it matter in what order I take Intro Micro and Intro Macro?
No, Intro Micro and Intro Macro can be taken in either order. Note, by the way, that the same is true for Intermediate Micro and Intermediate Macro.
Q3: Can I take Intro Micro and Intro Macro during the same semester?
Yes. That said, you may want to be sensitive to test schedules for the classes, since they often fall on the same day.
Q4: If I take Accelerated Micro do I have to take Accelerated Macro?
No, it is perfectly fine to take Accelerated Micro and Intermediate Macro.
Q5: Can I take Accelerated Macro if I did not take Accelerated Micro?
Yes, but only if you have already taken Intermediate Micro instead --- because a prerequisite for Accelerated Macro is either Accelerated Micro or Intermediate Micro.
Q6: I placed out of Intro Micro (Intro Macro) so I am planning to
take both Intro Macro (Intro Micro) and Intermediate Micro (Intermediate
Macro) during the same semester. Is that OK?
Yes, this is ok. However you might want to make sure that you are not biting off more than you can chew, especially in the fall semester of your freshman year. The intro and intermediate core classes are taught every semester, so there are plenty of options.
Q7: If I have placed out of Math 1110 --- e.g., via a calculus AP
exam or via the Math Department's placement exam --- and I am planning
to be an economics major, should I take more math?
You don't have to; it's not required for the major. But more math is certainly beneficial, both in Econ coursework at Cornell (you'll understand the material better, even if the presentation in class is not explicitly mathematical) and after Cornell. How much additional math we suggest you take depends on your intended educational and career path. This is something to discuss in person with faculty in the Econ program once you arrive at Cornell.
Q8: What do I do if the class I want to take is closed?
Keep trying on the Cornell Drop/Add system --- people add and drop frequently, especially at the start of the semester. In addition, professors sometimes keep waiting lists or grant special priority. Any policies with regard to waiting lists and special priorities are entirely up to the professor teaching the course, so make sure you communicate with that person directly. Attend lecture on the first day of class, since the professor will often announce his/her policy. You may want to send an email to professor of the class asking about the policy. Each class is handled differently vis a vis this issue so there is no one-size-fits-all answer. And the DUS, Associate DUS, and the staff in the Economics Department cannot really help you, since there are so many different classes and professors with their individualized policies.
Q9: What should I do if I want to be an economics major and can't
get into Intro Micro this fall?
Don't panic. Consider taking Intro Macro first and then Intro Micro in the spring. Consider delaying your first econ class until the spring semester and take some math and other classes instead. Also note that Intro Micro and Intro Macro are offered every semester and are also offered by the School of Continuing Education and Summer/Winter Sessions as both "live" in Ithaca classes and as "distance learning" sessions. So there are several options. And there is no need to panic.
Q10: What do I do if I want to switch sections in one of the classes
I have enrolled in?
Do this via the Cornell Drop/Add system, but with caution if the class is full or nearly full. Sections and lectures are tied together in the system, so if you drop the section, you will be dropped from the lecture too. Now when you try to get into another section (and at the same time back in the lecture) you might discover you cannot find an open spot. At this point you are no longer in the section OR the lecture.
Q11: I want to be an economics major, so how do I get involved with
research and when?
Undergraduate research opportunities start to emerge after your freshman year, typically. There are several different avenues to consider based on your particular situation. However, it is best for you to get through the Intermediate Micro and Macro classes and the Stats and Econometrics classes before seeking research opportunities. It is also quite useful to have taken an elective course in the area you hope to do some research. So for example, if you want to get involved with research in, say, industrial organization, make sure you have taken a class first and either during or after the class has concluded, start a conversation with the person teaching the class about various outlets for undergraduate research.
Department of Economics
404 Uris Hall
Ithaca, N.Y. 14853
Phone: (607) 255-4254
Fax: (607) 255-2818