A Short Email to An Inspired Student

I was fortunate enough to become a teaching assistant in one of the courses at the Australian National University during the first semester of 2017. This opportunity was given and made accessible to me by great and successful scholars in their respective fields, who have shown not only support but also trust in me. I am forever grateful to these distinguished individuals at ANU (whose name I do not mention out of respect for their privacy).

I enjoyed teaching as much as (or probably more than) I enjoyed getting paid. The students are smart, and some have shown a keen interest in Economics. Recently, I received an email from one of them asking for my advice/suggestion about the route he should take in pursuit for higher education in economics discipline.

While I myself have had both success and failure in striving for more knowledge in economics, I believe that my advice can be useful (to an extent, of course) to those inspired by economics and wanting to take up the challenge. Since I have taken the time to write to one student, I think it is worth sharing to many others who hold similar interest.

Warning: There is no such thing as an objective advice. This is my own opinion based on my own experience. Experience may vary. Satisfaction not guaranteed.


Inquiry by a student:

I am planning for undertaking an economics honor in the year after, and we talked about some of the courses that might be encountered when doing some more sophisticated degree in economics. You suggested me to take a look at those advanced courses such as the microeconomics theory.

I did remember that by heart and is wondering if you knew any materials that could help for the preparations for that kind of course? I do not have a solid mathematical/analytical background so I may need to prepare in a much-earlier-bird way. I’ll be extremely grateful if you could advise me once more.


Here is my response or How I would response to similar questions ((And I hope most people working in the discipline would agree with me):

Since I do not get to talk to you in person, this is going to be a bit difficult. For an effective advice, I need to know your current proficiency in mathematics, statistics/econometrics, and economics in general. But, I will try my best and my advice now is based on the assumption that you have some basics in all the 3 cores mentioned. Note that, on top of these 3 cores, you will also need to acquaint yourself with some programming languages like Python. Depending on the course you take, you might need to learn STATA or R or Eview (for econometrics) and MATLAB (for mathematical modelling, macroeconomics forecast, simulation, etc). I had a hard time with all these as I was not that well-prepared.

Economics program is not particularly the toughest program, but it is definitely not easy. It is important that you understand the analytical parts of the subject, the technical aspect like mathematical modelling. But, it is just as equally important that you fully grasp the theories/concepts. For instance, how to separate income effect and substitution effect when tax is imposed? What does each of these do to the consumers’ behavior? What is the effect of rising interest rate on Australian exchange rate? How are they connected in the short-run and the long-run?

For starter, I will share with you some of the materials that I think are important for honor program in economics and for higher level study if you are interested in pursuing Master or PhD in economics.

1. Applied Mathematics in Economics:

Here are youtube links to some of the great education channels:


(this is where you can learn useful math concepts like IMPLICIT FUNCTION THEOREM)

(Linear algebra playlist from Khan Academy. This one is extremely important for upper level economics)

2. Econometrics

A good understanding of Econometrics will help you a lot in research. Make sure you understand properly about multivariable regression, about endogeneity, etc.

Check these youtube channels out. They are the selected few from some of my most favorites:

(Ben Lambert is a great explainer. I got stuck many times and was able to understand the concepts perfectly after having watched his videos)

(Here is the graduate component from the same guy. You will need to learn Linear Algebra first. That is why I stressed its importance earlier).

3. Economics

Here are some of the books I recommend:

***** Naked Economics by Charles Wheelan

***** Naked Statistics by Charles Wheelan

**** Debunking Economics by Steve Keens

**** Economics without Illusion by Joseph Heath

**** 23 Things They Don’t Tell You about Capitalism by Ha-Joon Chang

*** Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell

*** The Armchair Economist by Steven Landsberg

** The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (Classic)

** The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money by John Maynard Keynes (Classic)

** The Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek (Classic)

The order of reading should begin with the ones with 5 stars first, then 4 stars, then 3 stars, and so on.


Some youtube videos for fun learning:


And of course, last but not least, my own website if you are interested in more specific economic topics:


(Author’s note: A bit of self-advertisement here… Anyone would do that!)

My writing quality was different 3 or 4 years ago. So, if you want to give it a try, read the later articles.


I have more to say, but I guess these should suffice for now and they will keep you busy for at least a few years.

All the best to you academic endeavor. I wish you success.