Counting Beans is Passé: Why Statistics Today is Modern, Important and Enthralling
Statistically speaking, statistics graduates have strong career prospects. But what exactly is so fascinating about juggling numbers?
Statistics professor Werner Müller and JKU student Alexandra Stadler talk about their experiences with statistics and degree programs.
What do you find most fascinating about statistics?
Prof. Werner Müller: Famous statistician John Tukey once said, "The best thing about being a statistician is that you get to play in everyone's backyard” meaning statistics is linked to many other disciplines and can potentially play a key role in diverse advancements.
Alexandra Stadler: I first learned about studying statistics at the JKU’s study information fair, but there were also many other majors I found interesting. In the end, I decided to study statistics because during my studies, I can explore my other interests and work closely with other areas later in my career.
Why is statistics not dry subject but instead rather important for real-world applications?
Prof. Werner Müller: Counting beans is passé. Modern statistics – and I prefer using the new term ‘Data Science’ as a synonym - offers countless procedures to collect, analyze, and interpret data in all areas of life.
How hard is the program?
Alexandra Stadler: While one should not underestimate the time and effort required for the program, the program itself is divided into many smaller courses so you can always celebrate academic successes. In my case, I graduated from a HAK school and compared to many of my classmates at the start of the program, I had a somewhat less knowledge of mathematics. During the first and second semester, however, there are mathematics courses that cover many the important areas again from the start. I can say from experience that no one should be afraid to choose the program for fear of being overwhelmed.
How is the student-to-faculty ratio?
Prof. Werner Müller: The program is small and we work closely with students. We know the strengths and weaknesses of both the students and instructors, which can be a great advantage.
Alexandra Stadler: Because we have small groups of students, faculty members can provide individual support to students. It’s not uncommon to exchange ideas with classmates but also ask faculty members for assistance.
What is it like as a woman in a degree program many girls consider to be "too mathematical"?
Alexandra Stadler: When I started the program, I thought the proportion of men would be higher but the numbers are actually quite balanced and the scales are actually tipped in favor of women; my class has more women than men.