professor
Seyhan Arkonac

This professor has earned a CULPA silver nugget

May 2018

Professor Erden seems very patient and approachable. However, she is one of the two worst economic lecturers I have had at Columbia. This course's contents are very interesting to me, as they are relevant to my interest in policy research and socio-economics studies. However, Professor Erden failed to deliver in a clear, engaging, and interesting manner. She could also come off as a very mean person at times. I remember in the second lecture she told the class that there would be a pop-up quiz given out WHEN THE ATTENDANCE RATE WAS LOW. It's like saying "I know I'm boring but you have to pay your due in this room." Her academic standards are not high either because problem sets usually contain mistakes and she recycled problem sets from previous years. I knew this only after the second midterm. People who got the solutions from the previous year were copying like nuts. Advice for Prospective Students: - READ THE TEXTBOOK! It's so concise and well-written by Harvard Economists! Let's just say Professor Erden would repeat many of these examples in her classes. If you figure out these examples, this class is an easy A! - Identify one or two grad TAs who have talents in this field and are helpful. I had Gustavo. He's so knowledgeable, clear and an awesome sensei!

Apr 2018

Horrible Professor! Extremely rude during office hours. I've been to her office hours a couple of times, and she literally keeps students waiting up to 15 minutes while she plays on her phone. Sure she knows the material, but so does anyone who has spent a decent amount of time looking at the textbook. I really don't know why she has a silver star. Avoid at all costs!

Dec 2017

*Now Seyhan Erden. Professor Erden is a very kind and approachable professor, and she can competently teach Introduction to Econometrics. However, for Advanced Econometrics, her very presence in the room was harmful. She clearly did not understand most of the material, and during class, she would just copy down information from her slides, not really explaining anything. This would almost be acceptable if what she wrote wasn't riddled with errors. Professor Erden has just about zero attention to detail. I do not know how she has a PhD. Several times each class, students would point out these errors, and eventually convince her she was wrong. But so many were never caught (for example, only giving half of the definition of ergodicity), because the class was so completely lost. Probably the worst professor I have ever had. Sure, it was her first time teaching the course, but she put in no effort to make up for that fact. On top of that, the substance of the class itself is pretty challenging. The midterm and final covered more material than any other tests I have ever taken, and with only 5 problem sets, you don't get much opportunity to practice applications. Most of your time will be spent wrapping your head around the theory and derivations. If you enjoyed Intro, are comfortable with Linear Algebra, and are smart, this class is probably worth it. But DO NOT take it if Erden is teaching it.

May 2017

Pros - 1. Very straight forward exams - no tricks 2. Problem set solutions are all available online/people have the old solutions 3. One midterm, one final - no projects Cons - 1. Class is boring 2. Lecture slides are not posted beforehand, so it's hard to pay attention in class - you will find yourself scrambling to copy everything down instead of absorbing the material 3. Very, very slight curve in the class (but this means that the class average is already high, and this should say something about the exams - they aren't hard) FAQ: Do I need to go to class? No Are the exams hard? No, not really. Very straight forward - just study old exams, problem set solutions, etc.. Is the class time consuming? It doesn't have to be if you just copy the problem set solutions for the homework. It only gets busy before the midterm and the final - just go hard then. Overall assessment: Prob the best and least stressful metrics class you can take. B+ overall assessment of the course.

Dec 2016

Not a good class, but what are you going to do? Mandatory for the Econ major. The class through to the midterm were taught by Professor Miikka Rokkanen, who I believe is only a year or so into his time at Columbia. He was very adept at distilling the important pieces from the textbook readings and provided a manageable amount of slides ("Just the facts, ma'am"). Most importantly, his self-effacing presence and genuine enthusiasm shone through. Show me someone who loves what they're doing, and I'll be his audience. But this review is to be about Professor Seyhan (Erden). My sense is that Professor Seyhan has grown tired with teaching the course at a count now in/near the double digits. That's no slight against her character. It's normal for people at work to get stuck with tedium. If you had a PhD and were working at one of the most famous research universities in the world, would you really want to be teaching introductory material year after year to bunch of kids? Smart people don't like routine. I keep an open mind that her performance and overt interest is there, but for her graduate courses where she has a chance to pursue the hard and interesting parts of her work. Having checked through the previews on Coursehero it would seem that the problem sets haven't been updated very much or at all. What's confounding is how riddled with mistakes both the problems and the solutions are. Part I is compromised of a handful of TRUE/FALSE/UNCERTAIN statements, for which one is to provide justification for the selection. Given the EXTREMELY poor writing, it's hard not choose uncertain as the answer for the majority of the questions. Regrettably, it rarely is. As such, one is compelled to visit Seyhan's office hours or those of the TA's. For Seyhan, the answers and advice don't always come automatically. It's almost as if she is herself trying to recall what she had written and what she meant. Should you seek the advice of the TA's, you'll find yourself emeshed with them as you both try to discern what exactly is being asked. You'd figure that for the time spent getting clarification on the questions, it would inspire a heavy revision. I'd say this is as much the fault of the Professor as the TA's. Speak up! Don't shy away just because your boss has that PhD that you covet. This seems to be a pervasive sloppiness. That right there is a chief reason that to think the Professor has lost her enthusiasm for the course. The piazza discussion board is rife with questions seeking little else but clarification of the questions. It's common on the problem sets that you'll be given a laconic instruction to perform something in STATA, except that the commands needed weren't covered in class or weren't explained in any depth ... and they certainly aren't documented well for your reference. You'll be acting more like a monkey plugging in text than a focused student actually understanding what's going on under the hood. The proper response to this problem is to have instructions, separate from the slides, drafted up with the commands and some expansive commentary to elucidate what they are doing and to match them up to the long form equations covered in the text. That's just good pedagogy. Returning to the lectures, it's worth noting that the the slides aren't posted to coursework until after the Professor has completed her presentation of the topic in lecture. Her contention for this policy is that it incentivizes the students to attend lecture (perhaps a performance metric for her). That's just ass backwards. Instead, those attending are left worse off as they struggle to write up notes and copy equations into their notebooks--you robbed of the time to actually listen and absorb her commentary. The correct way to run any presentation anywhere is to provide materials beforehand so they can be reviewed, and more usefully marked up with personal notes during the meeting. Consider this one of those disconnects between academia and the real world. The textbook in play, Introduction to Econometrics by Stock & Watson, is fairly good. There are moments when the authors make big leaps in the manipulations of the questions. I struggle trying to figure out what the hell is going on. More arrogance than empathy, but that's typical academic fair, especially in mathematics where the author's predilection for abstract thought often subsumes an ability to write well. Because this is a mandatory course for the Econ sequence, you must take it. Given what I've seen, I'd be inclined to try another professor if I could do it again. Multiple sections of the course occur in any given semester, and for mine, they were all shared by Rokkanen and Erden. If you need some quality time, I'd suggest you pop into the lecture with the lowest number of attendees. Despite what you might be lead to believe by one of the ongoing examples in the test book, class size does matter ... a lot.

May 2015

Don't believe the silver nugget for a second. She's a bad teacher, and it's a bad class. It might be better than the other econometrics classes, so you might still be better off taking it with her, but don't get your hopes up. She's a boring teacher, and the class is very poorly run. There were frequent mistakes in her problem set solutions, test solutions, and final review slides, to the point where we were having to guess which of the two contradictory things she had told us was right. The material is boring and frustrating as is, but the way her class is run made it much worse. Nobody I know who went to class ever managed to stay awake, and her half-assed attempts at being funny just make it that much more painful for everybody who tried to pay attention. She's worthless as a lecturer, and you're guaranteed to feel at some point as if you've been wronged by the way she does things. If there are other options to take this class with, do that.

Apr 2014

For anyone who wants or needs to take intro to metrics, take it with Professor Arkonac. I took this the same semester I took macro with Xavier. While she might not be quite as flashy or funny as Xavier, she makes it up by being so more much approachable. Both professors taught me so much, but being able to communicate with Arkonac and TAs frequently - and without being intimidated - helped me so much. I'm a math person, but certainly not a math genius. I came in knowing basically nothing about statistics and through some hard work, I feel very confident with statistics and econometrics. I also know STATA like the back of my hand. My advice is not to get too far behind in the coursework and to ask for help if you get confused. I was confused for literally the first whole half, did pretty badly on the midterm, but then did amazingly on the final. Just make sure you're proactive.

May 2013

Professor Arkonac is a nice person, but not the greatest professor. She definitely isn’t one of those bomb-terrible professors. I would say she’s right about in the middle. Things I do want to point out: If you really want to learn about economics well, then take Elmes’ class. Her explanations are very confusing sometimes and she makes a LOT of mistakes in her lectures. She also can’t answer questions that students ask her sometimes…which is a little sad and the students correct a lot of her mistakes too. But sometimes someone doesn’t and while I’m looking over my notes, there have been a few times where I was really confused by my notes, only to find later that there was actually a mistake she made in class that no one corrected. Homework is sometimes confusing. The PSets are very long and some of the questions took me a long time to figure out because they were never talked about by Arkonac or the textbook. She’s not too bad and if you aren’t going to be majoring in Econ (which is probably not the case if you are taking Intermediate), then take her, but if you are going to be majoring in Econ or any related major, then definitely definitely definitely try to get into Elmes’ class. I’ve learned that while there are professors who might be more tough like Elmes, they are the ones who really inspire students and make you want to learn more. I guess for some people she 'could be considered' a silver nugget, but not really for me.

Apr 2013

I'm in this class right now, and, pre-final, I'm going to advise you not to take it. Why, you ask? (1) The professor has no idea what she's doing in lecture. She makes algebraic mistakes and doesn't look at her "notes" even once (I suspect her notes are actually just copies of the textbook pages). It's completely unorganized, and you hardly learn anything. (2) Her problem sets are riddled with mistakes. TAs sent out corrections for almost every problem set. The same goes for solutions to the problem sets. (3) She doesn't understand her own problem sets. I went to her office hours to ask her about a question, and she sent me to a TA's office hours! Shouldn't the professor know more than the TAs? I will say that this class is run like a well-oiled machine. The TAs grade things within 10 days (I think), and you're allowed to ask for a regrade up to two weeks after the problem set is returned. If you want to actually learn micro, don't take this class. If you're looking for a confusing, easy A, just take this one and suffer through.

Jan 2013

Take her for Econometrics if you can. Everything was manageable, she explained her everything pretty well. If anything look to the slides. She didnt rely on the slides til the very end, which at that point you breezed past most of the material on it to get to the examples. Many TAs so just shop around til you find whatever works for you. If you hated stats, the class is not much of a nightmare because you use a software (Stata) that does all the calculations for you. You just need to interpret the coefficients which the problem sets help you get used to and are explicitly explained in class. The lengths of the problem sets vary but are helpful and are easy points. Most of the class gets 9-10 out of 10 on them. She drops the lowest problem set. If you do the problem sets, study for the midterm for at least a day, you can get the average (which she puts around 70-75). She also gives 2 practice midterms. The midterm and final do take all of the time to complete. For the final, if you attend the review session, she tells you exactly what you need to study. Everything was fair. The final focuses on the material after the midterm and is only cumulative in the fact that you still need to know how to interpret coefficients and data. Corinne is a great TA, her review sessions and recitations were definitely helpful as she went over the important things and what the professor will most likely focus on. Attend recitations because they tell you the commands needed for Stata and how to get the results you want.

Jan 2013

Econometrics with Arkonac was actually a pretty manageable class. I took Intermediate Micro with Arkonac, and can thus attest that her lectures in Econometrics are MUCH clearer and better organised than her Intermediate Micro class. Arkonac's lectures are VERY comprehensive, organised, and littered with examples. She does repeat half her previous lecture the next lecture, but hey, doesn't that just make it easier to skip class????? Pay attention in class, and you will never need to read the book.She's a lovely, sweet, and yes, very regal lady with impeccable fashion sense. Homework: Her problem sets never make any sense, but they're brilliant for getting you familiar with the material and getting a sense of what Arkonac wants you to know. Yes, they do that ages to finish, especially at the start, when she makes you fill out tables and tables of stata output; but as I said, it's all good practice for the final. Her P-sets do get a lot better towards the end of the semester, but I suspect that was the correcting influence of her TA. TA: There were a ton of TAs for this class, but the head TA, Corinne Low, WAS BRILLIANT. Why doesn't Corinne Low have a teaching award, like Carlos? \ SHE IS AS GOOD AS CARLOS AND DESERVES ONE. Her sections were on Sunday from 6 to 8, yes, but go. Just. Go. The week's lectures are pithily summarised. New and better stata commands are given, making your p-set experience that much better. Arkonac's strange fondness for mathematical formula and derivations are repeated, when necessary for the midterm and final, and discarded, when not. Math is translated into intuition. Have I convinced you to go to a 6-8pm section on a Sunday night yet??????

Dec 2011

Yes - Arkonac is funny, witty, regal, interesting, etc. But she's not a great lecturer. Her explanations tend to be convoluted, and she always ends up focusing on derivations of formulas rather than on the metrics material itself. Overall, I didn't find her lectures or her lecture slides very helpful, and often had to go to the TA's office hours which ended up being much more helpful. In general Arkonac's teaching style isn't great, but her class is probably the least boring of the other Econometrics professors' classes (I've sat in on two others).

Dec 2011

Ah where to begin with this course? Seyhan seems to be a sweet lady, no doubt about that. I attended all the lectures, which were at best mildly helpful. She stumbled upon her algebra and made plenty of mistakes in class, practice exams, and problem sets. You were usually guaranteed a weekly email about corrections. Her lectures were generic slides with examples straight from the textbook, which is somewhat nice so you can reference everything. It was a disaster any time she tried to deviate from the given examples. I basically read the entire textbook and it wasn't as painful as it sounds. The grading was very lenient on assignments and the midterm(average was 75). TA's were very helpful. The class overall was manageable and didn't require much outside work apart from maybe 2-3 hours a week including recitation. However, the final was horrendous and I probably shouldn't have even studied. She likes to use crazy fractions and decimals... so if your answer looks wrong don't worry.

Nov 2011

Professor Arkonac is a friendly, regal lady who is certainly not the worst option you could pick for your Intermediate Macroeconomics class. I thought her lectures in general were quite useful as she does lots of drawings on the board and calculates examples. The lectures slides were always uploaded to courseworks though she doesn't use them at all; basically she puts up the first slide, then talks for half an hours using only the black board and then just skips past the next 5 slides, the contents of which she already explained on the board. In this course I thought that it seemed quite important to actually attend the lecture, and most people did. It's very helpful because the questions on Homework and exams are usually similar to the ones she goes over in lecture, and some of them are examples that you won't find in the textbook, so you'll have a hard time figuring them out on your own. If you do go to lectures and pay attention however, then few work outside the classroom will be required. I thought this class was definitely quite quantitative, with no discussion or deliberation of the effects of the economic concepts we discussed; instead we mostly just went through examples with numbers. I'm not sure if this is any different in the other sections of this class though. Overall, I'd recommend you take this class with Professor Arkonac. It's a very relaxed section to take because paying attention in lecture is quite easy, as she makes the material quite interesting and occasionally shows off her cute sense of humour. My one quip with the class is that she somewhat frequently gets tangled up in her own calculations and does mistakes, which then take her a while to correct.

Apr 2011

Econometrics is at times a painfully dry class, especially midway through the semester when more theoretical topics are presented, but is in itself an extremely important class. True economics majors should really appreciate it, as it is an introduction to actual economic research, rather than learning outdated economic concepts. If you chose economics because you want to go into finance or please your parents, you will most likely hate the class. However, Arkonac is a wonderful instructor. She is witty, light, her lectures are very organized (despite an eventual confusion from her part). Though her class became increasingly boring towards the end (she probably had to speed up...), the first lectures were really interesting. She is probably the best instructor for Econometrics in the department, so if you can do yourself a favor and take her class! Note: You will want to go to Stata recitation, so remember to count this in your schedule!

May 2010

On the first day of class, Prof. Arkonac stated that she thinks she is "an easy teacher." I think that in most econ classes, easy = fair, and she definitely succeeds in this regard. Every problem set (except the first), requires the use of the computer program STATA to complete. Most problem sets include performing regressions and then interpreting their results or doing some minor calculations. The STATA commands get progressively more difficult to understand as the class moves on, and most of the problem sets seem time consuming and/or tedious. The midterm and final are essentially an analysis of STATA outputs, so (THANKFULLY), STATA commands are not necessary to understand/complete any parts of the tests. Arkonac provides practice exams that are pretty closely related to the actual ones you'll receive, and review sessions are important as well as she (admittedly) is unable from dropping clues and hints about what you might see or should study for. Lecture attendance is not required, and neither is recitation, and it showed! ...especially since class was on Monday 9:10AM. Overall, this is probably as easy/painfree econometrics course as you can take, in particular because of the straight forward exams. Arkonac is a very sweet woman, very approachable, and is at complete ease with the idea that some students will be able to teach themselves the material more effectively than her lectures can. Would recommend this section for econ majors.