professor
Tamrat Gashaw

Apr 2021

I feel like Professor Gashaw gets a lot of hate for no reason! I actually thought that he presents the concepts clearly and the PSETs were great for learning and not overly difficult (except for PSET 5, that one was really hard.) He also cares a lot about his students and puts a lot of effort into finding exam times and formats that worked for everyone. My only complaint was that (on Zoom) he used a wide calligraphy-type pen that was harder to read than a simple pen style would have been.

Jan 2021

His class was okay. The lecture notes are hard to read and go over them very fast so you are not able to keep up. If asked to slow down, the TAs and the professor will tell you to watch the lectures again. In the final, he included an extra credit paper which most students did not read. Not terrible, but not good. I will not take him again for any other class, but if it is your only choice, then good luck.

Jan 2021

Professor Gashaw is very intelligent and knowledgeable. However, as with many Columbia professors, that does not mean he is a great lecturer. His lectures are very disorganized. Each class consists of him reviewing sloppily pre-written notes and mathematical derivations from his iPad. He breezes through the material so fast that if you glance away for one second you will be lost for the rest of the lecture. He supplements his pre-written notes with the textbook provided chapter PowerPoints which are not all that helpful either. While the material covered in class might seem abstract and hard to grasp, the tested material is relatively easy and straightforward. My four pieces of advice for doing well in this class: 1. Attend recitation when you are confused on a topic, the TAs cover numerical examples (unlike Gashaw) which are not only helpful for completing the problem sets, but also fully understanding the material 2. Read the textbook, TBH you're better off reading the textbook than listening in class 3. Complete and master the midterm and final exam study guides (he does not provide keys to these which I found incredibly annoying) - the questions on the exams closely resemble these, so if you can successfully complete those without referencing your notes you can be confident you will have a strong performance on both exams 4. Complete all extra credits (Gashaw offers ample extra credit throughout the semester), they can provide you a nice cushion and even boost you up a partial letter grade if sufficiently completed P.S. Don't stress about Stock Trak, as long as you meet the minimum portfolio requirements, you can absolutely tank your portfolio and still get 12%/15%, Gashaw does not harshly punish poor performance, he genuinely wants you to learn and not be afraid to make mistakes

Dec 2020

This was the most unpleasant course I've ever taken at Columbia. The teacher's notes were incomprehensibly untidy (see: sometimes literally writing sideways); the lecture was often so confusing that actively ignoring the lecture might be better than following along. One example included a derivation of a formula involving expected value and variance; the professor (who, remember, has extremely disorganized notes) proceeded with the derivation in a manner that no one could have followed. Moreover, the material on the assessments did not at all reflect what was taught in the course. The only way some of the assignments could be completed was by attending TA recitations (which should not be mandatory in a 3-credit course). Tamrat Gashaw's strengths include flexibility with deadlines, offering extra credit, and allowing students to weigh the better of the midterm and the final more heavily. These gestures were appreciated. However, otherwise, this course is extremely poorly taught. The professor mandated synchronous attendance and examinations, despite many of the students living in alternate timezones (one friend of mine who was in the course with me was compelled to take the midterm, synchronously, at 11:40 PM local times). He subsequently allowed the final to be taken at two different times -- which did not help my friend, who was given the choice between 12AM and 4AM local time. He actively distrusts his students: I felt antagonized, attacked, and hurt when he asked why I seemed "disinterested" because I was looking side to side in what I perceived to be a mocking tone, when in fact I did not know I was being called on because he was mispronouncing my name. I further explained that I had two monitors, but he seemed dismissive of my response. Please note that this is in front of dozens of students; moreover, I would like for it to be known that I was one of a minority of students who had their videos on, and yet I was still accused of being "disinterested;" the experience was humiliating, but I feared reaching out to him about my concerns, lest he be dismissive again and perhaps target my grade. In addition, the professor is one of a small group who uses proctorio during assessments; I found this tactic to be demeaning, given that all Columbia students sign the honor pledge. In addition, numerous students expressed their well-founded concerns about Proctorio's intrusivity in personal computers, but he said he "decided" that these concerns were "minimal" without sharing any further comments. Furthermore, when I posted on the Piazza about an actual security breach on my own computer as a result of Proctorio, he said "you can uninstall it after the exam," completely ignoring the fact about the security breach itself or promising to look into the issue or simply apologizing and saying he won't use the software further. I find it my duty to express in the strongest possible terms that Tamrat Gashaw is not a professor whom I would recommend to any other students or to continue with the economics department of Columbia University. Literally makes me want to throw up thinking about the course. His bio says he came from Western Michigan University. He's probably a smart guy somewhere underneath the spaghetti of notes. But nothing about him says Columbia University professor.

Oct 2020

Columbia has some pretty awful econ classes/econ profs, but this one was by far the worst. while financial econ has the potential to be an interesting class, gashaw's class was a living hell. first of all, he was the only professor I had this semester that had absolutely no respect for students' home and remote learning situations - he required synchronous attendance and exams. if students for some reason couldn't make lecture due to a time zone issue, you had to instead write one page write up every week to make up for missing class. next, we were not allowed to drop a problem set. he also made a problem set due the same week as the exam, in fact, 24 hours right after the exam. thirdly, gashaw was quite often late to office hours. fourthly, he required a stock investing assignment where part of the grade was based on beating the S&P 500 index. HEDGE FUNDS DON'T EVEN BEAT THE INDEX. plus, we were only able to allocate 25% of capital to equities. somebody tell me how 21 year olds are supposed to beat the S&P with 25% in equities and 75% in bonds and futures? i barely know what a future is? fifth - gashaw does not keep his TAs informed about his plans regarding exams or anything important. My TA would often start sentences with, "I don't know if this is important, but I'm going to walk through it" and it was because GASHAW DOES NOT TELL HIS TAS WHAT HE WILL BE COVERING ON THE EXAM. finally, he was awful with remote exams. he was the only prof this semester that I had who required proctorio (which requires a room scane that I personally am uncomfortable with for privacy reasons) and he added a completely new chapter to the exams 48 hours before the exam. I'm pissed y'all I've never written a culpa review before but this class has truly been the worst that I've taken at Columbia no cap and I think everybody should avoid gashaw's fin econ like the plague

Oct 2020

Terrible professor, simply terrible. Can barely understand what he says and the lectures are insanely boring. Stay away if you have a choice.

Aug 2020

Worst professor I've ever had at Columbia -- do not take his course!! It is almost impossible to understand him in class. He speaks very quickly and his notes are written very sloppily. His slides are no help because they're cut-pasted from the textbook. You might as well just read the textbook instead of going to class, but when has that ever helped anyone learn? The workload was just too heavy for the class. He assigned too much and constantly went overtime for class by 20 to 30 minutes. I don't think he finished on time once. We even had to have a "make up class" (read: an extra class because he could not fit everything he had in the syllabus into his allotted time). He was flexible with his students, which is his saving grace, but it just can't make up for what a headfuck this class was. The worst part was how difficult the homework and exams were. And he was such a harsh grader. Not a good combo.

May 2019

Pr. Gashaw seems to be a very knowledgeable and extremely smart professor. A clear leader in the field of ESG investing. That said, he suffers from a flaw shared by other Professors at Columbia: being a genius in your field does not necessary mean you are a good Professor i.e. an individual who enjoys and is good at explaining and teaching academic concepts while at the same time providing guidance. As part of the ESG Investing seminar, Pr. Gashaw spent the vast majority of the course focusing on us learning about other literature that discusses ESG. However, given the economics seminar is a course aimed at teaching students how to construct their own econometric-based studies, it was really surprising Pr. Gashaw did not structure the class in such a way that it could teach us HOW to write a paper. It seems he assumed we had previous experience writing and/or researching papers. This was a grave mistake since all of us struggled to i. obtain data, ii. understand the methods used to analyze our hypothesis, iii. write a research paper and iv. run the regressions! I constantly heard Pr. Gashaw's feedback was incisive but plain and unfortunately not very informative. Additionally, the final presentations showed me a lot of people in the class were following wrong methods and/or using the wrong assumptions. Given that these were the basis of the whole analysis, it was surprising Pr. Gashaw brought up these concerns in the FINAL presentation and not a couple of months before. Not only was he unresponsive and his guidance was at times underwhelming, but as another student put it, we can't meet his expectations if he doesn't help us, given that we've never written a research paper like this before. This class has a lot of potential. It's the future! Unfortunately Pr. Gashaw's guidance and support was non-existent. If you are an individual who knows HOW to run complex regressions, take this class please! However, if your experience is limited to Econometrics I advise you avoid this class at all costs.

May 2019

Clearly incredibly incredibly smart; he is very passionate about ESG issues and is informed and very interesting to talk to about it. Amazingly blunt guy - sometimes in an offensive way (he would tear us all apart when we gave presentations) The class was very all over the place, but interesting content - definitely glad I took it. VERY unrealistic expectations on students. Never was timely with receiving feedback But - good guy. Sad that his class was bad because he had so much potential.

May 2019

I mean just the single shittiest professor I've had at columbia. Do not take his class, and I hope he isn't allowed to teach seminars moving forwards (short of a major change in his behavior). My main complaint is that he holds incredibly high expectations of us but provides very little if any support. A non-exhaustive list of things he's done in this class. - Didn't provide grades or any feedback whatsoever on a single assignment submitted all semester. - Told us that he will fail us and we will not graduate - Repeatedly requested drafts of our paper at regular intervals throughout the semester, under the premise that he would give us feedback prior to the final draft. I submitted many of these drafts but never received feedback. - The only feedback I ever got outside of office hours was when, the week before the final seminar paper (50% of our grade) was due, he told us to send him our papers on a monday and that he'd give us thoughts by friday. He sent me my paper back at 11:59pm on Friday (like a freshman submitting a last minute assignment, not a 50 year old professor), with 4 comments that were negative, unhelpful, and made clear that he hadn't read the paper at all. - Didn't teach at all past the first 3 classes, and just had all of us present in order to fill up class time. - Sent aggressive and mean emails whenever we told him something major went wrong with our papers. Signs emails off with "have a productive weekend." Did not take into account that A) we have our own lives outside of this class and B) this is our first time ever writing an economics paper. - Didn't know the deadline for us to submit our papers for seminar awards, such that not a single person in our class was considered for awards (despite some of my classmates having truly extraordinary papers). I want to be clear that this is not out of bitterness. I am one of the top performers in the class, and worked my ass off for this class, and I haven't gotten my final grade (or any grades back, for that matter). He's just an awful professor.

Jan 2019

Probably one of the worst classes I've taken at Columbia with a pretty mediocre professor. I hate to be harsh, but the amount of trouble I went through for this class...far too much. I had a hard time understanding him, so most of us had to rely on the slides. He posts the slides on Courseworks, so after the first couple of weeks, people didn't come to class, that is until he had us sign as proof of our attendance, although anyone could have forged their friend's name. The class starts off pretty easy...a review of basic financial concepts/principles. The math is pretty tolerable. In fact, you take a quiz before the Drop deadline, and all is fine. But then he gets to higher more theoretical conceptual topics after the midterm, and then your lost. Utterly confused. Tamrat isn't of much help. Recitation wasn't much help. He makes you read some research papers that he may test you on, but these leave you even more confused. The final was pretty bad, since the psets pretty much didn't prepare you for it. He also made class decide when they wanted a formula sheet, during the midterm or final. Kind of a dick move IMO. I can say, overall, I learned nothing from him, had to teach myself the material from the textbook, which is meh. The best part of the class though was the StockTrak investment simulation. Most people had negative returns though cause market was pretty much falling, and the wise Professor Gashaw didn't even teach the class tools of investment until the very final week. Overall, don't take him if you can.