professor
Wouter Vergote

May 2021

This class was extremely hard for me so take this review with a grain of salt: The class started off just fine (extremely similar to micro) but the material became a lot harder after the add/drop period. Vergote explained every concept in class in detailed but the homework was a lot harder than what's taught in class (imagine learning 5*6 = 30 in class but for homework they ask you to do calculus). It was impossible for me to finish the psets without going to the TA office hours. Midterm and final were similar to the practice exams but you still need to understand the concepts, because in my opinion they are harder than the psets. I didn't really understand what's going on, so my midterm and final score was around the class median/average. Vergote was, obviously, very knowledgeable, very kind and accommodating, and was generous enough to curve the median to a B+ which I appreciated. I just wish he taught an easier class lol. So I guess if you are interested in the topic and are willing to put in your effort, take this class and I wish you good luck!

Jan 2021

I took Vergote's Intermediate Microeconomics class in fall 2020. I would definitely recommend esp for an online semester - he's extremely accommodating (w/ regards to remote learning) and is one of the sweetest/kindest profs you'll meet. Both he and his TAs are genuinely invested in their students' success and will go the distance to make sure you understand the content if you reach out/go to OH. Although he goes kinda fast, his lecture slides are solid and the content was very interesting. Overall learned a lot.

Dec 2020

Vergote is a wonderful person with a great sense of humor who does his best to make lecture engaging. It's obvious that he cares for his students and wants them to succeed. However, the way he structures the course doesn't reflect this desire; see below.

Dec 2020

Vergote is a wonderful person with a great sense of humor who does his best to make lecture engaging. It's obvious that he cares for his students and wants them to succeed. However, the way he structures the course doesn't reflect this desire; see below.

Sep 2020

Took this in spring 2020 so it was pretty wack. Professor is a really kind interesting person but not the most engaging lecturer. I found micro to be pretty difficult actually. Very calculation-based class. Prof. Vergote would host monthly lunches at Faculty House to get to know him which is sooo nice of him!

May 2019

Take a different instructor. He literally starts off the first class by saying: "This class will not be fun for you, I admit". According to the TA's he's the hardest instructor that teaches this class and he teaches grad school style: absolutely zooms through the material and you spend the whole time in class trying to write everything down instead of actually seeing what he's drawing or saying. At other points he just asks a question to the class and waits like 3 full minutes for someone to answer his question which no one knows the answer to and just keeps saying "come on guys" when no one answers. He doesn't post notes online so you basically just end up going to class to get those notes, which you'll have to figure out the significance of afterwards. He tries to cram in a ton of material but doesn't teach it at all in an effective or organized manner that makes sense. His teaching could really benefit from more structure, online notes, and a more even pace. Personality wise, he's pretty great. He's super nice and chill and tries to make some jokes in class, but his niceness and chillness is limited to lectures. Outside of that he's not very flexible. As kind as he is the material is just not taught well. Lots of people I knew in the class ended up learning new concepts the day before the exams.

Nov 2018

Okay I want to set the record straight on all the Principles recommendations on Vergote now that it's registration season again. I'm currenty in IO and these reviews do NOT match up to Wout's conduct in class. I'm going to defend Wouter vigorously here because it's the right thing to do, and because people should really take his classes if they want to get the content. Vergote is really passionate about the material and his student's success. He explains concepts engagingly, actively takes questions in class even if they're silly or already explained on the slide, makes himself accessible for office hours, brings in real-world examples, makes jokes, and has legible/study-able slides. Vergote genuinely cares about his students, but if you're going to skip class like a bum or watch sports during class and not give effort it's not his fault that you do poorly. Wout has never yelled at a student in our class. He's also set up two faculty house lunches just so he can get to know students better and engage with our class. We just had our midterm a few weeks ago and he had a very fair curve plotted out for the current grade distribution based on the MT. The TA's were also insanely hardworking and helpful- shout out to David and Louise for crushing recitations and OH. I will acknowledge that it's also a heavy class. There was a weeklong game theory unit where we rushed through the basics of game theory which I can understand is challenging. Wout is definitely not an EASY professor- full disclosure. He challenges you and teaches at a rigorous standard. I looked at the intermediate micro class he taught micro class last semester and he even baked in some game theory and IO into that (can you tell he likes game theory and IO?). I would say that his power level is just a little too high for principles, which may be why everyone is so salty about that course. Only con: Please put up solutions to recitations before midterm/finals season. It sucks that we don't have access to the solutions so that we can go through them ourselves (especially because I'm awful at taking notes). I understand that you want to incentivize students to go to recitations but not having access to the notes won't cause students to attend. It'll just make everyone more lost on the content. Lastly, at the other reviewers- don't call him boring or sub-par without recommendations or constructive criticism. It's not only hurtful and rude, but it also doesn't help Wout improve if he reads these.

May 2018

Class covers both micro and macro which helps if you're like me and have no understanding of econ before. The professor tries to make students interested by linking topics to real world discussions - while his lectures could be interesting, they are a bit slow as he tries to make you think about things and then apply those to other scenarios. You could learn what he teaches in two hours in 20 minutes of reading the textbook. The class is not hard - most people I know who did well read the book, most I know who did badly didn't read the book and just tried to memorize facts. Don't memorize facts! Memorize trends and causality between economic concepts. He's one of the nicest teachers ever and is very passionate, but going to lecture should not be your primary source of learning. The recitations are SUPER helpful - the questions they go over are very similar to the midterm and final and are a good source of practice. Going to office hours for homework help is also very useful - some of the TAs are extremely intelligent and clear There are two quizzes in the year, which are open note open computer and are multiple choice in the recitation section and have almost no impact on your grade. There's a curve to around a B-B+ that's pretty generous.

Apr 2018

I really don't think he's as bad as the other reviewers say he is. Granted, he does like to tell many anecdotes, but they always relate to what we're learning (even if it's loose). As a person, he's one of the nicest professors and hosts lunches at Faculty House. The most important part about this class are the TA recitation sections. The TAs teach you so much, and the recitation problems, problem sets, and especially the practice midterm contain many problems that will appear on the midterm and I assume the final too.

Mar 2018

Nice and approachable professor, he makes the lectures fun (or as fun as a lecture in microeconomics can be) Exams are ridiculously hard, to the point that I do not understand what is the point he is trying to make, the exams will not be similar to the problem sets. The exams will not be similar to the recitations. The exams will not be similar to past exams. The average for the exams is 62-68. There will be questions (or parts of questions) on the exam that you have never seen before in class, you need to move fast on the exams otherwise you will run out of time. Lectures are hard to follow unless you have a deep mathematical/economics background, come prepared and do the readings or otherwise you will be completely lost by the 3rd class. he is not great at explaining things. The TA,s are your best friends, they will help you understand the class better go to all office hours and recitations. If you have not taken principles with him or at Columbia this is not the class for you If you have a poor calculus background this is not the class for you. If this is your first semester at Columbia, this is not the class for you.

Jan 2018

He's not the most amazing lecturer, as other reviewers have pointed out, but IMO he's easier than Gulati for Principles of Economics. 1. He covers easier material than Gulati does. For example, when I was studying for the midterm, I asked my friend for a copy of Gulati's practice midterm. But Gulati's practice midterm was way more in-depth and covered more material than our own practice midterm (this situation was reflected on the actual midterm as well, or at least from what I anecdotally heard from my friends in Gulati describing their midterm). 2. He gives a pretty generous curve. It's even possible to get an A+ in his class (which is super rare) as long as you get 1.33 SDs above the mean (I think that's what the cutoff is). So while everyone basically fails the midterm and final, you will have solace in knowing that everyone around you failed too, and it's just a question how much worse you did in comparison to your peers. I had a pretty good math background and only a high school economics (not AP, just regular) background coming into the class. I didn't think the class was too hard. But if you do take the class with him, get a good TA/recitation section #shoutouttoarpita.

Jan 2018

I am a SEAS student. I took this class to fulfill a requirement. I got an A. I agree with all of the reviews below me in the sense that his lectures are absolutely useless, he is rude/condescending, and the overall quality of the class is low. In spite of this, I STILL recommend you take this class if you are not an Economics major (i.e. not looking to actually learn Economics) and just looking to make a quick A. Lecture: The key to doing well in this class is NOT wasting your time in lecture. I went to class for the first month, sat in the front, asked questions, and it was completely useless. Wout is incredibly pretentious and does not make an effort to understand your question or help you understand. There's a bit of a language barrier (he has an accent), but I don't think that's the main reason he comes off as a complete d-bag. To do well in class, just READ along (the chapters are short, concise, and very straight to the point), go to recitation (this it the MOST important thing to do in this class), and go to OH if you are stuck on the problem sets. Problem sets: I put about 5-7 hours of effort in for this class every week there was a problem set. They are so-so in terms of difficulty. To do a problem set, I would read the corresponding chapters in the textbook, take a few notes, and then I would do the problem set itself. When I got stuck, I asked my friends for help or went to OH. OH is useful if you know who to go to. Some TAs will not give you the answer, some TAs will. The quizzes during recitation: You can talk to other people in the recitation for help. Everyone helps one another and shares what they got. Pretty easy. The exams: Alright, this is where my review differs from other people. I found the exams easy because the questions on the exam are EXTREMELY similar to the problem sets and the recitation material, especially the recitation material. A fair amount of questions on the exam were straight out of the recitation material (again, this is why going to recitation is important). I understand that most people did not have the same experience as me, but I think that's because they never figured out how to finesse this class and continued going to class and underestimated how valuable recitation was. I'm an average student, I'm not super smart or particularly hard working, I was just able to do well in this class because I found out what worked. Do not take this class if you are actually looking to learn. However, if you are just looking to fulfill a requirement I would take this class.

Dec 2017

Please do not take this Professor's class. He both starts and ends class late, he rushes through all of the material and tries to get everything done instead of throughly teaching everything, he doesn't give any examples, he yells at students when they give wrong answers even though he did not teach the material sufficiently, he mislead students about the midterm by making the practice test and problem sets much easier, and so much more. This class did not make me feel as if I had a substantial background in economics. He is also super boring. However, the TA, Arpita Saluja was a lifesaver and taught the material well.

Nov 2017

This guy is a mixed bag. He tries to teach well but often fails (maybe its because of his thick belgian accent and trouble speaking english) but mostly because his lectures are pretty much useless. The recitations help you on the midterm and final which are all you need to care about. but damn are his midterms and tests hard.. like so much harder than the problem sets noone knows how to prepare.

Nov 2017

Do not take this class if you want a future in econ or enjoy econ at all. I came into this class loving econ after taking AP macro and micro in high school. However, this class was confusing, taught poorly, and frankly much too hard for an intro class. The professor is nice and quite funny in lecture, but lacks the ability to explain concepts which are fundamental to having a solid foundation in econ. He introduces concepts and ideas as if you already understand them; he simply glazes over them and expects you to follow. (I had prior econ knowledge and struggled in this class, so I really can't imagine how you'd get by without any.) I personally attended every lecture, but he posts all his powerpoint lectures online, so it's not that vital to attend class, nor is it necessary to ever buy/open the book. I would say that if you find a good TA, go to the recitations and their office hours, since Wout is actually v unhelpful and rude when you go to his office hours and refers you to the TAs anyway. The problem sets are not insanely hard or harshly graded, but challenging given that the lecture is very theoretical and the problem sets are more empirical. In the same way, the midterm and final were quite difficult and honestly unfair. He tested concepts which were not introduced in class or addressed in the recitations. Overall, your basic annoying Columbia class. Large lecture, sub-par teacher, and a class that leaves you feeling stressed because your entire grade is determined by 2 hard af exams.