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What I Have Learned From Minerva’s Master in Decision Analysis So Far

by Julia Yankelowitz | MDA Class of 2025

January 26, 2024

The first semester of the Master in Decision Analysis program has flown by and I can already notice shifts in my way of learning and thinking. Now is the perfect moment to reflect and share about my experience so far, before diving into the next semester.

How has the program been different than what I expected?

Going into the program, I wasn’t sure how we were going to connect as a cohort as our class spans eight time zones. However, we have found ways to connect. The sentiment of wanting to get to know one another beyond the classroom, and how we are applying course concepts in our lives, is shared across our cohort. Minerva has provided us with opportunities to connect, and as a cohort we’ve created groups attuned to our interests.

As someone with a social sciences and qualitative research background, I was most intimidated by the program’s coursework on formal logic, fallacy detection, statistics, and data analysis. The class I was most afraid of is now the class I am most eager to engage in. This eagerness has been fostered by my professor and classmates as we work together to unpack concepts and apply skills. 

What key lessons have I learned so far?

The cognitive transformation needed to effectively learn is slow and challenging, but gratifying. As someone who has studied in “traditional” ways throughout the entirety of my academic career, it is easy to fall back into old habits. Minerva provides us with research-backed tools to study, but it is up to us to actively apply them. I know when I do actually apply the tools, the course content and skills are more readily embedded in, and retrievable from, my mental repertoire. Building and nurturing these new mental muscles takes patience, time, and training. 

The program has pushed me to imagine alternative realities. In class, we often question reality and wonder what alternative reasons may exist for a particular outcome. We also question our own biases and push ourselves to consider the opposite of our initial perceptions. Practicing this line of questioning with my classmates and professors is instilling in me the habit of recognizing different possibilities, inputs, and outputs, for a given circumstance. 

How is the program impacting me so far? 

I’ve noticed I’m both more open to alternative arguments and critical of all arguments. I feel more receptive to oppositional takes or perspectives, while also finding myself tracing the path of all arguments I encounter. I often wonder, “what fallacies could this argument be relying on?” This was especially noticeable most recently going home for the holidays and having conversations with family and friends! 

I’m finding myself approaching different problems in my life in a more systematic way. I take a step back, apply some of the strategies I’ve learned in class, and can more readily and effectively approach issues that previously seemed overwhelming. 

I’m eager to continue honing and building my learning, critical thinking, and analysis skills in the next semester.

Quick Facts

Name
Country
Class
Major

Social Sciences & Business

Business & Computational Sciences

Business and Social Sciences

Social Sciences and Business

Computational Sciences & Social Sciences

Computer Science & Arts and Humanities

Business and Computational Sciences

Business and Social Sciences

Natural Sciences

Arts and Humanities

Business, Social Sciences

Business & Arts and Humanities

Computational Sciences

Natural Sciences, Computer Science

Computational Sciences

Arts & Humanities

Computational Sciences, Social Sciences

Computational Sciences

Computational Sciences

Natural Sciences, Social Sciences

Social Sciences, Natural Sciences

Data Science, Statistics

Computational Sciences

Business

Computational Sciences, Data Science

Social Sciences

Natural Sciences

Business, Natural Sciences

Business, Social Sciences

Computational Sciences

Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences

Social Sciences

Computational Sciences, Natural Sciences

Natural Sciences

Computational Sciences, Social Sciences

Business, Social Sciences

Computational Sciences

Natural Sciences, Social Sciences

Social Sciences

Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences

Arts & Humanities, Social Science

Social Sciences, Business

Arts & Humanities

Computational Sciences, Social Science

Natural Sciences, Computer Science

Computational Science, Statistic Natural Sciences

Business & Social Sciences

Computational Science, Social Sciences

Social Sciences and Business

Business

Arts and Humanities

Computational Sciences

Social Sciences

Social Sciences and Computational Sciences

Social Sciences & Computational Sciences

Social Sciences & Arts and Humanities

Computational Science

Minor

Computational Science & Business

Economics

Social Sciences

Concentration

Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence & Cognition, Brain, and Behavior

Designing Societies & New Ventures

Strategic Finance & Data Science and Statistics

Brand Management and Designing Societies

Data Science & Economics

Machine Learning

Cells, Organisms, Data Science, Statistics

Arts & Literature and Historical Forces

Artificial Intelligence & Computer Science

Cells and Organisms, Mind and Emotion

Economics, Physics

Managing Operational Complexity and Strategic Finance

Global Development Studies and Brain, Cognition, and Behavior

Scalable Growth, Designing Societies

Business

Drug Discovery Research, Designing and Implementing Policies

Historical Forces, Cognition, Brain, and Behavior

Artificial Intelligence, Psychology

Designing Solutions, Data Science and Statistics

Data Science and Statistic, Theoretical Foundations of Natural Science

Strategic Finance, Politics, Government, and Society

Data Analysis, Cognition

Brand Management

Data Science and Statistics & Economics

Cognitive Science & Economics

Data Science and Statistics and Contemporary Knowledge Discovery

Internship
Higia Technologies
Project Development and Marketing Analyst Intern at VIVITA, a Mistletoe company
Business Development Intern, DoSomething.org
Business Analyst, Clean Energy Associates (CEA)

Conversation

The first semester of the Master in Decision Analysis program has flown by and I can already notice shifts in my way of learning and thinking. Now is the perfect moment to reflect and share about my experience so far, before diving into the next semester.

How has the program been different than what I expected?

Going into the program, I wasn’t sure how we were going to connect as a cohort as our class spans eight time zones. However, we have found ways to connect. The sentiment of wanting to get to know one another beyond the classroom, and how we are applying course concepts in our lives, is shared across our cohort. Minerva has provided us with opportunities to connect, and as a cohort we’ve created groups attuned to our interests.

As someone with a social sciences and qualitative research background, I was most intimidated by the program’s coursework on formal logic, fallacy detection, statistics, and data analysis. The class I was most afraid of is now the class I am most eager to engage in. This eagerness has been fostered by my professor and classmates as we work together to unpack concepts and apply skills. 

What key lessons have I learned so far?

The cognitive transformation needed to effectively learn is slow and challenging, but gratifying. As someone who has studied in “traditional” ways throughout the entirety of my academic career, it is easy to fall back into old habits. Minerva provides us with research-backed tools to study, but it is up to us to actively apply them. I know when I do actually apply the tools, the course content and skills are more readily embedded in, and retrievable from, my mental repertoire. Building and nurturing these new mental muscles takes patience, time, and training. 

The program has pushed me to imagine alternative realities. In class, we often question reality and wonder what alternative reasons may exist for a particular outcome. We also question our own biases and push ourselves to consider the opposite of our initial perceptions. Practicing this line of questioning with my classmates and professors is instilling in me the habit of recognizing different possibilities, inputs, and outputs, for a given circumstance. 

How is the program impacting me so far? 

I’ve noticed I’m both more open to alternative arguments and critical of all arguments. I feel more receptive to oppositional takes or perspectives, while also finding myself tracing the path of all arguments I encounter. I often wonder, “what fallacies could this argument be relying on?” This was especially noticeable most recently going home for the holidays and having conversations with family and friends! 

I’m finding myself approaching different problems in my life in a more systematic way. I take a step back, apply some of the strategies I’ve learned in class, and can more readily and effectively approach issues that previously seemed overwhelming. 

I’m eager to continue honing and building my learning, critical thinking, and analysis skills in the next semester.