Tutor profile: Alizee W.
What is operant conditioning?
Operant conditioning refers to the process of learning something through the use of rewards or punishments. There are four main terms that you will hear when someone discusses operant conditioning: positive punishment, positive reinforcement, negative punishment, and negative reinforcement. These terms can be confusing at first, so don't let them fool you: positive and negative here are not synonym to good or bad, but rather of presence or absence. To understand it better, picture this example: you would like to teach a young child to pay attention for 30min when doing homework. The four choices described above are possible ways to do so. You could first yell at the child when they stop paying attention before the 30min are up (this is positive punishment, the presence of yelling). You could also give the child candy when they do pay attention for 30min at a time (this is positive reinforcement, or the presence of a treat). You could also tell the child that if he focuses for 30min he would not have to do the dishes tonight (this is negative reinforcement, the removal of an unpleasant event, here doing the dishes). You could finally tell the child that he wouldn't be able to play video games that day if he doesn't focus for 30min on homework (this is negative punishment, the removal of a pleasant event, here the party). It is worth noting, however, that reward works better than punishment, so positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement typically work best. Plus, we'd never advise you to yell on a child!
Subject: College Admissions
What should I write about in my common application essay? What do admissions officers look for?
Having worked as an intern my senior year of college at Tufts University and as an alumni interviewer for that school, I can tell you that there is no ONE thing that admissions officers look for. What they do look for in the essay portion of the application is the student's personality and their motivation and interests; test scores and grades only give so much information about a student, and while they are very important, they are by no means the only factor in the decision process. What I would recommend you to do is reflect on what drives you. What is it that you are passionate about? Did a particular event shape who you are today or what you would like to do during and after college? Use the essay as a chance for you to create a cohesive narrative for yourself and link your extracurricular activities to your classes to your choice of major or college, etc. But be sure to remember that a good story is always more persuasive than a laundry list of accomplishments, and that it is always better to focus on one thing and describe it well than on too many things. Be compelling, precise, and most of all be yourself!
Subject: Corporate Finance
What is a WACC and how do you compute it?
WACC stands for weighted average cost of capital and is used to compute a firm's cost of capital. In essence, it is a measure of operational risk; typically, the higher the WACC, the higher the risk. It can be derived in a number of way, but the most typical equation you will encounter is the following: WACC= E/V*Re + (D/V*Rd*(1-Tc)) Looking at the formula, you can see that the WACC takes into consideration the proportion of the firm's value coming from its equity times the cost of equity, as well as the proportion of the firm's value coming from its debt times the cost of debt times one minus the corporate tax rate. As such, the WACC takes into account the firm's capital structure (i.e. its mix of equity and debt), and the associated cost. The WACC is most frequently used as a hurdle rate to evaluate the firm's return on invested capital (ROIC) and as a discount rate when valuing the firm using a discounted cash flow (DCF) approach.
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