Excel and Statistics — Why It’s the Better Choice Over the TI-84
Every college student takes a course to learn the Microsoft package (Word, Excel, Access, etc.), yet the majority of us are still uncomfortable with using Excel at even an intermediate level. When many students realize the same statistical tools can be done in their handy dandy calculator, it’s the obvious solution. So why do some statistics courses encourage, and in many cases, force students to use Excel instead?
While Excel may give you anxiety, it really is the prime tool to use for statistics. The main advantage is the ability to simply input new data, and achieve results. The primary advantage, and this applies to many different things in life, is that you only have to solve a statistics problem, or set up a personal budget, one time. When you need it again, you simply enter in your new numbers and Excel pumps out the answer. Gone are the days of having to redo a problem eight times despite the obvious similarities — Excel saves you time and effort.
This might not apply to many of us in statistics classes, but realistically if you have more than ten data points, do you really want to sit and enter them into your calculator over and over? Unfortunately, many people choose this as their solution because of their natural fear of Excel. If you’re a business statistics student, then this is what should really apply to you. Statistics is less about calculations and more about analysis of results. Having a tool that can generate results in a few seconds has a million business applications. While we deal with small sample sizes for conceptual understanding in any statistics class, you simply can’t make any significant conclusion off a small number of observations. Mastering Excel allows you to really look at what behaviors your customers exhibit, but also to look at it from different perspectives.
Every major decision in the world is made based off statistics, and any professor worth their salt will attempt to have you do this in Excel. From science to finance to engineering, statistical analysis dictates what is right/wrong, or what the right decision may be. An understanding of statistics is useful, but being unable to generate the numbers can be crippling.
Colleges are sub par at best for showing you the true uses of Excel. A statistics tutor can quickly and easily lead you to the conclusion, but also strengthen your Excel skills at the same time.