PDA

View Full Version : 34 year old looking for PhD admissions advice



oldguy
10-18-2007, 02:22 PM
Here's my story:

BA-Economics from UT-Arlington in 1998 (GPA: 3.5).
Worked as Software Developer for 7 years.
Took Calculus 1,2, and 3 at TCC (a junior college).
Took Freshman and Software programming classes at UT-Arlington (GPA: 3.75).
Quit working.
Transferred to UT-Austin as a "degreed undergraduate".
Graduating next spring with a BSCS degree. Expected GPA: 3.6

Two professors will provide solid recommendation letters attesting to my ability to do graduate research.
One letter of recommendation from my former CIO, for whom I worked closely with for 4 years.
No published work.

GRE Verbal: 620
GRE Quant: 760

Research interests: Narrow interest in Computational Biology, and more broadly in Databases and Data Mining.

Schools I'm thinking about, based on my interests:
Cornell
Wisconsin
Columbia
NYU
Duke
Penn
UCSB


I would really appreciate any feedback on my choices considering my qualifications and history. From what I've read, my age may be a factor.

Thanks for your help.

CalmLogic
10-18-2007, 08:23 PM
From what I've read, my age may be a factor.

I think it's much less of a factor than domestic student vs. international student. Since you are a domestic applicant, my guess is that you will be competing primarily against other domestic applicants. International students, on the other hand, are competing against everyone else.

UPDATE: I re-read your post and I assume you will be taking most of the CS courses like operating systems, algorithms, etc. Therefore, I wonder why you don't want to go to UT at Austin since they rank better than all of the other schools on your list and they seem to be a great place for data mining.

oldguy
10-18-2007, 09:32 PM
I had read elsewhere that it is recommended to do your graduate work at a different school than you did your undergraduate work. And I guess I also feel that my application isn't quite competitive enough. They only accept 13% into the PhD program, and the average GRE scores are a bit better than mine. I also don't feel like I've done as well as some of my classmates ("Turing Scholars" who have managed to publish) who I think of as good UTCS PhD students. But I should have a candid talk with my advisor to see what he thinks.

CalmLogic
10-19-2007, 07:12 AM
I had read elsewhere that it is recommended to do your graduate work at a different school than you did your undergraduate work. I was watching a Berkeley webcast where the computer architecture professor, speaking on a tangent, said the same thing. What was crazy though was that earlier he was saying that Berkeley was the best place for computer architecture research, which is what USNews also seems to say. So it seemed to me like he was unknowingly telling undergrad students to downgrade for graduate school.

I also think this advice is getting really outdated in an age were everything is being put on the web, including videos of colloquium lectures (http://www.cs.washington.edu/news/colloq.info.html) and conference proceedings (http://videolectures.net).

zymeth02
10-19-2007, 11:09 AM
I have read so many of your post CalmLogic, and the links you post and the infos you share are very helpful. Thanks :)

oldguy
10-19-2007, 01:37 PM
I also think this advice is getting really outdated in an age were everything is being put on the web.

I completely agree. I think it seems a little silly to think that the only perspective computer science students get is that of their undergraduate professors.

Thanks for your help, CalmLogic.

oldguy
10-19-2007, 03:56 PM
Here's a thread at another forum on continuing graduate work at your undergrad school:

academics_anon: Staying at your undergraduate institution for grad school. (http://community.livejournal.com/academics_anon/1138066.html)

Several responses indicate that if you plan to pursue a career in academia then "academic inbreeding" will hurt your chances of finding a position. However, if you plan to follow a career in industry it should not be a problem.

CalmLogic
10-20-2007, 03:03 AM
Industry also doesn't seem to care as much about the prestige of the university, especially after one has already started working after graduate school.

CalmLogic
10-24-2007, 05:56 AM
I would think its possible that older applicants could possibly be considered helpful towards adding diversity, especially those with more than a few years of software industry experience, e.g.:


Consideration may be given to how the applicant’s background and life experience would contribute significantly to an educationally beneficial mix of students.

Georgia Institute of Technology :: Graduate Admissions : Statement on Competitive Admission (http://www.gradadmiss.gatech.edu/admission_standards.php) The best thing to be, of course, is a female US citizen.