BUMP! I'm hoping for a top 15, btw! thanks!
Please see my profile below!
Please evaluate where I should apply to. Should I bother with top 5? The graduate director who's probably writing a letter of recommendation for me mentioned that he could write very strong ones for 6-15, but not as strong for top 5...
I can get LoRs from a variety of people, but unfortunately no three great ones from great professors that i did research with. I'm leaning towards the graduate director + current employer Managing Principal. But the remaining one is a bit of a toss-up. Should i consistently go with one? I'm thinking the math prof? Should I have the senior lecturers write to their alma maters? For schools that allow more than 3, should I ask for a 4th and 5th?
Thanks a million!
Type of Undergrad: Public Ivy, top 40 Econ dept. ranking; B.S. Econ, B.S. Applied Math
Undergrad GPA: 3.69 (3.5 in grad Econ, 3.91 in Math/Amath, 3.81 in undergrad Econ)
GRE: Q:800, V:630, AW:4
Math Courses:Calculus I,II,III (3.8, 3.8, 4.0),Math/ Stat Courses (grad-level):
Matrix Algebra (4.0), Differential Equations (4.0), Linear Algebra (4.0), Applied Regression (3.2),
Intro Modeling (3.8), Probability & Statistics (3.8),
Mathematical Reasoning (4.0), Real Analysis (4.0), Adv. Multivar (3.8),
Linear Optimization (3.9), Nonlinear Optimization (4.0), Discrete Optimization (3.8)
Applied linear algebra (3.4), Portfolio Statistical Methods (3.4)
Econ Courses (grad-level):Micro I, II, III (3.7, 3.7, 3.3),
Econometrics II, III (3.5, 3.2).,
2nd-year Contract Theory (3.6)
Econ Courses (undergrad-level):Investment & Finance (3.8), Industrial Org (4.0), Econometrics (3.6),
Other Courses:MPA course on psych for pol analysis (3.2),
Java programming I, II (4.0, 3.9), C/ Unix (3.8)
Letters of Recommendation:Graduate director who taught graduate Micro I, II, III, and Contract Theory (Very Strong, well published in field)
Math Professor who taught optimization (Strong, well published)
B-School Professor I RA-ed for (Good-Strong, haven't kept in touch very well)
Managing Principal went to Michigan (Very Strong, still publishing in health econ)
Senior Lecturer went to Berkeley (Very Strong)
Senior Lecturer went to MIT (Very Strong)
Senior Lecturer went to Harvard (Very Strong)
Research Experience:Co-author paper on telecommunication auctions presented at conference, submitted to low journal with revision requested.
RA for b-school professor (half year STATA programming).
RA for b-school phd candidate (1 year data cleaning).
Teaching Experience:2 time grader.
Review seminar leader (1 year)
Research Interests: Applied Micro: IO and Healthcare
SOP: Will be strong
Other:2 years Economic Consulting: Conjoint analysis, survey design, health economics modeling, SAS programmingConcerns:
Actuary P/1 exam
- Fall-out with both thesis adviser and co-author of other research paper. Will no LoRs from them be taken negatively? Both fall-outs were due to me biting off more than I could chew and getting too busy.
- Should I mention my thesis? I bit off more than I could chew and basically bombed it, but it's not obvious on my transcript. Should I mention writing a thesis and drawing attention, or ignore it?
- Can I submit co-authored paper as writing sample?
Thanks for the comments! 3.3-3.4 is average for the grad courses. 3.5-3.8 is A-btw no A+ given
I also took more courses than the average grad student though i'm not sure how I would make that obvious. All of the above was done in 4 years undergrad. Should I aska letter of recommendation writer to mention/ compare the average grad workload?
If your writers are good at writing LORS, they should mention your workload (which indeed seems very high). You could remind them to do so if you want.
You can also convey the same thing in your SOP - boast about taking a lot of challenging courses and research in order to learn as much as you can. Don't take the approach of "I made a mistake and bit off more than I could chew"; it's important to keep a positive tone.
I think biting off more than one can chew is pretty typical of UG theses, hence common warnings against grandiosity and recommendations to find a nice neat corner of the literature to attack. I mean, I certainly bit off a chunk. But at the same time I have a broad sketch of a long-term research program now. Ambition isn't a negative, and they understand even great UG candidates will be very immature in their research skills. I'm imagining programs would rather focus and hone a candidate with voracious ambition and interest, than try to inspire someone who's a little timid and lost in their third year.
I don't know what you mean by "falling out," but unless it means "they don't like me any more and we don't speak really anymore," I would ask them whether they feel confident in recommending you anymore. If you get anything <= a polite, but luke-warm "sure," I would go elsewhere.
Your greatest opportunity for learning in life, both personally and professionally, will be to imitate exceptional people. My advice is to get as close as you can to them and try to do small justice to their example.
Thanks for all the feedback, guys!
Any suggestion on which LORs to use?
Also, chateauheart, if you think top 15 is tough, what schools would you suggest? Is there an appropriate way for me to put the grading in context? From what I've heard, grading at our school is lower than say, an Ivy, and a 3.5 or 3.7 is considered more highly than it would be elsewhere.
It's true that public schools generally have harsh grading at the undergrad level, so your math grades are pretty great. The main problem is with your graduate courses, two of which are below average, and none of which are above A-. Since you took them at a top 40 department, that will raise doubts that you would be a strong student in a top 20 department.
This by itself is not a big problem (you're already better than most applicants in academics), but coupled with the problems you mention with your research (fallouts/poor thesis) it makes it hard for you to stand out from the crowd. You should definitely apply to some top 15s, but don't put all your eggs in one basket.
As for the letters, I don't think your math professor can contribute any more to your profile (you have strong grades in math). The B-School professor you RAed for is the only one that can say something about your research experience (although it seems pretty routine). A senior lecturer is a possible choice if you want to be safe.
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