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Thread: Would indicating no need for funding improve admit chances?

  1. #1
    Trying to make mom and pop proud
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    Would indicating no need for funding improve admit chances?

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    I am an older student looking to go into a PhD program after a caree on Wall Street.. I have a pretty strong profile as far as school pedigree, grades, graduate schools, GRE, research experience and LORs. However, I realize that being older than typical and being out of academic environment for a while is a shortcoming.

    I am comfortable funding myself for at least 2 years, provided I get into a strong enough program to rationalize it.

    I was wondering whether reaching out to PhD coordinator and letting them know about this factor would improve my admit chances. On one hand, the unusual nature of my profile creates a "risk"
    in the eyes of the adcom.. but on the other hand if I don't need to be funded, theoretically this mitigates the cost of this "risk".

    Any thoughts anyone ?

  2. #2
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    Re: Would indicating no need for funding improve admit chances?

    Absolutely, if you don't need funding for first year but the adcom thinks you could handle the coursework, they are much much more likely to give you an offer of admission. That's your chance to show you can handle it.

    However, you'll need to be one of the best students in the program to then receive funding down the line. Funding is a commitment for many years to students who come into a program. It's a risk departments take to get people in the door. The idea is that a handful will turn out to be great. They probably wish they could just get rid of the weaker students after two or three years. However, they have to have more than just the very best students complete the program for a variety of reasons... would you attend if only 3 or 4 out of 20 made it through?

    Essentially, the problem is they don't know in advance who they should fund so they fund "too many" students. If you aren't one of the top people in you cohort after a year or two, you might find it quite difficult to secure funding.

  3. #3
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    Re: Would indicating no need for funding improve admit chances?

    Wonder if information like this is best communicated through a letter of recommendation writer who may have direct contact in the department you hope to get admission to. It seems like it could be a strong signal but could be tricky in how it is delivered...

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    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage
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    Re: Would indicating no need for funding improve admit chances?

    While what tm_member said is probably generally true, there are some PhD programs that don't really take this into account. In some cases, funded offers (fellowships) is purely merit based. In some cases, funding is always guaranteed in the 1st year for every offer given out, and in some subset of these cases, funding after the 1st year is based on 1st year grades / prelim results, etc etc.

    A lot of these applications may have a checkbox about funding anyway, but this doesn't necessarily indicate whether the economics department is going to take it into account.

    Because you can apply to a specific set of programs, you can try to maximize this advantage, but I don't think it's a huge factor. And for people that don't have the presumed wealth of OP, this option is really isn't worthwhile.

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    Re: Would indicating no need for funding improve admit chances?

    Just to throw in an additional POV, I know that at least some programs, grad students are relied on heavily to perform TA work. I am aware of instances of students requesting to sit out of TA work for a period of time (without pay, of course) and being told no. This is probably less of a thing at better places, though.

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    Re: Would indicating no need for funding improve admit chances?

    Quote Originally Posted by to2012 View Post
    Just to throw in an additional POV, I know that at least some programs, grad students are relied on heavily to perform TA work. I am aware of instances of students requesting to sit out of TA work for a period of time (without pay, of course) and being told no. This is probably less of a thing at better places, though.
    That's bizarre. TA work is so easy. Never took folks in my program more than an average of 5-6 hours a week during the semester and it was a great way to get to know other faculty outside your main fields. That's less than 100 hours per semester and in return, people got a $9k stipend and great health insurance. Being an RA is way more work.

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