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Thread: 2018 (or 2019) Ph.D (unorthodox) applicant profile evaluation / advice

  1. #1
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    2018 (or 2019) Ph.D (unorthodox) applicant profile evaluation / advice

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    Ok, I’m pretty unorthodox:

    EDUCATION

    Undergrad (2009-2013)
    School: Top-5 USNWR
    Major: History and English
    GPA: 3.30 (almost entirely humanities classes)

    Math/stats/econ courses:
    AP credit: Micro, Macro, Calc I, Calc II
    Intro Stats (A)

    Non-degree class prep for grad programs (2015-2016)
    Linear Algebra – local community college (A)
    Calc III – local community college (A)
    Micro Theory I MA level - #50 econ university (A+)
    Micro Theory II Ph.D level - #50 econ university (A+)
    Econometrics I Ph.D level - #50 econ university (A)

    M.S. program (2016-2018)
    Program: Math and Statistics
    School: Top-20 USNWR
    GPA: 3.8

    M.S. courses taken/taking:
    Probability Theory (B+)
    Mathematical Statistics (A expected)
    Deterministic Mathematical Models (A expected)

    Future courses:
    Real Analysis I – summer
    Optimization – summer*
    Ordinary Diff Eq (local community college) - summer
    Stochastic Processes – fall
    Numeric Methods – fall


    RESEARCH EXPERIENCE

    Data journalism for two years with publications in major media
    R.A. at econ think tank for 1 year for a low-level economist
    R.A. for econ prof at #40 econ program*
    Econ research at think tank for 1.5 years, but not for an economist

    *Currently debating the Optimization course or R.A. job for this summer

    MISCELLANEOUS INFO

    LORs:
    1. Prof at top-50 econ school, Ph.D from top-5 econ program – received A+ in Ph.D course
    2. Prof at top-50 econ school, Ph.D from top-20 econ program – received A in Ph.D course
    3. Prof at top-40 econ school, Ph.D from top-5 econ program* – RA-ed for (assuming I take the RA job)
    Backup letter of recommendation: Prof at top-50 econ school, Ph.D from top-70 econ program – RA-ed for

    Teaching experience: Possible T.A. for math grad course this fall

    GRE: Taking this summer, confident I can do 167+

    Other info: Hispanic (I assume this helps a bit)

    Applying to: #1-25 programs

    Research interests: Not sure, but enjoy econometrics, Micro, and IO

    Concerns:
    lack of econ undergrad courses (though I got As in two Ph.D first-year classes)
    low undergrad GPA (though it was 5+ years ago and hoping good M.S. GPA can make up for it)
    limited research experience

    MAIN QUESTIONS

    1. Should I take the Optimization course or RA for the professor this summer?

    2. If I apply this fall (to start 2018), what rank of school do you think I can expect to be admitted to?

    3. I’m considering delaying another year (to start 2019) so I can supplement my resume with:
    Courses: Bayesian Statistics, Machine Learning, Partial Diff Eq, Measure Theory, Real Analysis II
    More RA experience, possibly a formal job at IMF, World Bank, or Fed

    What rank of school do you think I can expect to be admitted to in 2019 with this extra on my application?

  2. #2
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    Re: 2018 (or 2019) Ph.D (unorthodox) applicant profile evaluation / advice

    I would definitly take the RA job. In my opinion, letter of recommendation's are the most important thing for a succesful application, and given that you have already taken several math and grad-level econ courses, I would focus on making sure those letters are perfect.

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    Re: 2018 (or 2019) Ph.D (unorthodox) applicant profile evaluation / advice

    Seeing that you're an under-represented minority from the U.S. (this is especially rare in the econ applicant demographic, and is a huge bonus at most places) - I'd be surprised if you don't get a top 15 funded offer.

    I'd say your profile is good for a top 30 admit otherwise.

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    Re: 2018 (or 2019) Ph.D (unorthodox) applicant profile evaluation / advice

    It goes without saying that you should definitely apply to all the major scholarship sources: NSF GRFP, Soros Fellowship, Ford Foundation (?, not sure on this one, but it was something similar sounding). I would look into prepping your applications now since it can be very involved (I applied to the NSF last minute but obviously wish I spent more time on it).

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    Re: 2018 (or 2019) Ph.D (unorthodox) applicant profile evaluation / advice

    Also, I say this as someone who comes from a working class background, think long and hard about dedicating more years to pursuing the PhD pipe dream (given that you graduated in 2013). Applications are absurdly competitive and the ROI of the PhD is fairly low considering the wage premium a Top 5 undergrad grad could command in the labor market.

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    Re: 2018 (or 2019) Ph.D (unorthodox) applicant profile evaluation / advice

    Well, he's had 4+ years of part/full time research and 2 years of PhD prep since college. At this point, I'd say he seems dedicated to this cause.

    Econ is still a really good discipline if you are enthusiastic about research. We don't have to be lab monkeys for 5 years like the natural sciences, we don't have to bullshit for a living like humanities, and we are paid much more than the other social sciences. And it's easier than many other disciplines to get a R1 academic job in the U.S. or at a decent university overseas.

    (also, the wage premium of being a top 5 undergrad isn't actually that high, unless you're in some really clique-ish industries. Most professions don't care too much. The dispersion is even less than PhD programs. The 40th percentile of undergrad salaries at a top 5 institution might equal the 60th percentile of undergrad salaries at a top 100 college, and the ranking can be quite different from USNWR)

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