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Thread: Profiles and Results 2017

  1. #21
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    Re: Profiles and Results 2017

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    PROFILE
    Type of Undergrad: Economics, National University of Singapore (top Asian university, and practically doxxing myself)
    Undergrad GPA: equivalent to 3.33/4.00 (overall, including retaken class with initial F grade, otherwise 3.41),
    3.46/4.00 (econ)
    Grad GPA: NA
    GRE:168 Q, 168 V, 4.0 AW

    Math Courses:
    Calculus(B+), Multivariable Calculus(F, B+), Linear Algebra I-II (B+, A-), Probability (B), Intro to Real Analysis (B)
    Econ Courses (grad):
    Policy Impact Evaluation (A+)
    Econ Courses (undergrad):
    Intro Econ (A-), Micro I-III (A, B, B), Macro I-III (A-, A-, B+), Econometrics I-III (A-, A+, A-), Labor I-II (C+, B+), Development I (A-), International I-II (B-, A), Public I-II (B, B+), Financial I (B-), Money and Banking I (B-), Mathematical Econ (B), Game theory (B), Environmental I (A+), Senior Thesis (A+)
    Other courses:
    Innovation and Productivity (A+), Labour Law (A), Math of games (A+), Intro politics (A)
    Awards: Achieved an average grade among the top 5% (3.67/4.00) in my second semester, and among the top 1% (4.00/4.00) in my final semester (when I wrote my senior thesis).

    Letters:
    3 good letters from econ professors. One from a senior professor among the top 20 authors in my country (I know a research assistant of his got admitted to a top 10 school), who knows me well due to the small class size. Two from assistant profs (top 15 PhDs) I RA-ed for two years. One of them taught a core econ class and can compare the academic standards here to the US.
    Research experience:
    Empirical senior thesis on development/political economy topic, 1 year part-time RA (data cleaning, regressions) on empirical labor/development project, 1.5 years full-time RA (procuring data, data cleaning, regressions) on different empirical labor/development econ project.
    Teaching experience:
    None at the time of application, but my CV indicated future TAing in Spring 2017
    Research interests: applied micro (development, labor), trade, innovation/productivity
    SOP: In terms of academics, I briefly attributed some poor grades to the worsening of an ongoing health issue, which improved after I got help before my senior year. I referred to a guide on the comparability of international degrees to imply that my B+ level GPA was closer to an A level GPA in the US. I mentioned taking econ classes that used more advanced math without elaborating on my mediocre grades, and also mentioned my good performance in econometrics classes. For research experience, I tried to signal my ability to learn independently with a group project for which I had to learn Stata and do all the empirical analysis. I talked passingly about my senior thesis--because the idea and most of the data originated from the supervising prof--and explained that my initial idea didn't work out. I elaborated more on the range of tasks I did for my full-time RA job to show that I know my stuff. In terms of research interests and fit, I only mentioned applied micro and some fields in applied micro without specifying who I wanted to work with unless required. In addition, I took advice from some reddit comment to basically present something like a short research proposal to give a stronger signal of my interest in research. I had a pool of three research ideas, and usually included two that somewhat fit the research of faculty members I considered working with. The SOP reached 2 full pages in length for schools that did not set a strict limit.
    Other:
    Where possible, I submitted my senior thesis as a writing sample.

    RESULTS:
    Acceptances:
    MSU (assistantship with stipend each year), UC Irvine (assistantship with stipend each year + extra $15k total from their counteroffer to MSU's offer), Pitt (waitlisted for $), Maryland Ag Econ (funding unconfirmed), UC Davis Ag Econ MSc (rejected from PhD but offered quarter of TAship for MSc)
    Waitlists:
    UIUC, BC
    Rejections:
    Columbia, Michigan, UCLA, UCSD, Wisconsin-Madison, Berkeley Ag Econ, Cornell, Brown, Maryland, Duke Econ AND Business (Strategy), Boston U, UC Davis Econ and Ag Econ, UNC Chapel Hill, UVA, Purdue, Notre Dame, Texas A&M
    Attending:
    MSU, because its overall reputation is better than UC Irvine's.
    Comments:
    Going in, I knew I had to rely on the research experience angle and apply to many schools to get a reasonable chance of a funded offer. I filtered out schools with little to offer in fields I had an edge in, and missed the deadlines for some. I'm not sure whether the explanation of my academic record helped or not. One school mentioned the reason for rejection as having an academic record that was not as competitive as other candidates, which was very much expected. I half-expected an acceptance from UC Irvine because I scoured past threads and found two similar posters who were also accepted there (THANK YOU RECENT GENERATIONS OF TM POSTERS). I also don't know if it's a coincidence, but both my funded offers came from schools that still required hardcopies of transcripts to be sent directly to them. Some applicants may think that it's not worth the effort to apply to those places, so the competition there might be less stiff or maybe the adcomms have the luxury to properly evaluate--not immediately throw out on the basis of GPA--candidates like myself, with the caveat that the hassle probably screens out some types of candidates as well.

    What would you have done differently?
    I didn't apply to a masters program because I didn't want to spend so much money (no funding without excellent grades!) and now I feel relieved with that decision. A reply to my profile evaluation thread for a masters program mentioned that the good ones "almost always place their top few students in top 30," which is no better than MSU, and who's to guarantee my place as a top student in a masters program? Based on the results, I probably would have been satisfied applying to only UC Irvine, which was the place I believed I had the best chance of getting accepted. Choosing between MSU and UC Irvine was tough given my research interests. Despite the lower rank, UC Irvine has David Neumark and I heard from a graduate of the program that his students place relatively well. Moreover, quality of life and ease of travelling back to Asia is indubitably superior at UC Irvine.

    On the other hand, given the uncertainties of admissions for an international student without a graduate degree, I would say that applying to many schools definitely pays off; most of the schools below the top 30 rejected me anyway! I should also have been more careful through the application process. I didn't start applying early enough, which prevented the submission of some applications when I got some deadlines and procedures wrong; I was spacing out my applications and submitting them (far too) close to the deadline. I wasted too much time worrying about tailoring my SOP to schools even though I ended up mostly putting down my research ideas and letting the adcomms decide on the fit. I was also fortunate to have gotten good enough scores in the GRE in the first mid November attempt (except for the botched Analytical Writing section) to not need to retake it. I don't know if my subpar GRE Writing score harmed me and if my great TOEFL and verbal GRE scores helped.

    How accurate were others' predictions of your range of admissions?
    I didn't ask TM posters but the senior prof thought top 30 was expected. Another asst professor who I considered as an alternative letter writer thought I could go as high as top 20 but he didn't see my transcript, so he didn't know the full extent of my academic record. Personally, I was hoping for top 20 but expected top 30, meaning MSU is sort of within my predictions despite being the ONLY top 30 program to give me a funded offer. About half a year ago, my reading of past threads made me fearful to hope for even top 50-75 but one of my other letter writers assured me that I would be compared to candidates in the top 20 range in the LOR, so getting into a top 30 or 40 program could be possible even with the weakness in academics. That was good enough for me because I heard that one undergraduate from my university with much better grades (at least A- on average) only made it into another top 30 program (UVA), though I do not know where else he applied or the rest of his profile. At the same time, I want to emphasise how fortunate I am to have gotten two funded offers with my profile; that might not have been possible had I not applied to many schools and I still believe it was a close enough shave that I should have applied to more. I remember feeling frustrated that some schools were being dinosaurs about having to submit transcripts by post before confirming admittance, but now I'm grateful and honoured that two of those programs thought highly enough of me to give me funded offers.

  2. #22
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    Re: Profiles and Results 2017

    Reading these profiles was really helpful for me to get an idea of what I needed to do to succeed. I hope mine can help someone too! Good luck everyone.


    PROFILE:
    Type of Undergrad: BA Econ, BS Math Large State School
    Undergrad GPA: 3.9
    Type of Grad: n/a
    Grad GPA: n/a
    GRE: 168v /170q/ 5.0a
    Math Courses: Calc III, Dif Eq, Lin Eq, Stats, Intro to Proofs, Real Analysis I, Topology, Theory of Probability, Theory of Stats
    All A's
    Econ Courses: Inter Micro, Inter Macro, International Trade, Econometrics, Experimental Econ, Game Theory, IO, Grad Micro
    All A's
    Other Courses: CS Minor
    Letters of Recommendation: Honors Thesis Mentor, Professor I TA'd for, Professor I worked for over the summer
    Research Experience: Summer research position, Honors Thesis
    Teaching Experience: Two semesters Econometrics TA, One semester intro to proofs TA, One semester intro to Stats TA, Two years Math Tutor
    Research Interests: Applied Micro
    SOP: Rushed, could have used some more work. I didn't mention professors by name.
    Other: I have no publications.


    RESULTS:
    Acceptances:Harvard, Yale, Columbia, U Michigan, UCLA, UCSD, UC Davis, U Washington, Brown, Boston U
    Waitlists: University of Chicago (asked to be taken off before I heard back)
    Rejections: MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, Johns Hopkins U (off WL)
    Pending:
    Attending: Harvard
    Comments:


    What would you have done differently?
    I decided I wanted to do Econ in my junior year. I would have liked to have decided earlier and gotten more time to do research. I also wish I had worked more on my SOP.


    How accurate were others' predictions of your range of admissions? I had no idea I would do so well. I applied to a ton of places all over the rankings because I really didn't know what to predict and neither did my mentors.

  3. #23
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    Re: Profiles and Results 2017

    Profile
    Type of Undergrad:
    Bachelors in Commerce (International)
    Undergrad GPA: Top 1% in my batch
    Type of Grad: MA Economics (International - Not much known in US)
    Grad GPA: Top 5% in my batch
    GRE: 164Q/157V/4.0AW
    Math Courses: Calc I(A+), Linear Algebra (A+), Diff Eq (A+), Dynamic Programming, Intro Stats (A), Advanced Stats (B+)
    Econ Courses: Intro Micro/Macro, Intermediate Micro/Macro, Advanced Micro/Macro, International Econ,
    Time Series, Development (Time Series B+ rest all A's)
    Other Courses:
    Letters of Recommendation: (1) Grad Professor, UK PhD, thesis advisor- I am confident that the letter was very strong. (2) Grad Professor, US PhD - The letter must have been strong. (3) A young PhD I was working under, Top US PhD in Finance - Strong letter.
    Research Experience: Worked as a RA at a well known research organisation in home country.
    Teaching Experience: None
    SOP: Fairly standard highlighting my past work and research interests. Emphasised significantly on why I am sure of a career in academics and how I am prepared for it.
    RESULTS:

    Acceptances: UC Irvine($$$), Iowa State($$$), UW Seattle($), UC Santa Cruz.
    Waitlists: Indiana University (Asked to be removed off waitlist)
    Rejections: Michigan State, Brown, UW Madison, UNC Chapel Hill, WUSTL, Ohio State, Georgetown.
    Attending: UC Irvine
    Comments: I knew that my GRE score was bad enough to get my application thrown out in first round. My profile strengths were- good academic record throughout and strong letters from professors who regularly write for students to US schools. I think someone with a similar profile as mine but better GRE could have managed a Top 35 school.

    What would you have done differently?
    I am quite happy about attending UCI! I think the school is a great fit to my interests and I really wanted to be in Cali! However if at all I would have taken GRE earlier and improved my Quant score. In fact GRE should be taken at least 8 - 10 months in advance of starting applications.

    How accurate were others' predictions?
    Fairly accurate.

  4. #24
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    Re: Profiles and Results 2017

    Looks like I'm late to the party. Better late than never, right?

    PROFILE:
    Type of Undergrad:
    Finance major at non-ranked state university
    Undergrad GPA:
    3.8
    Type of Grad:
    MA economics, same as undergraduate institution
    Grad GPA:
    3.8
    GRE:
    168/159/4 -- Q/V/AW
    Math Courses:
    (All A's) Calculus 1-3, Linear Algebra 1-2, Mathematical Statistics 1-2, Intro to Real Analysis, Combinatorics, and Intro Differential Eqns
    Undergrad Econ Courses:
    Principles of Macro (B), Principles of Micro (A-), Intermediate Micro (A-), Intermediate Macro (A), International Trade (A), Math Econ (A), and Intro Econometrics (A)
    Grad Econ Courses:
    Labor (A-), Urban (A), Micro (A-), Macro (A), Time Series (B), Applied Econometrics (A-), Advanced Topics in Econometrics (A-), Topics in Business and Economic Forecasting (A), and Monetary Theory (A)
    Other Courses:
    Letters of Recommendation:
    Probably one of the weaker aspects of my application. One was from a professor with whom I've taken most of my econometrics courses with. Outside of a niche topic, I don't think that he is very well known. Another is from my graduate micro prof. whom I've also done a direct readings with. He's very active in his work and has many books published. Last one is from a Transportation professor who is also my research director at a transportation research center at my university. I am confident that they all spoke highly of me but the intensity of their kind words is uncertain, though I've gotten A's or A-'s in all of their courses and my research director thinks I'm awesome.
    Research Experience:
    2 years experience as a graduate research assistant at a transportation research center. One paper is pseudo-published and I've won an award from the U.S. D.O.T. for my work done there.
    Teaching Experience:
    None.
    Research Interests:
    Environmental and Natural Resource Economcis; this is probably a bit of a curve ball to adcoms since I've had zero formal experience and exposure on this topic outside of a directed readings course.
    SOP:
    Had multiple professors look at this and they all spoke highly of it. Covered the usual, brief background, interests, motivation for PhD, preparation for PhD, and motivation for choosing that particular school. I also made an effort to briefly mention the work done by professors of interest for each school.
    Other:

    RESULTS:
    $ = partial funding, $$ = standard full funding, $$$ = higher than average
    Acceptances:
    U of Oregon $$ , UMD College Park AREC $$, Georgia State $$, NCSU (requested to be removed), University of Arizona $, U of Colorado Boulder $$, UC Santa Barbara $$, U of Wyoming $$, Arizona State $$$
    Waitlists:
    I was briefly on the waitlist at ASUand I was apparently on Georgetown's waitlist unbeknownst to me.
    Rejections:
    U of British Columbia, Queen's University, University of Washington, UC San Diego, UC Davis, Columbia, Duke, and Georgetown
    Pending:
    Attending:
    UC Santa Barbara
    Comments:
    It took me a long time to decide on a major and to decide whether or not to pursue a PhD. This played into my unorthodox profile as well as any weaknesses in my application since it is hard to be proactive about one's application profile without a serious commitment.

    What would you have done differently?
    I should have interacted with my professors a lot more. Instead, I was the quiet kid in the class and at departmental gatherings. Not that I completely avoided my professors, I just did not utilize them as much as I could have. Also, if I had prepared for my current trajectory at a much earlier time in life I believe that my profile would have benefited enormously.

    How accurate were others' predictions of your range of admissions?
    I think that the results panned out as expected except for a few surprising rejections which are likely due to the "match" element.

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