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Thread: Profile Evaluation - Thank you in advance!

  1. #1
    Trying to make mom and pop proud
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    Question Profile Evaluation - Thank you in advance!

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    Dear Community,

    Thank you for taking the time to read my post! I have been a lurker for quite some time now, and decided it would be best to finally post my profile up for evaluation. I have an atypical situation, so please bear with me - apologies in advance for the block of text. First, some stats:

    Undergraduate school: Large state school, relatively unknown however, with an economics department that seldom puts people in PhD programs
    Undergraduate / Major GPA: 3.94, 4.0
    Type of undergrad: BA Economics, Math minor
    GRE (V,Q,A): 161, 166, 5.5
    Econ courses (All A's): Intermediate Micro/Macro, International, Advanced Economics Seminar, Applied Econometrics, Financial Economics, Business Cycles and Forecasting, Mathematics Fundamentals for Economists (Chiang), Development of Economic Thought, Public Finance
    Math courses (All A's): Calc I-III, Linear Algebra, Statistics (will be taking Real Analysis and Probability next semester, not sure if I should also take Differential Equations, Numerical Analysis, Vector Calculus, or an Applied Statistics for the Social Sciences course also)
    LOR's: Economics department chair with whom I helped establish our school's Omicron Delta Epsilon chapter (have taken a few classes with him, and spoken at great length regarding PhD goal), another econ professor (who studied at Cornell) who has allowed me to work on a math boot camp he administers to an Ivy League school during the summer, and has personally been working on edifying my math, and another econ professor (coincidentally from Cornell as well) who is also my adviser and whom I have done light research work with. Overall, rather strong. These professors know me very well and are superbly enthusiastic and encouraging for me to apply to higher ranked schools (such as Cornell) due to their connections and their perceived potential for me (according to what they say)
    Other: I have owned and operated private tutoring companies since high school, and have worked for international ones as well. Not sure if that would be seen as some sort of teaching experience. I also had the chance to work under an economist at a Fortune 100 doing regulatory (FRBB) and capital risk related work (not quite academic research, I know, but it did help pay the bills while giving me great connections)

    Concerns: Obviously, math. Further, research experience. The largest concern, however, is my status in the United States. Here is where things get complicated. I am a DACA recipient*, and I am rather fortunate to have been able to go to college at all. I had to claw my way into an undergraduate program based on my academic merits after having it be financially impossible for me to do so, and I know pursuing a graduate degree for someone of my background is extremely rare. However, I have had this as a goal of mine, in part to study the economic effects of policies such as DACA, for many years, and I simply do not see any other option for me that would be fulfilling. I am not applying to a PhD because it is easy, or I have nothing else to do, but rather because of my passion.

    Schools I am currently working on applications for (please feel free to knock any or all of them down): Cornell (honestly, just for the sake of the two aforementioned professors who have told me they will speak with someone. Otherwise, I would not even try that), Ohio State, Indiana - Bloomington, UC Boulder, FSU, U Delaware, Fordham, UMass Amherst. Any suggestions of what I should keep/give up on/consider applying to?**


    * For anyone who may be unfamiliar with DACA, this is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive action that President Obama issued in 2012. It allowed undocumented children who arrived in the US under the age of 16 (I came at the age of 5) the chance to come out of hiding and be granted deferred action of deportation for 2 years (with renewals every 2 years). This was recently rescinded by Trump. Regardless, DACA was fantastic because it allowed for people like me to work, drive, and do other basic things young teenagers and people in their early 20s should do. However, what it does not help with is granting any aid or benefits given to citizens, such as federal aid to pay for school. For example, I was admitted into Columbia for undergrad and granted some grants from the school, but due to my status I was unable to meet the rest of the financial requirements. Similarly, ASU was offering me a full scholarship but my inability to file a FAFSA (the free application for federal student aid) and prove my tax status (or, at least, my parents status, who were undocumented and eligible for DACA) did not allow me to accept it. Due to this, I had to enroll in community college my first two years while working full time, and then I sought around my state for any school that would look at just my transcripts and allow me to apply for private scholarships, which is what my current institution did. I am forever grateful for that.

    ** I get it. I am not like the 99% of you here with the most amazing credentials (and I truly have to applaud the vast number of you who have amazing profiles), and I also know that there will be some stigma against me due to my DACA status. I humbly ask that you please just give me your honest opinion on schools I should apply to, or anything else that may help my chances at getting in.

    Thank you all very much in advance!

  2. #2
    Within my grasp!
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    Re: Profile Evaluation - Thank you in advance!

    I don't get the point of writing about DACA in your post. You're acting like there is a stigma in the context of Phd admissions when there isn't one. Admissions committees won't care as long as you can stay in the country to finish the program.

    Your list of schools look good.

  3. #3
    economist
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    Re: Profile Evaluation - Thank you in advance!

    Apply to some schools ranked higher.

    You may well want to mention DACA. Schools are going to ask about citizenship and visa status. They may require FAFSA of Americans even though aid is based on merit. Explaining about DACA is likely to get you around some bureaucratic requirements.

  4. #4
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    Re: Profile Evaluation - Thank you in advance!

    Here is a link relevant to DACA and graduate admissions. The material is specific to UC Santa Barbara, but may be helpful for other places as well.
    Frequently Asked Questions

  5. #5
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    Re: Profile Evaluation - Thank you in advance!

    After a little further investigation, let me add a couple of points about DACA. First, California schools are quite friendly towards DACA applicants and have specific procedures to establish eligibility for various kinds of aid. (Turns out FAFSA is not needed.) Second, DACA status currently expires in two years or less, although this might well change. If DACA expires, then it is unlikely that any University is going to be able to offer work as a teaching assistant or other employment. I think it is too early to know whether universities will be able to arrange other kinds of support.

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