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Thread: Introduction and Advice Search

  1. #1
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    Introduction and Advice Search

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    Hi all, I'm new to this forum, so I just thought I would introduce myself and ask for some advice while I'm at it.

    Home
    :Southeastern Pennsylvania
    Current Institution: McGill University, 2nd year
    Program: Joint Honours in Economics and English Literature (more on that below)
    Favorite Economist: Paul Krugman (I know it's cliché, but his tweets are savage)
    Post-Graduation Plan: Pursue a PhD in economics with a specialization in development economics

    So, now that that's out of the way, one of the main reasons I created an account here is because I really need some advice, whether that comes in the form of some unpleasant truth or some words of comfort (of course I'd prefer the latter, but please do be honest). For starters, it is true that the English component of my degree is mostly a personal passion thing; that being said, it also serves a practical purpose. The bare Honours Econ degree here does not guarantee that you will be able to get research experience; however, with the Joint Honours with English, I will likely get to write a research paper that will be interdisciplinary, and right now it looks like it might be as much as 30% hard econ research, which I figure can't hurt on an application.

    My advisors have assured me that as long as I continue to do well in my econ and math courses–with the exception of two semesters of French, all my electives outside of Econ and English will be math–the fact that my English degree has little to no bearing on econ won't hurt me on grad school apps. That being said, I am an extremely anxious person, and while I love my English courses and, for both the personal and practical reasons, likely won't give up the English component, I am still a bit worried about my overall appeal to grad schools.

    I am currently in my second of three years at McGill (I am graduating a year early thanks to a lot of AP credits) so I will be starting to get my apps together over the summer. I am including hear a personal profile/brief CV, as well as a tentative, though fairly solid, list of grad schools I plan on applying to. I'm just putting this out there to see what sorts of advice you guys might have, in the hopes that things aren't as bad as I think but with the understanding that I may get back advice I don't like. So here it goes:
    NB: the highest grade you can get at McGill is an A, no A+s here

    CGPA
    : 3.93
    GRE: 167Q, 167V, 6AW
    Econ courses completed by graduation w/ grades if available: Honours Micro (2 semesters, A), Economic Development (A), Honours Macro (2 semesters), Honours Econometrics (2 semesters), Honours Advanced Theory (2 semesters), 2 electives (one of which will hopefully be an independent research project and the other a masters level course)
    Math courses completed by graduation w/ grades if availble: Calc 1 (AP Credit), Calc 2 (A-), Calc 3 (A), Advanced Calculus, Intro to Stats 1 (AP Credit), Intro to Stats 2 (A), Linear Algebra and Geometry (A), Ordinary Differential Equations, Real Analysis
    Other Info: small but paid internship this past summer (figure this won't count for much), Skype tutor kids in Kenya for an NGO my development prof runs (the only reason this might count is because my intended stream is development), helped to found an egalitarian Jewish group on campus, writer for the Business Review, made Dean's Honours List my first year

    Again, any advice is appreciated. Thanks!
    PS: This is a very strange and probably stupid question, but it also does worry me that I am a Jewish male applying for a PhD Program in economics. Since Jews are already VERY well represented in this field, could that be a point against me?
    Last edited by dmunson98; 12-12-2017 at 09:45 PM. Reason: Privacy

  2. #2
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    Re: Introduction and Advice Search

    McGill has a nice, structured program that sends students to good PhD programs. Where you end up is what your letter writers are going to say. The same people that taught your honors sequence.

    From a quick glance, I think you should do an MA in Econ at a big 4. Maybe you will have a shot at a top 20.

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    Re: Introduction and Advice Search

    As Zubrus said, where you end up is really down to the letters. You potentially tick all the boxes for admission to top schools (good GRE scores, high GPA from a reputable institution, research experience) and have done well in Econ and Math classes despite the potential to get distracted by your unrelated major.

    Just my two cents, but I think writing/communication abilities have larger returns than people think. Of course, I don't know how to prove that empirically!

    Also, apply to many more schools. Your interests will probably change in grad school. Therefore, you should at least be applying to Penn (maybe Wharton?), Princeton, MIT, NYU, and so on given your list suggests you would be willing to live in these cities.

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    Re: Introduction and Advice Search

    I'm applying this year from McGill as well so I'll let you know how it turns out in April, haha.

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    Re: Introduction and Advice Search

    Thanks for the advice! Honestly, letters are something I am a bit concerned about. Because of how large the department is here, it's very difficult to get a professor more than once, so I will pretty much just be asking professors whom I have had once. That being said, I go to office hours a lot and I participate/ask questions in class (hopefully not too stupid ones though lol) so I'm banking on that level of familiarity and my performance for some, at the very least, good letters.

    As for how many schools I am applying to–I am concerned, really, about not getting into ANY PhD programs, even if I apply to a bunch, which would be flushing a lot of money down the drain–essentially, I am trying to strike a balance between applying to a lot of schools and increasing my odds but paying a lot on application fees and applying to not many and decreasing my odds but spending less on fees (wow this sounds a lot like information criteria). Do you think, given my profile and the schools currently on my list, I would have enough of a shot at getting into some PhD programs right out of undergrad to make it worthwhile to apply to more of the more competitive ones?

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    Re: Introduction and Advice Search

    Hahaha yeah, your username makes it fairly obvious. Are you by any chance (obviously not asking for a name) in metrics this year with Chaudhuri, or did you take it last year with Davidson?

  7. #7
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    Re: Introduction and Advice Search

    I actually took the course 3 years ago with davidson. Long story but I ended up staying here for a masters after my undergrad.

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    Re: Introduction and Advice Search

    Not sure if my reply posted the first time so trying it again–my one concern with applying to more schools is that I won't be able to get into any of them and I will just be wasting more money on applications. Given my current list of schools and my profile, are you saying that I could afford to apply to more PhD programs and that I would probably be able to get in to at least one right out of undergrad?

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    Re: Introduction and Advice Search

    I would wait till this summer if I were you before deciding on schools. By then you should have most of your econ grades except for adv theory and know your profs reasonably well to ask for references.

    If your concern is the english component, I dont think keeping the english is a problem if you're doing well in it.

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    Re: Introduction and Advice Search

    Quote Originally Posted by EconMcGill View Post
    I would wait till this summer if I were you before deciding on schools. By then you should have most of your econ grades except for adv theory and know your profs reasonably well to ask for references.

    If your concern is the english component, I dont think keeping the english is a problem if you're doing well in it.
    Honestly, in my experience, it's harder to get A's in my English courses than in many of my other classes, though they are not dragging down my GPA at all and I really want to keep the English component so that, if I can't find a research position in the Econ department, I have the bit of econ research I will be doing for my joint honours thesis at least. So I don't think that that will be going anywhere.

    The other thing is that I actually managed to skip 257 (and apparently I dodget a bullet there) due to AP Statistics, so I actually have two more economics electives I will be taking my last year here, as well as a few more math courses.

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