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Thread: B- in Linear Algebra - retake?

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    B- in Linear Algebra - retake?

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    Hi,

    I didnít do well in my undergraduate Linear Algebra II class and got a B- - mainly because I bombed my final exam. Anyways, I just graduated and am now working as an RA, and have the opportunity to take post-bacc classes at a local university (different form the university I attended). Should I retake Linear Algebra, or should I just leave it and take other classes like stochastic processes or the statistics version of Linear regressions? Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

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    Re: B- in Linear Algebra - retake?

    You should probably retake it. If you want to take another course instead, it should be a proof-based course. That usually means real analysis.

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    Re: B- in Linear Algebra - retake?

    Thanks! I actually did take real analysis the following semester and got an A. Should I just go ahead and retake Linear Algebra then? Are there any other undergraduate classes that I should take (eg. analysis 2) or should I get ahead and take a graduate economics class in the spring? Thanks again!

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    Re: B- in Linear Algebra - retake?

    Linear algebra isn't a signaling thing, you really need to know it. I would probably recommend retaking, but if you are absolutely sure you really know the material then it might make sense to take a more advanced math course (and get another A).

    In most places it's hard to pick up a first graduate course in the spring, but perhaps it's possible at your institution.

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    Re: B- in Linear Algebra - retake?

    Quote Originally Posted by donteatmybacon View Post
    Hi,

    I didnít do well in my undergraduate Linear Algebra II class and got a B- - mainly because I bombed my final exam. Anyways, I just graduated and am now working as an RA, and have the opportunity to take post-bacc classes at a local university (different form the university I attended). Should I retake Linear Algebra, or should I just leave it and take other classes like stochastic processes or the statistics version of Linear regressions? Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!
    Don't retake it. Most of the people who are giving out advice on urch are likely to be people who (1) are not in any top departments (2) do not know the admissions process for doctoral programs in economics. There's a running joke already within the field about clueless wannabe advisors on urch who won't stop traumatizing young prospects by saying that you won't stand a chance without analysis. Please take the advice you get from this forum with a grain of salt. A lot of people responding to questions on here are still undergraduates.

    I hadn't taken Real Analysis, and I know a few people in my cohort who hasn't. I also happen to know a few people at Harvard and MIT who hasn't taken any math beyond multivariable calculus and linear algebra.

    If you already gotten an A in Real Analysis, then stop there. If you're passionate about math then go ahead and take a few more. But you don't need anymore.

    What you NEED are good letters. And I can't stress this enough. Letters are the only thing you need to get into a top program. How do I know that? My relative is on the adcom at Chicago.

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    Re: B- in Linear Algebra - retake?

    Quote Originally Posted by columbia View Post
    Don't retake it. Most of the people who are giving out advice on urch are likely to be people who (1) are not in any top departments (2) do not know the admissions process for doctoral programs in economics. There's a running joke already within the field about clueless wannabe advisors on urch who won't stop traumatizing young prospects by saying that you won't stand a chance without analysis. Please take the advice you get from this forum with a grain of salt. A lot of people responding to questions on here are still undergraduates.

    I hadn't taken Real Analysis, and I know a few people in my cohort who hasn't. I also happen to know a few people at Harvard and MIT who hasn't taken any math beyond multivariable calculus and linear algebra.

    If you already gotten an A in Real Analysis, then stop there. If you're passionate about math then go ahead and take a few more. But you don't need anymore.

    What you NEED are good letters. And I can't stress this enough. Letters are the only thing you need to get into a top program. How do I know that? My relative is on the adcom at Chicago.

    Yes, if you are an undergrad in a top program, have access to well-known faculty who send students to top 5 programs every year, and have proven to be a brilliant research assistant, a B in linear algebra, or the lack of real analysis, or an awful GRE score won't stop you from getting into a top 5 program. But no one is pretending that linear algebra is a make-or-break factor. The typical applicant doesn't have access to the (unconstrained) signals of quality; the best letter they may theoretically be able to obtain could be a highly enthusiastic letter from a professor with no track record of sending students to top programs - in which case, it's limited in upside, and the student would need to do equally well in less important - but standardized - signals like GPA, GRE or sheer amount of math coursework. OP's previous thread seems to indicate that he doesn't have access to the highly valuable letters that you would refer to; and additionally, he probably has diminishing returns to investment in RA work because he has already spent 2 years on RA work for those professors. Finally, as startz mentioned, mastering the subject of linear algebra has significant intrinsic value (compared to, say, a course in topology or grad analysis, which would mostly be signaling). Given all that context, retaking the linear algebra course seems a justifiable investment of his time.

    In short, I think students like OP are competing in a different pool of students than those you're referring to, and you might be excessively generalizing from your own successful case.

    I'm guessing you're probably a 1st/2nd year PhD student, which means I probably know at least twice as many students from the top 10 PhD programs than you do, and I've also closely mentored around a dozen students applying to a wide range of programs in this forum over the years - and have received detailed feedback about their successes and failures. I think it's your advice that's idiosyncratic, not startz's. Throwing your pedigree around doesn't impress anyone; several of us on this forum are significantly more involved than you are in grad admissions if the most relevant experience you can cite is having a relative on an adcom committee.
    Last edited by chateauheart; 08-22-2018 at 03:25 PM.

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