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Thread: Fall 2019 Econ PHD Evaluation

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    Fall 2019 Econ PHD Evaluation

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    Type of Undergrad: top 15 Econ Programme

    Undergrad GPA:
    3.7 (but only 3.4 in Economics, 3,7 in Poli Sci, and 3.6 in Math - i did a double major in econ and poli science and econ, with a math minor).

    Math Courses: Calc II, Calc III, Statistics, Linear Algebra

    Econ Courses: Macro I, Macro II, Micro I, Micro II, Money and Banking, International Econ, Urban Econ, Econometrics I and Financial Econ

    Political Science Courses: Comparative politics, International Politics, Political Theory, German Politics, French Politics, Political Science Honors I and II, American Primacy, Political Economy

    GRE Scores: 165V, 166Q, 5.0 AW

    Letters of Recommendation: I understand one should be professional as I have been out of academia for a bit... This one shouldnt be a problem, as my bosses and directors have been very willing to write a good letter. The two others, one will be from a professor I took an intermediate course with, and got an A. The other from an associate professor who i took several classes with.

    Research Interests: Macroeconomics (more specifically monetary and fiscal policy), Political Economy, Financial Economics, Development economics g

    SOP: general, pretty confident about it actually.

    Research Experience: wrote some papers while at school, only one published (political science honors thesis), and did write another at the bank i work in.

    Teaching Experience: None whatsoever

    Other: Been working at a bank for the last few years. Speak five languages, and have some very light experience with coding (only VBA).

    I am scared that my application is weak, in particular my letters of recommendation, and my Math. I am applying to most top schools, in particular the ones focused in macro and political economy. But I am thinking of applying to some masters programs as backup - notably NYU, Columbia, LSE and some european ones.... But I have recently heard that Some of these masters programs arent well-rated. Does anyone have any tips? Do you think I'm getting scared over nothing, or should I really go for the masters? Going for a R.A. position is probably a no-go for me, as I'm a foreigner, and I think the idea of getting the visa just for that seems quite improbable for me.
    Last edited by Firechao; 11-05-2018 at 01:11 AM.

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    Re: Fall 2019 Econ PHD Evaluation

    I was also a political science and economics double major. I would highly recommend taking at least one real analysis course. Not only is this a basically necessary condition for consideration at top schools (some schools explicitly list it as recommended) it is also a good taste of what the 1st year is like. I am currently right in the middle of first year, and I can tell you that even the not-explicitly-math courses (like microeconomics and macro) are basically applied math and are heavily proof based. So real analysis is a signal, but also a good picture of what an econ PhD looks like. You can take real analysis online or at a university. North Dakota, UMUC and others have decent online options.If you hate real analysis, based on your interests you might be a better fit for a business school or better yet a public policy PhD program.

    The biggest red flag though is the grades. In top program admissions it is basically expected that you did really well in all economics and math courses - a C or even a lot of Bs will put you at a distinct disadvantage at top schools. If there was a small period during which you were got most of your less good grades (and their was a specific specific reason), I would make sure to address it in your SOP.

    Beyond that I would try and make sure you really cultivate at least one academic letter where the professor can speak to your research potential and relative aptitude ("x was in the top y% of all the students I have taught, and shows real promise for research"). This might be hard since you have been out of school, but I was in a similar situation and was able to refresh my connections to professors by meeting up with them and doing some work for them on their research projects.

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    Re: Fall 2019 Econ PHD Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by laborsabre View Post
    Beyond that I would try and make sure you really cultivate at least one academic letter where the professor can speak to your research potential and relative aptitude ("x was in the top y% of all the students I have taught, and shows real promise for research"). This might be hard since you have been out of school, but I was in a similar situation and was able to refresh my connections to professors by meeting up with them and doing some work for them on their research projects.
    I think this was a possible route for you because, if I recall correctly, you were nearly a straight A student in economics. I really doubt most econ professors would invest any time with a B/B+ student from one of their intermediate or elective econ courses. As someone who has some experience with advising undergrads on their projects, there's only about 1 out of 10 that I would be willing to advise if I don't get paid for it.
    Last edited by chateauheart; 11-02-2018 at 10:11 AM.

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    Re: Fall 2019 Econ PHD Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by chateauheart View Post
    I think this was a possible route for you because, if I recall correctly, you were nearly a straight A student in economics. I really doubt most econ professors would invest any time with a B/B+ student from one of their intermediate or elective econ courses. As someone who has some experience with advising undergrads on their projects, there's only about 1 out of 10 that I would be willing to advise if I don't get paid for it.
    I think that's true, but I was trying to give the OP the benefit of the doubt. I was taking as given that the OP was going to apply to the range of schools he stated. Given that, he would need to rekindle these connections. I think though that the optimal route for the OP is to revise his/her range of schools, for a number of reasons. This is why I brought up the grades issue in my post.

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    Re: Fall 2019 Econ PHD Evaluation

    Thank you for your reply... so basically my best bet would be, if it doesn’t work out in the current process, to beef up my application with some real analysis through an online programmer... Would a masters program not help? I mean, it should help me get closer to academia and therefore professors that could then write me new letters right? Or do you think I wouldn’t have a very good shot at that (as in- my profile is weak even for masters programs).

    I also could get a pretty strong strong letter from the professor who advised me on my honors thesis, but that was for political science... would it be helpful nonetheless?

    what sort of school would be more realistic? I was thinking going for too 20 schools, but should I go lower? How much lower?

    For the grades, the big issue was a semester, where I took extra classes, and had a personal issue going on... so I guess I could address that, but nonetheless, removing that semester, most of my grades were around A- sprinkled with 1-2 B+...

    Chateauharte, you said you’d not likely do it if you were getting paid- what do you mean? Are there services that I can purchase for advising in this sense?

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    Re: Fall 2019 Econ PHD Evaluation

    What range of schools do you think would be more realistic? I do realize the more I read on this forum that perhaps I have been overly ambitious (I might still send it out to some of these schools, just because who knows), and am open to suggestions. Do you think i’d Have a shot at taking the masters into PhD route? Or do you think my profile would be too weak even for those masters programs?

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    Re: Fall 2019 Econ PHD Evaluation

    The best way to gauge relative competitiveness is to look at past Profiles & Results Threads. It'll give you a chance to measure yourself against past results, and approximate where you stand.

    I'd also like to point out that you shouldn't be too quick to dismiss the full-time RA route. There are a considerable number of places that sponsor visas for their RAs.

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    Re: Fall 2019 Econ PHD Evaluation

    One of my friends is an international student here on a J1 visa for an RAship. Its definitely doable.

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    Re: Fall 2019 Econ PHD Evaluation

    Quote Originally Posted by Firechao View Post
    Chateauharte, you said you’d not likely do it if you were getting paid- what do you mean? Are there services that I can purchase for advising in this sense?
    Well, yes, there are paid advising/application tutoring services. But I didn't mean it that way. What I mean is that I was a teaching assistant for some research-focused undergrad courses, and there is roughly 1 out of 10 students that I would be glad to teach for free. For the rest, it felt like a job, and frequently an annoying job.

    Professors are, of course, generally busier than grad students like me. They have even less of an interest to mentor random undergrad students. I think you need to be at least the top 2-5 students in an undergrad econ class to receive serious attention and advice from a professor. There's a lot of variance between professors, of course, but my point is that you might not find such opportunities that laborsabre was able to find.

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