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Thread: Okay, why not... Do I have a shot at funding?

  1. #1
    macro + monetary
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    Okay, why not... Do I have a shot at funding?

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    Okay, I'm letting my anxiety get the best of me because I've now applied to all 17 programs I'm going to apply to and I know that nothing here is going to make a difference... but I'm basically thinking about my prospects non stop, so I want to see what this community thinks my chances are.

    PROFILE: I am a senior in my undergrad at a pretty small and, to be honest, kind of mediocre liberal arts school. I am wanting to go into a PhD Econ program in fall 2019.

    Type of Undergrad:
    Dual major in mathematics and economics

    Undergrad GPA:
    3.94 overall, 4.0 in economics, ~3.9 in mathematics

    Q 169, V 167, A 5.5 (96th %, 98th%, 98th %)

    Math Courses:
    Calc I (A), Calc II (A-), Calc III (A), Intro to Proofs/Number Theory (B), Diff Eq (A), Probability and Statistics I (A), Probability and Statistics II (A), currently in linear algebra (A), mathematical modeling (A), and abstract algebra (A) and I will be taking real analysis this spring. I wish I had been able to do RA before, but given my schools size and being a double major it wasn't possible. Luckily, one of my letter writers is teaching the RA course and he said he is going to mention it in the letter (and that he expects me to do well -- me and him are close and I've done well in three classes with him)

    Econ Courses:
    Intermediate Micro (A), Intermediate Macro (A), Econometrics (A), Game Theory (A), Environmental Econ (A), currently in History of Economic Thought (A) and doing my senior seminar capstone project.

    Other Courses:
    Just standard general eds (all of which I have gotten As in)

    Letters of Recommendation: The first is from the chair of the econ department, who has been my adviser and also my boss (I work for his consulting practice). He (completely on his own) showed me the letter he wrote, and I was stunned at how complimentary it is about my character, work ethic, academic ability, and research skills. He places me in top 3 students he's taught over his 35 years. Second letter is from my thesis adviser; I've been working on this project with him for months before the seminar even began, I am doing another research project with him next semester that we've been planning out, and I think he's writing a good letter for me. Third is from a math professor (I thought it would be good to have one math professor in the mix) who I am currently taking my third class from. I've gotten As in all of these, and I go see him a lot outside of class to talk about things, and I know he's writing me a really good letter that places me in the top of the classes he's taught.

    Research Experience: No academic research jobs, or published papers -- one of the drawbacks of having gone to a small school is there really aren't RA opportunities. But, I have written several papers on the Greek debt crisis and the structure of the eurozone (intermediate macro, game theory, and now in my seminar) and I intend to research similar topics going forward so I think all those tell a research "story." I also have two years of experience as a research assistant for my professor's economic consulting practice-- it's not academic research, I know, but better than nothing.

    Teaching Experience:
    I just started a job teaching standardized test prep classes, but I'm not sure that really counts for anything. None other than that. Again, no TAing opportunities at my school.

    Research Interests:
    monetary economics, macroeconomics, debt crises and currency unions

    SOP: Vetted by several professors, I feel confident in it. I spell out the research I've done, am doing for my seminar, and an independent research project (for course credit) I am undertaking next semester, and outline some directions I want to go in grad school. I feel good about it.

    Other: I've gotten mixed advice on my prospects. I've got some things very much going for me: GRE scores, GPA, strong letters of recommendation, a strong math background, and a good SOP. That said, my current school is not well known or highly ranked. I also have a nontraditional academic history-- I spent a year in college after I graduated high school, did well but not stellar, and left (in good standing) for personal reasons. I worked for two years before deciding I wanted to go to school and end up in a PhD program, which is how I got to where I am now. I'm hoping schools can see that whole story, and my one professor talks about it in his LOR, but I know at some schools they might not like that.

    I tried to apply to a safe range of schools. Three of them I know I will almost definitely get rejected, but I thought "why not": Stanford, Columbia, and Harvard. Another batch are only slightly less competitive: Brown, U of Wisconsin, U of Michigan, U of Minnesota, Johns Hopkins, UT Austin, Maryland. I then applied to some that seemed a little bit safer: USC, University of Pittsburgh, University of Oregon, University of Washington, University of Illinois at Chicago, Stony Brook, and Tulane.

    Sorry if this is too long, but I would really really love anyone's input. What do you think? Will I get in with funding *somewhere*?

    EDIT: Because my school is small, we haven't sent a ton of people to econ PhD programs so the sample size is small. But, students have in the past gone on to funded programs at University of Oregon, University of Maryland, University of Virginia, University of Arizona. SECOND EDIT: Took of all the bold typeface to make this more readable
    Last edited by johng; 11-18-2018 at 09:42 PM. Reason: Last line, unbolded text

  2. #2
    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage
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    Re: Okay, why not... Do I have a shot at funding?

    I'd say your range was somewhat too high and too narrow; you should have added more programs from the #40-#70 range. But I think getting a couple of funded offers in the lower end of your range is quite possible.

  3. #3
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    Re: Okay, why not... Do I have a shot at funding?

    I agree with chateauheart. The "top 3 in 35 years" is likely to go a long way.

  4. #4
    macro + monetary
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    Re: Okay, why not... Do I have a shot at funding?

    I suspect you are probably right, and that it would be smart for me to add two or three more programs in that lower range. I've decided that given my long term goals I'd rather do a lower ranked program (so long as it's funded) than take a year or two to RA and increase my shot at top 25 school. Thank you for taking the time to read & respond!

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