Hi all! I was wondering if anyone could give me some advice on applying to RA positions or masters programs in preparation for eventually applying to PhD programs in economics or public policy. I had a rough time during undergrad due to the deaths of a few close family members and I'm worried about the low grades in important courses. I would like to apply to a AREC Masters program or a two year full time RA program to make up for the deficiencies in my profile and to better define my research interests before applying to an AREC PhD program.

Do I have a shot at either of these two routes? Would one be more advantageous for PhD admissions than the other? Thank you!

: Top 5 in Econ (Princeton, MIT, UChicago)
3.45/4.00 GPA

Graduate: N/A

Math Courses:
Calc 1 (B+), Calc 2 (B+), Calc 3 (B+), Intro to Proofs (B-), Real Analysis I-III (B+, A, A), Linear Algebra (B), Abstract Algebra I (C+), Abstract Algebra II (A-), Formal Languages and Computation Theory (A), Measure and Integration (B)

Econ Courses:
Intermediate Microecon I (C+), Intermediate Microecon II (A-), Intermediate Macroecon I (B+), Intermediate Macroecon II (A), Econometrics (B+), Economics of Domestic Policy Analysis (Poverty and Public Policy related) (A), Environmental Economics (A), Economics of Crime/Law (A)

Misc Courses:
Statistics I (B), Computer Science Intro Sequence I-III (A-, B, A-)

Research Experience:
(1) Five months RA experience for a research institute on campus
(2) RA to prof at university's business school for eight months

(3) Wrote independent research paper for environmental class, earned top grade in the class.

Potential Rec Letters:
Letters from UC Davis AREC grad, MIT grad, and Berkeley grad.

Other Information:
Been working as an analyst at a economic consulting firm for the past few years.