View Full Version : Profile Eval - Weird background

11-07-2008, 01:13 AM
Just took my GRE yesterday. I am currently trying to decide whether to apply to Econ PhD programs or to Math Masters programs for next year, though my eventual goal is an Econ or Finance PhD. I will only post my profile on the Roll Call once I decide whether I will be applying to Econ or Finance PhD's.

I have a weird educational background for a PhD applicant and some mediocre grades, as well as some extenuating circumstances. First I will describe the non-standard part of my profile, as well as some extenuating circumstances I have had, after which I give the more standard part of my profile.

I am currently a full time student majoring in Econ and Math at a large public college in the northeast,with a decent Econ PhD and a top 30 math PhD program. However, I have simultaneously been a full time student at a Rabbinical and Talmudic Law Studies School. This school IS NOT intended for those planning on being pulpit Rabbis. The school concentrates on advanced study and analysis of Talmudic Law, and treats its ordination program as a graduate program (all incoming students to the ordination program are required to have a minimum of 5 years post-secondary Talmudic Law studies, and most have >6). The school has two programs for non-ordination students. All students in the standard program must be there 35-45 hours per week, depending on individual schedule with 38-40 being typical. The school also has a more intense program requiring >55 hours per week, which I did my first year after high school (and I deferred my college admission one year). The academic year begins in late August and goes until mid June with a two week fall break and a two week spring break during the Jewish Holidays. Students are encouraged to do independent Talmudic Law research, and all students are required to present at least one paper of original research per year in a student seminar. I have made six such presentations, with three of them later being published in the school's annual academic journal.

I have also had some extenuating circumstances. There was a two semester period (Spring and Fall 2007) where I was helping take care of my homebound grandmother. She lived only a few blocks from both my college and the rabbinical school, and it fell on me to help her most of the time as no one else was usually around, and my already limited study time was cut back drastically. Grades for courses taken during that period will have a * next to them in my profile.

Now for the more standard part of my profile.

Type of Undergrad: B.A. Math and Econ (double major) large public college in Northeast with solid Econ PhD and top 30 Math Phd
Undergrad GPA: 3.75/4.0
Type of Grad: N/A
Grad GPA: N/A
GRE: 770Q/630V/>=5.5A Expected. Might re-take for higher Q score, if I can find the time.
Math Courses (Undergrad): Calc I&II (A, A-), Multivar Calc (B+), Lin Alg (B+), Intro to Prob and Stats (B-*), ODEs (C*), PDEs (Currently taking, A- expected)
Math Courses (Masters Level): Non-Measure Prob Theory (C-*/Currently retaking, A expected), Numerical Analysis I&II - Proof based (B*, A-), Stochastic Methods in Operations Research (A-)
Econ Courses (Undergrad): Intro Macro (A), Intro Micro (A+), Mathematical Intermediate Micro (A+*), Mathematical Intermediate Macro (A-), Money and Banking (A-), Investment Analysis (B+*), Financial Markets (A+), Independent Study & Research Paper-Theory and Practice of Real Options (Currently Taking, A expected), Computational Finance -offered by CS department and used Hulls as the primary text (A+)
Econ Courses (PhD Level): Econometrics I (currently taking, B+ or A- expected)
Other Courses: Algorithmic Programming I (A+), Algorithmic and OOP II (A+), Full Science Honors Research sequence including two research presentations (all A or A+)
Letters of Recommendation: One excellent from a Econ Prof who is fairly well known in Intl Econ and extremely well known in History of Economic Thought. One excellent from an Econ Asst Prof that I RA'd and TA'd for. One Excellent from CS prof I took for Computational Finance (will only be used for PhD's in Finance). A few others from various econ and math profs who like me but don't know me as well. Possibly one from an Econ Prof who I hope I will get to be my Honors Thesis advisor. He is well known in development, but has done work in other areas.
Research Experience: Two and a half years as an RA for a prof doing research into financial markets. Most of the work involved programming computer simulations of derivatives markets. I am currently working on a new method of programming these simulations. Project for the Independent Study course on an application of Real Options to labor bargaining. I expect to have this done in a month from now. Currently working on a longer term real options project on applications to entry and exit patterns of commodities suppliers. I have started working on my Honors Thesis. Loosely described, it is a public choice based analysis on the prevention of externalities. I expect to have it done around April.
Teaching Experience: One Semester as TA for Intermediate Micro.
Research Interests: Everything except monetary. Strongest interests in Market Microstructure, Mathematical and Computational Methods, Micro Theory, HET
SOP: Pretty good one. Will start customizing it to fit individual grad schools.
Concerns: So-so math grades, with a couple of poor semesters balanced against a double full time schedule plus research combined with some extenuating circumstances. I have no idea how schools will look at that. Also, mediocre GRE Q, but again, balanced against my lack of time to study (studied <15 total hours for GRE and most of that was back during the summer).
Other: Had summer internship at large commodities supply firm (Fortune Global 500). Much of my work was spent assisting Ag and Resource Economists in their research. All are relatively young and are from 2nd tier Ag Econ programs, so I will not be asking any of them for LOR's.
Applying To: I do not know if I will even apply to any Econ PhD's this year. I think I could easily handle a top 15 program if I quite the Rabbinical School (which I would do), but don't know how these schools would look at me. Would love to go Columbia or NYU for their Finance faculty. I would love to have access to the finance faculty at NYU and at Stern, espcecially the market microstructure people at Stern.

11-08-2008, 11:05 PM
My guess is that you'll have a bit more variance in admissions outcomes than folks with a less "weird" record, but that you should do OK if you apply widely & often. In addition to explaining your record a bit in your SOP, you may need to explain why you're making the change from your current path.

BTW, have you seen Robert J. Aumann's work on game theory & the Talmud? E.g.




11-08-2008, 11:37 PM
My guess is that you'll have a bit more variance in admissions outcomes than folks with a less "weird" record, but that you should do OK if you apply widely & often. In addition to explaining your record a bit in your SOP, you may need to explain why you're making the change from your current path.

BTW, have you seen Robert J. Aumann's work on game theory & the Talmud?

Thanks for the help. I was at the rabbinical school because I liked the studies, not because I intended to be a pulpit rabbi. I would estimate that only 40&#37; of the students in the Talmudic Law studies program eventually enter the rabbinical ordination program. Most end up going to college either part time while at the rabbinical school or after spending a few years at the school, and most eventually end up at Law or Med schools, with a few accountants and actuaries mixed in. Almost none go for PhDs and few are simultaneously full time students at a college.

And yes, I have read through Aumann's papers on Talmud and game theory. They are pretty interesting, but I found the papers he wrote on the same topics, in hebrew for rabbinical journals even more interesting, as he had to explain the concepts without the advanced math.

11-09-2008, 10:53 AM
ever since reading chaim potok... ive been curious as to just exactly what the talmud is all about...