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Elliephant
11-07-2010, 03:21 PM
I've posted this before, but a number of substantive changes have occurred that make me want to seek advice a second time. And I'd like input on my specific list of schools under consideration. Thanks everyone!

Type of Undergrad: business admin, specialising in econ (good b-school but bad econ department)
Undergrad GPA: 3.98/4.0 (converted)
Type of Grad: none
Grad GPA: N/A
GRE: Q800, V790, AWA6.0 (second try)
Math Courses: calc I and II (A), applied stats (A+), matrix algebra I and II (A+), calc III (multivariate; in progress), real analysis I (in progress), real analysis II (spring)
Econ Courses (grad-level): none
Econ Courses (undergrad-level): intro micro, intro macro, international econ, advanced micro, advanced macro, metrics (all A+); supply-side macro (B+); applied metrics and forecasting (spring); managerial econ (spring); did a term in China's top econ department (roughly speaking, >85 = A): international trade (90), information econ (91), Chinese development (93), urban and regional econ (98)
Other Courses: none relevant
Letters of Recommendation: micro prof (reasonably well-known in IO and a past department chair); research supervisor in Beijing (used to be tenured at UNC, well-connected in health policy); and one not sure, either fresh Princeton grad I RAed for or a business school prof (neither well-known)
Research Experience: summer fellow at an econ think tank in Beijing, one RAship at my home school, two conference presentations of my sole-authored papers
Teaching Experience: TAing micro, business stats
Research Interests: still fluid; currently economics of human capital (education, health), transition economies, other applied micro
SOP: standard
Concerns: credibility of LORs; insufficient math background; low visibility of UG econ department
Definitely applying to (Canada): SSHRC (Canadian version of NSF), Toronto MA, UBC MA, Queen's MA
Thinking of applying to (US): Well, too many to list, but here are the ones I'd like feedback on:
Stanford, Princeton, Chicago, Berkeley, Penn, Northwestern, Columbia, Northwestern (Kellogg - business econ), Columbia (CSB - business econ), Penn (Wharton - health stream). Do I have a reasonable shot at any of these without an MA, without heavy-hitter LORs, and without more math?

Elliephant
11-08-2010, 07:01 PM
Bump!

Pretty please?

moneyandcredit
11-08-2010, 07:22 PM
You're such a dang nerd. Your profile is stellar; I can't believe you're worried at all! At the very least you'll get into the Queen's MA and then get into at least 5 Top-15 PhD's.

Insufficient math background? Really?

Canuckonomist
11-08-2010, 11:43 PM
I always let others be supportive before I lay a smack down, so now that Moneyandcredit has given you the ups, I'll give you the downs.

Ok, I was just kidding about that, but I'll still say a few things:

1. Your math background is reasonable, so don't knock yourself for that.
2. A number of competitive applicants for the top 10 will have some grad micro, or at least a few grad courses.
3. Your LORs leave something to be desired for the big Econ departments. The people that did the best, even out of my MA had LORs from people who were either connected to, or were grads of the places they applied. Not saying this is necessary, but more that it has been consistent with the number of canadian applicants that I've known.
4. You will most likely get into all the MA programs you applied to. I'd say 95% chance of that.
5. Think about the likelihood of funding at the schools you're applying to. I'd drop Penn Econ and Chicago Econ just based on that. Same goes for UWM, UCLA, and others in the UC if they are also on the rest of your list.
6. It's always good to take a stab at US Ph.Ds as a canadian without an M.A, but you know my thoughts on the bias against us. I'd like to see someone show me reasonable data (even two students would suffice) for those who got into good U.S schools out of their undergrad. A mate from Queen's years back was skunked in his first attempt, and he was a genius. He was skunked when he applied IN his MA year. He waited until the next application cycle, and was admitted to every school he applied to, which was the top 15, minus Harvard, MIT and Princeton. I believe he is now at Stanford. Another was also skunked when applying to the U.S, and he is definitely top of his class @ Queen's, and should have been at least top 20 in the U.S.

I apologize for the grim outlook, I am just imparting some data that I am aware of for Canadian UG applicants to the states. If money is tight, I would select:

- 1 of (Stanford, Princeton)
- Northwestern and Columbia
- 1 of (Kellogg, Columbia GSB)
- Wharton health (because you're obviously intersted in health)

Those are just my thoughts. All the best to one cool cat.

Canuck

Canuckonomist
11-09-2010, 12:17 AM
I always let others be supportive before I lay a smack down, so now that Moneyandcredit has given you the ups, I'll give you the downs.

Ok, I was just kidding about that, but I'll still say a few things:

1. Your math background is reasonable, so don't knock yourself for that.
2. A number of competitive applicants for the top 10 will have some grad micro, or at least a few grad courses.
3. Your LORs leave something to be desired for the big Econ departments. The people that did the best, even out of my MA had LORs from people who were either connected to, or were grads of the places they applied. Not saying this is necessary, but more that it has been consistent with the number of canadian applicants that I've known.
4. You will most likely get into all the MA programs you applied to. I'd say 95% chance of that.
5. Think about the likelihood of funding at the schools you're applying to. I'd drop Penn Econ and Chicago Econ just based on that. Same goes for UWM, UCLA, and others in the UC if they are also on the rest of your list.
6. It's always good to take a stab at US Ph.Ds as a canadian without an M.A, but you know my thoughts on the bias against us. I'd like to see someone show me reasonable data (even two students would suffice) for those who got into good U.S schools out of their undergrad. A mate from Queen's years back was skunked in his first attempt, and he was a genius. He was skunked when he applied IN his MA year. He waited until the next application cycle, and was admitted to every school he applied to, which was the top 15, minus Harvard, MIT and Princeton. I believe he is now at Stanford. Another was also skunked when applying to the U.S, and he is definitely top of his class @ Queen's, and should have been at least top 20 in the U.S.

I apologize for the grim outlook, I am just imparting some data that I am aware of for Canadian UG applicants to the states. If money is tight, I would select:

- 1 of (Stanford, Princeton)
- Northwestern and Columbia
- 1 of (Kellogg, Columbia GSB)
- Wharton health (because you're obviously intersted in health)

Those are just my thoughts. All the best to one cool cat.

Canuck

This looks grimmer than it should. You should definitely try a bunch of U.S schools, and I do believe in you. Very much. In fact, your profile is better than mine in a number of respects, so just because I didn't get into any top 20 schools (even after a master's) doesn't mean you won't. With your good math grades, and your stellar econ performance, you're sure to snag at least one in the U.S, if not this time around, then next time. I sure hope, though, that there doesn't need to be a next time. Sometimes I can really sound like an old grouch.

With great admiration,

Canuck

thesparky
11-09-2010, 01:42 AM
I concur on the LORs. In my experience and given what I've heard from professors, US schools don't have the greatest perceptions of Canadian students, for whatever reason; the way to break this is to have LORs from well-known professors, and the Canadian undergrads I'm aware of who went straight to the top had this.

Canuckonomist
11-09-2010, 02:19 AM
I've heard it said from econ profs here in Canada that 'They [US Schools] claim they don't know much about our UG grading systems, etc., so they usually wait for the M.A as a signal" I hope that U.S schools stop hiding behind this, because we've been around for over a hundred years, and we've been sending students to the U.S for just as long.

Zeno
11-09-2010, 02:55 AM
6. It's always good to take a stab at US Ph.Ds as a canadian without an M.A, but you know my thoughts on the bias against us. I'd like to see someone show me reasonable data (even two students would suffice) for those who got into good U.S schools out of their undergrad.


Data point.

I got mostly rejections in the States, but two great US econ admits.

Canuckonomist
11-09-2010, 03:00 AM
Where is 'great', if you don't mind me asking? Not that I'm doubting you. I've started to receive data from enough people on the forum, so I'm happy to hear that it's happening. Perhaps they've fixed their crazy system.

Elliephant
11-09-2010, 03:18 AM
You're such a dang nerd. Your profile is stellar; I can't believe you're worried at all! At the very least you'll get into the Queen's MA and then get into at least 5 Top-15 PhD's.

Insufficient math background? Really?

Haha I wish. Yes, given where I did my undergrad, I feel like nothing short of graduate functional analysis will prove my competence. (Edit: Okay, I'm exaggerating a little. But you get the picture.) I won't even have grades for multivariate calc or analysis when I apply, and I've never had a formal course in mathematical statistics. Maybe, just maybe, I am overreacting, but I feel like that's a safer strategy than turning complacent.

I agree entirely with sparky and Canuck about the LORs, but those are definitely fixed in the short run so I'm not inclined to stress out about them too much. One of my LOR writers placed his Chinese students at Michigan (Ross) and Harvard (public health) last year, and that's as good as it's going to get for me unless I do an MA or RA for a year. And to Zeno, thanks for the encouragement.

Harry Lime
11-09-2010, 03:27 AM
Trim 15% from the top and 15% from the bottom, then lag, regress, and clean up the mess.

Elliephant
11-09-2010, 03:33 AM
Trim 15% from the top and 15% from the bottom, then lag, regress, and clean up the mess.

Since when does your advice rhyme? And what happened to commenting on my real analysis deficiencies? I feel left out ;)

Elliephant
11-09-2010, 04:07 AM
I concur on the LORs. In my experience and given what I've heard from professors, US schools don't have the greatest perceptions of Canadian students, for whatever reason; the way to break this is to have LORs from well-known professors, and the Canadian undergrads I'm aware of who went straight to the top had this.

Belated question... do you think it might help that they can also compare me against Chinese applicants, whom they seem to view pretty favourably?

Harry Lime
11-09-2010, 04:18 AM
I don't think you have deficiency in math. To me the only weird thing is that you took algebra I and II and got A+ (assuming this is abstract algebra), which is a good thing, but never even took multivariate calc. Not that it's a prereq, but it might indicate either that you're really smart and didn't need much exposure to lower level math to do well in higher level math, or it might indicate that upper level math at your school isn't particularly rigorous. But I think you're fine with math. My only concern is that you have quite a lofty list which will be pretty hard to crack from a "bad econ dept" as you say. I'd say just apply everywhere you are actually willing to attend, and if you get rejected across the board, try again next year.

Elliephant
11-09-2010, 04:25 AM
No, it was linear algebra; yes, the math at my school isn't particularly rigorous. I got my real analysis midterm back today and the class average was 46% (I'm the only non-math major in the class and I had 89%), which tells you something about the quality of the students to whom the profs ultimately have to cater.

But I did take the advanced micro/macro/metrics sequence without ever having done intermediate econ - or multivariate calc, for that matter - and came out with A+ in all three. We used Jehle-Reny/Varian and Romer for the former two, so they were by no means joke courses. Then again, whether top departments care about the particular circumstances under which an applicant gets an A is dubious at best. I suspect that unless my LORs are totally explicit about it, adcoms won't even notice.

Elliephant
11-10-2010, 09:01 PM
Belated question... do you think it might help that they can also compare me against Chinese applicants, whom they seem to view pretty favourably?

Does anyone have an opinion on this? I come from a relatively unknown Canadian school (ranked 200 or so), but had a very successful exchange term at a Chinese university that routinely places into the top 10. Might this help to put my domestic performance into context?

tsimonoce
11-11-2010, 01:07 AM
Princeton seems to enjoy those with higher math (and of course it's a top 5 so it's incredibly tough to get in anyways), so I wouldn't apply there.

econm
11-11-2010, 05:12 AM
Your profile has some huge holes... for starters, I think it might hurt that you didn't get an 800 verbal score.

Elliephant
11-11-2010, 09:25 PM
Your profile has some huge holes... for starters, I think it might hurt that you didn't get an 800 verbal score.

Oh, come on, it's a serious question! We all know even a 4.0 GPA is not nearly enough for a top 10 admit, and as I see it I have far more serious problems than that.

Elliephant
11-26-2010, 04:28 AM
For completeness of information, here's what I hope is the last iteration of my list. I dropped a bunch of the more macro-leaning top 15 schools and all the ones that require a writing sample, because mine isn't worth the megabytes it occupies.

Canada (MA): Toronto, UBC, Queen's
US (PhD): Berkeley, Stanford, Columbia, Harvard (for kicks), Michigan, MIT (also for kicks), Penn, Wharton health, Yale, NYU, Northwestern, Kellogg business econ, Princeton

And there go $1500.

mindlessme
11-26-2010, 05:33 AM
Just for your info - I don't think you can apply to both Northwestern Econ and Kellogg. They won't let you make applications to two programmes within the whole Northwestern University (which includes Kellogg).
I might be wrong, but just double check. It was somewhere on their website.

philecon
11-26-2010, 05:38 AM
Just for your info - I don't think you can apply to both Northwestern Econ and Kellogg. They won't let you make applications to two programmes within the whole Northwestern University (which includes Kellogg).
I might be wrong, but just double check. It was somewhere on their website.

You're right about it. :)

Elliephant
11-26-2010, 12:28 PM
Oops. Didn't read the fine print properly. Thanks for the heads-up.