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hamandres
11-12-2010, 03:40 PM
Hello all!

This is my first post (and I hope it's not my last), since there is a great deal of helpful knowledge floating about and I hope to be able to contribute as the application process moves forward.

I am currently preparing my applications for a econ PhD and was wondering whether I could get opinions on my profile. Honesty is most welcome and any help you guys can give me will really help. Thanks in advance to those who took the time :)

Type of UG: Latin American Public University (Honduras), BSc in Economics. GPA: 4.0. Honor student for 3 years in a row. Distinction on Undergraduate Thesis.

Math courses in UG: Two semesters of Algebra (including Linear Algebra), Calculus I and II (including differential equations).

Type of PG: Latin American University (Argentina). MA in Economics (Specialized in Labor Economics and Development), GPA: 3.8.

Some of the courses: Real Analysis, Advanced Micro (using Mas-Colell), Econometrics I and Topics in Econometrics. Labor Econ I and II, Program evaluation. Program was not particularly strong in Macro.

Research: Junior researcher at a distinguished Latin American think tank for the last three years, which specializes on development, poverty, inequality and labor studies. Have published several working papers in the econ department and for international development agencies, one chapter in a book (WB-funded) and have two articles in submission process (one with no co-authors).

Teaching: Served as undergrad TA in my UG program for two years in Mathematical Economics and Econometrics. Currently a TA in the Master's Program from which I graduated (Labor Econ I).

Standardized tests:
GRE: Tanked first attempt, retaking Dec 1. (Q=700, V=520, AWA=awaiting)
TOEFL: Taking tomorrow morning (more confident for this one)

LORs: All academics. One from a Princeton alumni, very well-known researcher in Latin America. Another from a LSE alumni, also relatively well-known in the region. Other possibilities: Alumni from Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Boston University and Oxford.

My idea was to attend a mid-level program which is strong in Micro (or applied micro) and Labor econ. Due to the poor GRE first attempt, I was trying to find alternate (lower ranked) programs as a safety. However, I am pretty sure I can raise my GRE score (had terrible anxiety during test) and bombed it. Maybe I am being overtly pessimistic and was wondering whether I may apply to higher ranked schools assuming I improve my quantitative score.

I arranged the programs which interest me into tiers (according to the econphd.net rankings):

Tier 1: Cornell, Michigan-Ann Arbor, Johns Hopkins, U of Maryland
Tier 2: Carnegie-Mellon, Syracuse, Boston College, Georgetown, University of Virginia, American U, UC Davis
Tier 3: George Washington University, Rutgers, Purdue

Do any of you think I might be reaching too high on some of these? Do you also have any other school in mind which I have not considered? I believe that in general, my profile is not too shabby. However, I still have that GRE itch which I need to remedy.

What do you guys think? Do I have a shot?

Many thanks in advance!!!

-I hate GREs

AREStudentHopeful
11-12-2010, 04:57 PM
I don't think I would be much help in evaluating your profile per se, but you may want to take a look at Vanderbilt and U Colorado for some lower-ranked schools to add to your applications list.

hamandres
11-12-2010, 06:13 PM
I don't think I would be much help in evaluating your profile per se, but you may want to take a look at Vanderbilt and U Colorado for some lower-ranked schools to add to your applications list.

Thanks for the feedback! I will definitely try to include those schools (I am set to speak with my advisor to determine the final set after the revenge of the GRE).

All comments and suggestions are greatly appreciated.

enginecon
11-12-2010, 07:57 PM
Sorry, but to evaluate your profile one has to know more about your Argentina uni...: 1- Di Tella, 2-San Andres, 3- otra...
1, 2, or 3?
Is your GPA based on a 4.0 scale? Do you need full financial support from the uni?
Your Tiers seem strange to me... what is your source? For example, CMU should be in Tier 1 and American in Tier 3.
Any reason not to consider Canada and Europe?

hamandres
11-12-2010, 08:36 PM
Sorry, but to evaluate your profile one has to know more about your Argentina uni...: 1- Di Tella, 2-San Andres, 3- otra...
1, 2, or 3?
Is your GPA based on a 4.0 scale? Do you need full financial support from the uni?
Your Tiers seem strange to me... what is your source? For example, CMU should be in Tier 1 and American in Tier 3.
Any reason not to consider Canada and Europe?

Hi engineecon, thanks for the response!

Let me answer your queries as best i can.
First, the Argentina Uni. It would be the third option (otra): Universidad Nacional de la Plata
Second, Yes, I converted my GPA to the US scale.
Third, yes, i would be looking for financial support
Fourth, for the tiers I used the econphd ranking in Labor and Consumer Economics (since this is my primary field of interest).
Finally, I was told by my advisor that Europe and Canada could also be good fits. For instance, there are interesting programs at UCL, Pomepu Fabra and the Paris School of Economics.

Do you have any other recommendations?
Thanks again!

BigPink
11-12-2010, 09:59 PM
Carnegie Mellon is very competitive due to its small entering class, and I don't think they have anyone working in development, so it might not be worth it for you to apply. You may want to look in to some of the agricultural/resource economics programs in the US (Berkeley, Maryland, etc.) because some of them are quite strong in development on the micro/labor side (there is more info about these in the stickied threads). I believe it's harder to get funding in European schools if you are not an EU citizen, but I'm not sure - you might want to look into that before you apply. I believe the University of British Columbia is strong in labor and development.

Harry2010
11-12-2010, 10:08 PM
Carnegie-Mellon is definitely better than any other schools in your tier 2, and Syracuse and Georgetown are just as good as Rutgers and Purde. I do not know why you set up the tiers in this way. Also, I do not think American U should be even on your list.

hamandres
11-12-2010, 10:14 PM
Thanks guys! I am really unaware of some of the programs real standings. Sometimes you just focus on rankings from different sources and you end up placing schools out of place.
To answer in general terms, the tiers are more in order of my preference than detailed comparison (hence the classification errors), and i appreciate you guys pointing that out! it helps me a lot!

Anyways, another point has been brought to mind by another advisor and mentioned by BigPink, which is pursuing ARE programs or public policy. The other option I was presented with is applying to a Master's program in the US to strengthen my profile and in a couple of years apply to the PhD. Does anyone know of someone who pursued this course of action? I would looooove to get into a PhD program directly, but am aware of my limitations.

AREStudentHopeful
11-13-2010, 12:48 AM
First, there's a major difference between most public policy programs and ARE programs. While ARE programs typically have you take classes with the econ students for most of your core and you are trained just in economics, public policy programs will typically have you take a wider variety of classes and won't be as quantitative. I'm currently in an ARE masters program and I would say that assuming that adcoms are familiar with your school (I don't know that much about Central/South American schools), that you should be competitive for most ARE programs and at least some of the regular econ PhD programs you list.

enginecon
11-13-2010, 03:23 AM
First, the Argentina Uni. Universidad Nacional de la Plata
Mala noticia!... Di Tella is the only Agentine uni that places in an honorable spot in rankings based on recent pubs in "top journals"... San Andres runs a distant second... the others are negligible.
Your Honduras school is probably even lesser known.
You may read what has been posted for candidates from lesser-known LAC... for candidates from unknown schools from the developing world it is even worse, much worse... basically the adcom has no idea if you actually learned anything in school (maybe it was too easy, the teachers didn't go deep enough in the subject, etc.).
Your saving grace could be the GRE, but your current scores are not strong enough to make up for the perceived weakness of your schools... thus, unless you raise your GRE-Q at least to the 760 level, your odds of getting admission and aid from a marginally reputable econ program are dismal, not zero, but really low... sad but true... The situation in ARE programs might be a bit better, but I don't know much about them.
If one of your papers is accepted by a REPUTABLE international journal (in English) things could change a lot of course, but it may be a long time before you get a journal acceptance confirmation.
Your best bet may be to try to get a fellowship from an international organization (Fulbright, etc)... they may have a quota for your country, and you may be among the best candidates in that competition... they do have connections to place their students in solid programs. Have you looked into this?

Second, Yes, I converted my GPA to the US scale.
Some schools GPA scales go over 4.0 (because they have A+), so specify xx/4.0 for clarity.

Third, yes, i would be looking for financial support
See above.

Fourth, for the tiers I used the econphd ranking in Labor and Consumer Economics (since this is my primary field of interest).

The econphd data is from 1993-2003... use Tilburg instead... you can specify a set of journals in any area you are interested in, or just use their general set (this is the ranking I mentioned above... La Plata has two (2) pubs only!)
You can show results world wide or specify a country or region (e.g., Europe).

Finally, I was told by my advisor that Europe and Canada could also be good fits. For instance, there are interesting programs at UCL, Pomepu Fabra and the Paris School of Economics.
Do you have any other recommendations?
I hope you are reading comments posted in other profile threads... ( e.g., this: http://www.urch.com/forums/phd-economics/126158-my-profile-finally-please-help-me-trim-my-list-schools.html ) read my "absolute safeties" suggestion... Basically you need to find GRE info about recent entering classes to econ (or ARE) programs and try to find at least two where your GRE would be competitive... if you raise the scores then you can consider the new ones, but for know work with the ones you have... like I wrote elsewhere, Miami (FL) post that info, and I imagine many others do also, but some may only offer that "on request" or not at all... You may have a small chance at Miami (even for them, ranked around 90 in the US, the average v+q GRE for a recent entering class was over 1340), look for others among the lower rank schools.... Use Tilburg's ranking site... you can find interesting programs in Europe and Canada that way also.

hamandres
11-13-2010, 10:43 PM
Thanks guys! You've been a great deal of help!

@enginecon: i will look into the sticky posts and other important information which is around the forum. it's a lifesaver! I know, it sucks that La Plata is not that well known, but we're working on that. I will retake my GRE and see how that goes. All in all, I greatly appreciate the help...to say it has been enlightening is not doing it justice :)

enginecon
11-14-2010, 12:26 AM
Thanks guys! You've been a great deal of help!
@enginecon: i will look into the sticky posts and other important information which is around the forum. it's a lifesaver! I know, it sucks that La Plata is not that well known, but we're working on that. I will retake my GRE and see how that goes. All in all, I greatly appreciate the help...to say it has been enlightening is not doing it justice :)
Glad to help... if I were you I would DEFINITELY include Di Tella in the list (at least as a "safety")... Under the Tilburg's criterion (# of pubs in a collection of "core" journals) Di Tella would be #81 in the US (tied with UCONN and Riverside), just one spot below FSU/Tulane/Kansas, and above many reputable US schools, including CUNY, LSU, several SUNY's, Miami (FL), Drexel and many others. By contrast, American (in your list) is #102. That's an impressive performance for a uni in the developing world; and they obviously know La Plata well. Also, they seem to have a program to bring visiting professors from abroad for a limited time, including some from top-notch US programs... Clearly Di Tella deserves your consideration.
EDIT: By the way, the INSTITUTO TECNOLÓGICO AUTÓNOMO DE MÉXICO and the Brazilian EPGE (ESCOLA DE POS-GRADUACAO EM ECONOMIA) do even slightly better than Di Tella, which means they should probably be considered also.

Harry Lime
11-14-2010, 07:01 AM
Any reason not to consider Canada and Europe?
Uhh, I don't know, maybe something called.. The First Amendment?

hamandres
12-01-2010, 05:46 PM
Wow, enginecon, I am amazed at your attention to detail...I have added UTDT (Di Tella) and the Mexican School to the pool of school which merit my consideration and application.

In other news, I retook the GRE today, nothing brilliant, but I think enough. Q=760, V=510 and AWA Awaiting.

I was reading previous threads and some people comment that if you have a good background, lots of research experience (i mean published research) and good LORs then the 760 does not look terrible. I do not wish to retake since my selection of schools would range from the top 20 until lower ranks. For instance, another ex alumni of La Plata got the same Quant score and similar research experience than my own and got into U-Texas (Austin) with funding. So, I'm assuming that once you get your foot in the door, it's the LORs and math and econ background which weighs the most...

Any contributions are welcome! Thanks in advance

Is there still a glimmer of hope?

enginecon
12-01-2010, 06:21 PM
Wow, enginecon, I am amazed at your attention to detail...I have added UTDT (Di Tella) and the Mexican School to the pool of school which merit my consideration and application.

In other news, I retook the GRE today, nothing brilliant, but I think enough. Q=760, V=510 and AWA Awaiting.

I was reading previous threads and some people comment that if you have a good background, lots of research experience (i mean published research) and good LORs then the 760 does not look terrible. I do not wish to retake since my selection of schools would range from the top 20 until lower ranks. For instance, another ex alumni of La Plata got the same Quant score and similar research experience than my own and got into U-Texas (Austin) with funding. So, I'm assuming that once you get your foot in the door, it's the LORs and math and econ background which weighs the most...

760 is much better than 700 for sure (85% vs 70%). Post your AWA as soon as you get it, hopefully higher than 4.0.

Published research in a reputable outlet is huge if you can get it, because so few have it. The rest depends on how the adcom views the school and the recommenders... if they distrust your school, they won't put much weight on your courses/grades, etc. If somebody from your school is at UT and he has done well, that is certainly relevant info. It makes UT an obvious (solid) target for you.

I believe also that the director of grad studies at Washington-StL is Argentine and has taught at UTDT... if true this would make that school and obvious target, since he obviously knows La Plata for sure.

Good idea to include the two LatinAm schools. To get ideas for some other "safe" choices look at the Kansas/LSU and the "better than you think" threads:
http://www.urch.com/forums/phd-economics/126996-how-hard-get-univ-kansas-louisiana-state-univ.html

hamandres
12-01-2010, 06:39 PM
thanks!

i do know the professor a WUSTL that you mention. I did some RA work for him, but am uncertain about asking him for a LOR since we know each other only somewhat and I've read around the forum that lukewarm letters are quite damaging...

by the way, I still have not received the official results for my first GRE. I wonder if it's just that there's delays due to everyone taking the test now or if heaven help it...somehow my blip got erased!!! I wish it was the latter, but am more than sure that it's just an ETS thing...

enginecon
12-01-2010, 06:46 PM
thanks!

i do know the professor a WUSTL that you mention. I did some RA work for him, but am uncertain about asking him for a LOR since we know each other only somewhat and I've read around the forum that lukewarm letters are quite damaging...

Don't know about the LOR, but applying there makes a lot of sense. Your new Q-GRE will NOT be a problem there, although of course there is no guarantee.

_nanashi
12-02-2010, 06:49 AM
You should look into texas A&M and Rice for safety schools if your interested in Applied Micro/Micro theory. Both are on the edge of top 50 so academic placement is possible if you do well.