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View Full Version : Weak Performance in UG: What to do now?



spiderman22
11-24-2010, 06:52 PM
I've posted on the PhD business forum but I also want some opinions from this forum as I'm asking about some MA programs.

http://www.urch.com/forums/phd-business/126900-non-traditional-applicant-please-help.html

That was my post so perhaps you can find more details there. However, I'm in my third year and I have a 3.2 GPA. I did not get very good marks on my math courses (B-). I've became interested in doing a PhD in behavioural finance/economics, and experimental economics.

I'm hoping to find a way to prove to the admission officers that I am capable of PhD-level work. However, the MA programs that I can get into based on my statistics are not designed to prepare one for academic work. However, I can't get into the rigourous MA programs (UBC, UT, Q, LSE, and etc.).

I don't think I can do another BA since I'm going to do it in the same major (which most schools disallow).

What do you think I should do now? My target is a Top 50 business or economics department.

moneyandcredit
11-24-2010, 09:25 PM
What do you mean by "another BA in the same major"? But do you mean you want to get a second BA in the same college (as in Economics, Finance, and Commerce are all part of the same college)? If that's the case, then you can petition to the second BA, at least that's been true at all three universities I've attended.

danyjtan
11-24-2010, 10:28 PM
I don't think you should do a lower ranked MA and then go to a higher ranked MA and then go to a PhD program. That's a lot of money, and admissions committees may not like the duplication of coursework. (That was option 2 in your original post)

Maybe you should see if you have options which will enable you to work as an research assistant in behavioural economics/neuroeconomics labs and simultaneously take more advanced math classes. So you get work experience in research work and simultaneously boost your academic profile for phd admissions.

Or if you really want to, you can try to transfer to another school, perhaps in the US, and try to finish a math major there. Or stay in your school and petition to start a math major. This is based on this person's advice on page 1 in econphd: http://econphd.econwiki.com/downloads/twcomments.pdf

Good luck. It's great that you are getting better in health, just remember not to be hard on yourself and give yourself enough time to strengthen your math qualifications.

ironman6788
11-25-2010, 12:38 AM
I actually have a very similiar profile to you. Econ courses were middling, although my math was before I graduated and is now a 4.0. I would say don't go into a master's program to get the master's degree. I am applying to a master's program as a fallback for this year's apps (which may not go well) not to get the master's but to snipe funding off of them so I can get more math classes paid for next year if need be, doing well in master's classes will be a secondary benefit.

Work hard man. There is no reason you nor I shouldn't be able to overcome our horrible undergrad performances if we are totally committed.

Essayvision
11-25-2010, 01:26 AM
I agree with previous post, you would be wasting a lot of money and effort doing extra masters for Ph.d. What you might want to do is get to know key people in your area of interest in research and see if you can get to work with him on his research. This is a great way to get noticed in the academic community and to build credibility. Best of luck.

spiderman22
11-25-2010, 01:52 AM
What do you mean by "another BA in the same major"? But do you mean you want to get a second BA in the same college (as in Economics, Finance, and Commerce are all part of the same college)? If that's the case, then you can petition to the second BA, at least that's been true at all three universities I've attended.

Traditionally, people who do a second bachelors degree do it in a distinctly different field. For example, a person who did a BA in sociology but is now interested in biology can probably do a BSc. However, I've already done some courses in economics so it would be difficult to do a BA in economics. If I do do it then my second GPA would still be tarnished.

whatdoido
11-25-2010, 03:05 AM
I don't think you should do a lower ranked MA and then go to a higher ranked MA and then go to a PhD program. That's a lot of money, and admissions committees may not like the duplication of coursework. (That was option 2 in your original post)


Just to throw is out there, many Canadian MAs completely or partially fund their MA students, so the money may not be as much of an issue.

Noise
11-25-2010, 05:56 PM
I second RA-ing for someone at an institution where you could take a couple math classes on the side (assuming you think you could do well in them)

CorcoranCadet
11-29-2010, 01:00 AM
I am actually in a similar situation. I did a double major in the humanities and econ and had a great GPA in my humanities major. However, I did this at the expense of many of my econ courses. My final GPA was around 3.4 overall. Once I got to the end of school I took some classes with a really great professor in the econ department and realized I would rather be doing econ. I even did some independent research in undergrad, but it wasn't in econ... Additionally, I don't have nearly the amount of math I would need for an application.

My plan right now is to work at a local policy think tank while taking two math courses a semester. I'm also going to basically cold call past professors and see if there is any way I can work as an RA for them. If I can get this going, then maybe I can start looking at Phd programs.

I considered masters programs, but in our situation, I'm not sure it makes sense. With so little math, we wouldn't even get considered for any of the good MA's (Duke etc). Acceptance might be possible at a place like UNCG, but whether or not this makes sense seems nebulous to me. It seems that it makes more sense to simply try and ace these post-grad math courses and go direct into the Phd. Hopefully some more experienced members will chime in, but most people on here aren't in this situation or remotely near it.

thewhiterabbit
11-30-2010, 12:30 AM
I'm hoping to find a way to prove to the admission officers that I am capable of PhD-level work. However, the MA programs that I can get into based on my statistics are not designed to prepare one for academic work. However, I can't get into the rigourous MA programs (UBC, UT, Q, LSE, and etc.).


I really hope this doesn't come off as overly harsh, but I think the first question you need to answer for yourself is whether you have evidence for yourself that you are capable of PhD-level work, and that your current marks really do not reflect your ability.

In your other thread you mention that you've suffered from depression and are getting treated now, so the answer may well be "yes, now that I'm getting treated, my marks have improved astronomically." If that's the case, then taking more key courses, either degree or non-degree, and RAing will most certainly help. Your coursework is the problem, so better coursework is probably the solution. If you can take one course at a time at a good school for several years, that will probably help. A big upswing in marks (plus, perhaps, an explanation in your app about depression) will help a lot.

But if you just don't have the math aptitude, then you perhaps should not embark on an expensive master's program or second BA, since you'll just end up poorer and without a better profile. In that case, you may need to re-evaluate your goals. I've had to come to terms with this myself - for better or for worse (sometimes I feel for worse) the discipline wants people who are mathematically inclined before most other things.

This would mean either changing course entirely (not going into academia) or being OK with a department outside the top 50.

Also I would encourage you to talk to mentors/recommenders who you trust. They will be more objective than we (and probably you) can be.

ironman6788
11-30-2010, 04:13 AM
Since I'm in a similar position to spiderman (although I took this year to improve my math profile which is going well) I'm gonna hijack and ask a question. You guys are suggesting RAing and I feel this isn't an option I have explored enough. Thing is where at? I came from a decent, not great, LAC and did some research with a Prof there but almost all of that seems to be for undergrads. And I'm not sure what kind of organizations or thinktanks are in my part of the country, not that I want to out my location... *cough*SoCal*cough*. Also is this kind of work (research without a graduate degree) enough to support yourself if you would need to be financially independent?

More options are always better so I'm very curious about the RA for a time while taking continuing math courses option.

ironman6788
12-01-2010, 11:30 PM
um... bump...

_nanashi
12-02-2010, 07:37 AM
I really hope this doesn't come off as overly harsh, but I think the first question you need to answer for yourself is whether you have evidence for yourself that you are capable of PhD-level work, and that your current marks really do not reflect your ability.

, His profile really isn't that poor though it needs more detail. His profile actually in solid running for tier 2 M.A. programs in Canada, and that is traditional route for Canadian students. Though a 75-76 average (Which is what he's talking about) is going to keep him out of the top 4 department. If his average was about 3 or 4% higher he probably would get into a top masters program. Hence, why I do think well above average performance at a tier two M.A. and a good test scores are key.