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sbburnsi
11-27-2010, 04:16 AM
I was speaking to my finance professor the other day and told him about my plans to apply to PhD programs. While he was very happy to hear this, he told me that since I come from a smaller, not well distinguished school, that I have no chance of getting into a top 100 finance program. not sure if that translates to econ programs. I think I have a great resume, just not from a good undergrad program. He recommended I apply to schools like Southern Ill Carbondale and U of Texas San Antonio since he said they accept students from my undergrad school. Is this true - that top 100 programs don't accept people from smaller schools? Kind of discouraging - thoughts?

Harry Lime
11-27-2010, 04:19 AM
I didn't know there were 100 finance PhD programs.

How small of a school are we talking about?

sbburnsi
11-27-2010, 04:28 AM
hah well if there aren't 100 finance programs that doesn't bode well for me then .... its basically a satellite college of a big ten school... but its aacsb accredited and all my profs come from pretty decent programs.. i have two personal friends that got placed into wisconsin's pharmacy program and notre dame's math phd program so its not like your run of the mill community college but its not very respectable amongst academia either

zurich_econ
11-27-2010, 06:23 AM
Don't lose hope based on one single opinion! All you can do is try, and try you should.

sailpenn
11-27-2010, 09:35 AM
Most people I know do transfering, are from "small" schools to good ones. Actually, I think few people bother transfering from good ones to good ones in the same level.
Be confident! Good luck!

enginecon
11-27-2010, 11:36 AM
I think I have a great resume, just not from a good undergrad program. He recommended I apply to schools like Southern Ill Carbondale and U of Texas San Antonio since he said they accept students from my undergrad school. Is this true - that top 100 programs don't accept people from smaller schools? Kind of discouraging - thoughts?
Can you post more information about your profile?
Just look at some of the "evaluate my profile" threads and give the same info...also, since the "size" (reputation) of your college is a significant concern here, you could list several very similar colleges to yours, one of which may be yours, but you need not specify yours (to decrease the probability that one guesses who you are).

whatdoido
11-27-2010, 02:54 PM
You are a good candidate for a master's program. If your profile is good, then all your missing is pedigree. You can get that if you go to a solid Canadian or European master's program.

sbburnsi
12-01-2010, 04:58 AM
thanks for the replies

I'm not positive what would be some good comparison schools, I would venture to say schools like Grand Valley State, Valparaiso, Ball State, SIU-Carbondale, Dayton, U of Michigan - Flint, U of Texas - San Antonio are all comparable schools

After high school, I made the decision to stay home in order to help take care of my family. I worked and went to school at the same time. I have been working on the sell-side of financial services for a large bank and a large insurance company for 2 years after graduating in finance. I was two classes short of an economics degree.. After I realized how much I enjoyed academics and research, I made the decision to return to school and many professors encouraged me to go the PhD route. I plan to apply in the Fall of 2011, but before I fully commit myself to this endeavor, I am trying to understand my chances as best I can. Thus, I will give a best case scenario (which I believe I can make happen) for fall of 2011 when I go to apply. I am taking several economics, mathematics, and statistics courses between now and then. I am also taking my GRE and putting together 2 papers with professors. Finance is about the Value Line Enigma and economics will be about education economics. Both professors are from respectable universities and willing to write LORs.

Aim:
phd program in economics OR finance (economics > finance right now)
research interests include development economics, education economics, econometrics, empirical asset pricing, market efficiency theory


Undergrad:
See above
Major: Finance and Quantitative Economics
GPA: currently 3.7..should be able to bump it up
Beta Gamma Sigma and Omicron Delta Epsilon

Work Experience - selling insurance and investments for major financial services companies (series 6 and 63, life and health insurance)... i know this doesn't do much for my resume but it's what I did for the past two years.. good communication skills I guess?

Math Courses:
Haven't taken anything significant yet, had A in finite and A+ in Pre-calc and Intro to Calc... plan to take Calculus I, II, III, Linear Algebra, Probability and Stats, Diff. Equations, Analysis between now and fall 2011

Econ Courses :
Econometrics (A-), Intermediate Microeconomic Theory (A+), Public Finance (A), Labor Economics (B+)
Will be taking Intermediate Macro with same professor as Intermediate Micro and doing an independent study

Finance Courses:
Applications in Finance (A-), Security Selection (A-), Fixed Income and Equities (A+), Financial Decision Making (A), International Finance (B+)
Independent Study with chair of finance dept: Evaluation of Value Line's Model Portfolio I and the Value Line Enigma (A)
I am currently collaborating with him to expand and improve this paper and he thinks we can get it published... not sure how significant that is but it sounds fun

Standard tests:
Taking GRE, hoping to score 800Q and should be OK on Verbal and AWA.

LOR:
Finance Chair - has told me I am the best student he's had
Econ Chair
Several other econ and finance professors would be willing, good relationships with many faculty members


Schools (Economics): Hoping to stay in Midwest - Western Michigan, LeHigh, Iowa, Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan, Indiana, Marquette, Purdue

Thanks for taking the time to help. Also - any advice for what to do between now and fall 2011 would be much appreciated.

Harry Lime
12-01-2010, 05:43 AM
plan to take Calculus I, II, III, Linear Algebra, Probability and Stats, Diff. Equations, Analysis between now and fall 2011
If I had to sum up TM in one sentence for someone who never heard of the forum before, this would be it.

You are awesome. I'm rooting for you.

enginecon
12-01-2010, 11:22 AM
GRE scores are important for everybody, because they are the ONLY measure that (roughly) treat all applicants the same. However, for applicants from lesser-known schools, lesser prestigious schools these scores become MASSIVELY IMPORTANT. So, they will be the primary determinants of the kind of admission you will get... score in the 90+ percentile ins Q and AW sections and you could get into a top 50 program; score below 700Q and below 4 in AW and your only realistic choices will be the bottom 10-20 programs.
In your case, you should probably take the GMAT as well, since you may apply to management schools, and getting strong scores in both can only help you (and getting strong scores in at least one may help if the other is not so strong).
Frankly, without those scores any comment on your admission odds anywhere would be far too speculative.
Also, can you take some math/math-oriented upper-division/grad courses (even online) from the main (parent) campus of your university (or as non-degree student from a Big10-level main campus)?

Team3
12-01-2010, 01:58 PM
Haven't taken anything significant yet, had A in finite and A+ in Pre-calc and Intro to Calc... plan to take Calculus I, II, III, Linear Algebra, Probability and Stats, Diff. Equations, Analysis between now and fall 2011.

As someone who recently went from no math background through the above sequence, being complete with all of that in a year sounds like a pretty tall order (and potentially an unreasonable one), especially since the prerequisites typically cascade (i.e. I is the prereq for II is the prereq for III is the prereq for analysis, etc.). Additionally, between III and analysis, most american programs have now inserted a bridge course to teach logic and proof-writing...as a non-degree student, you can probably skip it, but you would still need to self-study the material. While the above is beneficial, you certainly don't need all of that to get into a quality doctoral program in economics. PM me if you want to chat about the specifics...but good luck!!

AREStudentHopeful
12-01-2010, 02:09 PM
I think it's do-able, but maybe not fun. Given common pre-reqs, I would think it would go something like this:

Spring - Calc I
Summer I - Calc II, Stats
Summer II - Calc III, LA
Fall - Diff Eq, Real Analysis

Like I said, not fun (particularly the DE and RA in the same semester part), but doable. That also depends on the exact prereqs for LA and Stats (depends on what they cover).

asquare
12-01-2010, 02:25 PM
GRE scores are important for everybody, because they are the ONLY measure that (roughly) treat all applicants the same. However, for applicants from lesser-known schools, lesser prestigious schools these scores become MASSIVELY IMPORTANT. So, they will be the primary determinants of the kind of admission you will get... score in the 90+ percentile ins Q and AW sections and you could get into a top 50 program; score below 700Q and below 4 in AW and your only realistic choices will be the bottom 10-20 programs.
In your case, you should probably take the GMAT as well, since you may apply to management schools, and getting strong scores in both can only help you (and getting strong scores in at least one may help if the other is not so strong).
Frankly, without those scores any comment on your admission odds anywhere would be far too speculative.
Also, can you take some math/math-oriented upper-division/grad courses (even online) from the main (parent) campus of your university (or as non-degree student from a Big10-level main campus)?
You claim in another post that you only use "official information" when you make these claims about people's chances of admission. So, what exactly is the "official information" on which you base the statement that the OP can get into a top-50 school with a GRE score in the 90th or above percentile, given the rest of his profile? What is the "official information" that makes you claim that with a quant GRE score below 700 and an AWA below 4.0, he will only get into the bottom 10 or 20 programs? Heck, what are the "official" bottom 10 or 20 programs?!

Schools don't publish detailed statistics on admitted students. They sometimes publish the mean or median GRE score on the quantitative section, or list a lower-bound score for that section. Even more rarely, they have information about the AWA scores of admitted students. However, the rest of the profile information, including the rank of the undergraduate school and the strength of LORs, is not advertised by schools. That doesn't mean it's not important. In fact, faculty who have published advice to prospective PhD students almost universally state that letters are extremely important (and that the only important section of the GRE is the quantitative section).

I think your post is full of bad advice. It emphasizes GRE scores over more useful things that the OP can do to improve his profile. It's on one hand condescending and patronizing, and on the other unrealistically optimistic (good GRE scores alone will not pave the way to a top-50 school), Also, why would you advise the OP, who has not even taken Calc 1, to take "math/math-oriented upper-division/grad courses (even online) from the main (parent) campus of your university (or as non-degree student from a Big10-level main campus)?" More broadly, you are making a habit of grandiose, provocative claims that you defend by appealing to "official information" whenever you are challenged. If you really want to be helpful, I would suggest adopting a friendlier tone and actually linking to the "official information" you think supports your claims. I don't think that the advice posted on profile evaluations by everyone else on TM is always accurate, either, but your posts stand because you claim to know more than everyone else posting here and because you are often hostile in your messages.

enginecon
12-01-2010, 03:17 PM
You claim in another post that you only use "official information" when you make these claims about people's chances of admission. So, what exactly is the "official information" on which you base the statement that the OP can get into a top-50 school with a GRE score in the 90th or above percentile, given the rest of his profile? What is the "official information" that makes you claim that with a quant GRE score below 700 and an AWA below 4.0, he will only get into the bottom 10 or 20 programs? Heck, what are the "official" bottom 10 or 20 programs?!
Official information is that given by the programs in their websites about profiles of successful applicants, or that can be found in other reputable websites/reports/papers (NRC, etc). Not all do, but quite a few offer that information.
When someone ask for an opinion of his profile, I understand the person knows that only by actually applying to given programs will s/he know the result for sure. I suppose the person want to narrow down his/her search, since there are so many possible places to apply to. I suppose it is also obvious that when a poster evaluates a profile s/he does so on the basis of his/her own judgement, beliefs and knowledge. The person is free to completely disregard mine or anybody else's post/opinion.

asquare
12-01-2010, 03:29 PM
The person is free to completely disregard mine or anybody else's post/opinion.
Indeed, and I suppose the reason I'm replying to these threads is to suggest that people consider doing just that. Look, you write well, and that's a good thing. You also write forcefully, and you claim to be providing correct information when other people are not. For someone who is new to the admissions process and new to TM, your posts may carry more weight than they should. I want to make it clear to people reading these threads that yours is not the only or the universally held opinion, and that there is good reason to question it. Just because you say your posts are based on "official data" does not mean that your interpretations of that data, or your inference with regards to chances of admission, are correct.

thewhiterabbit
12-01-2010, 05:32 PM
@asquare diplomacy ftw :-)

@enginecon I agree with asquare about the problems with your seeming certainty in your knowledge of the process. Your posts often contradict not only the 'collective TM wisdom' (for what it's worth) but things I have been told directly by professors at a top department. You write with such certainty I think you might come across to others as an authority, when it doesn't seem warranted.

To specifically address your points on profiles of successful applicants - with something like AWA and Verbal (and even QGRE to some degree) you seem to assume causation when it could in fact be a simple correlation. Statistics on average AWA and Verbal only indicate that the average accepted candidate had those scores, not that the adcom selected on or cared about those scores. Given, for example, a 3.0 is a very rare score, if AWA mattered not at all we would still only see 5% of accepted candidates with a 3.0 assuming Econ applicants reflect the regular population (which I think we can assume they don't). So really I don't believe these statistics tell us much at all (unless perhaps there is a rich dataset out there with data on an applicant level, where you could clearly observe a cutoff, but I don't believe this exists).

One of the hallmarks of being a good economist is understanding the limitations of your data and the claims that can be made from it. I believe that in the case of AWA and Verbal we (the applicants) probably do not have data to ascertain the importance the average adcom places on V/AWA. In the same vein I think that although we have much more data about the QGRE, it is still an open question whether a 790 v. 800 is actually a disadvantage, or if it is simply the case that most successful applicants have an 800 but this was not a determining factor in their admissions. Again, causation v. correlation.

This is not to say I think that we throw up our hands and say 'GRE doesn't matter' - far from it, and I told the other poster as much in suggesting he/she broaden the list. I just think that it introduces uncertainty/variance for him or her - hence adding schools - and that this is one of those cases where context will be important, i.e. talking to recommenders, especially if the person is at a top school. But this last bit is just my impression given the absence of better information.

enginecon
12-01-2010, 05:59 PM
I agree with asquare about the problems with your seeming certainty in your knowledge of the process. Your posts often contradict not only the 'collective TM wisdom' (for what it's worth) but things I have been told directly by professors at a top department. You write with such certainty I think you might come across to others as an authority, when it doesn't seem warranted.
Maybe you are assuming too much about the way others interpret what I write. I write on the basis of my reading of official/trusted sources, the way I know how. I am yet to see any evidence that anyone is misusing my recommendations. I do not feel obliged to produce evidence of anything, but have often encouraged others to visit official/trusted websites, examine carefully the information there and reach their own conclusions.

To specifically address your points on profiles of successful applicants - with something like AWA and Verbal (and even QGRE to some degree) you seem to assume causation when it could in fact be a simple correlation. Statistics on average AWA and Verbal only indicate that the average accepted candidate had those scores, not that the adcom selected on or cared about those scores.
The programs provide that information with the explicit intention of helping potential applicants to determine whether they should apply. If a program does not consider the AWA, there is no reason to believe that they would (a) compile statistics on it, and (b) post the statistics. Thus, I am justified to conclude that those programs that choose to report statistical information on scores on specific sections of standardized test do so because in fact they do use those scores as admission criteria.

Additionally, some programs explicitly give minimal acceptable scores for consideration. Even if not all do, those minima provide useful information, as do the percentile information.

Ultimately, the prospective applicant must make the decision of where to apply on the basis of the information that is available, even if it is just averages.

If you disagree with my recommendations, then simply give your advise on the basis of what you believe and let the interested party decide. Why is that a problem?

wittmic
12-01-2010, 06:37 PM
@enginecon:

For me personally, I have no problem with the advice (advise is a verb) you're giving. It is your own interpretation of the statistics that are made available by schools through their websites and other promotional material. Opinions and interpretations will vary from one TM'er to the next and it IS up to the OP to use all the relevant information to make the best possible decision they can.

The problem I have with your posts is your tone. You are very condescending and unnecessarily not nice. I don't mean in not nice regards to your message. You can tell someone that you do not think they are qualified for a certain school in a nice way, you do not. You tear people down, and that is not the point of this forum or really any other forum for that matter. The point of this forum is to HELP potential applicants understand what they can do to make themselves more competitive, not make them feel bad about themselves.

I don't understand why you come to a forum like this and post condescending remarks. Does it make you feel better about yourself? What do you get out of it?

asquare
12-01-2010, 06:50 PM
Let's get this thread back on the topic of the OP's profile and best strategy for applications, too. Thanks :)

wittmic
12-01-2010, 07:09 PM
You're right, I apologize to the OP.

I think it sounds like a good case for an MA. I think all that math that quickly will be tough, coming from someone who has done it recently. Following the natural progressions in mathematics deepens your level of understanding in the subject and will definitely help in the future.

Good luck!

dreck
12-01-2010, 07:45 PM
With your current profile, the outlook is grim. If you are able to get the math and GRE that you hope for, then I think you'd be much improved.

Re GRE scores. Saying they are "massively important," or "the primary determinants" for students from low-ranked schools is just not true. The importance could be marginally higher for this type of student. But the GRE is the initial screen, and what you have after the school decides that your GRE is high enough is what will determine your admission*, regardless of the rank of the school you apply to. And this information comes from a chat with the DGS at a top 100 PhD-program, my undergrad (she said they rejected many people who made an 800 but were not at all qualified). So for the OP: the GRE matters, but accomplishing your math goals is going to be really important as well, and probably harder.

*there are a few exceptions, where students from very strong backgrounds can overcome a low GRE. Coming from a low-ranked school, your only disadvantage wrt GRE as I see it is that this is not likely to happen for you.

Edit: oops, we were trying to get the thread back on track. I don't mean to derail it again :)

enginecon
12-01-2010, 08:28 PM
With your current profile, the outlook is grim. If you are able to get the math and GRE that you hope for, then I think you'd be much improved...Re GRE scores. Saying they are "massively important," or "the primary determinants" for students from low-ranked schools is just not true. The importance could be marginally higher for this type of student. But the GRE is the initial screen, and what you have after the school decides that your GRE is high enough is what will determine your admission*, regardless of the rank of the school you apply to.
*there are a few exceptions, where students from very strong backgrounds can overcome a low GRE. Coming from a low-ranked school, your only disadvantage wrt GRE as I see it is that this is not likely to happen for you.

Agree on the grimness part, given what we know so far.

The quoted material seems sufficiently close to the OP's concern that it can be addressed. I will not get into a semantic argument about which adjective should I use to make my point. Others can use their prefer adjectives.

However, I stand by my comment that GRE are hugely/massively/use-your-prefer adverb-to-emphasise-very IMPORTANT in the specific case of the OP, and generally for applicants from lesser-known schools. Yes, LOR, SOP, and of course grades are important for everybody. But the lesser-known school applicant has two specific problems which I have mentioned elsewhere:

(a) even in moderately competitive applicant pools, nearly all the "finalists" have strong LOR, SOP, and usually very good grades, yet the ADCOM must still cut quite a few of them; thus an applicant with a low GRE score will have difficulty making up for them on the basis of LOR/SOP/grades since most others have strength on those areas also, and the lesser-known-school applicant has the additional handicap of his school's rep. So, what could s/he use to make up for his/her GRE handicap? forthcoming pubs?

(b) Even worse, because of the perceived weakness of the school, the adcom may (subjectively) "discount" his/her GPA (an A from there must be like a B- at xxxx). And since his/her recommenders are often as lesser-known as the school, even the LOR may be "discounted" also.

In all, the ONE factor that the lesser-known-school applicant can count on NOT being "discounted" in anyway is precisely his/her GRE scores (and/or other applicable standardized tests)

Thus, I stand by my recommendation to the OP and more generally to applicants from lesser-known schools (even more if the school is outside the US, and even more still if it is in the "developing" world) to take the applicable standardized tests EXTREMELY SERIOUSLY.

inknit
12-01-2010, 11:15 PM
Just out of curiosity, how the hell did you take intermediate micro and econometrics without any math?

dreck
12-01-2010, 11:51 PM
I will hope that the discerning reader sees my point, and decline on pushing this any further. I probably should have let the argument die anyway. You are neglecting that conditional on making above some threshold, the GRE is more noisy even than grades, etc., even from a low-ranked school. It's standardized, but that doesn't make it a good measure of ability. There's a Mean-Squared-Error analogy in there somewhere...

Everyone, including OP, should try hard to do well on the GRE, but it is a necessary and decidedly not sufficient condition for admission. Which is echoed by several credible sources (John List's just got bumped: http://www.urch.com/forums/phd-economics/113848-some-reflections.html, to start out with, I could look up some more links but I'd rather not spend any more time on this).

enginecon
12-02-2010, 12:30 AM
Everyone, including OP, should try hard to do well on the GRE, but it is a necessary and decidedly not sufficient condition for admission.
What in my previous post leads you to believe that I claim the GRE is >sufficient< for admission? No single condition is.

My entire argument is precisely along the necessity side: I emphasised that if the lesser-known-school (LKS) applicant has low GRE scores (in one or more sections that count in whichever schools s/he is applying) s/he may be unable to remain competitive (since the others presumably have equally strong LOR, SOP, math preparation and grades PLUS a more reputable school to boot). Ultimately it is a competition.

It is of course possible that even with very strong GRE scores any applicant may be left out, especially one from a LKS, simply because there may be enough higher-ranked applicants to meet the target number of admissions.

_nanashi
12-02-2010, 06:13 AM
I have a friend from an bidirectional state school (Essentially an unranked on the US World news and report) who went to UVA. She initially didn't get funding, though they gave her a T.A. ship after she arrived. Minnesota also wait listed her. She had close to a 4.0, a solid GRE, great letters, and some research experience. She worked also full time while doing this, and did exchange at a top 10 european department over the summer and made A's. The biggest issue with candidates from low ranked schools is that their professors are unconnected, so their letters even if glowing aren't considered credible, and your grades aren't either though they show motivation. So every other aspect of your application is of utmost importance. I do think you have a shot of the top 40 if your GPA is good and you have a solid GRE. I think a student like you though is the one that should address the cerdibility gap by doing a Masters at a more reputed place. Foreign masters are often funded, and solid masters programs in the UK or Canada (even tier 2 programs) would greatly improve your chances of getting into a top university. Worse case scenario many of them are respected enough that you can find a job related to economics. I'd send an application to SFU, Mcmaster, Mcgill, UBC, Guelph, Alberta or U of T in Canada. Maybe York in the UK.



Just out of curiosity, how the hell did you take intermediate micro and econometrics without any math?

Its not uncommon at lower ranked schools to have econometrics and intermediate micro without calculus. You still can budget sets and what not, but analysis is more graphical than before. Its a lot more difficult to teach, and sometimes intuitively very difficult since the math often makes the course more precise. Varian's intermediate book does not use calculus, unless one uses the appendices. Price Theory (I forget the author) is another book without calculus, and perloff also has one.


There's a Mean-Squared-Error analogy in there somewhere...
I hate how this forum views everything in terms of econometrics. Where is the theory love. Grades from lower ranked schools, and letters from faculty with no connections, who are rarely from reputed universities themselves are generally viewed as cheap talk (whether it actually is or not). The GRE is not, I think thats where the fundamental point lies about importance of GRE for all applicants. That being said I'm not convinced that a high verbal score will do anything to applicants from lower ranked schools. But I think an 800Q probably stands out more.

Harry Lime
12-02-2010, 06:35 AM
Its not uncommon at lower ranked schools to have econometrics and intermediate micro without calculus. You still can budget sets and what not, but analysis is more graphical than before. Its a lot more difficult to teach, and sometimes intuitively very difficult since the math often makes the course more precise. Varian's intermediate book does not use calculus, unless one uses the appendices. Price Theory (I forget the author) is another book without calculus, and perloff also has one.
It's funny that people are shocked that intermediate micro can be taught without calculus while at the same time not batting an eyelash at the fact that just about every top school teaches a course in physics without calculus.

joako
12-02-2010, 06:57 AM
thats something i did not know...not even my introductory/general economics course had no calculus... and micro ug pfft... need atleast multivariate, stats probs and linear algebra...and my school is supposed to be not even top...300? (best in my country though) guess thats just different ways of teaching

p.d enginecon: i get your point.. i dont really understand why people are "picking" on your comments... basicaly the gre seems to have the best return or effort utility relation (+ probabily of admission in top x) in this specific range of schools... thats about it, so if the OP has limited time and low gre he should invest in it.... but it apperars to me people here seem to think youre giving the magic formula or some...

just my perception of the thread

_nanashi
12-02-2010, 07:14 AM
thats something i did not know...not even my introductory/general economics course had no calculus... and micro ug pfft... need atleast multivariate, stats probs and linear algebra...and my school is supposed to be not even top...300? (best in my country though) guess thats just different ways of teaching

p.d enginecon: i get your point.. i dont really understand why people are "picking" on your comments... basicaly the gre seems to have the best return or effort utility relation (+ probabily of admission in top x) in this specific range of schools... thats about it, so if the OP has limited time and low gre he should invest in it.... but it apperars to me people here seem to think youre giving the magic formula or some...

just my perception of the thread

I think the system you have is better, and its not that uncommon in foreign countries. American's don't have a culture of studying mathematics, and mathematically oriented departments tend to be quit small in size. Generally only a few undergrad majors. Keeping math requirements lows allows the departments to attract more students, particularly students who are majoring in economics because they want a general business degree and don't so much care to become an economists. (The ones that think they do, genrally change their mind once they experience an advanced theory text book.) If economics conducted it self like physics we'd also have to live with the consequences of losing 75 % of the undergrad econ majors. (just a guesstimate)

SlowLearner38
12-02-2010, 08:59 AM
The use of calculus in the economics major and its possible effect on enrollment in the major was actually the topic of my undergraduate thesis. Around 50% of the departments of economics in the U.S. offer a bachelors degree program that does not require the students to take a calculus class in the major. That means 50% of the U.S. economics departments have an intermediate theory sequence that does not require calculus. My model suggested that there is a decreasing effect to enrollment in the major by requiring calculus at less selective schools. Though only a small number of the more selective schools didn't already require calculus in the major, there appears to be an increasing effect to enrollment by requiring calculus in these departments. It could be the case that without a calculus requirement, economics would not appear to be quantitative enough of a major for these students.

As a student who didn't use calculus in my undergraduate classes, I know the theory can be taught without calculus. It requires more from the teacher though.

Econ2011
12-02-2010, 01:33 PM
My model suggested that there is a decreasing effect to enrollment in the major by requiring calculus at less selective schools.

How did you get the differential impact of calculus on the enrollment? Did you follow schools without calculus transitioning to requiring calculus and subsequent decline in enrollment? Where did you get the data from?

AREStudentHopeful
12-02-2010, 04:55 PM
Also, requiring calculus is not a "single-department" issue. At my undergrad, Calc I and Stats were required to go beyond basic intro to micro/macro. The department wanted to increase the requirement for an econ major to Calc II and intro to regression analysis but the math/stats department didn't want to teach more econ majors than it had to and the business school was worried about taking the "overflow" of students who would no longer be econ majors without receiving extra funding. The ironic part is that when the school moved (in the late 90's) from no Calc to Calc as a requirement, the number of econ majors went up (more so than increasing admissions overall would account for)...

rthunder27
12-02-2010, 05:14 PM
It's funny that people are shocked that intermediate micro can be taught without calculus while at the same time not batting an eyelash at the fact that just about every top school teaches a course in physics without calculus.

*Off topic* For the life of me I could never get my head around teaching physics without calculus, (pardon my crudeness) it's like sex without penetration, what's the point?

At my high school there was a two year physics progression, with only the advanced section of the second year requiring calculus. The physics teacher (who also a professor at the local university) would just get incredibly frustrated all of the time, frequently saying stuff like "Dammit, why can't I just teach you guys the calculus" or "Trust, me this makes sense if you know derivatives." Actually he did end up teaching us very basic diff eqs when dealing with harmonic motion, since our AP calc course does not cover them.

Frankly I find physics to be much easier/intuitive once you understand the basics of calculus. I don't get why even a non-calculus based course can't just teach a very rudimentary version of calculus, at the level of "derivative=slope of tangent line" at a point, and "integral=area under a curve", along with the most basic rules of operation, punting completely on the theory.

michaelmas
12-02-2010, 06:16 PM
Physics without so much as Calculus I?

For the love of Baby Rudin!

dreck
12-02-2010, 06:31 PM
Frankly I find physics to be much easier/intuitive once you understand the basics of calculus.

That's because you understand the basics of calculus :)

I've taught students in an intermediate micro class who just freaked out when calculus came up. Trying to convince them that the basics of calculus aren't that hard, and that things get easier if you understand calculus was just unbelievably difficult. It's a big problem at some universities in the US. Of course, it could be that some smart people just aren't built for doing calculus, and that these people still need to know economics/physics. And on the other hand, trying to explain the concepts of intermediate micro using algebra and purely intuitive language was an interesting challenge...

_nanashi
12-02-2010, 10:38 PM
Trying to convince them that the basics of calculus aren't that hard, and that things get easier if you understand calculus was just unbelievably difficultWhats worse is all they have to do is take simple partial derivatives. Its not even really like they need a thorough understanding of it. Most of them did that minimum to pass the course. If I was teaching intermediate at low ranked places I'm just going to use ln X + ln Y and Min(aX,bY) at the only utility functions in the course.



Of course, it could be that some smart people just aren't built for doing calculus, and that these people still need to know economics/physics.

I highly doubt this. Many countries require calculus at the high school level. Im in the last semester of my masters taking fluffy classes and spend my time working with exchange students. Most of them had through calculus II in high school, and find it unbelievable that most americans college graduates don't have calculus. I would not be surprised if the level of difficulty the courses are higher than calculus at most math depts in the U.S. as only a handful of schools are selective.

SlowLearner38
12-02-2010, 11:50 PM
How did you get the differential impact of calculus on the enrollment? Did you follow schools without calculus transitioning to requiring calculus and subsequent decline in enrollment? Where did you get the data from?

The way I measured the impact has raised a few worries about my results suffering from an endogeneity problem, within good reason. Most of the data came from the NCES, except of course the calculus requirement variable. I literally went to the website of ~700 departments of economics, looked up and documented their math requirements for the economics major, which usually required doing more search on the schools website to figure out what "MATH 210" is. I defined a calculus requirement as a department requiring their students to take a class covering differential calculus that specifically had the word 'calculus' in it.

Problem #1: The "mathematics for economics" courses. They all cover differential calculus at a minimum of course, but students don't have the same preference for a 'calculus' class vs. 'math econ'. It would be worthwhile to control for these classes being required.

Problem #2: Some schools offer a BA and BS in general economics, usually with the latter having stricter math requirements and the divide occurring quite often at the calc or no calc level. For general economics majors (as opposed to Agriculture/Financial/Business/Quantitative Economics majors), the data makes no distinction between BA/BS, which is biasing my coefficients.

I interacted a dummy variable for calc=1 on two measures of selectivity (SAT Math, US News 5 levels of general selectivity) and my results are robust so far. There was a study done 40 years ago that measured enrollment in the economics majors over 7 years for schools that recently imposed a calculus requirement, with the imposition being center at the 4th year, and they suggested there was no long term decreasing effect to enrollment by requiring calculus. However, the limitations of that study besides the sample size were that they didn't control for any other variables that might effect the mathematical ability of the students at the schools.

Problem #3: Right now the study is cross-sectional.

A panel model with the year of the actual imposition of the calculus requirement would be ideal, but that could only reasonably be obtained through a survey. I could easily get data for a panel model for every variable except the calculus dummy variable. That was collected in one cross-section and I'm in no rush to do it again anytime soon, but if I do find time I'd like to recollect the data and document more features about the economics major besides calculus that would play a role in a student's choice to major in economics (i.e. the number of courses/credits in the major, information about the statistics/econometrics requirements, the number of faculty, existence of substitute majors besides business majors that I already have, and a big one: the math requirements for the substitute majors). I control for the location of the economics department (liberal arts/social sci vs. business) but considering many of the economics departments are in the business school, I need to control for the math requirements for the business program and especially if calculus is required in a 'core requirement' at the business school.

thewhiterabbit
12-03-2010, 12:37 AM
@SlowLearner38 Not sure if you took this into account, but some schools also have Calculus 1/2 as part of the general university requirements.

Econ2011
12-03-2010, 05:11 AM
I interacted a dummy variable for calc=1 on two measures of selectivity (SAT Math, US News 5 levels of general selectivity) and my results are robust so far.
.

For reasons you yourself mentioned, I am not sure you can claim the inclusion of calc requirement had decreasing effects. The whole thing is pretty obvious though. My college used to award both BS and BA degree with BS requiring a lot more maths, and econometric courses. As expected, a significant number of students were in the BA cohort.

Charis
12-03-2010, 10:09 AM
To get back to the original posters concerns, if you can survive that course load and do well I think you'll have definitely break top 80 and maybe have a shot at the top 50. It seems pretty intense though for your school to offer Calc II and Calc III in separate summer sections. Is this normal, because the way my school operates it offers calculus I,II, or III but each class is over both summer sessions (10 weeks).

enginecon
12-03-2010, 11:35 AM
To get back to the original posters concerns, if you can survive that course load and do well I think you'll have definitely break top 80 and maybe have a shot at the top 50. It seems pretty intense though for your school to offer Calc II and Calc III in separate summer sections. Is this normal, because the way my school operates it offers calculus I,II, or III but each class is over both summer sessions (10 weeks).
Ya, it is rather unfortunate that the thread has drifted so far from the OP interest. Perhaps the administrator can split the thread and move some stuff to the next one (some boards do that, occasionally).
As for the OP's concern, s/he indicated that he is in a branch campus of a Big 10 uni; and the OP appears to be in Indiana. Assuming that the branch campus is affiliated with either or both of IN's B10 unis, the absolute best move for the OP would be to somehow get either of the main campuses "involved" in his/her case. Both the main campus of Purdue and Indiana are very solid. The OP may find a creative scheme involving either one (inter-campus transfer, double-major, master's, etc). Typically, inter-campus arrangements are much simpler than those involving totally independent colleges. A degree from either place (or from the main campus of whichever Big Ten institution the OP is affiliated with) will be a huge asset for the OP, whether for PhD purpose or just for life.

sbburnsi
12-04-2010, 07:50 AM
Alright I see what you guys are saying. I'll narrow my list down to Harvard and MIT so I can save on application fees.

Juuust kidding.. thanks so much for the input.. we'll see what happens.. either way I'm happy to be out of bank customer service and back in school.

OK maybe I did overstate that math course load .. but TRUST ME.. any of you could do it at the school I go to haha

Spring: Calc I
Summer: Calc II
Fall: LA, Prob/Stats, Calc III
Spring: DE, Analysis
Fall: Start PhD program at school ranked 20013948th

enginecon
12-04-2010, 11:25 AM
OK maybe I did overstate that math course load .. but TRUST ME.. any of you could do it at the school I go to haha

Did you notice the suggestion above that you get your main (parent) campus involved somehow (inter-campus transfer, double-major with them, etc., etc.) ... What about that?

Keep in mind that there may be online/video/distance options from the main campus, which may allow you to remain physically at your current campus with just sporadic visits to the main one for specific reasons.... Have you checked that out?

You don't want to lead the Adcom's to believe that you just don't want the additional level of rigor/competition of your main campus (and they could reasonably suspect that).