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FunMan2000
03-09-2014, 01:54 AM
I am a senior in high school who is pretty set on becoming an economist and getting a PhD. I am looking for advice on which undergraduate university I should attend.

I live in Georgia. I applied only to in-state schools (Georgia Tech, Georgia State, University of Georgia, and Kennesaw State University). I did not apply to Emory because I think it will be too expensive. I am accepted into all four. I regret not applying to other schools. My grades/SAT/ACT were good enough to get into other top universities.

I am looking for advice on which school would be the best in terms of getting into a top PhD program or getting RA positions. I've talked to a family friend who is a surgeon. He says that the undergraduate institution does not matter for getting into medical school. I don't know if that is the case when it comes to a career in economics. It seems like a lot of the PhDs coming out of the top schools went to Ivy Leagues and other top ranked undergraduate programs.

I'd be extremely grateful for any advice, even if it does not pertain to this specific question. I'd be open to advice from anyone, especially anyone who is familiar with the schools in Georgia.

Thanks
John

Catrina
03-09-2014, 02:39 AM
Unfortunately, the school that you attend does matter a lot for economics admissions. I assume that it matters less for medical school admissions since they probably place less weight on letters than economics programs do.

If you would have asked a few months ago, I would have suggested that you try applying to some highly ranked private schools that could possibly offer you merit scholarships, but it is too late for that now.

Given your choices, you will certainly want to attend one with an economics PhD program. Of those choices, I would guess that UGA would be your best bet. I would still recommend that you consider transferring at some point, although you may have trouble getting scholarships as a transfer student and I certainly wouldn't recommend paying an extra $50,000 per year for a higher-ranked school. Another thing that I have seen some people on here from lower-ranked American undergrads do is try a semester abroad at a highly ranked foreign university (like LSE). I'm not sure how big a difference that will make, however.

You should also speak to your professors early and try to get research experience. Also, you should double major in math (in addition to econ).

econphd14
03-09-2014, 05:15 AM
Unfortunately, the school that you attend does matter a lot for economics admissions. I assume that it matters less for medical school admissions since they probably place less weight on letters than economics programs do.

If you would have asked a few months ago, I would have suggested that you try applying to some highly ranked private schools that could possibly offer you merit scholarships, but it is too late for that now.

Given your choices, you will certainly want to attend one with an economics PhD program. Of those choices, I would guess that UGA would be your best bet. I would still recommend that you consider transferring at some point, although you may have trouble getting scholarships as a transfer student and I certainly wouldn't recommend paying an extra $50,000 per year for a higher-ranked school. Another thing that I have seen some people on here from lower-ranked American undergrads do is try a semester abroad at a highly ranked foreign university (like LSE). I'm not sure how big a difference that will make, however.

You should also speak to your professors early and try to get research experience. Also, you should double major in math (in addition to econ).

I studied abroad at LSE. It's a year long commitment and not cheap. Given a strong academic background, admission to the program is fairly easy. However, most of the coursework is taught at a high level and the exam system can be quite a shock on American students. Given this, I would still highly recommend the experience and it may improve your profile.

yankeefan
03-09-2014, 01:49 PM
Sooner or later we're going to have pre-K kids posting here...

Regarding UGA, I actually gave a poster presentation there about two years ago and while I can't comment much on their academics, the party scene and football culture there is absolutely insane! This however, should not bear any weight in your decision-making process as you will be a math-econ double major and 9/10 times your late night party cup will contain coffee, not alcohol. Getting RA positions could be tricky, as I imagine that the classes at UGA must be really huge (based on my small sample observation - two years from now you'll understand why this isn't really a good way to make inference). I know GSU usually hires summer RAs (I applied for one a while back but got rejected), so that could suggest a more nurturing environment. Honestly, I think your best bet is to visit these schools and try to talk with someone from the economics department. Let them know your interests and goals and ask them how often they send students to top-ranked PhDs. Alternatively, you could just sit out a year and apply next fall for higher ranked schools, although I'm not sure if this is a feasible option for you (but if it is, you should consider it).

PhDPlease
03-09-2014, 05:00 PM
I had been under the impression that Georgia Tech is the best-regarded of those schools (at least for someone w/quant interests). Since it is a tech school, your classmates would be more likely to be strong in math/quant skills, which could make for a good environment for someone considering a PhD in economics. I think that even if Georgia Tech isn't known for its Econ Dept, the fact that its known as being quant-focused might be a good thing when you apply.

That being said, I'm not really an expert on Georgia schools and could be wrong on this.

FunMan2000
03-09-2014, 07:42 PM
Thanks a bunch for your replies. I really appreciate your inputs as you are experienced with this process. I hope you guys are all getting (or have got) into your desired schools.

Here is what my thinking is right now:

UGA
benefits:
- ab/ma program AB/MA in Economics - Terry College of Business - University of Georgia (http://www.terry.uga.edu/undergraduate/majors/economics/ab-ma). Excellent placements (it seems to me). I am eligible for this program. I could take graduate level courses as soon as my junior year, maybe earlier.
- undergraduate research program CURO | Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities (http://curo.uga.edu). website says I can get involved in from freshman year
cons:
- not really a big fan of frats, parties, and football. seems like other students aren't really focused on studying and more focused on partying.
- not in atlanta (not close to other schools and Federal Reserve)
- as Yankeefan said, big classes, so might be hard to secure RA position


Ga Tech
benefits
- Atlanta. close to federal reserve bank of atlanta.
- Top Computer science program in the country. What do you guys think about an econ/cs double major? (I would also load up on math courses) I could do undergrad research in the field of computational economics, although I don't think any of the GaTech econ faculty specialize in this field. Wouldn't a CS major be beneficial in getting RA jobs? I've read some RA job postings and they say they welcome people with technical backgrounds. Plus, the CS will give me fall-back options in case this econ thing doesn't work out.
- small. ga tech only awards around 30 or so econ undergrad degrees a year. So possibly more opportunities to work with the faculty?
- Home | Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, GA (http://www.undergradresearch.gatech.edu). I can add a research option onto my degree. This allows for a 3 semester collaboration with the faculty as I do individual research. It can be for credit or for pay. There is also funding to go to conferences.

- tech degree has a good reputation and top 10 ROI in the country
CONS:
- the school is known to be difficult. also known for grade deflation. hopefully I am can outperform the average.
- Its an engineering school. Not really sure if this is a con or not. PhDplease, you think this is a benefit. But it seems to me the non-engineering parts of GaTech are becoming increasingly good.

Ga State
Pros
- Research Excellence in Economics Program | Andrew Young School of Policy Studies (http://aysps.gsu.edu/econ/research-excellence-economics-program)
- https://aysps.gsu.edu/econ/economics-undergraduate-research-experiences Seems like this is limited to only GSU students
- also in atlanta, so same benefits as going to georgia tech location-wise
- Georiga State Honors College Thesis Information (http://honors.gsu.edu/honors-thesis/)
- overall, seems like if I went here I would get a lot of research experience

I hope this isn't too much information.

John

Javy001
03-11-2014, 04:30 PM
I wouldn't place any weight on proximity to the Federal Reserve bank. If your goal is to intern there or RA after undergrad, being close in terms of proximity does not give you an advantage. I would pick the school that gives you the best chance of doing research as an undergrad. You can reach out to current faculty via email and ask about research opportunities for undergrads. I would pick the school that has the better ranked PhD program since that has the most potential for better LORs.

mcsokrates
03-11-2014, 08:49 PM
Those UGA placements are excellent (Cornell, Columbia, Chicago and Northwestern). UGA also has a slightly higher ranked econ program than the other two.

But seriously, you might want to wait until you've actually spent more than 0 amount of time in college before you plan your entire life.

StudentLoaner
03-11-2014, 09:46 PM
How does one go about deciding to be an economist while in high school?