View Full Version : School Advice

07-30-2007, 01:06 PM
Hey everyone,
I wanted to post my profile and see what recommendations I got from this forum as to what level of school to target. I've read this forum for sometime, but this is my first post. My main interest is microeconomic theory, specifically game theory and mechanism design.

Top 20 Private Research University
GPA: 3.8 ECON: 4.0 MATH: 3.76
Intermediate Micro (A), Intermediate Macro (A), Econometrics (A), Game Theory (A), will be taking graduate micro theory, and a graduate probability and statistics course through the econ department in upcoming term.

Honors Calc 1-4 (All A's, using apostol's calculus books), Honors Linear Algebra 1-2 (B+,A-), Probability Theory (Not Measure Theory Based) (A), Honors Real Analysis I (Kolmogorov Book) (A-), Honors Abstract Algebra I (A), Graduate Topology (A-), Graduate Optimization (A), (Following Courses Taken in study abroad Math Program) Measure Theory (Papa Rudin) (B), Functional Analysis (B+), Galois Theory (B+), Number Theory (A).

Taking the GRE at the end of summer, have been scoring 800 quant and about 600 verbal on the powerprep tests.

Recommendations will come from professors I took classes from, I have also been an RA for one of the profs for the last year and will continue this year, and am working on a funded research project that will be my senior thesis with another one of the profs.

Also, participated in a mathematics reu program the summer after my sophomore year.

I'd appreciate any advice as to schools to look at and have a decent shot of getting into. Thanks in advance for your help

07-30-2007, 10:17 PM
Welcome to the forum. :)

Your profile looks solid! Assuming you do well in your courses next term and get good LORs, I don't see why you can't aim as high as you want, keeping in mind that the top 10 or so is very competitive and you should apply to a range of schools. That goes double if you can turn your research project into a short paper (published or not) that demonstrates your ability to complete original research. Given that you seem to have taken on challenging honors and grad courses, it seems unlikely that a B+ here and there is going to worry anyone...

07-31-2007, 02:05 AM
Your profile is similar to though stronger than mine was this past year (I had a slightly higher GPA, but no grad courses, and was from a relatively unknown public school), and I got into a few top 20 schools. So there's no reason you shouldn't be able to secure admits from schools in the 1-25 range, though, as buckykatt said, you should always apply to a decent spread of schools.

What schools to look into, specifically, really depends on your research interests.

little guy
07-31-2007, 06:51 AM
To be honest, the impression I get is that you will go where your letter writers want you to go to, (possibly not mit, harvard). I have an extremely similar profile, you could probably find it under my old posts. I definitely have less math, despite the fact I am a Math major, receiving a scholarship from the Math Dept.

The one thing that I think will matter, which should not, is how good your schools econ dept is. You say you go to a top 20 private, so I am thinking like Emory, Vandy, Notre Dame, Cornell, JHU, Georgetown, or Wash U in St. Louis. While these are all better schools than the schools I go to, I think I have an advantage in that I go to a school with a top econ dept, implying my letter writers will be well published. It is stupid that this is the case I agree. School should judge your ugrad work by the level of the undergrad institution, not the grad program.

None the less, I would apply to all of the top 10. I have a worse profile, and all of my professors have told me to apply to every top 10 school, you should do the same.
Best of luck.

07-31-2007, 07:15 AM
It is stupid that this is the case I agree.

It isn't stupid whatsoever. It makes perfect sense. Professors in a top research department, having in general completed a top program, have a better idea of exactly what it takes to succeed in such programs, and as an economist overall. Moreover, being in such a department, many will have a more accurate/current view of applicant profiles for their cohort and are better able to judge where somebody stands relative to the general applying class.

Guest Who
07-31-2007, 12:40 PM
It isn't stupid whatsoever. It makes perfect sense.

I feel compelled to reply. Think back to when you were 17 or 18: did you envision yourself becoming an economist? Did you enter college knowing you'd major in economics? Did you not change majors along the way?

Statistically, you entered college expecting to major in one thing and ended up majoring in another. Well and good, except if you chose the school you attended on the basis of your expected major and not your final major.

So, essentially, schools punish students who didn't know conclusively they'd want to be economists at age 17 or 18. This seems stupid and, more specifically, short-sighted to me.

And, finally, I'm fairly convinced that all but a few of us have little connection to graduate-level economics at the undergraduate level. I believe that Princeton's professors know better than St. Agnes' about what it takes to succeed in an economics PhD program, but I'm doubtful they have any better chance to assess a given student's ability (*in most cases*).

07-31-2007, 03:59 PM
One's choice of school is not set in stone, and you're always free to transfer. You can ***** and moan about it - that's life, take it or leave it. But if you truly feel that professors at Princeton are no more able to assess a student's ability than those at St. Agnes, you're fooling yourself. Think what you want, but that's simply reality.

little guy
07-31-2007, 08:22 PM
I can not agree more with Guest Who. When I was applying to college at 17, I had no clue what I wanted. I was rejected by Duke and UVA, but got into Michigan and NYU, both with merit scholarships. I know of students who went to Duke, and they were much more talented than I was going into college. The fact that I may have as good as or better chance coming from Michigan to me seems puzzling.

Any professor at one of the top 20 private schools I mentioned could easily analyze a students performance as well as my professors. Many of their faculty still went to top programs. I doubt a professor at NYU could teach students any more than one at Wash U at the undergrad level. Any professor at any decent school, should have enough command of their area of econ to teach at an undergrad level.

The one exception is if the student took and did well in grad classes at a top school, then that obviously sends a different signal.

07-31-2007, 10:57 PM
I can't believe that there's really any discussion over this. :rolleyes:

This has nothing to do with where your profs did their graduate work, or foresight at the age of 17. It simply has to do with credibility. It is beyond me how anybody could ever think that, all else equal, a letter from an unknown prof at a school with no econ department to speak of, would ever carry as much weight as a letter from a professor that sits on a top 20 adcom, advises and teaches graduate students, etc. Do you seriously believe that if both were to say that "student X is one of the best I've seen in years" its going to have anywhere near the same meaning? If so, I just don't know what to tell you...

08-01-2007, 12:00 AM
Snappy is right on, this shouldn't even be a debate. Graduate programs care about how you compare to your peers, specifically those who have embarked on graduate study. If you come from a school who sends few students to top programs, then being the "best student in the last 5 years" means significantly less than if you come from a school who consistently sends people to top 10 departments. Further, professors at top 20 econ programs SIT ON THE ADCOM at these departments, so they are experienced in evaluating top talent. When they recommend you, it flat out means more.

A alumn from my undergrad institution just completed her PhD at Hopkins in 2005. At the open house I asked a professor if this helped my application during the review process, he replied "I don't recall it coming up, but had we realized it would certainly have been a factor," he then added "man, if you do well here anyone coming highly recommended from Lewis and Clark will get an automatic admit!" Case and point.

08-01-2007, 06:29 AM
One piece of advice that I'll give you, is to include a list of the textbooks you used for your courses in your mailing packet. Using the right textbooks makes a difference to the top schools (and some will ask for this type of list already) so you should use that as a selling point to help you get in.

Apply where YOU want to apply, but also follow the advice of your professors, especially if they have a connection with a particular school, because you never know what will happen with the admissions process, its good to have options.