PDA

View Full Version : Waiting a year... has anyone done it?



Olm
11-17-2007, 12:17 AM
Hey there everyone,

I'm seriously considering waiting a year before applying to PhD programs. A quick rehash of my profile: 3.0 GPA in econ (GPA in econ courses is about 3.7), with a few very bad math/stat grades. From there, I managed to get into an MA program where I excelled... 4.0 GPA, but I'm only halfway through (only 4 courses finished, 4 left to do). GRE 780Q.

I can picture the adcoms saying "well this guy has done well... in 4 courses. The rest of his record is crap. REJECT!". I figure with another year, I would have finished my MA and have a graduation GPA to show off, in addition with taking a few hard math courses in the fall semester of the application year (real analysis or whatever) and send those grades in when they become available.

Even now I am a little skeptical of my chances of getting into a top 30 (most of the schools I currently have on my list are ranked 20-30). I have a couple of backups in the 60s/70s.

So what do you think? Should I wait a year to apply? Or maybe just apply everywhere anyway, and take the best offer and maybe transfer from there? I don't have the money to self-fund, so it does little good to get accepted to a few schools that won't be able to fund me anyway.

I don't have my eyes on a full-ride top 10 school... but I at least want to go somewhere good enough that promises some career mobility as long as my research is good. i.e. schools ranked 10-30.

Any advice or comments are appreciated. :grad:

YoungEconomist
11-17-2007, 02:34 AM
If I was you, I'd strongly consider waiting an extra year because it sounds like you can greatly increase your chances at solid programs.

Another good strategy would be to apply to a few programs that you really like, and would definitely be happy going if they except you. This way if you don't get in anywhere, then next year you can play the usual game (a few reaches and a few safeties along with a good chunk of schools in your target range).

butler blue
11-17-2007, 02:38 AM
I think YE gives good advice. Plus, IF you can nail a good grade in analysis next fall, they won't care about your old math grades nearly as much.

buckykatt
11-17-2007, 03:12 PM
Another good strategy would be to apply to a few programs that you really like, and would definitely be happy going if they except you. This way if you don't get in anywhere, then next year you can play the usual game (a few reaches and a few safeties along with a good chunk of schools in your target range).

This is exactly the strategy that I'm pursuing this year. :)

Olm
11-17-2007, 11:49 PM
I think I may just send in my grades from my last semester when they come in and hope for the best. Granted, I could have 15 rejection letters when all is said and done. My professors have all told me that they will write very strong recommendations (except one who told me he will only give me a moderate recommendation for my top choice, i.e. my reach).

It's going to be very stressful from now until the dust clears in mid April. Thanks again to everyone for their contributions.

Plus, we'll get to see just how "random" this admissions process is.

Here goes nothing!

commodore
11-18-2007, 01:23 AM
Just FYI, in this year's Yale class there are several students who waited at least a year, and at least one of them did MUCH better the second time around because in his year off he took analysis and audited graduate micro and worked for a professor. It's a good idea for a lot of people.

YoungEconomist
11-18-2007, 01:58 AM
Just FYI, in this year's Yale class there are several students who waited at least a year, and at least one of them did MUCH better the second time around because in his year off he took analysis and audited graduate micro and worked for a professor. It's a good idea for a lot of people.

Yeah, I figure I'll spend my year off making a little money, getting drunk often, and casually reading through some econ stuff. I honestly think this will also be a good idea, and allow me to be more productive when school starts up.

Karina 07
11-18-2007, 02:26 AM
Hint: if you want to wait a year (or end up having to), go somewhere that you want to go the year after. Echoing the comment about Yale, a couple people at Berkeley this year took grad micro and analysis here last year.... It helps if you know the profs. If you do well, that is. (Also, you then don't have to do grad micro again, clearly, and can get on with other things.)

polkaparty
11-18-2007, 03:03 AM
Hint: if you want to wait a year (or end up having to), go somewhere that you want to go the year after. Echoing the comment about Yale, a couple people at Berkeley this year took grad micro and analysis here last year.... It helps if you know the profs. If you do well, that is. (Also, you then don't have to do grad micro again, clearly, and can get on with other things.)

I don't understand how you would do this. Did these people apply to Berkeley as non-degree seeking students and then ask for permission to take grad micro? Did they just show up on the first day of class, ``I'm not a student here but can I take your class anyway?''

Similarly some people here have mentioned being an RA at a top 5 school for a year. Just like now I was somewhat awestruck at how you would actually obtain such a job without having a connection to these schools.

The idea of just hanging out at a top school for a year and hoping they let you in just doesn't seem like a good strategy.

All of this reminds me of this news story (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/05/26/MNG5JQ2AP01.DTL) from Stanford.

Karina 07
11-18-2007, 04:02 AM
I don't understand how you would do this. Did these people apply to Berkeley as non-degree seeking students and then ask for permission to take grad micro? Did they just show up on the first day of class, ``I'm not a student here but can I take your class anyway?''

Similarly some people here have mentioned being an RA at a top 5 school for a year. Just like now I was somewhat awestruck at how you would actually obtain such a job without having a connection to these schools.

The idea of just hanging out at a top school for a year and hoping they let you in just doesn't seem like a good strategy.

All of this reminds me of this news story (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/05/26/MNG5JQ2AP01.DTL) from Stanford.

Well, I don't know how *everyone* who's ever done something like it's done it, but one person stayed in the area after doing undergrad here and just kept taking classes part-time for two years while working (maybe some kind of non-degree thing, I don't know -- he did get grades, so he must have been enrolled), we've got a bunch of Germans on exchange here this term taking grad courses and I reckon maybe one of them will end up here next year, I think there's another guy who was taking grad classes here before but I don't know how he managed it, and re: the RA thing, I could have RA'd at a top 5 school without having gone there just from having e-mailing a whole lot of professors and having a good-sounding background... (had one option).

What I meant is, if you're going to hang out at *some* university taking grad courses anyway, you might consider making it some university that you're particularly interested in. This is clearly no guarantee, by any means, that you will get in there. No way. Absolutely no way. But all else equal, you'd know the faculty, and if you did really well they'd like you (or at least be able to write good letters for you).

polkaparty
11-18-2007, 04:22 AM
Ah I see. It just seems like you have to have an honest connection in the first place (you went there for undergrad, you took a semester there via an exchange program) and that you can't just show up and take classes.

This restriction alone prevents most applicants from considering this strategy a backup plan.

Also I wasn't aware you could just mass email professors at top schools looking for RA work and be successful (assuming your background was good). Still, this idea seems pretty shady to me.... Let's just hope I don't have to consider this possibility come March!

Olm
11-18-2007, 06:45 AM
Argh, you guys are making this very tough for me. LOL.

Well I don't have any connections... and I already aced all of my grad econ courses (PhD level at my school). I'm not sure a few As in some PhD econ courses are going to make up for an undergrad record that belongs in a toilet somewhere. I guess I will talk to some profs come next week, or maybe fling an email or two off next week...

asianecon
11-18-2007, 01:53 PM
I don't understand how you would do this. Did these people apply to Berkeley as non-degree seeking students and then ask for permission to take grad micro? Did they just show up on the first day of class, ``I'm not a student here but can I take your class anyway?''

Similarly some people here have mentioned being an RA at a top 5 school for a year. Just like now I was somewhat awestruck at how you would actually obtain such a job without having a connection to these schools.

The idea of just hanging out at a top school for a year and hoping they let you in just doesn't seem like a good strategy.

All of this reminds me of this news story (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/05/26/MNG5JQ2AP01.DTL) from Stanford.

If you have money, there are formal ways to take grad courses in a top school. For example, if you're a Becker-Murphy fan, you might want to take a look at this (https://grahamschool.uchicago.edu/php/gsal/).

As for RAing, yeah probably you need some sort of connection OR you're just lucky. If your profile is strong, you might be qualified for this (http://research.chicagogsb.edu/pricetheory/programs/research/people.aspx).

P=NP
11-18-2007, 03:28 PM
I think you may want to ask your professors for their opinion. In my case, I could have applied 2 years ago (i.e. starting Fall 2005) but at that time my professors said I would probably get into a top 20, but didn't have enough maths for a top 10 (at that time I had only taken Calculus I and a few applied stats courses) - thus I decided to take lots of maths. Before I applied this time (to start fall 2007), they all said I should get into at least one top 5 school.

If their predictions were correct, I really think it was worth waiting 2 years for a top 10 vs top 20. Also, it's not like you just sit around waiting, you learn lots of things in the meantime that you wouldn't get the chance to when you enter a PhD program.