PDA

View Full Version : For those who end up at a school outside the top 100



oavdn17
12-07-2007, 06:42 PM
Hello,
By my picture to the left im sure you can tell i attend the U. of New Mexico. UNM is not highly ranked and its known for its environmental program ( which im not into anymore) but I have felt really comfortable here. Its a relatively small program ( 14 full time profs after they hire a Macro prof this spring) with about 60 graduate students and because it's small i've been able to interact with Professors as well as the students that are further along ( great resource!!). I had heard some horror stories about competition in cohorts and with other students int he department, but i haven't seen any of that here. My cohort is pretty close and on some nights 3/4's of the cohort is working together. So all in all im happy that i came here and not to a terminal MA program first (profile (http://www.urch.com/forums/phd-economics/66608-profiles-results-2007-a-6.html#post464506))!

It would be great if other student in programs outside of the top 100 share their experiences ...

phdseeker
12-08-2007, 03:38 PM
All I can say is that enjoy the fun now because your screwed if you aspire to get to a top 100 school as a professor.

asquare
12-08-2007, 04:21 PM
All I can say is that enjoy the fun now because your screwed if you aspire to get to a top 100 school as a professor.
That's unnecessarily nasty, phdseeker. I liked your attitude better a few months ago, when you were encouraging people to drop the top-10 or nothing attitude (http://www.urch.com/forums/phd-economics/74878-what-options-left-if-one-gets-rejected-everywhere-they-apply.html#post488251). Hawaii, a school you mention in your old post, is not more highly ranked than UNM...

notacolour
12-08-2007, 09:04 PM
I've shared my experiences in another thread (http://urch.com/forums/phd-economics/79865-hi-im-notacolour-i-attend-small-non-prestigious-program.html#post519787). I've been happier with my decision to stay in this program than I expected, even.

As you mention and I've said in other posts, lesser ranked programs can have definite advantages: smaller classes, more attention from professors, etc. I've had the chance to work with professors on work that could lead to publication already--I'm currently in my second year of the PhD program. Sure, there are obvious disadvantages, but there are advantages, too.

GymShorts
12-08-2007, 11:18 PM
Actually, if you take the EconPhD.Net rankings, omit the non-USA programs, UNM becomes 104.

oavdn17
12-08-2007, 11:24 PM
My reason for posting was to encourage people to apply to any type of program. Not everyone has a perfect profile that enables them to go to a top 20 program. Im sure there is many lurkers who might get discouraged from applying because they have no chance at a top program but they should be discouraged form applying to lower ranked programs...I think most people on here realize there is a need for graduates from all types of programs..

GymShorts
12-08-2007, 11:30 PM
All I can say is that enjoy the fun now because your screwed if you aspire to get to a top 100 school as a professor.

Just because he is happy at a lower-ranked school doesn't mean you need to put him down and assume he shares the, IMHO shallow, career goals you stated. Besides, the only things top-100 schools have that others don't are prestige, and sometimes money. And I cannot imagine prestige bringing that much happiness; and money has quick diminishing returns after a certain amount.

macroeconomicus
12-08-2007, 11:39 PM
Besides, the only things top-100 schools have that others don't are prestige, and sometimes money.


Ugh, please. And having top faculty and students as your peers doesn't count? I didn't know getting into top schools was all about money and prestige.

YoungEconomist
12-09-2007, 01:01 AM
All I can say is that enjoy the fun now because your screwed if you aspire to get to a top 100 school as a professor.

I hope you're not offended by this oavdn17. For one thing, it's not completely true. My school's PhD program is ranked 30th, and almost all of our faculty come from top 10 programs (many from top 5). However, we do have one professor who went to a PhD program ranked between 90 - 100 (on econphd.net). In the last US News rankings the program is not even on that list of 55 or 56 programs. Maybe they were better in the early 90's when he got his PhD, but I kinda doubt it. This guy gets a lot of respect in the department, and I here he's pretty damn good. And by the way, he came to our school immediately after getting his degree, so it's not like he moved up from a lower ranked school. I wonder how many people from much better schools he competed with for his spot?


My reason for posting was to encourage people to apply to any type of program. Not everyone has a perfect profile that enables them to go to a top 20 program. Im sure there is many lurkers who might get discouraged from applying because they have no chance at a top program but they should be discouraged form applying to lower ranked programs...I think most people on here realize there is a need for graduates from all types of programs..

I agree. Most of us on this forum have decided to pursue a PhD because we love the field. After that, we just gotta find the best school we can get into, and for some people that is a school outside of the top 100. Even an Econ PhD from the lowest ranked school can lead to some great careers.

Econtobe
12-09-2007, 06:34 AM
Even an Econ PhD from the lowest ranked school can lead to some great careers.

YoungEconomist: For a private sector career, where you do your phd may not matter for a 'great career' because the market will pay for your work. In other words, private sector research will only work in areas that has an immediate market. Moreover, an MA probably is enough academic training for someone who wants to get into the industry.

But for academic research, having a 'great career' from a low ranked school might be very difficult. For one, research departments aren't financially independent but depend on grants/funds. I don't know how many US universities are well-funded and given enough independence to focus long on an area of research. There may not be more than 50-100..

Maybe someone from a lower ranked place would shift to a big and better university after years of 90 hour work-weeks teaching and researching , if he wants a great career.. I think it makes sense to put in those hours right now and get admitted to a better program..

And on 'love of work': If its using the research methodology (tools, analysis, math) that one loves, then doing any research is sufficient. But if it is the subject matter that one loves (development economics, international trade etc) then being funded and having the independence to choose the subject is very important.. and these may not be available outside of top-50/100..

Bayern
12-09-2007, 07:37 AM
I have a question for you oavdn17 or notacolour or anyone who does not go to the top 50 programs. If we go to a specialized program like UNM isnt there too much competition for the top advisers or the advisers who are in the field for which the university is good? The students who are not able to get the top people as advisers, are they at risk in terms of job placements?... because the other fields might be comparatively worse in the department.

Karina 07
12-09-2007, 08:06 AM
YoungEconomist: For a private sector career, where you do your phd may not matter for a 'great career' because the market will pay for your work. In other words, private sector research will only work in areas that has an immediate market. Moreover, an MA probably is enough academic training for someone who wants to get into the industry.

But for academic research, having a 'great career' from a low ranked school might be very difficult. For one, research departments aren't financially independent but depend on grants/funds. I don't know how many US universities are well-funded and given enough independence to focus long on an area of research. There may not be more than 50-100..

Maybe someone from a lower ranked place would shift to a big and better university after years of 90 hour work-weeks teaching and researching , if he wants a great career.. I think it makes sense to put in those hours right now and get admitted to a better program..

And on 'love of work': If its using the research methodology (tools, analysis, math) that one loves, then doing any research is sufficient. But if it is the subject matter that one loves (development economics, international trade etc) then being funded and having the independence to choose the subject is very important.. and these may not be available outside of top-50/100..

You know, I'm kind of disappointed that the OP's neat post got derailed by this conversation. I think more people should talk about their programs, especially outside of the top ones, and this kind of thing seems like it would really discourage that. Can I suggest that if people want to talk about the general effects of rankings on quality of life in whatever respect, that that conversation be had in another thread? So that when someone talks about his or her specific program, from an insider's view, it doesn't get hit with this wall of general comments. Because I'm fairly sure this argument will continue, and I really think another thread would be a better place to do it.

I might just be biased because I think I've seen a lot of threads debating the relative importance of rankings and I haven't seen a lot of threads of people talking about their programs (with the other recent exception), and so I'd rather people feel able to share more about the latter without worrying about getting hit with the same general comment that someone could make every time.

notacolour
12-09-2007, 03:13 PM
I agree with Karina 07 (http://www.urch.com/forums/../members/karina-07.html) that it's annoying to see so many threads derailed by those claiming people at non-top programs have no chance of getting a decent job or making any meaningful contribution to the field. Sigh.

However, Bayern (http://www.urch.com/forums/../members/bayern.html) has an interesting question, and I'd love to hear the OP's answer. For my program, the fact that there aren't a ton of possible advisers is mitigated by the size of the program, to the point where I've seen no evidence of any competition among grad students for advisers. If any of us wanted to work with anyone in particular, I'm fairly certain we could make it happen--and they have plenty of time for us, since there just aren't very many PhD students. I think the situation ends up being better than at many higher-ranked programs, which would have a few more top advisers, but many more grad students competing for advisers.

I'd love to hear if this is a problem at other schools, though.

oavdn17
12-09-2007, 05:03 PM
If we go to a specialized program like UNM isnt there too much competition for the top advisers or the advisers who are in the field for which the university is good?

At UNM we only have 13 full time faculty members and i would have to say that about of them 4 are clearly a step above the rest in terms of publishing and grant money. That said, from talking to 3rd-5th yr students, it seems they have all had the chance to work with that group of 4 profs. I agree with notacolour (http://www.urch.com/forums/members/notacolour.html) as far as the lack of competition for these few advisers since we have a small program (around 60 students but that includes the MA students)


The students who are not able to get the top people as advisers, are they at risk in terms of job placements?... because the other fields might be comparatively worse in the department.
That is one of my concerns, although because the program is not known for these other fields means that most students come here intending to specialize in one field. For example In my cohort only one person wants to specialize in labor and we have two labor economists on the faculty, which means that person will not have to compete to work for these profs...Im sure it's going hurt to be on the job market coming from UNM specializing in Labor but UNM has placed students in decent schools(non- phd granting of course) that didn't specialize in environmental.

YoungEconomist
12-09-2007, 06:20 PM
I agree with Karina above, but I have to comment on this thread. I hope you guys also realize that originally I was just trying to let people know that going to lower ranked programs is not bad.


YoungEconomist: For a private sector career, where you do your phd may not matter for a 'great career' because the market will pay for your work. In other words, private sector research will only work in areas that has an immediate market. Moreover, an MA probably is enough academic training for someone who wants to get into the industry.

First of all, PhDs actually do help a lot in private sector careers. For example, in consulting most (but not all) get their PhDs from really good programs. Lots of MIT, Harvard, Yale, Chicago, etc grads, and then lots of 10 - 20 grads. Now obviously academia cares about the school you came from more than the private sector, but it still plays a pretty big role.


But for academic research, having a 'great career' from a low ranked school might be very difficult. For one, research departments aren't financially independent but depend on grants/funds. I don't know how many US universities are well-funded and given enough independence to focus long on an area of research. There may not be more than 50-100.

Have you looked at some of the school ranked around 50th - 100th? They seem to have a few PhDs from their own university (or similarly ranked universities). Or have you ever looked at school which don't even have a graduate program in economics, that most people never heard of? You'll still see some people who came from top 5 PhD programs. Obtaining a position in a good university is not an easy task and it seems incredibly random. If you are only happy working at a top 50 program, then good luck, because it probably won't be very easy. You have to go to a good school, and you have to be among their best students.


Maybe someone from a lower ranked place would shift to a big and better university after years of 90 hour work-weeks teaching and researching , if he wants a great career.. I think it makes sense to put in those hours right now and get admitted to a better program.

Do you really think that most professors at top schools don't work their butt off? The hardest working economists are probably the guys at the best schools. They may not have to teach very many classes, but I guarantee you they put in long hours. Many of these people probably work an average of 80 hours a week.


And on 'love of work': If its using the research methodology (tools, analysis, math) that one loves, then doing any research is sufficient. But if it is the subject matter that one loves (development economics, international trade etc) then being funded and having the independence to choose the subject is very important.. and these may not be available outside of top-50/100.

Again, if you are only going to be happy studying a specific subject matter in a specific quality of university, then good luck to you.

YoungEconomist
12-09-2007, 06:27 PM
However, Bayern (http://www.urch.com/forums/../members/bayern.html) has an interesting question, and I'd love to hear the OP's answer. For my program, the fact that there aren't a ton of possible advisers is mitigated by the size of the program, to the point where I've seen no evidence of any competition among grad students for advisers. If any of us wanted to work with anyone in particular, I'm fairly certain we could make it happen--and they have plenty of time for us, since there just aren't very many PhD students. I think the situation ends up being better than at many higher-ranked programs, which would have a few more top advisers, but many more grad students competing for advisers.

I have a related question, as I am incredibly ignorant about advisers. How does getting an adviser work exactly? Do faculty only advise one graduate student at a time? For example, if you were a 3rd year student and you had a faculty member that you wanted to work with, but some 5th year student was already working with them, would you have to choose someone else? Also, how exactly do advisers advise students? Do you just go to them with questions, or do they play a much more active role in the process?

oavdn17
12-09-2007, 06:39 PM
As far as i know advisers do advise more than one student at the same time.

Inframarginal_externality
12-09-2007, 06:47 PM
My advisor has recently had between 1 and 3 students on the market per year. Because he is so generous with his time, this is not a problem at all except in one respect: letters of recommendation. With 3 students on the market in (roughly) the same field in one year, there not only is a direct comparison to past students who have gone on to work at research universities and the Federal Reserve, but with other students you are competing in the current job market with.

Toddgu
12-09-2007, 07:19 PM
It seems to me that most people here are obsessed with the ranking of the school and placement. It is far from certian that if you obtain admission to a high ranked program that you will contribute something meaningful to your field or teach at a top university. Sure working with the top people in your field will help in guiding you on your own research but it is not impossible to learn how to do research in a lower ranked school and extrapolate thought that is meaningful to the economic world and publish. And I would think that the more productive you are after you graduate will have a larger impact on your career than your degree granting institution in the long run. Going to school is just the first step in many in your career. Maybe your first placement isn't at an Ivy League school, but in ten years you might be there if you do great work and prove it. Maybe you go to an Ivy League and never publish anything of worth, then you could be stuck as an Associate Prof for your career at some lower ranked school that you currently detest.

Of course most students want to go to higher ranked schools and teach at higher ranked institutions, but the fact that your career will be defined by you, your quality of research and propagation of new ideas and solutions in your field is largely being overlooked.

notacolour
12-09-2007, 08:49 PM
YoungEconomist (http://www.urch.com/forums/members/youngeconomist.html): To answer your first question, the answer is generally, as usual: it depends. Mainly it depends on the temperament of the advisor. Some are nearly impossible to contact or schedule meetings with, while others are very willing to meet with early-stage grad students who might be interested in working with them.

Several faculty actually met with us a few weeks and explained how they see the process working. Their idea is that when we have some ideas, we e-mail and meet with them to discuss things; if they have interest in what we propose working on, they'll be willing to sign on as advisor. If not, they could suggest paths for research that they'd be more willing to help with, or recommend us to others, or whatever. I e-mailed my (hopefully) future advisor some ideas I had, and he suggested some exploratory paths for me to take in the next few months while I'm working on finishing my fields, and we can meet and go from there.


Somewhat relatedly, an often overlooked in the whole argument about rankings is that your ultimate job placement is heavily dependent on your letters of recommendation--both the quality of the recommendation and the prestige of the writer. If you go to a lower-ranked school that has several well-known people working in the field you end up entering (and you do work that they like, obviously), you will come out with much better letters than someone at a better-ranked school whose letter writers are less directly related to her field. When it comes to academic placements, some people will look at the name of the school from which you graduate, but they will be much more concerned with the letters accompanying your application.

IntEcon80
12-09-2007, 09:00 PM
Guys lets face the reality. We all want to go to Top schools if possible, but some us unfortunately we will not have the chance( I will probably be one of those). The truth is that, while possible, its extremely difficult to get an academic position at the assistant professor level at a Top Econ program coming from a school ranked in the 100th. You might have a distinguished advisor and all that but it will be really difficult. I really wish rank doesn't matter for academic job but it does.