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bquinn10
02-21-2008, 03:10 AM
I'm thinking this is what my profile will look like when I apply next cycle and I'm wondering what schools I should be looking at (either as a range or specific schools). Obviously, I'll be pretty weak in terms of math prep and lack a lot of econ/stats courses. For what it's worth, I'd prefer to stay east of the Mississippi and I can only attend if I get funding. I'm really just trying to get a feel for which schools someone with my qualifications (or, closer to the truth, lack thereof) should be researching. If anything, error on the pessimistic side with your evaluations.

Personal: White American male
School: Lower Ivy, but transferred in after being out of school for several years
GPA: Cumulative: ~3.6, Math: 3.6 Econ: 4.0 (but in only 3 classes)
GRE: 770Q/750V
Econ: Intro Micro/Macro (As) Intermed. Micro (A). . .that's all my econ.
Math: Calc IV (A-) Diff Eq (1st sem. of 2 sem. sequence) (A-) Lin Alg. (A-) Real Analysis (B+) Intro Stats (A)
LOR: Probably mediocre at best
Research: Might be able to land a summer RA job. No tutoring or anything like that.

Andronicus
02-21-2008, 04:52 AM
I don't think your profile is nearly as bad as you think. I'd say you should have a good shot at some top-50 schools. I would suggest (1) get the summer RA job, which could be your ticket to a solid LOR, (2) take Mathematical Statistics (should require multivariable calc as prereq) and Intermediate Macro. I think schools tend to care more about how you do in Intermediate Micro than Macro, but some schools require both.

What fields interest you?

Olm
02-21-2008, 05:02 AM
Apply for a Master's degree in econ in either Canada or Europe if you want to hit a top 10. Your undergrad record isn't going to hold you back at all if you kick *** in your Master's program.

bquinn10
02-21-2008, 05:09 AM
I'm mainly interested in either financial economics stuff or doing policy related macro work. I plan to take those classes you mentioned. The problem is that I simply won't have space in my schedule to do so before I'd need to apply in '09. I figured taking the math classes (diff. eq/analysis) next fall would enhance my application moreso than adding other econ. classes. As a result, my entire final spring + summer semesters are going to be devoted to taking econ. classes to fulfill my major.

In your opinion, would I be better off holding off a year and applying once I've taken those extra classes or should I just proceed as planned and apply w/o the full array of recommended courses? FWIW, I harbor no real desire to attend a top-10. UT-Austin & Maryland would make me ecstatic and I'd still be pretty damned pleased to attend any of Duke, Vandy, UNC, UVa, G'Town.

Edit: In response to the other poster above: There's no way I can afford a master's program. I'd need to receive full funding from any school I eventually wind up attending.

Andronicus
02-21-2008, 05:16 AM
You probably could go ahead and apply for admission for fall '09 and get in somewhere ranked 30th-50th. Duke is "monstrously" selective, though, as several threads on this board lament.

bquinn10
02-21-2008, 05:30 AM
I think my relatively long absence from school may work against me, although I don't know that for a fact. You seem much higher on my chances than I am.

So do you think GWU, GMU, Colo, UGA, UFL, UIC would generally offer good shots of admission then? And if so, what sort of job am I looking at coming out of one of those institutions, assuming average performance? If I decided all I cared about was money, would a $100K (in today's $) gig be more or less assured or does one need to be graduating from a higher-ranked school to have those sorts of opportunities open to him/her right out of school? Likewise, if I went the academia route, is there any chance I'm working at a BCS-conference school right off the bat?

Thanks again for the info.

Andronicus
02-21-2008, 05:47 AM
I think you could probably get into somewhere higher ranked than those schools you list.

To get $100K you'd probably have to go into the private sector, and I don't know much about that job market since I'm more interested in academia. However, I have read that private sector employers are less concerned with the ranking of your PhD school than academic employers.

I don't know which schools are BCS schools since I don't really follow college football, but from the schools you mentioned the academic jobs you would be looking at would probably be at non-PhD-granting departments.

macroeconomicus
02-21-2008, 08:43 AM
To the OP,

you have fulfilled all the minimal and not so minimal (for some places) math requirements with GPA of about A-. You have a diploma from a lower Ivy. I think you're in a good position so far. Even if your LoR is just average you can have a good shot at applying to programs ranked 11 through 55 as listed on US News (in fact those below 30 or so should be almost safeties.)

If you want to maximize your chance for admission in 2009 here is what you should do. Try to retake GRE and bring the quantitative score to say 790-800 range. Next, enroll in an undergraduate economics seminar where you will have a chance to write a paper. You could then send this paper together with your application. This might also earn you an above-average LoR. By the way, professors almost always ask what your GRE is when you're asking for a LoR. If they hear that you have say at least 790, they will feel more comfortable to give you a good LoR. I know there are lots of professors out there who will be willing to give you a good LoR if you sell yourself well to them.

Regarding schools, the decent sub top-25 macro departments are probably Indiana, U of Washington, Georgetown, BC, OSU, and maybe some others. Among the higher ranked look at Virginia, Michigan, Maryland, Texas, WUSTL, Rochester, Minnesota, JHU, and UCLA. In particular, I hear the schools that are near the DC area tend to have good preparation for policy work (Maryland, Georgetown, Virginia, JHU perhaps) and they have a good placement record into institutions like the World Bank, IMF, Central Banks, etc. If you want to play safe, spread your applications evenly among a wide range of schools.

I don't recommend Colorado because they don't seem to do much in macro or international finance, their expertise is bigger in international trade, environment, applied micro, etc.

Pursuing asset pricing through Econ PhD programs is trickier because not all econ departments have asset pricing faculty or field courses. However, most of econ departments allow to pursue a field in asset pricing at least as your secondary field through the finance department in business school. I know that at Minnesota, UCLA, UCSD, UCSB, and USC, the econ departments offer asset pricing field courses, and so at these places you can work in asset pricing as your primary field for sure, though, the econ department faculty usually focuses on theory of asset pricing (like general equilibrium asset pricing models) or financial econometrics. Empirical asset pricing is best pursued with business school faculty (usually).

Andronicus
02-21-2008, 11:55 AM
I think my relatively long absence from school may work against me, although I don't know that for a fact. You seem much higher on my chances than I am.

While I completely understand wanting to maximize your chance to get in somewhere, I also think its important not to underestimate your chance at better schools. Based on the admission results I've gotten so far, I'm starting to think I aimed a bit too low overall. I overestimated the negative impact from my relatively low GRE Q score (760) and the fact that my undergrad/MS school is not well known. I wish I had applied at a few more top-20 schools instead of Houston and Georgia State (my safeties).

decision2008
02-21-2008, 06:08 PM
About the long absence from school, I'll share with you my experience. I worked for almost 5 years before I finally get my act together and decide to go back to do PhD. I have decent undergrad but little math classes(although I have really good reason for that).

So I was doing Math classes part-time and turned full time a year ago, and I'm finishing with a master in a relatively unknown school. I did well in most of my classes and probably have fairly strong recs. Talked to a few econ professors and couple offers I have thus far indicated that they're fairly impressed with the amount of math I picked up after years out of school.

In short, you should try to pick up and do reasonably well in more advanced classes, have strong math preparation (I think that would probably the biggest concern for many dept if you can handle more adv. math). I think if you can show that you can do very well, that's actually might work in your favor. In my opinion, a big menu of math classes would be more eye-catching than major in economics.

I was as anxious as you about the absence from school part, but I think the SOP and how you do after you re-enter sends a strong signal to adcom. There's not so much to worry about the absence from school, although you probably want to cast a wider net when you apply than you would have without the absence.

Valhalla
02-21-2008, 09:09 PM
LOR: Probably mediocre at best



This is damaging! You should first work on this problem somehow... sorry but even if your profile would have been a "jesus christ" profile (I should quote some TMer here who actually invented this characterization but I forgot his/her name) - whereas you know that it's not - this LOR thing would kick you out after any preselection stage at most of the universities I can think of... sorry

best

signal08
02-22-2008, 06:27 AM
i agree with valhalla above. to the OP-- if you want to get in a good school, sure improving your GRE/GPA won't hurt, but since you already meet the "minimum" anyways, i suggest that you devote most of your attention to improving your LORs..... i'm also targeting schools in the range you're interested in, and like you, i don't have the *best* GRE/GPA. but i did come from a good undergrad institution (with a top 10 econ dept), and so secured some great letters from top economists/academics. since you attended an ivy, i think that if you could establish some meaningful relationship with the econ professors there (perhaps by doing RA work, independent research-- NOT just coursework), then you would definitely have a good chance at the schools you're interested in.

best of luck to you.

Equilibrium
02-22-2008, 07:54 AM
I'm thinking this is what my profile will look like when I apply next cycle and I'm wondering what schools I should be looking at (either as a range or specific schools). Obviously, I'll be pretty weak in terms of math prep and lack a lot of econ/stats courses. For what it's worth, I'd prefer to stay east of the Mississippi and I can only attend if I get funding. I'm really just trying to get a feel for which schools someone with my qualifications (or, closer to the truth, lack thereof) should be researching. If anything, error on the pessimistic side with your evaluations.

Personal: White American male
School: Lower Ivy, but transferred in after being out of school for several years
GPA: Cumulative: ~3.6, Math: 3.6 Econ: 4.0 (but in only 3 classes)
GRE: 770Q/750V
Econ: Intro Micro/Macro (As) Intermed. Micro (A). . .that's all my econ.
Math: Calc IV (A-) Diff Eq (1st sem. of 2 sem. sequence) (A-) Lin Alg. (A-) Real Analysis (B+) Intro Stats (A)
LOR: Probably mediocre at best
Research: Might be able to land a summer RA job. No tutoring or anything like that.
get intermediate macro, period. most places the intermediate courses are the ones that actually reveal who is really about econ and who thought it was an easy major up until that point. Although the person posting that macro is significantly less important than micro in this respect is completely right in saying that many times schools will require you have both.

While I wouldn't go as far as most on this forum to say you need a huge "menu" of math courses as it were, if you're going to go back and get what I would consider what most people would require either officially or somewhat unofficially(intermediate sequence in econ), while you are there, get an econometrics course done too.

as for GRE, Retaking and getting even a 780 would be actually a big deal as I feel 780 is really all you need to at least get considered at almost all programs. With your undergrad from a "lower" ivy, is still undergrad from ivy and with a perfectly solid gpa, even getting Average LOR(so a little bit of work to do for you, could be corrected with good grades/arrange to do an extra paper/work of some sort with your econometrics and intermediate macro prof especially if they are of some importance in the PhD program at your school.) should be more than sufficient to have a very reasonable to very good chance at many 15-30 schools with several schools possibly even being a safety for you at that point

780/3.6-3.7/ with average LOR plus undergrad from Ivy league with A- in all the essential math classes(don't let anyone tell you you need much of anything more than you already have in that respect)==> one hell of a chance at even a few really top schools depending mostly on the LOR

decision2008
02-22-2008, 01:15 PM
I would agree about the LOR part to be the most important part of your application to get into a good school.

I'm not sure if intermediate macro (if not required for application) would send a stronger signal than a class like topology or measure theory. I would lean towards having econometrics also.

I think you have a pretty good coursworks for application, as others mentioned, LOR is HUGE.

bquinn10
02-24-2008, 01:47 AM
Thanks for the info everyone. If anyone else wants to chime in, feel free.

little guy
02-24-2008, 04:35 AM
I think schools like UCLA, UMich, Maryland, WashU, Texas etc. are not out of your reach. Virginia should be very much in your range; their website says the average quant gre is a 750. Remember you are at an ivy, so it is ok if your writer says you are very good instead of the best he has ever seen (assuming you are not applying to top 5 schools). Oh, and if you could get a 790 or 800 you would be in much better shape. Being that you are able to get A grades in math classes at an ivy league school, I think that is very much a possibility. Just my thought...

Internationalstudent08
02-24-2008, 05:53 AM
You should take Andronicus' advice very seriously. Try some of the top schools. In the worst scenario, you will lose 3-4 hundred dollars. Overestimating your chances results to a lost year and another round of applications. Underestimating them may have more important effects on your career, especially if you want to continue in academia

Olm
02-24-2008, 08:00 AM
This is damaging! You should first work on this problem somehow... sorry but even if your profile would have been a "jesus christ" profile (I should quote some TMer here who actually invented this characterization but I forgot his/her name) best

I believe the "Jesus" profile is a term I have coined, but I could have sworn I have seen it elsewhere before. :hmm:

veroniquaz
02-24-2008, 09:07 AM
Donīt waste time retaking your GRE. Concentrate on the math and stats courses and on improving your LORs. The marginal effect of getting an 790 is pretty low and in addition there is a risk that you will even do worse than 770. People tend to have bad days and you do not want to hurt your chances when your score is already fine.

israelecon
02-24-2008, 03:34 PM
Donīt waste time retaking your GRE. Concentrate on the math and stats courses and on improving your LORs. The marginal effect of getting an 790 is pretty low and in addition there is a risk that you will even do worse than 770. People tend to have bad days and you do not want to hurt your chances when your score is already fine.

this depends on where you are applying in my opinion. if you are applyinig to lower than top 20 than maybe this is true. but, in the top 20 schools a 770 gre will very likely get you cut very early. my understanding is that the gre is used as a first impression and if they place the cutoff at 780 or 790(which is where most applicants are), even if the rest of your application is excellent, they may never get to see it, because you didn't make the first cut. these schools get around 700 applicants and they can't review all the applications so they use the quant. gre as a first sorting mechanism.
again, if you don't plan on top 20 anyway, than i don't think 770 in gre is what will make or break your application.

veroniquaz
02-24-2008, 04:28 PM
israelecon:

my advice was specifically targeted to the OP. If s/he had 10 econ courses, 10 math courses, 3.99 GPA and a 770Q then I would probably also tell him/her go improve the GRE. However, from the profile description, OP is not a top 20 applicant and a 800Q will not change it. S/he needs to fix the more obvious weaknesses like the missing econ and math courses and the not so great LORs. As I already said, in this particular case, retaking the GRE is a waste of time and an unnecessary risk of hurting rather than improving the application.

econphilomath
02-24-2008, 06:01 PM
Even a son of zeus / jesus profile will not be any good without strong, well known LORs for the top programs. If I have learned anything after all this is that if you don't have someone credible to say your good, no amount of A's, 800s crazy math, papers, etc, can get you into the top 5.:2cents:

Down the ladder, you can make a good case for a 10-25 ranked program, mixed with some lower ranked programs to make sure you get in somewhere.


I would follow veroniquaz's advice first, then if you still have time, give the GRE a try.

israelecon
02-24-2008, 07:10 PM
israelecon:

my advice was specifically targeted to the OP. If s/he had 10 econ courses, 10 math courses, 3.99 GPA and a 770Q then I would probably also tell him/her go improve the GRE. However, from the profile description, OP is not a top 20 applicant and a 800Q will not change it. S/he needs to fix the more obvious weaknesses like the missing econ and math courses and the not so great LORs. As I already said, in this particular case, retaking the GRE is a waste of time and an unnecessary risk of hurting rather than improving the application.
you may be right, i was also responding to those who said that the profile may be strong enough for a top program. my point was that if s/he intends to apply to those places s/he should improve the gre.

bquinn10
02-28-2008, 09:51 PM
One last question: Would this profile make me competitive for a Finance or Accounting PhD as well? If so, what range of schools? I would have literally no classes in either subject before applying, but I would have at least a little econ. background & some math.

Olm
02-28-2008, 10:15 PM
When it comes to adcoms, the vast majority see the GRE as a pass/fail filter, with 770 or over being a pass. People have been accepted into Harvard, Yale, MIT, etc. with that score (I've seen it many times).

bquinn10
02-28-2008, 10:30 PM
Oh yeah. I'm not too worried about the GRE, mainly because I'm aiming for a respectable school moreso than uberprestige.

My question re: the business PhD was more concerning whether a complete lack of classes in the intended field would harm my application chances. Again, I'd be happy with a top-50ish finance program.

breakz
02-28-2008, 10:31 PM
So consensus from people with knowledge of the admissions process: is a 770Q an automatic "reject" for top 10 programs? Top 20?