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Thread: Profile eval for 40 year old :)

  1. #1
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    Profile eval for 40 year old :)

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    Context:
    Im a non-traditional prospective applicant 15+ yrs of industry experience. Ive gone back and forth over the past 10 yrs on whether to apply for PhD programs, and which programs to apply to (Public policy, Econ, Business, Urban PlannIng). I recently decided that I would like to take the leap and transition to a career in research / academia.

    There are professors across various departments that fit my research interests (in public policy, business, economics, and urban planning departments). At the end of the day, I want to get into the program that fits me best AND positions me for TT roles.

    My strong preference is to stay in ATL, though I will likely apply to a few reaches away from here.

    Test Scores (GMAT/GRE): TBD goal is 90th percentile which I think is feasible based on my past GRE score
    Undegrad GPA: 3.7 in top 100 public university, honors college (2002)
    Graduate GPA: MPP - 3.8 in top 10 public policy school (2004); MPhil from Judge at Cambridge (dissertation received high marks) (2005)
    Research Experience: RA in undergrad (NSF funded, primary author published in peer reviewed journal); GRA in grad (thesis was funded and published by university research center); dissertation at Cambridge was also funded
    Teaching Experience: NA
    Work Experience: 4 yrs in mngt consulting to start career (Deloitte); 10 yrs in national non-profit leadership roles (VP and C-level); now back in strategy consulting as associate partner at MBB firm (2 yrs)

    Schools:

    Business

    • Emory (O&M macro)
    • Georgia Tech (Strategy & Innovation)
    • Erasmus RSM part-time (Business and Society)
    • One from top 5


    Public policy

    • Harris UofC
    • Oxford DPhil (part-time)


    Urban economics

    • LSE
    • Cambridge
    • Oxford (part-time)


    Questions

    1. Given my educational and professional background (and very old math from undergrad and grad), I think that Id be most competitive for B-Schools. But Id love any feedback from the forum on what range of schools to target.
    2. I need to prioritize where to put my time against my goal of getting into these programs. My hypothesis is GRE prep, personal statement / research interests, then potentially enrolling in a course in fall (to further narrow interests and potentially get a LOR). I am also working on a white paper through work, but dont think that would published in time. Thoughts on if this is the right prioritization? (As a side, I was originally thinking of Econ programs - but would need to take 5+ math courses over the next few years to be competitive which doesn't seem like the right prioritization.)

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    Within my grasp! BrazilianPhD's Avatar
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    Re: Profile eval for 40 year old :)

    Well, at least for business schools, it's hard to say who would be a "traditional applicant". We really have a lot of different people. Regarding age, for example, I'm 46, and I'm not the oldest at my school.

    I'm not sure what kind of research you intend to do. But there is a good chance that, even for business schools, you will need to "renew" that old math from undergrad and grad. I had not really done much stuff like matrices and derivatives for a long time, so I struggled with that.

    GRE is clearly something high in priority, since you don't have a valid score yet. PhD applicants are getting very good scores, and it would be a shame to let a low score be an obstacle for you, as your profile seems strong.

    If you haven't narrowed your research interests down yet, then trying to get the best list of schools to apply is also something to do. Research fit is very important when choosing a school, and that's something you only can do after you have a solid idea about your research interests.

    I'm also not sure what kind of course you plan to take in Fall. But if it will help you to make a stronger case for your research interests, and get you a good letter of recommendation, then I think it's a good plan. Since you have been out of school for a long time, getting 3 good letters of recommendation is probably a challenge.

    Personal statement is not really something relevant. The Statement of Purpose is much more important than the personal statement. You gotta be ready to provide some answers that can be related with someone of your age, like potentially facing a huge drop in income, whether you have been up to date with coding skills, why did it take you so long to decide to do a PhD.

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    Re: Profile eval for 40 year old :)

    I think we are somewhat similar in terms of background! Well, "similar" is relative.. in some sense I have also been out of school for awhile, have quite a bit of work experience (though not as much as yours!), and am thinking about going to back to school. I will be 35 when I finally apply in 2 years. I sought out some advice from this board through this thread, might be helpful to you: https://www.urch.com/forums/phd-busi...e-profile.html. I think getting information from website or reading journal articles to have deeper understanding of department/ faculty research is most likely going to be a worthwhile investment. Apart from that I agree that it will be helpful to dust off the math textbook and refresh some math skills. These are the two things I am doing to prepare myself, short of straight up doing actual research with the faculty part-time, this is harder to come by.

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    Re: Profile eval for 40 year old :)

    I agree with Braz, even for a B-School PhD program, you will still need to brush up on your math no matter what. If your math background is fairly strong - at least Calc II, preferably Calc III, and some linear algebra - take a look at Rice U's Econ department's PhD Math Camp which they offer online every summer (usually starting late may) and sometimes in the fall. They also have a similar Stats camp offered online.

    If I were you, I would avoid econ departments altogether since the better departments tend to avoid students over 30 and if you are going to a lower ranked school, you are much better off in terms of getting a TT job if you get a PhD from the B-school program than from the econ dept. B-schools have much less bias against "older" PhD applicants anyway, so long as they have useful experience.

    Due to your strong preference for staying in ATL, also take a look at Georgia State Robinson. The B-school is quite good and well ranked and has pretty good placements. In some business fields I would actually put them ahead of Georgia Tech and Emory.

    Also, while I am generally reluctant to suggest this option for someone looking to move from industry to academia, in your case due to your location preferences/restrictions, somewhat broad interests and extensive business experience I might suggest you also look at the few serious high quality DBA / EDBA or similar professional/executive business doctoral programs out there. I would suggest you only look at ones that are at research universities that also offer proper research PhD. The only ones that meet this criteria that come to mind are Temple, Drexel, Baruch, Georgia State, Virginia Tech, Rutgers (brand new), Oklahoma State and University of South Florida. Most of these programs are designed for working execs and have only limited residency requirements. These programs are usually less rigorous than the research PhD, usually have a lower expectations for the dissertation, and do not offer funding. On the other hand they are designed to be completed in under 3 years doing it part time while working, and you would still have access to the regular research faculty. They also tend to be more interdisciplinary than the research PhD. While most graduates of these programs go back to industry, some take up full time teaching or "clinical" faculty jobs at good business schools and a rare few get TT jobs, though usually at smaller or lower ranked B-schools, where the job is more teaching than research anyway.
    Again, I usually would not suggest this approach, and given your strong research background I think a proper research PhD program would accept you if you applied to a broad range of programs. But since you appear to have significant geographic restrictions, the executive oriented programs might be an option for you. If anything, it might be worth it to check out the DBA program at GSU and see if you could also take or audit some classes with the regular PhD students. You would definitely be able to go research seminars. This would give you exposure to the more serious research side of the B-school and may enable you to get the experience and connections for more serious business research and TT jobs.

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