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Thread: Advice on putting a program off, help needed

  1. #1
    monetary
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    Advice on putting a program off, help needed

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    Guys I can't believe I'm writing this, because even disregarding the two wait lists I am on I got some offers I would be thrilled to take. But, due to some purely personal factors it looks like I might have to give up on going to a program this fall.

    If this happens, I don't want to give up on my dream and I plan to reapply in 2 years and I'm furiously trying to set up a backup plan in the meantime. I would be moving to a major East coast city, which I guess is lucky given the prevalence of universities there. I guess my two options if I still want to do my PhD are:

    1) Get an RA position -- this would possibly increase my competitiveness, right? Easier said than done, though, particularly given my relatively weak programming skills and lack of formal training.

    2) Get a consulting job -- I assume this would more or less maintain my current level of competitiveness (my letter writers will all stand by me just as strongly in two years, I've talked to them and I go to a tiny school)

    And, regardless, I guess try to take some math classes. Does anyone have any advice for me? What else can I do to maintain or increase competitiveness? My nightmare is that I have to decline my offers, don't line up EITHER of these two options, and then my window of opportunity is closed forever.

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    Re: Advice on putting a program off, help needed

    While I cannot give input on your best route moving forward, I will argue that saying "your window of opportunity would be closed forever" is a little dramatic. There are many people with gaps in their CV that still end up in PhDs in Econ, and many that don't decide to take that route until they are halfway through their career.

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    Re: Advice on putting a program off, help needed

    I'm sorry to hear that, that sounds like a really frustrating situation. Depending on your situation, it might be worth a shot to contact the departments to see if you could defer your enrollment for a year. I'm honestly sure under what circumstances they okay that, but I know it can happen.

    I RA'd after undergrad for an extended period of time, and I feel like it was really valuable. You get to see the research environment, surrounded by really smart people interested in the same stuff you are, and you can build relationships with economists to get some variance in your letters of recommendation. I would definitely check out the NBER postings and any regional Fed banks, and it couldn't hurt to look for some consulting/industry jobs as a backup to that.

    Even if neither of those work out, I wouldn't panic too much; there's a reason most applications give you a place to explain any longer gaps on your CV. As long as you have a good reason, it shouldn't really hurt your application, and if you can mention your previous offers from this round it might even nudge them in the right direction. Definitely hold on to all your app material from this time around, to save yourself a lot of trouble next time around! Good luck, hope you find something that you find satisfying!

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    Trying to make mom and pop proud
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    Re: Advice on putting a program off, help needed

    Quote Originally Posted by cdreier View Post
    I'm sorry to hear that, that sounds like a really frustrating situation. Depending on your situation, it might be worth a shot to contact the departments to see if you could defer your enrollment for a year. I'm honestly sure under what circumstances they okay that, but I know it can happen.

    I RA'd after undergrad for an extended period of time, and I feel like it was really valuable. You get to see the research environment, surrounded by really smart people interested in the same stuff you are, and you can build relationships with economists to get some variance in your letters of recommendation. I would definitely check out the NBER postings and any regional Fed banks, and it couldn't hurt to look for some consulting/industry jobs as a backup to that.

    Even if neither of those work out, I wouldn't panic too much; there's a reason most applications give you a place to explain any longer gaps on your CV. As long as you have a good reason, it shouldn't really hurt your application, and if you can mention your previous offers from this round it might even nudge them in the right direction. Definitely hold on to all your app material from this time around, to save yourself a lot of trouble next time around! Good luck, hope you find something that you find satisfying!
    I echo the same and it actually happened to me. I was admitted last year but had to defer my program for a year and will start this fall.

    It is an option you should definitely look into. It saves you time and $$$ from reapplying again. Unless you are aiming to get into higher ranked schools. However, even with that, you can try to see if a program will let you defer and then you can always apply to other schools (knowing that you have a one in the bag and also reduce the stress of reapplying again).

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    monetary
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    Re: Advice on putting a program off, help needed

    Thanks for the advice guys -- I'm sure I'm panicking and being a bit too dramatic. Just not a position I really expected to be in at this point.

    I'm trying hard for an RA job, but I double majored in economics and math and so I had very little time to do any programming classes. We used SAS in econometrics and I took a Java class, beyond that I've taught myself some R but that's about it. So that limits my competitiveness for RA positions where they want people that know Stata, R, python, etc. I'm trying to be upfront about my limited experience but emphasize that I do have a solid foundation and am a quick learner. Hopefully I can land something somewhat relevant in industry, if nothing academic comes up, and take some classes at the same time.

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    Re: Advice on putting a program off, help needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Wahasky View Post
    Thanks for the advice guys -- I'm sure I'm panicking and being a bit too dramatic. Just not a position I really expected to be in at this point.

    I'm trying hard for an RA job, but I double majored in economics and math and so I had very little time to do any programming classes. We used SAS in econometrics and I took a Java class, beyond that I've taught myself some R but that's about it. So that limits my competitiveness for RA positions where they want people that know Stata, R, python, etc. I'm trying to be upfront about my limited experience but emphasize that I do have a solid foundation and am a quick learner. Hopefully I can land something somewhat relevant in industry, if nothing academic comes up, and take some classes at the same time.
    No, it's totally understandable, given that your life has been building up to this really major point and all of a sudden it just gets pulled out from under you.

    Obviously it varies by the position, but where I am now (we can PM if you want to chat more specifically), having a huge foundation in programming isn't super important. I had a little bit of experience in Java and Stata and that was pretty much it. I may have inflated that just a touch on my application, but I was not expected to be a coding whiz when I came in by any means. They pay for new RAs to go to whatever useful training courses they might find, and there are lots of people around that are experienced in various languages that can always help out. Maybe this is less true in other places, but there are certainly positions out there that you are more than qualified for (I know for sure that people here value the math much more highly than programming experience).

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