Didn't realize I only post 2% of the comments these days.
Now that it's getting down to the wire on decisions, I thought I'd add a comment about the board.
99 percent of the people here are being constructive and 97 percent of the time they do it in a nice way. Not everywhere in the world operates this way. You are all to be congratulated. And I hope everyone ends up in a program that is similarly supportive.
Coming from a small LAC with little record of sending students to PhD programs, and no professors who know much about the current admissions process, Urch was really invaluable. I wholeheartedly agree with your comment
My background is similar to the two posters above; I graduated from a small university where around ~15 econ undergrads every year apply to PhD programs. Around 5 would try to take grad econ courses before applying, and on average, 0.5 would finish the course, with the rest withdrawing to misunderstanding the prerequisites. Similarly, only around 1-2 students every year would work as part-time RAs for professors, even though there were ample opportunities for students who were willing to work without pay.
I was very fortunate in that I discovered this forum by chance during my sophomore year, and began arguing with the grad students and applicants here about how the admissions process worked. As inconsistent as some of the advice here is, it pointed me to the right direction just because my prior assumptions - like many other undergrad econ students - were so off the mark. I underestimated the difficulty in getting into top econ programs, underestimated the importance of math coursework, and significantly underestimated the importance of research experience and LORs. I managed to fix most of that before I applied, as did two of my friends in undergrad who spent much time reading these discussions. I'm happy to say we're the 3 most successful econ applicants from our university over the last 10-15 years. And I sincerely believe that urch.com was crucial to it.
It's still a bizarre feeling when I receive the new admit list of my grad program every year, and I realize about 90% of the admits come from 20 high-ranked universities in the world. I don't think talent is that concentrated. But good information is.
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