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Thread: Profile Evaluation 2020 (or 2021)

  1. #1
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    Smile Profile Evaluation 2020 (or 2021)

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    Hello everyone,

    I was planning to apply for the 2020 cycle and would like an evaluation on where to expect acceptances (or rejections).

    PROFILE:

    Type of Undergrad: Top 30 USNEWS Econ, BS Econ
    Undergrad GPA: 3.45 (Econ GPA ~3.8)
    Type of Grad: Top 60 USNEWS, M.A. Econ
    Grad GPA: 4.00

    GRE: 162 Q (Ouch)/159 V/5.0 AW

    Math Courses: Calc I (C), Calc II (B-), Calc III (A+), Linear Algebra I (A), Discrete Math (A+), Intro to Proofs (A-), Differential Equations (A+), Optimization (A), Linear Algebra II (A+) Math Stats I (A+), Math Stats II (A-), Real Analysis I (A-), Real Analysis II (A). All at MA school except Calc I and II.

    Econ Courses: The standard for undergrad and grad in econ. These grades are A/A-

    Letters of Recommendation: The best part of my profile, I think. 3 well-known economics professors who can speak firsthand to my abilities in research, all graduated from top 20-30 programs. One is my thesis advisor, the other two were my research supervisors during the master's program. Took econ classes with all of them, earned A's.
    Research Experience: Master's thesis, 2 years in research center through my graduate school in areas of public finance.
    Research Interests: Labor Economics, Public Economics.

    My biggest concerns from my profile are the low GRE scores and the first two calc grades (I did not have my head on straight when I started undergrad several years ago). Is it realistic to be aiming for schools in the top 30-70 range? My feeling is that the GRE score will get me filtered out of the higher schools in this range (~30-50) without a second look at the rest of the profile. Is it better to try again in the next cycle with a higher GRE score (and perhaps another math class)? The undergrad GPA is low primarily due to low grades in hard sciences in my first two years - my GPA went up dramatically after that. I would appreciate candid advice on what to expect and how to move forward.

    Thanks to anyone who can answer.

  2. #2
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    Re: Profile Evaluation 2020 (or 2021)

    I wouldn’t worry about those Calc I & II grades. It would have been a much bigger problem if you aced those courses but performed subpar level on the more advanced ones (which you aced). You will need to retake the GRE and get at least a 165-167 that is no question. But before that we need more information:

    (1) Tell us more about your MA classes (were they applied in nature? Were they close to econ phd classes? List books if applicable)
    (2) What range of schools did your MA program place people in the past?
    (3) Go to your letter writers with a list of schools (even including dream ones) and measure their reaction and see which ones they feel comfortable writing you a LOR for.

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    Re: Profile Evaluation 2020 (or 2021)

    Thanks for the response. To answer your questions:

    (1) The MA classes were mostly applied in nature, with some phd level field courses tossed in. These field courses are within my areas of interest (public, labor) and were taught by the professors that are writing my letters. The MA grades were A/A+ across all courses; the undergrad grades had a few A-'s (Econometrics II, Game Theory, Intermediate Micro).

    (2) The range has been from top 30 to top 60. Many of the master's students chose to attend the same university for the phd, but several have done exceptionally well and placed into the top 30.

    (3) They felt comfortable writing letters for my list of schools, which was for a similar range as listed above. On this round, the schools that I applied to ranged from top 30 to top 60. Due to the low GRE, I ended up applying mainly to schools with deadlines January 15th and later to allow time for a retake, which I explained below.

    I ended up retaking the GRE (last minute with very little additional prep time) and scoring a 164 (84th percentile), which I'm guessing will still be screened out at most schools within the top 40. I'd be very happy if I got into a top 40 program on this round, but I'm guessing the GRE score is probably too low to make it through the first round at most of these schools. Would it be wise to reapply the following year (assuming a GRE score of 166+ on a second retake with much more prep time), with the only major change being a higher GRE score? I'm wondering if this factor is really enough to change, say, a top 45-60 offer into a top 30-40 offer. I would also change my list of schools to better fit both my areas of interest and where I have a realistic chance to get in (i.e., applying to schools that have earlier deadlines as well). Thanks again for your help.

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    Re: Profile Evaluation 2020 (or 2021)

    The best thing right now is simply to wait and see where you get into, and then re-calibrate your expectations from there. You should realise that just because you got into School X this year, there's no guarantee that you'll make it into the same school next year, since the pool of applicants might be different (which will affect your relative ranking in the pool of applicants).

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    Re: Profile Evaluation 2020 (or 2021)

    Quote Originally Posted by Anon123 View Post
    Thanks for the response. To answer your questions:

    (1) The MA classes were mostly applied in nature, with some phd level field courses tossed in. These field courses are within my areas of interest (public, labor) and were taught by the professors that are writing my letters. The MA grades were A/A+ across all courses; the undergrad grades had a few A-'s (Econometrics II, Game Theory, Intermediate Micro).

    (2) The range has been from top 30 to top 60. Many of the master's students chose to attend the same university for the phd, but several have done exceptionally well and placed into the top 30.

    (3) They felt comfortable writing letters for my list of schools, which was for a similar range as listed above. On this round, the schools that I applied to ranged from top 30 to top 60. Due to the low GRE, I ended up applying mainly to schools with deadlines January 15th and later to allow time for a retake, which I explained below.

    I ended up retaking the GRE (last minute with very little additional prep time) and scoring a 164 (84th percentile), which I'm guessing will still be screened out at most schools within the top 40. I'd be very happy if I got into a top 40 program on this round, but I'm guessing the GRE score is probably too low to make it through the first round at most of these schools. Would it be wise to reapply the following year (assuming a GRE score of 166+ on a second retake with much more prep time), with the only major change being a higher GRE score? I'm wondering if this factor is really enough to change, say, a top 45-60 offer into a top 30-40 offer. I would also change my list of schools to better fit both my areas of interest and where I have a realistic chance to get in (i.e., applying to schools that have earlier deadlines as well). Thanks again for your help.

    I think the posters on this forum are putting too much into your GRE. I have a sub 164 and have already received two acceptances from top 40 programs this cycle. You are gonna be fine

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    Re: Profile Evaluation 2020 (or 2021)

    Quote Originally Posted by triton76 View Post
    I think the posters on this forum are putting too much into your GRE. I have a sub 164 and have already received two acceptances from top 40 programs this cycle. You are gonna be fine
    The reason for this is that GRE scores are used as a first cut, to thin the pile of applicants. That's a fact. Retaking the GRE is relatively cheap, compared to remedying other aspects of your profile. All other work on your profile becomes irrelevant if your package isn't even looked at.

    That's not to say that the threshold might be lower at lower programmes, as you go down the rankings. So while you may have gotten acceptances, that may not be the case when OP applies, which is why the general consensus is to retake till you're above the 165 threshold. At the very least, you can be moderately certain your package gets looked at.

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    Re: Profile Evaluation 2020 (or 2021)

    Quote Originally Posted by tutonic View Post
    The reason for this is that GRE scores are used as a first cut, to thin the pile of applicants. That's a fact. Retaking the GRE is relatively cheap, compared to remedying other aspects of your profile. All other work on your profile becomes irrelevant if your package isn't even looked at.

    That's not to say that the threshold might be lower at lower programmes, as you go down the rankings. So while you may have gotten acceptances, that may not be the case when OP applies, which is why the general consensus is to retake till you're above the 165 threshold. At the very least, you can be moderately certain your package gets looked at.
    Not a fact, and certainly not true at all schools. I have been on the admissions committee at my top 20. We do care about the GRE scores, but there is no mechanical first cut based on GREs. We look at them alongside the rest of the application. I donít know what other departments do, but it is irresponsible to tell candidates that there is a universal threshold of 165.

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    Re: Profile Evaluation 2020 (or 2021)

    Quote Originally Posted by tutonic View Post
    The reason for this is that GRE scores are used as a first cut, to thin the pile of applicants. That's a fact. Retaking the GRE is relatively cheap, compared to remedying other aspects of your profile. All other work on your profile becomes irrelevant if your package isn't even looked at.

    That's not to say that the threshold might be lower at lower programmes, as you go down the rankings. So while you may have gotten acceptances, that may not be the case when OP applies, which is why the general consensus is to retake till you're above the 165 threshold. At the very least, you can be moderately certain your package gets looked at.
    The OP stated s/he is shooting for top 40, I just stated I got into two top 40 programs prior to the first day of February, clearly that would imply that there are top 40 programs without a "165 threshold". The GRE does not indicate whether or not you can succeed in an economics grad program, and any committee is going to recognize that.
    I'm not stating that there aren't schools that have that kind of a hard cutoff, just that there are also reputable and highly ranked schools that don't. But obviously, a higher GRE is not going to hurt you.
    Last edited by triton76; 02-02-2020 at 10:37 PM.

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    Re: Profile Evaluation 2020 (or 2021)

    Quote Originally Posted by Prof View Post
    Not a fact, and certainly not true at all schools. I have been on the admissions committee at my top 20. We do care about the GRE scores, but there is no mechanical first cut based on GREs. We look at them alongside the rest of the application. I donít know what other departments do, but it is irresponsible to tell candidates that there is a universal threshold of 165.
    I concur that not all places have a mechanical GRE cutoff.

    The point I was driving across is that virtually all schools publish their average GRE scores of admitted students. If you were to specifically look at those in the 30-50 range, UNC Chapel Hill says this on their website "The average percentile was the 93rd, and the lowest was the 90th. Those are not set criteria, but we will generally not admit a student below the 90th percentile." while Rice states "Admitted students nearly always have very high quantitative GRE scores", and same with UVa stating "Additionally, most admitted students have GRE quantitative scores near or above the 90th percentile.".

    The gist of it all is that due to information asymmetry, you aren't privy to the exact metric used in admissions, except that most admitted students have scores above 165. Therefore, it seems prudent to try and check off the part of the requirement you can control. Which is why you should try to get at least a 165 (which corresponds to 89th or 90th percentile, iirc).

    A high GRE will improve the likelihood that your package gets looked at. Past that, there's little to no use.

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