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Thread: Assorted 2021 cycle application questions

  1. #1
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    Assorted 2021 cycle application questions

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    I hope no one minds me creating a new thread for these questions without an informative title. I preface my post in this way because the questions are based on my own personal problems. I am creating a thread about them because they are probably relevant to others. (1) is obviously of interest to everyone, (2)-(4) are based on me either being stupid or lazy or both but maybe you are like me!

    1. COVID-19 means that the GRE is not required at many (most?) programs. My GRE is strong but not perfect - should I light some money on fire and report or leave it be? A corollary question: could this mess up the screening process?
    2. Some programs require writing samples of significant length. I have a writing sample from undergrad, the writing is passable. The content is "cringe" - I reviewed the literature like an arrogant little pissant and I use a weenie hut jr methodology in the paper, my tone is not warranted! Insofar as anyone decides to read the writing sample (why do programs create work for poor admissions committee people by making them read this drivel?), do you think they'll be aware that an undergrad thesis should be evaluated different from a MA thesis? Corollary question: when writing samples are optional, is the ideal something like a NSF research proposal?
    3. Statement of Purpose - I assume that no one actually wants to read this and they want to look at LORs, transcripts and so on instead. How do I play to the desire of an admissions evaluator to daydream about literally anything else without turning in a blank piece of paper? This question is as open-ended as possible - basically everything that makes me a strong candidate is in my transcripts, should be in my letters (probably true of almost all applicants!).
    4. resume/cv - is this actually examined closely? if so, is it "safe" to keep it toned down if any extra additions are obvious fluff and let letter writers do the lifting?

  2. #2
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    Re: Assorted 2021 cycle application questions

    Here are some thoughts (having done PhD admissions for nearly 20 years):

    1. A strong GRE can only help you. I realize it may be hard to define 'strong' and it depends on the school.

    2. We skim the writing sample. We don't read it too carefully. We are college professors, so we know the difference between an undergraduate paper and MA paper. In our case, you don't have to submit an economics paper. We just want to get some sense of what kind of work you've done in the past, whether you can write, etc. Submit your best sample of your own writing. If it shows off economics skills, great. I think the people writing references for you would be helpful in choosing the paper to submit.

    3. This is discussed quite a bit in other threads. Here's what I wrote recently in another thread:
    Quote Originally Posted by tbe View Post
    The statement of purpose shouldn't just rehash what is on your CV.

    In our admissions process, we just want to know a little bit about you. Do you have a sense of what a PhD in economics is, do your broad research interests line up with our department, and can you communicate well. Most people aren't helped or hurt by their statement in our admissions process.
    4. A CV can be a help one-stop-shop to see what you've been doing. Keep it professional. Not sure what you man by fluff.

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