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Thread: Strongly Mixed Profile Advice

  1. #1
    Trying to make mom and pop proud
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    Strongly Mixed Profile Advice

    Sponsored Ad:
    Edit: This is for applications to a PhD in Economics
    Edit2: And GRE is 170Q, for what it's worth.

    I've posted something similar on Reddit, but I since discovered these forums.

    My profile is "strongly mixed," to say the least.

    I have a very high grad average (only comprising a few classes over two years; the rest of the time I was a predoc at a strong department.) And a ~3.2 undergrad GPA from a recognizable place, including a litany of graduate math and economics classes. Some of these I did very well in, some not. The discontinuity is due to a chronic health condition, which was finally treated late in my undergrad.

    My predoc has led to a publication. And one of my undergrad professors (who wrote me letters for this predoc) described me as "by far the best undergrad I've ever seen," so I have some hope that my letters are strong. Perhaps I should have asked this prof to referee me for PhD applications, but I figured recent is better.

    The other thing to mention is that I probably have unusual skills in computer programming. I'm the maintainer of some "big in Japan" (i.e., popular amongst a small set) open-source economic packages that have been accepted for talks at conferences.

    I've applied to about 15 well-known departments in the 10-30 range, including some Master's programs, and a smattering in 30-50. My predoc institution is probably my best shot for a good placement, in my mind.

    Mainly I'm opening this thread to calibrate my expectations, and get advice on how to approach this profile in any remaining applications. And to see if there are any schools I should apply to before the Jan. 1/Jan. 15 deadline.

    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by guessandverify; 12-17-2020 at 10:27 PM. Reason: Didn't clarify this is economics

  2. #2
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    Re: Strongly Mixed Profile Advice

    There are now many profiles like yours -- profiles with poor grades but strong research experience. Unfortunately, due to the sheer number of predocs now applying to PhD programs with equally glowing letters, I think you should greatly temper your expectations and expect to get in somewhere between 20-50. But like you said, if the professor you worked for really goes to bat for you, it's possible that you land an admit at the school where you worked.

  3. #3
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    Re: Strongly Mixed Profile Advice

    Thanks Zubrus. Do Penn State, UNC, UVA, WUSTL, Rutgers and UT Austin strike you as falling within that range?

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    Re: Strongly Mixed Profile Advice

    You said your predoc led to a publication. Does this mean you're a coauthor?

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    Re: Strongly Mixed Profile Advice

    Alphatrunks (still don't know how to tag people in this): yes. My CV has a few RA credit publications, and one coauthored one. (Although this is perhaps diluted by there being 4 authors. one of them a "big name." The project has a significant computational component, though, so many hands...)

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    Re: Strongly Mixed Profile Advice

    Reconsider having your undergrad professor write a recommendation. "best undergrad ever" says a lot.

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    Re: Strongly Mixed Profile Advice

    Thanks startz. This gave me the motivation to do so.

    Edit: I ended up asking, and the prof agreed, despite it already being Dec. 18. So this puts some programs potentially in play that weren't before.
    Last edited by guessandverify; 12-18-2020 at 04:00 PM. Reason: Result

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    Re: Strongly Mixed Profile Advice

    @startz how do professors on admissions committees like yourself feel about candidates with predoctoral publications, especially top fields and top 5s. These usually tend to be coauthored with faculty and also supported by a letter (which is of course usually extremely positive) but I'm wondering whether publications have value added independent of the letter of support that comes along with it.

    I'd also be curious to hear whether you have seen applicants with sole authored publications in reputable journals.

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    Re: Strongly Mixed Profile Advice

    I should say that the publication itself is still a working paper, although my advisor thinks it could land in a top 5 (he's published in such journals before, so this isn't just smoke-blowing.) I'd just meant to emphasize that I coauthored something.

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    Re: Strongly Mixed Profile Advice

    Quote Originally Posted by alphatrunks View Post
    @startz how do professors on admissions committees like yourself feel about candidates with predoctoral publications, especially top fields and top 5s. These usually tend to be coauthored with faculty and also supported by a letter (which is of course usually extremely positive) but I'm wondering whether publications have value added independent of the letter of support that comes along with it.

    I'd also be curious to hear whether you have seen applicants with sole authored publications in reputable journals.
    The fact that you are named as a coauthor is significant. Publications have some value-added, but the letter is more important.

    I have seen very few sole authored publications in good journals.

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