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Thread: 2022 Profile Evaluation low UGPA (50-100 & unranked programs)

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    Question 2022 Profile Evaluation low UGPA (50-100 & unranked programs)

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    Hey there, looking for some advice if I should revise my list of PhD programs I'm planning to apply to. Want to know if I'm shooting too high/low or if there's some other schools I need to consider within my range. I completed undergrad in May, have been working full time to pay off student loans, delayed applying to grad schools to se if I'd be interested in the corporate world first. Decided I do want to pursue academia.

    Majors: Economics & Statistics (Large public, T100 Econ)
    GPA: 3.27
    GRE:168Q, 160V, 4.5A
    Math: Calc I-III(A,A,C+), Linear Algebra(A), Differential Equations(A), Adv. Calc (Intro analysis, proofs)(B+), Prob theory & Stats theory (both A-), various other stats classes
    Econ: Intermediate micro/macro, environmental, Industrial Org, Econometrics I & II, Ag Econ, Economic Geography
    (mix A's and B's)
    Programming: R, STATA, Matlab, C++(one class)
    Research Experience: None
    LOR: 2 strong (1 from econ prof took a couple advanced courses with and did well, 1 from stats prof took mathematical stats sequence with; both have good relationships) 1 more generic deciding either dep chair, an econ prof, or math prof (neither super in depth or personal)

    Research Interests: Environmental/Resource Econ, Development, Labor, IO, Metrics

    Programs: UC Santa Cruz, CU Boulder, University of Tennessee, University of Kentucky, Georgia State, Emory, University of Arizona, University of Wyoming, NC State, University of Nevada - Reno, Colorado State, UC Davis ARE, University of Oregon

    I don't think any program is a safety, hoping to get into just one. I know my deficiencies are GPA and lack of research. Any of these that are moonshots and not worth the app fee? Any programs I should consider? My main criteria is being able to get funding and decent research interests match.

    Thanks!

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    Re: 2022 Profile Evaluation low UGPA (50-100 & unranked programs)

    Apply to become a RA within the Federal Reserve system. Apply to every FRB opening. Obtain research experience there and strengthen your profile. Contrary to what you might think, you'll make a very nice salary (starting salary these days is closer than 70k than 60k - was not this way in the past!) and you'll get the research experience that you want. You're a stronger applicant for RA positions than you might guess and it's worth a shot.

    A good alternative might be applying to an applied MA program (often called "ag econ") at a school without a PhD econ program. When this is the case, you'll sometimes be able to attend such a program debt-free and with a stipend. This could also be worth exploring for Math.

    If you don't do this, I think you'd still have a shot at many of those programs (surely the bar cannot be that high for Wyoming - I didn't even know they had a PhD program?) but that probably depends on your trajectory in undergrad.

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    Re: 2022 Profile Evaluation low UGPA (50-100 & unranked programs)

    Thanks for the response TheDeadFlagBlue.

    From my understanding, the RAships and the Fed are just as competitive as getting into any PhD program if not more. So, the conclusion I reached was to not put off the PhD for 2 additional years, for the chance of possibly getting into a more prestigious program. I am also considering some funded masters (e.g. Montana State). My undergrad performance was mostly categorized by a lackluster 1st & 2nd year, then high GPA 3rd & 4th years (3.7-3.8). Hoping the signs of improvement will be a better signal.

    Basically, my hesitation is that doing a MA or RA may not actually increase the programs I'd be accepted into significantly enough to warrant the 2 year delay.

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    Re: 2022 Profile Evaluation low UGPA (50-100 & unranked programs)

    Quote Originally Posted by thelongshot View Post
    Thanks for the response TheDeadFlagBlue.

    From my understanding, the RAships and the Fed are just as competitive as getting into any PhD program if not more. So, the conclusion I reached was to not put off the PhD for 2 additional years, for the chance of possibly getting into a more prestigious program. I am also considering some funded masters (e.g. Montana State). My undergrad performance was mostly categorized by a lackluster 1st & 2nd year, then high GPA 3rd & 4th years (3.7-3.8). Hoping the signs of improvement will be a better signal.

    Basically, my hesitation is that doing a MA or RA may not actually increase the programs I'd be accepted into significantly enough to warrant the 2 year delay.
    They are just as selective in terms of % who get in, maybe, but in terms of where you'll be able to target your applications it will make a difference whether or not you spend time as an RA/pre-doc beforehand. Think of it this way: you can see from your undergrad institution where similar students have gone for their PhD. Now look at where similar students have gone for their RA-ship and where they went to grad school afterwards.

    From my experience, the answer was that it was worth the additional years. Plus, there's something to be said for spending the two years gaining experience, auditing classes, and sitting in on academic seminars. Another plus, as TheDeadFlagBlue said, enjoying the two years on a good salary working reasonable hours (aka not grad school hours) is really nice. The cost, of course, is a two year delay. My understanding is that most students take time before starting a PhD, so you won't be at a disadvantage.

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    Re: 2022 Profile Evaluation low UGPA (50-100 & unranked programs)

    Fed RAs are actually a very diverse group. I think most of the regional Feds, particularly NY Fed, are more competitive than the Board. The Board is more of a mixed bag in terms of RAs. Even if your GPA is not great, you are a Math major and that gives you a leg-up on many RA applicants.

    I am just offering advice about how to improve your odds for what it is worth. Your concerns about adding waiting time are reasonable! It might be worth applying to RAships and PhDs? I mostly say this because I suspect competition for low ranked schools is increasingly (and surprisingly) strong due to international students.

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    Re: 2022 Profile Evaluation low UGPA (50-100 & unranked programs)

    Quote Originally Posted by TheDeadFlagBlue View Post
    Fed RAs are actually a very diverse group. I think most of the regional Feds, particularly NY Fed, are more competitive than the Board. The Board is more of a mixed bag in terms of RAs. Even if your GPA is not great, you are a Math major and that gives you a leg-up on many RA applicants.

    I am just offering advice about how to improve your odds for what it is worth. Your concerns about adding waiting time are reasonable! It might be worth applying to RAships and PhDs? I mostly say this because I suspect competition for low ranked schools is increasingly (and surprisingly) strong due to international students.

    That's a great point about the increasing competition in the lower ranked programs, and anecdotally seems true. I'll definitely look into applying to RAs as well!

    Forgot to mention, I graduated May 2020, so currently I'd be starting a PhD earliest Fall 2022. My current job is in the private sector making similar salary mentioned above but irrelevant to an academic career path. I think my biggest deliberation is if a couple more years outside of the school/studying grind will be detrimental.

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    Re: 2022 Profile Evaluation low UGPA (50-100 & unranked programs)

    I agree with the above posters that RA experience would significantly improve your chances. Definitely check out predoc positions in addition to the Fed, these are normally RA positions that pay somewhere in the range of 40-60k at universities where you typically take courses as well as work for one or more professors. If you go this route try to get a predoc that has some sort of program or cohort structure (like SIEPR or Tobin Center predoctoral fellowships) because this makes the experience much more pleasant. To find some of these you can look on predoc.org, or browse the @econ_ra page on twitter.

    Since you say you are interested in development you should also check out positions at J-PAL and Innovations for Poverty Action. Some of these are field positions that would require you to move out of country, but they also have positions in Washington DC and New York. You can also check out CEGA -- I know they have some RA positions available normally at this time of year.

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    Re: 2022 Profile Evaluation low UGPA (50-100 & unranked programs)

    Quote Originally Posted by thelongshot View Post
    That's a great point about the increasing competition in the lower ranked programs, and anecdotally seems true. I'll definitely look into applying to RAs as well!

    Forgot to mention, I graduated May 2020, so currently I'd be starting a PhD earliest Fall 2022. My current job is in the private sector making similar salary mentioned above but irrelevant to an academic career path. I think my biggest deliberation is if a couple more years outside of the school/studying grind will be detrimental.
    Honestly, if you're making a similar money and you're going to do your PhD in 2022, why don't you take some maths classes in the meantime. Real Analysis would do wonders in your case. Though I agree with the above comments saying that research gig would be also amazing to strengthen your profile!

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    Re: 2022 Profile Evaluation low UGPA (50-100 & unranked programs)

    I will give an alternative viewpoint: I do not recommend taking classes while working unless you are very confident you will succeed (you have a very strong GPA and some system in place) or are on the workaholic end of the slacker-workaholic continuum. It is not easy to work a full-time job that is more intellectually intensive while also learning about Analysis.

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    Re: 2022 Profile Evaluation low UGPA (50-100 & unranked programs)

    Quote Originally Posted by TheDeadFlagBlue View Post
    I will give an alternative viewpoint: I do not recommend taking classes while working unless you are very confident you will succeed (you have a very strong GPA and some system in place) or are on the workaholic end of the slacker-workaholic continuum. It is not easy to work a full-time job that is more intellectually intensive while also learning about Analysis.
    I was trying to give a suggestion. No need to childishly downvote mine lol.

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