1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
Re: Profile Evaluation: T20 chance
1. I don't think schools are going to be doubtful about the quality of your math courses unless your school is ranked very low or is unknown. Given your RAships, I suspect I know which university you attend, and I'd be skeptical that people would think that university's math department is significantly subpar. Further, you've completed two semesters of analysis with As. That should be strong enough of a signal that you're sufficiently prepared in math, especially if you're not thinking about studying very technical micro theory.
2. Based on the admit classes of the places I was admitted, it is very difficult to land a T5 spot without a predoc. Most admits from undergrad were either "connected" or theory oriented. I highly suspect that those admits who did not fall into one of these two buckets had absolutely fantastic letters. Based on what you've stated, it doesn't sound like your letters are going to be that outstanding compared to other applicants'. Unless you have strong personal reasons for applying immediately to grad school (e.g. a significant other) and you want to maximize your shots at a T10, I think you should do a predoc.
Especially if you want to enter academia, you should be making your decisions from here on out in terms of how it might benefit your "long-term" research career outcomes. It is not clear to me (based on discussion with faculty and other professional economists) that going straight to grad school has large long-term benefits unless you want to study micro theory, in which case you want your math skills to be very sharp. Taking 1-2 years to focus exclusively on research may be very helpful in fleshing out your research interests as well as developing the know-how for approaching research projects. Once you enter grad school, you have 5-6 years to complete a JMP, followed by 5-7 years for your tenure clock. Better to spend time outside of grad school figuring out all the nuts and bolts of research than spending precious months during grad school on that.
Of course, you should take my advice with a big grain of salt, since I was an applicant this cycle . . . plenty of people still think that if you're prepared to go to grad school, there isn't that much a benefit from a predoc. Plus, the ability of predocs to land you a spot at a T10 seems fairly heterogeneous, at least based on this application cycle.