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Everything posted by tbe

  1. Yes, this is economics. But you might also look at programs in urban planning, geography, or public policy to find one that is a good fit for your.
  2. Take them wherever you can; online, community college, nearby university, etc. Doesn't really matter. Choose based on the quality of the course. i.e. if you can't concentrate in an online class, take an in-person one. Many, many applicants are in the same position as you are. It's very common to take math classes after you graduate college.
  3. Really depends on what field you are interested in. Don't put too much weight on rankings. Gather real data on the programs. Talk with current students. etc.
  4. Daniele Passerman is also very good.
  5. Congratulations on your current offers. I'm not sure why you think your SOP and recommendation letters aren't good. The value of the letter doesn't come from the CV of the writer. A good reference is someone who can speak to your ability to do well in a PhD program. I also don't think a mediocre statement of purpose will have that much effect. GRE might, but it really depends on your score. You didn't discuss your grades and math background; those are really import too. My advice is to talk with your letter writers and economists at the Fed and get their feedback. They know you and while they cannot guarantee anything, they are best situated to advise you on whether an additional year as an RA will have much effect. Why are you not excited about the two programs that accepted you? Is it because US News put them at #20? Or is it because they aren't a good match for your research interests?
  6. No one is rejecting an applicant because they are “too good” or won’t come. There really is no reason to be strategic. I usually ask admitted students where else they are considering. Mostly it is to help get to know them and help think through what they are looking for in a school.
  7. I think getting Bs in these math classes at top tier schools is not necessarily a sign of weak math skills. The grades may affect which programs you get accepted to, but don't necessarily suggest you cannot get through the math/theory in the first year of graduate school. You don't say what fields of economics interest you. Some fields are much more math and statistics intensive than others. We really can't and shouldn't tell you which schools to target. Your letter writers are your best guides for this. They know you best, their letters will carry a lot of weight, and they hopefully have experience with past students to guide you. In any case, you should target a diverse range of schools and focus on schools that are a good match for your research interests. I wouldn't drop Analysis II just because you got a B+ in Analysis I (unless you feel like you are really struggling in the course). However, if you have room for additional classes, I would consider a class in statistics. I assume the probability class you took is the standard one-semester class in probability theory. It is usually followed by a one semester class in statistics.
  8. You are right that your letter writers are best positioned to answer your question. There isn't much value in us speculating. In addition tutonic's good suggestion, my additional piece of advice is to apply to a diverse range of schools and, outside of the top 10 or 15 (or whatever), focus on programs that are particularly strong in your areas of interest.
  9. This is a fine score and I wouldn't worry about it.
  10. As tutonic said, your letter writers are far better positioned to answer your question than we are. What they write in their letters is much more important than many other aspects of your application. We don't have that information. Your letter writers should be people who can both speak to your potential (i.e. write a letter for you) and also give you advice on where to apply and how to evaluate your options. You shouldn't be taking advice on these things from anonymous people who don't know.
  11. It isn't taboo to apply to transfer. (As startz said, you aren't "transferring," just starting over.) I would talk with the Director of Graduate Studies and at least one of your fall semester professors about your situation. I wouldn't start with your desire to transfer, but let them know that socially and emotionally you aren't doing well and aren't happy (if I read your OP correctly). You can talk to them both about strategies to improve your life in the current situation and also get their advice about transferring to a new program. They aren't therapists, but they (esp the DGS) should be used to discussing these issues with PhD students. If you do choose to apply to new programs, you should try to get at least one letter from your current department. PhD admissions is about your ability to do graduate level work and your current professors are best able to speak to that. Ideally you want letters that say that you are doing well (and they hope to keep you), but they understand and support your desire to seek a change of scenery.
  12. ^^This is my reaction also. Why do you want the degree? Are you trying to change careers or just improve your research? You can learn the skills without doing the degree.
  13. I agree with the advice that you'll likely use many of these software packages in your work and so good to learn them. But in terms of preparing specifically for the first year, these are good questions to ask your program director and some of the current students. We send our incoming students some suggestions for how to prepare for the first year, but I'm sure some programs don't. In any case, it is fairly straightforward for them to tell you that, for example, it is incredibly helpful to know Stata, or Latex, or whatever, for first year coursework. Enjoy the summer, though, is definitely the best advice. Everything else is second order.
  14. This is a very good idea. I'd add a few columns to that list. For each faculty member, indicate whether they teach graduate classes, whether they advise graduate students, and whether they are actively publishing. (Also, be sure you are looking at actual tenure track/tenured professors and not adjuncts, visitors, etc.) Some of this you can get from the web, but these are also good questions to ask current students or your faculty contacts.
  15. Your two Michigan advisors are much better placed to answer those questions than we are. Their recommendation letters carry enormous weight. Yes, the classes, grades, etc. matter too. While your advisers can't guarantee anything, they are the ones with experience getting people like you into graduate school. I'm not saying that you should do what they say without questioning it, but I'd put a lot of weight on their advice and no weight on definitive statements by people on an anonymous message board. Here are some questions you can ask your advisers to help guide your decision process: what range of PhD programs they would expect you can get into this fall? Kind of think of this as a floor, ceiling, and best guesses at where you would get in. In their experience, how much would your admissions chances change if you did the MA first? Does this depend on what field you want to go into? How much is the benefit of the MA is in getting into a better program versus doing well in a program? Any classes you could take this summer, such as real analysis or a class in mathematical statistics? Also, you can certainly apply to both MA and PhD programs and see what you get.
  16. I would put very little weight on program structure and stipend. Focus on Fit with your research interests Whether students are happy and feel supported by faculty Talk to students and faculty at each school. Ask faculty what they are working on, how they approach advising, etc. Ask students what they like about the program, who the popular professors are and why, etc. If at that point you don't have a gut feeling, flip a coin and see if you are disappointed in the outcome.
  17. You should ask LOR 1 and 2 for their advice. They know you and these options better than people on an anonymous message board who do not have nearly enough information to make an informed suggestion.
  18. It largely doesn't matter where you take them, especially among those places. It's very common for people to take math classes at community colleges or "lower ranked" schools in their area. As long as the class is graded and the institution is a college or university, it doesn't make much difference.
  19. I would be cautious about making commitments before you have thoroughly research these programs, talked to current students, etc. Maybe you know enough already to be sure. Honestly, there isn't much you can do at this point. It can't hurt to let schools know that you are excited about going there, but also on the waitlist at School B. But it likely won't have much affect either way.
  20. Talk to your labor economics professor about all this. That person is best situated to give you advice. A big part of your application is what your letters say about you. Letter writers who have PhDs in economics are the strongest advocates for you (and by 'advocate' I don't mean that they oversell you; they sell you to the places that would be a good fit for you.) Even better if the letter writers have experience writing letters for past students who are at good graduate schools. Having said that, I don't think letters from math professors are all that useful. We can see your courses and grades; we know you did well. A math professor usually can't speak to your ability to do graduate level economics, write a thesis, etc. If you are able to, you might supplement your math background with a proper sequence in probability theory and mathematical statistics. At most universities this is a two semester sequence in the math or statistics department. Another thing I would add is to look for departments that are a good fit for your research interests. Ranking mask a lot of things. A so-called Top 20 school can be better than many "top 10s" in some fields and weaker than some "top 50s" in others. Applications take time and money and you so you want to do some research and be selective about where you apply. Talk to your letter writers about this.
  21. I'll add a few thoughts to the very good replies above. First, it certainly goes without saying that all of this is second order to finding a department with good teachers and advisers, whether they are junior or senior. But I realize it is hard to figure out who are good teachers and mentors without experiencing it yourself. These are good questions to ask current students. Also, don't think about who your "advisor" will be. Tou will ultimately have a dissertation committee with four or five people on it (the minimum number is generally set by the university). All of these people are your advisers. One of them is the Chair of the committee and sometimes people refer to the Chair as their advisor. But you want to work with all of them. Ideally you have a mixture of senior and junior people on the committee. They tend to have different strengths. Usually people choose a senior person as the Chair, but it really doesn't matter. I think students overthink a bit who should be the Chair of their committee. It really doesn't matter that much. Ultimately three people will write letters for you on the job market. Perhaps employers will put a little more weight on the letter from the Chair, but who knows. Diversity on the committee is important in other ways besides having a mixture of junior and senior faculty. Some faculty will spend a lot of time working on your writing. Some have more expertise in econometrics, or theory, or the particular topic you are interested in, etc. Remember that you are picking a department now, not a single faculty member. You generally don't formally name your committee until your third or, more commonly, fourth year. By that time you've gotten to know the professors in your department well (hopefully) and have been talking to multiple people for feedback on your work. Finally, when someone says "work with" a faculty member, they could mean be a research assistant for a faculty member, which is separate from who your dissertation committee members are. Definitely try to get a job as a research assistant for a professor who works in your area and is doing high level work. Don't worry so much about the person's age, since that may not be correlated with the quality of the job. But just because you work as an RA for someone, doesn't mean that person is the Chair of your committee (or even on the committee).
  22. Lots of good advice above. I'll add that, in my experience, letters from math/stats professors are not particularly useful. Math professors generally don't know students that well and their letters rarely convey much information that isn't on a transcript. Yes, there are exceptions and sometimes these letters are helpful.
  23. Congratulations on being accepted to these programs. I'm not going to say which I think is better. That would be inappropriate, but I also think you need to figure out which is a better fit for you. Regarding funding, you need to ask what fraction of 5th year students did not have funding. Ask about the fraction of sixth year students who did not have funding. Ask how many students graduate in 5 years, 6 years, or more than six. Ask if they provide tuition waivers for students who do not get funding. I would ask your program contact, but also ask the current students what their impression is about the availability of funding for 5th and 6th year students. Nothing sketchy about how UW worded their offer. We professors simply cannot guarantee anything. You aren't signing a contract with the university. At this point you should ignore the rankings. Econ department rankings are not that precise. They are a popularity contest. US News asks us to rate every school on a 1 to 5 scale. The rankings are just the averages. They aren't based on faculty research, placements, fields, etc. They are useful for getting a broad sense. You want to be happy and mentally healthy in graduate school. Location and disposable income may matter. But keep it in perspective. You will likely make over $100,000 a year during your first year on a job after graduation. Small differences in the stipend and costs of living shouldn't matter that much. It sounds like you haven't talked very much to current students. They are a tremendous source of information. Ask for the contact information for five students from each school who are at different points in the program, ideally working in your fields of interest. Ask the students if they are happy, what they like about the program, which professors are good instructors, which are good advisers. Ask who teaches the field classes in your areas of interest and who advises students in these areas. Do students struggle to get time with faculty?
  24. I agree with this. The one hole, so to speak, in your advanced course preparation is a deeper class in probability theory and mathematical statistics, or something along those lines. After that, classes in statistical programming are helpful if you plan to use data in your research. Always good to talk with your recommenders because their letters are really important. They likely have a good sense of what programs you would be competitive at and what areas of your preparation would have the highest payoff.
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