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Everything posted by subbydoo

  1. I think top 20 is definitely realistic, and you should try for schools in the top 10 as well. Don't worry at all about your GRE. It's used as an initial screen to thin the pile of applications, and 168 is comfortably high enough to make it past the screen. I think the fact that you've shown significant improvement in all econ subjects works in your favour - I've been told that having one or two low marks is generally fine as long as they're early on and you've shown that you're capable of doing better. Perhaps more senior posters can comment on this. You're right that your math background is a bit light - it's not horrible but it's probably the weakest part of your profile. If you still have time in your degree, I'd recommend taking real analysis and/or some PhD econ courses to show that you have the quantitative skills for a PhD program. If you do well in those I think you're a super competitive candidate. Also, having a solo R&R at a top field journal is very impressive for an undergrad, especially if it turns into a publication! At a lot of schools, a pub like that is a significant step towards tenure. Definitely have your references emphasize this paper in their letters, since that's probably the part of your application the committee will read most closely.
  2. I will echo what others have said and stress that you should get some research experience before applying. Right now it will be very unclear to adcoms that you even like economics, especially considering that you have no advanced econ courses. To them you might look like a failed mathematician who turned to econ because you thought it would be easier. If you have any coding skills, I recommend checking out the RA positions on NBER. Apply to every position whose deadline hasn't passed. Edit: Of course, only apply to the NBER positions if you're willing to delay applications by 1-2 years. If not then you'll have to find an RA position for the summer. Start talking to econ profs at Columbia ASAP.
  3. PROFILE: Type of Undergrad: BA economics and BS math at a large and well-known international school, probably comparable to a good state school Undergrad GPA: 3.94/4.0 Type of Grad: N/A Grad GPA: N/A GRE: 170Q, strong verbal and writing Math Courses: Cal I-II, Cal III (B+), "Advanced" Cal (essentially more rigorous Cal III), Lin Alg I-II, Probability/Stats I-II (A-), Abstract Math, Real Analysis, ODEs, Complex Analysis, Group Theory, Number Theory. All A or A+ unless indicated otherwise in parentheses. Econ Courses: Intro to economics, Intermediate Micro and Macro, Game Theory, Advanced Macro, Econometrics I-II, a ton of field courses and seminars. All A or A+. Other Courses: Random electives, nothing relevant Letters of Recommendation: 1) Not-so-famous AP: took his course and RAed for him, 2) Well-connected tenured prof (top 5% RePEC, some famous co-authors): took his course and RAed for him, 3) Solid associate prof (top 5% within his field): took his fairly rigorous/quantitative course. I asked 1) and 2) to vouch for research ability and 3) to vouch for quantitative ability. I was very sure that 1) would be strong, 2) is a generally hard person to read but seemed ready to go to bat for me, 3) told me he was confident I could succeed in grad school so I also expected a strong letter. Given my outcomes, I think they all wrote very good letters Research Experience: RAing for profs mentioned above, some empirical term papers, undergrad thesis in progress. Teaching Experience: Limited. Worked for the department as a tutor in intro/intermediate courses. Research Interests: Labor/Development, though potentially subject to change. SOP: Quite standard, I think. Discussed some real-world issues I'd like to study. Explained why econ is a good tool for studying these. Tied this into my own research experience and skills. I cited a few well-known papers as examples of work I'd like to do, not sure if that was necessary. I also had a paragraph about how my I know grad school coursework is tough but I'm ready and have the quantitative skills. I probably put in more effort than I really needed to. Other: RESULTS: Acceptances: Berkeley ($), Columbia ($$$), NYU ($$$), Yale ($$$$) Waitlists: Northwestern (responded to survey saying I was no longer interested, no further contact), UCSD (never expressed interest, eventually rejected) Rejections: Chicago, MIT, Stanford Pending: N/A Attending: Yale Comments: Very happy with how things turned out - somewhat better than I expected! Despite the famous randomness of the application process, my results mostly make sense. I got rejected towards the high end of the top 10 and accepted/waitlisted in the low top 10. UCSD is a bit odd, but I'm guessing they thought I would get better offers and waitlisted me to see if I would show interest. I should also mention that one of my references went to one of the schools where I was accepted, so that might have helped me with that specific school. I chose Yale over Berkeley despite the latter's strength in my fields of interest. This was partially because of funding and partially because I was just very impressed with Yale's program and heard nothing but good things. What would you have done differently? In terms of preparation, I think I did a pretty good job. Probably the biggest thing I would have changed would be to try to have a more polished and finished research paper as a writing sample, although I'm not sure how much adcoms weigh writing samples. It might have helped to have some more prominent letter-writers, but obviously this is easier said than done, and I think the letter itself matters more than who writes it. I also kind of wish I had taken some computer science or programming courses. These likely wouldn't have mattered for my application, but the skills from these courses would help when doing research during the PhD. In terms of the "strategy" of applying, I probably should have applied to Harvard. My reasoning for not doing so was that one of my references had good connections at MIT, so I thought that if I was good enough to get into Harvard I would also get into MIT, and I would have chosen MIT over Harvard anyway. In retrospect, it was kind of dumb to assume a Harvard acceptance would imply an MIT acceptance, what with all the random factors that influence admissions. I probably wouldn't have gotten in anyway, given my other results, but I think even the small probability of acceptance at Harvard would have made the expected benefit outweigh the cost of applying. The other top 10 schools I didn't apply to were Princeton and Penn. I don't really regret these. Princeton was for weird but legitimate reasons - probably not relevant for most people. Penn was because I haven't heard great things about their program. The other thing I might have done would be to give more thought to PhDs outside of econ departments, like business schools (Booth, HBS, Stanford GSB) or public policy schools (Harvard Kennedy, Chicago Harris). I really didn't consider these much when I was applying, but they're probably worth thinking about in depth.
  4. If you're taking super difficult math courses and only getting sub-par marks because of the school's curving policies, try to think about ways to communicate this, and also communicate that the "average" in these classes comes from students very strong in math. Some schools ask for a full spreadsheet of courses in which you also include your position in the class distribution. There might also be space to indicate that your position is relative to very strong peers. Probably the most helpful thing, however, would be if you can get a letter writer who will vouch for your quantitative skills and explain that they may appear weaker due to grading anomalies at your school. I specifically asked one of my references to emphasize that I had the quantitative skills for course work (as I had others to vouch for my research ability), and I had fairly good outcomes.
  5. After hearing nothing from Northwestern for ages, they finally emailed me today saying I'm on the waitlist and asking me to fill out a survey to indicate preferred field and level of interest in their program. Will indicate that I'm no longer interested, good luck to others on the waitlist!
  6. I'd recommend the thesis. Imo the idea shouldn't be to do as much math as possible, it should just be to demonstrate a certain level of comfort with math. It looks to me like you've already done that, so you should shift your focus to demonstrating that you're capable of doing research, for example by writing a thesis.
  7. Anyone get more info about the Berkeley visit day? The website said they would send more info, but all the acceptance email had was a link to the website... The deadline to RSVP is tomorrow so I'd like to find out about reimbursement, accommodation, etc.
  8. Thanks! Do you know if the department covers non-resident tuition in the full funding package?
  9. Related question: Does anyone know if Berkeley makes geographic distinctions in allocating funding? I'm international and wondering if it diminishes my chances of getting my funding increased. Did any international applicants here get the 30k offer?
  10. I could be wrong on this. But the reason I think this is that at my undergrad (usually ranked 20-30 in econ) every prof I know of in the department offers to pay RAs, even associate profs hiring undergrads part-time. And this is at a school that isn't as prestigious or as well-funded as the top 10 schools, where the profs OP is talking to probably work, given that they're so influential. It's possible that the econ department at my undergrad has an anomalous culture, but it strikes me as odd that profs who probably have more funding than the ones here are less willing to pay for work.
  11. I agree with everything else that has been said, and I want to add that their unwillingness to pay you strikes me as a red flag. Even if money is not an issue for you, the fact that they have said they won't pay you indicates to me that they either don't value your work or don't respect you enough to make your time/effort worthwhile. That doesn't bode very well for any letters they might be writing you.
  12. Fair, I didn't realize because I've only ever submitted before midnight GMT. Anyway, I'm still skeptical given the history Apollue mentioned.
  13. Not to mention one of them claims to be American but lists the date as March 6, when it isn't March 6 yet anywhere in the US. There's a slim chance that it's an American abroad, but combined with the other sketchy stuff I'm pretty confident it's fake.
  14. Just to add to my original questions, what is the recommended level of attire for visit days? Business casual?
  15. Visit days are coming up soon, so I thought it would be useful to make a thread for visit day recommendations, especially for those of us who are undecided. Post questions to ask, people to speak with, things to see and do, etc, to make the most of a visit day.
  16. I'm not OP but I've heard that the more junior profs are quite a bit better about advising and trying to change the culture a bit. Any comment on whether that's true?
  17. Huh, speak of the devil! I'm out, but I should try saying the same thing for other schools to speed this up.
  18. Yep. Stanford's website says all decisions will be released on applyweb on Feb 28 / March 1, and a search of gc confirms this has been the case in recent years.
  19. If you're hearing this stuff from anonymous forums, keep in mind that it's impossible to know who speaks from experience and who is only repeating second, third, fourth+ hand knowledge (that they themselves may have gotten from anonymous forums). That said, I've rarely seen someone claiming to be from Chicago deny the cold-blooded nature of the program - a lot of them seem to view it as a virtue. A good suggestion I heard recently: if you're deciding between Chicago and another school, look through both departments' faculty for people who have moved between the two schools recently. Email them to explain that you're deciding between the two, and ask them about any differences between the two PhD programs. They will likely be biased in favour of their current school, but if you keep their bias in mind the information is still useful. In the event that one of them ignores your email, consider what this implies about the department's attitude towards students.
  20. I haven't looked into the others, but I'm fairly certain UofT and UBC don't offer full funding for MA students. Also, looking at UofT's placement, very few MA students have gone from the program to an American PhD, at least in recent years. UBC's website mentions that "recent" MA grads have gone onto some impressive PhD programs, but there's no exhaustive list of placements, and therefore no way to know how recent this is or what percentage of students land at that tier of PhD. These MAs are good if you want to do a PhD at a Canadian school (which certainly isn't a bad outcome, both UofT and UBC are top 30 at worst), but it looks like you'd be better off doing an RA position if you want to aim higher or stick to the US.
  21. I guess so, although aside from already being very attractive programs, you could easily reach out to admitted students in a more personal way shortly after notifying all applicants.
  22. I really don't get why programs like Chicago, Harvard, Northwestern can't just send a mass email or change your status on the website to tell you you're rejected. MIT and Yale did it, it can't be that hard.
  23. Asking because I'm currently contemplating a Yale offer, and people (IRL profs as well as anonymous posters on forums) say that their PhD program places better than the department's rank and has high value added. I'm wondering what's special about Yale that allows it to outplace higher ranked schools. To be clear, I would be very happy going to Yale, and I don't mean to belittle it at all, I'm just interested in knowing how they manage to punch above their weight, so to speak. It seems obvious that the quality of students coming in and the department's overall reputation would play a big role in placement. Given that Yale's faculty doesn't have quite the reputation in economics as the rest of the top 7, and that prospective students presumably value the faculty a lot when choosing where to do their PhD, how do they consistently place so well? What are the ingredients of their "value added"?
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