Type of Undergrad: Go8 (Australia)
Undergrad GPA: 4.00 (Hons)
Math Courses: Analysis 1-2, Algebra 1-2, Linear Algebra 1-2, Calc 1-2
Econ Courses: Hons Micro, Macro, Metrics and Thesis
Letters of Recommendation: 3 Profs: thesis supervisor, RA supervisor, other
Research Experience: RA and policy internships (no pre-doc)
Teaching Experience: TA for 2 semesters
Research Interests: Macro theory/monetary
Acceptances: Penn State ($$)
Waitlists: Stanford, Northwestern, NYU, UCLA, Minnesota
Rejections: Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Chicago, Columbia, UPenn, Yale, UC Berkeley
I am very grateful for my acceptance and my waitlists!! I offer some advice/reflections below (mainly for Aus students).
Waitlists are hard to convert and every school will express optimism about admitting you -- I should've been less hopeful about getting off any given waitlist.
(This is wild speculation, but) being a macro and non-applied student appears to narrow your options among top schools -- it will be interesting to see the results from other macro candidates. Maybe this should have been obvious. Most Australian students are a long shot for T5, but might be considered by UC Berkeley, Yale and the other T10. If you do macro theory, I can't imagine UC Berkeley or Yale being a strong match. That leaves only the lower T10 schools such as NYU, Columbia and UPenn, which would target macro students. On the other hand, I imagine applied micro is targeted by almost every school.
If ex-ante I wanted to maximise the average rank of my offers or the number of offers I got, then I shouldn't have done macro (or macro theory)! If I wanted to do macro (or macro theory) anyway then I should have lowered my expectation of offers to lower ranks within T20.
Maths and Real Analysis doesn't seem to be important anymore -- an Aus hons degree in Econ could be enough.
I was given some helpful advice when choosing between offer: don't focus on initial placements -- they are noisy and being over-placed can be stressful; and look at outcomes 5-10 years out to get a better sense of value-added.
What would you have done differently?
I would have applied to pre-docs much earlier. I would consider revealing a different part of my research interests -- maybe expressing an interest in applied macro. I wouldn't have focused on the name behind my letters so much! I wouldn't have done so much maths.