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Hello, first post on here. I would like to know what is reasonable for me before I get my hopes up. Is something in the 20-30 range attainable? For context, I would rather wait another year and improve my application than attend a school ranked 50+. I am very interested in pursuing a career in academia.

 

PROFILE:

Type of Undergrad: Top 20, flagship public research university. Economics Major, French Minor + lots of chemistry, biology and some physics.

 

Undergrad GPA: 3.35 cumulative, 3.65 last 2 years, 3.60 major

 

GRE: 168 Q/164 V/4.5 W

 

Math Courses: Calc 1 (B-), Calc 2 (B), Calc 3 ©, Calc 4 (C-), Linear Algebra (B+), Differential Equations (A-), Real Analysis (A+)

 

Econ Courses: Stats for Economists (C-), Intro Economics (A-), Intro Economics 2 (A), Intermediate Micro (B+), Econometrics (A+), Econometrics Lab (A+), Intermediate Macro (B-), Theories of Growth/Development (B+), Advanced Econometrics (A+), Behavioral Economics (A), Advanced Macro (A+), Advanced Macro Lab (A), Economic Forecasting in R (A-), Advanced Microeconomics (B+)

 

Other Courses: Mechanics (C+), Thermodynamics and Waves (A), PChem1/2 (C+/B), OChem1/2 (C/B), Cells&Tissues (C-), Stem Cell Biology (A-), Cell&Molecular Bio (A), Genes&Evo&Ecology (A)

 

Letters of Recommendation: 1) Co-signed letter from neuroscience research advisor employed by my university and the head of the lab; 2) business school professor who I know personally, we are working to publish COVID-19 survey data from a survey that we co-designed, 3) *unverified* advanced econometrics professor who is near the top of the field and has encouraged me to chase my aim of becoming a professor. We are in touch and have been communicating but I didn't feel ready to ask her for a letter until now-- asking her this week or next.

 

Research Experience: In neuroscience lab-- adapted github python script to parametrize neural power spectra, used this to transform and analyze multiple datasets of 100+ patients. Analysis included review of related literature and basic statistical tests. This was ongoing for 18 months. Covid-19 Survey-- assessing population level outcomes and integrating accepted behavioral scales to investigate mediating factors. I designed half the survey, the prof I'm working with designed the other half and has been providing guidance. I am solo performing analysis on outcomes of my portion, the plan is to publish the results in the next few months.

 

Teaching Experience: None-- impossible for undergrads to get RA at my institution; chose extracurriculars over tutoring.

Research Interests: Complexity and macroeconomics, although also curious about neuroeconomics/behavioral and I am sure that econometrics will be a key part of my toolkit.

SOP: I dealt with a combination of depression, anxiety and untreated ADHD throughout undergrad but especially in the first 2 years-- would it help to mention in SOP?

Other: Python (3/5, have used professionally to automate demand planning and numerous coursera projects), R (2/5, several large statistical projects), Stata (yuck). Graduated 2019, worked 9 months as a 'Product Development Analyst' before covid layoffs.

 

I am worried that my performance in micro courses is going to be an issue (they bored me at the time, so not in terms of my capabilities), and I have no idea how my poor early math grades will be seen. Thank you for any input you may have.

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I see a number of positives in this profile. On the other hand, poor grades in math and micro are problematic. Also, it sounds like your "best" letters won't be from Econ PhDs.

 

I'd recommend doing a master's if you really want to get into a top 20 school.

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Rather than doing a masters, you could also ask if it makes sense stick around a little longer and take the first year PhD Sequence in Econometrics and Micro. If they allow you, I think this could be a much better option (you should speak with the DGS of your Econ dept).
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Rather than doing a masters, you could also ask if it makes sense stick around a little longer and take the first year PhD Sequence in Econometrics and Micro. If they allow you, I think this could be a much better option (you should speak with the DGS of your Econ dept).

This is a good suggestion, even taking just PhD micro would help a lot...assuming you can arrange to rank high in the class.

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I appreciate the input and had not really considered this. Out of curiosity, do you recommend any pathways for earning income while enrolled in one or two first year PhD sequences? I imagine that RA at my university would still be out of the question (all allocated to PhD students) and full time employment with two concurrent grad courses sounds extreme. I do have the opportunity to pivot right now and may be able to use family resources if necessary, but self-sufficiency would be ideal. I am in a large city, and so much is remote now, so perhaps I can find options.

 

Edit below:

Startz, how high would I need to rank, say in the micro sequence, in order to improve my chances at the top 20? For context my institution is just below top 10 for grad Econ.

Edited by hoomanH
+second question
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Startz, how high would I need to rank, say in the micro sequence, in order to improve my chances at the top 20? For context my institution is just below top 10 for grad Econ.

 

There's no exact answer. Top third will probably help some, but what you really want is for the professor to be able to write a letter saying you are an outstanding student.

 

Also, remember that grad students will be working together. You will want to join a study group.

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Okay. As an alternative, if I could enroll for fall quarter, would it make sense for me to take Topology and stochastic processes, and/or a grad/undergrad micro course? Grades should be out by mid December so I should be able to make the deadline for some applications this year.

 

I’m self-teaching point set topology one the meantime anyway and I keep seeing stochastic processes mentioned on this forum. Just trying to understand all of my options.

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Okay. As an alternative, if I could enroll for fall quarter, would it make sense for me to take Topology and stochastic processes, and/or a grad/undergrad micro course? Grades should be out by mid December so I should be able to make the deadline for some applications this year.

 

I’m self-teaching point set topology one the meantime anyway and I keep seeing stochastic processes mentioned on this forum. Just trying to understand all of my options.

Applications will take a significant amount of time and mental energy. If you think you can be ultra productive (without burning yourself out), then go for it. But remember that you cannot afford to get subpar grades in Grad Econ classes. If I were you, I would just take Topology/Grad Metrics and Grad Micro, and I would highly advise against taking more than two classes. Since now you have a general idea, go and talk with the director of graduate studies. Their opinion counts more than what is here.

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