Here we go!
Undergrad Institution: UC Riverside (UCR)
Major(s): Mathematics, B.Sc., with an emphasis in Pure Mathematics
GPA: 3.936 overall, 3.922 upper division math.
Type of Student: DWM
GRE Revised General Test:
Q: 161 (83%)
V: 162 (89%)
W: 4.0 (49%)
GRE Subject Test in Mathematics:
M: 680 (56%) Just because of this score, I'm very worried about my applications.
TOEFL Score: NA
Program Applying: Pure Math
Research Experience: Since January 2012 I have been doing research in commutative algebra, specifically in the field of integer-valued polynomials. No publications yet, but it will culminate into an Honors thesis, which I hope will contain publishable results. I gave a talk in the graduate commutative algebra seminar and for the undergraduate math club in November, and I'll be speaking in the graduate student seminar and again for the graduate commutative algebra seminar and for the Math club in Winter 2013.
Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Regents' Scholarship at my school, will graduate with University Honors as well as Departmental Honors. Also got the Honors Scholarship.
Pertinent Activities or Jobs: I'm a high school math tutor (unfortunately, given I commute from 30 miles away and I have a demanding family, I can't do much on campus). I am also certified to teach ACT prep courses for Princeton Review. I'm a volunteer and peer mentor for the math club.
Any Miscellaneous Points that Might Help: I am in my 5th grad course this quarter (Fall 2012), and I plan on graduating with 8 grad courses. I participate in the graduate commutative algebra and math in the environment seminars. I think I'll get a very strong letter of rec from my thesis advisor, and one of my other recommenders is quite famous within mathematical physics. My last recommender is somewhat well-known within analysis with several complex variables and complex differential geometry; amazingly, he showed me his letter (with no prompting whatsoever!), and it's glowing, although it's a little vague. I also think I've written a great set of essays I can tailor to each school.
Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter:
I have a strong interest in commutative algebra and homological algebra, and I will state it. I also like algebraic geometry and category theory from the little bit I've learned, and I'm open to going into algebraic number theory and algebraic K-theory.
Applying to Where:
NSF Graduate Research Fellowship: Rejected 3/29Snowball's chance in hell
UC Berkeley: Rejected via Email to check website 3/1. Honestly, I'm completely unfazed.Reach
UCLA: Rejected 1/30
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor: Rejected 3/13 (second wave. Maybe they seriously considered me?)
. Should have expected this, but I'm bummed. I really thought I was Top 20 school material.
Cornell: Rejected via Email 2/20. Expected.More reasonable
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: Unofficially rejected via email 3/3. I inquired. (second wave. Maybe they seriously considered me?)
Surprising. I'm devastated.
Purdue: Unofficially waitlisted via email correspondence (I inquired) 4/1. Rejected via email 4/11.
Wow. I was really thinking I'd get in with my credentials. WTF?
Ohio State: Accepted 2/1; checked Buckeye Link. Financial info received 2/12: $1875/mo for Ph.D. track and $2090/mo if I'm regular Ph.D. status (meaning I pass the necessary basic qualifying exams in algebra and analysis). Offered additional fellowship on 3/1, details clarified on 3/4: no teaching first year, and I make $2210/mo before I pass my quals and $2425/mo after I pass my quals ATTENDING
UCSD: Rejected 3/2. Really shocked by this rejection. I thought this was a safer bet.
UCI: Accepted 2/21. $17,655.00 – Teaching Assistantship; $14,280.00 – Fee Fellowship Declined 4/2
UCR: Will withdraw.
Any feedback on the schools I'm applying to and what other schools I should look into given my interests would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!
Retrospective: I fared far worse than I thought I would, but I'm happy I got into OSU with a generous fellowship. How I fared really confuses me. My GPA is exceptional. I took almost every undergraduate course I possibly could, AND I'm graduating with 8 grad courses. I thought my letters of recommendation were solid (really starting to doubt this now), because I really got to know my professors. One of my recommenders I unfortunately only really had for "easy" courses, and I had not been in contact with him since Freshman year before the fall quarter, but I felt we connected well enough that would compensate; maybe I should have had another professor who I had for more advanced coursework and had been in more continual contact with. I've always felt stupid around my thesis advisor (don't we all?), and he's not a super "warm-and-fuzzy" kind of person, though he is a nice guy and he's always been patient - I have a feeling that his letter didn't contain particularly strong, compelling language because it's maybe not really in his nature, so maybe I made a mistake in getting a letter from him - then again, you generally should get letters of recommendation from research advisors. My GRE scores are weak, but not too bad for the bottom end of top 20 or Purdue, I'd have thought, but perhaps I'm wrong. I also made the mistake of sending all my GRE Subject Test scores (650 in October 2011, 680 in October 2012, and 670 in November 2012) to Purdue, Ohio State, Cornell, and UIUC; I should have just bitten the bullet and shelled out another $100 to only send my best score. I studied my ass off for the Subject Test, but I didn't study smart. If I were to do it again, I would make sure I have mastered (meaning take and get near perfect) all practice tests taken up to a given point before taking another. Also, start studying earlier; study ALL SUMMER, as soon as you get out of school. You should not be seeing anything for the first time when late September/early October rolls around. I also felt like I really nailed my essays with my last application and my other application essays paled in comparison when I looked back at them: this goes to show that you should be CONTINUALLY revising your essays and START WRITING THEM IN THE SUMMER.