dexter wrote:vonLipwig, did you send your undergraduate thesis with all your applications? I'm assuming you haven't published.
kuz wrote:For this year's incoming Princeton class, about 7 or 8 of the 10 had a publication, and 1 or 2 had more than one publication. I think nearly all those publications were quite decent though, and a lot were sole author.
vonLipwig wrote:My impression is that very very few applicants have a publication. I know people who have been accepted to a wide variety of the top schools with no publications.
(This seems to contradict kuz, above. Perhaps undergraduate theses are looked on favourably here, and this would explain the cases I know of)
gromov wrote:Well, I think admissions styles vary greatly among strong schools. Princeton is a program with an often 4-year track, with no formal course requirements, if I've got that right. As a result, I think they may stress a student's readiness and maturity to jump into research more.
This isn't to say someone without such credentials can't get accepted at Princeton of course. I think very strong letters from reputed faculty, a strong background, and other accomplishments suggesting mathematical talent can also work.
One thing about kuz's experience is that I think he's speaking of those who accepted Princeton's offer, not merely those accepted at Princeton. It is my view that those accepted to Princeton may not always, amidst the applicant pool, all be well suited to its program style, even if they're "strong" enough.
Those who accepted Princeton's offer may be likelier to already be excited about pursuing a certain track, have started along it, and continue in the program this way. I can think of at least one case where this precisely happened.
I think there are plenty of students at Stanford, Chicago, various Ivy Leagues and top US public schools who do not possess a large publication record, and who aren't very sure of what they want to do. Those schools all produce students of exceptional caliber and researchers of exceptional caliber.
General advice: to get into a top program, worry first that your learning, grades, and letters are going to be up to par.
Then add on publications if all is going well, and it could be a bonus to knock you into some of the most hypercompetitive. I think for all but the strongest of the strongest students, it's going to be a bit of luck of the draw, as far as I can tell, to get into schools like MIT, Harvard...
variationofhedges wrote:Could you give some more concrete description of what the publications are like? (E.g. Journal reputation, length, depth or level of sophistication, relation to student's current research interest, etc.) Could you also comment on the fields of these papers? Thanks in advance.
Gasquet wrote:Does anyone have the numbers for Applied Math programs at any school?
kuz wrote:And bear in mind that at the time of application for Princeton, a lot of these papers may not have even been completed, or were just on the arxiv but hadn't been accepted for publication in a journal as yet (my sole paper at the time fell into the latter category). So I'm guessing the advisory committee either read the papers on the arxiv (if they were up there) or took into account letters of recommendation detailing the applicant's research, rather than looking at the reputation of the journal.
Gasquet wrote:I am aware of that. I was looking for similar numbers as kuz mentioned for Applied Math programs, irrespective of which area the students are in. A publication need not be a math one.
quinquenion wrote:(...) However, those of us who took the time to do a masters degree (e.g. Part 3 at Cambridge) are *much* more likely to have published. I strongly suspect that at the beginning of our respective senior years, *far* fewer of us would have had publications to our name.
In the U.S., in mathematics, it is a bit unusual to have a peer-reviewed publication from an undergrad, despite the recent years' push for "Research Experiences for Undergrads". In some cases there are group-written papers in second or third-tier journals, but nothing too serious. Or the undergrad gets to be the tag-along on an applied-math research "team". Indeed, it is exceptional, and only rarely happens, that an undergrad in mathematics has adequate background (disregarding future potential) to make a serious contribution. It does happen, but rarely, and is not at all "expected". Evidently the situation is much different in other fields.
In terms of literal admission to good-but-not-elite programs, the usual "publications" we on admissions committees see are "nice", but not really evidence of future potential so much as enthusiasm, ... which is a good thing, for sure! ... but the level of focus and effort required for these little papers is far, far different than the level of commitment required to do a Ph.D., with or without "talent".
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