populationmath wrote:Greetings. I am considering applying to a few PhD programs in the next year or so. I am seeking some advice on beefing up my resume before then. Here is my background:
Bachelors 2007: major: math minor: physics
Masters 2009: Mathematics
My grades in all of my math courses are B or A (with the exception of a C in my first linear algebra course). Since finishing my MS I haves been teaching at a two year college. The courses I primarily teach are pre-calc, Calc 1-3, and ODE.
Some thoughts I had to help my applications:
1. take math GRE (didn't need this for my MS)
2. take a few refresher courses at a university close by as non degree seeking (this university will also be one i apply to for PhD).
3. Attempt to get to know some professors with similar research interests.
Also, I know I will need letters of recommendation. Its been almost 5 years since i have much contact with some of my professors from my undergrad and master programs. How and when should I go about asking them for their help?
Thanks for any advice.
I am no expert with your situation. But I know many universities allow only GREs and Math GREs within the last 5 years. This suggests to me that they are concerned about mathematical "atrophy". (A secondary reason is so that there is consistency across scores.) To show them that you haven't forgotten your foundational courses in abstract algebra, analysis, and linear algebra, I would think focusing heavily on your Math GRE could be very beneficial. The refresher courses are not a bad idea either. Though my guess is that the MGRE is paramount.
I think my approach would be to contact some past professors from your masters. Tell them you want to go back to get your PhD. Ask for their advice about what you should be focusing on studywise. Continue to communicate with them about potential research interests, school choices, etc. You can gain some value information this way.
Then you might write them and ask to write letters of recommendation, citing that they know your current situation and motivations better than anyone. In these email you might contain a list of a couple "talking points" they could choose to utilize---perhaps some particulars from your master's days, that they may not be fresh in their memory. I find professors often like a couple of talking points. This eases the writing of the letter. Of course, you should be clear that the content of the letter is up to them, and they should only be used if the professor agrees with them. Also, some professor's like to see your personal statement. This allows them to send out a consistent, but complementary message to admissions committees. Writing your personal statement well in advance is a sound idea.
Again, these are just some ideas I would pursue, if I were in your situation. I have no special knowledge of graduate admissions. Good luck!