Relative importance of these factors when applying for PhD?

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
panicking
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Dec 18, 2013 10:12 pm

Relative importance of these factors when applying for PhD?

Postby panicking » Wed Dec 18, 2013 11:18 pm

Hi. I started my application process rather late (last day in fact) and only apply into tier-1 school in Maths (no safety school). But looking around, it seems like everyone is having super-duper profile, and now I am panicking. I asked this question on another board already but there isn't a maths-specific reply, so I thought I would ask again here. What are the relative importance of the following factors when the committee make judgment to admit or not?
-Application submitted on time or not.
-GRE general taken or not.
-Super high GRE subject maths or not (like, I just look at UPenn (which is not tier-1 but at least they publish the number) and the average is 820; I assume that the average of something like MIT is probably 900 or something).
-Done any REUs or not (I can't imagine what an undergrad could even do for research, but the existence of REU indicate otherwise).
-How many letter of recs there are ('cause I heard many people get 5 and more)
-Whether the recommenders are strong/well-known researcher.
-Undergrad in liberal art or univ?
-What if no grad level maths courses taken?
-What if no basic maths courses taken?
-Cumulative GPA (counting all classes including non-math)
-Maths GPA.
-Whether non-math course failed/barely pass?
If you know someone who get into tier-1 school with poor profile in one or some of the above aspect, please give example too.
Thanks. Please tell me anything to end this uncertainty.

dasgut
Posts: 250
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2010 12:20 am

Re: Relative importance of these factors when applying for PhD?

Postby dasgut » Thu Dec 19, 2013 12:58 am

panicking wrote:-Whether the recommenders are strong/well-known researcher.


I suspect the above plus quality of the LoR is the main determinant. I know people who've gotten shit GPAs and terrible GREs who've gotten into great programs. Why? RECOMMENDERS!

avemarya
Posts: 18
Joined: Sun Sep 29, 2013 5:14 pm

Re: Relative importance of these factors when applying for PhD?

Postby avemarya » Thu Dec 19, 2013 9:09 pm

dasgut, I hope that is not the main determinant... otherwise, pretty much any person coming from an obscure school like mine is screwed, regardless of ability... :-(

dasgut
Posts: 250
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2010 12:20 am

Re: Relative importance of these factors when applying for PhD?

Postby dasgut » Fri Dec 20, 2013 5:04 pm

avemarya wrote:dasgut, I hope that is not the main determinant... otherwise, pretty much any person coming from an obscure school like mine is screwed, regardless of ability... :-(


Well, lemme also say the avemarya. As a rule I only take advice from people who've achieved what I hope to one day achieve. I have been accepted into NO PhD programs. Do you really want to put much weight in my input? :)

User avatar
Gasquet
Posts: 237
Joined: Thu Nov 15, 2012 5:00 am

Re: Relative importance of these factors when applying for PhD?

Postby Gasquet » Fri Dec 20, 2013 6:30 pm

panicking wrote:What are the relative importance of the following factors when the committee make judgment to admit or not?


The way I see it:

-Application submitted on time or not.
Not submitted on time just shows poorly on your time management skills, but a few days late shouldn't affect you in most schools. If recommendations or physical transcripts or official scores from ETS are a few days late, it is completely fine.

-GRE general taken or not.
The math department may not require general GRE, but in most schools the graduate school would have a minimum general GRE requirement. So, you have to take it. No way around that.

-Super high GRE subject maths or not (like, I just look at UPenn (which is not tier-1 but at least they publish the number) and the average is 820; I assume that the average of something like MIT is probably 900 or something).
Search around on this forum, there are a lot of threads dedicated to this.

-Done any REUs or not (I can't imagine what an undergrad could even do for research, but the existence of REU indicate otherwise).
REU helps, but what is most important is the recommendation of the adviser and his/her opinion about the students ability to be an independent researcher in the future.

-How many letter of recs there are ('cause I heard many people get 5 and more)
More than 3 never helps, unless the school explicitly asks for more.

-Whether the recommenders are strong/well-known researcher.
Very important, but content of recommendation is more important.

-What if no basic maths courses taken?
You're in the trash pile.

-Maths GPA.
Very important unless something else very strong on the application.




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