Did I kill my chances for Tier 1? Anything I can do to improve my application?

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
MMDE
Posts: 43
Joined: Sat Sep 30, 2017 5:04 pm

Did I kill my chances for Tier 1? Anything I can do to improve my application?

Postby MMDE » Wed Feb 07, 2018 12:27 am

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Last edited by MMDE on Fri Feb 09, 2018 1:17 am, edited 1 time in total.

FreddieBiddleBooty
Posts: 120
Joined: Sat Oct 28, 2017 5:38 pm

Re: Did I kill my chances for Tier 1? Anything I can do to improve my application?

Postby FreddieBiddleBooty » Wed Feb 07, 2018 1:28 am

I am far from an expert, but I think you have a good chance as long as you build up your research, recommendation letters, and make a decent score on the MGRE.

I have a poor UG GPA due to my laziness! Even a couple of math classes I found uninteresting (probability, metamathematics) I lost attention and did not show up, thereby making a C in both :!: This is a bad idea. But you seem to have a leg up, in that you have mostly A's, with maybe only a few B's.

Regarless, what I said in the first paragraph, I think, is most important in regards to getting in to a top school. Good luck!

EGA
Posts: 43
Joined: Sun Oct 08, 2017 10:59 am

Re: Did I kill my chances for Tier 1? Anything I can do to improve my application?

Postby EGA » Wed Feb 07, 2018 1:33 am

MMDE wrote:So in the first two years of my undergrad I wasn't a math major and didn't take school too seriously, and as a result of this I got some poor grades in classes that I really should have and could have gotten an A in. For example, I have 2 W's (organic chemistry and a CS course), a C in General Physics I, B in General Physics II, B- in General Chemistry II, C in Biochemistry, and a C in Psychology 100. In all of these courses the result was due to a lack of effort on my part rather than the class being difficult. As a result my cumulative GPA is a poor 3.5-3.6.

However, I still managed to do well in all my math courses.I switch to a math major late on and got really interested in the field. I've also taken two more chemistry courses since I've focused more on school and have gotten good grades. I've done two research projects so far and have one publication. My UG math GPA is roughly a 3.95, and I've taken/taking 8 graduate courses thus far (GR GPA being ~3.7-3.8 ). Last semester I did get a B+ in graduate Real Analysis which I'm still kicking myself about.

Given this, and the fact that I come from an unknown state school, have I killed my chances for a spot at a Tier I school, such as say NYU or Columbia? Is there anything else I can do to strengthen my application? I plan on taking the GRE later this month and the mGRE in April, I also missed all the deadlines for possible REUs this summer. Would it be worth taking a high level Physics course this summer to prove that I'm competent in the field and the early grades were just a lack of effort?

Thanks.


The deadlines for summer REU's haven't passed. You should apply.

It very well may be the case that your best offer for a PhD program is from an average state university (I mean, just read the profiles and admissions thread). If the idea of doing your PhD at a non-prestigious university sounds terrible, don't get one. You're in the game for the wrong reasons.

On the other hand, you may get into a 'Tier 1' school (whatever that means). You'd probably have to do research, improve your grades, and basically be perfect from now until you submit applications. Even if you do all that, nobody here can tell whether or not you will get in where you want.

MMDE
Posts: 43
Joined: Sat Sep 30, 2017 5:04 pm

Re: Did I kill my chances for Tier 1? Anything I can do to improve my application?

Postby MMDE » Wed Feb 07, 2018 1:43 am

FreddieBiddleBooty wrote:I am far from an expert, but I think you have a good chance as long as you build up your research, recommendation letters, and make a decent score on the MGRE.

I have a poor UG GPA due to my laziness! Even a couple of math classes I found uninteresting (probability, metamathematics) I lost attention and did not show up, thereby making a C in both :!: This is a bad idea. But you seem to have a leg up, in that you have mostly A's, with maybe only a few B's.

Regarless, what I said in the first paragraph, I think, is most important in regards to getting in to a top school. Good luck!


I know at least 2 of my recommendation letters will be very strong, as I'm very close to all the faculty in my school. Research I'm hoping to do something else over the summer, so I'll have 3 projects total by the time I apply. In terms of math I have all A's aside from that one B+ in graduate Real Analysis I, but I'm taking graduate Real Analysis II and hoping I can make up for it this semester.

EGA wrote:The deadlines for summer REU's haven't passed. You should apply.

It very well may be the case that your best offer for a PhD program is from an average state university (I mean, just read the profiles and admissions thread). If the idea of doing your PhD at a non-prestigious university sounds terrible, don't get one. You're in the game for the wrong reasons.

On the other hand, you may get into a 'Tier 1' school (whatever that means). You'd probably have to do research, improve your grades, and basically be perfect from now until you submit applications. Even if you do all that, nobody here can tell whether or not you will get in where you want.


Yeah I've been going through all those threads and it seems some people with similar stats have gotten into top programs, but a lot have also been rejected. The reason why I'm shooting for a top 20 university is because I could have applied for Fall 2018, but I waited an extra year to take a few more courses and do more research to strengthen my application, so if I miss out it's like I wasted a year if that makes sense. I love math and am still fine with a mid-tier school, but it would be even better to be able to do my PhD at a top school for one reason or another.

I know it's impossible to tell if I'll get in or not, more of I was wondering if I even stood a chance. As in, will all this extra effort increase my chances, or am I just wasting my time?


Thank you both for the advice.

curvature-form
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2018 2:06 pm

Re: Did I kill my chances for Tier 1? Anything I can do to improve my application?

Postby curvature-form » Wed Feb 07, 2018 11:56 am

Don't worry too much! It's definitely possible :)

I was in a very similar boat as you. My first year and a half as an undergrad were pretty shitty -- I wasn't a math major (I was studying art and CS) and didn't care about school at all. I have 3 W's and a couple C's on my degree (none in any math classes thankfully). I then switched over to math the second semester of my sophomore year (and did a lot of self study to skip lots of undergrad classes) and my grades have been pretty great since then. I still don't have any publications, but I do have a decent amount of research experience and that definitely helped / made my entire application. I'm not sure what you consider a Tier 1 school, but I've gotten into UCLA and MIT EECS (to do some math with a very specific group there), and hopefully more acceptances to come...

Just keep working on your research / self study some interesting things. I don't think more coursework will help you out much (given that you've taken quite a few graduate math courses). You can (and probably should) mention on your personal statement something along the lines of once you started to take math courses, you became super motivated / driven, and that this indicates that continuing graduate education in math is something you think you can succeed in. Sorry that this post is a bit wordy / I feel like I'm just rambling. Anyways, good luck!

MMDE
Posts: 43
Joined: Sat Sep 30, 2017 5:04 pm

Re: Did I kill my chances for Tier 1? Anything I can do to improve my application?

Postby MMDE » Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:30 pm

curvature-form wrote:Don't worry too much! It's definitely possible :)

I was in a very similar boat as you. My first year and a half as an undergrad were pretty shitty -- I wasn't a math major (I was studying art and CS) and didn't care about school at all. I have 3 W's and a couple C's on my degree (none in any math classes thankfully). I then switched over to math the second semester of my sophomore year (and did a lot of self study to skip lots of undergrad classes) and my grades have been pretty great since then. I still don't have any publications, but I do have a decent amount of research experience and that definitely helped / made my entire application. I'm not sure what you consider a Tier 1 school, but I've gotten into UCLA and MIT EECS (to do some math with a very specific group there), and hopefully more acceptances to come...

Just keep working on your research / self study some interesting things. I don't think more coursework will help you out much (given that you've taken quite a few graduate math courses). You can (and probably should) mention on your personal statement something along the lines of once you started to take math courses, you became super motivated / driven, and that this indicates that continuing graduate education in math is something you think you can succeed in. Sorry that this post is a bit wordy / I feel like I'm just rambling. Anyways, good luck!


First off, congratulations on the acceptances! And also thank you for the advice. By Tier 1 I mean schools such as Columbia, UCLA, or NYU. I will definitely try to "make sense" of my transcript on my personal statement, but even before applications begin this Fall I'm trying to see what else I can do to strengthen my resume. If more classes are not very helpful, I'll try and find somewhere to do more research, hopefully an REU and also study to do well on the mGRE this September (assuming the April exam doesn't go well). I'm not sure if there's much else I can do.

curvature-form
Posts: 14
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2018 2:06 pm

Re: Did I kill my chances for Tier 1? Anything I can do to improve my application?

Postby curvature-form » Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:54 pm

MMDE wrote:
curvature-form wrote:Don't worry too much! It's definitely possible :)

I was in a very similar boat as you. My first year and a half as an undergrad were pretty shitty -- I wasn't a math major (I was studying art and CS) and didn't care about school at all. I have 3 W's and a couple C's on my degree (none in any math classes thankfully). I then switched over to math the second semester of my sophomore year (and did a lot of self study to skip lots of undergrad classes) and my grades have been pretty great since then. I still don't have any publications, but I do have a decent amount of research experience and that definitely helped / made my entire application. I'm not sure what you consider a Tier 1 school, but I've gotten into UCLA and MIT EECS (to do some math with a very specific group there), and hopefully more acceptances to come...

Just keep working on your research / self study some interesting things. I don't think more coursework will help you out much (given that you've taken quite a few graduate math courses). You can (and probably should) mention on your personal statement something along the lines of once you started to take math courses, you became super motivated / driven, and that this indicates that continuing graduate education in math is something you think you can succeed in. Sorry that this post is a bit wordy / I feel like I'm just rambling. Anyways, good luck!


First off, congratulations on the acceptances! And also thank you for the advice. By Tier 1 I mean schools such as Columbia, UCLA, or NYU. I will definitely try to "make sense" of my transcript on my personal statement, but even before applications begin this Fall I'm trying to see what else I can do to strengthen my resume. If more classes are not very helpful, I'll try and find somewhere to do more research, hopefully an REU and also study to do well on the mGRE this September (assuming the April exam doesn't go well). I'm not sure if there's much else I can do.


Thank you! On my personal statement I only explained my transcript in a short sentence and focused the rest of my personal statement on my future research goals. It's not that more classes aren't helpful, it's just that research would probably be much more helpful -- especially if you end up doing some good work related to what you want to study in grad school. I didn't do very well on the mGRE (and I didn't study at all, which wasn't a great idea in retrospect), and I think that if I did better I would have had a better shot at getting into Columbia (this is according to two of my professors).

MMDE
Posts: 43
Joined: Sat Sep 30, 2017 5:04 pm

Re: Did I kill my chances for Tier 1? Anything I can do to improve my application?

Postby MMDE » Wed Feb 07, 2018 4:22 pm

curvature-form wrote:
MMDE wrote:
curvature-form wrote:Don't worry too much! It's definitely possible :)

I was in a very similar boat as you. My first year and a half as an undergrad were pretty shitty -- I wasn't a math major (I was studying art and CS) and didn't care about school at all. I have 3 W's and a couple C's on my degree (none in any math classes thankfully). I then switched over to math the second semester of my sophomore year (and did a lot of self study to skip lots of undergrad classes) and my grades have been pretty great since then. I still don't have any publications, but I do have a decent amount of research experience and that definitely helped / made my entire application. I'm not sure what you consider a Tier 1 school, but I've gotten into UCLA and MIT EECS (to do some math with a very specific group there), and hopefully more acceptances to come...

Just keep working on your research / self study some interesting things. I don't think more coursework will help you out much (given that you've taken quite a few graduate math courses). You can (and probably should) mention on your personal statement something along the lines of once you started to take math courses, you became super motivated / driven, and that this indicates that continuing graduate education in math is something you think you can succeed in. Sorry that this post is a bit wordy / I feel like I'm just rambling. Anyways, good luck!


First off, congratulations on the acceptances! And also thank you for the advice. By Tier 1 I mean schools such as Columbia, UCLA, or NYU. I will definitely try to "make sense" of my transcript on my personal statement, but even before applications begin this Fall I'm trying to see what else I can do to strengthen my resume. If more classes are not very helpful, I'll try and find somewhere to do more research, hopefully an REU and also study to do well on the mGRE this September (assuming the April exam doesn't go well). I'm not sure if there's much else I can do.


Thank you! On my personal statement I only explained my transcript in a short sentence and focused the rest of my personal statement on my future research goals. It's not that more classes aren't helpful, it's just that research would probably be much more helpful -- especially if you end up doing some good work related to what you want to study in grad school. I didn't do very well on the mGRE (and I didn't study at all, which wasn't a great idea in retrospect), and I think that if I did better I would have had a better shot at getting into Columbia (this is according to two of my professors).


I heard, though not confirmed, that some schools such as Columbia have a threshold for the mGRE and automatically deny anyone who don't get a certain score unless they have some type of personal connection to the school. But regardless, your post makes me think I still have somewhat of a chance at these schools haha, it's not the end of the world if I don't get in but I'll be thrilled if I do.




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