MMDE wrote:Hello everyone. I intend on applying to schools this fall. I'm listed my stats below. Where do you guys think I stand for the schools I've listed?
Undergrad Institution: Unknown small state school
Major(s): Mathematics, Chemistry
GPA: Overall: 3.6/4.0, UG Math: 3.95/4.0 GR Math 3.8/4.0
Type of Student: Domestic Minority Male
Program Applying: PDE's
Research Experience: Attend many conferences (both international and national). 2 publications, both in decent journals. Will attend an REU this summer overseas. Worked/working on 3 projects overall.
Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Departmental award in math.
Pertinent Activities or Jobs: Math tutor at my university for 5ish semesters for practically all undergrad math courses offered at my school.
Any Miscellaneous Points that Might Help: By the time I apply I would have taken ~80 credits worth of math courses, 9-10 of which are graduate (such as Measure Theory, Galois Theory, Complex Analysis, PDEs, Numerical Analysis (for PDEs/Linear Algebra)...etc). 3 strong recommendation letter, 1 or 2 of which got their PhDs from prestigious schools.
Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter: Poor overall GPA stems from not taking school too seriously my first few semesters. I joined math relatively late, but I have been doing well since and I believe that's reflected on my transcript. I also will explain all this in my SOP. I also am helping my professor edit a book he is authoring on PDEs, which he said I'll get part authorship credit for.
Taking the general GRE very soon, taking the MGRE this September. Hoping to do well on both.
Applying to Where: (Color use here is welcome)
School - NYU
School - Brown
School - Cornell
School - UCLA
School - Yale
School - Columbia
I'm applying to more schools as well, but only listed my reach schools to see if you guys think I have a decent shot. I'm concerned that my GPA and my school being unknown might be weighing me down. Thank you all for reading.
FreddieBiddleBooty wrote:I will just mention what someone else has said at the end of the 2018 Profiles & Admissions Results thread: letters of recommendation are by far the most important factor. I am about to graduate from a very low ranked university, and I was waitlisted at UIUC and Ohio! My undergrad GPA was just 3.2 (although my grad is 4.0), and I don't have any publications to date. I also only have 55% MGRE. I bet you anything that if I didn't have those rec letters I wouldn't have that waitlist. A waitlist may not seem like much to you, but damn did it surprise me. Unfortunately for me, I didn't quite make the cut at these schools.
Anyway, you already have good stats on paper, so it looks like you should pass through the initial gates of admissions committees - just make sure your letters are solid!
Other than this, just keep going at whatever projects/research you have, and express your interest in your SOP. I'm not on admissions committees obviously, but I just went through this tornado and learned a ton of information. Good luck!
EGA wrote:I think it's a pretty reasonable list for your reach schools. If what you say about your GPA is true (that it basically came from earlier in your undergraduate career and you have excellent math grades), then I think a fair number of schools will be willing to overlook it - but it might hurt you at some of your reaches.
With regards to 'reputation of your school', I wouldn't worry about that too much. My schools is literally unranked for math, and I got into fairly competitive places, as well as past the first round of rejections at some others. If I were to redo the process, I would aim a bit higher than I did.
As long as you've got a couple 'safeties', your list of reaches looks good!
6sand7s wrote:My applicant profile might be of use to you, since I had the combination of lower GPA/not very prestigious school/a couple papers. Your graduate background seems stronger than mine, however. The book will be a nice addition to your CV as well.
I certainly think you stand a chance to get into some of the schools you've listed, but since you're asking I'll give some concrete advice from personal experience:
1.) Do well on the math GRE. The general isn't too important as long as it isn't clearly low. However, a low math GRE combined with coming from a lesser-known school and a lower GPA will mean that your application is unlikely to get much attention at these top programs. Of your list, I suspect that UCLA and Columbia are both prone to disregarding profiles like yours unless they come with a decent GRE score; I don't know much about the other schools. It's hard to say what is "decent." If you can get above 700 you're doing pretty well, and if you can surpass 800 you'll definitely get enough attention for someone to read through your application in detail. Getting your application read thoroughly is going to be a big barrier to overcome, and a good math GRE score will do a lot to get your foot in the door.
2.) Apply for the NSF graduate research fellowship. And don't throw together an application at the last minute--give yourself a month or three to put it all together. I think it's due in November. As a minority student with a few papers under your belt, some well-written statements could land you a fellowship and be the difference between a waitlist and an acceptance at these schools. Ask an experienced mathematician you trust to help you edit your materials--they've applied for grants before and know the ins and outs. Honestly, I would make this a higher priority than your applications themselves. You'll get 95% of your grad school personal statement by editing down the NSF statements anyway.
3.) Be an active participant in writing your letters of recommendation. For the sake of academic honesty it's important to emphasize that you should not write letters for your recommenders, edit their letters, or even see the final product. However, you can have more control over your letters than just throwing a request for a recommendation into the email abyss. For each of my recommenders I provided a bullet-pointed summary of what they might be able to discuss on my behalf. Remember, your recommenders work with a lot of people and frankly may not remember all of your significant interactions. Offer this as a suggestion and not an outline, and offer to meet in person to clarify anything on your CV or talk about your academic goals. For example, I had a professor from a capstone course who I suggested to write about the depth and real-world applicability of my final project and my ability to work well in teams, citing a few specific instances where it might be evident. To balance that, I suggested to my thesis advisor to write about my ability to do research independently (again with specific anecdotes). Basically, you can identify your strengths and ask that each recommender addresses a few specifically. Even professors that love you can get caught up in writing a dull letter that just rehashes your CV. It's wise and academically honest to give them some recommended talking points.
Bonus tip: When asking for recommendations, ask whether your potential recommender "has time" to write you a letter. If they do not like you enough to write for you, or are legitimately busy, you've given them an easy out to say no without making it awkward. I suggest asking via a brief email and following up in person shortly after so they don't feel put on the spot.
Maybe more than you asked for, but hopefully it helps! Good luck!
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