Flawed CV - should I spend money for TOP15 or not?

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
logaritym
Posts: 42
Joined: Sun Nov 14, 2010 10:06 am

Flawed CV - should I spend money for TOP15 or not?

Postby logaritym » Sun Nov 14, 2010 11:18 am

Hello! I intend to apply for US and UK universities, but I'm not sure if it's worth trying for TOP15 or not. I guess that this is the best place on internet to ask for advice, so here's my case.

I have bachelor and magister degrees from Sofia University (not very renowned university in Eastern Europe), Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics.
During the first 2 years I didn't pay much attention to the university and got 3 B's and 2 C's. After that I had straight A's, but finally my bachelor GPA was 5.87/6.00 and I was 2-nd in class. There was a concluding test at the end of the 4th year and I got 5.95/6.00 (again not perfect). Also, I didn't manage well with IMC and won only few "second prizes" (I'm not sure if it's better to add them to my CV or not). Finally, I'm doubtful that I've scored very good on GRE MATHEMATICS (I make a lot of cheap mistakes on tests).

I have some research (but it's only one CO-publication for a Russian magazine with my director of studies), I've been tutoring few times the national team for IMO, got 1 gold from IMO and some other nice awards from college and university olympiads. I also guess that I'll have decent recommendations from some very good professors.

Now I'm nearly 25! years old and this is my only chance for applying (if it's not already too late). I'm going to apply for Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial College, Bristol (UK) and Stanford, UCLA, Illinois U-C, Michigan (US). I can afford to add 3 or 4 more universities, but I'm not sure if it's better to choose some from TOP15 or not. I know that the majority of the applicants have nearly flawless CVs and that my chances are not the brightest possible, so the dilemma is whether I should add more TOP universities to the list or choose some outside TOP15, enhancing my chances for acceptance?!
TOEFL - 100, GRE VERBAL - 620, GRE QUANTITIVE - 800.

Thank you!

mewss
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Nov 13, 2010 9:42 am

Re: Flawed CV - should I spend money for TOP15 or not?

Postby mewss » Sun Nov 14, 2010 12:41 pm

In my opinion, I think that gold medal in IMO is more than sufficient to be accepted into top US university, even if your rest background could be not so impressive.

Chapel
Posts: 59
Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2010 11:25 pm

Re: Flawed CV - should I spend money for TOP15 or not?

Postby Chapel » Sun Nov 14, 2010 2:46 pm

Most people from US schools do not have even a co-publication, so consider that. I would advise you to have a few reach schools, a few schools you are confident with, and a few schools as fall backs. However, your professors know you and your capabilities better than we do (not to mention what the adcoms look for). You are best off asking them for suggestions. The bonus of this is they are likely to suggest schools where they know people meaning their LoRs are likely to carry more weight at those universities.

smartiful
Posts: 25
Joined: Mon Oct 11, 2010 12:11 pm

Re: Flawed CV - should I spend money for TOP15 or not?

Postby smartiful » Sun Nov 14, 2010 4:10 pm

No offense intended, but this sounds like fishing for compliments / whining to me? How could a sane person with very decent grades, "answered 63 questions with 3 guessing" on the subject gre, an IMO gold medal, claiming to have excellent letters, done lots of tutoring and other stuff seriously believe an application at a top15 uni would be money down the drain?

They may or may not take you (depends on your letters, research interest and chance). You should apply to some more places (Cambridge / Oxford / ICL are very competitive, Bristol may not be able to get you the funding you need as a non UK student). As for the US, Stanford / Michigan and possibly UCLA are hard to get into and may reject you for weird reasons, so you should apply to some more "reach schools" aka insurance choices.

logaritym
Posts: 42
Joined: Sun Nov 14, 2010 10:06 am

Re: Flawed CV - should I spend money for TOP15 or not?

Postby logaritym » Sun Nov 14, 2010 4:40 pm

Thank you for your answers.
I'm disturbed mostly by my GPA (it's not perfect), the fact that I didn't win IMC "first prize" and my age.
I just think that my current chances for acceptance are much lower than my chances from 6 years ago and I don't feel confident at all. I want to study at the best possible university and for this reason I have to decide which ones should be my targets.
These will be the most painful months in my life so far:)
Last edited by logaritym on Sun Nov 14, 2010 6:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.

jplusip
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Jun 21, 2010 12:40 pm

Re: Flawed CV - should I spend money for TOP15 or not?

Postby jplusip » Sun Nov 14, 2010 5:39 pm

Does age really matter with grad committees? I'll be 27 in 3 months and hope to go to grad school in a year...

Chapel
Posts: 59
Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2010 11:25 pm

Re: Flawed CV - should I spend money for TOP15 or not?

Postby Chapel » Mon Nov 15, 2010 3:20 am

My dad was in his 50's when he started his doctorate (although not a math PhD). It is worth noting that age is generally not a factor to Adcoms considering it would be a form of discrimination and open the college up to liability. Age in the US has the same legal protections granted to race, religion, nationality, physical disability and gender as protected by the constitution. Many states go even further and protect other things under state discrimination laws (such as sexual preference and socio-economic status).

alex
Posts: 37
Joined: Wed Oct 20, 2010 12:54 am

Re: Flawed CV - should I spend money for TOP15 or not?

Postby alex » Mon Nov 15, 2010 9:39 am

jplusip wrote:Does age really matter with grad committees? I'll be 27 in 3 months and hope to go to grad school in a year...


I hope not because I'm in this situation too only a month older.

cbreeden
Posts: 25
Joined: Sun Jul 18, 2010 8:37 am

Re: Flawed CV - should I spend money for TOP15 or not?

Postby cbreeden » Mon Nov 15, 2010 8:48 pm

I'm sure that age doesn't matter unless you are unusually young or unusually old, and I'm still not even sure about the latter.

cbreeden
Posts: 25
Joined: Sun Jul 18, 2010 8:37 am

Re: Flawed CV - should I spend money for TOP15 or not?

Postby cbreeden » Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:11 am

logaritym wrote:Thank you for your answers.
I'm disturbed mostly by my GPA (it's not perfect), the fact that I didn't win IMC "first prize" and my age.
I just think that my current chances for acceptance are much lower than my chances from 6 years ago and I don't feel confident at all. I want to study at the best possible university and for this reason I have to decide which ones should be my targets.
These will be the most painful months in my life so far:)


Honestly, with your application, I would be applying to Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, and U Chicago. I would be very surprised if all of them turned you down. You were 2-nd in your class, but you had your minor grade deficiencies while you were a freshman/sophmore... and i'm sure that the guy who was higher in your class didn't have IMO experiences your GRE scores, your co-publication, etc...

logaritym
Posts: 42
Joined: Sun Nov 14, 2010 10:06 am

Re: Flawed CV - should I spend money for TOP15 or not?

Postby logaritym » Fri Nov 19, 2010 6:23 am

Thank you, guys!
I guess I'll take the risk:
Oxford, Cambridge, Princeton, Berkeley, Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Imperial College, Chicago, Michigan, Bristol, Illinois U-C.
It seems I won't play PS Move games soon...

cbreeden
Posts: 25
Joined: Sun Jul 18, 2010 8:37 am

Re: Flawed CV - should I spend money for TOP15 or not?

Postby cbreeden » Fri Nov 19, 2010 10:05 pm

logaritym,

you should post you info on our 2011 Applications and Results. I'd like to see your results after everything is said and done.

logaritym
Posts: 42
Joined: Sun Nov 14, 2010 10:06 am

Re: Flawed CV - should I spend money for TOP15 or not?

Postby logaritym » Thu Nov 25, 2010 4:28 pm

I'll do it!
But now I'm afraid that I may miss the deadlines... This damn Statement Of Purpose!
If someone has experience with international applying and also some time and nerves to share it with me, I'll be very grateful:)

johnnybegoog
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Nov 09, 2010 5:32 pm

Re: Flawed CV - should I spend money for TOP15 or not?

Postby johnnybegoog » Thu Nov 25, 2010 8:11 pm

I am certainly no expert, and there are probably many others who will advise you better.

My opinion is that you should focus on what would distingusish you, which in your case is A LOT. I mean write about your IMO medal (again congrats!), your IMC distinctions, your tutoring experience, your departmental awards and some weight to your publication. Explain briefly what you would probably like to work on and why (for example continue some work performed in your publication since you have already performed original work-which I think is the most important qualification). The best SoP in my opinion I have come across in the Internet is http://ms-phd.com/Archive/2006_03_09_st ... chive.html and it seems to me that you have the same qualifications as that guy. Again, I warn that this is clearly a personal view. I am applying this year as well but aside from writting my own SoP based on what each university says they want, I have no other experience.

My SoP will be much more moderate than yours. Since I am interested in algebra, I wrote about the most advanced algebraic topics I have covered so far, and some unofficial lectures I gave in some courses and explained how the latter motivated me to choose my intended field. Your experiences would have much more weight I believe, since you have them published officially.

Since I see that you are an international student as myself, my most important advice is to go and give your transcripts for official translation ASAP if you have not already done so. I'm still waiting for mine (the ministry in my country translated manifolds as .... multiplicities :shock: :roll: so I had to go to another translator). Also have in mind that GRE/TOEFL scores take some time to be sent so have them sent ASAP as well.

Finally, it may sound a bit naive, but if I had your qualifications and a vague idea of my intended field of study (eg analysis) I would just select the top 10-12 universities in that field and apply just to them (ok possibly 1-2 in the 10-20 rank too but not lower than that). If a person with your qualifications does not stand a chance for Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, Columbia, Chicago, UCLA then who does?

In any case good luck!

logaritym
Posts: 42
Joined: Sun Nov 14, 2010 10:06 am

Re: Flawed CV - should I spend money for TOP15 or not?

Postby logaritym » Sat Nov 27, 2010 3:45 pm

10Q, johnny, GL2U2:)




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