Advice needed to find schools that are easier to get in

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
Yonghao
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Nov 12, 2011 4:20 pm

Advice needed to find schools that are easier to get in

Postby Yonghao » Sat Nov 12, 2011 5:07 pm

Hi everyone!

This is my first post here, so apologies if I made any mistakes.
Also, really sorry for such a lengthy first post. I really have quite a lot on my mind. :oops:

Summary and main purpose of this post: How do I find/pick schools that are easier to get in (For a Masters program)?

My details:
Undergrad Institution: Foreign
Major(s): Electrical and Electronics Engineering
Minor(s): n/a
GPA: ~3.2-3.5/4.0 (Not sure how it converts. My university only gives honor classifications: 1st class, 2nd upper, 2nd lower etc. I had 2nd upper)
Type of Student: International student

Due to personal issues (mainly monetary problems to keep myself alive), I was unable to concentrate and get the best grades.
Now that I have worked a few years, I am doing fine financially and actively looking for a chance to study Mathematics.
Eventually, I hope to be doing Graph Theory related stuff.
(I picked EEE initially as I desperately need a job after I graduate. I was not certain if Mathematics would get me one for sure.)

Unfortunately, now I find it difficult to even get started.
Not only are my grades not outstanding, I have a mismatching major to boot.
I know for sure that I will not be admitted into good/decent schools.
Hence, I am hoping to enroll in a Masters course in some schools that are much easier to get in.
However, I am not sure how to find them.

The only good things I have going for me are the following:
1) Strong recommendation letters from my current employers
2) Good job records and some rather rich experience to write about
3) Very strong/experienced in programming
4) A Mathematics job: I was doing Signal Analysis originally and now doing Cryptography

Unfortunately, I will not be able to get strong letters from my undergraduate university.
In fact I do not have contact with any of my professors anymore.
I had just taken my GRE and expecting it to be around average. (Perhaps some 60-80%)

Actually, it need not even be a Masters program.
I am also considering all sorts of options that will give me a chance to get started on having experience in pure Mathematics,
up till a point where I will get a good chance of getting into a decent Masters/PhD course.
Except, I cannot think of any outside of redoing a Major in Mathematics altogether. (Which will take too much time.)

It suffice to say that I really want to get started soon. :?

I would be really grateful if anyone can give me any advice regarding this.
Thank you if you even bothered to read the whole lengthy post! :D

yoyobarn
Posts: 80
Joined: Sun Dec 19, 2010 7:01 am

Re: Advice needed to find schools that are easier to get in

Postby yoyobarn » Sun Nov 13, 2011 2:13 am

Hi,

From your name, and the grade system of your university, I guess you are a Chinese from a Commonwealth country? (Singapore/Malaysia)?

You may want to consider National University of Singapore. Recently, it has become rather highly ranked in world rankings. (not top 10, but consistently top 30 in world). Or NTU (also in Singapore).

http://ww1.math.nus.edu.sg/graduates.aspx

http://www.spms.ntu.edu.sg/mas/

Personally, I will also be trying to apply to the above two universities.

Or maybe try the new King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (http://www.kaust.edu.sa/). It is quite new, but it probably has tonnes of funding from the oil-rich country.

Wishing you all the best.

rmg512
Posts: 97
Joined: Sat Nov 12, 2011 8:15 pm

Re: Advice needed to find schools that are easier to get in

Postby rmg512 » Sun Nov 13, 2011 4:15 am

Well, I'm a student at the University of California, Riverside, and I don't think admission is very competitive (we're kind of considered a "TA farm"). You might like it here.

There are plenty of state schools in the US that are decent and not too competitive. I have a friend who goes to Cal Poly Pomona who says that he's fully funded even though he's just going for a Masters.

Yonghao
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Nov 12, 2011 4:20 pm

Re: Advice needed to find schools that are easier to get in

Postby Yonghao » Sun Nov 13, 2011 7:27 am

@yoyobarn: Yes I am actually from Singapore. Hence, I will be applying to NUS as well.

@rmg512: Thanks for the reply! I will be looking out for these state schools. Do you happen to know if there are any website that lists all/most/any of them?

Once again, thanks for the replies! I really really appreciate them. :D

MattW
Posts: 47
Joined: Sat Oct 09, 2010 6:34 pm

Re: Advice needed to find schools that are easier to get in

Postby MattW » Sun Nov 13, 2011 10:20 am

Hi Yonghao. Which math courses have you taken? From your background, it sounds like you should consider applying to a funded masters programs.

Yonghao
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Nov 12, 2011 4:20 pm

Re: Advice needed to find schools that are easier to get in

Postby Yonghao » Sun Nov 13, 2011 11:04 am

Hi MattW. The only relevant math course I have so far are a couple of calculus and probability modules.
I have self studied Algebra, Topology, Graph Theory and a bit of Analysis but they are of course not reflected anywhere.
So basically, I do not have the proper background.

By funded Masters program do you mean those where I would need to pay the tuition fees myself?

owlpride
Posts: 204
Joined: Fri Jan 29, 2010 2:01 am

Re: Advice needed to find schools that are easier to get in

Postby owlpride » Sun Nov 13, 2011 6:07 pm

The only relevant math course I have so far are a couple of calculus and probability modules. I have self studied Algebra, Topology, Graph Theory and a bit of Analysis but they are of course not reflected anywhere.

Did you take the Math Subject GRE? If you understand all of these subjects, you should be able to do quite well on it. A strong score on the MGRE would demonstrate your mastery of the undergraduate curriculum and make you a much stronger candidate for graduate programs.

If you were an American student, I would suggest that you enroll as a non-degree-seeking undergraduate student somewhere for a year to take the foundational undergraduate math courses (analysis, algebra, etc). Unfortunately, visa regulations for foreign students require that you be in a degree-granting program.

If you wanted to work around these visa limitations, you could apply for undergraduate admission for a second Bachelor's degree. You don't actually need to finish the degree; you can take the math courses you want to take and then leave after 1-2 years. In fact, this might be your best shot of getting into a top 20 PhD program if that's your goal.

Financially it would probably make more sense to apply to Master's programs though, since you have at least some chance of getting funded. Though I am a bit concerned about your odds of getting into a decent PhD program from a not-so-strong Master's program. I personally don't have the experience to tell you that. I would suggest you email contacts from the Master's programs you are considering and ask them what their students do after their Master's. If they cannot or do not want to provide that information, I would be careful about enrolling there.

Yonghao
Posts: 4
Joined: Sat Nov 12, 2011 4:20 pm

Re: Advice needed to find schools that are easier to get in

Postby Yonghao » Mon Nov 14, 2011 12:05 am

@owlpride: Thanks for the detailed reply! :D

Yes I had just taken the November 12th GRE. Although I am able to do the questions, I simply do not work fast enough to solve all of them. Using the practice papers as a reference, I feel like I will get some 60-80% score. I will be taking the test again to try shooting past 80%.

Regarding taking of foundation modules, what you wrote is exactly what I had been thinking about. I am very keen to take it up, but unfortunately a reality check showed that my entire savings is only able to support me for about 1-1.5 years in US. I have an alternative to that, which is to pick up coursework in my local university. As of now, that seems to be the most realistic option in the likely event that I am not able to get into a decent Masters program.




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