Is graduate school a realistic option for me?

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
modn
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2012 10:38 pm

Is graduate school a realistic option for me?

Postby modn » Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:04 pm

I recently graduated with a bachelor's in pure math, and have yet to decide on whether I want to apply to grad school. This forum seems to have familiarity with the application and admission process, and I would like to hear what you think of my chances.

Undergrad Institution: Top Public School (UC Berkeley)
Major(s): Pure Math
GPA: ~3.85/4.0
Type of Student: White/Asian Male

Program Applying: Pure Math.

Research Experience: none
Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Regent's and Chancellor's Scholar, Robert C. Byrd Scholar. Graduated Magna Cum Laude.
Pertinent Activities or Jobs: TA for two lower division linear algebra courses, TA for upper division abstract algebra and number theory courses.
Any Miscellaneous Points that Might Help: A few grad courses in algebra and analysis

Courses:
Lower Division
Calc II (A+)
Multivariable Calc (A)
Linear Algebra (A+)
Discrete Mathematics (A+)

Upper Division
Honors Linear Algebra (A-)
Abstract Algebra (A-)
Honors Real Analysis (A-)
Honors Complex Analysis (A)
Number Theory (A)
Classical Geometries (A)
Set Theory (A-)
Combinatorics (B)
Probability Theory (A-)

Graduate Level
Algebra: Groups, Rings, and Fields (A+)
General Topology/Measure Theory (A+)
Commutative Algebra (A)

I haven't yet taken the GREs, since I'm not yet sure I will apply. I have no research experience in math (published paper in genetics, but that's a different story), so I'm wary if I can handle a graduate program in math. I have my sights on possibly UC Davis or UC San Diego for research algebra or topology related, but I'm not sure if these schools are even possibilities for me. Please be brutally honest with me, my feelings won't be hurt. Do I even have a chance at decent schools for either a MS/MA or PhD? Thank you.

sywisy
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri Jan 20, 2012 1:25 am

Re: Is graduate school a realistic option for me?

Postby sywisy » Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:26 pm

I think your mentioned schools are decent fits, provided you perform decently on mgre. With 2-3 research experiences you could be aiming at the tippy top. Maybe do research this Summer or this semester. Just rack up experiences and rec letters quickly.

That said, if you don't have research experience, I would be wary of graduate school in math. But if you have nothing else lined up I suppose, it would take a special person to find anything significantly better.

modn
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2012 10:38 pm

Re: Is graduate school a realistic option for me?

Postby modn » Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:56 pm

Hey, thanks for your reply. Are there still research opportunities for people who aren't actually undergrads anymore?

sywisy
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri Jan 20, 2012 1:25 am

Re: Is graduate school a realistic option for me?

Postby sywisy » Sat Feb 25, 2012 12:44 am

Very few formal programs... and the ones I know are kind of competitive. I would just email a professor from wherever you are located and ask if you can help with any project, they would probably assume you're an undergrad. If they ask, just tell them your situation and I think they would take you on anyway as you do have a good record.

omgmath
Posts: 19
Joined: Sun Nov 06, 2011 11:45 am

Re: Is graduate school a realistic option for me?

Postby omgmath » Sat Feb 25, 2012 2:52 am

Yes, do what sywisy says. You've a good selection of courses, and I think you should definitely apply to a bunch of places and see where you can make it. Do your research of the schools, contact some of your professors back in Cal for advice.

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

Re: Is graduate school a realistic option for me?

Postby MattW » Sat Feb 25, 2012 8:56 am

Modn,

You have taken a lot of advanced courses and received strong grades. You sound like a good applicant.

I would say that you have a strong shot at UC San Diego and that it would be very surprising if you didn't get into UC Davis.

Good luck with the applications!

Matt

dragoonlp
Posts: 54
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2010 4:38 pm

Re: Is graduate school a realistic option for me?

Postby dragoonlp » Sat Feb 25, 2012 2:34 pm

Definitively, I think u have a very good chance to get into UC Davis.

A little suggestions. I think if you could get some research experience, u will have better chance to go to some much better place. A good way to have a research is to directly contact your professor, especially the professor has some topics u r interested in. (or u obtained a good grade from him/her).

Good luck!

echo
Posts: 18
Joined: Fri Dec 16, 2011 7:41 pm

Re: Is graduate school a realistic option for me?

Postby echo » Sat Feb 25, 2012 4:27 pm

Your advanced coursework is quite strong. You should have a strong application provided you do well on the subject exam. Just make sure that you study hard for the exam so that you are working fast enough for the exam. As for research experience, your strong graduate record should more than make up for your lack of research. However, you may find that a research experience would help tell you if you're interested in making a career out of mathematics in case you are on the fence.

modn
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2012 10:38 pm

Re: Is graduate school a realistic option for me?

Postby modn » Sat Feb 25, 2012 6:27 pm

Thanks one and all, sywisy, omgmath, MattW, dragoonlp, and echo. These posts have been both encouraging and constructive.

(I still don't mind seeing anyone elses' two cents, of course.)

le6tan
Posts: 8
Joined: Sat Apr 10, 2010 8:30 am

Re: Is graduate school a realistic option for me?

Postby le6tan » Mon Feb 27, 2012 6:55 am

This type of questions are really annoying to me - why are there people, who have a math degree from UC Berkeley and/or gold medals from IMO and they are still asking such questions? Do you just want to pump up your self confidence or what? I don't think that there is anybody who is going to apply for a PhD degree who will not know if he or she will have chances with such a resume ... These posts are so useless ...

sparkplug
Posts: 19
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 5:31 pm

Re: Is graduate school a realistic option for me?

Postby sparkplug » Mon Feb 27, 2012 11:56 am

le6tan wrote:This type of questions are really annoying to me - why are there people, who have a math degree from UC Berkeley and/or gold medals from IMO and they are still asking such questions? Do you just want to pump up your self confidence or what? I don't think that there is anybody who is going to apply for a PhD degree who will not know if he or she will have chances with such a resume ... These posts are so useless ...


Not necessarily. Just because Modn's had good grades from a good school (Yay Berkeley!) doesn't make him a competitive applicant for the top programs. Obviously, there are other factors, research being one that he is lacking. I think this is a perfectly legitimate question about his chances and what school range is within reach for him. (I wouldn't know personally) But I don't think this is just a "look at my grades" question.

le6tan
Posts: 8
Joined: Sat Apr 10, 2010 8:30 am

Re: Is graduate school a realistic option for me?

Postby le6tan » Mon Feb 27, 2012 12:08 pm

sparkplug wrote:
le6tan wrote:This type of questions are really annoying to me - why are there people, who have a math degree from UC Berkeley and/or gold medals from IMO and they are still asking such questions? Do you just want to pump up your self confidence or what? I don't think that there is anybody who is going to apply for a PhD degree who will not know if he or she will have chances with such a resume ... These posts are so useless ...


Not necessarily. Just because Modn's had good grades from a good school (Yay Berkeley!) doesn't make him a competitive applicant for the top programs. Obviously, there are other factors, research being one that he is lacking. I think this is a perfectly legitimate question about his chances and what school range is within reach for him. (I wouldn't know personally) But I don't think this is just a "look at my grades" question.


But he is not asking if he could get in to top 10 program? He is asking if he is suitable for a graduate school at all - even for top 200 school! Besides no one here can tell if a certain person will have chances for admission either with or without research experience. I have friends with medals from IMOs who were rejected by top 20 schools in the US. So asking question of this type is pretty much useless. I think that everybody should try in case he or she wants - and then everything will be in the hands of the destiny :) Nevertheless good luck to everybody - I hope that you will get to your desired schools!

deckoff8
Posts: 23
Joined: Tue Nov 08, 2011 11:12 am

Re: Is graduate school a realistic option for me?

Postby deckoff8 » Mon Feb 27, 2012 10:16 pm

Meh, the lacking research is borderline enough to make it not an obvious brag. Still, I can't imagine OP was actually completely serious about "Is graduate school a realistic option", so I say half brag/half honest question.

modn
Posts: 5
Joined: Fri Feb 24, 2012 10:38 pm

Re: Is graduate school a realistic option for me?

Postby modn » Mon Feb 27, 2012 10:23 pm

I'm terribly sorry if it came off that way, I was genuinely concerned about my how realistic my chances are.

Sure, I did well in some graduate courses at Berkeley, but they're only introductory ones (basic algebra, general topology). I see many undergraduate students here and elsewhere online who already take courses in more advanced topics, say algebraic geometry, algebraic number theory, representation theory, algebraic topology etc. Moreover, many of the UC Davis graduate students even have undergraduate theses in subjects I hardly understand.

My lack of research, and smattering of A minuses and a B were something I honestly wanted to ask advice about. I wanted to include my specific grades to get better feedback, as opposed to say just posting a GPA, which could be skewed by good grades in easier classes (lower divs, classical geometries, number theory). I apologize for any offense it may have caused.

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

Re: Is graduate school a realistic option for me?

Postby yoyobarn » Tue Feb 28, 2012 12:06 am

Bertrand Russell, the English mathematician and philosopher noted this effect in society:

“One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision.”

(please just focus on the second part of the quote)

You can do it, modn!

Have some confidence in yourself. I would say you are an above average applicant at the very minimum.

mathmaniac55
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Apr 04, 2012 5:20 pm

Re: Is graduate school a realistic option for me?

Postby mathmaniac55 » Fri Apr 06, 2012 12:20 pm

I would always say that graduate school is a very realistic option for anyone in today's world. Although many people think it's too expensive, traveling too much, not enough time, other obligations, I would highly recommend looking into online education in regards to getting your masters. Not only for the standard reasons like most people say, but also for the fact that it's a great degree with great career opportunities following your completion. One website I would take a look at is http://www.maa.org/careers/ which is a page that shows multiple career's you can take after getting a degree in math.

Another website that I would take a look at would be http://www.onlinemathdegrees.org which is a website that shows a great program that is offered to students looking to go to grad school, salaries coming out of college, growth etc. I would highly recommend checking some of the different resources online in order to find a program that best fits what you are looking for. You should never count of going to grad school because in my opinion, everyone has the ability to complete their masters, they just need to find the right program.

best of luck!




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