Realistic School Choices

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
judowrestler1
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed May 02, 2012 7:48 pm

Realistic School Choices

Postby judowrestler1 » Wed May 02, 2012 8:01 pm

Hey, I'll be graduating from a small well known liberal arts school at the end of the next spring semester and am planning to go to graduate school in statistics and was wondering if my school list is realistic.

GPA: 3.5
Math GPA: 4.0
GRE
Quant: 163(88th percentile)
Verbal: 159(84th percentile)
Writing: 4.0 (48th percentile)
Time to Degree: 3 years

Random: Work as a calc tutor
Courses Taken(Obviously A's in all): Calc I-III, Diff. EQ, Linear Algebra, Prob and Stat 1 and 2

Courses Left to take: Advanced Stats(multiple linear regression and nonlinear regression),Abstract Algebra, Real Analysis, Discrete Mathematics, Non-Euclidean Geometry, Logic

Schools I plan on Apply too
NC State
UNC Chapel Hill
University of South Carolina(My advisor got her PHD from there)
Georgia State
University of Georgia
East Carolina University
Florida State University
University of Florida
Virginia Tech University
UAV


So, am I shooting for realistic schools or do I need to do something else(Research really isn't an option).

wine in coffee cups
Posts: 19
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:01 am

Re: Realistic School Choices

Postby wine in coffee cups » Sat May 05, 2012 5:47 pm

I think you've selected schools with a nice mix of selectivities (considering every southeastern university with a statistics department appears to have done that for you). NCSU and UNC will be the hardest to get into of those, but I think with a 4.0 so far in math at a well-known liberal arts college, you're still going to have a competitive profile. I'd be surprised if you didn't get into most of the other schools, if not all of them. This is, of course, assuming (a) your recommendations are good and (b) your statement of purpose doesn't betray unsuitability for research or a complete lack of understanding of what you're getting into.

Regarding (a), it might be a good idea to have one recommender who can comment rather globally on your academic abilities and potential (your advisor sounds good for this), one who can comment on your analysis skills specifically, and one who can talk about your probability and statistics skills specifically. The prof I consulted most for advice about applying for stats PhD programs strongly suggested having the prof who taught me real analysis I & II write a letter because those courses are so important to the PhD core curriculum. If you don't already know the prof who teaches analysis, you might try to talk to them about your plans for grad school sooner rather than later. That way they are more likely to be on board writing you a letter given that you might only have half a semester of analysis under your belt when they'd need to start.

Regarding (b), I think the statement isn't as critical when you're coming right out of college with a major that's clearly aligned with statistics, but don't biff it. You want to clearly convey your enthusiasm for the subject and what has driven you to study it. Write about specific things you've worked on in your stats classes, why you found them interesting, what you want to learn more about in grad school, and what you hope to do during and after the PhD. If you have any particular theoretical or applied areas of interest yet, discuss those and how each school makes sense for that (e.g. recent research of profs X and Y in those areas, program offers a specific concentration or course sequence). The more specific details you can provide, the better to help you be memorable. I think you run the risk of coming off as immature or unprepared as someone finishing college early without work experience, so do what you can to keep your essays grounded and concrete (e.g. "My interests include X, Y, and Z" is going to sound more compelling than "I am interested in all aspects of statistics").

Also, any chance you can work on an honors thesis or anything like that next year? That would make up for the lack of research experience and improve both your recommendations and statements of purpose. Not critical but would be nice.

DanielMcLaury
Posts: 12
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2011 10:42 pm

Re: Realistic School Choices

Postby DanielMcLaury » Sat May 05, 2012 5:57 pm

Would it be possible to take some more statistics courses, possibly in other departments? (Lots of science departments offer courses on statistical issues that come up in their areas, for instance.) If the advanced stats course only goes up to multiple linear regression, that's not a whole lot of background to have going in. Also, a lot of statistics is called "machine learning" nowadays.

What kind of statistics do you want to do?

wine in coffee cups
Posts: 19
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:01 am

Re: Realistic School Choices

Postby wine in coffee cups » Sat May 05, 2012 7:30 pm

DanielMcLaury wrote:Would it be possible to take some more statistics courses, possibly in other departments? (Lots of science departments offer courses on statistical issues that come up in their areas, for instance.) If the advanced stats course only goes up to multiple linear regression, that's not a whole lot of background to have going in. Also, a lot of statistics is called "machine learning" nowadays.

Not a bad idea, but this isn't going to be true at most liberal arts colleges unless they offer a specialized statistics concentration, which I assume the OP would have taken advantage of it if were an option. Maaaaybe the CS department will have a machine learning course, but the stat-related courses in other departments will be limited to methods classes for majors (econometrics, methods for polisci, methods for psych).

The statistical pickings were slim while I was at my liberal arts alma mater: probability, mathematical statistics, and a couple of not particularly rigorous topics classes that required a previous statistics course but little math training beyond calculus. Despite this, in the past five years people (not even including me) have gotten into Stanford, Harvard, UW (both stat and biostat), UMN, and probably more places I don't even know about. (That said, we all were required to do a senior thesis, so we probably looked better from a research perspective than the OP.) I don't think limited stats coursework is going to be a big problem for the OP if their undergrad has a good reputation.

ANDS
Posts: 47
Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2011 8:41 pm

Re: Realistic School Choices

Postby ANDS » Mon May 07, 2012 9:20 pm

It's not going to be stats that sinks/swims this application.

I would say the selection of schools is realistic (if not location centric. . .o_0).

judowrestler1
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed May 02, 2012 7:48 pm

Re: Realistic School Choices

Postby judowrestler1 » Wed May 09, 2012 6:59 am

wine in coffee cups wrote:
DanielMcLaury wrote:Would it be possible to take some more statistics courses, possibly in other departments? (Lots of science departments offer courses on statistical issues that come up in their areas, for instance.) If the advanced stats course only goes up to multiple linear regression, that's not a whole lot of background to have going in. Also, a lot of statistics is called "machine learning" nowadays.

Not a bad idea, but this isn't going to be true at most liberal arts colleges unless they offer a specialized statistics concentration, which I assume the OP would have taken advantage of it if were an option. Maaaaybe the CS department will have a machine learning course, but the stat-related courses in other departments will be limited to methods classes for majors (econometrics, methods for polisci, methods for psych).

The statistical pickings were slim while I was at my liberal arts alma mater: probability, mathematical statistics, and a couple of not particularly rigorous topics classes that required a previous statistics course but little math training beyond calculus. Despite this, in the past five years people (not even including me) have gotten into Stanford, Harvard, UW (both stat and biostat), UMN, and probably more places I don't even know about. (That said, we all were required to do a senior thesis, so we probably looked better from a research perspective than the OP.) I don't think limited stats coursework is going to be a big problem for the OP if their undergrad has a good reputation.

Hey just so you guys know, I did some digging and apparently we have a business stats class as well as a pharmaceutical stats class. I'll probably take those in the spring since I already have 22 hours next semester.

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

Re: Realistic School Choices

Postby owlpride » Wed May 09, 2012 12:25 pm

^ I'd only take them if they were advanced stat classes dealing with theory you haven't seen in your math classes. More likely though, they are "stat 101" classes for students of specific majors. Take care not to waste your most valuable resource: time.

wine in coffee cups
Posts: 19
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:01 am

Re: Realistic School Choices

Postby wine in coffee cups » Wed May 09, 2012 7:32 pm

Hey just so you guys know, I did some digging and apparently we have a business stats class as well as a pharmaceutical stats class. I'll probably take those in the spring since I already have 22 hours next semester.

Would advise against either of those. They will not help your application or statistical skills (and what kind of liberal arts college has business and pharma departments?). Take more math or computer science instead.

DanielMcLaury
Posts: 12
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2011 10:42 pm

Re: Realistic School Choices

Postby DanielMcLaury » Mon May 14, 2012 11:14 pm

I second the above -- you probably shouldn't take stats 101 classes to get more "statistics" on your transcript.

What would be more helpful would be to know what kind of statistics you want to do. The kind of things a statistician at Google would do would be completely different from the things a statistician at Pfizer would do, and an academic statistician might do something different from either.

judowrestler1
Posts: 7
Joined: Wed May 02, 2012 7:48 pm

Re: Realistic School Choices

Postby judowrestler1 » Wed May 16, 2012 11:49 am

My ultimate goal is to do contract work for engineering companies and teach at a college part time. I really like time series from what I've seen of it and would love to do my research in that.




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