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Phd Statistic application/stats review as well as some application process questions Fall 2025

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Posted (edited)
Hello all and thanks for reading :D,
First I'll put down my stats and the schools I'm planning to apply to.
Undergrad Institution: Small Liberal Arts School in USA
Major(s): Computer Science, Mathematics
Minor(s): N/A

GPA: 3.8/4.0
Type of Student: Male, URM

GRE General Test: Planning to take but not too worried about it
Q: N/A
V: N/A
W: N/A
GRE Subject Test in Mathematics: N/A Not taking it

Programs Applying: Statistics/Operation Research
Research Experience: Statistics Research for 2 Summers. No papers or poster (  :( Really regret doing that)
Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Magna Cum Laude, Phi beta Kappa, Computer Science Departmental Award
Letters of Recommendation: ( 1. Strong letter of recommendation from professor in charge of the summer research, was my professor for all my statistics classes and just a good mentor for me overall 2. Letter of Recommendation from professor who had a final project that was a small research in which I had to write a paper for, also had them previously for a lot of other classes that I did well in, 3. Not sure whether one of my computer science professors or another math professor (although didn't work a lot with any other math professors)
Math/Statistics Grades:  Math Classes mixture of A's, B's. B's occurred during COVID semesters but upwards trend afterwards.
Any Miscellaneous Points that Might Help: ( Not sure? But working currently as a software engineer (f100 not sure if that matters), have been able to talk to statisticians and others doing research where I'm working, that combined with my research experience I'm really confident this is something I want to do. 

Applying to Where: Only A couple (Duke, USC, Northwestern, Georgia, NYU) of these require GRE which I am thinking of taking ALL PHD
School - NYU
School - Duke
School - UNC
School - North Carolina State University
School - Clemson
School - University of South Carolina
School - Columbia
School - Northwestern University
School - University of Georgia
I've researched these schools faculty and the research that they have done and most importantly the currently research that they're doing aligns with my interests.
Now for my questions and thanks for reading this far!
1. Do I need to contact the professors at all? From these schools there are at least 2 professors who are doing research in something I'm 'interested' in (putting interested in quotations because there's still a lot of stuff I don't know and will change my mind once I learn more). Thus I really don't want to focus on one area for now without getting to know the others.
2. For my statement of purpose / personal statement, I'm just planning of talking about my research experience (what am I suppose to mention here? Like what I did, results, experience, etc..?), Why I'm moving away from Computer Science (although I'm pretty sure, at least from my research experience, there's still a bit of coding involved which is still fun), and why I want to do statistics research and my future plans ( teaching and working in research in either academia or industry).
3. Can I start applying now for Fall of 2025? Some places say they open applications Fall of 2024, but when starting an app I can put Fall 2025 as my target semester.
4. What type of questions are usually asked during interviews? I know this is really far away and I might not even get interviews but I like to be prepared just in case.
Edited by IsoyWalrus
adding more details such as what program applying to (PhD vs Master)
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