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Any advice. Can't find a straight answer.



7 members have voted

  1. 1. Is there a phd program for me?

    • Yes
    • Yes, and it will be one of your favs
    • No
    • No, look for a masters
    • Just go to law school

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So I'm a junior at a good/regional liberal arts school in the pacific northwest. I'm just a few classes away from two degrees, a BS econ and BS math with a 3.6 gpa and slightly better in both majors. I like being a student so I want to go to grad school for certain. I know i can go to law school, like dad wants, but i think i would rather teach than anything else so I'm looking for phd programs. I do well on standardized test(cold test 165 on practice lsat) but i haven't taken gmat, gre, or lsats yet. Mom is having surgery this summer so I'll be home all summer helping out with plenty of time to study and do a little independent research if i get inspired. Anyways I don't care about getting into a top tier school but will i be able to get into a program anywhere (preferably in the west or northeast so i can ski and climb)? I don't have any specific topic I'm looking to research so I'm not picky about advisers or profs i want to work with. I'm not even picky about math vs econ vs finance. If i could choose any schools they would be U of Utah, U of montana or montana state, UC boulder, or maybe one of the UC schools(again just about anything near mountains and snow). Any help critical or otherwise would be appreciated . One last thing, I have no research experience but really good references from two summers in private wealth management.

Edited by CaptainKout
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One thing to consider is that top PhD programs are usually looking for someone who is extremely passionate about the subject. A prof at the University of Minnesota (in the economics faculty) once mentioned that a good measure of the strength of a program is the inverse of the number of interests students have outside of economics. While I'm certain you can get into many good programs, without a strong passion for the field of economics in general, I think it will be hard to get into a top program.

GRE scores are also very important. Top programs require 790 or 800 in the Quantitative section. Hard to say what your chances are without a score to baseline with.

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If you don't yet have a specific topic you'd like to research, graduate school at this point wouldn't give you much return for your time and money -- assuming you could even get in without a clearly defined direction. And while a J.D. looks nice (oh and how I have been tempted), law school is also a huge investment. Most people enter without knowing what the legal profession is all about. Many find (after $100,000 in debt) it doesn't suit them.

I think your poll is missing a crucial option you should seriously consider: wait. You could get work experience after graduating that leaves all of the above options open while allowing you to explore your interests. If the job market is too tough or intimidating, though, there are some alternatives to that, too. You could do Teach for America or Peace Corp or some other experiential job. I myself have spent the last three years teaching English in Japan on the JET Programme. I'm way up in northern Honshu, where I snowboard and hike every weekend (and even after work some days). I've paid down down my student loans, traveled a bit in Asia, and had a lot of time to think, read, and research. (Totally worth it: http://www.jetprogramme.org/)

Taking time out of school to develop yourself, experience, and ideas would only make you a stronger candidate going into gradate school, no matter what flavor you choose.

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I agree with the previous posters, and would also throw in that you don't have to have a PhD to teach--you (generally) need a terminal degree. While a PhD is a terminal degree in some fields, in "practicioner's" fields such as business, it's not. You can teach at most business schools with an MBA. That said, many top MBA (and MPA, which is the policy version) programs won't accept you without experience, so you might want to work in finance for a few years first.

But if you're not compelled by research, a PhD program would be misery. If you're going to be knocking around the house this summer, I'd try to get a copy of STATA and play around with econometric modeling, and see if that suits you any better...you might find it plays to your mathematical interests nicely.

Good luck!

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Hey just wanted to thank those that posted and provided some much needed input. I am considering peace corps, teach for america, and even military to broaden my narrow view of the work world. I've done some modeling and will definitely do some more because as was said it plays to my mathematical interests. They've mostly been gambling related, and unfortunately all inconclusive, which isn't terribly different from finance. Thanks again.

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