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Already Applied, How likely? (Stats PhD)


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Now that I finished most of my apps for this cycle (except for some of the later due date schools), I was wondering if you guys could evaluate my chances. I know it's a bit unusual to evaluate one's profile after they have already applied, but I didn't want to get discouraged from applying to any schools I was interested in and wanted to remain optimistic. Well I guess I'm ready to take a beating now.

Graduated economics BA from small liberal arts school GPA 3.28 (3.33 major) - pretty crappy here.

Went back to state university to take more courses a couple years later, here are the grades for my math courses at state university (relatively few math courses from previous university):

Calc I, II, III - A, B, A

Lin Alg. - A+

ODE - A+

Intro proof course - A

Intro Probability - A+

Numerical Analysis I, II - both A+

Intro to real analysis - A

Statistical Inference - A

Discrete Math - A+

Abstract Alg. - A+

Upper level Probability - A+

Advanced Calculus - A+

Pattern Recognition (grad level Comp Sci course) - A

Will take in spring: Algorithms, Advanced Calc II, upper division linear algebra, data storage.

GRE: 800 math, 630 verb, 5.0 writing

Worked as a math tutor and a grader for linear algebra for one year. Research assistant for economics department in game theory (this project was funded by a grant since this fall). Worked unpaid at this position all last year, but fall 2011 was funded by grant and I was paid as a grad level research assistant. Used many computer models for this project.

Concerns: did pretty bad for my initial undergrad degree with almost no math courses (got a C+ on calc I and a withdraw in calc II when I was at liberal arts univ). Recommendations are from two professors in the math department and one from econ. The math department is theoretical in nature and these professors are probably not well known in statistics circles. Additionally, this state university is not the highest in rankings when it comes to math (in fact it is unranked according to US news).

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Already applied to a bunch of places that had dec 15 deadlines: NCSU, UNC, Duke, UCLA, CMU, WashU, UC Irvine, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Also applied to Rice and Purdue. Unfortunately, Purdue is one of the schools that recommends the math subject GRE which I have not taken.

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I think for some of your schools you aimed alittle too high. Those schools are interested in people with more classes in statistics and more research in statistics. Research experience is good but it's preferred (and sometimes only applicable) if it's in the field you apply to. NCSU, Irvine and Minnesota I think are your more likely candidates.

Without the Math GRE those grades won't mean as much if the school is unknown and unranked. They could be much easier than other classes, and they have no way to know.

Did you have any publications or results from working on a project that long? That might help alittle, but in math and stat they generally do not care much about other fields.

Your classes you are taking are also all over the board. Alot of comp sci, pure math, some applied, and statistics. I would venture that you should have been taking alot more stat, and just focus on real analysis and possibly algebra from the pure side. But we'll see, I'll be interested in seeing how you do.

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Oh I should be a bit clear, the school itself isn't unknown, but more specifically the math phd/ms program here is unranked. I am interested in machine learning hence the comp sci courses. My research is in the econ department but it is basically mathematical modelling, more math than econ. I do wish I had taken more stats courses, but honestly the pickings are pretty limited here. I'll post results here when I get them in a few months.

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I would pad it with a few schools in the 50 to 100 range (as determined by USN). You met the coursework prereqs for most programs, and so it wouldn't be out of the pale if you got accepted to a Top 20 school; I'd just make sure the schools you are applying to match the research you've got experience with. If you're asking for a LOR from an econ professor, they may think (especially if that's what you've outlined in a SOP) that's where you're headed research wise - which might not be a fit.

Also I am curious why you applied to NCSU and Duke, but not Chapel Hill.

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Oh, I am also applying to chapel hill (UNC). I'm mostly interested in machine learning and data mining which I did mention in my SOP. I mostly followed the NRC rankings when I applied although I did take a look at some of the US news and world report rankings. Fortunately many of the 30-50 ranked schools have later deadlines (feb/march).

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  • 5 weeks later...

As promised, I have some early results from some schools:

CMU joint statistics/machine learning: Rejected

Minnesota: Waitlisted

Wisconsin: Accepted with TA/RA position

Ohio State: Accepted, waiting for letter detailing offer

Still waiting to hear back from a ton of schools. Good luck to everyone else this cycle!

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