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Chance me + advice on applications. Please!

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Undergrad Institution: Stony Brook University (Large State School, has a good reputation for my majors)
Major(s): Physics, Applied Mathematics and Statistics
GPA: 3.35 (AMS GPA is 3.6) bad grades mostly in sophomore year.
Type of Student: International, Male, South Asian
GRE General Test: Will be taking soon. Anticipating > 95% V scores but around 90% Q score.
GRE Subject Test in Mathematics:
How important is it that I take this? I don't really have time to study for another test on top of the GRE and my demanding final year schedule.
Programs Applying: Masters in Statistics/Masters in Data Science
Ideally I want to apply for Phd programs but given my crappy undergrad record, I've decided to apply for masters and see if I can get into the Phd programs later on.
Research Experience: Essentially none. Did some linguistics research not related to statistics with a pretty famous guy but that was a while ago and no paper came out of it.

Awards/Honors/Recognitions: Deans List, Physics Honor Society. 

Pertinent Activities or Jobs: Irrelevant on-campus job for 3 years and currently doing a data analyst internship at a very small marketing agency.
Letters of Recommendation: The School is HUGE and all my classes are >100. Its very hard to get to know professors and this is likely the weakest aspect of my application. I will get recommendations from professors I've taken courses with and gotten As but that's about it. I don't even expect them to remember me or know who I am and I just don't see any way around this. I can try to cultivate some relationships till application time in December but I don't really know how to or how successful I will be. 
Courser Work: 
Math and Stat Courses: Survey of Probability and Stats (A), Probability Theory (A-), Combinatorics (A-), Data Analysis (A), Deterministic Models (A), Statistical Lab (Basically a course on R programming and SAS), Calculus 1,2,3,4(Taken in Sophomore year so grades are mostly Bs and a C in multivariate), Linear Algebra(A-). Probability and Statistics for Data Science (In Progress)
Physics Courses that may be relevant: Quantum Mechanics (Some probability and lots of Linear Algebra)(B-), Statistical Mechanics (Lots of probability)(B-)
Computer Science courses: Object Oriented Programming (A), Data Structures (A-), Analysis of Algorithms (In Progress), Probability and Statistics for Data Science (In Progress), Computational Geometry (combined course by Computer Science and Applied Math department also in progress).
Online MOOCs: 4 course specialization in Python by Uni on Michigan (Coursera), 10 course Specialization on Data Science by JHU (Coursera), Machine Learning Course by Andrew Ng (Coursera).

Applying to Where: 
  • Iowa State - Statistics
  • UW Madison - Data Science
  • UC Davis - Statistics
  • U Iowa - Statistics
  • Rice - Statistics
  • Rutgers - Data Science (Statistics track)
  • UI Chicago - Statistics
  • WashU - Statistics
  • USC - Data Science
  • UIUC - Statistics
  • UT Austin - Statistics
  • Georgia Tech - Statistics
  • Northwestern - Analytics
  • JHU - Statistics


Some of these schools are obviously reach school and are not realistic but I'm extremely worried about my GPA and recommendation letters. If this doesn't work out for me, I essentially have nothing to turn to so there's a lot riding on this. My GPA is mostly bad cause of sophomore year courses which included important things like multivariate calculus and Physics courses which are either freaking hard at this school or just didn't jive with me. Math and Stats otherwise is pretty decent.

How can I improve my application? Is there anything here I can leverage? How can I build enough rapport with a prof to get a good recommendation letter in 1 semester? Do you have any other advice or suggestions? Any other programs you think I should consider? Any other Specific courses I should take?

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am applying to Statistics Ph.D. programs this fall and I am not taking the GRE Mathematics Subject test since none of the programs I am applying to require it.  You should check with each program you are interested in, but most should not require it and some won't even consider it.  If you apply only to MS programs you will probably not get funding, some people don't get funding for Ph.D. programs.  If finances aren't and issue and you can fork out the money for tuition then you would have better chances than someone who would need funding. I would also throw in a couple of lower ranked programs as safeties. You really can't get research experience in a semester.  I would try to connect with professors you already know since it would be difficult to get to know a professor enough for a rec letter in less than a semester when you consider deadlines.  

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