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Economics, stats evaluation Harsh realism/cynicism, but no nihilism


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Hello. Cynics preferred, be honest, hold nothing back. 

I want to study economics, stats, computational finance or something similar and hopefully connected to data science or predictive analytics. I’m graduating a year early, for what it’s worth. I want to offset the year I’m graduating by getting a better school appended to my name so I have some good long-term CEO potential. 

Honestly, I’m considering so many options because I’m desperate to get a better school attached to my name. I’ll be entirely up-front about that. I’ve gone to a shit undergrad school because I became homeless my senior year of high school during application season and couldn’t capitalize on the fact or write a decent letter to save my life due to my living circumstances devouring my mental sanity. However, I’ve made the most of what I have here, truly, and I want help in getting the best out of what I can. Truly appreciate all the help guys and gals!


Undergrad Institution: Shitty midwest state university, ranked like 200th+ in the USA :-(


Major: Mathematics, Economics… (two degrees probably)

Minor: Statistics

Cumulative GPA: 3.82 Major GPA, Cum.: (mathematics): 3.83

Type of Student:  Domestic White male (though in no way “privileged”)

Math/statistics and applicable economics Courses: 

calc 1, 2, 3 (AB exam pass, B, A), intro differential eqns (A), Applied stat. methods (A),  Business Statistics (A, econ), Set theory and Logic (A), intro to linear algebra (A), Linear Algebra (A), Theory of probability (A), Statistical Theory 1, 2 (A,A), Intro to Real analysis (B present), Capstone Math (A), Econometrics 1, 2 (A, forecasting an A, econ)


(Spring 2018) Linear Statistical Models (A)


GRE: V: 161, Q: 165, W: 5.5 (88%, 89%, 96%) ... the low quant is why I’m essentially aiming at schools ranked 12-20… I’m a realist. :-(

GRE Mathematics Subject Test: N/A


Research Experience: 2 NSF funded programs and the Ronald E. McNair Scholars program (national program) ==> 5 semesters total of research experience  of 6 semesters in college:

-one is research in financial math (SUAMI) which was summer 2017 at Carnegie Mellon, very competitive to get in. 

-the other NSF funded one was at my University in a small group

-Rest was with the McNair program: one of my projects was meh, I made a computer program for calculating Ducci numbers or something,  my second one was better studying nonparametric estimation (Kernel density estimation) proving the bias and the expectation, as well as learning some R. My third one is a lot better, moving on from NP KDE to quantreg (simulation and more) I’ll design a user-friendly interface in java for large data sets (never-seen-before type of thing) and I will couple this with a quantile regression simulation and application for value at risk of stocks on the S&P or DJIA. 

-continuing a research project with my research partners from Carnegie Mellon trading stocks, and doing stuff with quarterly earnings (completely profitable program, 0 loss thus far, quite phenomenal tbh)


Leadership roles: Chess club president (3 semesters), Actuarial Science Club president (2 semesters), Table Tennis Club treasurer (founded), Political organization Vice president 

Awards: Deans list, departmental scholarship(s), McNair program, Mason's scholarship, 3 local scholarships 


  • Actuarial Exams… P/1 passed 01/2017 and FM/2 sitting 04/2018
  • Program. Languages… Java, C, Python, LaTeX
  • Software & Tools… Minitab, all Microsoft Suite, SPSS, STATA, & R


Recommendations: 3 from research experiences (1 REU at Carnegie Mellon, 2 at my university), and my last 1 from class (he had me in like 6 classes though). I can surely state that 2 of my recommenders will write phenomenal letters, the one from CMU is probably going to be good (mainly affirming my research strength), and my class-only recommender will write a great one, but he has only had me in class so it should be discounted. (2 Ph.ds from Rice University, 1 from Iowa state [rather well-known in math education], and 1 from Washington state)


Programs I'm Interested In: 

Top 20 Stats Ph.D./Masters (better if they have Machine learning classes),  Top 5–12 Computational finance programs, Top Economics (not the top 4-5, I’m realistic here lmao)

order matters (tentative on the Masters or Ph.D.)

  • Carnegie Mellon (economics masters or Ph.D., MSCF, statistics MSP or Ph.D.)... meet the score requirements except for MSCF
  • Berkeley (Econ masters or Ph.D., statistics masters or Ph.D., MFE finance engineering) 
  • UPenn (statistics, economics MA or Ph.D.)
  •  Umich ann arbor (economics)
  •  Princeton (finance masters)
  •  Columbia (econ masters or Ph.D.)
  •  UMN (applied economics Ma or Ph.D.)
  •  UCLA (econ masters or Ph.D.)

Please criticize me or bring in some realism. I'd love to just chat about writing a better application too. I believe I can write a great personal statement since writing is honestly my strength, above all else to be frank, and if people want to call or email about this process, I'd be more than willing (restricting it to weekends though). 

Just my two cents below...

My personal thoughts and worries: 

  1. ... I know what you're thinking, I got to a small school... its only known for aviation, rural medicine, and hockey.
    1. I know this will ding me the most; professor Shreve at CMU in the MSCF program said so, additionally, they’ll have to evaluate my school to see if it’s good enough to even consider me. (ouch)
  2. I really want to go to CMU. IDC what for tbh, economics or stats. I believe I have a shot since I did research there and have at least 1 recommender from CMU, informally I could get another.
  3. my quant sucks, but I’ve gotten 165 twice so I’m rather shit out of luck
    1. tell me if I should retake it, I have a chance on the 26th of October (planned, but may cancel it)
  4. my recommenders will be great 
  5. my research experience is great
  6. my leadership experience is great
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