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Finance PhD - Which schools should I look into ? [#permalink]
01 Aug 2007, 10:47
I need your help in evaluating my credentials and choosing schools that I have a good shot at. I have postponed the application for two years in a raw in fear of rejection. Here is my application resume:
MBA (4.0 so far) in progress and i will not be able to finish it by fall 2008
MS - Mathematics (3.78)
BA - Mathematics (4.0)
BS - Computer Science (4.0)
GMAT - I haven't taken it yet but I score in the mid 600's while practicing and I don't think I will get it any better. (the verbal part is killing me though i did all my education in the US)
2 years of full time mathematics instructor at a small public university (by the time of application) - mainly college algebra
2 years of graduate teaching assistant while doing MS in Math - I thought (NOT TAed) one class per semester - Differential Eq, Linear Algebra, Calculus and college Algebra.
2 years of undergraduate teaching assistant in math - grading, holding problem solving sessions, tutoring, etc
none - i did one in house project for my MS in Math on Stochastic Volatility and that is it!
That said, with my GMAT score ...
(1) Do you think I have a good shot at tier two schools (reallistically!!)? Duke, Ohio State, NC Chappell Hill, Rochester, UT Austin etc.
(2) Should I aim lower: GA state, WashU - St. Louis, U of FL, UIUC etc.
Thank you for taking your time!! oh ... and I will have fairly good recommendation letters
Your profile looks pretty good to me. However, I think that given your background you should be able to get very close to 700 or higher on the GMAT. I think that if you can get above the 90th percentile you would stand a chance at the schools you listed as lower ranked.
I also don't know if I would consider UT Austin, Rochester, or Duke Teir II. These are some really good schools...
Get that GMAT score up (though I really don't understand why schools care about the test) and you should be in good shape.
with your background, your gmat should not be an issue, even in higher ranked schools (as long as it is in the high 600, and you are top ranked in quant i.e. 51 - you should be with MS mathematics).
there are two points you need to consider (that are somewhat connected):
1) your CV, and the reasons for going for PhD. you have 4 degrees already... it may raise questions...
2) your research interestsand fit for school: my advice here is - DON'T THINK ABOUT RANKING. think about the school that best fits you. which researchers you like, which areas of interests, ethodologies etc...
with your profile (and your teaching experience is a BIG plus), your application will depend on fit with school. in PhD they don't accept loads of people. it is personal. you must sound and present yourself as a good fit to the department, and possibly to some specific faculty.
so my advice:
- DONT WORRY ABOUT YOUR GMAT (although you should do the best yo can)
- WORK ON YOUR SOP. make it excellent. research (in depth) each school ou consider, and find schools that FIT your interests (and vice versa). clearly express this fit in your SOP.
On the GMAT topic. I would not have mentioned it had I not received feed back from a professor about the GMAT score during my application experience.
I scored a 690 (91%) and was told by a chaired prof. at a mid-low ranked school to rewrite the GMAT. This could be a matter of opinion depending on professors, but thought it was worth mentioning from prior experience.
Generally I think hobbit is right, but my opinion is a little different on a couple things.
Your GMAT is important. My sense is that if you score in mid or even high 600's with 50/51 math, some (good) schools might view it unfavorably, and others might be fine with it. I will say that the rest of your profile probably makes you a strong candidate, so a sub 700 GMAT should not dissuade you from applying. It's a bit of a crapshoot even for people with all their ducks in a row, so just do the best you can and hope for the best!
I don't think your many degrees are a minus or question mark. They are all good and logical for finance, and they don't lead to an obvious, deep-rooted, unrelated career path, at least in what you've written. For example, if you had a law degree and was partnership track at a good firm, they might question why you want to now do finance.
As far as schools to apply, after you've honed in on schools that fit strongly with your interests, there may be a reasonable number left. This is one of the hardest parts in applying. If you aim too low, you could have missed out on a top program. If you aim too high, you might not get in anywhere. If you are willing to apply to more than one admissions cycle, one strategy is to shoot high the first time and go from there. The reason why I say that is that if you shoot low or diversify, you might leave yourself with a tricky decision on whether to take an offer at a lower ranked school.
I am not worried about the multiple of degrees I have; I actually think they will affect me favorably. What worries me is the low GMAT score. What air1980 said is actually true. I went to a business graduate school recruitment forum and I have asked a couple of professors (some in the lower tier of my list above) who were on the admission committee of their respective school and they flatly told me that they use GMAT as the only tool to pick the top 20 applicants using excel!!! It is a shame that with all the $$ we pay, the application doesn't even pass the secretary.
That scared the hell out of me and I postponed my application for two years. As hobbit and bauble said, I have stopped looking at ranking and started concentrating on a FIT but the two are not entirely mutually exclusive. But I will try to apply to those that are ranked lower and two rounds of application is a smart move. I will definitely do that with 7 to 10 schools in each round. Also, I will do my best on my SOP. Thanks guys.
I applied last year and I am going to be a PhD finance student in about a month.
The GMAT was what did me in and after talking to that professor I mentioned above I decided I would only apply to one school. It is a Canadian school (not UBC or Toronto) , and the prof I will be working with is great. We have almost identical research interests and he is a really nice guy. And in actuality I probably would have ended up where I am regardless what happened.
But, there are certainly times that I wish that I would have re-wrote the GMAT to get into the running of that next level (the UCLA, UT Austin level). I have a background similar to yours except replace Comp. Sci with EE, and with lower marks. But I have research experience and have some papers in the works...