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Across the board questions about grad school pursuits

  1. Oct 25, 2011 #1
    I have a few questions about graduate schools that are across the board. My apologies for the lack of focus.

    First, some academic info. Currently, I'm a junior in a mid-level state school in New York. I'm currently pursuing a BS in applied mathematics with a minor in applied statistics. One of the requirements of my major is to take 3 classes in one math related field; I've chosen chemistry, and possible that if my schedule works out the way I want it to over the next three semesters I could also have a minor in chemistry.

    Previously (and currently, I suppose), I had an interest in bio-mathematics. Most of the grad schools that I've looked at with a bio-math program don't have any sort of biology degree as a requirement, only a “demonstrated interest in the life sciences.” My adviser has said that places like med schools prefer applicants with a chemistry background because it gives a better scientific foundation and that students can learn the biology over the course of the program, and that he thinks that schools with bio-math programs would act the same way. Does this sound accurate? I'll be taking a general biology course, a genetics course, and a two course sequence in organic chemistry (with a possible microbiology course) to show off my life science street cred, as it were.

    Pursuing something in bio-tech isn't something I've ruled out either, provided that my current academic path allows me to do so. I'm not sure that it does, though.

    Also, recently, I've wondered if it would be possible for me to pursue something with green energy However, I'm not sure that's possible. Are there ways to do this without going the full on materials science/engineering route? If it's a grad program that gives me a masters in that area, that's okay I suppose, but I can't see myself getting a bachelors in that field (I'm already working on my second four year degree. Don't ask). Are there opportunities in green energy production/research for applied math majors? If there there, what are the fields I should be looking into? Does anyone have any suggestions one schools I could look into for that sort of program? I'm not really sure where to start here.

    I also have one big concern regarding grad school: whether or not I'll be able to get into a decent school. There was an open forum/Q&A session this evening at my school with representatives from various grad school programs. I asked one of the representatives what effect my undergraduate school had on my graduate school application and she said to me, “I'm going to be brutally honest with you. When we look at most students from the SUNY system, we assume that their GPA is half a point higher than it should be, so if you have a 3.5, we guess that it's actually about a 3.0 from anywhere else.”

    I know that GPA isn't the only thing schools look at, but it's still a concern for me, especially since I'm not sure how much real world experience I'll be able to get between now and when I start applying to schools. My adviser told me that it's pretty difficult to find an internship in applied math in my area. I have a couple of connections at local hospitals, so I'm going to try and get an internship analyzing statistical data or something. Is there anything else I can do to make my application look more appealing other than trying really hard to get a 4.0 (and probably failing) to make it look like I'm actually a 3.5 student? Or is my only recourse to wait until the admissions essay and say, “Look, I know my school isn't known for it's math department, but I can differentiate and integrate and do all the other math-y things that students from those top math schools can.”

    Thanks for any advice anyone can give me.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 25, 2011 #2
    Maybe a masters in biomedical engineering?

    I would think a 3.5 from the SUNY system would gain you admission at many major universities, especially if your GREs are good.
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