Math PhD

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I am a math major and I am in my 3rd year of undergrad. So I will be applying to grad schools in the fall. I would like to get a PhD. My only worry is that I am only an average student in my math classes. I believe that I am more passionate about the subject than most math majors. I work hard and I feel like my understanding of the material is above average but my test taking speed falls short.

Can a student with an average math G.P.A. handle a PhD program or do you have to be a top of the class student?

Thank you.
 

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  • #2
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I don't have anything constructive to add, but I wanted to mention that this post describes me one hundred percent. If nothing else, you're not alone.
 
  • #3
cristo
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Define "average".
 
  • #4
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3.2 (B) at the University of Washington. (My math GPA)
 
  • #5
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What do your professors say about this?
 
  • #6
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As an undergrad I've been told over and over that one of the most important factors of getting into grad school is your research experience.

Do you have any?
 
  • #7
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Don't you have to do a honors year? That should get you some research experience and I assume improve your chances of getting into a PHD program.
 
  • #8
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I wasn't asking how do you get into the PhD program I was asking if only kids at the very top of the class can handle the intensity of the math PhD problem.
 
  • #9
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I wasn't asking how do you get into the PhD program I was asking if only kids at the very top of the class can handle the intensity of the math PhD problem.
Well, do you have research experience? If you have and it worked out reasonably well, then you can handle it.
But no, you don't need to be top of your class, but you'll need to work very hard though...
 
  • #10
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That is good to hear. I have talked to a professor about starting some research in the fall but I wasn't sure if I should do it because of how intense my senior year is going to be. Next year I am taking my school's geometry series, algebra series, and fundamantal concepts of analysis series.
 
  • #11
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DO RESEARCH.
Worried about your average? Might as well make some other part of your application stand out. Research experience and a nice recommendation from a professor goes over pretty well with grad school application boards, I hear.
And if you show them you shy away from extra work by saying you have too much going on, well.
(Not criticizing you in any way, mind. But if you're scared of taking on extra work, a PhD program might not be what you're looking for.)
 
  • #12
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That is good to hear. I have talked to a professor about starting some research in the fall but I wasn't sure if I should do it because of how intense my senior year is going to be. Next year I am taking my school's geometry series, algebra series, and fundamantal concepts of analysis series.
I agree with the previous comments that you should do research. If you are, as you say, average in terms of grades, then you need something else to stand out. By doing research, you get to know a professor well, who will probably see your strong points. You say you are passionate and have good understanding of the material etc. so that will show up and the professor will see that when you are having one-to-one relationship with him or her. If you can show that you can do reasonable good research and get very good recommendation letter, that will increase the chance of you getting admitted into a graduate program. But you are not asking about how to get in...so excuse me for saying it anyway. Now back to the main point:

What is more important is that, you should do research to find out how research is like and whether you love to do it before you decide if you want to apply to graduate school or not! Graduate school is tough work, and while you don't have to get straight A's to survive it, you do need to be able to do lots of work, especially research. So try it now and see if you like it. Only then you can decide if you will survive graduate work.
 
  • #13
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Let me repeat my suggestion - you need to be talking to your professors about this, not some random people on the internet (some of whom are still in high school). Does a B average mean that you barely missed an A in most of your courses? Or barely missed a C? It makes a big difference.

Likewise, "I know the material but don't seem to do well on the test" is something said by two groups of people: a) people who know the material but don't seem to do well on the test, and b) people who don't know the material but think they do. In my experience, there are more people in category b than in category a. You need to have a serious talk with your professors to find out which category you fall into. Again, it will make a big difference.
 

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