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Mathematics Grad School do I have a chance?

  1. Sep 23, 2010 #1
    Alright so I just graduated in May 2010 with a B.S. in Math, and a minor in Spanish. I am currently deciding what to do with my life, and while I'd love to go to grad school to continue studying math (and continue learning/using it throughout my life), I'm not sure if I'll even be able to get into a grad school, for four reasons.

    1. I never really considered grad school until recently, so I have done no mathematical research, or anything related to math outside of coursework.

    2. I had never really developed any sort of a relationship with any of my professors, so I'm not sure who I could get a recommendation from.

    3. I failed Real Analysis. I was way in over my head when I took it, and it was too late to drop it by the time I realized it. The best I could do was make it pass/fail.

    4. 3.12 GPA. I wouldn't say this is horrible, but it's certainly not great.

    So do I have a chance at getting into any grad school for Pure Math? At this point I'm not trying to get into any big name schools and I'd be happy with anything. After reading these forums for a while and browsing through various grad schools' application requirements, #2 seems to be the big problem.

    The first 2.5 years of college were spent taking a mixture of Spanish, Music, Math, and Computer Science courses, since I wasn't sure what to major in. In the end I feel I am well rounded and definitely capable of succeeding, I just don't have much to show for it nor anyone to vouch for me.

    So...I'd like to get into a grad school for Fall 2011, which means applications are due around January 2011. That doesn't leave me much time to anything to help, so as it stands right now do I have a chance? I'd like to know before I spend a ton of money applying to various grad schools. I haven't taken the GRE yet but I plan to soon and I have no doubt I'll do well on both the general and math subject tests.

    Thanks for any advice!
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 23, 2010 #2

    I'm not a pure math major nor have I applied to those grad schools, so I'll just make a guess. I think its fairly common to not have research experience in pure math. (2) is a major problem as I'm sure LORs are a huge factor for admissions, so I can't really help you there. For (3), you should've just taken a 'W' instead of failing it. At my school, I think getting a 'W' doesn't even show up on your official transcript.

    what have you been doing with your time since May? I don't know what to say other than try really really hard to get as close to 99 percentile on the math subject GRE. Another option you can consider is to just look for MS schools in pure math. If you do really well there, then you can re-apply for phD programs.

    Theres probably others here who can offer better advice
  4. Sep 23, 2010 #3
    From your stats it appears you have no chance for admission into any PhD programs, but I think you could get into an unfunded masters program somewhere if you can find a couple of recommendation writers. Be aware that many masters programs do not require the subject GRE.

    If you do want to eventually get a PhD, make sure to get close to a 4.0 in your masters program; most math PhD program applicants (coming from a masters program or straight from undergrad) have a GPA above 3.7.

    Also, for admission to math grad school your GPA in math classes only is much more relevant than your overall GPA, so it would be instructive to us if you would post that.
  5. Sep 23, 2010 #4
    I was in a nearly identical spot when I graduated in August of 2007. I realized I had 0 profs to recommend me.

    Then I kind of realized that it really depends on the kinds of programs you pick as to what kinds of letters you need. I applied to an MS comp sci which required 3 LORs, but I know they struggle to fill seats. So, I just asked the profs of the classes I did well in. I know that the admissions committee of my school didn't really care what was in the letters, they just wanted me to "fill in all the blanks" on my application.

    Now, this strategy isn't going to get you into Berkeley, but it will get you what you need, which is to get into a grad school somewhere and get performing.
  6. Sep 24, 2010 #5
    Here is an expensive, time-consuming, yet plausible method of earning a 'second chance' at a decent pure math grad school:

    Take a few upper-division classes at a nearby university as a part-time, non-matriculated student. Pure math programs usually want you to have most of the following: analysis, topology, algebra, and to a lesser extent complex analysis and a second course in linear algebra. You should definitely retake that analysis course you failed. And if you are missing any of the other classes, be sure to take them.

    Develop relationships with your professors and get involved in research or math clubs or whatever is available at that university; build connections with people who can write you a strong letter of recommendation.

    Start studying for the math subject GRE now. You really need to earn a solid score on it.

    The objective here is to demonstrate that you have matured, are focused, and that you now take your work very seriously. Don't mess up this time!
  7. Sep 24, 2010 #6
    Thanks for the replies!

    My math related gpa is 3.05, although my university doesn't have that calculated anywhere and I used some online gpa calculator to get it. Now that I've though about it more, I suppose there are some professors I could ask for recommendations, but I still need to sort it all out (and quickly). The plan for now is to take both gre's (general and subject) in November, and apply for a masters program once I receive my scores.

    One question though...if I do poorly on either gre, but then retake it and do well, is the original score going to harm my chances? If so I may consider waiting, but I'm not too worried about doing poorly on it.

    Thanks again for the help.
  8. Sep 24, 2010 #7
    I don't think so if you show significant improve on the 2nd try. For math grad schools, I don't think they care that much about the general GRE. Just score around 450+ verbal and 750+ quantitative, but I could be wrong
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