Woes about graduate school admissions

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  • Thread starter prettymidget
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  • #1
Hi everyone,

I'm currently a 4th year applied math major who goes to a top 40 school and due to stupidity and poor class scheduling in my lower division years, has to stay an extra semester to fulfill graduation requirements. Here's the story:

During my first two and a half years of college, I was lazy and unmotivated. I couldn't break away from my high school mentality of not needing to do work outside of class. I had passable but not stellar grades (I averaged about a 2.9 in my math and science classes) which I know is not near graduate school quality. During the transition between 3rd and 4th year, after a lot of thought and reflection, I found myself getting far more motivated to study mathematics and learning the material ceased to be a chore, but became fun and engaging.

I changed my study habits considerably (I must've studied 5 hours daily all year long this year. I learned the hard way there is no substitute for sitting down for hours on end and doing the proofs on your own), taking year long introductory graduate sequences in both analysis and abstract algebra this year and getting A's in all of them. During my senior year, my grades went up to about a 3.9 taking all advanced upper division math classes, and I even was lucky enough to be accepted to a math research camp this summer at Williams College. I know there are several other factors to getting accepted to a say, top 20 PHD program, but would I have any decent chance assuming I had good recommendations from professors?

Thanks for any opinions.
 
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An improved trend, together with strong results in advanced classes, explanation of circumstances, and most importantly, professors who actually recommend you positively, should in my experience of watching over admissions decisions, give you a shot. Try to get recommendations from your research camp.

Remember the very top PhD programs can be so tough to get into that most anyone would find it hard. Do fairly well in the GRE subject test to get another little stamp of your ability to do basics ... all this will figure in.

I think Top 20 may be doable, though the very top of the heap is always a stretch for people.

I emphasize that if you had lots of low results, you may need to spend extra time showing consistently good performance. In the worst case, do a masters degree, not for the degree itself, but for extra showings of your ability to handle serious stuff.
 

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