Any suggestions on where to apply?

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
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Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:49 am

Any suggestions on where to apply?

Post by Atlas » Fri May 17, 2013 10:03 pm

I am currently creating a list of graduate schools to apply to this coming winter. Picking reach schools has been easy, but choosing reasonable and safety schools has been a lot harder for me. I was hoping someone would have some suggestions of schools to look into. I am very interested in topology and I see myself ending up in either low dimensional topology or algebraic topology as my area of specialization. Ideally my "reasonable" schools all have a strong topology focus with a good number of topologists in both fields so I would have a chance to feel out both branches. Here is my list so far:

Just for kicks:
MIT, UC Berkely

Columbia, UM Ann-Arbor, Brown, UT Austin

Stony Brook University (SUNY), City University of New York (CUNY), University of Bonn (might actually be reach, I don't know how it stacks up to the American schools)

I don't really know, maybe a lower ranking UC like Davis?

If it helps in your suggestions here is my profile:
Undergrad Institution: Non PhD granting state school (CSU, Sacramento).
Major(s): Mathematics
Minor(s): Economics
GPA: 3.94, upper division math 3.98
Type of Student: Domestic Hispanic Male

GRE Revised General Test:
Will take over summer
GRE Subject Test in Mathematics:
Waiting to see results from April test

Program Applying: Pure math with a focus in topology

Research Experience:
1. Statistical REU at my home university in 2011, I originally thought I wanted to do applied math or statistics. No publication and I practically never spoke to the professors again after this was over.
2. REU in groups and geometry this summer at University of Portland, hopefully resulting in a publication and a few talks

Pi Mu Epsilon and Phi Kappa Phi, nothing exciting.

Pertinent Activities or Jobs:
Tutor in my schools Math Lab. Grader for calculus class. I participate in a the weekly topology seminar at my school, I'm literally the only non faculty member who attends.

Any Miscellaneous Points that Might Help:
I will have taken 5 graduate classes before I graduate (2 semesters of algebra, 2 semesters of analysis, 1 semester of topology). I am easily in the top 3 students in my department and should have some very solid letters of recombination, one from a pretty well know topologist. I have conducted two independent studies under my letter writers, one in Galois theory and the other in algebraic topology. I can code in LaTex reasonably well and have some experience in R from the stats REU, but I haven't kept up on that.

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Joined: Thu Mar 28, 2013 6:58 pm

Re: Any suggestions on where to apply?

Post by jaeliseo » Tue Aug 13, 2013 5:00 pm

What I am going to say is my opinion only, and is definitely not meant to offend. But I am a blunt person, and will be blunt here as well.

To be frank, you are shooting way too high. Your safety, such as UC Davis should be in the realistic category, not as a safety. You have a snowball's chance in hell of getting into MIT, Harvard, Berkely. You look good in the 20-40 range, anything more is a waist of time and money. Keep in mind that you come from an unknown school, that has a huge impact on the quality of your application, and I mean HUGE.

Hope this doesn't discourage you, however, I would rather lower my expectations and actually get into some decent schools, than to be shooting for the stars and come up empty handed.

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Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2010 12:20 am

Re: Any suggestions on where to apply?

Post by dasgut » Tue Aug 13, 2013 8:16 pm


If you've got a well-known topologist recommending you then you might want to see if he can pull some strings. If you're dead-set on brand name school then you may wanna throw in NYU and Berkeley for an MS. You might be able to reassure an adcom by excelling there and getting great recs. I know one kid who came from a no-name school, got an MS at a top 20 stats program and a letter from a rockstar researcher there, then got accepted to EVERY school he applied to. Anyways, take my advice with a grain of salt: I got shut out both times I've applied.

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Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2013 12:49 am

Re: Any suggestions on where to apply?

Post by Atlas » Thu Aug 29, 2013 6:05 pm

Thank you for the replys, I was definately shooting too high to start and have since created a far more realistic list

Columbia, UT Austin, UC Berkeley, Stony Brook

City University of New York (CUNY), Ohio State, IU Bloomington, Michigan State, UC Santa Brabra

UMass Amherst, Temple University, Iowa University

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