Returning to School

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
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Joined: Tue Mar 06, 2018 7:18 pm

Returning to School

Post by repetition » Tue Mar 06, 2018 10:00 pm

Hello! I'm looking for suggestions and advice on returning to graduate school as an older student with a history of poor academic performance. I'm interested in applied mathematics programs beginning fall 2019. I will be 32 at that time.

I'll keep my background short. I attempted a dual mathematics/physics degree as an undergraduate, but I failed too many mathematics courses (calculus, real analysis, abstract algebra, advanced linear algebra) and physics courses to fulfill the requirements. I graduated with an interdisciplinary science degree which combined my completed upper level courses from both departments. My GPA was abysmal. The physics department offered me a position in their masters program (they must have had a small application pool) and I accepted. My first year GPA was a 3.3 and my second year was a 4.0; however, I did not graduate because I never completed my thesis. That was five years ago.

I'm not in an ideal position for graduate candidacy, but I'd like to be productive and use the upcoming months to increase my chances of acceptance anywhere. I have some ideas, but I'm open to suggestions and feedback.

- Finish my thesis. It's probably too late to receive my masters, but I think the research experience would be worthwhile. It would also provide an opportunity to interact with old professors for letters of recommendation. Unfortunately, I've already met with my advisor a few times in the past to continue working on my thesis, but I've been very unproductive. I feel like I need to progress the thesis on my own before I talk to him again.

- Take the math GRE. Many applied math programs require or recommend the math GRE. I took it years ago without much preparation and I didn't do well. I'd need to review calculus and self-study analysis and abstract algebra, but I hope that a decent score might offset some of the bad grades as an undergraduate.

- Take math courses at my old university. It would be expensive to take courses as continuing education, but it would be good preparation for the GRE and I'd have a few extra grades to show schools with later application deadlines.

Is there anything else I can do?

Also, does anyone have any experience as an older graduate student?

Thank you!

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Joined: Sat Oct 28, 2017 5:38 pm

Re: Returning to School

Post by FreddieBiddleBooty » Tue Mar 06, 2018 10:58 pm

You could also self-study subjects you are not knowledgeable in and/or are weak in. To do graduate mathematics, you must be comfortable with undergraduate real analysis, abstract & linear algebra, topology, and maybe some complex analysis. There are tons of (free) resources online for texts etc.

Also, to even get in to a decent grad school, you must have good rec letters. So your first and third points are good ideas, so long as you do well in the research/classes.

The MGRE is important (although I'm not sure if it's less important for applied math programs), and it takes a lot of studying to make a decent score on. I studied for about a month and a half, although I was trying to focus on school at the same time, and made only a 680. The courses you take, the self study you do, and the preparation you do on your free time are all detrimental to making a good score.

If I were on the admissions committee for a grad program, I would look for good letters, grades, research, and MGRE, in that order. But of course this isn't always the case. I just think it's a good rough outline. Sorry if I couldn't provide more advice. Good luck!

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