Smaller Public University in Georgia (US) (No graduate mathematics department)
3.83 overall, 3.95 math
Type of Student:
Domestic Mexican-American/Chicano Male
GRE Revised General Test:
156 (59%) <--
GRE Subject Test in Mathematics:
Cancelled for 'Rona
(xx = Rxx/Lxx/Sxx/Wxx) N/A
Pure Math (Topology/Geometry)
Did research for 3 years with the mathematics department at my school. Mostly applied math (Fracture Mechanics and Math-Phys/Num-Chem stuff), but I also worked on a project in Algebraic Geometry. Co-authored 2 publications, accepted in some upper-mid tier journals, and I have one pre-print under review. Went to an REU for mathematical biology, somewhat well-known. Got some serious training and we finished a project on modeling missing person movement patterns with decsion theory, which we published with the University as a technical report. So 3 publications total, 1 preprint. 6 conferences nationwide, but mostly specialized or undergraduate-orientented. No JMM or YMC.
McNair Scholar, "Oustanding Math Student" for all campuses, "Student Worker Appreciation" award in the amount of $200, a couple of travel grants for presenting research, Magna Cum Laude on graduation, gpa-related stuff
Pertinent Activities or Jobs:
I was a university math tutor for 2.5 years. Eventually became one of the joint-lead tutors, and basically tutor all common subjects. Worked for a Mathnasium in my senior year as a team-lead and instructor. Prior to college, I was in IT, and I have 5-ish years of experience in TCP/IP networks-related skills.
Any Miscellaneous Points that Might Help:
First-generation College Student. Hispanic. Self-funded and self-supporting as an undergraduate. I worked between 20-30 hours a week on top of a full class load throughout. My minor was in Spanish, and I have some experience as a volunteer translator for a health clinic. I'm also currently working an engineering position while I'm applying, which lets me play with AWS and python/SQL pretty frequently.
Any Other Info That Shows Up On Your App and Might Matter:
Some delicate family history. I was homeschooled through highschool, so I talked about that a bit. Homeless for a couple of months some years back. I also wrote all of my documents in LaTeX, for style points.
Applying to Where:
(Color use here is welcome)
The "Hail Mary" Tier:
- Mathematics PhD (Submitted 2/Dec) (Rejected by email 29/Jan. Not surprised, nor disappointed.)
- Mathematics PhD (Submitted 3/Dec) (Rejected by email 04/Mar.)
The "Maybe Maybe Maybe" Tier:
UC Santa Barbara
- Mathematics PhD (Submitted 22/Dec) (No Response as of 26/Mar.) (Withdrawn 1/Apr.)
UC San Diego
- Mathematics PhD (Submitted 06/Jan) (No Response as of 26/Mar.) (Withdrawn 1/Apr.)
The "PhD or Bust" Tier:
- Mathematics PhD (Submitted 10/Dec) (Admitted /w Distinguished Chancellor's Fellowship Award for the first 2 years, and TA for the final 3! 2/Feb ) (Declined 26/Mar.)
- Mathematics PhD (Submitted 4/Dec) (Admitted! 30/Dec, Fully Funded /w TA Offer! 26/Jan) ATTENDING! 30/Mar.
U Tennessee Knoxville
I feel like I have a strong research background, even though most of my work is applied. I also feel like my background is unique enough to stand out from the crowd. I did research with all of my letter-writers, so I'm expecting so strong LoR's, including one from my REU advisor. My GRE scores didn't turn out the way I wanted, so I'm only sending them where required, namely ASU and UCSD. We'll see where things go from here.
First Update (15/Jan):
Received word after admission to ASU that TA/RA offers will be made beginning somewhere between mid and late January, so eargerly awaiting word back regarding those. UCSD application was submitted, but one of my LORs was out of the country, and did not submit until the day after the deadline. I'm not sure if this will disqualify my app or not. No word back from the other schools, but the year is still young. Also, decided to drop my application to UT Tennessee, as it was a geographic outlier to my other schools, and I had narrowed my area of interest more since that initial decision. I am also in the process of submitting for grant funding. I will include some of that information when I have more to offer.
Second Update (26/Jan):
Just received a formal offer for a Teaching Associate position at ASU! Full tuition wavier + $20K per year + Block Grant for summer 2022. Couldn't be more excited. When I originally started submitting applications, I put ASU in my safety tier because it was ranked lower for math, but the more I investigate the department, combined with Tempe as a place to live, I could really see myself at ASU. At this point, I'm expecting to accept this offer contingent only on UCSB falling through, and even then it's going to be a hard choice.
Third Update (04/Mar):
Both of my "Hail Mary" tier choices are out. I only applied to two, and this was one of the most competitive seasons in recent history, so I'm not terribly shocked. On the bright side, UCR came back to me with a strong offer, so I'm weighing my options there. There's been nothing but complete radio silence from UCSB and UCSD, which is driving me nuts. I emailed Santa Barbara too, about two weeks ago, and got nothing back. I think ASU is the best choice for me at this point (which doesn't really feel like a compromise; I honest love the school) but am holding out for UCSB just in case.
Final Update & Review (01/Apr):
I feel like this has been a very exceptional year for graduate applications. I know on paper it seems like I barely got in to any PhD program, and maybe that was the case, but I don't feel that way. I'm really excited about starting with ASU. I've had an opportunity to meet my (likely) advisors, talk to some of their students, etc. and it seems like a great environment. It's close to my SO, and the living expenses are way lower than many of the other schools on my list. I also really like the area. That said, here are some take-aways I would like to impart on anyone else who is trying to get into a highly-ranked university:
- Take the subject GRE and score well. I didn't have this option this cycle, and it would have really helped me (1) make up for a sub-par general GRE score, and (2) separate my application from the masses. If you're able to, take the time and study hard for it. Do well, and it'll make your application stand out more.
- Connections are key. I think one of the main reasons I landed at ASU is because one of my LoRs was an alumni and participated at an REU there every year. There are so many applications coming in every year, especially for high-tier schools, you almost need a connection to make the short list. However impressive you think your application is, there's likely many others as impressive. The best way to make connections is working with professors, doing research, etc. If you come from a small school like I did, you have to work a little harder to make these connections. Go to confrences as much as you can, especially at the schools you want to attend. Talk to people. Shake hands (after covid is over). If they know you when you apply, your chances will go up a lot.
- On the topic of conferences, go to JMM/YMC if at all possible.
- Try to be doing something every summer. Either an REU, an internship, or similar. Get out of your university as much as you can to do research.
- TA/Tutoring experience will be a big factor in being awarded a TA offer, so make sure you are doing something like that if at all possible.
- If your school has a graduate department for math, try as hard as you can to get some graduate-level coursework in before you apply.
- Whatever time you're planning on spending to write your SoP, double it. This is probably the most important part of your application. Make it as close to perfect as you can. Get it reviewed by as many people as you can. Have some professors look over it too.
- Go for culture fit over prestige. You'll be in a better position to do your best work.
I hope this information helps someone. Good luck.