Where should I go for applied math profile review?

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
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Cophysneurec
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2020 12:57 am

Where should I go for applied math profile review?

Post by Cophysneurec » Thu Dec 24, 2020 3:27 pm

Title. I haven’t had any luck getting my profile reviewed on this site, gradcafe or r/math. Is there another site where I might have more luck, or a time of year when people are more willing to evaluate?

My math letter writer is pure, so a bit difficult for them to evaluate. My other writers are in the field I want to specialize in (neuro), so they aren’t super knowledgeable on applied math admissions.

Cophysneurec
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2020 12:57 am

Re: Where should I go for applied math profile review?

Post by Cophysneurec » Thu Dec 24, 2020 11:49 pm

If there is no good place for this, is there a rough conversion heuristic from pure math admissions probability to applied math?

temporaryacct
Posts: 34
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2019 12:23 am

Re: Where should I go for applied math profile review?

Post by temporaryacct » Sat Dec 26, 2020 12:49 pm

So I'm not an expert in this but I can give my two cents. Just took a look at your profile. Your math GPA should be fine, especially since you have good grades in all the upper level math courses at your post bacc. Your general GRE is also fine, no need to retake. Any improvement would be very marginal. So stat wise you're actually doing quite well. And having a strong focus in a specific area like neuro is a positive too.

I think the main potential issue is related to why you've had trouble having the people you know evaluate your profile. Usually the best people to ask for profile reviews are advisors who are in the field or older students with similar experiences. For applicants without typical math research backgrounds, your statement and letters will be important because you need to put together a cohesive explanation for "why an applied math phd?"

Your research is great, but as far as I can tell was not really math research. Do you want to learn math to help with neuro research or do you want to do math research that may have an application to neuroscience later on? There is a subtle distinction here. If it's the former, you can learn everything you need with a applied math/stats/data science/CS masters. What do you want to do that your neuro research advisor cannot? An applied math phd would probably only be right if you are in the latter case. An applied math phd is still a math phd; the math you'll be doing may have applications, but the bulk of the work will be math research, i.e. writing proofs. So you and your letter writers will have to sell committees on why you want to do an applied math phd and that you have the interest and aptitude necessary for math research.

Based on how you've written your profile, I don't immediately see why you need a math phd to fulfill your career goals. You highlighted having a good writing sample, doing lit reviews, etc. which are certainly helpful skills but not what you'll be spending the majority of your time doing. Since you already have an area of research of interest, a good thing to do would be to look at specific programs and the professors who do work that interests you.

Sorry I can't be more specific about your odds. Non-traditional applicants are always harder to pin down. I think you have a lot of strong pieces to your application; it will just be a matter of how you can put everything together.

Cophysneurec
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Nov 25, 2020 12:57 am

Re: Where should I go for applied math profile review?

Post by Cophysneurec » Sat Dec 26, 2020 1:42 pm

First off, thank you for your very thoughtful response.
There is a short story of why I want to do an applied math PhD. I came into undergrad hoping to do great things in astrophysics. I had been the standout in my high school, scored highly on physics SAT, really loved the subject, yadda yadda. However, I had zero study habits, almost no motivation to actually put in effort and severe untreated adhd which led to chronic anxiety and other fun things. So I was basically a C student in physics and had to switch majors. Eventually I ended up in Econ since I felt it was the easiest subject for me. I was right, but I also ended up really enjoying economics in its own right! Except not really. I never cared so much for the implications for the economy as I did for the mathematical concepts behind the ideas. It took me a while to recognize this fact as I had long ago developed math anxiety which kept me from ever feeling any direct connection with the subject. However now after taking advanced/graduate math and doing well, it seems clear to me that math is what I want to be doing! I have also always been fascinated by human psychology and neuroscience, and even read an entire behavioral neuroscience textbook over a summer. I love the dynamical systems approach to economics, and when I realized that this is a large component to mathematical neuroscience everything kind of aligned for me. I want to be a mathematician who focuses on these problems relating to how the brain operates. I am also finding myself interested in optimal control theory, and the graph theory neuro papers I’ve read have been very intriguing.

temporaryacct
Posts: 34
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2019 12:23 am

Re: Where should I go for applied math profile review?

Post by temporaryacct » Sat Dec 26, 2020 11:07 pm

That makes sense and I think you can put that together into a strong statement. Grad admissions are kind of a crap shoot. It depends a lot on fit and whether the department is looking for people with your research area that year. I would just try to find as many departments as you can that have a handful of professors who seem interesting to you. If you can afford to apply to a decent amount of schools, I wouldn't worry too much about your odds of acceptance. Just make sure you have a wide range.



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