How much does length of time to complete undergrad matter?

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
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numbersallthewaydown
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Apr 26, 2021 4:25 am

How much does length of time to complete undergrad matter?

Post by numbersallthewaydown » Mon Apr 26, 2021 4:32 am

I attend a top private school. Started my undergraduate degree in a completely different major (in the humanities) and spent some years pursuing that professionally. I also took some time off school due to financial/personal issues, and then the pandemic. I switched to a math major Fall 2019 and have been doing well, and have participated in both Budapest Semesters in Mathematics and Math in Moscow. I'm doing an REU this summer. If I like it and decide to pursue a math PhD, I'll do another one next summer. Can likely get solid recommendation letters.

But my question is...does it look bad to take so long to complete undergrad? I'll be 24 at the time of applying for PhD programs, and I'd be in my ninth or tenth semester of undergrad. I can explain the gaps in my personal statement, but I still feel old.

TheBlackMathGuy
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Feb 01, 2021 8:21 pm

Re: How much does length of time to complete undergrad matter?

Post by TheBlackMathGuy » Mon Apr 26, 2021 10:38 am

I started my undergrad in 2012 and am set to finish it in 2021. 9 long years to get a Bachelor's degree :( . Long story due to life circumstances.

I got admitted to 6 grad programs this cycle and chose to attend the only Top 20 program I was admitted to for math. I'll be 27 (almost 28) when I start my PhD this fall.

Ultimately the time needed to complete undergrad doesn't matter. Otherwise I'd be in worse shape than you. You might feel old when you start grad school, but if you view it as the start of your research career rather than just school, your perspective might change. At least, it has for me.

quinquenion
Posts: 63
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2011 12:34 pm

Re: How much does length of time to complete undergrad matter?

Post by quinquenion » Mon Apr 26, 2021 3:07 pm

Speaking as someone who has been on graduate admissions committees, it doesn't have a major impact, especially if it's because you switched areas. e.g. if you took that long because you repeatedly failed math classes, that might be concerning. However, given that you had a longer bachelors because you switched majors, so long as you are doing well in your math classes / REUs / etc. now, it doesn't make much of a difference.



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