Friday, March 14, 2008

improving your chances in PhD application

Someone asked, what should he do between now and the next round of application? Work on the GMAT and SOP?

Honestly, I think GMAT and SOP are not the key things once you have hit certain cutoffs (slightly below the schools ave GMAT; a well written SOP). The main differentiating factor among PhD applicants, in my opinion, is their research potential. GMAT score is definitely not a relevant proxy for this. Well, you may be able to show your potential in your SOP... but the best ways to indicate your potential are: (1) your research output (# of pubs, and where they got published), (2) your research experience (what's project, what're your involvements), (3) letter of recommendations (what does other profs say about your research potential).

(3) is outside your control, although you can influence it somewhat. (1) is the most influential in affecting your application outcome; but it is also the most difficult to achieve for a typical applicant. And improving this within 1 year is a tough call.... hey getting 1 pub is 5 years for a PhD student is already so tough....

(2) is something that you can improve on in one year, and in a way it can help you in (3) and potential (1). So I would say try to look for opportunities to be involved in some research project, and get into a position where you can contribute meaningfully.

Having said these, it is important to realize that the whole phd application-admission process is structurally random - there are certain things you should do, must do, or need to to, but doing these things does not necessary mean that you are the applicant whom the school school accept, must accept or need to accept.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How important is GMAT verbal for a PhD in Finance. I have a 700 GMAT, 99 percentile in quant, 62 percentile in Verbal and 88 in Essay writing.

I have average academic credentials from a well known school in India and am pretty comfortable with Maths. Also I am working on papers with well known profs in a top Bschool in India.

I would appreciate your comments.

An aspirant