I'm currently studying mechanical engineering in a reputed Indian college. We've sent grads to some of the best colleges in the US.
However, I don't like mechanical engineering at all!! I'm a hardcore math freak.....and have been that way since high school. I blog about math and some other issues that catch my eye- Vicissitudes
I really want to do my masters/PhD in math from the US. I don't have a spectacular CGPA by a far shot- mostly because I really don't like the courses I've been coerced to take. There's no way I can change now either.
What should I do to get into a good math program in the US for graduate studies?
I can post some of my stats if that will give you a better picture of who I am. Thanks a ton!
1. CGPA-6.43/10
2. College- BITS Pilani, one of the leading engineering colleges in India
3. Math related- Singapore Math Olympiad bronze, IB 7 in Math HL, my IB teacher thought I was the greatest, etc.
4. Bad grades (B ad C-) in engineering math courses because I generally don't open my engineering text books very often. And I hate the application-oriented engineering approach to maths
5. I'm in my second year, and for the past year, I've spent hours studying advanced math books instead of attending classes. I've studied topology, abstract algebra, number theory and analysis. I studied a bazillion topology text books before I finally found one that explained the concepts like water. I was stuck on elementary concepts for months....I've worked hard on and for my math.
You'll need to establish a record that you do know the undergraduate math curriculum, and preferably some graduate-level material as well. Can you take any advanced math courses for credit at your university? Could you find a mentor in the math department who will work with you one-on-one and can write a letter about your mastery of the material?
American students whose math background is stronger than their undergraduate transcript would suggest often spend a year "visiting" a math department, taking advanced courses (either as a non-degree-seeking student or as an auditor) and talking to professors. That gives them a chance to "prove themselves" and get letters of recommendation from mathematicians who can attest to their math knowledge.
Bad grades (B ad C-) in engineering math courses because I generally don't open my engineering text books very often. And I hate the application-oriented engineering approach to maths
That's a huge red flag. Low grades in engineering math courses undermine your credibility as a math student, and they also raise concerns about whether you can work with math. A lot of undergraduate "pure math" is verifying tautologies, but eventually you'll need to be able to do the same computations an engineer would do - just more rigorously.
b@r!um thanks for your answer. I suppose it would sound stupid if I say that I detest engineering math on an ideological level. But I do!
Here in India, professors tell us directly "just learn the formulae, do the sums, get good marks, and have good careers". The tests are completely formula-based, and ANYONE can score really well on these exams without understanding anything!!! There're just a couple of questions which are not directly from the textbook with just the values changed (sometimes not even that).
It's because of personal disgust at this that I don't do the math taught here. But if it is that much of a concern, i CAN study and get much better grades. Anyone can. But will that prove anything??
It shows you are willing to stick it out and do the things you might not enjoy, which is important in the real world from what people have told me. You can't expect everything you will ever do will be exciting, especially if you need to get past some more "boring" obstacles to get to the things you are interested in.
Fair enough. So aside from improving my grades in engineering math, what else will I have to do??
Please remember I have loads and loads of free time to devote to math. I never go for classes, and am always holed up in my room, reading math texts......might sound horrendous, but there. If you read my blog, you'll realize it's a critical analysis of some undergrad math concepts, in which I try to assess whether a proof could have been written in a better way...what thinking must have led to this proof/concept, etc. I've been doing this for a little longer, but have started blogging recently to preserve these strands of thought.
Well try doing what b@r!um said to do in the first paragraph. You will need to have good letters of recommendation, from what has been explained to me, so you should strive for that aside from the good grades. For now, I figure those things are your best advice. Otherwise, I suppose if you get those done you can spend your time enlightening yourself with new math concepts.
I kind of hate the place I am in. It is one of the most selective colleges to get into in the world in terms of numbers. So it has the best and brightest of India. Do google "BITS Pilani".
However, most people here are just concerned with marks. We have a professor who sometimes teaches things beyond the syllabus, and he's universally abused for wasting our time because the things he teaches won't "come in the exam", hence he's wasting our time.
I suppose that is the reason why I don't study the curriculum in our college. Will that even approach a justification for my CGPA in my college essay?
Hmm, sounds like people don't want to learn more than what is required over there. People who strive for more will be the ones who accomplish the greatest things.
Anyways, I don't know if that will really justify why you have made those choices, but it is at least some reasoning for them. You should just apply to the schools you want to get into and hope for the best based off where you end up at grade-wise when you graduate! Just persevere through the more boring coursework, get the grades up and be persistent to do some work with some math professors and you should have a better chance.
Replies to: Sorry for wasting your time
1. CGPA-6.43/10
2. College- BITS Pilani, one of the leading engineering colleges in India
3. Math related- Singapore Math Olympiad bronze, IB 7 in Math HL, my IB teacher thought I was the greatest, etc.
4. Bad grades (B ad C-) in engineering math courses because I generally don't open my engineering text books very often. And I hate the application-oriented engineering approach to maths
5. I'm in my second year, and for the past year, I've spent hours studying advanced math books instead of attending classes. I've studied topology, abstract algebra, number theory and analysis. I studied a bazillion topology text books before I finally found one that explained the concepts like water. I was stuck on elementary concepts for months....I've worked hard on and for my math.
American students whose math background is stronger than their undergraduate transcript would suggest often spend a year "visiting" a math department, taking advanced courses (either as a non-degree-seeking student or as an auditor) and talking to professors. That gives them a chance to "prove themselves" and get letters of recommendation from mathematicians who can attest to their math knowledge.
That's a huge red flag. Low grades in engineering math courses undermine your credibility as a math student, and they also raise concerns about whether you can work with math. A lot of undergraduate "pure math" is verifying tautologies, but eventually you'll need to be able to do the same computations an engineer would do - just more rigorously.
Here in India, professors tell us directly "just learn the formulae, do the sums, get good marks, and have good careers". The tests are completely formula-based, and ANYONE can score really well on these exams without understanding anything!!! There're just a couple of questions which are not directly from the textbook with just the values changed (sometimes not even that).
It's because of personal disgust at this that I don't do the math taught here. But if it is that much of a concern, i CAN study and get much better grades. Anyone can. But will that prove anything??
Please remember I have loads and loads of free time to devote to math. I never go for classes, and am always holed up in my room, reading math texts......might sound horrendous, but there. If you read my blog, you'll realize it's a critical analysis of some undergrad math concepts, in which I try to assess whether a proof could have been written in a better way...what thinking must have led to this proof/concept, etc. I've been doing this for a little longer, but have started blogging recently to preserve these strands of thought.
However, most people here are just concerned with marks. We have a professor who sometimes teaches things beyond the syllabus, and he's universally abused for wasting our time because the things he teaches won't "come in the exam", hence he's wasting our time.
I suppose that is the reason why I don't study the curriculum in our college. Will that even approach a justification for my CGPA in my college essay?
Anyways, I don't know if that will really justify why you have made those choices, but it is at least some reasoning for them. You should just apply to the schools you want to get into and hope for the best based off where you end up at grade-wise when you graduate! Just persevere through the more boring coursework, get the grades up and be persistent to do some work with some math professors and you should have a better chance.