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PhD in Math and other STEM. Sweat thread

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Replies to: PhD in Math and other STEM. Sweat thread

  • Twoin18Twoin18 2085 replies21 threads Senior Member
    “Instead, I'd hold out for a top 10 program at a minimum, preferably top 5. And if that comes thru for him great. If not, I'd look to a MA/MS to continue to build resume, and reapply.”

    I agree. Has he considered applying for Cambridge Part iii maths (https://www.maths.cam.ac.uk/postgrad/part-iii/prospective.html)? It seems to me like that would be helpful preparation after rushing through an undergrad degree. And in common with many UK institutions they have something of a soft spot for Berkeley.
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  • ElenaParentElenaParent 314 replies5 threads Member
    @Twoin18 "after rushing through an undergrad degree." How do you know he rushed? He started taking college math when he was 11 - it was Multivar and then Differential Equations. He is supposed to graduate after 5 years of doing college courses (yes, high school also happened to be there somewhere).
    doing undegrad degree in 5 years is not a definition of rushing.
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  • ElenaParentElenaParent 314 replies5 threads Member
    @bluebayou
    Cheers to you.
    In my book, and I am sure in the book of other people holding PhDs, including professors on the admission committees, "building resume" means doing research and publishing papers, and getting them cited by other scientists, and not sitting in MS program. Respectable math graduate schools, mostly, do not even have MS program for pure math!
    If this application season doesn't pan out, I hope my son will choose exactly that path: more research and more publications.
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  • astrotempastrotemp 18 replies1 threads Junior Member
    If he were looking to apply to either Oxbridge, he would have to do the equivalent of Part III since US undergraduate degrees aren't sufficient for entry into Oxbridge PhD programs, same for most places throughout Europe/Australia.
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  • Twoin18Twoin18 2085 replies21 threads Senior Member
    “Respectable math graduate schools, mostly, do not even have MS program for pure math!”

    Clearly you haven’t looked at Part iii math then. It’s a very common destination for Churchill scholars as preparation before a PhD (see their comments here: https://churchillscholarship.org/documents/Part3MathematicsforChurchillScholars.pdf) and attracts many of the best mathematicians in the world.

    As @astrotemp points out, US undergrad degrees are broader and therefore have less depth in a specific major. For example Berkeley requires a total of 13 courses for a math major. At Cambridge a maths undergrad will usually take 8 maths courses per year for 3 years.

    That level of preparation, combined with Part iii, allows for completion of a PhD in 3 years. I think the US system, where it often takes 6-8 years to complete a PhD, is crazily long in comparison. I was done with my PhD by my 24th birthday and could then happily get on with my life far more quickly than would have been the case in the US.

    It seems your son is focused mainly on “research and publishing papers” in math and is trying to get through Berkeley undergrad as quickly as possible (in 2 years?). I’m not sure why. Have you thought about how his academic career would progress through and beyond a PhD? He’s clearly brilliant, so I have no idea why he wouldn’t insist on doing a PhD with the best mathematicians in the world and ensure he has the best possible preparation to get into such a program.
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  • SpringbirdSpringbird 149 replies9 threads Junior Member
    @ElenaParent, your son sounds brilliant. He is clearly super intelligent and ready for further study in math at the graduate level.

    But is he really only 16? Is there anyone with whom he can socialize? Sure, he can talk math. But I worry about his finding balance in life. He needs more than math to be a fully rounded adult. Does he have friends? Does he do any activities outside of math where he is around others his age? It is highly unlikely that other PhD students who are 22 years old and older are going to chat with him outside of class beyond saying "hi" in class and talking about the weather. He will have nothing in common with them.

    Maybe a Master's would be a good way for him to continue to grow as a mathematician while at the same time putting his doctoral studies on hold for another year or two to allow him to mature. Sure, he will likely get into some of those PhD programs...but oh, I worry for him.
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  • ElenaParentElenaParent 314 replies5 threads Member
    @Springbird
    Thanks for all the advice. However. I am still not getting it - why Masters? If he is on campus, and wants to socialize with anyone, he is free to do it, whether he is frosh or grad student, or even 5-th year grad student in PhD program. There is no need to sit in Masters. He can socialize with anyone, period. No one is going to ask him for an ID to verify he is 16 or 24 (he is 16 now, will be 17 next school year).
    Look. He is used to be in the older crowd - it started when he was in Community College at age 11, and explaining Differential Equations to his 22-year old classmates. In fact, if anything, he always was easier socializing with adults than with kids. And yes, he does have interest outside of math.
    During the school breaks, like now, - he goes to his job (internship), from 8 to 4pm, sits in the office, interacts with co-workers, with his boss, with his co-authors over e-mail, writes his proofs of theorems and the code to illustrate it - i.e., exists in an adult office environment. He is a regular young scientists, like other some other young guys on the floor, some of whom are 23, but no one else is 16. But no-one, unless specifically told, knows or suspects that he is as young as he is.
    As a scientist myself, I really, REALLY do not understand what the fuss is about! It's a guy, with publications, with research, with respect from his co-authors, etc. Why would his age matter? So far, all adult scientists that I talked with, including professors at Universities (several of them), - all are telling me that all what counts is his professionalism and his math ability, - for both admissions and his functioning as a PhD candidate. It is not undergraduate admissions, where you have to describe what clubs at the University you are going to join to contribute to the culture, or count how many community hours you have served.
    The application season is over anyway. He made his choices, he applied everywhere he wanted, and everywhere his science boss (from his still active internship) wanted him to apply. Let's see how it all pans out. It's out of our hands now, for the most part.
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  • NASA2014NASA2014 2375 replies135 threads Senior Member
    That's really great to hear for a 16-year-old wanting to pursue a PhD in math. Applied math is something I really want to do in the future but I might have to take a gap year or semester to study very well for the GRE Math subject exam. What is he looking to do? Has he taken Geometry, topology, abstract algebra? Was Rudin's book hard for him? how many problems did he do per chapter?
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  • ElenaParentElenaParent 314 replies5 threads Member
    @NASA2014 Good luck to you in your future pursuits of Applied Math. As of now, my kid prefers Pure Math, mainly Algebraic Topology, and I was told Algebra goes easier for him than Geometry. His boss makes him work primarily as an algebraist. He took Math GRE last year, only once (shortly after turning 16 and before he took course that followed baby Rudin's book), and yes, admittedly, he could have done better (got 86% score). He was disappointed, he said that all the prep stuff he was able to find (including past years) was easier than the actual exam. As for baby Rudin book - I assume it sounds easy for him, but look, - I am not babysitting his homeworks, I have no idea how many problems he solves or whatever. In general, I am only involved in helping with administrative stuff - like keeping track of where GRE scores are sent (after all, I am the one paying for every "sent"). I keep clear of the actual heavy math stuff - he has his coauthors and his boss for that.
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  • bookmom62bookmom62 23 replies0 threads Junior Member
    edited February 3
    How is everyone doing? Going to be a hectic couple of weeks. Good luck all!
    edited February 3
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  • ElenaParentElenaParent 314 replies5 threads Member
    @bookmom62
    Yes, trying times. My kiddo got his first admission (UNC Chapel Hill, Mathematics PhD), and a couple of rejections. Still long way to go...
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  • bookmom62bookmom62 23 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Our waiting is done. DS applied to 7 schools and now has results from all 7. He is very happy to have 5 acceptances & it will be interesting to see what school he chooses!

    For those still waiting- fingers crossed for positive news!
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  • NASA2014NASA2014 2375 replies135 threads Senior Member
    Where did your son end up picking?
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  • ElenaParentElenaParent 314 replies5 threads Member
    NASA2014 wrote: »
    Where did your son end up picking?

    University of California, San Diego. Fully paid, with Teaching Assistantship and stipend.
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