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Chance me - Maths research with a catch

ByronMiltonByronMilton 8 replies4 threads New Member
I am a high school senior in India, who has only begun to do really "heavy EC's" this december, after deciding to try mainly for the US instead of Oxford. My main EC is that I have started working on a maths research paper, being mentored by a Doctor from Stanford. In addition to this, I am also self - studying Hatcher's Algebraic Topology, which is a graduate textbook. However, I am not sure whether or not I will be able to complete it by the time application season comes. So, will this still be a a major "hook", or is it worthless until it is published? I can still ask him for a letter of recommendation in which he mentions this.

Also, I have begun to write poetry in the last year. If I can win something major (like Foyle young Poets), would this make poetry a major "hook" as well? Even as a self - depreciating Nihilist, I believe there is a chance for this.

My stats are:
- IB score 41/42, 7s in all subjects except German SL
- EE is a semi - original result in maths, it is a proof of a variant of the Toeplitz conjecture.
- Maths IA is a novel but cumbersome proof of the Borsuk Ulam theorem for 3 dimensions.

In addition to these, my EC's are

- Founder of maths club
- created exhibition of mathematics in our school
- Completed Kumon program in 9th grade with 5 years ahead distinction.
- Self studied Apostol's Calculus, Armstrong's Topology and Mathematics - A discrete introduction by Edward R Schneidermann (we cant enroll for college courses in India, and the usual college online stuff (Multivariable, linear algebra, etc.) is now too below my level to be of any help.)
- Self taught philosophy, read Plato's Apology and Republic, Descartes's Meditations, Burke, Aristotle's Poetics and kant's Progonomera.
- Run a poetry circle with 20 students from schools across the city, where me and a friend taught literary theory, aesthetic philosophy and poetry writing. It was modelled after an MFA conference. At the end, we will publish a book with two poems written by each participant.
- Participating as Performance engineer for F1 in Schools world finals, joined after team from my school beat nationals. The team is of 6 people now.

So, what are my chances for the Ivies? What are they for Oxbridge?
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Replies to: Chance me - Maths research with a catch

  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 7243 replies70 threads Senior Member
    Your background reads much more UK than US to me. (btw, would PhyPhi at Oxford be interesting to you?)

    US universities will not usually see a research paper as a 'heavy EC'. Neither self-studying a grad level text book nor writing poetry are considered to be a 'hook'. A 'hook' is something that the university wants: a ***lot*** of money, a particular talent, a particular background.

    Have you participated in IMO?

    You may mean "self - depreciating Nihilist" but I suspect you mean "self-deprecating Nihilist"

    The "Ivies" take fewer than 10% of applicants, from pools in the tens of thousands. Of accepted applicants, ~10-13% are international students (as an example, Harvard takes ~5 students from India every year). As a mathmo you should be able to calculate your chances.

    For Oxbridge take a look at the MAT, which is used to make the cut for Oxford, and the STEP papers, which Cambridge uses.
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  • HazeGreyHazeGrey 243 replies4 threads Junior Member
    There is also a Maths & Philosophy joint program at Oxford. One of my son's kitchen-mates does that course and enjoys the diversity of work. He claims it's the "hardest undergrad program at Oxford". Would second the advice to look at past MAT papers to see how familiar you are with the material.
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  • ByronMiltonByronMilton 8 replies4 threads New Member
    Thank you for your replies. Regarding what you said of "hooks", however, I am a bit confused. Would not a paper count for an academic 1 on the 4 axis scale that, say, Harvard uses? And if this is not a 'particular talent', then what is? Only non academic activities like the Arts and Social activities?

    I do apologize if I sound as if I have an overly inflated opinion of myself, but I am merely curious.
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  • yucca10yucca10 1352 replies40 threads Senior Member
    Academic 1 is something like a national award in an academic discipline, or maybe a paper that is published in a respectable journal. It's unlikely that you'll be able to publish your paper in the next few months, but if your Stanford mentor writes a letter which praises you to the skies this might work. Otherwise many applicants have research under their belt, and the admissions can't judge their respective qualities. If you're willing to consider less selective schools in the U.S., you'll probably have a better chance.
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  • ByronMiltonByronMilton 8 replies4 threads New Member
    If I post a preprint on ArXiV, could the admissions office use that to judge the quality of my research?
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  • yucca10yucca10 1352 replies40 threads Senior Member
    No, they cannot because they are not mathematicians. If you submit your article as a research supplement as some schools allow, there is a chance a professor will be asked to have a look at it, but it's not a given. So in the absence of other signs of acceptance by the professional community your mentor's recommendation is your best bet.
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  • collegemom3717collegemom3717 7243 replies70 threads Senior Member
    edited August 2019
    You are overestimating the time the AO will spend on your application. They are NOT going to judge the quality of your research. That's not their job. They may note the level of achievement (an award, publication in a name journal), but they aren't going to actually read or judge the work. It would be extraordinary for a prof to be asked to read it.

    There is a difference between a hook- something they want, like athletic skills- and a spike (something you are particularly strong in). A hook is a big help in admissions, a spike less so. Your (potential) research paper is a spike.
    edited August 2019
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  • aunt beaaunt bea 10093 replies68 threads Senior Member
    edited August 2019
    A hook is something that the university desires or needs like:
    *an international celebrity (Malala, the Obama girls, etc.)
    *a recruited athlete-one of the best in the world in that sport/Olympian (American football player, baseball, basketball, gymnast, swimmer, tennis),
    *an exceptional artist (cellist, flautist, painter, sculptor, etc. or band member),
    *a child of a philanthropist who has donated med school buildings,
    *a student with a long family history of legacy at that university.

    In other words, someone with global ties and talents whose addition to that university brings notice. Each university is different and will weigh their needs differently.
    Writing a paper with a professor, doing poetry or self study are not considered hooks.
    edited August 2019
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  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse 29937 replies59 threads Senior Member
    If you are truly of the caliber that your publications and research are hooks at the top schools, your mentor from Stanford could directly make referrals and recommendations that would likely get you into a top school. A professor from one of the schools would truly want you on abresrsrvh team. This does happen occasionally. You certainly can talk to your mentor.

    If a general letter of recommendation is what you are getting, it’s no hook. You can send info on your work to the schools for assessment. If you read the posts of other prospective college students, you’ll see a lot of them having worked with professors or companies on research and publications.

    It will make a huge difference if you are full pay or are going to apply for financial aid

    Your SAT or ACT test scores will also be instrumental in your chances. Also SAT2s are highly recommended and even required for some schools.

    I certainly cannot assess your ECs and it’s difficult for anyone to do so based on the short summary you can give in a post.
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