<p>I am considering going to grad school for economics (although right now I am only a sophomore). The problem is I go to a university that has an economics faculty in transition, because many of the professors retired last year. I have read that it is important to get letters of rec. from well respected researchers in the profession and the school doesn't have very many. Should I look at transferring to a more school with a more reputable faculty? A further complication is that I have about 80% of my tuition and fees paid for right now, via Resident Assistantship and scholarships. I have a solid G.P.A. (3.98), but my ACTs weren't that impressive (24). I don't know if ACTs still matter.</p>

<p>The key question for you is, I think: With whom did these new faculty persons study? If they are products of top programs / noted senior scholars, then you should be fine. </p>

<p>As a side note, since standardized tests don't seem to be your thing, I would suggest prepping well in advance for the GREs.</p>

<p>Professor X, thank you for your response. You are correct. I do not excel on standardized tests. On the ACTs however, I didn't study prior to sitting for the exam. I will not make that mistake again. The academic qualifications of the faculty here are mediocre. Most of them received PhDs from middle of the road institutions. The department doesn't have any professors who graduated from top schools.</p>

<p>It sounds a little familiar to me. Think about the department's economics major. Does it really demand a lot from you? Are its requirements similiar to graduate schools' admissions criterion? Where do the grads go? Look at their honors theses to get a sense of how well trained the students have become with these professors.</p>

<p>Faculty is also very important, I agree. You want to be working with people who have connections with top programs and be products of top economists in the country. You want to learn their style and methods so you can be a top one yourself.</p>

<p>I was at a different school for my first year. The history department was okay actually- they demanded a lot of requirements from their majors. When I rationalized the whole thing, I realized that there just weren't enough faculty to go around to satisfy a history major, especially in European. Half of the faculty was on sabbatical for the ENTIRE year so I basically had no one to turn to for a little guidance other than my own advisor (in Latin American history). I still had my eye on Colgate's history department which seemed to offer more flexiblity and demands for the students in a different way. So after shopped around different departments, I decided that I just wanted to be a history major with an amazing faculty and department. So I transferred. If anything, when I mentioned to my advisor that I wanted to transfer to Colgate, she practically jumped on it and said "You HAVE TO LEAVE! This department SUCKS!" Oh yeah, she was more than happy to write a LOR for me!</p>

<p>I have YET to regret my decision at all. Coming to Colgate largely for history was the best thing I had done for myself. I encountered much more passionate faculty who love being on campus and teaching. We have several visiting professors every year to shake things up (big time- I took courses with 3 such professors!). These faculty members did come from top programs like Michigan, Stanford, Chicago, Brown, Columbia, etc. But I will tell you upfront that just because they come from top schools doesn't always mean that they're going to be awesome professors. One of the profs from Stanford is basically clueless as you can get about her job beyond the lecture hall. But for most part, they are excellent historians who are thrilled to pass off their knowledge and wisdom to students. They'll usually share their gradaute school experiences so you can see where they learned their tricks. I don't think we have a professor who didn't get his PhD from outside top 30 programs.</p>

<p>You definitely want to be in a department where there's a lot of stability among the senior and junior faculty so they can get to know you and turn you into the best economics student that they can do. Oh also, if the new professors coming in are going NOT tenured, you might be at slightly disadvantage because they'll be spending a lot of time preparing for their tenure instead of focusing on you.</p>

<p>Wow, thank you for the insightful post. The class selection here is relatively limited compared to what is offered at other schools (maybe three or four elective classes in addition to the required ones). I am only a sophomore and have not developed relationships with faculty members. As far as rigor is concerned, the classes are moderate. We have intermediate micro/macro and intro to econometrics. If I stay, I will also enroll in the masters level courses, advanced micro/macro and econometrics. Although the professors aren't renowned, they are proficient in the class room. As a side note, I don't even know if I will be competitive for a top econ graduate program. I have performed well so far, but it is a long journey so maybe having professors from MIT and Harvard writing me letters of recommendation won’t be necessary. In sum, I am unconvinced that transferring would be the best option once all factors, especially financing (see previous post), have been considered.</p>

<p>Well at this point, it might be a little too late to apply for transfer since colleges require 2 year residency so people either apply as freshmen or sophomore. I would say just get as involved as you can with the faculty and classes, take higher level math classes, and READ. READ. READ.</p>

<p>Also the fact that you have high GPA will help you quite a bit. Econ departments, from what i've heard, do care a lot about GRE math section... so I would just work hard and create an excellent application. You're right, even professors from Harvard writing LORs for you cannot always help- especially since that the TAs usually do it (and everyone knows it). So you're probably much better off spending time with your professors who will actually know your potential and you as a person. And can write the letters themselves.</p>