Where can a 3.5 GPA student in math get into?

<p>OK, I've had a rough time due to medical reasons in my first two years of undergrad. I'm transferring nowhere special: CSU Fresno, Cal Poly Pomona, and CSU Northridge from a JC with a 3.0 at the moment. Assuming I absolutely kick arse these next two and a half years at one of these schools, I would like to know what are some realistic schools to shoot for to get a PhD in Mathematics from. It is something I really want to do and am trying extremely hard now to be eligible, but the best I can possibly make is a 3.57 by the time I graduate (3.5 for apps) assuming I mostly ace the rest of my college career. I know it's easier said than done, but I would like at least for the moment to assume getting a 3.5 would be the case.</p>

<p>I really want to go to grad school, but I know that the economy sucks right now and I am also doing pre-pharmacy requirements as well. Will getting a 3.5 put me out of the running for top 25 programs? Or just barely get me in the door? I do plan on doing a lot of research.</p>

<p>"Tons of research" isn't necessarily what is going to make or break you here. Strong showing in courses that MATTER (ie upper division mathematics), a good result on your mGREs and STRONG letters of recommendation will seal the deal.</p>

<p>People focus on research to much I think in their undergraduate career. If you can pair that with excellent upper division track record (which is what people are looking at anyway) then that is fine. However, and this is from a Stat based side, all research shows in most peoples cases is that they were able to ferret out an REU or two and piggy back on an instructors paper. If you're going to do research do it on your own, or do it because you want an introduction to certain topics that you wouldn't otherwise get a chance to see in the classroom.</p>

<p>As for your chances - it's Math. I mean, yes it would look nice (if you plan on staying in Academia, and I assume you do if you're going Pure Math) to graduate from a "Top school", but. . .it's Math. If you stay in the Top 100 programs - or even Top 50 - you're going to be fine. </p>

<p>Something else to think about: the speed of the campus they are applying to. A math instructor gave us a cautionary tale about a fellow classmate of his at a top ranked math program who put everything he had and more into his program. . .and eventually killed himself. The stress of having to keep pace with a program that was too rigorous for him was too much. Obviously I don't think you'll kill yourself, but once the academic year starts, the "prestige" goes out the window and all you're thinking is "What the hell have I gotten myself into."</p>

<p>People focus on research to much I think in their undergraduate career.</p>

<p>I strongly disagree. Of course this is field related, but in my field research experience is the single most important factor in your application. A person with a 3.4 and an extensive research background will be admitted over the student with a 4.0 who has little to no research. (I was that 3.4; I'm in a top 20 psych/top 10 public health PhD). Perhaps in math it's less important, but I've seen no indication that this is the case.</p>

<p>Yes, you need to have strong grades in upper division math courses, and I think that if you can show improvement and a strong last 60 credits and strong major GPA, that will sort of diminish the effects of a mediocre cumulative GPA. Focus on putting forward your best performance in upper division math courses and impressing a few professors so they will be willing to recommend you.</p>

<p>And I do recommend that you do some research. I think trying to do it on your own is a risky proposition because academia works on an apprentice model. The idea is that you work under someone who already knows how to do this and are taught by that person. REUs, other summer research experiences, and doing an RAship with a professor are all excellent ways to get research experience.</p>

<p>I have heard that math is a field where undergraduate research is not as expected or important as with many other fields.</p>

<p>
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A person with a 3.4 and an extensive research background will be admitted over the student with a 4.0 who has little to no research.

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</p>

<p>Except you've got just the opposite happening all the time.</p>

<p>I am with ANDS! here. Very few math undergrads do "research" as an undergraduate and even the top grad programs don't require it. (I believe that only 2 of the 16 undergrads in my year at a top 5 program have a publication from their undergraduate years.) </p>

<p>Focus on getting strong grades in your upper-level math classes. Maybe do a reading/independent study course with a professor on an advanced topic, which will get you a stronger letter of recommendation than "did well in class." If you have some extra time on your hands, start attending seminars and colloquia. You might learn some interesting math, meet interesting people, and get a better impression of the working life of a research mathematician. Early and continued attendance at seminars also documents a deep-rooted interest to pursue advanced mathematics (as opposed to applying to grad schools on a "omg there are no jobs i am qualified for" whim).</p>