How to make myself really stand out

Hi all,
Sorry if this is a bit of a repeat question. I am currently a second year mathematics(applied) undergrad student at a solid STEM school but not a top ranked school in the US. My current GPA is 3.96 and I have a research position in mathematics lined up for this summer. I am pretty sure I want to be a quant as I really enjoy math and like finance, so I am beginning to look into Financial Engineering/Math Finance/etc. programs, and I want to go to a top school (top 10 if not higher). What can I be doing to make myself really stand out? I know I can keep my GPA pretty high, but since Im not at a top school, what else can I be doing to put myself to get into a masters program of the likes of NYU, Princeton, Colombia, etc.?

Thanks!
 
- Get a solid internship (Specially in a related field but data science, SWE... would work)
- Keep up your GPA. I think a lot of people will consider a high GPA from >50 top US school highly impressive. As long as the school does not have grade inflation you should be fine.
- Consider non MFE degrees. Many of the top MFE programs have acceptance rates ~10-15% and higher. Other top programs have single digit acceptance rates. Getting a job in quant finance is more like 5% acceptance so after getting into a top program there is a lot of work to do.
- MFE programs are not research degrees, I am unsure how much they prefer research over work experience.
Good luck! (I just applied to MFE programs, but this are themes I believe/have seen repeated in this forum a lot)
 
Get a high score in the Putnam Competition. If you want to stick out in an army of applicants, many of whom will be going to better schools than yours, this is the way.
 
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Hi all,
Sorry if this is a bit of a repeat question. I am currently a second year mathematics(applied) undergrad student at a solid STEM school but not a top ranked school in the US. My current GPA is 3.96 and I have a research position in mathematics lined up for this summer. I am pretty sure I want to be a quant as I really enjoy math and like finance, so I am beginning to look into Financial Engineering/Math Finance/etc. programs, and I want to go to a top school (top 10 if not higher). What can I be doing to make myself really stand out? I know I can keep my GPA pretty high, but since Im not at a top school, what else can I be doing to put myself to get into a masters program of the likes of NYU, Princeton, Colombia, etc.?

Thanks!
I was in the same position you were in—I went to a 3rd tier undergrad and studied math. I was admitted to CMU MSCF w/ a scholarship, and both Columbia MSFE programs (IEOR and GSB). I didn’t have any extremely relevant quant finance experience and got a 164 quant on the GRE. Feel free to PM me, and ignore the advice above as it is verifiably false.
 
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If your goal is to get into a top MFE program, then placing top in Putnam is pretty overkill tbh. If your goal is to land a QR job at a top hedge fund, they seem to have a hard on for Putnam fellows (and there honestly wouldn't be much point to an MFE degree anyways if you can place high on putnam).
 
If your goal is to get into a top MFE program, then placing top in Putnam is pretty overkill tbh. If your goal is to land a QR job at a top hedge fund, they seem to have a hard on for Putnam fellows (and there honestly wouldn't be much point to an MFE degree anyways if you can place high on putnam).

Agreed. But the OP wanted to "really stick out" and since this is in a population of high achievers I couldn't think of anything else. You don't even have to place top in Putnam -- any score higher than 20 (out 0f 120) is good. I think the median score is still 0.
 
I think two underrated components on this forum are your letters of recommendation and the statement of purpose/video interview. Think about who is evaluating your profile. These are people just like you and I. While this is clearly an obvious point, it is one that the consequences of are often overlooked. We like a good story. We are attracted to interesting. Every profile they see is some sort of similar data points in regards to gpa, gre, etc. What separates you, in my opinion is how others speak about you, and how you present yourself. When others speak about you, are they just regurgitating that you did well in their class, or do they really have something useful to say about you? When you are writing your statement of purpose, one thing they are looking for is to see how well you researched their program. Did you just see the employment statistics, or did you really think about why you want to go to that given school. Examples of this are, go through the faculty at each school, read some of their papers, see what classes they teach. For NYU for example, they have the seminars public, and I would attend everyone I could. Now, before the program, I could not understand some of them. I was not ready yet, but I still found it useful in the sense that I was picking up the vocabulary, how people in this industry talk, what they emphasize, etc. Plenty of things can be done to separate you, and honestly, none of them are related to your intelligence. If you have taken enough math courses (not the bare minimum), your gpa should be signal enough. What separates you after that is more of who you are outside of the quant work.
 
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