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I'm lost and need advice (undergraduate)


New Member
Hi everyone, this post is going to be a bit long so please bare with me. Any advice is highly appreciated!

I'm a second year undergraduate student studying in Honours Financial Mathematics BSc in Canada but my undergrad path has been extremely rough. I won't get into any details but there was a lot of family/financial issues that came up right when I turned 18 which lead to my grades in first year being atrocious (received an F in 3 classes and all D's for the rest). After dropping out of university and taking a year to patch up those life issues, I've thankfully been able return to my program and crammed my previously failed courses along with my Fall 2019 term for my second year. I'm still in the midst of finals at the moment, but I'm expecting a lot of B's and a few C's (granted I haven't done any math for over a year prior to coming back school). I'm heading in to next term expecting to fully be back on my "study grind" and finally with a normal schedule, I'm expecting my grades to be around high B's to mid A's.

Anyways, I was wondering how important the first two years of university are to be considered as a potential candidate for any of the Top 25 financial engineering programs. How would they perceive the full year that I was absent from school? I know its too early to come to any conclusions but does coursework carry a considerable amount of weight on whether or not you are accepted into a master's program? My current undergraduate program is extremely math/compsci intensive and I'm unable to take arts electives. Every term(semester) from now on for the next 2.5 years will consist of 4 math/stats and 1 compsci. The math and compsci that I've completed so far are calc 1, 2, multivariable calc, ODE's, linear algebra, intro into analysis, probability, mathematical stats, proofs, financial math, intro into programming, and data structures 1. The rest of my undergrad will consist of courses like real analysis, stochastic calc and processes, advanced algorithms, computational methods in finance, etc. If I were able to receive a minimum 3.6 GPA in both third and fourth year, would it offset the fact that the first half of my undergrad is basically a 1.5 GPA. Reference letters are not a concern right now as I'll be a teaching assistant next term and will have the opportunity to establish a lot of good relationships with the faculty.

If these masters programs require that the 4 year cumulative gpa be strong, I'm royally screwed. If I'm miraculously accepted into a masters program of my choice, how sufficient will a BSc in financial mathematics be in terms of concepts and academic rigour?

Also, how do these programs compare: financial engineering masters, quantitative finance masters, masters of mathematical finance.

william zhang

New Member
I am a senior and I already applied to two schools already(Namely princeton PHD in financial mathematics and Berkeley MFE). I got waitlisted at at one of them. I will want to ask some things
1. What will be your GPA at the end of undergrad?
2. If you took the GRE today, what would be your scores/Composistion of scores?
If the answer is you cannot get above 3.2 and above from question 1, and your scores are below 162+ in the math section of the GRE then this career path is not for you. The reason being that a 3.2 is salvageable with additional courses in prepping you for the rigors of a good quant program. If its below 3.0 then no amount of additional courses can salvage the GPA. Can you also satisfy most pre-reqs of any MFE program with good scores as well?
My friend is in similar boat with a B- in linear algebra but he took a harder division proof linear algebra and got an A- for the course. If your going to retake, then you must retake it via the harder version of the course to show that your competitive(Well I dont know how it works in other schools but in my school if you scored above a B- then you cannot retake courses). Here are list of courses that I took with grades, which would give you a rough idea of what courses you need) and this will kindve show what you are competing against.
1. Calculus 1-4 (A)
2. Numerical Analysis (A)
3. Probability/Stastitics (A)
4. Probability/Measure theory (A-)
5. Statistical labratory (A-)
6. Operation research/Algorithms (B+)
7. Discrete mathematics for Computer science and Set theory/logic for mathematics(A,A)
8. Finite mathematical structures(B-) (What a dub)
9. Computer science (1,2,3). Introduction to java programming,data structures/basic algorithms,and systematic project programming (A,A,A)
10. CSE 390:Special topics in computational finance(A-)
11. Quantitative finance AMS 320 (B+)
12. Upper division Anlysis of algorithms(Taught by the famous steven skiena) CSE 373 (A)
13. Applied Real analysis(Grade pending)
14. Principles of programming languages(A-)
15. System Fundamentals (1,2) (B+,A-)
16. Abstract Algebra (A-)
17. Introduction to linear algebra(A)
18. Database design(A-)
19. Machine learning (A-)
20. Real analysis,Complex Analysis, Upper division linear algebra,(upcoming courses)
21. TAed (for 3-4 semesters)
Can you also show adcoms why you dont have the best gpa in the first place? What is the reason?Severe life issues? If that was the case why didnt drop the semester immediately? I also worked 20 hrs a week as a math tutor to be able to support myself and go to school(This is why I cannot get a 4.0 or the best grades I want). I also was not a stellar student in high school and only came to college trough my college education opportunity program(because well my parents are working class,first gen,and my mom is disabled for 10+ years). Do you have a similar story to talk about as to why your GPA isnt the best on your SOP/ESSAY? Does it serve motivation for you to do well?
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