Why I'm Not Applying for MFE/MQF/MCF: The Most Important Lesson from my B.Sci years

I would consider this educational advice, so I'm posting it here. I decided not to apply to any graduate program this year. Why?

I've learned a very important lesson in my 5.5 years as an undergraduate student: If you have to rely on a quantitative measure of your academic ability for a graduate program to determine your admission, you are not prepared for a graduate program.

When I say this, I mean that your application should show strength across all areas. Your GPA should merit its own nod of acknowledgement, along with your course selection, recommendations, relevant experience, and GRE scores. Each individual measure should be able to show your worthiness as an applicant, independent of the other measures. Unless you have horrible self-esteem or you are an egotistical narcissist, if you do not feel that your application is strong enough to be accepted, then you probably are not ready for the program anyways.

Why do I say this? If you think that being accepted into a program will guarantee your success or that you will be able to adapt to the demands of the program, in terms of both lifestyle changes and academic ability, you will probably fail. I feel that most applicants are accepted because they have shown, through their applications, that they can handle whatever the program will throw at them and not struggle in the least bit.

I'll use myself as an example:

The image attached is my GPA and unofficial GRE scores compared with the average accepted applicant of the University of Illinois' MFE program. In my defense, my decision about taking the GRE was impromptu; I came down with a bad case of the flu, spent about 6-8 hours preparing for the GRE and took it with a 102-103F fever.

If I had a stronger GPA and more experience, I would appeal to the admissions council that my GRE score does not accurately represent my ability because I took the test with a high fever. But, my GPA is not strong, and my application states one irrefutable fact: I am not yet ready.

So, to summarize and to appeal to any ambitious person who wants to apply but feels uncertain:

Your goal should not be acceptance into a graduate program. Your goal should be to excel in the graduate program. If you do not feel that you will be able to excel or compete with the most qualified in the program, then there is no shame in taking an extra year or two to adequately prepare yourself to ensure your success. Do not leave things to chance.

I'm taking a graduate PDE course this semester and it is highly demanding. It is a very accurate depiction of what I expect any graduate program to entail - you must have excellent time management skills and mastery of the basics at the absolute minimum to even pass the class. By taking this class, I've learned I'm not ready for a graduate program, and will not even submit an application.

Hope you learned something from reading this post!


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