Hey there! Sign in to join this conversationNew here? Join for free
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    Hi,
    I am currently a second year student at Occidental College, a small liberal arts college in Los Angeles, and I am wondering what I would need to do to be a successful applicant to Oxbridge or LSE Msc Economics program.

    I currently have a 3.5 GPA (after three semesters) with a double major in Economics and International Relations, and a minor in Math.

    Economics GPA: 3.43

    International Relations GPA: 3.57

    Math classes taken so far:
    Calc I (B-)
    Calc II (taking now)
    Statistics (A-)
    Planning on taking: Linear Algebra, Multivariable Calc and Probability

    I want to go into economic policy in developing countries, and work for a think tank or NGO as a career.

    I have had an internship at the U.S. Congress in DC between my freshman and sophomore year.
    I have had various leadership positions in political clubs on campus, as well as a micro finance club for small businesses in developing countries.
    I am the president and founder of a branch of a millennial organization that seeks to promote bipartisan solutions to problems facing our generations (I have drafted a lot of policy proposals and done a lot of research for the club)

    I am currently looking for internships over the summer at think tank, central bank, or NGO.


    Would Oxbridge/LSE take me with a lower GPA (upper 2:1 range) instead of a first class honors GPA, but with lots of great work experience, LORs, and solid GRE scores (when I take them in the future?)

    Also, I am an EU citizen (Polish citizenship). Does this help or hurt me?

    What can I do to have a stronger application?
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    I would suggest that you visit the course websites and carefully look at the entry requirements. Some of the courses have pre-requisites, so plan to successfully complete the required pre-requisites before you apply. Find out what the minimum GPAs are and aim for something higher; for example, the minimum for Cambridge’s Msc in Economics is a 3.6/4.0, so aim for a 3.6+

    I would also suggest that you start building relationships with two-three professors because you do need excellent letters of recommendations. It is better that you start doing this now rather than in your last semester.

    I do not know how important extra-curricular activities are, but if these are activities that you care about (and it seems like they are), then keep taking part in them. They can only help your application. They will definitely strengthen your applications to scholarships such as the Gates Cambridge or Marshall(if you decide to apply, of course).

    LSE and Oxbridge do not care whether you are Polish or American or both. They are just looking for the best applicants.
    • PS Helper
    Offline

    13
    ReputationRep:
    PS Helper
    lp27 gave good advice, you should basically check the course websites or contact the universities if you're worried. Are you trying to do a PhD or a master's? If the former then there will be other important factors in your application like how good your research proposal is, and what research experience you have (if any).

    I mainly just wanted to say that your EU citizenship won't necessarily help with getting you a place, but will help a lot for getting funding, because a lot of funding is available to EU citizens but not American citizens.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by LtCommanderData)
    lp27 gave good advice, you should basically check the course websites or contact the universities if you're worried. Are you trying to do a PhD or a master's? If the former then there will be other important factors in your application like how good your research proposal is, and what research experience you have (if any).

    I mainly just wanted to say that your EU citizenship won't necessarily help with getting you a place, but will help a lot for getting funding, because a lot of funding is available to EU citizens but not American citizens.
    I am trying to get a MSc in Economics, and later on a Masters in Public Policy. I want to go into development policymaking, and work for the World Bank/IMF, a think tank, or an NGO.
    Offline

    11
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by kevin1297)
    I am trying to get a MSc in Economics, and later on a Masters in Public Policy. I want to go into development policymaking, and work for the World Bank/IMF, a think tank, or an NGO.
    Bluntly? You need to get your GPA up for a realistic chance at consideration at these universities for either economics or public policy. If you're in the U.S. you still have two years to go to complete your degree, right? The other stuff is not going to make up for lower grades, but it might help differentiate you from others if your grades are as high as the average offer.
    • Community Assistant
    Offline

    4
    ReputationRep:
    Community Assistant
    (Original post by kevin1297)
    Hi,
    I am currently a second year student at Occidental College, a small liberal arts college in Los Angeles, and I am wondering what I would need to do to be a successful applicant to Oxbridge or LSE Msc Economics program.

    I currently have a 3.5 GPA (after three semesters) with a double major in Economics and International Relations, and a minor in Math.

    Economics GPA: 3.43

    International Relations GPA: 3.57

    Math classes taken so far:
    Calc I (B-)
    Calc II (taking now)
    Statistics (A-)
    Planning on taking: Linear Algebra, Multivariable Calc and Probability

    I want to go into economic policy in developing countries, and work for a think tank or NGO as a career.

    I have had an internship at the U.S. Congress in DC between my freshman and sophomore year.
    I have had various leadership positions in political clubs on campus, as well as a micro finance club for small businesses in developing countries.
    I am the president and founder of a branch of a millennial organization that seeks to promote bipartisan solutions to problems facing our generations (I have drafted a lot of policy proposals and done a lot of research for the club)

    I am currently looking for internships over the summer at think tank, central bank, or NGO.


    Would Oxbridge/LSE take me with a lower GPA (upper 2:1 range) instead of a first class honors GPA, but with lots of great work experience, LORs, and solid GRE scores (when I take them in the future?)

    Also, I am an EU citizen (Polish citizenship). Does this help or hurt me?

    What can I do to have a stronger application?
    As mentioned your citizenship will help you get funding but as you're only doing a master's I'm guessing this is not your biggest priority in terms of 'getting into Oxbridge or LSE'. I think user Viceroy will be able to give better help as someone from an American institution but as sj27 said, your GPA is quite low... iirc the equivalent for a 2.i (the minimum for most grad programs) is 3.6 or 3.7, so you fall just shy of that. As a consequence you have a risk of getting your application tossed out. Your EC experience will help slightly but not as much in the UK as it will in America. It will however help you should you apply to e.g. Gates scholarship.
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    I agree with above advice. For a course so heavily subscribed internationally, your GPA will be the first filter point for applicants (unless they have some serious experience in the fields already). Concentrate on getting your GPA up to (and if possible, above) the specified minimum. Below that, your chances of acceptance are slim.

    Extra-curriculars aren't as vital to a UK application as they would be to a US uni. However if they are relevant to your chosen course and - most importantly - don't provide a distraction from improving your GPA, then they might be a "tie-breaker" if selection was a choice between yourself and others with a similar GPA and background.

    You need to pick and choose your commitments carefully from now on. Tailoring your CV for a UK uni is all very well, but if you don't get in and Plan B is a US uni, you could find that doing so shoots you in the foot.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Klix88)
    I agree with above advice. For a course so heavily subscribed internationally, your GPA will be the first filter point for applicants (unless they have some serious experience in the fields already). Concentrate on getting your GPA up to (and if possible, above) the specified minimum. Below that, your chances of acceptance are slim.

    Extra-curriculars aren't as vital to a UK application as they would be to a US uni. However if they are relevant to your chosen course and - most importantly - don't provide a distraction from improving your GPA, then they might be a "tie-breaker" if selection was a choice between yourself and others with a similar GPA and background.

    You need to pick and choose your commitments carefully from now on. Tailoring your CV for a UK uni is all very well, but if you don't get in and Plan B is a US uni, you could find that doing so shoots you in the foot.

    Given that i suffer from anxiety, panic attacks and depression, would the adcoms take that into consideration? I have always had to work harder than other people to get the same, or a lower grade than them. I don't know what to do about my problem, and it's taking a toll on my mental health and my GPA. I feel like adcoms might understand, but they might not care also. How would they feel?
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by kevin1297)
    Given that i suffer from anxiety, panic attacks and depression, would the adcoms take that into consideration? I have always had to work harder than other people to get the same, or a lower grade than them. I don't know what to do about my problem, and it's taking a toll on my mental health and my GPA. I feel like adcoms might understand, but they might not care also. How would they feel?
    Your GPA is the gatekeeper criterion. If you don't meet or exceed the stated requirement, then you won't get as far as discussing your health problems.

    If it's adversely affecting your current marks, then you would be expected to approach your current uni and invoke their Extenuating Circumstances procedure. That way your marks won't be artificially low. If you haven't done this then your target uni might choose to take any comments about your health, with a pinch of salt. Anyone can claim that they were stressed and so they got a lower mark. It sounds like an excuse rather than a reason. However if you go through EC, then you will have proven it to the satisfaction of your current department. That makes it much more credible.

    If you do get the right result, it would be better not to waste word count in your application by going into detail. You will need to take up all that room selling yourself as the right candidate, You will need two academic references, so you can ask your referees to mention that aspect, but in a very positive way e.g. "Kevin has experienced some anxiety issues but has shown great resilience in dealing with these and has/is expected to achieve an excellent result despite his problems."
    Offline

    17
    ReputationRep:
    In addition to what everyone else has said, you should try to take more math classes, US economics degrees are notorious for having a very low amount of mathematics compared to most other countries. Calc I/II are fine but they aren't particularly far beyond high school level (Calc II is broadly equivalent to the pure part of A Level Further Mathematics). If you want to have a stronger application, it would be good to take a rigorous class in real analysis (epsilon-delta proofs, and suchlike). The Linear Algebra class you said you were going to take will also be important.

    Also your grades in math classes are going to be just as important as your overall GPA. Getting a B- in Calc 1 is very bad if your school follows normal US grading standards where 80%+ of students end up with an A- or better. You are really going to have to do better than that in your other math classes.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Klix88)
    Your GPA is the gatekeeper criterion. If you don't meet or exceed the stated requirement, then you won't get as far as discussing your health problems.

    If it's adversely affecting your current marks, then you would be expected to approach your current uni and invoke their Extenuating Circumstances procedure. That way your marks won't be artificially low. If you haven't done this then your target uni might choose to take any comments about your health, with a pinch of salt. Anyone can claim that they were stressed and so they got a lower mark. It sounds like an excuse rather than a reason. However if you go through EC, then you will have proven it to the satisfaction of your current department. That makes it much more credible.

    If you do get the right result, it would be better not to waste word count in your application by going into detail. You will need to take up all that room selling yourself as the right candidate, You will need two academic references, so you can ask your referees to mention that aspect, but in a very positive way e.g. "Kevin has experienced some anxiety issues but has shown great resilience in dealing with these and has/is expected to achieve an excellent result despite his problems."

    I have gone to the department which handles accommodations and have gotten tested, and diagnosed with, anxiety. Every one of my profs knows about this, and let me used my accommodations as legally required. However, i still stress out a lot about grades, and have depression spells which often lead to self harm and suicidal thoughts throughout the semester. I am trying really really hard to get good grades, and often have to study twice as much to get the same grade as someone else. That being said, I am a smart guy, and have an IQ of over 125, but it never really translated to my academic performance. I am really scared about grad school because I feel like all they care about is GPA, and don't really care about much else.
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by kevin1297)
    I am really scared about grad school because I feel like all they care about is GPA, and don't really care about much else.
    In that case, I wonder if it would make more sense to aim for a good US grad school, rather than a top UK one?

    Over here, your GPA really is the critical factor in having your application considered. In many respects, the UK system is quite one-dimensional and is very focussed on admitting and turning out an academic. From what I've read on TSR, the US system takes a much more holistic and balanced view of candidates. The extra-curriculars you describe are great and will be of real value to your application in the US, where they would be of much lower (if any) significance in the UK.

    It's very possible that the US system would suit your personal circumstances better than the UK.
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Klix88)
    In that case, I wonder if it would make more sense to aim for a good US grad school, rather than a top UK one?

    Over here, your GPA really is the critical factor in having your application considered. In many respects, the UK system is quite one-dimensional and is very focussed on admitting and turning out an academic. From what I've read on TSR, the US system takes a much more holistic and balanced view of candidates. The extra-curriculars you describe are great and will be of real value to your application in the US, where they would be of much lower (if any) significance in the UK.

    It's very possible that the US system would suit your personal circumstances better than the UK.
    I agree with Kilx88. I have applied to US and UK universities for postgraduate study, and I have found that US universities use a more holistic process when evaluating applicants. It might be a good idea to consider applying to US universities as well.

    I just wanted to add that there is still time, and there are strategies that you could use, to bring your GPA up. Judging from your GPA, you are probably averaging a little more than a B+ right now, which isn’t bad. You just need to figure out how to get more As and Bs and less B-s over the next two years.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by lp27)
    I agree with Kilx88. I have applied to US and UK universities for postgraduate study, and I have found that US universities use a more holistic process when evaluating applicants. It might be a good idea to consider applying to US universities as well.

    I just wanted to add that there is still time, and there are strategies that you could use, to bring your GPA up. Judging from your GPA, you are probably averaging a little more than a B+ right now, which isn’t bad. You just need to figure out how to get more As and Bs and less B-s over the next two years.
    How would you recommend doing that? Besides simply studying more, I can't really come up with any solutions to getting better grades.

    Regarding admission to UK schools, it isn't all doom and gloom. I still have 5 semesters left of college to improve my grades, and at a 3.43, I am pretty close to LSE's minimum of 3.5, and Cambridge's minimum of a 3.6. I could do it if I work hard and work consistently.
    Offline

    15
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by kevin1297)
    How would you recommend doing that? Besides simply studying more, I can't really come up with any solutions to getting better grades.
    Realistically, the only people able to tell you will be your current teaching staff. If there are things you can correct to get better marks e.g. structuring your work, formulating an argument, referencing etc., then they should be pointing these out and explaining how to improve. If they aren't doing this, then you need to approach them and ask. Academics will hopefully respond to a student being proactive and seeking to get better grades.

    You will need two academic referees for a UK application. Doing this could help you forge a good working relationship with staff who might be very useful to you in the future.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by Klix88)
    Realistically, the only people able to tell you will be your current teaching staff. If there are things you can correct to get better marks e.g. structuring your work, formulating an argument, referencing etc., then they should be pointing these out and explaining how to improve. If they aren't doing this, then you need to approach them and ask. Academics will hopefully respond to a student being proactive and seeking to get better grades.

    You will need two academic referees for a UK application. Doing this could help you forge a good working relationship with staff who might be very useful to you in the future.
    Since I go to a small liberal arts college, I have a great relationship with a lot of my profs (even hanging out with them outside of class), and have a LOR from a Congresswoman who I interned for over the summer. Given that I am only a sophomore, I think that this is a good start.

    I am planning on going to office hours to find out what I can do better in the future, and hopefully their advice will pay off.
    Offline

    1
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by kevin1297)
    How would you recommend doing that? Besides simply studying more, I can't really come up with any solutions to getting better grades.
    (Original post by kevin1297)
    I am planning on going to office hours to find out what I can do better in the future, and hopefully their advice will pay off.
    This is was what I would recommend. College advisors can help you plan out your next five semesters if they know where you would like to end up and what GPA you would like to graduate with. They can also tell you what combinations of core and elective classes would best serve your GPA each semester. I was also going to suggest summer school, but that might not be necessary.

    (Original post by kevin1297)
    Regarding admission to UK schools, it isn't all doom and gloom. I still have 5 semesters left of college to improve my grades, and at a 3.43, I am pretty close to LSE's minimum of 3.5, and Cambridge's minimum of a 3.6. I could do it if I work hard and work consistently.
    This is true. You aren't that far away from where you need to be. With a plan (consistency and hard (and smart) work), you should be okay.

    EDIT: Remember though that some of these courses are oversubscribed, so you might need more than the minimum.
    Offline

    11
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by kevin1297)
    How would you recommend doing that? Besides simply studying more, I can't really come up with any solutions to getting better grades.

    Regarding admission to UK schools, it isn't all doom and gloom. I still have 5 semesters left of college to improve my grades, and at a 3.43, I am pretty close to LSE's minimum of 3.5, and Cambridge's minimum of a 3.6. I could do it if I work hard and work consistently.
    I don't want to dishearten you too much, but just getting the minimum is not likely to be enough. If you can get really good recommendations, that would help a lot.
    Offline

    17
    ReputationRep:
    Honestly I dont want to be a ****, but if you cant maintain a high GPA during undergrad, then what makes you think you would be able to pass one of the most difficult and rigorous Econ MSc degrees in the world?

    There are quite a lot of Masters degrees in the UK that are cash-cows for the universities and have fairly low entry standards where you can get in with a 2:1 from any reasonable institution, but this really doesnt apply to the LSE/Oxford Economics MSc programs. Both of them (particularly LSE) are aimed at very strong international students, many of whom will be targeting top 10 US schools for PhDs afterwards. The entry standards are high and if your GPA isnt good, then I doubt having a doctor's note and a fistful of excuses is going to bridge the gap.

    You are probably going to have to either find a way to get over your issues and produce a better GPA, or target a lower tier of universities.

    edit: also, if you want to ultimately work in public policy, are you sure you want to be targetting an Economics MSc rather than a masters in public policy? Economics at masters level is basically just mathematics. This is why all the stuff you have said about running a charity and having internships is irrelevant for admissions - postgraduate economics is basically just an applied mathematics degree, and you primarily need to convince the admissions department that you are very good at math.
    • Thread Starter
    Offline

    0
    ReputationRep:
    (Original post by poohat)
    Honestly I dont want to be a ****, but if you cant maintain a high GPA during undergrad, then what makes you think you would be able to pass one of the most difficult and rigorous Econ MSc degrees in the world?

    There are quite a lot of Masters degrees in the UK that are cash-cows for the universities and have fairly low entry standards where you can get in with a 2:1 from any reasonable institution, but this really doesnt apply to the LSE/Oxford Economics MSc programs. Both of them (particularly LSE) are aimed at very strong international students, many of whom will be targeting top 10 US schools for PhDs afterwards. The entry standards are high and if your GPA isnt good, then I doubt having a doctor's note and a fistful of excuses is going to bridge the gap.

    You are probably going to have to either find a way to get over your issues and produce a better GPA, or target a lower tier of universities.

    edit: also, if you want to ultimately work in public policy, are you sure you want to be targetting an Economics MSc rather than a masters in public policy? Economics at masters level is basically just mathematics. This is why all the stuff you have said about running a charity and having internships is irrelevant for admissions - postgraduate economics is basically just an applied mathematics degree, and you primarily need to convince the admissions department that you are very good at math.
    (Original post by poohat)
    Honestly I dont want to be a ****, but if you cant maintain a high GPA during undergrad, then what makes you think you would be able to pass one of the most difficult and rigorous Econ MSc degrees in the world?

    There are quite a lot of Masters degrees in the UK that are cash-cows for the universities and have fairly low entry standards where you can get in with a 2:1 from any reasonable institution, but this really doesnt apply to the LSE/Oxford Economics MSc programs. Both of them (particularly LSE) are aimed at very strong international students, many of whom will be targeting top 10 US schools for PhDs afterwards. The entry standards are high and if your GPA isnt good, then I doubt having a doctor's note and a fistful of excuses is going to bridge the gap.

    You are probably going to have to either find a way to get over your issues and produce a better GPA, or target a lower tier of universities.

    edit: also, if you want to ultimately work in public policy, are you sure you want to be targetting an Economics MSc rather than a masters in public policy? Economics at masters level is basically just mathematics. This is why all the stuff you have said about running a charity and having internships is irrelevant for admissions - postgraduate economics is basically just an applied mathematics degree, and you primarily need to convince the admissions department that you are very good at math.
    First off, i am very offended by your comment. The point of me asking this question in the first place is so that I can learn what I need to do to get into a good masters program, not to be put down, and told the same things over and over again (i.e. my GPA is too low). Although I do have a lower GPA than would be preferable, I am in no means doomed, and your comment that I should look at lower ranked schools is out of line, uncalled for, and assuming the worst. I have other things going for me besides my academics, which by the way, at a top 40 liberal arts college like Occidental is much more difficult than the average university in the U.S., such as good LORs, work experience and extracurriculars.

    In addition, I only have had three semesters in college, so this is by no means a trend. I can, and most likely will, improve my GPA and learn how to study and learn the course material more effectively. I have pulled out of difficult situations which are much worse than this before, and with effort and dedication, I am confident than I can raise my GPA.

    Also, by saying that "a doctor's note and a fistful of excuses won't cut it", you are assuming that you know my personal story and what it is like to live with anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. It is a documented disability, and although I don't feel sorry for myself, and recognize that compared to people with no arms or legs, those who lost parents, or other tragic situations, I am relatively ok. However, this doesn't mean that I haven't been struggling personally and emotionally all my life. I am a smart guy, with a demonstrated ability to do well and a high IQ (126) to boot. I have overcome a lot in my life, and am still overcoming a lot, and am healing myself through therapy. My anxiety and depression is a part of me, and will be for the rest of my life, and I just have to learn to overcome it, which I am doing. To say that I should "get over it" is naive, offensive and just plain wrong.

    Maybe the admission standards at UK universities suggest that LSE or Oxford aren't for me, with my current grades. However, with a positive attitude, I can improve, just like I have consistently over the course of my life. I don't need you, nor anyone, especially an elitist adcom that only looks at grades, and nothing else, (like in the UK) to tell me that the events in my life that played a big part in me getting the grades that I have received so far, don't matter.



    Edit: I am looking into getting both an MPP and a MSc in Economics. I want to work for a think tank, or an NGO (which is different than a charity), and either help influence policy in developed countries at a think tank, or help developing ones at an NGO. I believe that an MSc in Economics sharpens my economics skills and gives me the option to get a PhD in Economics if I want to (which I have been considering).
 
 
 
Poll
Do you agree with the PM's proposal to cut tuition fees for some courses?

The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE

Write a reply...
Reply
Hide
Reputation gems: You get these gems as you gain rep from other members for making good contributions and giving helpful advice.