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I was not sure at first where to go for career advice. A few of my friends and colleagues suggested posting a question on here. Sorry if this is an inappropriate avenue, I noticed that most of the questions on here were technical rather than advisory. I had an undergrad GPA of 2.9/4.0. I took a few graduate courses, around 21 (credits) but withdrew from 3 (credits) due to a time commitment (so technically I have 18 completed (credits) courses), but I have accumulated from those 18 (credits) courses around a 3.9 GPA. A overwhelming majority of them were in stats, but a few were in pure math. I also volunteered with AmeriCorps for a year.

My question boils down to two things: (1) Specifically form whom should I get letters of recommendation from? (2) Is graduate school completely out of the question? Unfortunately, the bulk of my advice has been that graduate school is probably out of the question.

I'm not particularly interested in stats, but I am interested in combinatorics.

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18 courses, or 18 credits? I mean, 18 courses is about as many as a PhD student takes. Sorry if you really meant 18 courses. I just don't understand how you could take so many classes at the graduate level and then ask if you could get into grad school. What level were these graduate courses? –  Graphth Nov 3 '11 at 18:21
Yeah sorry, I meant 18 credits. –  PiotrA Nov 3 '11 at 18:28
This is a question to others who are professors at grad schools and deal with admissions. Could a good Math Subject GRE overcome a bad undergraduate GPA? In my case, I ended up with about a 3.3 undergrad GPA and got about 61% on Math Subject GRE. A few years later, I studied and took it again and got 81% and I'm in an okay grad school and have a 3.98 GPA and will probably graduate with a PhD next year. My thought is a good subject score will show he can self study and that he has the relevant background. –  Graphth Nov 3 '11 at 18:29
@Graphth : I have served on my department's grad admissions committee many times. Different people rank applicants in different ways, but I personally put very little stock in the GRE (it's just one test) and care a lot about grades. A 3.3 GPA wouldn't get your file thrown out without further reading, but it would hurt your chances quite a bit. –  Adam Smith Nov 3 '11 at 18:47

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I think that someone with that record would have serious difficulty getting into a decent PhD program.

If you are dead-set on getting into a PhD program, then your best option is to get a master's degree first. The disadvantage is that you will probably have to pay for it; however, if you do well in a master's program, many departments will be willing to overlook a poor undergraduate performance.

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Perhaps I am misreading the OP, but if I'm not, what kind of country are you living in? Having a 3.9 GPA and having taken (approximately) 6 graduate courses isn't good enough to get into a good graduate program? My roommate had a very similar record and is now in the PhD program here at UMDCP, which (maybe I'm mistaken) not an indecent program. –  Alex Youcis Nov 3 '11 at 18:44
@AlexYoucis : I am in the United States at a department that is good, but not top 15. Observe that the OP said that the overwhelming majority of his/her grad classes were in statistics, but (s)he was interested in combinatorics. Also, (s)he had a very low overall undergraduate gpa. If (s)he were applying to statistics departments, things would be quite different. –  Adam Smith Nov 3 '11 at 18:50
Ah, duly noted. I can understand then. –  Alex Youcis Nov 3 '11 at 18:51
Just to make sure I understand. So a masters program is not out of the question? I wouldn't mind doing that. Currently I teach at a community college. I have accumulated enough savings that paying for school wouldn't be too much of an issue. Furthermore, I wasn't going to job to the top 15 programs. I live in Louisiana, and wanted to stay in state. I don't think any of the universities here are even in the top 50 - except for maybe Tulane. –  PiotrA Nov 3 '11 at 20:10
@PiotrA : No, the entrance requirements for masters programs are much, much lower than those for PhD programs. By the way, these things are all quite subjective, I would rank LSU quite a bit higher than Tulane (though neither are top 50 programs). –  Adam Smith Nov 3 '11 at 20:30

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