Break into top US universities with economics as a discipline

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Stories of Three Successful Bangladeshi Graduates




| Updated:
Jun 13, 2022 7:38:16 p.m.


Economics, being at the crossroads of humanities, science and business, has enormous potential for research and higher education.

The growing number of students choosing economics for their graduate studies speaks volumes about the potential of the discipline.

Sakib Sharaf Protik, Farzana Shirin and Marzuka Tartil Esha are three students of the discipline who are doing their higher studies abroad. The writer spoke with them about the ins and outs of the discipline, the opportunities it offers to pursue higher education abroad.

PhD at Virginia Tech

Sakib Sharaf Protik, a student in the Department of Economics at Dhaka University, is currently pursuing his Ph.D. at Virginia Tech.

Protik, who directly entered the doctoral program after obtaining his baccalaureate, told the writer about his journey,

“The plan started around 2020, post-pandemic. Initially I planned to do my MSS but eventually I gave that up for my PhD. I started looking for GRE materials and I I’ve also seen that master’s programs in the United States generally don’t offer as many funding opportunities as doctoral degrees.”

Speaking about whether he was passionate about the subject, Protik said:

“I won’t say I was passionate, but certainly, I had a certain fondness for economics. DU economics didn’t give me the exposure and the tools to work with, to be frank, but there are still good and precious memories that I can look back on.”

Planning the GRE and getting a good enough GRE score and statement of purpose is very important to getting funded admission.

“I gave the GRE a bit late because I was still confused and didn’t know if I should finish my masters and then go abroad or just do my PhD directly. So after the GRE, I had to work quickly to write my SOP and also manage the LOR.”

“I will suggest taking the GRE very seriously, especially the quantitative part. I also suggest giving the GRE at least in October so that you can have enough time to focus on your college application.”

Speaking from his overall life experience in the United States, Protik mentioned that the educational culture there is exemplary and rigorous, so there are sometimes frustrations.

“But, I’m having fun. The air is much cleaner and the food is healthy. I can’t complain.”

From the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Farzana Shirin, another graduate from the Department of Economics at the University of Dhaka, is currently a doctoral student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Talking about the starting point of her PhD journey, she said:

“When I was in college, I heard about Bangladesh’s bumper potato harvest in the newspaper. The next day, news channels broadcast how it had led to a fall in the price of potato and caused misery to the farmers.”

“This observation of the ‘bumper harvest paradox’ was my first encounter with applied economics.”

Farzana also mentioned, “I started with a basic interest in economics in college. My favorite course has always been international business. But it was only the development economics course at DU Econ that aroused my interest in the specialization.”

The early presentation of her research at an international conference and the growing interest in applying the theories she learned prompted her to apply for higher education.

“I knew I wanted more training and a dip in the world of research. I planned accordingly and entered my dream PhD program in the fall of 2018,” she remarked.

Asked about the means of preparation and the general living conditions of doctoral students in the United States, she replied:

“For graduate programs in economics, the GRE quantitative score is crucial. The higher the better and it is always safe to have it above 165. Entry is only a point, so there’s a lot to consider for what follows.”

It should be kept in mind that graduate degrees, especially doctorates, require great commitment and courage. The main things to keep in mind during graduate school are: maintaining a healthy work-life balance, avoiding isolation, and remembering your purpose.”

Life for graduates in the United States is both tough and here you compete and learn from the best of the best. However, it allows you to grow as an individual and be independent in more than one aspect of life, Farzana thinks.

“The best part is the opportunity to experience such a diverse environment and collaborate with other passionate economists: the kind of fulfillment to aspire to.”

For Sakib and Farzana, their undergraduate CGPA played a big part in their journey as they were among the top students in the department.

ACMG couldn’t spoil the fun

Unlike the other two, Marzuka Tartil Esha’s story is a bit different. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree at Indiana University. His undergraduate GPA was not extraordinarily high.

“I was born and raised in Dhaka and spent my whole university life here. I didn’t want to stay in science anymore, hence this decision,” Marzuka said of the economy.

“I have always been adamant about doing higher education abroad, whatever my discipline. At a very young age, I discovered the student life of Mohammad Zafar Iqbal in the United States, which inspired me even more .”

Marzuka was involved in a lot of extracurricular activities at UD and she thinks she didn’t study as much as she should have.

“I also had to retake an exam four times before I passed and graduated. All these events made me reconsider my goal of pursuing higher education abroad.”

However, she found inspiration to return to her goal when she noticed that a friend of hers was going abroad for higher education with a slightly better GPA than her.

“So I started to prepare for the GRE and everything. My IELTS score was pretty good, but due to extreme exam anxiety, my GRE score wasn’t as good as it should have been. but with good recommendations and a strong statement of purpose, anything is possible.”

However, she leaves some warning remarks for aspirants.

“Life here is stressful. Personally, I have to study 40 hours a week and work 20 hours to support myself.”

“But I appreciate the education here which is quite different from that in Bangladesh where a few exams carry a lot of marks that will decide your fate.”

You should have a clear goal if you are looking to get a degree abroad as it is a lot of pressure.

“Additionally, having a good command of the English language, being consistent and not giving up on your goal despite all the obstacles are some of the key things,” Marzuka concluded.

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