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Going All In

An Interesting Conversation

Posted by newms, in Interview 16 February 2011 · 465 views

Today I spoke with the POI from one of my top choices, if not my top choice, by Skype. I would have loved to have heard right off the bat, 'We're going to accept you', while I feared that it would have been an inquisition that would determine whether or not I got accepted. Needless to say, I was nervous :rolleyes:   The talk, and I'll say 'talk' rather than 'interview', was a lot closer to the former than the latter, with the POI telling me at the end that he was 'confident' that I would receive an offer later this week. I'm guessing this means that I've been recommended for admission and that the offer just needs to be approved by the grad school - that's a fair assumption, right?   The chat lasted about 30 mins and we talked about his interests and mine and how they overlap. He also gave me the opportunity to ask him questions, and I asked him about a couple projects that he is working on that I'm interested in. I also made sure to point out that I'd met one of his grad students at the conference I was at in December and worked in a mention of the paper that student presented on. He also asked if I like programming and about my mathematical background - nothing specific or technical, he just wanted to make sure I didn't have a fear of Maths, as he put it. He also repeatedly made it clear that all PhD students are guaranteed funding for 5 years - it almost seemed like he was trying to convince me that this school would be a great place to go to (as if I needed any convincinghttp://forum.thegradcafe.com/public/style_emoticons/default/smile.gif ).   Since I'm from a tropical country, he made a joke about the winters at this place and asked how interested I'd be in coming - seemingly gauging my interest in attending.     He also described the process to getting a PhD, in that there'd be coursework for 2 semesters and I'd be expected to start research by next summer. I asked if it would be possible to start research earlier and he said I could start from day 1 if I knew what I wanted to do right away. He explained that once I was admitted I would be free to choose any advisor I wanted, but also said that I could contact him before the fall for reading material or any advice I wanted. While pointing out the importance of selecting the right advisor, he made the analogy that is often made here, that selecting an advisor is like getting married to someone, since you're going to be working closely with them for several years.    Somewhere along the conversation he switched saying 'if   you get an offer' in describing the process to 'when   you get an offer'. Then at the end he told me I should look out for the offer later this week since he was confident that I'd get one.    I'm thrilled at the prospect of attending this school and I'm eagerly awaiting the official offer.    UPDATE (Feb 16): I received an email today saying I've been recommended for admission with funding at this school. An hour later, I received another email of admission with funding from another school I applied to. I'm living a dream.  


Posted by newms, in Interview 14 February 2011 · 311 views

So, I got an email this morning from a POI at one of my top choices asking for a chat tomorrow via Skype. The prof said he has been looking at my application with great interest. He used the word 'chat' rather than 'interview', so I'm not sure if it's a formal interview or not, but in either case I'll be preparing for that. Does anybody have any tips? I've done job interviews before, even interviewed people for jobs, but I haven't had a grad school interview before.

Bring On February!

Posted by newms, in Waiting it out 02 February 2011 · 243 views

Firstly, let me say congrats to everyone who has received an admission in January, I really am happy for you. With that said, I'm ecstatic that the month of January is over.    I never expected  to hear from my schools in January based on when results were reported last year. Even so waiting is incredibly frustrating. My heart almost stops every time I get an email that has a subject line remotely related to grad school (that's not from theGradCafe). Recently I got a call from an area code that I didn't recognise and immediately composed myself, mentally preparing myself for a call from a POI or from a school. It was a false alarm. That prompted me to find look up the area codes of the schools I applied to. Is that obsessive?   One of my schools sent out an acceptance last Friday and again yesterday. I hadn't expected to see results from them so soon since last year they apparently sent out their results in March. What does it mean that they've sent out at least 2 admits so far and I haven't heard from them since they said my application was sent to the program in early January? Does it mean anything? Part of me is excited that they've started sending results earlier this year, since I feel pretty good about my chances of getting in to that school - it'd probably be 3rd or 4th in the pack of 10 schools I applied to in terms of how good I think my chances are. If I don't get in there though, does that mean I'm pretty much done for at the more competitive schools I applied to? At this point, I'm just hoping that they're going through the applications and mine will come up tomorrow, or the day after that.   From the results reported on the gradcafe from last year, the next two and a half weeks will have a lot of activity from most of the schools I applied to. I hate thinking about things in hyperbole, but the next few weeks could be life changing for me. It's not every day that you have the opportunity for a long held dream to come true, and every day from here on out until I hear from my last school will be such a day. So that's how I'm going to look at tomorrow - as a day for my dreams to come true. And if it doesn't, then there's always the day after that.   Here's hoping that your February is as good as I hope mine will be.   PS. I was going to name the title of this post 'dear lord, i HAVE gone insane'  as a play on inafuturelife's post  from last month. But the thought occurred to me that a school could google who I was and come across this post and I didn't want to leave any ambiguity about the state of my cognitive well beinghttp://forum.thegradcafe.com/public/style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif . And if there does happen to be someone from an adcomm who comes across this post, then please pick me! Pick me! Dear Lord, please pick me!!...

Officially Waiting...

Posted by newms, in Waiting it out 15 January 2011 · 348 views

I know I'm a little late to the waiting game, since I had a January 15 deadline for one school, but here I am. As I wait, I plan on reading up some more on academic papers in the field as well as reading a book I got at the conference I went to last month. Reading the tea leaves (and by that I mean looking at when the schools I applied to gave out results last year on the GradCafe's survey page) I figure that I probably won't get any news until the middle of February at the earliest.From the self-reported results on the GradCafe's survey page from last year, the 10 schools I applied to all sent out decisions after the second week in February 2010. 8 of them had sent out some decisions in February while the remaining 2 sent out their decisions in March and later. More importantly (for me), none of the schools I chose sent out any rejections (at least based on the self reported results) until the middle of March, meaning that for the 4 weeks from mid-February to mid-March, all reported decisions from my schools were acceptances, while after that period, there were probably twice as many rejections as admits. This is not typical of grad schools, or even of Computer Science programs, since I myself got 3 rejections last February, but if this trend holds for my schools this year, then any contact I get before the end of February should be good. If I don't have any good news by mid-March, then the odds will definitely not be in my favor. I've also been looking through the departmental calendars for the programs I applied to, since I remember last year people found calendars that had times reserved for things such as 'Admissions meeting'. Sure enough, one of my schools has dates between Jan 25 and Feb 21 marked 'Hold for interview' and has Feb 24 marked 'Faculty meeting to discuss candidates' and Feb 28 'Faculty-wide Admissions Meeting' - this was one of the schools that gave out decisions after February last year.So for me it looks like it's on to February, maybe I'll get an interview invite before then, but I'm not expecting to hear anything until next month at the earliest.


Posted by newms, in Waiting it out 06 January 2011 · 368 views

Ok, it's not the breakthrough I really want, in a fully funded admission, but it feels pretty close to that at this point. My letter of recommendation writer who hadn't uploaded his letters yet  finished uploading them to all the schools I'm applying to earlier this week. The day after I wrote my previous post he submitted a couple and then he...

I have a LoR Problem...

Posted by newms, in Waiting it out 22 December 2010 · 384 views

So, I have submitted 7/10 applications so far and should be finished completely later this week (the remaining 3 apps have deadlines in January). Unfortunately one of my LoR writers hasn't submitted any letters yet and 5 of my schools had deadlines on Dec 15th. Every day that passes is making it more unlikely that those 5 apps will be properly considered....

Headed to a Conference this Weekend

Posted by newms, in Conferences 01 December 2010 · 274 views
conferences, NIPS2010
So this weekend I'm off to Vancouver for NIPS 2010. I won't be presenting but I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to meet people in my field. More than that however a few of the professors that I am interested in will have papers at this conference. I've been in contact with a few of them and hopefully I'll have the opportunity...

A Rant About My Transcript

Posted by newms, in Transcript 15 October 2010 · 295 views

Well not really a rant, since I'm not much of a 'ranter', but it's a close to a rant as I get.I'm scanning my official transcript to upload it to my applications and I'm noticing that it says my GPA is 0.00!!I graduated before my UG instituted a GPA system, and I graduated with honors. At the time they used an A+, A, A-, B+...

My War Room

Posted by newms, in About Me, Advice 14 October 2010 · 190 views

My "war room" is a google docs spreadsheet that I  have been maintaining since about March of this year. In it, I have a sheet with over 60 schools that I looked at initially. Being a numbers person, I assigned a grade to each of the schools based on their reputation, their research (how much they matched mine) and their location. I then multiplie...

Maybe we should all keep our goals to ourselves?

Posted by newms, in Advice 06 October 2010 · 505 views

In this TED talk, Derek Sivers argues that by sharing our goals with others we are giving ourselves a feeling of getting it done, when in fact, we are no closer to actually accomplishing our goal. This feeling of getting closer to your goal hurts your chances of actually reaching your goal since you find yourself less motivated than you should be, thinkin...

Writing a Statement of Purpose

Posted by newms, in Statement of Purpose, Advice 24 September 2010 · 6,552 views

As I am in the process of writing my statement of purpose from scratch, having decided that my SoP from last year was simply not good enough, I've decided to put together a blog post with some of the best advice on writing SoPs I've found in the last year or so of thinking about applying to grad school and perhaps the advice below from various sources can...

Top 5 Things I Did Wrong Last Year (AKA Avoid These Things Like The Plague)

Posted by newms, in About Me, Advice 23 September 2010 · 442 views
In preparing myself for this year's application season, I went over all the things I did wrong last year, so that I could improve my chances for this year. Here, I think, is where I fell short last year. Consider it a list of things to avoid for those who are wondering what to do to apply to grad school.5) I underestimated how hard it is to get into g...

Hello World!

Posted by newms, in About Me 22 September 2010 · 184 views
Being in computer science, the title of this post was an obvious choice for me (fellow geeks will understand). I am probably not the typical grad school applicant in that I've been out of school for a few years now (actually 8 - I finished my undergraduate in 2002). I always intended to go to grad school, but life got in the way as they say, and I dec...

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