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Round and round the app cycle alleycat chased her dream grad school!

Entries in this blog

Right so...

My application season can be broadly divided into two-applications sent between November and December (including those sent to the States) and applications sent January onwards. Nothing really came of any of my applications before January so I drastically changed my approach to applying (and the continent on which the schools I was applying to are on!) Anyway, since January I've had more success with getting to interview stage which was encouraging-at least I was doing something right now! BUT, and there's always this but, I am still an international student and fuding is difficult to come by easpecially now.

In my experience I had PIs who wanted me but needed to go back and check if they could hire me because of my international status-no funding body is going to change their funding eligibility criteria for one candidate so that was a definite dead end but it's nice to feel wanted. There was one PI who put me forward for another source of funding and I made the list of 10 students to be funded but then the funding body cut the number of studentships to 5 so I was outcompeted by people with masses more research experience and publications.

Anyway, that's all behind me now because I've now secured a place in the UK-fully funded with a stipend which is ideal. Really excited about it all especially because I'm going to be living in an amazingly exciting city. I still have an interview at another place-if I get offered this one too I might change my mind but at the moment the first one is winning in my head!

I was really keen on moving to the States for Grad School but I'm really excited about what I've got now. I don't know if I would feel differently or what I would choose to do if I had both an offer from the US and one from the UK but I guess I'll never know.

I may be back to rant about Grad School in the future but for now, thanks for reading, good luck to those still applying/waiting and thanks to everyone who offered advice and support!



By alleycat393,

Hello y'all,

I haven't been active on here in a while-only coming onto the website to check the results section. The application season is not going well for me so far :(

Right so a quick update:


MIT: rejection

Rockefeller: Apparently they'll send out their last lot of decisions by the end of this week but I'm not feeling too positive.

Yale: still making decisions but I haven't been invited for interview-bad sign much?

Harvard: finished sending out interview invites a long time ago and I haven't got one. Final decisions in March.

UPenn: said they'd send out interview invites by the end of Jan. Don't know what's going on though coz I haven't heard of anyone who's got an invite.

All my various contacts are coming back with the same story:

No money in research at the moment, especially for non-American applicants

Lots of applicants because of fact that there are no jobs and most of these applicants have waay above average amounts of research experience which I can't even think about competing with with my measly 1.5 years.

All in all I don't think I'm coming to the States for Grad School in the Fall. I've now turned my attention elsewhere but am being met with similar resistance to the fact that I am international, non-EU, etc. Will keep trying though because I'm not ready to give up my PhD dream yet. Will probably look out for research assistant positions too and if that doesn't work out either, I'll probably return to my home country and sort through the slim pickings there.

*Sigh* sorry to be such a downer! Hope other people are having more luck than I am.

Ps:- What's with the FYI and Fake University posts in the results section? Don't people have better things to do? Ugh!

All applications complete with LORs, GRE scores, transcripts and everything else. Last deadline on the 8th and then I'm officially waiting for decisions.

By the way, UCSD finally contacted me to tell me that my pre-application was not approved for application...not surprised because I realised that I didn't have a very good fit with any members of their faculty though it would be nice to get some feedback (I asked for it). I've also realised that I don't have any faculty I'm overly excited about at one of my schools, have one faculty member I'm luke warm about at another and one I'm really excited about at a third (all three 'backup' schools). Feeling a bit stupid about applying to them now but ah well...we'll see what happens. Maybe I'm taking this waay too lightly but I'm just so relieved to have gotten everything to everywhere on time and can do damn all about what happens next in this cycle so I may as well just leave it be...

In other news, two weeks till our winter break...it's snowing like crazy here in the UK and I'm a bit worried about being able to make it home to India for the holidays but again that's something I can do nothing about.

C'mon AdComms, hurry up with making decisions...comments?

My first deadline was the 5th of November. It was a pre-application deadline so was stress-free since I'd submitted it in August and it didn't need anything else.

Now I have five letter writers who I've used as I felt appropriate (they all know some people at the schools I'm applying to). Lets call them A, B, C, D and E.

Now A submitted all his letters as soon as I requested them-like within a few hours!

B submitted his two weeks after I requested it.

C took about two weeks for each of his letters from the time I requested them.

D submitted his first letter a week before the first deadline, his second one also a week before the second deadline and then all the rest in one go a week before his third deadline when I met him in the department and wagged my finger at him from a distance!

E submitted his first one 4 days before the first deadline (after a number of emails from me), his second one two days before the deadline, his next two today (one of which is needed for tomorrow and the other for Saturday :o). He has three more to submit for the 7th and 8th of December but the stress I've had today trying to get in touch with him! He told me last night that he would send the two due tomorrow and day after, today but didn't tell me that he was flying out of the country today. Have had a rough day trying to ring/text him but obviously he'd changed his SIM. Emailed him thrice but no response and then suddenly he sends in both recommendation forms. Oh the relief! Can't wait for the 9th when all my application deadlines will be over-hopefully all my applications will also be complete by then!

In other news, UCSD still hasn't been in touch about the outcome of my pre-application form. I've emailed them twice already to get the same response-they're still reviewing and if they're not done by the 5th December deadline then they'll extend the deadline. The deadline only applies for the online application form though!

Anyway, this post has been more of an LOR rant than anything else. Feel free to PM me with questions/post comments B)


By alleycat393,

Yup waiting....painful process...

So all my applications are in now. UCSD has a pre-application form and the deadline for that is tomorrow so I should have some kind of decision from them soon-ish about whether they want me to apply.

As for the other applications, most of them have received everything except for a few LORs. Harvard and UPenn have still to acknowledge the receipt of my GRE scores and transcripts though UPenn specfically says DO NOT contact us to find out about the status of documents. Ugh! UCSF can't seem to find my GRE scores though I've received my copy here in the UK!

All that aside, I don't think any of my departments have rolling admissions so I just have to wait....

In the mean time I'm chasing up LORs and being kept busy with my final year of undergrad. It's not too bad coz time seems to have sped up but I better not speak too soon!

Right so this is sheer boredom! All but one app has been submitted-the last one is ready but I'm waiting to hear something, anything, from a PI at this last university. BUT, I will only wait till the beginning of next week coz I do want my GRE scores to reach them in time.

The online application systems of some universities will acknowledge when my transcripts and GRE scores have reached them and the systems of otther won't so I just have to trust *rolls eyes*. Anyway, all in all I would say that this is one of the least stressful parts of the process-submitting everything. The stress comes on now-waiting for everything to reach safetly-for that email that says 'Application Complete!' and then checking the email a million times for an admissions decision. And then I'm hoping the process of actually accepting offers is peaceful....

The only bee under my bonnet at the moment is my UCSD application. So it all started off hunky-dory when I sent off the pre-app form back in August. I haven't heard a peep out of them since then (to be fair they did acknowledge the receipt of my form and say that they would begin processing the pre-apps in November). Anyway, they said if my pre-app was successful they would send me application instructions BUT their actual application deadline is the 1st of December!!! How do a bunch of academics NOT know that academics take their own sweet time to write LORs and that lighting a fire under their arses does not help the process? Ugh!


Hello again!

While I wait I thought I'd tell you a bit about the things I looked at to narrow down my list of unis, how I went about writing my personal statement, how I prepped for my GRE and how I chose my recommendation writers.

So as I mentioned in my last entry I came up with a list of 20 odd unis based on my personal idea of 'dream schools' and recommendations about where I would 'fit' from people in the field that I knew. What I did not mention was that for each school I also looked at what funding they had available. A lot of the schools say that they fund all graduate students irrespective of their nationality. However, some schools like John Hopkins for example specifcally say that they do not have too much money for international students and only accept about 2% of their international applicatants. Being a poor student and never having had to pay an application fee in my life, I decided to immediately drop schools like John Hopkins because I didn't want to shell out $100 if I didn't stand a good chance. It was only after that that I ranked my unis in order of preference based on where there were the most labs I thought I could work in. Oh and I was doing all this from about the Spring of 2010.

Anyway, soon after this process (July 2010) I went about writing my personal statement. I usually start thinking about what I'm gonna write a couple of weeks before I actually start writing so I pretty much write it all out in my head and then type it all up. What I was going for was why I thought I would make a good grad student, why I wanted to do a PhD, how I got interested in Immunology, how my research experience honed my research interests and what I plan to do after my PhD. I had my supervisor at uni read it here in the UK and his reaction was to focus on the research experience and interests and let everything else fade into the background because the fact that I'm applying for a PhD shows that I will make a good grad student. When I started applying though I soon realised that some schools ask for a personal statement which states exactly what UK unis take for granted! Needless to say that I maintained those portions of my statement.

The big GRE: I took this horrible exam in July 2010 after prepping for a month for it using the Barron's book, all the resources available on the ETS website except Powerprep because it doesn't work on a Windows 7 64 bit computer, and whatever resources I could randomly find online free. My GRE scores are not stellar but I didn't feel the need to re-take it because I was happy with my statement, have research experience from a well recognised organisation and people who will write me strong recommendations. Which then brings me to this:

I had about 5 people to choose from for my LORs. My university supervisor would be able to comment on my academic prograss and my three supervisors (yes three! long story) at GSK have watched me in the lab. Then there's the PI who I'm gonna work with in my final year who's watched me develop my project proposal and ideas. I decided to go with a combination of the three GSK supervisors and my uni supervisor so that I didn't have all three people from the same institution. Fingers corssed for that strategy!

What I've tried to give you in this entry is an idea of how I got to the stage in the app cycle I'm not out. Questions? You know where to find me!

Ps: I managed to submit my Rockefeller application! Yay! And have given Yale a prod about updating my profile to reflect the receipt of my GRE scores which I sent them in July-yes JULY!


Just thought I'd chat a bit about how it all started for me and where I'm up to at the moment in this application cycle.

So, I'm an Indian student applying for Bioscience and more specifically Immunology Phd programs. I will graduate from the University of York in the UK in July 2011 and am expected to get a 2:1 degree class (which is an A-/B+ in letter grades and I refuse to even try to convert that to a GPA). I took the GRE general test and these were my scores: 640Q, 590V, 4.0AW. I've had a year's worth of research experience in the field in GlaxoSmithKline and am publishing a review article. My final year research project is also immunology based. All in all, I believe I have a strong profile (eek? comments welcome!) and so started the process of choosing 10 grad schools to apply to based on advice from a variety of sources. Some of the schools are simply 'dream schools' and some I've been advised to apply to by various people in the field who know me, what I want to study and where they believe I'd 'fit'.

These are the schools I'm applying to: UCSD, MIT, UCSF, Yale, Rockefeller, UCLA, UPenn, Harvard. My top choices are Harvard, UCSF and UPenn but I think I'd really be happy going to any of these schools though I do have an order of preference based on where the most labs I'd like to work in are. I've already sent of app forms to MIT, Yale and UCSF and am in the process of completing the remaining app forms. UCSD required a pre-app form which I've sent off. They begin reviewing them in November so I won't hear anything from them till then. Yale refuses to tell me if they've received my GRE scores or not even though I sent them off when I took my test back in July! I can't seem to submit the Rockefeller app coz PayPal says it cannot accept money at this point (for the last month! have emailed Rockefeller twice but no response).

Oh and I've had some 'official' transcripts sent off today. I still don't understand why grad schools in the US are so anal about them being in sealed envelopes and sent from my university because here in the UK the transcripts are available online and UK unis accept them printed off by the student because they trust us!!!

Well that's all I have to say at the mo. Please feel free to comment and ask questions. Speak soon!

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