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Adrenaline

NOWAYNOHOW

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There is less than a month until my first applications are due and I am suddenly feeling the anxiety and exhilaration that comes with taking such a giant risk. Sometimes I feel fantastic, like I'm going to get into every single program on my list (of 10, if you are wondering how things are going) and sometimes I feel defeated, like I'm wasting my time yet again.

I have completed what I hope is my final draft of my statement of purpose, and cut down my thesis to a sample of about 25 pages. My letter writers are locked in, my transcripts and GRE scores have been sent, and I'm updating my CV.

I have had 2 in-person meetings with POIs, and one phone call. To be honest, the in-person meetings didn't go all that well -- and not because they didn't like me, or I didn't like them. The value in meeting a POI seems to be that they can tell me things that they couldn't otherwise. In both cases, I was told about either funding or personnel problems, and the news shifted my plans for each program significantly. Another POI told me over email about a crucial problem on the department side of things, so I know that school is now unlikely to admit me because my POI is on indefinite leave, etc, etc. I'm just saying this to underline how valuable getting in touch with POIs has been -- I've reached out to almost 30 professors, and it has been so crucial in keeping my confidence levels up and getting a feel for what faculty committees are looking for.

Feeling better about this cycle doesn't keep my from occasionally getting hit with a burst of adrenaline. It's a shock to the system. It's standing on the edge of a huge chasm and my dream is right on the other side. I can see it, but can I get there? Can I grasp it?

Only time will tell.

How are your applications going? Have you had any worthwhile or interesting talks with POIs? Are you ready to turn your applications in or are you ready to throw them out the window?




11 Comments


I'm feeling pretty antsy myself. I can't believe it's going to be over so soon.

Just spoke to a POI at my dream school. All seemed to be going well until I didn't describe my writing sample so well to him... and he's on the adcomm. Oh well. My app will speak for itself when the time comes!

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I'm feeling bipolar about the whole affair. 

 

I'm a little worried about my writing sample since it's from 2006 and it's not connected to my current research interests.  I also spent an hour working on two sentences in my SOP.  It sucked. 

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Thinking positive thoughts and prayers are the only ones keeping me sane :)

 

I'm finishing my SOP draft for two schools. One school needs immunizations as part of the application so that's an added stress.

 

NOWAYNOHOW, what sorts of questions did you ask while you were there? Any tips?

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Absolutely in the same boat, wavering between confidence and terror (also a lot of "This SoP is pretty good! I bet they'll be disappointed when they realize I'm stupid!"). If anyone asks, though, I'm going with "cautious optimism": I know I have a strong profile, and I'm putting in a lot of work to make sure it's presented in a way that is appealing to each program; however, there are a lot of factors beyond my control, so I'll just keep working hard and see how things go.

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.

 

NOWAYNOHOW, what sorts of questions did you ask while you were there? Any tips?

 

I thought I'd need to have a lot of questions going in, but the whole affair almost felt like a confessional on the part of the POI. It was like they had all these secrets about the process and the department they could only tell me in person. Of course, I asked about their new projects, and what they thought a strong application looked like, and some specific resources relevant to my project, but I mostly listened.

 

If anything, make sure your 'elevator pitch' is strong. They're going to ask you about yourself, and you will have to sum your project up quickly and in a way that grabs them.

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I second terror. Just straight up, terror. Followed by intense fantasy of acceptance. Followed by depression when I remember what I'm up against and how much work I have to do to be ready. Rinse, Repeat. 

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Now I'm starting to worry about the fact that I never contacted any POIs, because I didn't want to come across the wrong way. Is it possible to get asked for an interview/accepted into a program having never contacted a POI during the application process?

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Now I'm starting to worry about the fact that I never contacted any POIs, because I didn't want to come across the wrong way. Is it possible to get asked for an interview/accepted into a program having never contacted a POI during the application process?

 

I have heard many instances of people being offered spots in programs without having contacted professors beforehand, especially in the social sciences and humanities where this is not common practice (STEM is a different story). I only went all-out because I am working on an 'unconventional' (for anthropology) topic and it is nice to connect in order to suss out how departments and faculty feel about the work I want to do. I also failed spectacularly last year, so I'm really overcompensating a bit this time around. I am sure you are fine!

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Me too worried, as I have not contacted my POIs, after making an application. Dont know, whats gonna happen. Is anyone aware how it goes for STEM PHDs? How are profiles evaluated... #worried 

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On 1/29/2016 at 2:23 AM, Rishabh Lala said:

Me too worried, as I have not contacted my POIs, after making an application. Dont know, whats gonna happen. Is anyone aware how it goes for STEM PHDs? How are profiles evaluated... #worried 

This thread is over a year old. If you have a new question, it is often best to make a new thread or post it somewhere relevant to make sure it gets seen.

But to answer your question, if you contacted them before that probably helps, it can be good to contact them after but no really big deal if you didn't, and while it's often harder, it's still possible to be admitted without contact a POI at all.

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