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Showing content with the highest reputation on 11/27/2016 in all areas

  1. 10 points
    In what may be a surprise to nobody, I'm going to disagree with those preaching about GPA. About myself: I graduated from a liberal arts school with a 3.5 GPA and a 3.4 BCMP GPA. Admittedly, I had 2.5 years of full-time research experience by the time I applied. Counterpoint: my undergraduate research experience consisted of a nine month thesis project. My GRE was a 163/163 for those curious about that. Now, having had the opportunity to work (and have candid conversations) with a faculty member on the Harvard BBS admissions committee, I'll say my piece. GPA and GRE matter in the screening process. But they don't have to be amazing. The general rule that I've heard for screening applicants is a GPA above 3.5 or 160+/160+ on the GRE. One is forgivable, but missing both won't do. Fortunately, one of these can be rectified somewhat easier than the other (GRE scores are easy to move, GPA not so much). Should people with lower GPAs apply more broadly? Yes. But let's stop saying that GPA is a be all, end all here. It's not. Maybe for some of the less lab oriented sciences (stats, biostats, bioinformatics), GPA is much more important. But for lab-based sciences, programs that are ultimately bench focused, there's a reason that you see a reasonable number of people getting into top tier programs with 3.5 GPAs while a lot of people with 3.8 GPAs or whatever are getting rejected pre-interview. That being said, there are likely some programs that value GPA more than others. The best way, in my opinion, to assess this is to see what the program says about GPA on its website. If the program is showcasing high mean/median GPAs for interviewees/accepted students, then they probably care more about GPA than your average program. If the program, however, is just reporting a range (Stanford Biosciences: 2.88-4.00) or doesn't say much (Harvard DMS: "There is no minimum GPA..."), then they're probably looking at other things a little more closely. Moving on to other parts of your application, the most consistent piece of advice that I've received is that your letters are by far the most important part of the package. This is the reason why it is critical to have faculty members (if the work was done in an academic setting) or senior supervisors (ideally with a doctoral degree in a non-academic setting) write them. The commentary I've heard is that it's the letters that will make or break getting invited to an interview (hence why it's important to have people that know your work write the letters - what does this mean if your PI doesn't know you that well? Maybe see if a post-doc that does know you well can prepare a draft for your PI to edit/sign). Some of the comments in this thread have been focused on getting people to improve their package. Advising people to find the best letter writers (non-postdoc letter writers) is probably some of the best advice that can be given. It's certainly better than the GPA commentary. Research experience is probably the other most important factor. There are a fair number of programs that place a premium on having post-bacc research experience - and I think every faculty member knows that working full time in a lab for a year is much different than working full time in the summer/part time during the school year. However, I think a lot of people underestimate the importance of your resume/CV in the process. That is your opportunity to convince the admissions committee that 1) you have significant experience, 2) you can articulate it briefly, and (program dependent) 3) that you have other interests besides science (because guess what - these programs want good scientists, but they also want to foster a great community within the program; half of my interviews spent more time discussing my experience as a college athlete than my research experience). I know that my PI edited my CV 3 or 4 times before I was ready to submit it. Also, it's worth tailoring your CV to certain programs. I applied to programs at JHSPH and UW that were based in schools of public health - as such, I put more emphasis on my experience working abroad on public health related projects in the CVs that I sent to those schools. Of course, all this being said, if you can't remedy the deficiencies in your application by the time to apply (your GRE isn't 160/160, that third letter hasn't really fallen into place), then it may be time to reevaluate your chances at some of the higher ranked programs. And certainly, in the meantime, you should look at other programs that may not be as highly ranked (though I'm curious as to when BU, Sinai, and UMiami became top tier - they're good, but let's not get carried away). But absolutely don't discount higher ranked programs because of GPA. This is probably the most holistic admissions process you'll ever encounter. That is something to be taken advantage of.
  2. 4 points
    Honestly? I'm not really sure how any kind of complaint by a student, barring something of a sexual nature, could "leave a stain" on a professor's career. It's pretty clear that the faculty in the department aren't supportive of your project so it's unclear to me whether or how you'd ever finish your degree. If I were you, I would just move on with my life and consider this a bad experience but one you can learn a lot from.
  3. 3 points
    As someone who already has a masters degree, I think being able to form relationships and get to know your classmates is a valid consideration. Grad school can be awfully lonely, and classmates can be a built-in support system. Should it be the only consideration and one that supersedes financial and other "pragmatic" concerns? No, of course not. But it's something that many people at least think about. Maybe it's less of a factor for someone who's already settled down with a family, though?
  4. 3 points

    How to complain effectively against professors

    Frankly, you need to take this stuff to a lawyer who deals with wrongful termination suits. Because of your health issues, you may have grounds for some kind of lawsuit that might result in your being reinstated, but I'm guessing (actually, I'm certain) that no one at TGC is qualified enough to advise you on this matter.
  5. 1 point

    Fall 2017 Applicants

    Good god. My first deadlines are this week, and while I have some minor adjustments to make for length and to fit paragraphs in my SoP, I'm disconcertingly well prepared. This is contrary to all my life experience thus far (I'm the student who submits essays 5 mins before the deadline), and is making me nervous. I have TWO AND AND HALF weeks until the deadline for my No. 1 preference, there must be a curve ball waiting for me somewhere...
  6. 1 point
    Don't worry about it. As long as it is relevant, interesting, and to the point, they don't mind long essays.
  7. 1 point
    okay I'll give this my best shot haha. so far I really like the program, and my research is really interdisciplinary, but there's a few key things to know about the curriculum. first, you basically pick the courses you want to take - they can be from any department, as long as they're 500 level or over, and other than that you're doing thesis research all the time (very much like working 9-5). this was great for me because my coursework is very tailored, but the tradeoff is that you really don't meet anyone in the program. I'd say that's the biggest drawback - there is no cohesiveness in the program whatsoever. if I didn't already have friends here I think I'd be super lonely. I knew this program was good for me because I heard you could finish it in a year if you wanted, and could really tailor your coursework to your needs, and I'd say it's done exactly this for me so far. but in terms of other opportunities, like TAships, department talks, RAships, etc., you're very much on your own for that and need to figure it out on your own if it's going to happen. it's a very independent program and if you want to make the most of it you need to be assertive in seeking your own opportunities. let me know if you have any more specific questions!
  8. 1 point

    Fall 2017 Applicants

    I just did the same thing. I retook the Subject (only did slightly better), then retook the General, in the hopes I might raise it, and scored worse on everything except Analytical Writing. Made a perfect 6 on that, though, so that made my feelings of inadequacy subside just a bit. I understand the necessity, especially with schools which have 200+ applications, but being in graduate school and still being forced to take standardized tests rubs me the wrong way.
  9. 1 point

    Fall 2017 Applicants

    Congrats, Wyatt! Without [hopefully] sounded TOO terribly weird, I THINK you and I were in the same application cycle last time I was on here (I haven't been on since master's apps, 2 cycles ago!). I like seeing familiar faces, AND I just finished up my own apps for this cycle. So good luck, all around? I'll definitely be cheering everyone on, but wanted to congratulate for the success of the past years!
  10. 1 point

    Idea on schools?

    I wouldn't say that UChicago is any more focused on European literature than some of the other programs on your list. As far as I know they have faculty working in Chinese, Tamil, Azerbaijani, Arabic, Japanese, etc. Mostly I mention the program because Chicago is pretty stellar for Queer & Feminist Theory (they have a Grad Certificate in Gender and Sexuality), and they also have really top-notch faculty in East Asian & Middle-Eastern Studies. On that noteā€”it's hard to say! Things change considerably based on the diaspora(s)/diasporic communities in question. A school that is stellar in the area of African/Afro-Caribbean diasporas might not be great in the area of East Asian or Middle Eastern diasporas, and vis versa. It really depends on the work you see yourself doing, which will be considerably more specific than the fairly generic category "diasporic literature."
  11. 1 point

    NYU Steinhardt online distance program

    I'm just keeping my fingers crossed. The holidays are crazy enough. NYU could make it a little better by telling us were accepted!!
  12. 1 point
    Real analysis will lead one from undergraduate-level coverage of probability to graduate-level coverage and formulation of probability using measure theory. Also, as I said, complex analysis is useful for a number of important probability-based approaches. So, knowing real analysis for theoretical statistics is more than a litmus test of being able to do math for admissions committees, it is necessary for having a firm grasp of a number of theoretical concepts in statistics.
  13. 1 point
    I think at the very top they do care. Depending on what you're learning, there's not too much from even Real Analysis (I) that's helpful in probability. However, it shows one's ability to do theoretical and abstract math, so regardless of whether it's "useful," in terms of a prerequisite, it's useful as a tool for admissions. I'm by no means saying the OP doesn't have a shot, but it's not a shoe-in either. That's why I would advise the OP to apply to a few top 7 schools as well as a few (non-Ivies) in the 8-20 range.
  14. 1 point
    Probability theory can use a lot of complex analysis topics. For example, characteristic functions.
  15. 1 point
    @footballman2399 does anyone in stats really care at all about complex analysis? I could imagine some of the techniques for integration might pop up in some proof somewhere, but otherwise it doesn't seem too applicable.
  16. 1 point
    Of those schools, I'm confident you'd have a good shot at Penn State. Yale is (very) difficult to get into. I think they prefer that applicants take (and do well in) the math GRE. I'm not too familiar about the other programs to give you information. Regarding the other question, I think it depends on how forgiving committees are with the B+ in Complex Analysis. In my experience and from those I've heard about, it is extremely difficult to crack the top 7, but after that it becomes significantly easier. Letters could make a big difference though.
  17. 1 point

    Writing a sample

    Is it possible for you to write something new that could also be used for a course assignment for your MA program? If so, then it might be less of a burden overall if you think about your workload throughout the semester.
  18. 1 point
    Old Bill

    Fall 2017 Applicants

    I just retook it, and scored a bit WORSE than the last time. My scores were already fine, and a strong argument could be made that I didn't need to retake it at all, but I thought that perhaps a couple of years of additional academic immersion might bump up my verbal to the loftier heights of the high-160s, rather than the more pedestrian low-mid 160s. Alas, it was not to be. So another $200 and multiple hours of studying down the drain. It's annoying, because I truly have an excellent vocabulary, but I suppose standardized testing just isn't my cup of A.) Coffee B.) Warm water C.) Tea D.) Ovaltine E.) Hot cocoa
  19. 1 point
    In an essay, discuss how your personal background informs your decision to pursue a graduate degree. Please include any educational, familial, cultural, economic, or social experiences, challenges, or opportunities relevant to your academic journey; how you might contribute to social or cultural diversity within your chosen field; and/or how you might serve educationally underrepresented segments of society with your degree. This "Personal History Statement" is required for all applicants who are US Citizens or legal US Permanent Residents and is different from the "Statement of Purpose" that is also required for all applicants. The "Statement of Purpose" is expected to focus on your academic/research background and interests while the "Personal History Statement" is expected to focus on your personal background. I'm a white middle class male. WTF.
  20. 1 point

    does one's ethnicity/racial identity matter?

    Affirmative action is NOT the law. The law prohibits discrimination by race and sex (and by age, I think?). Affirmative action came into being as a way of giving minorities opportunities they might not otherwise get, or at least that's always been my understanding of it. I don't think it's fair to equate having to work multiple jobs with being a minority. It ignores the systematic things in place that make it harder for minorities to get accepted to and attend elite universities, which in turn affects graduate admissions (as numerous threads on here have been concerned with). I'm not sure I understand why you think it's okay for affirmative action at the high school and college level but not at the graduate level. Are you saying that the playing field gets automatically leveled once someone acquires a bachelor's degree? I don't think affirmative action creates this misconception, I think it is a reaction to the already existing misconception. That may seem like a subtle wording difference but it has huge ramifications in the "real world". I think what many minorities would want is to not need affirmative action because it would mean that their qualifications are taken seriously. But, studies (particularly in I/O psych) have repeatedly shown us that if you give an employer the same qualifications in two candidates, the white candidate will get the job over the black candidate. In that case, affirmative action might actually help someone qualified get a job they would not otherwise get. The New York Times actually had some articles on this on MLK Day. Shades of Prejudice, which is really about skin color, and another on how college degrees don't close the racial gap. You may be interested in the, First off, you're calling affirmative action "discrimination", right? So, trying to make sure that people aren't systematically disadvantaged because of the color of their skin is problematic in your eyes. I'm going to assume that you find it equally problematic when people are not given chances that they presumably have earned/deserve/that their work merits because of the color of their skin, even though you don't say this. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. Can you give some evidence to support the things you've listed as costs of discrimination? For example, you cite grading and graduation. As a TA, I don't care what color someone's skin is. I grade their work based on the assignment's criteria and what they submit. So, in that case, I'm not sure how that relates to "discrimination". How do you figure that the academic mission of the university and the academic quality of the student body are lowered due to affirmative action? How do you know it mismatches students and institutions (and how on earth could this be separated from countless confounding factors like 16 year olds not knowing what they want to do with their lives?)? Also, as far as I know, the only time that blood gets factored into group membership is when it comes to Native Americans determining who is a proper member of the tribe. The rest relies on self-reported data.
  21. 1 point

    does one's ethnicity/racial identity matter?

    from mindingthecampus.com: Affirmative Action---All This Turmoil For So Little? Posted by Roger Clegg A Chicago study on "Assessing the Impact of Eliminating Affirmative Action in Higher Education" comes to this conclusion: black and Hispanic representation at all 4-year colleges is predicted to decline modestly---by 2%---if race-neutral college admissions policies are mandated nationwide. However, race-neutral admissions are predicted to decrease minority representation at the most selective 4-year institutions by 10%. Now, my question is this: Is it worth it? That is, the systematic discrimination on the basis of skin color and national origin might have the benefit of increasing the political correctness of universities' racial and ethnic mix by this, let's face, trivial amount. And, we are then told, this trivial amount might (since the social scientists are not in agreement) have some marginal improvement in some areas of what students learn. On the other hand, here are some of the costs of this discrimination: It is personally unfair, passes over better qualified students, and sets a disturbing legal, political, and moral precedent in allowing racial discrimination; it creates resentment; it stigmatizes the so-called beneficiaries in the eyes of their classmates, teachers, and themselves, as well as future employers, clients, and patients; it fosters a victim mindset, removes the incentive for academic excellence, and encourages separatism; it compromises the academic mission of the university and lowers the overall academic quality of the student body; it creates pressure to discriminate in grading and graduation; it breeds hypocrisy within the school; it encourages a scofflaw attitude among college officials; it mismatches students and institutions, guaranteeing failure for many of the former; it papers over the real social problem of why so many African Americans and Latinos are academically uncompetitive; and it gets states and schools involved in unsavory activities like deciding which racial and ethnic minorities will be favored and which ones not, and how much blood is needed to establish group membership. Pencils down. The correct answer is, no, it is not worth it.
  22. -3 points

    does one's ethnicity/racial identity matter?

    What academy are you joining where discussing the strengths and weaknesses of disciplines and their respective methodologies will not happen? By all means, sign off. But discussing my issues with sociology AND anthropology is well within bounds of an intelligent conversation.
  23. -4 points

    HESA 2017

    Hi Lauren, is $75,000 in debt worth it?
  24. -5 points

    does one's ethnicity/racial identity matter?

    S/he wouldn't be the first or the last in the discipline. It's actually one of the things about the discipline of which I am NOT a fan. Not that anthro is any better but sociology strikes me as critical without being self-critical when it comes to issues of race or any of the -isms. Really? A common expression? I have, honestly, never heard of the "affirmative action card" so I wonder if I have missed a cultural or scholarly evolution?