Welcome to the GradCafe

Hello!  Welcome to The GradCafe Forums.You're welcome to look around the forums and view posts.  However, like most online communities you must register before you can create your own posts.  This is a simple, free process that requires minimal information. Benefits of membership:

  • Participate in discussions
  • Subscribe to topics and forums to get automatic updates
  • Search forums
  • Removes some advertisements (including this one!)


Popular Content

Showing content with the highest reputation on 07/01/2017 in all areas

  1. 13 points
    I graduated from a top IR program in 2015, and before that was an anxiety-ridden gradcafe poster under another handle (trying to retain a little anonymity here). Scrolling through these anxious posts on a lazy Saturday morning, I want to assure that it's not as hard to get into these programs as many gradcafe posters seem to think. I had a solid GRE, mediocre GPA, decent but not exceptional work experience. I worked hard on my essays and two of my professional recommendation letter writers definitely liked me a lot (although I never saw their letters), but I was a number of years out of undergrad and the academic reference I got was from a professor in a totally unrelated field who probably barely remembered who I was. I had never had a proper IR job, had never lived in DC. It was a mixed application. But it got me into Johns Hopkins SAIS with a hefty scholarship, and a number of other top programs most of which gave me money. This is not Yale Law. You don't need a 3.96 GPA from an elite undergrad and a 98th percentile GRE/LSAT. One of my good friends at SAIS once casually referenced being happy about having cracked the 50th percentile on the math portion of the GRE. I have a number of friends that came from no-name undergrads (and of course some from Princeton, Vanderbilt, Middlebury, Boston College, Brown, etc.). If you're looking for $$$, then you probably want to pump up your GRE scores and write the best letters you possibly can. ETA: Most gradcafe-ers are probably some of the top applicants to these schools. That's why when results season comes around, you'll see lots of posts like "I can't believe I got into X school with Y dollars!"
  2. 6 points

    How to narrow field of interest?

    Serious question: if you don't know what kind of history you're interested in studying, why are you applying to grad school to study history? Sounds to me like it might be useful to take some time off, have some other experiences outside school, and apply to grad school when you have a clearer sense of what you want to do.
  3. 5 points

    High Functioning Sociopath

    What even is this thread? OP are you looking for advice? A second opinion on your diagnosis (I don't believe that's allowed on the forums or ethical)? Trying to figure out the end game of the post.
  4. 4 points

    Pre-MPP work experience

    I recommend working for longer than a year or two before applying not because the work experience will impress an admissions committee, but rather because it helps you pick a career. You may have an idea of what'd you like to focus on in an MPP program, but actually working in a field—in terms of the actual work, quality of life, security, and so on—is very different from studying it. You grad school experience will be much more rewarding and secure if you can really focus on an area you have prior experience in, which lets you not only focus your studies but also network more successfully.
  5. 4 points
    I apologize for being too harsh in my delivery and for the sarcastic tone, but still think you should re-consider your career choice. Whether you do or not is of no concern to me personally, but for the sake of your future clients, it seems a little more reflection might be a good idea. I reacted as I did because whenever anyone automatically assumes that as a group, people with any one of a broad number of mental issues are more likely to be more dangerous than anyone else feels like a direct attack on some very much loved family members of mine and it hurts me because those attitudes hurt them and people in their same boat. I have loved ones who have suffered doubly from mental illnesses. Firstly, from the illness itself and secondly, from the stigma associated with it, which causes people like you to draw very harmful and unfair conclusions about them.Stigma limits their opportunities and harms them in many other ways. I grew up with these issues. Nobody at my house was ever scared of people with MIs. When someone wasn't well, the family helped them as best they could, just as we would have if one of us had cancer or diabetes. You said that you have a mental illness. You named depression. Let me ask you this: should your co-workers and fellow students be afraid of you when you begin working and studying with them? Of course not, you're likely to say. That's silly.That's som ething for you to think about. How would you feel if someone was afraid to drive you somewhere just because you have a history of depression? That stings, doesn't it? Again - you won't be working with people with untreated MIs. Your clients will be in treatment. That's a really big difference. Your original post on this subject said that you were told that in the entire experience of the person you spoke with, there had only been once instance of a case manager being somehow assaulted by a client, yet you see that as a significant danger warning. I don't how that would work out statistically in light of the total number of people that place has worked with, but the rate of violence among any population of people, when working with the public, might be expected to be higher than that. You didn't say you were going to be working as case manager. You said that your job was to transport people to appointments and such. That's another important distinction. Case managers deal with dicier problems and issues than driving people. There's no guarantee of safety anywhere you go, no matter what you do in this world. If you spend some time reading about this subject, you will discover that the stats don't support your level of fear of people with MIs. People with MIs are far more statistically likely to be victims than perpetrators of violent crimes. Overall, their rate for violent crime isn't any higher than the general population. Substance abuse is more of an indicator of violence potential. There are so many factors when it comes to mental health and danger. I never said I was better than you, i just questioned the fitness of this career path for you, given the things you have written. I'll be working in Philadelphia and doing home visits. My family is more worried about me getting mugged going back and forth to those home visits than they are about my clients. They bought me pepper spray, and I'll take precautions, but this career can never be 100% safe. You can't be 100% safe even if you never leave your home. If you go forward with this, then I hope you take a class on mental illness. If not, then please spend some time reading about this subject so you aren't scared to work with what is a good chunk of the population of the country. It would not be good for people if you communicate fear when you work with them. That's just insulting and offensive if they sense that from you. Maybe you will be more comfortable if you brush up on the subject. Here's an article from psychcentral.com for you if you care to peruse it... http://psychcentral.com/archives/violence.htm
  6. 3 points


    My unsolicited advice for people applying in comparative: Definitely apply to a couple boutique programs (top 20 programs preferably, but perhaps top 30ish as well, that are strong in your area/interests) but definitely target the top 10 departments. As long as you have good area training coming in and are competitive against top applicants, a top 10 department with potentially less of a fit is more ideal than a really good fit at a lower ranked department. You do not need a large number of people working closely on your area and/or interests to make it work. You never know what will happen, might as well try to bat for the fences. So for the OP, apply to some places like Indiana and Wisconsin, but you should really be shooting for places like Stanford, Michigan, Yale, and Columbia if you are competitive enough to have a shot there.
  7. 3 points
    I wouldn't dismiss concerns about departmental rigor as mere undergrad complaining. When it comes to grad school acceptance, unless the person whose advice you are soliciting has the power to accept or deny your application to a program, what they can give you is just an opinion, and some opinions are certainly more informed than others. It's fair to assume that a professor at a top PhD-granting program knows the profile of a typical admitted student and can give you an accurate assessment, even if you're not applying to their program specifically; the further you get from "top PhD-granting program", the less that assumption holds. Professors at top SLACs may have excellent standing in the discipline and may regularly send their undergrads to these coveted programs, but they don't have recent first-hand experience of admitting PhD students. They don't know what the competition is like. At the majority of US institutions, which may send an undergrad to a top PhD once every decade, if at all, professors have even less experience. You can't expect them to cogently reason from a sample of one. This is not to say that OP shouldn't apply to the T20 (they should if they want an academic job). That's to say that it is possible that OP's professors *don't* know how competitive they are. As for the thesis, that is another valid concern. Few schools have enough strong faculty to supervise the great variety of dissertation topics that students come up with. That is, a professor can monitor that the research is done properly, the argument is cogent, and similar technical things, but if they're not a subject matter expert, they're not going to know whether you raised questions that are compelling in the context of the literature, not least because they can't evaluate if you surveyed the literature properly. The only thing I wouldn't worry about is discussion-heavy classes and OP's (implied) disdain for those of their classmates that they perceive as not having done enough work. Lower and intermediate level classes may have a heavy lecture component, but upper-level stuff (seminars) is almost always done in a discussion format, at all schools I am familiar with, because its major goal is to teach you to do your own research and construct your own arguments (the difference, I assume, being that, at stronger programs, the goal is to assess your ability to do research and construct arguments, as you will have been doing that in your lower-level classes already), and because it's assumed that you're mature enough to have more control over your learning. This is the crucial part. The reality is, you can scrape by in any major, at any school. If you're content doing the minimum to stay afloat, you shouldn't be going to grad school. If you feel that you haven't been challenged, find ways to challenge yourself. Try to get someone who is an expert in your specific area to take a look at your diss (it's a longshot, sure...). They'll be able to tell you if it's good work content-wise.
  8. 2 points
    I would recommend checking CMU's MSPPM program. You don't need to apply to the "data analytics" track specifically to take their classes. I've written some pros/cons here: Since CMU's MSPPM program is housed in the same college as the information science program, you'll have access to a wide range of data-related courses, from the more social science-oriented like econometrics to programming courses in machine learning. Courses at the School of Computer Science are available as well if you're up for them. When I was applying to other policy schools, I compared the curriculum with other programs, and I must say that the breadth and depth of CMU's courses in data science far exceeds that of any public policy program and even many data science programs. Most topics you might be interested in--from data warehousing to unstructured data mining and from visualizations to operations research--are available, and pretty much any other topic you can think of is covered in the computer science department. If you have any questions, feel free to message me.
  9. 2 points

    2018 Applicants

    Non-fiction programs - especially full-residency programs with stipends - are absolutely not receiving fewer applications than PhD programs. Wisconsin-Madison's numbers are not outliers. Creative nonfiction programs are extremely competitive, as the opportunity to have 3 years to work on a book project is very compelling even to professional journalists, editors, and writers. For example, I have a friend who recently transitioned from a full-time job as an investigative reporter to an MFA program with far less prestige than the Iowa Writer's Workshop. She has years of experience, an excellent portfolio, and is represented by a great agency in NYC. This is your competition. Therefore, MFA non-fiction programs are a poor "back-up" choice to the PhD. In fact, considering the competitiveness of fully funded MFAs, you might want to conceive of it as the other way around! Beyond admissions statistics, however, it might behoove you to think carefully about what your overall aims are, as @Warelin also suggested. Grad school is a means to an end, and my concern is that you seem to want to enter graduate school for the sake of it, which is not the best plan of action. If you want to be a literary scholar, commit to PhD programs, even if it means multiple application seasons (which, by the way, is not rare!). If you ultimately dream about being a nonfiction writer, commit to improving your craft and your CV, and ditch the PhD apps - they won't help you get there.
  10. 2 points

    Anyone feeling regrets?

    So here's what I've come up with (this took me years by the way). There are six things needed to survive in a location you don't love and/or in a position you don't love but you actually only need half of them at any time. They are (in no particular order) alcohol/drinking, therapy, church/religion, sex, travel, working out. It can also be some combo of these things. Some of it is about endorphins, some about getting out there and doing things, and some about actually working through issues. If you're lonely, look for meetup groups or become a regular at a coffee shop or bar. Take up an activity you've always wanted to pursue (lately, for me, that's been group fitness classes). It's all survivable if you want it to be, though I know it can be hard to remember that sometimes. Good luck!
  11. 2 points
    I read your posts on this subject, Littledarling and honestly, I'll agree with your self-assessment that you're being stupid. Based on these and your other posts here and there on this board, are you sure Social Work is your thing? Perhaps you would feel safer working for a bank, or something, instead. It isn't unreasonable to ask and wonder about how your program ensures your safety during your field placements. That's fair. But, your comfort with casting people with mental illnesses as these terrifying creatures who are ready to attack you at any moment is really awful. What you wrote makes me so intensely dislike you that it's hard to be civil, but I'll try. I know what I'm talking about here. One of the reasons I chose this profession and my college major, which was Psychology, is because I have a sibling with a bad case of depression and LDs, an uncle with schizophrenia and some cousins on my mom's side with various schizo-affective diagnoses. It's a hereditary thing sometimes. I grew up knowing a lot more than most of my peers about this subject and my mother had to handle issues with her sibling since she was a pre-teen. She was more mature about it at 14 than you are right now, by the way. Here's a fact for you..... people with severe mental illnesses are seldom violent and when they hurt someone, it is usually themselves. Check into the statistics on this and you'll see. Another point: even if someone with a severe mental illness commits an act of violence, such as hitting a family member or throwing things, that is nearly always because they are not stable with their medications at that time and/or are in a psychotic state. Just because a person has had a violent outburst at some time does not mean that they will just spontaneously attack somebody out of nowhere. Each person with an MI isn't a knife-wielding Chuckie just ready to cut you to pieces at any moment. Problems with violent outbursts are usually related to LACK OF MENTAL HEALTH CARE and you will be working with people who are receiving such care. People with Alzheimer's, which is a widely non-stigmatized brain disorder, can hurt caregivers sometimes. A great-aunt of mine (little old Italian lady who wouldn't have hurt a soul before she got Alzheimer's) threw something nasty at her very devoted and dying husband. Should you be cognizant of the conditions of the people you are working with? Absolutely. But when dealing with a population of people who are already so heavily stigmatized that many with mental illnesses refuse to seek care, for exactly the kind of attitude you have about how "dangerous" they are, the last thing they need is a social worker who is quaking in her boots and judging them as criminals just because they're sick. A few years ago my Mom took my sibling to a county commissioners meeting where the idea of a halfway house for stable, high-functioning persons with MIs could work on recovery. Several local yahoos stood up and kept repeating the completely bogus claim that area children would be in danger if that halfway house was there because the residents were likely to rape the children. They kept repeating the lie that people with MIs are by definition, likely pedophiles. My sibling, the one with depression, sat there and listened to person after person imply this and discuss how terrifying people with MIs are, and these were people with no history of any violence. It's ignorance and it hurts people.My mom stood up and read a list of famous, notable people with MI histories, including Abraham Lincoln. All over this nation, young people kill themselves partly because of the stigma associated with asking for mental health care. Your kind of attitude adds to this stigma. It hurts the very people you may have to serve. If you want to be 100% safe all the time from all the kind of people you might fear, do everyone a favor and go into another profession. People suffering from mental illnesses need social workers who understand them, treat them like human beings worthy of human dignity and respect and don't send out vibes that they're terrified of them. It's just appalling. At minimum, do something where you can, perhaps, work only with people you'll never be uncomfortable around. Good luck with that. (may I suggest that bank job again?)
  12. 1 point

    2018 Applicants

    It took a lot of digging but I found a couple that really interest me, but it worries me because they're three different disciplines based on the school. I have interest in all and all will help my future, so I'm okay with it, just worried I'm not focused on one discipline. These are all completely online (I had low residency ones on my list, but had to nix them.) I am on the fence about the PhD, I plan for now to get the English Master's and I want to get another Master's in a couple years in Health Sciences or Health Studies after I find a new job for a couple years. I want to be a translator or an editor at a Korean company of some kind, bonus points if it's in the healthcare field. Then I would move back to America (currently live in Korea with my husband) and think about the PhD based on location. Are you thinking of doing the PhD track? What do you ultimately want to do? You can PM me too if you'd like! ^^
  13. 1 point

    Withdrawals :(

    No big deal. Explain it and move on. FWIW, I had one W on mine, which I left unexplained. I just took the class again when I was ready.
  14. 1 point

    GRE verbal Scores

    That's impossible for anyone to predict, not least because your score depends on what difficulty level you get for your second Verbal section and how many of the questions you get right in that section. This link here shows how many questions you need to get right in each section to get a particular score (the link also shows your score by section-adaptive scores). There was a similar study done by someone who had a neat table of their findings, but I can't seem to locate it right now. As for what you can do to improve your reading comp score? A lot of resources out there. Read some of them and do what works for you, which you can only find out by trying a few approaches and tracking your score.
  15. 1 point

    World Bank Scholarship Applicants - 2017

    JJ/WBGSP Secretariat is working very hard to nominate suitable candidates for the scholarship.
  16. 1 point
    If you can keep up that GPA, then you should be fine on that front with regards to looking competitive (GPA-wise) for Clinical Psychology programs. I generally found my grades getting better as I progressed through university, so don't get too anxious about that; just keep up with what you're doing. With regards to research, you will need research experience and ideally a thesis. Start volunteering with professors whose research matches your interest in your third year. You will need at least two letters of recommendations. I started volunteering in my third year, took small seminar classes and could get a few good LOR's so a similar approach should work for most people. Ideally, if you end up volunteering for the same profs you took classes with, they'd be able to give you a well-rounded LOR even if they're not your thesis supervisor. 1) Tenure-track positions everywhere are scarce. I'm not sure if it's "any worse" in sociology than various areas of Psychology, but it's not an exaggeration. 2) Clinical Psychology is a "safer route" in that it allows you to do both research as an academic and practice as a clinician. 3) Financially speaking, you shouldn't be paying for your PhD (and not your Master's since you're in Canada) so neither one should accrue you any more debt. With that said, the return of investment is probably better as a Clinical Psychologist. I'm fairly certain the GRE's has accommodations for these types of issues. If you qualify, take them. With that said, the questions are formulaic–even the verbal portion. You just have to be able to identify how to best approach the questions to answer them efficiently. I suggest using Magoosh. It's cheap and actually good. The ETS also has a software program that let's you do two practice tests that get graded. If you want more practice tests, the Kaplan GRE books comes with five online tests and iirc cost $20 - 40 (I wouldn't pay for tutoring due to the cost, but you're more familiar with your learning disabilities than I am). I'd set aside a few hours every week to study during the year in your third year (and take a few practice tests throughout to track your progress), and try to take the test early in the summer after. A month before your exam, just set aside more time to study and take practice tests. The reason I suggest doing this early is if you find that your score is below a safe cut-off range then you can take it again. As for the essay writing portion, the ETS website also has all the different writing prompts available online. There are two types of essays: Issue and Argument essays. There's hundreds of essay prompts, but some of them overlap (i.e., same topic but it is either phrased as an issue or argument essay). Like the quant and verbal, the written portion is also formulaic. It's been awhile since I had to write this so I don't remember the exact details, but stuff like Magoosh and the Kaplan prep book goes into detail. A general rule of thumb is that you should aim for longer than shorter. Depending on how your program is structured, this may or may not be that hard. I had to write a lot of essays in timed exams so I was used to the time constraint.
  17. 1 point

    The Domestic Policy Cafe Thread

    Cafe-ers, cafites, and connoisseurs of quality conversation! Thought it might be interesting to create a space for folks interested in pursuing domestic policy jobs/research, particularly given the general conversation here in Government Affairs tends to lean IR. Come, introduce yourself, explore specific policy interests, what you're doing/looking forward to/worried about, or predict where you feel the field is headed under the Trump administration and beyond... For me, I'll be starting my MPP program at Duke in the fall, believe the United States is due for a serious re-tooling of government's organizational structure to reflect the third-industrial-revolution economy, and think state government and action-oriented think tanks are where most innovation will take place in the next decade-plus. What about you?
  18. 1 point
    Murtaza Talpur

    World Bank Scholarship Applicants - 2017

    Hi, everyone. I applied last year for this scholarship and was informed to send the conditional uni offer letter. But could not gain the scholarship. Again this year, I have sent the deffered university offer letter with initial application. I did not get any emails from JJWBGS secretariat to again submit the offer letter. Will that not affect my application? 15th June is on the corner, please do inform if any receives emails from jjwbgs.
  19. 1 point

    The Domestic Policy Cafe Thread

    Basically, whenever I look at the most serious issues -- environment, education, healthcare, poverty, unnecessary war, mass incarceration, etc. -- I notice that in large part the political will is never there to fix them. The reason the political will isn't there is that politicians know who butters their bread (and it's not their constituents). Until that changes, I don't believe anything else will. So by my logic, getting money out of politics is the single most crucial issue of them all, the first domino if you will. Figuring out how to do that and working toward it will make for constructive and fulfilling work. But yes as a tangential concern I'm very interested in voter suppression and gerrymandering, and I'm particularly interested in the work they're doing at POLIS. I saw that course you're talking about, and will take it if at all possible. I guess you could say my primary interest is democracy-boosting.
  20. 1 point
    Dogfish Head

    2018 Applicants

    Yo, thank you for making this. I will be applying in the next cycle and I have been thinking a ton about it. Current plans in roughly the order they will occur: * Finish writing sample for independent study project I am doing (then edit the heck out of it) * Take GRE * Have a final list of graduate programs I will be applying to (anywhere from 7-12ish schools) Then I will be starting my last year of undergrad. So, yeah. Really looking forward to going on this journey with all of y'all.
  21. 0 points

    Very random question - I need suggestions!

    Im a huge bookworm and love to read. Once I finish a book, Im always excited to start another one. I will be starting a Masters program this Fall and once that begins, reading for leisure is over. I have about 6 weeks until school begins and am trying to enjoy the rest of my summer. The library (Yes I still love going to the library. Go ahead and laugh now) has a few books available from my to read list. One of them is 600 pages and I really want to read it. I know I cant finish it before school starts and wont have time to read much throughout the semester. I need your help. Should I start the book anyway and enjoy it for now, or should I choose another shorter book that I may be able to finish before school starts? Thanks for the help. I need everyones suggestions. Im a bookworm and just love to read!!
  22. -3 points

    High Functioning Sociopath

    my attention span is too short... sorry i didn't really read your rant