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About mutualist007

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    Past Application Seasons: 2014, 2016
  • Application Season
    2015 Fall
  • Program
    Psychology, Data Science, Neuroscience
  1. I'm reevaluating a lot of things now, so at this time none yet. Yourself?
  2. I think what you describes really depends on the department. In my first department, Anthropology, students and their mentors seemed to me to be on a first name basis and would be friends on facebook while still in the program, and hanging out in the lounge outside their offices after the last afternoon classes were out, or occasionally spilling class over into bar time afterwards. If profs didn't join, it was common for the grad students to have their group and do that and therefore build extended relationships. I've toured other programs and have gotten the idea that hanging out with your profs and your peers outside of "work" time is common in that field. I did go to all the special lectures, events (not all conferences), job talks and maybe one non-academic on campus "social", but I didn't chat up enough all the other times. I can find people to recommend me, it's just that after repeated applications, I've had it suggested to me that perhaps some of my recommenders aren't writing good letters. I know I have one solid one that is as close to a mentor that I can get although I didn't work with her on any projects in her line of research. I've just had one or two that were late sending in their letters, one that asked me for my transcripts (probably no big deal), and one that pretty much asked me to write the framework of the letter describing my work and he (in his retirement) would adapt it. I'm just drilling down potential weaknesses and the LOR area seems to be where some say they really made bank and got it. Besides not being published, I'm good with GRE and GPA, maybe not highest, but definitely "in" and higher than others I have seen who have been accepted. The LOR is the one wild card area where I have no idea of how to really tell if I am getting good LORs. I've been told my work is good and most people have no problem, but some people here (albeit social sciences) seem to suggest that LORs need to show that the person really "knows you" and not just someone who can vouch for your work. Another problem area may be my SOP and maybe a non-violent, non-theft, non-drug related misdemeanor charge on my record. My second Masters is in public health and I am confident that if I had finished that degree and thesis in 2015 I would be much better off and have a committee that could vouch for some good work. I feel now that debt or no debt, finishing it any way I can is a money and time gamble I have to take. If what I really need is someone who knows and can sign off on my work and aptitude, I know I can do that. If my LORs require water cooler talk and a more personal almost friend like relationship, then I am not so sure I have the time right now to do that.
  3. I'm relieved to know that asking for a transcript was not a bad sign necessarily. I can accept that. Some people want to be informed. As for "building a relationship". I must add that I was seeing a Neurospychologist for an adult autism diagnosis and all but received one but couldn't continue followup due to financial issues this summer (unemployed for a few months). I was one of those that "passed" in childhood but in adulthood became more and more obvious, and more obvious with the more I read about Asperger's. So between that and probably the social anxiety because of that and other issues, I probably couldn't communicate my interests and ideas well enough, and lacked the inner insight into other people to keep at it and seek it out. That aspie trait and whatever else is going on with me makes it hard for me to really "get" how to go about "building a relationship" without having it unpacked and broken down a bit more. EILIF
  4. Maybe I should have filled out my question or asked a different question. A better question now be "How do I build that relationship with the same or new mentors now that I am out of school"? Exactly properties must that association have in order for the recommender to have enough 'feelz and insigt to write a letter that doesn't look like a regurgitation of my resume/CV/transcript? As for going back for a Masters - I am most of the way there and maybe that's how I solve this. I have one Masters from ~ 2013 and another that was almost finished in 2015 until I had to cease enrollment because I didn't have a GRA or the money at the time. I realize dropping that second masters to seek work was a costly mistake, and not making more efforts to attend extra events and choose a project directed more by an advisor in my first program was a mistake..
  5. It's 'only' been 2 years since I was on campus working on my second Masters - but it feels like forever - like everyone has forgotten anything I've done. Sometimes there are soft rejections. Hey - can you write a template for me with your accomplishments and goals - and then when they start asking for information like "send me your CV and transcripts" perhaps. Then there is the issue that we constantly make excuses for professors. Its as if their profession is the only profession that makes them so busy that they have to be given months of notice and updates to make a reference. It's as if no one ever told them that working in a university would ever mean that they have to offer guidance and maybe references to students in their department.
  6. How does one 'simply' get the right kind of glowing LOR? How do you build that up so that when you ask for it you can get just the letter you need to make the difference? I asked one of my past professors from undergraduate work (2010) and they suggested that maybe it's my LOR that are holding me back. This seems like I am asking a question with an obvious answer, but trust me, it's not. I have a decently high undergrad and Masters GPA 3.73-3.82, a 156/157/4.5 GRE, professional experience doing research data analysis and database work, two internships. My background and programs I was applying for were social and behavioral sciences, but my work experience for the last 1.5 years had been in the data tech realm. I was not one of those students who hung out in the grad lounge talking about my research and I did not really have an ongoing mentor relationship where I was working on and assisting one or two people in their lab on their research. I also didn't benefit from hanging out with the other grad students and sharing my research with them, hence talking it up, promoting it, etc. Oftentimes the lounge was too loud for me and I had to go somewhere quieter to study and I had family obligations (at the time) that made it more difficult to do things at nights and on the weekends. I asked my GRA supervisor from another department (I was doing website admin for their organization) to be a reference and he asked me to send him a copy of my resume and pretty much write a letter for him that he would tailor and edit. This professor was retired and without sounding condescending, I suspect he may have been working past typical retirement age and was having some memory issues. The summer of 2013 was the last time I worked for him. Another professor, this time from my own department, asked me to provide her with my transcript. In both instances, I felt as if their requests for more information was their way of telling me they had no idea what they should write about me. I decided to use the first reference, but not the second reference who asked for a copy of my transcript. I suppose I was desperate, so I sought them out despite the red flags. So getting just the right kind of glowing LOR may not be something that is straight forward for someone in my situation, or someone who has been out of school a while. How do you build or rebuild exceptional recommender relationship after you have been out of university for a few years? I feel like people are willing to give me high marks as references, but can't write detailed letters "about me" that seem to be the crucial part of applications in some programs.
  7. Check on your letter writers to make sure they know your work well. And really try to find out what your POIs are looking for in a grad student. I sometimes found it hard to break through, but if you keep asking they will tell you eventually. But you can't possibly do worse than I have (not applying to anthro programs now, but did for years since 2010 and didn't have much luck inspiring confidence or selling myself I suppose.)
  8. If I feel like my letters must be lack luster, and my SOP needs redoing. I have everything else except loads of supervised field experience and publications perhaps. If you didn't have a close mentorship, or stay after hours and converse, or share stories in the field, how does one build this up after graduating from both undergrad and Master's programs? I'm sort working in Biotech now and recruited a boss of mine to write a letter, but I don't think that is what I need.
  9. How exactly does one do that? Can you break that down a bit into digestible, replicatable pieces? Some of us have been trying for years with decent scores and GPA. I know my problem them and now was field experience and maybe fit because my SOPs may have not been exactly the SOPs they were looking for.
  10. Joining in partially because I have to for another year, and to vent -- maybe rethink my life. My interests are falling back to cultural and social neuroscience and biopsychology
  11. Today I began a new day with a new perspective. After reviewing my choices this year I realized that there were some I just was not really jazzed about. I was excited about what they might could be or could do for my career, but not enough otherwise about the research. But I felt I had to make a choice. Issues of geography, career promise and actual interests were often at odds. I have no answers for how to balance what excites a person with making sensible choices that will lead to job security, but there has to be something in your education and job potential choices that leads you to an "excitatory" state for your research interests. I started this journey with an interest in behavioral neuroscience and in translational research in mental health. Since that's where I gravitate, I can focus around that make connections as necessary. It doesn't matter if I failed a dozen times before. I will just be smarter and more dedicated about it next time around. β€œTo be everywhere is to be nowhere.” ― Seneca, Letters from a Stoic
  12. Thanks everyone for contributing your input. I'm moving into a better place and ready to charge into the next rounds. I feel good.
  13. I was struggling more with the family/personal issues this past year. Now it's just me and I'm free to pursue my interests and goals solo. I've asked past recommenders about weaknesses and never got definitive answers. But for now I am going to assume that I need to be at the top of everything. I've come close to being published but never quite made it past review on papers as a second author. I will assume that I need to have everything else that top candidates have, even if that means finding a mentor while I'm not in school anymore.
  14. That indeed is a miraculous turn around. How does one apply and get accepted to present posters at conferences, and get "second and third" author on two publications all before a new application season? I'm not in school now, and struggling with employment and personal/family issues.
  15. I think I asked the wrong question but I appreciate that you listed these in order of importance. But how can one quantify a baseline for the quality of LOR and the number of publications or amount of research experience? What GRE scores are safely high enough?