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TakeruK last won the day on March 19

TakeruK had the most liked content!

About TakeruK

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    Cup o' Joe

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    Canadian student in California
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    Planetary Sciences

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  1. Oh okay, I misunderstood what you meant by "normative time to degree". I had thought you meant this is the typical time towards your degree that your dept will allow without requiring special permission (or with full funding), i.e. a "degree milestone clock". So I thought that if your dept's normative time to degree was 6 years, when you said you won't "get to add a year to the normative time", I thought you meant taking the 2nd year away means you might fall a year behind in progress but still be expected to defend and graduate after 6 years! As for the pay statement, I meant that if the 2nd year abroad doesn't help your job prospects (i.e. a tangential side project) and if it would take longer to finish degree with the 2nd year abroad, then you basically have two options (example numbers): 1. Finish degree in 6 years without doing the side project. 2. Take 7 years to finish degree because of the side project. Option 1 means you could do the side project (or something else) later, when you're paid as a postdoc or other research position. Option 2 means you spend another year at grad student level pay without long term career benefits. Anyways, with the new information: If I were to make this choice for myself, I would have to choose whether I value the marginal increase in career benefit of doing the 2nd year abroad vs. the personal costs. Being away from your department for a 2nd year isn't likely to really hurt much academically (or it seems like the extra benefit from the year abroad would outweigh that). So, my advice (I'm in a different field so take it with a grain of salt!) would be to make the decision that you think is personally best for you, based on what your life priorities/values are.
  2. Will the research you do on these grants be part of your dissertation? If so, then I don't think you need to worry about not getting an extra year, right? Since you'll be progressing towards your degree whether or not you are here or abroad. If this research is not going to count towards your dissertation, then does this mean you will have less time to complete your dissertation? In this case, it's up to you to decide whether this side project is worth the time you spend on it. Basically, by doing a side project as a grad student, you are extending the time you're being underpaid**. So if I had the similar choice, I would ask myself: Does this project help me get a good postdoc (or whatever my next career goal is)? If so, then it might be worth it. If not, then I wouldn't do it---you can try to do it later while paid as an actual researcher. (**By "underpaid", I know that some might argue that while our salaries are low, the value we get from our degree is still worth it. Even if you accept that reasoning, if this side project is not helping you towards your degree, but you are still being paid as a grad student, then the work is still underpaid work!)
  3. Glad to hear that things are not in the worst possible case for you!
  4. I agree with fuzzylogician that you need to find out more information at this meeting. Typically, the only reason to not renew someone's assistantship is unsatisfactory performance (as almost every grad assistantship is only renewable subject to satisfactory performance). In my opinion, "satisfactory performance" should mean "minimum required to advance to the next year of graduate school" because I think it's not ethical to keep students on without funding. So, you should be prepared for to consider that they might also ask you to leave at this upcoming meeting. Alternatively, they might say that you are on "probation" so they will give you another chance but without funding. I'm not saying that this will happen at the meeting, but since it sucks to have the news broken to you by the profs completely out of the blue, it might help to be prepared for this scenario. You ask whether you could appeal and that will depend on the reason they give for non-renewal at this meeting. If it's something like "sorry, we're out of money" or "sorry we changed our mind" then you need to find as much written proof of the 2-year promise as you can and appeal through that channel. If it's because of performance, then you should ask about an appeals process for that evaluation. You should collect as much evidence for performance, both from your students but also in your own graduate coursework. Look up the degree requirements and show that you have met the ones that needed to be met by this year and that you are on track for finishing all requirements before the end of your program. Finally, my advice would be that you might want to look up all of these things for these two potential cases, but it might be better to not argue/appeal the decision right then and there. Instead, at the meeting, you should say that you do not agree with their evaluation and that you would like to appeal the decision and ask how to do that. This will go better as both you and the professors will have time to prepare and reach a fair conclusion.
  5. I think I might have said something about this to you at another time. But to answer your question the way you phrase it: no, generally it doesn't directly affect your ability to get into a good PhD program if you don't have the CGS-M or something like that. The reason why I might say yes to the second part of your question is that highly competitive positions like tenure-tracked professors only go to the top few percent of applicants. There are dozens more PhDs created than there are tenure-track position openings. Generally, prestigious awards at the doctoral and post-doctoral level goes to the top 10% or the top 15% or so. So, to me, not winning a prestigious award like this at the postdoc level tells you that you are likely not in the top tier of applicants. So it's not that a lack of these awards will hurt you in the professor job competition, but it is a signal that there are many others that will rank above you. I wouldn't worry about it at your stage now though. First, these awards are a little random. Not getting one could mean that you were in the top 15% but just somehow missed the cutoffs or based on how the evaluator was feeling (or it could mean you were in the bottom half---hard to tell). Also, at this early stage, not winning it once is not a big deal. I think though, continually missing out on all the top tier awards every single year is one sign you can use to determine whether or not you think you are a top tier candidate. Secondly, even if you are not a top tier candidate now, at the Masters level, it doesn't mean much because people still change and grow a lot as scholars during grad school. So, don't treat award decisions like they are sealing your fate.
  6. I know so many people affected The H1-B premium processing being suspended really sucks and will really hurt everyone! When that decision was announced, my school contacted everyone who might be eligible for H1-B and urged them to work with the school's international office to submit the H1-B application ASAP. I hope it works out for you!
  7. Basically, a American PhD is a 5-6 year program you enter after finishing a BS degree. It is generally fully funded. Courses usually take place in years 1-2 and you have a qualifying exam at the end of the 1st year or sometime in the 2nd year. You have a candidacy exam usually after year 3 or 4. You defend your thesis at the end. In Canada, you do a 2 year Masters (MSc) with some courses (usually 4 semester courses plus thesis; but there are some coursework-only degrees that are 8 semester courses, no thesis). If you want to continue onto a PhD, you should pick the thesis option (usually the default in most fields). You also have re-apply to a PhD program, even if you want to go to the same school. You do this in the 2nd year of your Masters degree. To get your thesis-based Masters degree, you have to defend your thesis. Your Masters thesis does not have to be original research (unlike your PhD thesis) and it is more a demonstration of your ability to do good research. However, it's best for you to do some original work, most fields will produce 1 paper out of your thesis. A PhD typically takes 3-4 years and also has some coursework as well as a PhD thesis. Partway through, you will complete a candidacy exam which evaluates your coursework as well as your ability to do research: both within your thesis topic and broadly in your field in general. At the end of your PhD, you defend your thesis work as well. The structure is different, but in the end, you basically do the same amount of work. Courses in Canada are more spread out and you start research right away (with your assigned advisor from admission, usually). There usually isn't a qualifying exam for PhDs in Canada because your Masters thesis defense is the equivalent. The candidacy exams are similar in both countries. And the final defense is also similar. Finally, for funding, as a citizen, you are eligible for NSERC CGS-M funding. Look that up and apply for it. You might also qualify for funding from the Ontario Graduate Scholarship. Look that up too. Those are the two main external funding sources. Everything else is internal and you generally don't have to do anything for it unless they ask for it.
  8. I would say that yes, it is certainly more risky to submit a creative statement instead of a "traditional format". But it's not impossible. One of my friends submitted a photo essay and that didn't seem to stop them from getting in to top ranking programs. They applied to a scientific field too, nothing to do with photography. To me, that is too much of a big risk when I can go with the boring, sure thing. I didn't think a narrative structure would be "not traditional". I actually thought a narrative is the typical way people write these statements! To be clear, by "narrative", I don't mean telling a creative story but just telling my life story. As in, "First I did A and I learned B and achieved C. Then I chose to do Project D because of Reason E and I achieved F and learned G. etc. Finally, I want to study H at your University so that I can learn I and work in J." To me, this is a narrative because I'm telling the reader about what I did in undergrad and why I made the decisions that I had made. To avoid cliches, I would recommend avoid embellishments and irrelevant details. Think of this as a piece of academic writing and just state the facts. Generally, you don't want to use adjectives and adverbs unless they are required to specify what you are talking about. So, you would use adjectives like "mass spectrometer" or "10-m telescope" but I wouldn't write things like "exciting project". If you find your text too dry after finishing it, then you could go back and add adjectives if you'd like. I think this is a better approach if you are worried that you will be too cliche/have too many descriptors. That said, it is okay if your statement is boring and dry, in my opinion. Profs are going to read this one after another, and they are going to scan it to look for key details. Don't spend too much time trying to create the most perfect analogy or metaphor because they are likely going to miss it. Make it easy for them to find your key qualifications by just stating them upfront. One month is a good amount of time to work on it. I think you can actually do all of the writing you need to do in just a few days. However, the longer timeline is helpful to get feedback from other people.
  9. Oh okay, I had suspected you might be talking about the Fulbright, because that was the only example in my head where I thought asking for this information would be okay (see below). In 2011, I had also applied for the same Fulbright program so I remember reading about this. From 2014-2016 though (approx. years), this program was cancelled so I'm glad to see it's back for this year I made it through several cuts but did not get one in the end. I think their request is okay because it says, "Grantees must demonstrate sound physical and mental health. Finalists are required to submit a Medical History and Examination Report before their grants can be completed." To me, this reads as if they won't even ask for or consider your medical history when deciding who should get the grant. Like in my post above, this is the request at the final stage, similar to how some schools won't ask for the official transcript or GRE scores until they are ready to make that final offer. The reason that the Fulbright needs to know this is because if you get the Fulbright, you will be on J-1 (exchange visitor) instead of the standard F-1 (foreign student) status. To be on J-1, you must demonstrate sound health because you cannot get a J visa/status if US Customs and Immigration and US Department of State believe that you are just entering the US for medical treatment (lol). Also, you must be on certain types of insurance as a J-1 and in the past (before Obamacare/ACA), insurance companies can deny you insurance if you have pre-existing conditions. This happened to us!! Fortunately, as of yesterday, the plan to get rid of Obamacare/ACA in the US has been withdrawn, but who knows what will happen in the future. So to be clear, the health requirement is actually not a Fulbright requirement but a requirement by the US Customs and Immigration (which determines who gets to go in the country) and US Department of State (which administers the J visitor program). Fortunately, this is rarely a requirement for University-based funding because most schools will also offer health insurance and insurance offered by the school in this way generally does not preclude people with pre-existing conditions. This is also not a requirement for the standard F-1 student status.
  10. I replied to your other post earlier and didn't realise you were an international student (since you asked about being over 26 and not being able to use your parents' plan, so I had assumed your parents were in the US and had a plan). Sorry for the wrong assumption. To be honest, most US insurance companies suck. Their motivation and goal is to make money, not to help people. My school has used Aetna and UnitedHealthCare. They are both okay. Some people have great experiences and some have very bad experiences. I am one of the student representatives on my campus to advocate for student health care so I hear all of the complaints from our students. My spouse has also had experience with Anthem. I think any of the big names like the above would be fine. The most important thing is for you to be able to understand your plan very well and to advocate for yourself/fight for fair treatment. You will have to fight for it, since they won't just give it to you. For example, most of these plans are going to require you to use a provider that is in their "network" (meaning that they have some prior agreement with these doctors). You can find out who is in the network by looking on the insurance company's website. However, sometimes the website is out of date---doctors might decide to leave the network but the website doesn't show it. So, when you get your bill, you are charged a much higher "out of network" rate! Another example is just someone coded in the procedure wrong and the wrong rate was applied. When this happened to us, we had to fight the insurance company and argue that it was their fault that their website was not up to date. They refunded us the money after a lot of argument. Years later, there are several class action lawsuits against insurance companies for the same thing and now they are being legally ordered to repay people. We didn't get any additional money since we already got all of the wrong fees refunded. But that's just an example of what you would have to do to get what you paid for.
  11. My spouse and I are international students. I am covered on my school's plan. For awhile, my spouse was not covered on the school's plan (they don't subsidize spouses so it was really expensive for some time). So, my spouse, who would be in a similar situation as you, purchased a plan through the ACA Marketplace in California ("CoveredCalifornia"). They got the "Silver" Plan, which costs about $250 per month and means you pay for about 30% (I think, on average) of all the costs. It was fine to use. Their total health insurance costs per year was around $4000 per year. I think this is a good amount to budget for if you are someone over 26 and have regular medical needs (i.e. see a doctor about 4 times per year, see a specialist 2-3 times per year, have regular medications). If you are really healthy and would only go for your free annual checkup, then you would likely only ever pay the premiums, so that would be around $3000 per year. These numbers are for California which is probably one of the more expensive states. Also, as international students, we aren't eligible for most of the government subsidy programs. As a graduate student (and American, it sounds like?), your grad student income might qualify you for benefits that can reduce this cost by a lot! Check out your state's programs.
  12. Wow! This sounds like a super fishy / sketchy thing to ask for in a scholarship application. Some scholarships from private donors can basically ask for whatever they want though. But to me, asking for something like this is a sign of a bad organization! The only legitimate reason to ask is to ensure the applicant can actually attend the program in question, since sometimes having medical issues can prevent you from getting the travel visas necessary to enter another country. To be legitimate, the organization better be very clear that this information will be separated from the evaluation criteria and only considered when it's time to make an offer. But better yet, they should just only ask this information if the applicant chooses to accept the award.
  13. Yikes, that is indeed a stressful and frustrating situation I guess both B1 and B2 know that you have another offer with a deadline of April 15 right? If not, then my answer to your earlier question of "should I ask them to expedite my application", is yes, especially for B2. Sorry if I keep asking the same Q, but did you ask School A (the CGS school that already accepted you) for an extension beyond April 15? It seems like if you ask for May 3 or something, that will give you at least a day or so after School B2 releases their decision in order to decide between A or B1/B2. Like I said above, if School A says no now, you could consider asking again closer to the deadline because maybe by then, they would have received enough decisions from candidates that they wouldn't care if you said yes or no so they won't mind waiting until May. Otherwise, you have the tough choice of a sure thing that's not your top choice vs. a chance at your top choice. It's up to you if you want to take the risk of potentially burning a bridge at School A. Or, perhaps School A won't promise you a spot after April 15, but they might say that you might still have one even if you accept in May as long as the spot is still available. So you could ask School A what happens if you can't decide by April 15---does the offer expire or is it simply that the spot is no longer a sure thing? If it helps to know, this is a common problem in both academic and non-academic workplaces. It's really tough to make decisions when you have deadlines that don't line up, but we'll have to make these decisions.
  14. As far as I know, the CGS does not punish students. That resolution is an agreement between the graduate programs. It does not involve you so you should be okay. The CGS cannot unilaterally decide that you are bound to these rules etc. However, you are right that you need to consider the future when you apply to PhD programs. In the School A/School B example, if you accept School A now and then find out School B makes you an offer and renege on your commitment to School A, what could happen is that School A will remember that you did this when it's time to apply to PhD programs. So, this could hurt you when you apply to programs at School A in the future. But, it's not like there is some CGS-wide "blacklist" of students who change their mind. You will also see many posts on these forums of schools on the CGS agreement that do not even follow it themselves. The CGS has no actual power to do anything about schools that don't follow the agreement or students that change their mind (also again, the CGS resolution applies to schools, not students). That said, professors at different schools might talk to each other and these networks might be stronger in your field than in mine. Technically, your application information is confidential so professors should not be telling other schools about your decisions, but that's not going to stop some people. So, it's best to stay above board as much as possible. So, for your situation, since all the schools are CGS schools, they should all have April 15 deadlines. This means you should not make a decision on School A yet, since you have until April 15. I think that yes, you should talk to school B, the one that waitlisted you, and ask whether or not they expect to have a decision ready before April 15. If it's true**, then tell them that you are most interested in their program and that you have another offer with an April 15 deadline so if they plan to tell you about waitlist decisions after April 15, you would appreciate it if they would let you know so that you can ask for an extension. Check back with School B on April 10 or so. If School B says that they will get back to you before April 15, then you just have to wait. If School B says they will likely not move anyone off the waitlist before April 15, then you will have to ask if School A is willing to extend their deadline for you. If they say no now, ask again on April 10. If they still refuse to do so, then you have to make a decision. If I was in this position, I would choose to accept School A's offer at the last minute (well, not literally the last minute, but at the end of the day) on April 15. If School B makes me an offer on April 20 or something, I would probably renege on School A and take the School B offer. But this means that I am willing to risk a burnt bridge with School A in the future instead of gambling that School B will take me off their waitlist (since if they don't, then I don't have any offers). I think School A has to understand that they are also taking a risk that their candidate might renege if their candidate has asked for an extension and they refused. But if they choose to hold it against me, then so be it. (** Note: If this is not true, then you should just accept School A's offer!)
  15. Unless you signed some sort of contract, there is nothing binding about anything about admissions. No one will force you to go to a particular school. Think of it this way: If after one month of school, you decide you hate it, you can always just quit. So, there's no real difference between quitting a school in a few weeks (before it begins) vs. quitting in say, November. So, yes, of course you are allowed to change your mind. However, it is bad practice to lie about your intentions. Also, if the schools are part of the CGS April 15 convention, the school that took you off their waitlist might want to see that your previous school "released" you before they allow you to accept their offer. But I won't get into this unless the schools are actually part of the convention. (Note: this is just a formal agreement, but there is nothing binding about the agreement). If you have an offer from a school (let's call it School A) and you are waitlisted at another school that you would prefer more (let's call this School B), then what you should do is to wait until School B releases its decision before accepting School A's offer. If School A gives you a deadline of April 15, then there's no rush to get back to them with a decision right now...it's still 3 weeks away. It might be a good idea to get in touch with School B and find out about their decision timeline. If School A has a much shorter deadline (let's say it's tomorrow) and they refuse your request to extend the deadline because you are waiting on School B, then I would advise you to accept School A's offer for now and renege on it if you get into School B. If School A is setting a non-April 15 deadline, then they are not part of the April 15 convention so there aren't any agreements in place. In the meantime, if you hold additional offers from schools that are less interesting to you than School A or B, then you should decline them all now. You don't have to wait until you have your final decision before you start declining less interesting offers so that the waitlist can move. Similarly, if you are still waiting to hear back from some school that are less interesting to you than A or B, then you should also withdraw your applications now---their decision no longer matters to you (of course, if you are still considering some possibility that you might attend, then don't withdraw).