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Found 20 results

  1. Like most PhD students, I am having a difficult time with my qualifying exams and would like some recommendations on how to proceed from others who may have experienced something similar. I should start out by explaining that I started my program as a Master’s student at the suggestion of my advisor. I didn’t come from a great undergraduate program that actually had research options and my only prior experience with research was during my year off working with a previous graduate of my advisor. During my third semester, I petitioned for a switch that my advisor was enthusiastic about and transferred to the PhD program. I was also informed recently that I received the NSF graduate research fellowship award, meaning that I won’t have to be supported with teaching/research assistantships any longer. All students are expected to complete a prospectus which entails writing a research proposal about planned research and then presenting that proposal in front of the graduate committee. I did this during my second semester as a Master’s student and again in my fourth semester after my switch in programs took effect. Also during the fourth or fifth semester, PhD students take the qualifying exams. This requires five written exams over the course of one week, each from a committee member which assigns you a topic - usually related to their field of research, not yours. If you pass this, you are able to move on to the oral exam where they ask you additional questions with all members present and this may be related to previous topics or from any topic in biology. The topics I was assigned: general ecology, comparative physiology, flight biomechanics, mammalian auditory systems and auditory processing, and mammalian and insect visual systems. I was given eight weeks to work through a mountain of textbooks and papers that were recommended, in addition to resources I found myself. Needless to say, I haven’t slept properly due to all the stress and have been remarkably unproductive in every other aspect (which is extremely unlike me). I passed the written exams with little problem. They weren’t spectacular, but no exam I’ve ever taken (SAT, GRE, midterms, finals, etc…) has ever been great just due to the anxiety from all the pressure. For my oral exam, however, I was asked the first question and I just broke. Ultimately, I ran out of the room in tears right before an extreme panic attack, unable to even tell my committee members what was happening to me. The stress, the anxiety, were things that I tried to keep unnoticed because I don’t want to be perceived as weak, or that student who can’t handle the pressure. Since that incident, I’ve talked with my members and admitted to struggling with these things. To say that I’ve always struggled with tests and public speaking is an understatement. But it’s something I’ve been actively working (including counseling and medications) on since beginning undergrad and have focused especially on this past semester knowing I would have to do this. Despite all the work and preparation, I couldn’t do it and I don’t know if I actually ever will. My committee members tell me that it shouldn’t be any different than any other time I have to speak. I disagree. When preparing for a conference or a lecture or even a job interview, you are generally narrowly focused on one topic that you’ve had the opportunity to rehearse and practice (not to mention no one at a conference tells you that you can’t come back if your talk isn’t good). This is very different from walking into a room with five people who could ask you literally anything. The goal of these exams is to confirm that PhD students are broadly trained in biology, despite specializing in a particular field and to ensure that they are truly qualified to do research. I get it, but I also think I’ve managed to demonstrate these things in other ways. I’ve done a lot of coursework because Master’s students are required to have a certain number in addition to research, which is not a requirement for PhD students. I’ve taught science courses at my university and another university prior to entering the program, I’ve passed the written portion, and I’ve managed to get an NSF grant. All my members say to me that they know I’m prepared, that I know the answers, but they still insist on me going through this ordeal to continue. I am exhausted, humiliated, and frustrated to say the least. So, has anyone else had these experiences? Were you offered any sort of alternative way to prove you’re competent? Or am I really going to have to just accept that this shortcoming is going to alter my life plans despite being very capable in every other requirement? Am I really just not good enough? Is this really the best way for the Deptartment of Academics to separate the proverbial wheat from the chaff or is my career as a biologist being held hostage behind faculty traditions passed on as normal?
  2. I have been admitted to a graduate program of choice and could not be more elated about my acceptance. Lately though, I've been feeling rather anxious about starting this chapter of my life. I have been feeling very doubtful of this decision and feel scared that I will spend all this time and energy in this subject, only to receive my Master's and wish to switch to another career. I am a hard worker, love to be intellectually stimulated, and love a good challenge- the difficult part for me is socializing day in and day out with colleagues, especially on days when personal life is hitting the fan or i'm just plain exhausted. It's really hard to fake it, and it makes me feel guilty when mentally I am just not there that day. I think a lot of the anxiety would melt away if I knew I could just genuinely be myself (good, bad, and ugly), but I know that the culture of academia does not really work this way. We must be "on" at all times. I am also nervous that grad school will be so time consuming that it will derail my personal life and leave me feeling isolated from my friends and family. More than anything, I wish to have a balanced work/home life, but I keep receiving messages that it is just not possible in graduate school. Does anyone else feel similar to this or have advice? Thank you!
  3. Got my first decision for grad school bacl today, and it's a big fat rejection. I applied for was Ph.D in Near East Languages and Civilizations (Egypt) at UChicago, which is the school I heard back from, Penn, Johns Hopkins, and Brown. Now, I thought February through March is when they send acceptance letters and letters saying you're on the wait list and then don't send rejections until late march through April. So does the fact that I recieved my rejection that quickly mean they thought I was extremely unqualified for the program? If that's the case, then I need to work on my back up plan for next year when the other rejections come in.
  4. Seems to me that the traffic on GradCafe has slowed down some over the past few weeks, which suggests that people are hopefully making decisions about their programs! Who here wants to commiserate over the fact that no graduate programs have released decisions for them yet? That's where I'm at and it's a tad nerve-wracking.
  5. So I had an anxiety attack and bugged UCLA grad office with an email on my app status 2x this week. I' pretty sure I won't email them again until I officially hear a decision, but did I affect my decision by bugging them?
  6. With most of the deadlines for biology and biomedical Ph.D. programs for the Fall 2017 either being over or approaching, there's only one thing left to do: WAIT. If you're anything like me, you are refreshing your email hourly (even though it's only December 5th). So my question is to past applicants: When did you hear back from schools that you applied to about interviews and what not. Also, where did you apply? I would love to hear about some of the experiences you had with different schools and when you had correspondence with them so I can ease my own anxiety! Thanks!
  7. Hello all, I have suffered from anxiety for a while and even sought counseling at my undergraduate institution. I didn't want to be medicated or have an official diagnosis because I wanted to keep options open for military service. So I pushed through. Managed a 3.49 in undergrad with over a 3.8 in my major (anthropology) and am sitting at a 3.69 in my graduate program (public health). My biggest problem has been attendance due to anxiety. I am no longer considering the military and I want to do better so that I not only do well in my masters program, but can also perform well in a PhD program. Do you all think a diagnosis and/or accommodations this late in the game will be beneficial or hurt me? What I'm thinking I would need is just advanced notice of assignments or big projects (or whatever people with anxiety normally get), definitely counseling, and possibly medication but that would be up to a doctor. The big thing for me is that I want to be able to explain my lackluster GPA on PhD applications and prove that I am working on it and will be able to manage PhD work. I have no doubts that I can, but as my condition ebbs and flows, so does my work. So the question is really whether I will always be doing my best. I am only going to be applying to schools that have a really good focus on teaching and advising because I perform much better when I have a solid relationship with my teachers, so I will talk about that in my personal statement. This is sorta a ramble, but advice, stories, and general information about experiences with disability services, mental health in grad school and the application process, and coping mechanisms would be helpful.
  8. 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!"
  9. Hi everyone, I'm currently a rising senior Chemistry major. Up until a month ago, I was pre-med and was planning on taking the MCAT and applying to medical school. But I recently decided that I would be happier doing a Masters in Chemical Engineering instead and that the medical field was just not for me. With this decision came a lot of disappointment from not only my immediate family but my extended family as well and the large amount of pressure and disappointment has been giving me extreme anxiety . Does anyone have any advice or words of wisdom for me to deal with the situation?
  10. Hello all, This is my first post on Grad Cafe, so if there's some protocol that exists that I'm not following...my apologies! I'm a second year history Ph.D. student, am almost through comps (so. very. close.), and have started thinking about my research year, which will take place during my 4th year (though, as we all know, grant applications will need to be done this coming Fall). Frankly, I'm a nervous wreck over the idea of being abroad doing research for such long stretches of time. I have a generalized anxiety disorder that makes it very difficult to remain in a good, healthy place when away from my routine and support systems for extended periods of time. I would really appreciate any insight anyone has for how to handle long research trips, alternative ways of breaking up research trips throughout the year, ways to approach this conversation with my adviser, etc. Thank you in advance!
  11. Hello, I just joined this forum, so I apologize if I put this in the wrong place. I'm having a hard time finding any admissions data on the NYU School of Professional Studies and I'm going through some panic about whether or not I will be accepted (I applied for a Master's in HR). My undergraduate GPA was 3.35 (BS in accounting), my GRE was 312 (161 verb, 151 quant), and I have around a year of professional work experience. Am I qualified for a school like NYU? Thanks for any help in advance
  12. Hey Grad Cafe, I'm a life-long sufferer of anxiety, who recently experienced a really bad bout of it after I started grad school at MICA in the fall of 2014. Lots of self-doubt, crippling panic attacks and a struggle to find adequate mental health care. So, for my graduate thesis project at MICA, I've been working on an app that translates anxiety therapy and self-care techniques into fun adventure games. Basically, my goal is to develop a tool that helps fill gaps in mental health care experienced by so many millennials. I recently started a non-profit crowdfunding campaign to support my research: igg.me/p/worry-quest/ Grad Cafe-ers, would you be able to contribute and/or spread the word about my project? I'm just over halfway funded with less than three weeks to go. The money will be used towards a trip that will provide me with professional mentorship, and the opportunity to test my anti-anxiety app in cities across the United States. Also, all contributions are tax-deductible donations to the Millennial Trains Project 501(c)(3) non-profit. I'm also open to advice for crowdfunding. Have any of you found any particular strategy to be really effective? If you have any questions, feel free to reply in the thread or email me at mbambach@mica.edu. Thanks!
  13. Hi all, this is my first post so I am hoping to get some good advice and realistic feedback. First off, I struggled through college (mostly in the beginning) thanks to some issues of severe depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, my GPA has suffered and although I managed good grades in the last two years, it averages out to a very underwhelming 2.99 (I also did a semester abroad, which with the pass/fail ranking did not help nudge my GPA up). *As a side note...does 2.99 round up to 3.0 or am I stuck at <3.0, which seems to be the cutoff for many schools even accepting applications* If I could do it all over again...I would. I would just go through and re-do my lowest grades...but of course, time is of the essence. Or is it? I have a deep passion for science, specifically marine biology (my UG major), as well as evolutionary biology (now there was a class where I got the top grade in the class, for once). Special interests for me are ornithology, fisheries, conservation...but really any field gets me going. I could not imagine doing anything other than biology...and so my dream is to continue in marine biology, or possible evo. bio. depending entirely on what school will accept me. Which brings me to my current dilemma...I have absolutely zero confidence that any reputable grad school will accept me, thanks to my GPA, which is nothing to speak of. However, I do consider myself an intelligent, intellectual person - I have been lucky to travel to many different countries over the course of my life, as well as speak a second language fluently. I keep my sights on the important things and issues in life, and I dream about becoming a fully accredited marine biologist/zoologist/evo biologist somewhere down the road (hopefully sooner rather than later). My boyfriend is someone who after serving in the military for 9 years, is just applying to undergrad programs in California. He has excellent chances of getting in where ever he wants - UCSB, UCSC, or UCSD are at the top of his lists (as well as mine in regards to grad school). I want to move out to CA with him and hopefully enter the same school he is at (or get another field job in the area). To make a long story short, here's my question: What are my chances of getting in to the aforementioned schools in the fields I dream about? If they are meager, what do I need to do to increase my appeal? My initial (new) GRE score is 314. I excelled at verbal but ran out of time on both quantitative sections, and will be retaking it soon... Thanks for reading my long post, and taking the time to answer! It is much appreciated!!! P.S. As for field work experience, I have a good amount: Colorado, North Carolina, as well as Antarctica. Currently am working for the state's Division of Marine Fisheries as an observer. *Incidentally, does anyone know how much experience as a fisheries observer is worth towards grad school? I couldn't find any info on that before I accepted...*
  14. Hi everyone, Does anyone else have social anxiety? How do you deal with it? After recently accepting an offer of admission, I'm meeting my supersivor for the first time ever next week during a visit and I'm so nervous about this that I can't even sleep. We are meeting for coffee. My fear is that I will be on the spot, socially awkward and unable to come up with interesting things to say. I feel like the pressure will be on me to keep the conversation going. I am not very good with making small talk with strangers. We've talked on the phone and from what I can tell this person is a very nice and approachable. Basically I get so nervous that I begin to sweat profusely - to the point where I'm dripping, my hair is wet, and I get giant pit stains. So embarrassing! I have a prescription for a benzo but I would prefer not to use it, especially if my supervisor decides to order a glass of wine (I would be expected to drink as well). Anyone else out there? Any tips? I've tried breathing exercises and they do work at calming me down, but they don't stop the sweat flood from coming.
  15. So I don't know what to make out of this. For one of my schools, when I have obsessively checked the website over the past several weeks I only had 4 options (Check Status, Change Profile, Feedback, Directory). As of Tuesday/Wednesday (not sure the days are blurring together) this portal was updated with new links to Residential Life and Financial Aid, but no change to app status. On the back end of the Financial Aid link it shows they have received my FAFSA and are awaiting my scholarship application. Res Life link has no info. When I emailed the school they said "The site is managed by a different department and not necessarily reflective of admission decision" - When I called the school today the GA I spoke to said "Well gee, that sounds like a good sign but I don't want to get your hopes up. Official decisions will be forthcoming." WHAT? REALLY? Gee that sounds like a good sign? I am pulling my hair out here. If I didn't already have a few acceptances I would be crawling the walls! What would you all make of this? I don't think its a fluke or glitch because it hasn't changed in days...
  16. Hi everyone, I'm a 2nd-time applicant to a PhD program in the social sciences. I was waitlisted last year at this program, and it is the only program that I would like to attend at this point--no safety schools for me! Yikes. Last year I nearly lost my mind with anxiety during the loooong wait. I'm doing my best to prevent that from happening this year (it helps that I'm much busier this time around), but I can't help my lame tendency every day to uselessly "calculate" my chances. I've searched the forums on this topic but have found little information: Does anyone have experience reapplying to a program after being waitlisted? Does anyone think that a previous waitlist status works in your favor? I imagine that it probably depends a lot on the current crop of applicants, but I've significantly improved my application through work experience and I've addressed the two comments I received from the admissions officer (contacted faculty, tailored my statement a bit to emphasize fit). I'd appreciate any feedback, cheerleading, or gradcafe equivalent of an anxiolytic. Happy waiting, everyone!
  17. I just submitted electronic applications and sent off supplemental materials to the two schools I am applying to. Will be able to check status of application in 4-5 business days. I AM ALREADY NERVOUS. Nerves stemming from two things: the fact that 2/3 letter writers haven't responded to my emails all break and that the decision to apply to these two programs was entirely last minute. I applied to UC Irvine/UC San Diego's Joint Doctoral program in Drama & Theatre and University of Western Ontario's MA in Theory & Criticism. I applied to the first at the request of a professor I have been working with for the last year. His interests are perfectly aligned with mine, but my GRE, GPA (3.32, website says 3.5 is required without a masters- but prof says gpa/gre is supplemental info at best?) and general background in Theatre & Drama is pretty bad. I took the new gre which resulted in extra low scores. I feel good about the way that I spun my personal history statement (for fellowships/personal background) and how I framed by statement of purpose, but it feels contrived. I don't know if anyone else feels like this. If ANYONE has interests in/info about these programs, or in a similar situation I would like to commiserate! Good luck everyone.
  18. Hi all, I'm sure this kind of topic has been posted about a million times, and if anyone wants to close this thread and link me to one with at least a near-identical situation to mine, I won't mind. Still, it's always nice to receive individual-specific advice. I've just recently (I'm about four weeks in now) begun a PhD program straight out of undergrad, and I'm attending the same school I got my bachelor's in. Since about January or late December, I've been dealing with depression caused by an intense amount of anxiety associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder. I've been in therapy (on-campus counseling, off-campus counseling, and group counseling) for quite some time, but it doesn't seem to be helping much, and now my mental problems are beginning to interfere with my work. (Case in point: I have a large assignment due first thing tomorrow morning, and instead of even starting it I'm typing up this post instead.) My cohort is very nice to me and I think they're all cool people, and the professors have been kind to me as well, but my current state of mind has been making it extremely difficult to enjoy the experience. I'm already failing one of my classes, and the knowledge that I am makes me want to do the work even less. It was yesterday, when I found myself researching suicide methods, when I began to wonder if I should be in grad school right now. I'm afraid to ask for a leave of absence, though, because I'm only four weeks in and I worry that I'd be letting the faculty down. Hell, not just the faculty; my entire family, including my boyfriend, were all extremely supportive of my decision to attend grad school and cheered my acceptance to this program so enthusiastically that I worry I'd be letting them all down too. I also have no idea what I would do if I left because I never had a Plan B; grad school was always the plan for me. I should clarify that my stress and depression aren't being caused by my workload or my relationship with my cohort and professors. My OCD issues actually have nothing to do with schoolwork or grades at all, but explaining it in detail would necessitate another lengthy post. Because of this, and since my problems are getting in the way of my work now, I feel that I may be justified in asking for a leave of absence while I attempt to figure out what to do with myself. I'm wondering, though, if this is really the right decision to make, and if not, what I should do instead. I apologize for the discombobulated way that this post is written. Obviously, I can try to make some things clearer if anyone asks.
  19. I'm applying to 11 programs this year. So far, I've submitted 2 full applications and I gave all of my application materials a thorough overview for spelling errors/typos/etc. I even had my husband, in-laws and parents look over my materials for anything erroneous. We came to the conclusion a couple days ago that my materials were in great shape and I was ready to submit. I can't shake the anxiety that I'll go back and look at my freshly submitted applications and find some stupid spelling mistake or grave error (like calling Professor X a 'she' or something horrible like that!) Any advice for getting over paranoid anxiety?
  20. Hi Everybody...... I am a senior 2 months away from graduating and ideally I would like to go to graduate school for clinical psychology, developmental or counseling psychology..However I feel crippled by the fear that I will not be able to cope with the statistics required in a graduate program. My GPA is 3.9 and I am a fairly competent, hardworking student but math is not my forte and it is quite honestly a struggle. I am also planning to take an year out to sort out some personal matters, and will be even more rusty as a result. Also I do not have any hands on research experience. I have only taken algebra, the requisite stats course and research methods in my undergraduate program, (and remember very little of it, quite honestly) is this enough? Will there be some preliminary training / stats courses or do you just get chucked into the deep end. Is it possible to take undergrad stats classes while enrolled in a grad program to brush up???........I am terribly worried about this and would appreciate any advice you guys may have to offer. Thank You!!.....