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Peanut

Anyone else feeling hopeless?

85 posts in this topic

I just came to say I've been where you are, and do NOT give up! I am on my third application cycle, and last week received my very first acceptance. Getting into grad school is unbelievably competitive - most schools take less than 10% of applicants - so not getting in the first time is by no means an indication of your "fitness" for graduate school. Getting rejected across the board two years in a row was really disheartening, and there were times I said I wasn't going to go through this whole grueling process again just to try to prove I can hack it to a group of strangers based on a few pieces of paper and an online form.

HOWEVER, after the devastation subsided, I realized changing my viewpoint about the application process to that of a learning experience helped me move forward and try again. Each time I have gone through this, I have learned how to present myself just a little bit better, how to describe my work and my research interests more clearly and succinctly, and how to gracefully handle rejection - which we are going to get a lot of in academia.  Giving up after one cycle, if this is something you really want to do, seems a little premature when you consider how few applicants actually receive acceptance. Also, this cycle is far from over!!

 

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2 minutes ago, MaytheSchwartzBeWithYou said:

I just came to say I've been where you are, and do NOT give up! I am on my third application cycle, and last week received my very first acceptance. Getting into grad school is unbelievably competitive - most schools take less than 10% of applicants - so not getting in the first time is by no means an indication of your "fitness" for graduate school. Getting rejected across the board two years in a row was really disheartening, and there were times I said I wasn't going to go through this whole grueling process again just to try to prove I can hack it to a group of strangers based on a few pieces of paper and an online form.

HOWEVER, after the devastation subsided, I realized changing my viewpoint about the application process to that of a learning experience helped me move forward and try again. Each time I have gone through this, I have learned how to present myself just a little bit better, how to describe my work and my research interests more clearly and succinctly, and how to gracefully handle rejection - which we are going to get a lot of in academia.  Giving up after one cycle, if this is something you really want to do, seems a little premature when you consider how few applicants actually receive acceptance. Also, this cycle is far from over!!

 

Thank you for that :)

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On 2/19/2017 at 6:08 AM, Peanut said:

Idk. I applied last year as well and I got most of my rejections in March. People kept saying "no news might be good news!" but that wasn't the case with me.

Well, I'm here to say don't be hopeless. On Monday I got an admit to UPitt, and today I got one to FIU. There is still hope! Hang in there! 

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6 hours ago, krystasonrisa said:

Well, I'm here to say don't be hopeless. On Monday I got an admit to UPitt, and today I got one to FIU. There is still hope! Hang in there! 

That's fantastic!

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This is my first time applying, and I've only heard back from one program (after e-mailing them). Most of the other programs are only sending out stock responses. This is super stressful and I'm mentally preparing myself for rejections across the board, analyzing my decisions and actions through this application period. 

The way I am dealing with this situation is by looking towards next year. I have actively started planning for the Fall 2018 application season, identifying universities, GRE etc., along with initiating plans to attempt to get publications & articles out by the end of this year. It may be more work, but hey, at least it makes me forget about my current situation (for a while). 

I agree with the posters above, it is therapeutic to know that there are people out there who understand how you feel.

All the best guys! I do hope we get in this year! 
 

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On 2017-02-21 at 6:42 AM, DiscoTech said:

IIRC you are the one with the super specific research interest in quantum computing, right? I think in the end you'll be fine, but you probably have not given admissions committees much to work with. Do they have reason to admit you if one PI in your field isn't looking for students? Hopefully you inquired about opening with the specific PIs before applying?

Yes, i tried to inquire about opening with PIs before applying, but most of them just recommended me to apply anyways, without going into details. Currently decided to apply for out of US opportunities. I don't plan to take a year off. Luckily there are still some opportunities open.

I am a little disappointed with how graduate schools respond to email or phone inquiries. A lot of them respond with the generic line not all decisions haven't been made. When it's obvious you won't be admitted or are stuck on waitlist and have a 1% chance of getting in. As nice as that sounds it isn't helpful to the applicant at all. Purposely obscuring the probabilities of admission hinders and misguided the applicants choices.

I feel the mantra a lot of people go by is you can do nothing but wait, but I don't think that needs to be true. We should be actively pursuing opportunities in the meantime, academic and non academic. Not just sit and wait.

A lot of U.K. Quantum projects only have funding for EU/U.K. Students sadly :( . I thought funding for US projects were hard then I realized how much worse it is outside US. Looking back I think the biggest reason why I haven't gotten accepted as opposed to my friends with similar credentials is because of my narrow interest topic I wrote in my SOP.

Edited by coolgod

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46 minutes ago, coolgod said:

Looking back I think the biggest reason why I haven't gotten accepted as opposed to my friends with similar credentials is because of my narrow interest topic I wrote in my SOP.

Interestingly, I think the issue I am having with my applications is that I wasn't focused enough in my research interests. I have been getting the feeling that I was looked over for many schools because there were probably students that were super specifically interested in the projects being done, whereas I claimed I was more open. I think it is probably hard to strike a balance, and I haven't decided my tactic for next time (if I continue to be unlucky this year). It may also differ by field. I am coming a (primarily) neurobiology background and applied to psychology neuroscience programs. 

Perhaps next time I will need to tailor my SOP even more to the specific school than I did this time and spend more time talking to the labs I want to be in. Although I did do some of this, the schools that I thought I had the best shots at and had made the most connections didn't even bother to contact me. 

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I am feeling pretty angry about this whole situation.  I have gotten two rejections and waiting on a third, and last, application decision.  I did everything I could to put myself in a great situation (2 conferences, 1 publication) as a masters student in Communication yet no bites yet.

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Probably not a popular opinion, but I can't help but wonder if getting blanket rejections year after year is a sign that one should pursue a different line of work. Sure, you can apply and re-apply, maybe get into a middling program, but if even those who get into a top program on their first try are going to struggle to find tenure track jobs (and most probably won't), it doesn't seem logical to waste 6, 7, 8 years that could really advance a non-academic career chasing a degree that most likely won't lead anywhere.

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On 2/16/2017 at 3:49 AM, Peanut said:

Hey all. This is my second year applying. As you can see from my signature, last season I applied to 11 programs and got accepted to one with minimal funding, so I did not attend. This year I applied to only 6 programs, and I've already received 2 rejections and 1 waitlist.

So, as a result of these setbacks, I'm feeling a bit....hopeless. After last year's episode, all I want is good news, but I don't know if it will ever come. Does anyone else feel as miserable as I do?

@Peanut, I'm sorry to hear about your situation. It's not over yet! I know a couple people who got accepted from the waitlist on April 14th. 

I'm wondering, does any part of you wish you had accepted the program w/ minimal funding from last year? This is my first round and I've been accepted to a PhD program like that as well. It's my only opportunity so far; waitlisted from others, so I too am losing hope about better-funded programs. Really debating whether to accept the offer I have. 

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I've only heard from one school since applying, and it was a rejection. No interviews, no follow-up, no waitlist. No emails, phone calls, or snail mail. I also discovered that my top choice extended their deadline, which makes me think my application wasn't competitive enough. Like they looked at it and said "Anyone else? Anyone at all? Please!"

I have three chances left, and then I'm going to have to either grab the first full time job available or consider a different program that would accept recommendations from employers, since I doubt my academic recommenders would agree to do this a third time.

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On 2/24/2017 at 6:11 PM, Charlsa said:

I doubt my academic recommenders would agree to do this a third time.

If your remaining three chances don't work out, you could consider sending a personalized thank-you letter via snail mail with a Starbucks gift card. It might be a nice gesture anyway as they've already done it twice. Hopefully you won't need to apply next year, but if you do you could include an employer as a fourth LoR.

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On 2/24/2017 at 8:11 PM, Charlsa said:

I've only heard from one school since applying, and it was a rejection. No interviews, no follow-up, no waitlist. No emails, phone calls, or snail mail. I also discovered that my top choice extended their deadline, which makes me think my application wasn't competitive enough. Like they looked at it and said "Anyone else? Anyone at all? Please!"

I have three chances left, and then I'm going to have to either grab the first full time job available or consider a different program that would accept recommendations from employers, since I doubt my academic recommenders would agree to do this a third time.

 

It's much easier to write letters after the first. A lot of faculty members keep copies of letters and just update them with subsequent submissions, and every letter I requested from professional references, said writer gave me a physical copy of the letter. If I need another letter from the latter, I'll send them a copy of the letter, reminding them of who I am, and I'd ask for an updated letter. 

I wouldn't give up hope yet. It's still only February, even if late February.

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You're not hopeless although I understand why you may feel that way. From January to literally today I was like "there's no way columbia is even gunna think twice about my portfolio" and I just received an email for an interview this morning. Don't freight. Whatever/wherever you're supposed to be is right around the corner. You are so much more than a rejection or an acceptance. Keep your head up, because clearly by this thread you've got a support system in all of us. :)

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Hi there!

I was in a desperate situation, in which I got 2 rejections out of 4 phd applications, and no interviews from the remaining two. Although I was rejected from my top choice, I just received an invitation for interview form my second choice. As weird as an invitation on the 3rd of march may sound, I just wanted you all to know that it can happen!

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Last year I got 0/2 admissions (right, i just applied to 2 schools and both rejected me). This year I came back with a better GRE score. Now I am waitlisted by my favorite program (the one I feel most excited about and matched my background the best). I totally understand your feeling. Let's hope those who already have been admitted will have better offers coming very soon.

Good luck everybody! Hang in there

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Im currently 0/2 with one application left to go. This was my first time around applying to masters programs. Learned the arduous process that is the application process (LOIs, chasing down LOR, going into debt for application fees, the anxiety of waiting, and finally the dejection that comes with rejections). As it stands, I am most likely getting another rejection from the last program I applied to as it highly competitive (something like 600+ applicants), and quite frankly I think my GPA is just too low to even be considered as competitive for that program. What makes my situation even harder is the fact that I am an older student (30++), so at my age the years matter more than  if I was still in my twenties. So, yes I am feeling a little hopeless..but quite frankly I have invested far too much time and effort in this "project" to simply give up and walk away. I will go back, take a few more courses, do well in them, boost my GPA, continue to be involved in some extra-curriculars and try again next season. I've always believed that we truly define ourselves by how we react to failure.

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On 2/21/2017 at 7:26 PM, EricaMac said:

I completely understand ALL of this. I applied to 8 programs about 6 years ago when I finished my first master's degree, and I was rejected outright from all 8. I was devastated, had no plan B, and ended up working retail for quite some time before getting my crap together.

This time around, I only applied to 3. My application was very strong, and I focused on it more, but I still was rejected outright from Yale. I'm waitlisted at UConn, so we'll see there (last time they just rejected me), and I haven't heard from Brandeis. But since another person on this forum was waitlisted for their program, I'm assuming I was rejected and they're just taking their sweet time telling me. 

I didn't think I was going to apply again after the first time, and then 6 years later, here I am. But I'm 32 now, and I really don't think I have it in me to do this again. So while I'm not as devastated this time around, I AM disappointed. And I am starting to wonder if this is really what I'm meant to do. 

 

Tl;dr: Right there with you, OP.

1

Hello,

I hope this doesn't open up any wounds (I've been rejected from 10 schools so far, and am recovering from each and every one of them still). I was wondering if Yale sent you an actual rejection letter. I'm still waiting to hear back from them, and the suspense is honestly killing me. My anxiety has been through the roof.

From what I gather, they've already sent out their offers of admission. But I wasn't sure if they sent out any proper rejection emails yet. 

I've been in touch with a professor from there-- he actually encouraged me to apply because he really wants to advise me on my research. But I've heard absolutely nothing from them. Which has been a complete shock!

I hope that by now, you've received some positive news from UConn and/or Brandeis! 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

Not entirely hopeless but I'm stressing quite a bit as well. I applied to ten schools, was rejected from eight, waitlisted for one, and was accepted to one with no concrete word about funding thus far (it's been a month and a half since my acceptance). I was so excited to be accepted, but the more time passes, the more I'm panicking. I can't attend without funding, and if I don't get it, it would be the equivalent of a rejection.

Edited by ThousandsHardships

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On 2/25/2017 at 1:46 AM, Melatonin said:

Probably not a popular opinion, but I can't help but wonder if getting blanket rejections year after year is a sign that one should pursue a different line of work. Sure, you can apply and re-apply, maybe get into a middling program, but if even those who get into a top program on their first try are going to struggle to find tenure track jobs (and most probably won't), it doesn't seem logical to waste 6, 7, 8 years that could really advance a non-academic career chasing a degree that most likely won't lead anywhere.

I think of these years as a time when I will get to enjoy everything that I want in a job (research, teaching, leadership, campus activities) and be paid for it. If I only get 5-6 years of it, then so be it. It's still better than nothing. And the writing, teaching, and leadership skills that we gain will be applicable to the job market even if we do not succeed in finding a faculty position in the long run.

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Posted (edited)

On 2/25/2017 at 3:46 AM, Melatonin said:

Probably not a popular opinion, but I can't help but wonder if getting blanket rejections year after year is a sign that one should pursue a different line of work. Sure, you can apply and re-apply, maybe get into a middling program, but if even those who get into a top program on their first try are going to struggle to find tenure track jobs (and most probably won't), it doesn't seem logical to waste 6, 7, 8 years that could really advance a non-academic career chasing a degree that most likely won't lead anywhere.

I agree with thousandhardships that there are lots of positive aspects of grad school for the job market outside of academia, also not everyone pursuing a phd does have the intention of going into academia which is a good thing because there aren't enough jobs in academia for every PhD student. For instance my friend who did a phd in nuclear physics was sponsored by a company designing nuclear reactors and intended to go and work for them at the end of it. For my part I want to work in education policy and whilst academia is one way to do so there are in fact many avenues outside of academia that I intend to pursue post my PhD, but the knowledge and skills I will develop during my PhD are one of the best ways into those career paths (in the UK at least).

That being said I can see that some people are pursuing a PhD to the detriment of other career paths and may end up disappointed if they are not being realistic about their chances of continuing further in academia. Although accepting rejection and continuing to retry is also probably a positive attribute to have if you want to pursue a career in academia given how tough it is to be in the field and how probable rejections are.

Edited by istanbulnotconstantinople

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Posted (edited)

I was accepted into one program out of four, and it is the least prestigious of the schools (none of which are particularly high ranking). I'm grateful that I'll have somewhere to go, but kind of disappointed that my application wasn't strong enough to get more than a form letter from the other three. The one I'll be attending doesn't have a PhD program, and they want me to decide if I'd rather get an MA and then apply to another PhD program, or get an MFA in a related field as a terminal degree. The MFA would eliminate any legitimate curatorial or academic career, but would have more applications in a museum or gallery environment. But the prospects of me getting into a PhD program in two years isn't looking too good, since I went to an underfunded public school, then a state university, then another state university. It would qualify me for the kind of position I want, but it just doesn't look possible right now.

Oh, and also it's looking like I'll be the only one in the program of a very tiny department, which is worrisome.

Edited by Charlsa

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Posted (edited)

22 hours ago, Charlsa said:

Oh, and also it's looking like I'll be the only one in the program of a very tiny department, which is worrisome.

I'm in a similar position: I've been waitlisted at my top choice out of four, and rejected from the other three PhD programs. I've also been accepted to several MA programs, but they're in the UK and funding is extremely competitive and hard to come by. If (a very, very big if!) I'm accepted off of the waitlist, it's for a program that only accepts one or two applicants a year. I really want to know! It would be so nice to have one secure offer, instead of waiting on funding decisions that are still months away from being made.

Edited by LadyPole

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I can say I'm feeling more anxious than I am hopeless, but I still certainly do feel hopeless.

I only applied to 3 schools and I have yet to hear anything from them other than the auto-generated email saying my application has been received and is currently being reviewed.

I'm waiting it out, but as I'm seeing more and more people receiving decisions, I'm only becoming more and more anxious about the decision I'll receive, if any.

It's not like I applied to high-ranking programs either, I applied to the PhD in CS program at a regional university, and then two MS in CS programs, one at my home institution (a lesser-known, mid-sized regional university) and the other at the university where I did my REU in my junior year. I felt that this year my profile was significantly stronger than last year, but I'm starting to think that is likely not the case. I was really hoping for something good to happen this year, but it is looking like that won't be the case. I'll give it another week or so before I call it quits and stop worrying about it.

At least I'm not completely without a plan though should graduate school fall through. I have a pretty nice part-time internship right now and it is likely I'll be offered a full-time, salaried position very soon. So I at least have that to look forward to. But still, I'll feel pretty defeated if I'm rejected at all the places I applied to, especially if I'm rejected at my home institution.

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