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  1. acup313
    Latest Entry

    I just got back from my first interview and I felt that it went good, and I am leaving for another one tomorrow. I will talk more about these later, but I wanted to talk briefly about all of the worries people are having regarding their LORs. I know a lot of people say that the LOR is one of the most important parts of the application, and that without them it is hopeless. While that may be true for some programs at some schools, I can tell you that it is definitely not the case everywhere. Both of the schools where I am interviewing invited me to the interviews before they had my LORs. In fact I think one of the schools still has not received one of my LORs and they are not too worried about it. So, I know this may not be helpful for everyone, and it may not help you relax, but I wanted everyone to know that there is still hope even if you have to rely on unreliable people. I hope everything works out for the best for everyone.

  2. coyabean
    Latest Entry

    Or, at least that's how I feel. LOL

    I drove the 8 hours to Atlanta on Thursday and then drove around Atlanta for 10 yours on Friday scouting apartments and then drove 8 hours back home on Saturday.

    I am both crazy and exhausted.

    But I couldn't fathom renting sight unseen. And I have a wish list with items hard to judge from afar. I mostly want to walk to campus and I found that many places bill themselves as "close to Emory" but I would disagree.

    However, the area around school is le awesome about sidewalks and being bike-friendly -- huge plus -- but the apartment communities are crazy expensive! Well, for me. I know it's not L.A. and N.Y. expensive but still, $1000 a month is pretty much my stipend. Yet, I cannot, cannot, cannot have roommates. I'm just too old for that.

    0

    I found some options and crossed Emory's "grad housing" totally off the list. (see why here)

    But still nothing to commit to. I see another drive -- or three -- in the future.

  3. Okay, so raise your hand if you are full of nerves at this point? That's right, everyone's hand is up.

    I have a story for you and hopefully it will help everyone take a deep breath and realize, it will all be just fine.

    Having filled out the online portion of my application, I put two packets in the mail, one for School A and one for School B (my top choice, as these things go) on the 31st. Today, I received an email from School A, informing me that in their hands they held my supplemental materials for School B.

    Let that one sink in, folks. I sent two schools the WRONG application.

    I immediately called the Grad Coordinator who could not have been nicer. He agreed to throw out my School B application, and I emailed him the missing information. After discussing the culinary deliciousness of School A's city, I called School B and explained the situation. They, too, could not have been nicer. I will overnight them my supplementary information and, as they say, crisis averted!

    Mailing the wrong application is probably one of the biggest mistakes one could make right about now. But you know what? It was a non-issue. So please remember my story when you are in the throws (throes?) of panic!

  4. I was first rejected by my top choice school last year and so I went with my third choice at the time. I was pretty bummed about going there, but realized that they had more to offer than I realized. Fast forward to completing my first semester of grad school...

    It sucks here! The ONLY Professor I wanted to work with has no funding now. The classes which helped defined the program and the school are NOW no longer offered. My friends (at this school) and I are pretty much pissed about the whole thing. We all actually had the same idea and that's why they chose to go here. Now we're all rethinking this decision. /end rant

  5. captiv8ed
    Latest Entry

    A lot of my schools seem to notify mid to late Feb or even into March. I don't know how I will survive.

    I am forcing myself off of the computer. Which is so good for so many reasons.

    I am definitely in the phase of the game where I believe I will not get into any of my schools. My GRE did not even crack 1200 (missed by 10). And they will be receiving so many applications this year. I am done for. And I am not going for a Master's alone. I have kids and that would mean uprooting them and then again in two or three years. Can't do it.

    Well, off to obsessively check application status updates. Haven't done that in a few days.

  6. I’ve never been one to care about brand names or signature labels. Last weekend when I went shopping for sunglasses, I passed by the stores selling those expensive name brand shades and went straight to the sunglasses kiosk. You know, those little carts in any US mall where you can by Dead Sea oils and novelty gifts and the like.

    Anyway I found these sunglasses for 10 bucks that looked good and fit well. So I got them and saved at least 40 in the process. My wife of course has a different opinion on all this, opting for (or wanting) the name brand.

    My point in mentioning this is that I have been weighing what is arguably the largest brand-name versus value pricing choice out there. Today, after months of waiting, I finally got the financial information I was looking for from NYU. Aside from a meager $1500/semester grant, I’m on the hook for the remaining tuition, fees and whatnot. Per semester, that works out to almost $18,000-20,000.

    That’s a lot to pay for that “NYU” label.

    And given my acceptance into CUNY/Baruch, I believe I have a value-priced alternative to choose from. Even with one year of out-of-state tuition, the total cost for the entire program should not exceed $30,000. And that’s without any assistantship or funding assistance whatsoever. With an assistantship (decided on April-June) it could be lower. And for that reduced price I still am getting a quality education and connections in a program that many people reassured me is comparable to what the big name private schools can offer.

    Even knowing the cost implications, I spent the last few weeks focusing on ways to justify attending (and paying for) NYU. It’s out of character for someone who purchases store brand groceries, unknown or mass-produced clothing labels and of course, no-name sunglasses. In the end, my head and wallet will win this absurd battle. Tomorrow I will inform CUNY/Baruch that I will attend classes this fall. I’m 99% sure this is the right choice.

    That remaining 1% uncertainty whether I made the right choice or not continues to vex me though.

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  7. alexis
    Latest Entry

    I visited with the faculty and students at the program I am going to be attending in the fall (although I didn't officially accept until today). It was nothing short of amazing. Everything clicked--the people, the research, you name it. I'm so excited that I'm already antsy for September!

    I also found out that I was THE ONLY student accepted for organizational behavior. It varies year to year, but this year they wanted only one OB student. I could hardly believe it; they said I was their top choice above all the applicants. They told me a little bit about what they liked concerning my background (and cited some little things on my application, it's kind of weird realizing these people you just met already know so much about you) and I think what helped put me over the edge for my acceptance was my prior research experience. It's just crazy to think I beat out all those other applicants for that one spot. (I get the feeling too, though they didn't say it explicitly as not to pressure me, that they were waiting on whether I would accept the offer or not before going next on the list--I don't think they've wait listed anyone, so I imagine others are still waiting.) If I had known how competitive this program was (um, one spot?) while I was still waiting to hear from programs, I really would have thought my chances were about 0%. So I'm glad I didn't know until now! But so incredibly happy that they did choose me, it has certainly given me a boost of confidence that I had started to lack throughout this process.

    I also sent an email to the last program where I have yet to hear anything (they finally updated my application as complete last week...for a December 15 deadline). I just let them know I was withdrawing my application. I have a feeling they were one of those programs that would send you a rejection in May or something, so I decided to email rather than leaving it out there in limbo when neither of us want each other.

    I am ten times more excited than I was when I received my acceptance...now that I've seen the office area where I'll be working, what being a GA will entail, met some of my future classmates, gotten to know the professors I'll be working with a little bit...seriously awesome. I can still hardly believe that everything has worked out.

  8. i've spent several weeks trying to create the perfect SOP and not once have i complained about the word limit. but now that it's getting down to the wire, i just need to vent.

    400 words is not enough to thoroughly describe everything the question asks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    it's nearly done but it just doesn't feel right. doesn't feel like me. i like imagery. i like to create a feeling. that's what people remember. what they connect to.

    it's been a long time since i've written something for an adcomm. i know they value concision. it's just not me. in turn, i feel defeated. like what i am submitting barely scratches the surface of my commitment and dedication. everything else about my application meets my expectations. i only have two weeks to figure this last part out. yikes!

  9. I had a pretty bad experience with a letter writer today. After I confirmed with her several weeks ago that she was willing to write, I immediately registered her for the online applications. At the same time I sent an email to tell her the timeframe so she didn't get stressed from me flooding her inbox. In the same email, I said that a couple of programmes required paper letters and that I'd have the forms etc to her soon. Then a couple of weeks later I sent an email saying that actually one of the remaing letters needed to be sent to an email address, and (again) I'd have paper forms for other schools for her soon. The day after my first deadline, she uploaded all but one of the online recs. This meant she missed the deadline for the one that needed emailed. Not one to stress, I figured she'd get to it eventually.

    Today, I went to drop off the forms for paper applications, and I had a cover note mentioning that there was still an online app to go (deadline mid jan; so no pressure) and could she please send the letter as an email attachment (this was the one overdue).

    So after I politely and deferntially told her that I was at there to drop off the forms, her response was a grunt of dissapointment. "So much work to do, I'll get to it later" "that's fine, I'm so sorry to be a pain" etc etc. She acted as if I was adding extra schools at the last minute, rather than following up on what had already been agreed (and a deadline that had passed). It's her who hasn't read/understood/remembered emails, but I'm the one who gets branded in her mind as demanding.

    It's not that I don't get how busy she is or that she's doing me a favour. I really hate how the LoR part of the application makes us so dependent on other people. The process is designed to demand a lot of work not just from applicants, but from the letter writers. There's a post on the Chronicle Forums where a single professor has 120 LoR-related emails! The thing is, this recommender is no busier than the other two of mine are. If anything, my other recommenders have more rights to feel like I'm a pain in the rear because of how I know them - I'm this person's only MA advisee, while the others are my employers.

    Sigh. Nearly over.

  10. Finally, something from somebody. I feel like I'm a homeless puppy feeding off scraps in the trash, awaiting anyone to take me in.

    A POI at the U. of Maryland emailed me to say they are reviewing applications now and I should hear something soon. Soon! Soon? Days? Weeks? Ahhh!

    She also sent me a new article she's published along with someone else at UMD and someone at OSU. It is basically everything I've ever dreamed of about my future graduate career. Insects, ecology, urbanization... :P

  11. Coming to the home stretch before notification I'm feeling better about grad school than I have over the course of my application process. It looks like we'll be getting a decision in a week (or two) and I'm more excited than nervous.

    The excitement comes not from finding out if I've been accepted or not, but where my mind is at the end of this process. I've always had a general idea of what I wanted to do with my life, a vague point of destination somewhere far down the line. Then I started my application.

    I started making a list of volunteer work, accomplishments, and updated my resume. It was this point that I realized just how scattered all of it was. Looking at all of my efforts objectively I realized all my application said was "this girl works really hard and can excel at difficult tasks". I started formulating a plan.. what would look good on my application if I had to do it a second time? I made a list of things to improve: languages (learn a second), volunteer work (how to focus it so I am working toward my ultimate goals), publications (do I have something to say, and what research do I need to do about how to say it), and Research (what do I want to know more about).

    I started buying books, looking into classes, reading articles. Somewhere along the line my efforts transformed from "how do I become a better applicant" to "how do I use my enthusiasm to help". I thought up educational programs I want to develop, started following the efforts of futurelab, read "Pedagogy of the Oppressed", and other books that spoke to educational methodologies.

    If I get into Harvard that is great. It will give me a wealth of information and resources to pull from to help me realize all the programs I want to develop. It will immerse me in a world I've only encountered tangentially. However, if I do not get into Harvard they have already provided me a starting point to change lives and contribute to a new system of education for the future.

    It is a liberating feeling, and I will be eternally grateful to Harvard for giving me the opportunity to arrive at it.

  12. delphi
    Latest Entry

    So a friend of mine, who I had to pep talk into applying to grad school, got accepted to Berkeley the other day.

    I'm not panic-y/jealous at all. :/ In case you didn't realize, that is typed in sarcasm font.

    I'm super excited to already be accepted to a school, but my dream school is still not yet in my reach. And I don't get it. I have a ton of publications, a great cv, good letters, and good grades. Where are the rest of my acceptance letters????

  13. psychdork
    Latest Entry

    I realize it's been some time since my last post, but there really wasn't anything exciting to write about until recently.

    So now I'm in that never-ending waiting period. Every day I find myself staring at my phone, demanding the email notification light to start blinking. And then it does, and I think, "wow, it really worked!". Until I read the email, which has nothing to do with my applications, and 9 times out of 10 is something I couldn't care less about. So then I sit at my desk annoyed at that email, and start the email-light demanding cycle over again. It's usually then that I make myself do something productive which works for a good 5-10 minutes until I find myself staring at my phone again. Apparently, I have developed the attention span of a goldfish.

    Of course, every so often I do hear something positive. Now, you would think that hearing something would help squelch the anxiety I feel towards my other programs, right? Oh no, actually it makes it worse! It's almost like some twisted gambler's fallacy, if one school tells me something, well then the others have to as well! So if I hear something from School A on Monday, well then Schools B-H will definitely tell me something Tuesday. And if not Tuesday, then Wednesday, and so forth. And yes, I realize the lack of logic there, and I've tried to tell myself that. But have you ever had an argument with yourself? Mine never end well. In fact, they usually end with me staring at my phone...

    So at this point, I've had one in-person interview (School A), one phone interview (School B.) and I'm officially waitlisted at another school (School C). So that's 3 out of 8 programs, with no word from the rest. I think I might be waitlisted at School D, but I'm not sure yet. From what I've been told from the schools I have heard from, if there is anything positive coming my way I should hear back from School B in the next few days (for an in-person interview invite) and School A should be making admissions decisions early next week. From my experience, School C has a long waitlist so it's hard to say where I stand there if they even get to the waitlist (they didn't last year). So for now my hope is on Schools A & B. I thought that knowing when I would hear back would be helpful, but I don't know if it is. I mean I guess it is in a way since I know when to expect it, but at the same time I feel like a little kid waiting for Santa to come. Except that I don't know if I'm getting a present, or if Santa will give me a lump of coal sometime later. I know it's only 1 more week. I already waited 1.5 weeks for School A (plus 6 weeks), I can wait another week. At least that is what I keep telling myself.

    I also made a decision that if I got an interview I would only tell a select group of people (less than 5 total). I thought that would help because then I wouldn't have a lot of people asking details about the interview...which just leads to questions about all the other programs to which I applied. Also, then you don't have 20 people giving you advice about the interview. Don't get me wrong, I'm far from perfect, and I am more than willing to ask others for advice. However, I like to do it on my own terms, and ask the people I trust, and know how graduate school interviews work. Hearing about how interviews work at your place of employment probably will not help me at X University. I've done a good job keeping this all quiet, but it is much harder than I thought it would be! After my phone interview yesterday all I wanted to do was tell someone...anyone...fine, everyone how it went. Once I get in somewhere I'll probably share interview details (if there are any at that point) with anyone who asks, I'm just hoping that day comes soon.

  14. This application season has already been quite a learning experience for me. Much to my disappointment, I was rejected from my top choice earlier this week. To add to it, since I'm abroad, my mother had to type out the rejection letter and send it to me. I'm sure it was harder for her to do it than it was for me to receive it. I was at work so I just read it before leaving for lunch and then told my boyfriend as soon as he came to pick me up. Surprisingly, I was not that upset by the news. I'm not completely sure it was something out of my hands so instead of lingering I'm already taking measures to improve my one obvious weakness: my less than stellar GRE scores. Even if this application season ends up with a pleasant surprise (I'm not even close to confident about that happening) I will need to have much more competitive scores to apply for more fellowships next year. If I do end up applying again next year for programs I will, hopefully, be in a slightly better place. It's easy to feel like the world has wronged you, "it's not me, it's them" and so on but I can't afford to waste time whining. Now if it happens again next year or whenever then maybe I'll whine for a minute.

  15. bgk's Blog

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  16. Tall Chai Latte
    Latest Entry

    After waking up early to attend our annual departmental symposium yesterday, I was left feeling exhausted at the end of day.

    The symposium is entirely run by graduate students in the department, starting from deciding who to invite as speakers, down to the location of the symposium dinner. Overall, it's a great thing to participate.

    But one thing that really bothers me every year is the award session. Each year, the department gives out awards in best poster presentation and oral presentation to students. Although the awardees are either decided by faculty or student in an anonymous voting process, the students receiving these awards are often the students from Big Wig labs. Or the most popular student. Or the talk with the prettiest PowerPoint slides. The science we do is sooo diverse, that is now difficult to fully understand the significance of everyone's work. Everyone works hard, every lab does good science. But you can't give everyone an award- so what do you do?

    This is a common theme in life science academia nowadays. I know my PI is trying to be encouraging and supportive on this issue. After all, my success is a reflection on her, and me working hard is in her best interest. But her own CV totally reflects the above situation- multiple Glamour magazine publications, trainee of multiple Big Wigs, etc. It's kind of, well, ironic. It's hard to accept her encouragement when you know she wouldn't be able to land on a faculty position without her credentials above as the icing on the cake.

    Life is unfair. I work hard and I have no regrets. That's what I need to know at the end of day.

  17. Today I sent all the remaining applications, whether their deadline was today, the end of the month or later. Then I cooked something nice and turned on some Hootie and Blowfish. All last week I was checking this website but did not have any time to write something up here, working full time on the side and all.

    I must say though, it's a great feeling to have all this behind me. And every two days I get a few emails from schools, saying applications are complete or missing stuff, then I email them back and they are all very nice (well mostly) and things get done and we keep rolling.

    I remember last August when I told myself, "Gee Whiz, I will finish ALL my application essays before the school year begins and I'm gonna do this right and I'm sure gonna get somewhere". Well it wasn't downhill from there. As imagined I did absolutely nothing until December. I had set my aim at 12 schools, and it seemed very difficult to get down to all the bits and pieces of the application. then hit the school year and as a teacher from September on there is really little time to do anything besides the school work. So applications were somewhere in my head as "IbnU": important but not Urgent. In the meantime I took GRE and got a sad little verbal score which I just had to increase because it looked ridiculous. Coming back that day the first thing I did was to register for another GRE, so GRE costed in the end 180 bucks TWICE! Luckily the second one was better, I increased my score by 100 points and reached 1370, and I thought that was as good as I can possibly get as an international student because Quantitative was already 800.

    After that slowly December came and there was the time to call the previous schools to get the transcripts and ask advisors what happened to those recommendations maybe. A few major problems came up. My university didn't want to give my transcripts because they claimed I hadn't checked-out properly, which I had to do online once more, and for about two weeks I heard nothing from my main recommender, who was a reliable person otherwise and whose letter I needed desperately. He did come through though in the end and everything came in time. I checked the price of fast international delivery and admitted with despair that $1600 altogether is probably a good price to pay for a chance of 5 years of funded and organized life but I must tell you that sometimes it didn't feel that way at all. Grad stipends are one of those things which a developing country teacher's salary can still beat, but hey, there will always be more money in the future, but when will I do my PhD, like at 40? Won't it be harder to leave my even higher salary then and I'll wonder if I did the right thing not applying?

    The good thing is that all this thinking is over, this impulse to just not apply to anything, a voice in your head saying, "if you stop now you can still save $1200, go buy a mac with that money and live together happily ever after". I'm glad I didn't listen to that and went ahead with this and now there is no turning back, there's just sitting and waiting for whatever will happen. But just for fun's sake I'll predict that the final situation will be like this: I'm applying to one master's program which I will get into (It's Harvard TEP), but the scholarship will not add up completely, of the 8 PhD positions I ended up applying to Penn State will reject me due to the sloppy research paper they needed in APA style. I mean I had already written a 23000 word thesis in a different style which I wanted to convert to 2000. It sounded crazy and probably looks terrible. Of the other programs I think I will be rejected right out by 4 of them, be accepted with good funding from at most 1, and the other 2 will be like "hey you have some money?".

    We'll see how it works out, but now back to Hootie and sleeping more than 5 hours every day.

    Good luck to us all.

  18. bloggin'

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  19. I thought I would add some thoughts now that I have one semester left for my masters degree (hopefully two of them).

    1. I am way dumber than I thought I was smart. Previous entries list my undergrad stats if you're interested. I have worked harder in the last sixteen months than I ever have, and have probably just begun to discover what I don't know.

    2. Since I'm not on the PhD track I have enjoyed the lack of stress from prelims or qualifiers, and this has enabled me to do a lot of exploring and reflection on the vast subject of mathematics. I'm glad I've had that luxury. It's nice to see the landscape before picking a subject to dissect.

    3. Grades are funny, and seem to have a much more (inflationary) subjective content in graduate classes. In an odd way this gives motivation to continue the struggle, as if the prof. is saying, "Hey, we know this is hard stuff, and that you are working hard. Even if you haven't done that great on performance measures, you should keep it up." Hopefully it isn't that I have someone paying the bill.

    4. I haven't been on a thesis option, but that might have been a good idea. I did manage to do a topics/reading course with a prof. and went through the process of writing and rewriting a block of (relatively difficult at the time) problems/exercises to complete correctness. This was a great learning experience and I highly recommend it.

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    Recent Entries

    I worried whether or not I had submitted enough applications. I worried whether or not the weird grammar and typos would disqualify me from the programs I applied to.

    I worried a little bit about the Letters of Recommendation but what I now realize is that this may be the biggest factor of my application and should have been the one thing that I should have worried about....

    And I say this because I now have an application due mid-December that has a missing LOR from a faculty who I just learned is in another country with intermittent internet access.

    Since I now need to bother another professor for a rushed replacement letter, the good thing in all this is that now I can't realistically apply to any more programs.

    And I can move on.

    Once I get that last letter that is...

  20. Today I spoke with the POI from one of my top choices, if not my top choice, by Skype. I would have loved to have heard right off the bat, 'We're going to accept you', while I feared that it would have been an inquisition that would determine whether or not I got accepted. Needless to say, I was nervous :rolleyes:

    The talk, and I'll say 'talk' rather than 'interview', was a lot closer to the former than the latter, with the POI telling me at the end that he was 'confident' that I would receive an offer later this week. I'm guessing this means that I've been recommended for admission and that the offer just needs to be approved by the grad school - that's a fair assumption, right?

    The chat lasted about 30 mins and we talked about his interests and mine and how they overlap. He also gave me the opportunity to ask him questions, and I asked him about a couple projects that he is working on that I'm interested in. I also made sure to point out that I'd met one of his grad students at the conference I was at in December and worked in a mention of the paper that student presented on. He also asked if I like programming and about my mathematical background - nothing specific or technical, he just wanted to make sure I didn't have a fear of Maths, as he put it. He also repeatedly made it clear that all PhD students are guaranteed funding for 5 years - it almost seemed like he was trying to convince me that this school would be a great place to go to (as if I needed any convincingsmile.gif). Since I'm from a tropical country, he made a joke about the winters at this place and asked how interested I'd be in coming - seemingly gauging my interest in attending.

    He also described the process to getting a PhD, in that there'd be coursework for 2 semesters and I'd be expected to start research by next summer. I asked if it would be possible to start research earlier and he said I could start from day 1 if I knew what I wanted to do right away. He explained that once I was admitted I would be free to choose any advisor I wanted, but also said that I could contact him before the fall for reading material or any advice I wanted. While pointing out the importance of selecting the right advisor, he made the analogy that is often made here, that selecting an advisor is like getting married to someone, since you're going to be working closely with them for several years.

    Somewhere along the conversation he switched saying 'if you get an offer' in describing the process to 'when you get an offer'. Then at the end he told me I should look out for the offer later this week since he was confident that I'd get one.

    I'm thrilled at the prospect of attending this school and I'm eagerly awaiting the official offer.

    UPDATE (Feb 16): I received an email today saying I've been recommended for admission with funding at this school. An hour later, I received another email of admission with funding from another school I applied to. I'm living a dream.

  21. After being really, disgustingly sick for the past couple of weeks, I have now also lost some motivation.

    One of the profs I approached for the LoR has stated that she can write only 4 total, and has not responded to my request to look over my SoP (which has been stagnating for the past two weeks. I think the current version will be sent for one more peer review and then will be set aside and revised for the shorter version and the MA version, while working on Diversity statement and Writing Sample - CV is done).

    She has also recommended that I apply to MA programs since all my recommendations are from undergrad (which I finished 10 years ago. they remember me, but it's getting seriously dated).

    Due to that, I am now considering narrowing applications to 7 PhDs (the best fits and schools I'm most excited about) and 3 MAs (one of which is possibly a new school recommended to me by same prof that cannot write more than 4 LoRs).

    Am also in a particularly low point emotionally regarding this process. It's extremely tiring being upbeat and positive about this when ALL YOU GET IS DISCOURAGEMENT.

    And I haven't even started tackling the writing sample yet.

    oh dear.

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