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Showing content with the highest reputation since 02/24/2019 in Blog Comments

  1. 2 points
    Hi @ResilientDreams, First, I really admire the advice that you give on GradCafe, and you seem to have a great application. However, there is something about the message that I am getting from the blog post that is not sitting well with me, and I want to push back against. The idea that I am getting from this is that "my" achievements will be contextualized. In saying this, there is an implicit suggest that the person who has 10+ years of work experience doesn't deserve the same benefit-of-the-doubt perhaps in regards to GPA or whatever. It matters because it is an unhealthy way of solving feelings of inadequacy. In fact, I think this kind of rationalization actually may exacerbate the distress. The simple fact is that in our application process we are going to be assessed against people who are better than us, and no, we are not always going receive the benefit of contextualization. However, you are right in that the only thing that we can do is to package ourselves in the best way possible and to progress forward despite feeling inadequate at times. We must not follow into the trap of continually comparing ourselves to others. I think it helps to know that many people feel inadequate and doubt themselves for all kinds of different reasons. In questionnaires, others have reported that their feelings come from things such as the following: not seeing other people who, they feel, represent their background; feeling that having to work hard for something means they are not naturally talented enough to succeed; feeling that if they are not perfect, then they are not good enough; and on and on. But, justifying their success by minimizing others is not the way forward. For a personal example: my mentor is well connected, and there are moments when I fear that prospective PIs have taken time to talk to me just because they know my PI. My negativity trap is the tendency to think that I only am where I am because of other people. Maybe there is a grain truth to that, but in interactions, I have to stand on my own and talk about my work and interests confidently. I have to tell myself that I am good enough, and I encourage everyone else to do the same. Something else that helps these feelings is to talk with other people about them. They are surprisingly common. An estimated 70% of people -- Yes, men can feel inadequate, too. Chances are that the graduate students, postdocs, and even your PI have experienced these feelings. Talk to them about it. The purpose of this comment is to say that attempting to bolster our own successes by minimizing the successes of others is not a healthy or productive way to get over feelings of inadequacy, and I want to push back against this sentiment.
  2. 1 point
    I love this post so much. I dread standardized tests as well because it's what makes it look like I'm bad at math. The truth is, I feel like I'm actually pretty good at quantitative reasoning and was actually in charge of a lot of data analysis for one of my professors. I also can learn quantitative skills quite well. But in a timed environment with questions that are designed to trick you... I'm going to be mediocre every time. I hated the GRE because I was strong in every other way and yet this one test that's controlled by this one company has given me a weakness...
  3. 1 point
    I am one of those people that got mediocre scores on the GRE, and therefore, think it is useless. Of course getting uneventful scores makes me biased, but I don't think the GRE is all that useful. It can maybe show that students are good at answering certain questions in a short amount of time, which could then show how well said students work under pressure. However, the questions the GRE asks are not questions most, if any, masters and doctoral students will actually face/strive to answer in their programs and/or the real world. Also, yeah, you can study all you want for the GRE, but there is only so much preparation you can do to solve the world's problems. You won't be able to solve those problems nearly as easily because there is no study guide for them. That's why creative and critical thinking is so important. The GRE doesn't really address, maybe through the essays, but not much else. Additionally, I do have test anxiety, but my test anxiety somehow gets even worse when a standardized test is placed in front of me. I graduated with a 4.0 undergrad GPA, but yet I always seem to get average scores on these tests. I do believe that maybe there should be some standardized way to evaluate students, but I don't think the GRE or SAT or ACT or whatever is really the way to go. At least the GRE has subject tests. Also, I believe standardized tests were not created to benefit students or admission offices, but rather for yet another company trying to make money. That's why there are so many classes, books, studying tips, etc. that we have to pay for. But this is just my opinion, and the GRE is still deemed important in the eyes of most programs, so I guess we have to conform to it, right?
  4. 1 point

    Think the GRE is useless? Think again.

    Professors often encourage students to get as high of a GRE score because it can make up for weaknesses in an application. Additionally it is cautioned/advised that a really high quantitative score is required for graduate programs in many STEM disciplines. Many of my professors have expressed that as a strong engineering student, that the GRE quantitative section should be easy and should require ~1 month of preparation. This is a sentiment which is common among many in the STEM disciplines. Unfortunately, this has not been my experienced. I have never had a knack for standardized examinations. However, give me an exam in a tough EE or Math class as a final and I can easily score among the highest. This is due to the challenge I face with my anxiety and difficult time constraints. Although, I scored generally well in all sections of the GRE, my quantitative score was below the average for engineering students. The GRE, like most standardized exams is a measure of how well you can take the exam, not about how much you know. Without the time constraint, I was able do most problems on GRE practice exams from Manhattan Review, Magoosh, and ETS. Unfortunately this could not translate under the time constraint and pressure for me. My point is that if you are in a STEM field and expected to score upwards of 165 in the quantitative section for competitive programs, do not feel bad if you are unable to achieve your scoring goal. This exam does not define your mathematical ability, sometimes such exams require a lot of preparation in order to get efficient and fast. Sometimes we are unable to devote time to this preparation, and sometimes such exams are simply just not our forte. Any school unwilling to not see past a lower GRE score, despite a strong holistic applicant is not a school you many want to pursue.Try to obtain as high of a score as you can, and know that this is just one aspect of your application. With a below average quant score for an Electrical Engineering applicant, I was still admitted to many strong, competitive programs. All of our brains function differently, and many of us differ from the status quo of finding the quantitative section easy. This does not mean our mathematical skillset is less, or there is a problem with ourselves! Try your best, work hard, and you shall attain your goals!
  5. 1 point

    Think the GRE is useless? Think again.

    Many of the better programs in the humanities are doing away with the GRE.


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