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Showing content with the highest reputation since 10/18/2009 in Blog Entries


    It Happened

    This morning I woke up to the coldest winter day so far this year. I could barely bring myself to get out of bed. Making coffee was a chore. My apartment was freezing. Our shitty prewar radiators are no match for this kind of weather. I just wanted to get back under my comforter, preferably wearing at least six pairs of sweatpants and my parka, and sleep until May. By 9AM, I'd already checked my email and this board approximately 200 times. The last couple of months haven't been easy for me. After implied rejections from what I felt were some of my strongest fits, I was feeling discouraged.
    89 points
  2. I haven't posted much recently, but I thought that I would throw out a recent reflection that I think could help a lot of applicants and current grad students. Losing sucks. A lot. Not getting something we really want sucks. A lot. But life goes on. I recently was awarded an Honorable Mention for the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. This is a pretty big honor, as 16,000+ students apply each year. I know a few people who have applied multiple years and never even gotten that. But, of course I'm still bitter that I didn't get the full award. To make things worse, t
    62 points
  3. Hello everyone and welcome to my blog! For my first post, I wanted to open up about what has been the hardest thing for me about the application process so far, and that is the feeling of not being good enough. Reading through the posts on GradCafe and seeing all the wonderful things people have done, I can't help but feel like I don't measure up. This is my fourth year working in labs and I have no publications. My GRE math score is...meh. My honors thesis is still in progress and so I don't have a neat, packaged project that I can talk about or submit as a writing sample. I'm stil
    25 points
  4. moyru

    So I Finally Told My Mom

    25 points
  5. vestigialtraits

    Mental Matters

    I've been meaning to write this post (and another that is hopefully coming soon) for a while but life happens. I was able to go visit my future grad program a few weeks ago and I plan to write about that next but for now, I want to talk about something I think will be a little more universal - the mental side of the grad school process, as far as I've experienced anyway. For me, and I'm sure many others, grad school was always just a far off thing I knew I'd do eventually but didn't put an incredible amount of thought into until I was about halfway done with college (about a y
    23 points
  6. My apologies for taking so long to get this post up! I started classes and have been pretty sick. As a reminder, the more questions you ask me, the more I know what you want answers to! The purpose of the post for today is to provide my insights into interviews and hopefully ease some fears by helping you figure out what to expect at a biomedical science, molecular biology, immunology, or similar interview. I have a few questions that were in my message box, but other than that, I'm just going to fill in the pieces. You guys need to remember that at most institutions, if you're selected
    19 points
  7. I received my first official rejection today. I also didn't receive an interview at my top choice and I've been unofficially rejected by the anthropology department at my current university. The caliber of these programs and my fit with their faculty make me think that I have good reason to believe I will be shut out this year. Before I was feeling sorry for myself. I was feeling helpless. I didn't know what to do. My backup plan (an MPH) was just deemed "useless" by an authority on public health and anthropology and I really do think it's going to take a lot of rebuilding from here.
    19 points
  8. Hey everyone, I wanted to start my blog off with a basic intro to the statement of purpose and the steps you can take to start your first draft. I'm an admissions reader and former writing consultant and love helping folks write better essays. By no means am I a writing expert, but I've read 1000s of personal statements/ SOPs and worked with dozens, if not hundreds, of clients on their college essays and applications and I just like helping folks craft better essays for their college applications. So, here we go! The statement of purpose, or what I like to refer to as the cover
    18 points
  9. 1Q84

    Proving It

    Ph.D. applications are strange. We all have this burning desire to show ourselves to be the kind of scholar that adcomms know will succeed in a given program but we have to do so by jumping through highly archaic or irrelevant hoops. This, of course, is not news, and we've all heard the arguments ad nauseam, so I won't rehash the talking points. What I will say is this: all I really want is to get into a program that will support me so that I can prove myself. I know I have it, I just want the chance to show it. To me, this is really the last big hurdle that I face before I can really buckl
    18 points
  10. By this stage I figure I'm something of an expert at visiting potential grad schools. As mentioned in my earlier posts, I looked around a number of American universities when I was over in the States last summer (before the applications were even created). I visited several UK universities for formal interview days and informal introductions. Last weekend I had my first Visitation Weekend as an admitted grad student. And I handled it like a pro Seriously, though - I believe that visiting prospective grad schools is a vital thing to do. For starters it taught me how to interact profession
    17 points
  11. So, given that I have the Big C and don't have a timeline or prognosis, and that it is so close to April 15, I decided that it would be unethical for me not to call the director of English Graduate Studies, tell her what is going on and that I can't say for sure what I will and will not be able to do, and give her the chance to offer my slot to someone who isn't dealing with the Unknown. It was definitely NOT an easy phone call to make, and NOT a phone call I would ever wish on anyone. That said, when I told her my situation, she was so wonderful. First she was adamant that no, they were n
    17 points
  12. Dear friends! Before I get into the best news ever, I wanted to say a huge thank you everyone here who has offered a listening ear, support, advice, well wishes, and happy lurking. I could not have gotten through this process with my sanity in tact without you guys! I mean it! Now on to the news! Yesterday, I got what I thought was a "butt call" from the POI at my dream school because there was no message or email. I debated twenty minutes before calling him back, figuring that if it was a mistake, the awkwardness was better than the not knowing. ... I got into my dream school's MA pro
    16 points
  13. I'm going to be planning a wedding! Definitely AFTER I graduate. http://youtu.be/u54n9_43HWs
    15 points
  14. And so my long journey of graduate school applications has come to an end. I hereby bid goodbye to the following: Statements of purpose Online application systems Transcript hassles and, last but not least, (and I have gleefully saved a special rude gesture for): [i]ETS/GRE/Standardized Testing[/i]! (At the same time, I also welcome whatever new stressful, illogical, and inane bureaucratic hoops lay ahead of me in the Ph.D. program and beyond.) But I digress. The subject of this post, really, is to explain a little bit about my long, circuitous journey towards graduate school. Many
    14 points
  15. I've finally reached the end of this roller coaster called Graduate Application Season. I will be attending my top-choice university in a department that I didn't apply to with a professor that was never my main POI. After recruitment, it was a whirlwind of switching advisors, departments, funding nominations, etc. Things change, but they can be for the better. I will be working toward a dual-Ph.D. in Forestry and Ecology, and I couldn't be more excited. My new advisor's research interests are an amazing match and he has long-term research plots at my first-choice field station. I've been a
    13 points
  16. moyru

    I GOT IN!

    It would appear that my dreams were indeed accurate! Dreamt about a rejection from Stanford and got rejected from Stanford....dreamt about an acceptance from HGSE and I just found out I was admitted into the HGSE TIE program! AHHHHH! The official freak out begins! Where am I going to live? How am I going to pay for everything? What's my financial aid? How am I going to tell everyone at work? I didn't even tell my mom I was applying! Now I need to tell her I'm moving across the country! Oh my goodness.
    13 points
  17. The whole reason I wanted to start a blog on here was to try, as realistically as possible, to answer the question, "so what's grad school really like," on this platform that seems to be mostly consumed by "so how do I get into grad school?". Admittedly, when I first started this blog, I had the best intentions of posting more regularly than "those other guys." So here I am, a year later, attempting to make up for it. So here we go, I'm going to break it into sections for the sake of readability. PLEASE, keep in mind, all of this is from my very limited perspective of a first generation, first
    12 points
  18. Hello All, I haven't blogged for bunch here, but I thought I would just make a list of advice I thought of as I've been in graduate school a while and am starting at a new school. This advice isn't necessarily unique, but hopefully it will help people anyway. It doesn't make sense to apply to a few top graduate schools, it makes much more sense to apply to many top graduate schools. This rational should make sense; if your ultimate goal is to go to a top program, apply to all of the top programs for your best chance. Too many times I see people who target midteir schools and throw in t
    12 points
  19. I received some lovely questions from a couple of users this week, so this blog entry is going to cover some things about my perception of interdisciplinary programs. The tail end of the entry will be a little about interviews. Leave questions in the comments about this entry and what you would like to see for future blogs. Spectastic asked me several questions, and I'm going to go through them in order: 1. How do you think an interdisciplinary program differs from a field specific program in curriculum, research, and career placement? Curriculum: For the most part, I think that the ma
    11 points
  20. Folks, I think I figured it out. I look at the people who are in programs and doing things I want to do. Fuzzy Suessian, Resurgence(ZN), etc and I notice a particular thing they have in common. They’re all above 200 internet/reputation points. THAT’S what you turn these in for, an acceptance! I dunno how the adcomms figure out who is who but they’re sneaky… good thing you have me here to keep them honest. Muwahahaha all I need to do now is post more puppy pics and I’ll be in for sure! *ring ring* Hello, Berkeley (BARKley?)This is Bowties – my puppy pics are trending and I’ve got
    10 points
  21. The day started off great. We had breakfast in the hotel, went to lunch with one of the program directors, and then toured the town with grad students. Later, we went to a hockey game and had dinner with grad students in the next town over. Then, for reasons I cannot divulge, I fell out of love with parts of the program. I saw a very dark and disturbing side that I had not expected. For that reason, now I am considering another school that I have an interview with in a few weeks. I've learned a lesson today to not get your hopes up and not to put all of your hopes into one opportunity, e
    10 points
  22. So, like a good little nerd, I've mapped it out: My happiness is on the y-axis, ascending from 0 (none) to 100 (most). The time of day is on the x. -- And the waiting game is a perfect quadratic equation. I wake up and check my email, and when I see that I still have not heard from graduate schools, I start off my day at (0, 0). Never mind that, surely, it is irrational to expect a POI to have emailed me between 3 am and 7 am EST. I go to campus, go to class, go to lab, do my thing. Sooner or later I run into my adviser who always has either a stimulating philosophical/scienti
    10 points
  23. vestigialtraits

    One was Enough

    After being on this site for a while, I realized that applying to just one school made me one of the few, the proud, the...naive? I felt confident about me decision until I logged on here and realized people were applying to 4..5..14!? schools. And I started thinking I might have screwed myself. But then the news came -- I was accepted! To say I was elated would be an understatement. To keep what could be a long story short: No, I don't advise just applying to one school even though it worked out to me, it's always nice to have a backup plan. But if just one school get
    9 points

    Now That The Dust Has Settled

    Well, we're a bit into May and it seems like things have certainly settled down. I'm finally sure of how I'll be spending the next year (I signed a contract!): I accepted a 1-year research fellowship, with benefits, at my current university. Despite a generous fellowship offer, I turned down an offer of admission to a 1-year bioethics MA. I'm very happy with my decision to work as a researcher in the social sciences and even happier to know this position will give me more free time to work on perfecting my 2nd round of PhD applications. I turned in my MA thesis and graduation is just around
    9 points
  25. Continued from Part One. We are now at draft five: Draft FIVE: The day I graduated from Longwood University’s master’s program in English, I should have been celebrating the long-awaited, long-worked for completion of my formal education. Instead, roughly an hour before commencement exercises began in Farmville, Virginia, I was standing before a crowd of medievalists, delivering a paper outlining my thesis findings at the International Medieval Congress in Kalamazoo. Michigan. That weekend in 2009, I became the first in my family on either side to earn an advanced degree. Far f
    9 points
  26. Hi Everyone! I am a first year student in the biomedical sciences studying molecular and cellular biology, so I went through the whole application and interview process, last year! I was not able to start my blog at that time because I was also frantically trying to recover some samples I lost in a crashed freezer and also generating my thesis at the same time (a story for another time). I am mid-way through my first year of my PhD studies, am completing laboratory rotations, and will be doing my qualifying exam in about 8 months. 6 months ago, I had just defended my M.S. Thesis and was
    8 points
  27. Post-op update at present is the best possible news for a cancer diagnosis - the lumpectomy went VERY well, they found NO visual signs of cancer in any of the lymph nodes or in the surrounding tissue, although the pathologist will have to confirm that. I will go in Thursday for those results and then we will talk radiation. Chemo is currently not on the table yet. I have Vicoden. We are Good To Go. Hang in there - we got this. Also, just 'cause I was feeling feisty and oh! so badass, so, I made my sister (drove down to be with me since DH had to work) take me to the local coffee sh
    8 points
  28. newms

    An Interesting Conversation

    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 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 off
    8 points
  29. just some food for thought. I remember when I first asked people of this forum: could I get into graduate school. They weren't going to tell me anything I really didn't know. I have a low undergraduate GPA, funding is competitive, but maybe if I got lucky I could get into one of the schools of my choice. I should have probably asked, instead of a critique, for the reassurance of what I already knew. I know all to well what an application season can do to someone. It can make even the deepest minds appeal to their most vapid instincts. The real question here is, what happens when someone look
    7 points
  30. Tall Chai Latte

    4th year

    It's been a while since I blogged on the gradcafe. Last time I blogged, I was in the midst of the never-ending rotation streak, and it felt like I would never manage to land anywhere in the program. My program is an umbrella program, I rotated through FOUR DIFFERENT DEPARTMENTS! Well, I did find a lab home to stay, passed my prelim and became a candidate, and now arrived in the middle of my fourth year. Many research-related ups and downs happened, projects initiated and terminated, and time went by really fast -- It only seemed yesterday that I was fretting over how to find an advisor at all.
    7 points
  31. My apps are better than good - they're done. nearly My writing sample is solid! My SOP sets me apart! Everyone likes me in the GradCafe chatroom! This overwhelming doubt and second guessing (do I really want to specialize in anything? why can't I just drink coffee and talk big theories with neck bearded folks at the local coffee shop) will fade away. It's not a matter of IF I get accepted it is only a matter of WHEN. I won't lose friends. Relationships won't deteriorate. At least I can play the guitar. I'll get in - I'm personable, intelligent, hardworking, lucky.
    7 points
  32. Monochrome Spring

    My GRE Experience

    Disclaimer 1: The information I have on how admissions committees use GRE scores is entirely based on information I received from professors at the universities and departments that I am applying to. This can also be field specific. Please take this information with a grain of salt and inquire at your own prospective programs for more information. Remember that GRE scores are nowhere close to the most important part of your application, and many programs don't use them beyond a cutoff or correlations with GPA. Admissions: GRE scores are primarily used, in conjunction with GPA, to weed out
    6 points
  33. obiwanitakenobi

    What If??

    I bet that right now, there are about a million "What if??" questions running through every one of our brains... But the scariest one is "What if I don't get in?" I'll speak for myself-- that seems to be all I can think about lately. A couple of days ago, I made myself write out a Plan B (which started off seriously: "look into MS programs, studying/traveling abroad" but then it became... slightly crazed: "move to hippie farm, join convent"). It helped my anxiety a lot... for a couple of hours... But what we all have to remember is that we'll be okay, no matter what the outcome of this admi
    6 points
  34. moyru

    I found an apartment!

    and it accepts ALL my fur babies! It's within walking distance to campus, comes furnished, and includes parking. I went to Boston last week for my school's open house and to check out potential housing. I only saw a couple of places, and I'm glad that one of the places ended up working out. I signed the lease and submitted the security deposit/last month's rent, so everything is looking good. That's one less thing to worry about. =) Also, Boston is amazing. I love it. I am in love with my program, my cohort, and just everything. I'm seriously so excited.
    6 points
  35. psychdork

    And now we wait

    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 m
    6 points
  36. annieca

    First Acceptance!!!

    I got my first acceptance in the mail today! I was going through the mail today and there was a letter from Indiana University. It was an acceptance letter! Words cannot express how happy I am that I got accepted. Not that I got accepted to Indiana, per se, but that I got accepted. Huzzah! I was so worried that nobody would accept me, especially after a fiasco with one of my recommenders. For you non-History majors, I had the lovely experience of getting to read one of my letters that had gotten sent to all of my US applications. In the letter, the recommender said I was good at clean
    6 points
  37. 1Q84

    One Of Us Can't Be Wrong...

    In the desolate wasteland that rapidly revealed itself to me post-application season, I have found that there seem to be two me's. One is full of confidence, brimming with positivity, a proponent of positive visualisation* who can not only imagine himself tearing open the acceptance letter(s) but can even taste it. The other is wary and on edge yet staunchly assured that in a few months time, he will wake up to yet a few more rejection letters to add to the string of ones he received in previous application cycles and be left with nothing but soul-sucking contingency plans and a yawning purgat
    6 points
  38. MarkMc

    Final Response & Decision

    After an incredibly long day I rolled home. I ate some swedish fish for dinner (because that's what grad students do, right?!?). I took a shower and took the dogs for a walk. I opened my mailbox and the final response I had been waiting for was in there. Valdosta was the last school to get back to me and had sent an email telling me to expect results last week. The date on the letter to date of receipt was a nine day difference. I was rejected. I was kind of surprised. When I check their admission criteria I checked it all (over GRE requirements, over GPA requirements, lengthy job hist
    5 points
  39. MarkMc

    PhD - The First Year

    So - as I attempt to procrastinate my way into ignoring very real assignment commitments, I figured I'd write a post on "what happens next." As you may (or may not know) I applied to 6 programs, was accepted 3, and ended up attending my first choice program. I applied to 4 PhD Programs, a DPA program, and a DBA program. I got into 2 PhD programs and the DBA programs. Of course I've gone back to see what the other programs look like. One PhD program gets 30-40 applications and accepts 4 with hopes of getting 2. The year prior to my application they accepted only and were looking for facul
    5 points
  40. moyru

    Everything is happening so fast

    So now it's hit me - this is for real. I'm moving across the country to study at HARVARD. If someone had told me this when I was a kid, I wouldn't have believed me. I was still in my mother's womb when she came to this country. We lived out of a car and in crummy motels. I even lived in foster care for a bit. I never would have thought someone from my background would achieve something like this. I'm excited - no doubt about that - but I'm also starting to stress out. I am receiving some financial aid, which I am grateful for - but I'm still going to have to take out some loans to
    5 points
  41. iExcelAtMicrosoftPuns

    I've joined the ranks

    Today I joined the ranks of the many wonderful people who have been rejected from a school. We plenty, we miserable plenty, we band of rejects; For y’all today that sheds your tears with me Shall be my peer; be us ne’er so naive, This day shall gentle our condition; And the accepted in programs now-a-bed Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here, And hold their research cheap whiles any speaks That w‘er rejected with us upon Saint Valentine’s day.
    5 points
  42. Hi Bunnies, After spending all my free time in my sketchbook for the last week (as well as splurging with Avengers tonight, weee) I thought I should take a few moments off and try to write down some thoughts on grad school. Since I've been bad at blogging lately, I should try to rectify my lapse with at least some thoughtful words. You people, man. You're all so smart, driven, and accomplished. Overcoming all sorts of feats, earning all sorts of accolades, so well versed and talented. And in all honesty, it is intimidating. Personally, I feel like I haven't really experienced the rest of
    5 points
  43. GeoDUDE!


    Hello all, I'm doing my intro live from AGU (American Geophysical Union) Fall 2013 Meet, I have 20 minutes to kill before the next session starts. Sure, I could be working on one of my finals tomorrow or doing some grading, but procrastination is necessary. Anyway, not that that is all sorted away, I guess this is a good place to start introducing myself. I am currently an MSc student in geology with a focus on modeling the effects of mantle flow at important tectonic regions such as Subduction Zones, Rifting Centers and of course mantle plumes. I got my undergraduate degree from a small li
    5 points
  44. After a (relatively) long absence, I'm back! This past week has marked the beginning of decision season for me. The week before that was frustrating and a bit depressing, which is one of many reasons I did not do my weekly update last weekend. Several UC Berkeley History decisions were posted on this site around Friday, January 25th, and - knowing the general pattern of admissions/rejections for the school, via Gradcafe's results search page - I began to despair of my chances there. By last Monday, I was in a pretty foul mood (my friends and parents are saints for putting up with my co
    5 points
  45. cokohlik

    Visit to my new school!

    Hello friends! I'm so excited to tell you all about the wonderful time I had visiting my new school's campus last week. My one year anniversary was Tuesday, and that night (after an incredible day together, of course), my husband and I left LA on a redeye for Newark. We were there for about four days, and it was... an incredible experience. Unforgettable, really. We met with current graduate students who could not have been more friendly, fun, hospitable, and informative if they tried, and (squeal) we met my POI. The meeting with my POI and one of his PhD students was so much fun, almost li
    5 points
  46. Well, here we are. My cohort are finishing their first term as doctoral students, and I am finishing my treatment for breast cancer. And even though it sucks not to be frantically scrambling to get my term papers done, I have to say in the end, I may well have learned more from the cancer treatments than I might have learned in a semester of graduate school - and it's all material that will serve me well when I do enter, next fall. First, I've learned This. Is. It. There's no time for moping, grousing, complaining, whining, moaning, bitching, or any other "ing". Do, or die. Not only in the
    5 points
  47. Medievalmaniac

    Update post-op visit

    OK, Sportsfans, here's the stat update: Stage 1, 0 Nodes, 0 metastats. They did find DCIS, & there were cancer cells in some blood vessels in the tissue sample, so chemo it is. (Don't offer to buy me a wig, my Mommy has already stepped up on that one. And, of course, it will be Red. ) It's an aggressive little bugger, but it's gone. Probability: 70% disease free in 5 years, 85% relative survival. Not so bad, eh?
    5 points
  48. GeoDUDE!

    Big next two weeks

    Hello all, It's been a long while since I've blogged; I've been slacking. It's been an interesting couple of weeks. In late January I got accepted to UC Davis, which was one of my top choices!!! I'll be visiting later this month. I was really worried about my GPA, which killed my application last time. Well... small sigh of relief. I'm thinking about questions to ask on my visit... but in reality the person is pretty well known in my field and is very comfortable having her research and students speak to what type of advisor she is. I'm most worried about summer funding; do you guys thin
    4 points
  49. Back again after a fairly long absence! And gentlefolk, it's finally March. I know for my discipline (history), programs are probably about half-way done returning decisions. I personally applied to ten schools and actually heard from the last of them on Monday. I'm extremely relieved to be done with the waiting game, and am extremely happy with how everything turned out (despite getting rejected from six programs - heh!). As you might know from my last update, UNC Chapel Hill accepted me all the way back on January 31st. Part of the reason I didn't want to post another entry until
    4 points

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