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  1. 5 points
    bibliophile222

    Supplies and essentials

    1. Some sort of planning system, whether it's a physical planner or on your phone/computer. There are so many moving pieces in grad school that I can't imagine not using a planner--I'd probably forget about half my deadlines! And this is coming from someone who NEVER used a planner before grad school! 2. A working laptop. Pretty much everyone in my cohort brings their laptop to school every day to take notes or just do work. It does NOT have to be fancy, just something that is fairly portable and not likely to break down anytime soon, ideally with a decent battery life. If you already have a nice computer, then that's fine, but don't feel like you have to get the latest MacBook Air or anything that will wreck your budget! 3. A clipboard with storage. Mine has enough room to hold miscellaneous papers for 2-3 clients at a time, my audio recorder, and a couple pens. 4. An audio recorder that ISN'T your phone. Seriously. Most people just use their phone as an audio backup, but some people have had trouble with their phones stopping part-way through if they also decide to record video or use a phone app during the session. I have this audio recorder here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06XFTWCBJ/ref=ppx_od_dt_b_asin_title_s02?ie=UTF8&psc=1 and I absolutely adore it. The sound quality is excellent and it has a USB drive so I can download files onto my computer. 5. Nice pens! You'll be doing a lot of writing, so you might as well use pens that make you happy. I'm partial to Pentel Energels. 6. A lot of people will say a laminator. Honestly, so far I haven't seen the need for it. I've used self-adhesive laminating sheets for the few things I've needed laminated, so I don't think a laminator would have been worth it for me. Also, some schools have a laminator for student use, so I would double-check before you buy anything pricey. 7. I don't think it's worth buying a penlight unless your school/internships have a strict no-phone policy in sessions. I use my phone flashlight and it does just fine. But to each their own, I guess. 8. Maybe this should have been in the top five... Clinic-appropriate clothes! On-campus clinics tend to have stricter dress codes than your placement sites--for instance, I can wear sneakers at my placement, but not in our on-campus clinic. Get a good variety of business casual clothing: pants that aren't jeans, blouses, cardigans, skirts/dresses, close-toed shoes that aren't sneakers 😞 No cleavage, no exposed skin when you bend over or raise your arms, nothing really tight, and definitely wear pants if you're playing on the floor! 9. Miscellaneous office supplies! Our grad room has scissors and tape, but I've had to use my own post-it notes, paperclips, and index cards. 10. As far as any toys/games/materials go, I say skip it unless you're sure that you want to work in a school and need to start slowly accumulating materials. The school clinic and placements should have everything you need. If they don't, just do what your supervisor does and make do. Grad school is expensive enough as it is! Plus, if you're forced to make do with what you have, it makes you adaptable and hones your creativity! 11. A combo printer/scanner/copier (this should also have been in the top five). This one isn't essential, just super convenient. Your school will probably have a printer you can use for clinic stuff, but ours isn't in color, so I have to use mine at home if I want color. Also, some professors are better than others with going digital, so some of them may give you a lot of handouts, and once you scan them you can get rid of them. I'll add on if I think of anything else!
  2. 5 points
    BFB

    Faculty perspectives

    Just a quick message for everyone on this thread: This is my last year as DGS, so I won't have my finger on the pulse of admissions enough to answer your questions going forward. I'll tell my successor about this board and ask him or her to chime in as I have. Thanks for being such a welcoming community, and best of luck to all of you, wherever you end up. -Bear
  3. 5 points
    akraticfanatic

    Dear 2020 applicants...

    This isn't application- or admissions-specific, but an important piece of advice for aspiring philosophers is to keep an electronic doc or note (or I guess a paper notebook if you're old-school) where you write down any philosophical ideas, hypotheses, arguments, questions, objections, connections, etc. as you think of them. Link to relevant texts. This way you don't forget your ideas, and when you have to write a paper (without a prompt), you have a database of ideas to draw from and you're not starting from scratch.
  4. 5 points
    Glasperlenspieler

    List of Analytical Schools

    A lot of this is going to depend on what you mean by "analytic" but I would say that the majority of PhD granting programs are analytic in some sense or another. There's a world of difference between David Lewis style metaphysics, naturalistic approaches to philosophy of mind, or Rawlsian political philosophy even though those could all be understood as "analytic." A lot of people will claim that the Philosophical Gourmet Report (here) is representative of analytic philosophy. I'm not sure that's quite right, but it's at least a good starting place, especially if you take a look at the specialty rankings. (A lot of people will complain about the PGR on here and there are certainly some legitimate concerns which you can easily find by looking around these boards, but I don't think they entirely negate it's value.)
  5. 4 points
    SomethingWicked

    2020 Applicants

    Maybe it is a bit early to start a thread for the 2020 applicants, but I've been lurking for the better part of six months and couldn't wait any longer. I'm curious about who is here for the 2019-2020 application cycle. A little about me: I am a 20th/21st century Americanist with concentrations in Genre Studies (speculative fiction and postwar fiction primarily), Media Studies (video games and the like), and contemporary socio-political discourse. I am currently writing my thesis on the evolution of the apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic genre during the cold war and post-9/11 eras. I am also drafting SOPs and working on my WS with little to no success. How is everyone else doing so far? Is it too soon to begin stressing out over this process?
  6. 4 points
    ArcaMajora

    2020 Applicants

    Good to see a Fall 2020 thread! Welcome one and all to applying to graduate school, and just from reading I can tell all of you are already making great headways into application prep. The cycle for this year is only just ending, so it'll be a while yet before we see all of the various schools switch over to processing for next cycle. I've successfully made it through the Fall 2019 cycle even if I was convinced that my school choices and errors on my part during the cycle (horrendous GRE scores + I underestimated the time needed to really polish my WS) was the proverbial writing on the wall. The program I committed to was one I thought would genuinely not take me in and one that I was prepared to be rejected by, especially since the POI I was most interested in looked to have a full slate in terms of advising commitments and I was afraid that the larger research fit was maybe a touch too tenuous. As it turns out, there was a lot of compatibility in the faculty and classes that I wasn't aware of until I first saw the department up close and personal beyond just reading the program website, associated dissertations, and articles. Thus, I can't stress just how mysterious this process can be and how many factors are out of our control. While yes, I will concede that there are elements that make for a stellar application and there will always be the ones in every cycle that hit the jackpot, that fine line of who gets accepted/rejected/waitlisted is down to the auspices of what will make for a balanced cohort and for university/departmental needs that only the committee would be aware. Though I won't deny, the rejections do sting and it hurts (especially since we'll never really know where we stood. Were we close? Knocked out in the first round? etc.), especially in such a crowded field both in application and in the larger job market. All of this has a way of eating you up and even with a funded offer I took, I still feel frightened if this is the right choice or not in the end. I don't say this to scare anyone, but I want you to know if you do feel this way at any point, you're not alone. If any of you have any questions about anything, feel free to ask em here.
  7. 3 points
    This only goes to show that you need to do much more research on PhD applications. A 3.7 GPA is good, but not that great. It's very average for most Poli Sci students looking to get into a PhD program, and it's below average for all of the schools that you mentioned. Your GRE scores aren't just low--they're likely below the minimum cutoff for almost all schools in the top-10, and many schools in the top-20. The fact that you got into NYU's MA means very little. It's fairly easy to get into MA programs in Poli Sci. They usually have acceptance rates from 30-50%, and there's very little risk since they don't have to fund you. Those programs pretty much want as many people as possible so that they can use the tuition that you pay to pay for their PhD students. Also, an MPA is not likely to help you in getting into a PhD Poli Sci program. Of course, some people manage to do it, but they're the exceptions. Most of these people will have had GPAs and GRE scores far above yours. PhD programs in Poli Sci won't care much about your internships and "experience in local government." They're not public policy/adminstration programs, they're academic Poli Sci programs. They want to see that you can do academic research in the social sciences. A research assistantship could help in this regard. I don't mean to be discouraging. I'm trying to be honest, and I hope that you actually consider my advice as well as that of others; otherwise, you're in for a world of disappointment come application time. Your 3.7 GPA in Linguistics isn't going to carry you. Get some graduate work done in Poli Sci, and make sure that your grad GPA is above 3.8 and that your GRE scores add up to over 330. After that, you just have to worry about the intangibles, which are also very important.
  8. 3 points
    Dogfish Head

    2020 Applicants

    Wowowowowow, I have been lurking on this forum since around 2015. Was an occasional poster when I was applying to MA programs (and some PhD programs unsuccessfully) in 2017, and now, finally, a thread has been started for the application cycle where I will be applying to PhD programs. This is so exciting! I am still narrowing down my list of programs, I have some ideas about my SOP (none of which I have written down), and as for my writing sample: I have a term paper I like, that is in my field, and that I will presenting at a regional MLA, or, who knows, I may use part of my thesis (if it is ready in time). Super excited to talk about apps with all of you! This is gonna be great (and stressful)!
  9. 3 points
    Since you have such a great profile in general, I think it's definitely worth waiting the year to apply. If you can do well in calc and linear, the entire world of MS programs is open to you. Without those courses on your transcript, you're going to struggle finding a program to take a chance (and they'd have to wait on at least your fall grades if not your spring to consider taking that risk at all - but even then, it will not be a well regarded program). I wouldn't usually recommend dropping research, but if you think it's going to impact your grades, drop it. As a psychology major, you don't have many opportunities to prove you can handle the math, so take it an focus on it. Also to see if you even like it! You need to do well in those math courses. If you can get As in those math classes and do well on your GRE, I bet you'll get into pretty much any biostatistics MS. The difference that will make for your career prospects is enormous. I would highly recommend you wait a year. I don't think it matters much what you do during your off year - job experience doesn't count for a whole lots especially only 6 months of it, so do what makes financial sense and will make you happy.
  10. 3 points
    A couple reasons come to mind immediately: 1) Schools with more prestige have more money and can support their graduate students better. Better-supported graduate students do better scholarship. 2) Students at prestigious schools encounter a greater number of prestigious professors, and therefor have better models of how to perform academic intelligence. 3) Name recognition matters on applications - prestigious schools offer a way to winnow a 100 person application file because the people they produce are, within reason, known quantities.
  11. 3 points
    I scored in the 20th percentile. I got into every program I applied to. Absolutely does not matter in your application. To be honest, the low math score might even be a little endearing to an admissions committee full of English department people who are also terrible at math
  12. 3 points
    I'm gonna repeat good advice here and say that, unless it's directly relevant to your grad school program/field of study, limit talking about your personal life or making excuses for grades in your SOP as much as possible. Your SOP should highlight your qualifications, your motivations, and your ability to contribute something of value. Unlike an undergrad application essay, there should be a lot more "statement" than "personal". If your grades weren't great, focus on your internships and your individual skills. Even though it shouldn't, in a worst case scenario discussing poor mental health can make you seem unreliable and a potential risk to the reviewing committee. It's unfair, but the system does discriminate. Let your application speak for itself. If you feel like something stands out so much you have to explain it, keep it brief.
  13. 2 points
    I would take a shot at a few programs this year. Masters applications aren't typically reviewed until the spring semester, so you will have at least one math grade in (hopefully an 'A'!) by then and can submit that as a supplement. If there's any way you can take both Calc II and Linear Algebra in the fall, that would put you in an even stronger position.
  14. 2 points
    Above advice is great - since your bad grades are in non-math classes, they matter much less (if you also told us you had an upward trend and most those grades are from freshman/soph year, your profile is even better!) I would have also said apply widely to biostat programs. Your profile (decent amount of math but not super strong math background, bio research) plays way better at a biostatistics department. There are so many good programs in the 4-15 range and I'd apply widely there.
  15. 2 points
    I can't speak to the auality of the programme at Barcelona, but I can tell you two relevant things: 1. The rankings you cite (QS, THE, etc.) are garbage when it comes to evaluating strength in a particular discipline. Even their rankings of Anglophone departments can't be trusted, let alone their rankings of non-Anglophone departments. 2. You will struggle on the market even if you go to a university with a stellar international reputation. Especially on the international market. Barcelona will absolutely count for more in Spain than elsewhere. On the other hand, a Spanish PhD probably wouldn't get discounted as much as a low-ranked Anglophone PhD. Especially if your supervisors are stars and you're well-published. And we all struggle terribly on the market. Sone people struggle marginally less, it's true, but I wouldn't hang my hat on the difference.
  16. 2 points
    ~not an expert at all just a peer giving her experience and advice~ Neither your 3.5 gpa nor your relative lack of experience are dealbreakers, but taken together and considering the competitiveness of the schools you listed, chances are you will be up against other folks who would edge you out based on slightly higher stats or more experience. This isn't to say you aren't a good applicant or even that you aren't ready, it just becomes a numbers game when there are so many applicants to each program. I applied as a senior with similar research experience and a 3.8 and received a couple of interviews at R2 schools and no offers. One year later I applied with basically the same CV (except a couple more middle author posters and a degree that was finished rather than in-progress) and got 6 interviews and 3 offers. With that said, never say never! Even at some of the most competitive programs I visited, I ran into a couple of current undergrads who were interviewing. It sounds like you're a solid applicant, so it would not be shocking at all if you got interviews and offers. Plus, I think the experience of applying my senior year was a really great practice run for my second application. The downsides are the money involved and the amount of stress that it will cause you. In retrospect, it was probably not worth the time, money, and tears to apply my senior year, but also knowing myself, I probably would have regretted it if I didn't give it a shot. There's probably no one clear answer to the question "Should I apply?" I went to undergrad and currently work at one of your schools (my username should make it obvious lol) and was interviewed at two of the others, one of which I'll be attending in the Fall. Feel free to PM if you want to talk more about any of the programs or my experience!
  17. 2 points
    plainpixxel

    2019 GEM Fellowship

    I also Finally got an email saying GEM signed my contract! My status also changed to a GEM Fellow. Took long enough but it's better late than never.
  18. 2 points
    Indecisive Poet

    2020 Applicants

    Nope. I've read a lot of posts on here from successful applicants who didn't contact any POIs and I've talked to enough equally successful people in person that I've decided not to do it. I think it makes sense and works for some, but it's not something I feel comfortable doing as I don't see any real need to contact them in my case and I think it would feel (and come across as) forced. The only exception is that there's a POI at a program I'm planning to apply to who I emailed a couple months ago to ask for an article that my university library didn't have access to. Since looking into the program more, I've become confused about whether faculty members on different campuses of that university (of which he is one) can work with the English grad students. I plan to respond to our previous email thread to ask him how this works. I seem to recall that Stanford's website says something about suggesting applicants contact potential supervisors in advance. And, of course, most British programs suggest this as well. But barring explicit instruction to do this on department websites, I think it's unnecessary and makes no difference in whether or not you're accepted.
  19. 2 points
    My background isn't as close to yours as bayessay's is, but maybe I can be of some assistance via my own stream of consciousness (which turned out to be super long, sorry about that). Keep in mind that I also have substantially less experience in this than bayessays and some other folks on the forums. My personal opinion is that you'll probably have an easier time strengthening your recommendations by choosing different recommenders rather than by getting a master's degree. Keep your strong letter from a research advisor, of course, but I feel like you have options to work with for the other two spots (or maybe 1 -- I don't know whether it's frowned upon to only have recommendations from professors once you've been out of school for a few years, although I personally doubt it would be a big deal). I don't think people would worry too much about your math ability given your A's in real analysis, but it's not like it would hurt you to have a letter from one of your real analysis professors saying that you did a really good job in their class, or perhaps from your measure theory professor detailing how you improved from C+ work to A/A- work over the course of the semester. At the same time, having a breadth of math background gives you the latitude to choose a professor from a less mathematical background than econ for a letter if you want. If you ended up taking a philosophy or literature class that you really enjoyed towards the end of your collegiate career, that professor might be a reasonable choice if you talked to them a lot and demonstrated creativity, analytical thinking, and good written or oral communication skills. Your computational linguistics class might provide an opportunity like that too; I'm woefully short on knowledge about that specific subject, but classes like generative syntax and similar linguistics courses make for great demonstrations of critical thinking, even if they don't seem super relevant. One of my recommendations came from a genetics professor whose class I took despite it counting towards no degree or graduation requirement precisely because we spent a lot of time thinking about comparisons of models, how to infer causality, and that sort of gedanken work; I'm sure the genetics background helped for biostatistics applications, but that surely wasn't the only useful information committees got from that letter. I'm personally a fan of taking a few completely out-of-degree classes on a lark during your college career, and I think those classes can be great opportunities for letters of recommendation. I find that taking classes in new subjects makes me more excited for that class, encourages me to develop more of a relationship with the professor through asking lots of questions, and will probably be in an area that many other applicants don't have experience in, which will help you stand out during the application process. If you did that in college, great! If not, the same thought process might apply to work -- maybe still have the Econ PhD write it, but you might point him to some experiences of good management, planning, and critical thinking on your part. If nothing else, that might convince a PhD program that you'll be more disciplined than some younger applicants, and in a PhD program that's not a bad impression to make at all. Ultimately, I think you're too hard on yourself -- my recommendations were a research mentor like you, plus two professors that I'd had all of 1 class with each. Those were small and talkative classes, of course, but coming from a large state school my baseline for a small and talkative class might still be rather larger and quieter than yours. Choose folks who can say fairly unique and good things about how ready you'll be for graduate school regardless of the subject area, and then balance that with a need to have some research and math background testimony in there. You almost assuredly don't need to go to a master's program just to achieve that.
  20. 2 points
    Neoinstitutionalist hit all the main points, but I want to emphasize a few things. 1. Your GRE scores aren't even close for the schools you mentioned. Your quant is completely prohibitive (I would be surprised if they even looked at your application) and your verbal is far below the cut. You need to a least be in the 90th percentile for both (roughly 163 for verbal and 166 for quant), especially since you're coming from outside of the discipline and your GPA, while not bad, is not stellar either. Take 2 months to master GRE material and then retake the test. 2. If you can afford it, do a master's program in political science. This will show ad-coms that you know what political science is, and that you can actually do the coursework. It will also provide you with contacts who can offer letters of recommendation and advice. 3. As it stands now, I would be surprised if you got into a top-50 program, let alone a top-10 program. You need to think about what schools are realistic for you outside of the top-20 and/or dramatically improve your profile. Success in a good master's program and top GRE scores will help a great deal, as will a solid writing sample (a master's thesis would be perfect), SOP (profs in a master's program could help with this) and letters of recommendation.
  21. 2 points
    I have not done a PhD in political science, but I will be applying to PhD programs in the fall and I have consulted numerous sources on getting into top PhD Poli Sci programs, including current grad students and professors. I've had the good fortune of chatting with numerous Stanford Poli Sci grad students and professors in person, so I feel I have a pretty good idea of what is needed for admission into top programs. However, since im not a current Poli sci grad student, feel free to take what I have to say with a grain of salt. Before I get into my advice, I just want to ask, why the switch to poli sci? what about it, and Far East Asian studies interests you? How do you become interested in this topic? What is your plan after graduating with your PhD in poli sci? As far as your competitiveness is concerned, it's a bit hard to gauge based on the limited info you have provided. But based on the limited info you gave, if im being completely honest with you, as it stands you are not competitive for the schools you want to apply to, especially Stanford and Columbia. However, this doesn't mean you can't get competitive. There are things you have within your control that can greatly help increase your odds. As someone who is also applying to poli sci PhD programs coming from a different field (history for me), I think it's first important to be sure that you are familiar with the poli sci literature in IR, Far East Asian studies. This familiarity will be crucial for your SOP (statement of purpose), especially for someone such as yourself coming from linguistics, because admissions committees need to know that you have a good grasp on what the current state of the literature is and how your own research interests fit in and add to the current state of research. If you cannot articulate this in your SOP, you will have a very hard time getting into top programs such as Stanford and Columbia. Have you read any articles from the leading journals in the field--APSR, the Journal of Politics, and the AJPS? Have you read any books on IR, specifically in East Asian studies? I would highly recommend doing so if you haven't. I think your level of familiarity with the literature will also determine whether or not you should defer for a year or go straight into a PhD program. If you aren't very familiar, or only have a cursory understanding, I would definitely hold off a year to do some research, and perhaps even work on an independent research project that you could use as a writing sample, just to show the ad coms your understanding of how to do political science research. For people like you and me applying to poli sci from a different field, it's going to be a bit of a challenge, though not impossible. For you, GRE, Letters of Rec, and Statement of Purpose are going to be crucial in convincing ad coms you are highly qualified for rigorous poli sci research. You will be competing with hundreds of other highly qualified applicants in top programs, so you have to find a way to stand out positively to ad coms. Because there are so many applicants and few open spots for admission, ad coms will be looking for reasons to reject you, especially at places like Stanford (ranked #1), and Columbia (ranked #7). Just as a warning, even people who have perfect GPA's and perfect/almost perfect GRE scores still don't get into top programs like Stanford or Harvard, so don't be disappointed if you aren't accepted into those programs. Beyond GPA and GRE scores, ad coms are looking for fit, and how well a student's research interests fit with the research interests and strengths of the department. Which leads me to my next point. I'm not sure if you were only giving a small sample of schools you want to apply to, but if those are the only schools you are applying to, you should really be applying to a much broader range of schools within and outside the top 20. Because the application process is so competitive, you will be significantly lowering your odds of getting into grad school if you're only applying to 3 programs, two of which are in the top 10. Also, why do you want to apply to NYU, Stanford, and Colombia? You really should be applying to schools that fit your research interests. Not saying that those schools don't, but I feel there are probably other schools that have just as strong, if not stronger, faculty doing Far East Asian studies. Grad school will be at least 6 years, so you want to make sure that you're attending a school that will have faculty and potential advisors who are interested in similar research topics as you, or else you will be miserable trying to work with scholars who cannot really help or advise you on your research topic. Perhaps you should spend more time reading faculty profiles at different schools and the articles/books they've published to find a school that's a right fit for you, and not just selecting schools because they are in the top 15 or 20. As far as letters of rec, if the best you can do is getting letters from linguistics professors, that's ok. Make sure those professors will write you glowing letters of rec, on the order of "this person is one of the best students I've ever worked with". Also if these professors can attest to your research capabilities, this will be helpful as it will demonstrate to ad coms your propensity for research. If you could somehow get letters of rec from poli sci professor that are familiar with you and your work, that would be better of course. Your SOP will be crucial for you. This will be your chance to demonstrate your propensity for research in political science, your familiarity with the literature, how your studies have lead to your interest in Far East Asian studies, and how your research interests will contribute to and push past the frontiers of research in your sub field. Although this statement of purpose was written for a PhD history department, it's still an exceptional example of a statement of purpose that you can use as a template for your own statement of purpose (obviously modifying it to fit political science and your own personal situation): http://ls.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/statement_of_purpose.pdf Finally, as you mention, your quant GRE score is not great, however neither is your verbal GRE score. If you really want to get into Stanford or Columbia, you will need 160+ in both the verbal and quant, preferably a 165+ in both. Most schools have an implicit cut score just to make it past the first round, so that's why it's important to get as high a GRE score as possible. Also, if you want to get into top 20 programs and you have no math/quant experience, your quant GRE score will be especially important as someone coming from a different field, because ad coms use this GRE quant score to determine whether or not you would be able to survive the school's quant methods sequence. Also, poli sci as a field is becoming increasingly quant heavy (even in IR, though it depends on what specifically your research interests are), so be prepared that you will have to take quant methods sequences, especially in the top programs. You will be reading journals with a lot of math and you will be expected to output in your research quant methods, especially if you want to be published in a top journal. It's very difficult to do qual only work and there are very few scholars who do qual only work. Even the qual leaning scholars still use mixed methods. Hope this helps. If you have any more questions let me know
  22. 2 points
    No specific math course, beyond RA, will help you enough in admission where you should worry. I'd say beyond mastering basic probability, knowing some optimization/numerical analysis/linear algebra is going to get you the most use during your program though, so it will help to learn that. Taking advanced abstract algebra or complex analysis might make you slightly better at proofs in some general sense, but if you don't actually want to take it, it's not really going to help you. Edit: obviously taking graduate math stat will likely be the most directly useful, although topics vary between schools quite a bit. If you go to a school with a good PhD program, acing the grad math stats and getting a good letter would be a big plus
  23. 2 points
    kendalldinniene

    2019 Applicants

    I got to visit Dallas for a few days last week to apartment hunt and I absolutely fell in love with the city and the people, which I wasn’t really expecting. Then I found out the day after I got home that I got my dream apartment in my dream neighborhood. I’m over the moon right now and it just makes the amazement and gratitude I feel about grad school that much bigger and better. I’m so happy right now.
  24. 2 points
    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 still applying. I feel like it's easy to forget that the kind of people who post on sites like this tend to not be representative of the applicant pool as a whole, and that there do exist those of us who are applying without 10+ years of related work experience or 5+ published journal articles. My hope is to give readers some insight about what the application process is like for those of us who feel like we might not stand out as much because we don't have those things. Because that's actually not true. My first piece of advice for people who find that they're in my situation is to remember that it's all relative. For example, if you're still in undergrad, there's no way that a grad school will expect you to have as much research experience as someone who has been out of school much longer. Additionally, a lack of published articles is not a death sentence if you can convey in your application that you've gained valuable research skills. This applies both for current undergraduates such as myself, as well as those who have a master's or have been working for a while. Finally, even if someone looks "better" on paper than you, you might actually be the one with a better research fit. So, even though it can be difficult, don't be intimidated by your perceived competition. Remember to put the process into perspective and trust that if you highlight your strengths in your application you will end up where you're supposed to be.
  25. 2 points
    I think of myself as a lifelong learner, but deciding to go back to grad school wasn't a light decision. When I decided to take the leap in 2016, I was six years into a career as an officer in the U.S. Army and was hesitant to disrupt a steady paying job and what I consider purposeful work. Still, I had a list of reasons in my head for wanting and needing to leave the Army and return to grad school that are probably similar to what most people consider when they're making the potentially life-changing decision to go back to school. My reasons (don't laugh) - I hated getting up early for my job in the military (I had to be at work by 6am most mornings), I kinda hated wearing a uniform every day, and I wanted more control over where I lived (you don't really get to pick in the military). Basically, I just needed a change of pace and a different career. I also just like being in class and learning new stuff. College campuses have always felt like a magical place to me. I've told myself I have no reason to ever need to get a PhD, but I kinda want to just so I can be in the classroom again? Maybe it's because my parents didn't go to college and growing up I never really heard about what it was like to be a college student. Speaking of, one of my other reasons for going back to school and getting a Master's Degree was to make my family proud and bring knowledge back into my community in an effort to impact change. These are just a few of my reasons. So, I’m curious --what are your reasons for deciding to go to grad school? Comment below to reveal all.


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