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zapster

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  1. Upvote
    zapster got a reaction from biotechie in Really don't understand how they decide!   
    I think the first thing to understand that final PhD admissions are relative - depend on both supply (no., quality, and relative profile of students applying) and demand (no. of professors activey looking for new grad students in that particular year, and the specific fit - for example a Professor with diverse research interests in topics A & B may already have 3 grad students workng on topic A but none on topic B - if he or she is looking for someone with specific interests in topic B, even a GPA4, GRE 99% student with published research experience in topic A may not make it, but someone with a not so good profile but demonstrated interest in topic B might). This is just one situation - you can envisage that there will be many permutations where a perfectly capable student is rejected not because their profile is unsuitable, but because of other extrinsic reasons.
     
    I hence do not think that you should not be discouraged with rejects or take them personally (cliche alert!) - you may have been rejected purely for circumstantial reasons, and a reject by say a Rank 50 program (for example) does not mean a Rank 5 program will necessarily reject you.
     
    For future applicants, my humble advice...
    (i) you should research the programs you want to apply to rigorously (write to professors early on to understand if they are actively looking for students, understand if their research agenda overlaps significantly with your interests so that you can highlight such overlap in your SOP, speak to grad students in these programs to see if they can help you with 'inside' knowledge on the program, study the recent publications of your POIs and also check whether they have been actively publishing as well as actively advising grad students in recent years).
     
    (ii) you cannot really predict who might or might not accept you - so apply widely (not indiscriminately - so ensure there is a good fit)
     
    (iii) if you find that your interests are only represented by a very small set of programs, study the profile of recently accepted grad students to identfy what (if any) your shortcomings might be so that you can work on strengthening these.
  2. Upvote
    zapster got a reaction from DStory247 in Corresponding with professors   
    I think you should do a bit of research on the professors before you ask to speak to someone specific - you do not need to review all of their research in detail, just reviewing the abstracts of some of their most recent work will actually give you a very good idea (much better than what the online bio / profiles usually), and you do not need access to any research database - either the individual POI's website or any research database where the paper is available will let you view the abstact for free.
     
    After viewing these abstracts, you should be in a much better position to shortlist a few POIs that seem more relevant to your research interests, and you should be able to have an informed discussion with them as well. Although you have been accepted into the program, it always helps to create a positive impression right at the start by showing that you are aware of the research priorities of the POIs in your area.
  3. Upvote
    zapster reacted to rising_star in Can getting external funding for fees increase my RA/TA stipend ?   
    In many schools the tuition and fees portion of your award isn't "real" money in that the department just gets a chunk of money from the university to use for that purpose, then uses it to "pay" the tuition and fees. So, at least in the two programs I've been in, getting an award for that doesn't lead to taking home more money.
  4. Upvote
    zapster reacted to TakeruK in Can getting external funding for fees increase my RA/TA stipend ?   
    It really depends on the school/department. At my current department, every student is paid exactly the same stipend. If you have any external money, then the internal sources are decreased so that you end up with the same overall amount. The only way to get a larger overall stipend is to get an external award that pays ALL of your tuition, fees, and a stipend greater than the department's stipend amount.
     
    Some other departments that I had visited/talked to said vague things about potentially increasing your stipend if you bring in external money. But all they could really promise is that you won't get LESS than what you would have got without any award. Some schools also have stipend caps as well.
     
    The way my school put it in perspective to me is that the actual cost of a graduate student to the department/university is much larger than the amount we see on our stipend cheques. There are a lot of fees/overhead that we don't see. I think the real cost of a grad student is somewhere between 3 to 4 times our stipends, depending on our international/domestic status and the school's overhead fees. There are also overheads in the grants that the profs have to get in order to pay for grad students. So an award that is even as high as $20,000 to $30,000 per year does not necessarily make a sizeable impact in the overall cost of a grad student (which I estimate, at my school, to be about $100,000 per year). 
     
    It's worth it to ask though! At any rate, most schools expect you to tell them about any external award, so you can just ask about how this may or may not change your stipend when you let them know about your award.
  5. Upvote
    zapster reacted to Elizabeth Reed in How much has your program changed you?   
    I agree with previous posts that every experience changes you. Sitting around doing nothing changes you (trust me, I know from my days as an undergrad!) I think it's natural to feel, at various stages, that you've "settled in" to who you are, but it's always an illusory feeling. I suppose that, at any given age, some aspects of the self are here to stay, but others are surely transient (and even the "here to stay" parts may shift in subtle ways down the road). Realizing that my future self will be different has been tremendously helpful for me - it has made me far less arrogant about my beliefs, attitudes, etc. Now (at 29), I look back at my early-twenties self and shake my head about this or that, thinking "how silly I was then!" Of course, I've always done that - when I was in my early twenties, I thought "how silly I was at 18!" The difference now is an understanding that my future self (or selves) will look back at the 29-year-old-me and, most likely, have that very same thought. This knowledge helps me guard against a sense of self-satisfaction or smugness, especially because I used to fancy myself far more knowing than people who hold certain beliefs, which, whaddya know, I have come to hold. It also helps me keep a more open mind about perspectives different from my own, which is very useful for learning and growing! I think there's an old saying that sums it up pretty well; it's something like, "the older I get, the less I know, and the more wise I become." Makes sense to me, when I was younger I knew *everything* and was very unwise. I'm not sure exactly how my program is changing me, but I have no doubt that it is. I guess the biggest change so far (first year) is a better understanding of the fact that every decision in life involves a trade-off. Time and energy are zero-sum, so you really can't do it all. What I'm trying to figure out now is what sort of balance I want in life...if only I could consult the 50 year old me, I'm sure she'd know what choices I should make!
  6. Upvote
    zapster got a reaction from Chai_latte in F***k this process   
    Don't want to sound harsh, but....
    Sorry, but this whole process is no different from the way everything else in life works ! If you are doing this for the money, you're in the wrong place If you are doing this for public affection, you're still in the wrong place ("nobody cares...") Dehumanizing !!! c'mon... If you're looking for advice - Try to step back and re-evaluate what you really want to do, and if it is the money or something else, reorient yourself in the right direction (there is no right or wrong - just what you want). If research is really what you want to do - for the love of research (there - I said it, bite me!) - assess your rejections constructively rather than dismissing the process, spend the year re-building your profile, and apply to more than just 2 programs in the next season.
     
    Best of Luck !!!
  7. Upvote
    zapster got a reaction from w8inggame in F***k this process   
    Don't want to sound harsh, but....
    Sorry, but this whole process is no different from the way everything else in life works ! If you are doing this for the money, you're in the wrong place If you are doing this for public affection, you're still in the wrong place ("nobody cares...") Dehumanizing !!! c'mon... If you're looking for advice - Try to step back and re-evaluate what you really want to do, and if it is the money or something else, reorient yourself in the right direction (there is no right or wrong - just what you want). If research is really what you want to do - for the love of research (there - I said it, bite me!) - assess your rejections constructively rather than dismissing the process, spend the year re-building your profile, and apply to more than just 2 programs in the next season.
     
    Best of Luck !!!
  8. Upvote
    zapster got a reaction from biotechie in F***k this process   
    Don't want to sound harsh, but....
    Sorry, but this whole process is no different from the way everything else in life works ! If you are doing this for the money, you're in the wrong place If you are doing this for public affection, you're still in the wrong place ("nobody cares...") Dehumanizing !!! c'mon... If you're looking for advice - Try to step back and re-evaluate what you really want to do, and if it is the money or something else, reorient yourself in the right direction (there is no right or wrong - just what you want). If research is really what you want to do - for the love of research (there - I said it, bite me!) - assess your rejections constructively rather than dismissing the process, spend the year re-building your profile, and apply to more than just 2 programs in the next season.
     
    Best of Luck !!!
  9. Upvote
    zapster got a reaction from Tuck in F***k this process   
    Don't want to sound harsh, but....
    Sorry, but this whole process is no different from the way everything else in life works ! If you are doing this for the money, you're in the wrong place If you are doing this for public affection, you're still in the wrong place ("nobody cares...") Dehumanizing !!! c'mon... If you're looking for advice - Try to step back and re-evaluate what you really want to do, and if it is the money or something else, reorient yourself in the right direction (there is no right or wrong - just what you want). If research is really what you want to do - for the love of research (there - I said it, bite me!) - assess your rejections constructively rather than dismissing the process, spend the year re-building your profile, and apply to more than just 2 programs in the next season.
     
    Best of Luck !!!
  10. Upvote
    zapster got a reaction from uromastyx in F***k this process   
    Don't want to sound harsh, but....
    Sorry, but this whole process is no different from the way everything else in life works ! If you are doing this for the money, you're in the wrong place If you are doing this for public affection, you're still in the wrong place ("nobody cares...") Dehumanizing !!! c'mon... If you're looking for advice - Try to step back and re-evaluate what you really want to do, and if it is the money or something else, reorient yourself in the right direction (there is no right or wrong - just what you want). If research is really what you want to do - for the love of research (there - I said it, bite me!) - assess your rejections constructively rather than dismissing the process, spend the year re-building your profile, and apply to more than just 2 programs in the next season.
     
    Best of Luck !!!
  11. Upvote
    zapster got a reaction from mop in F***k this process   
    Don't want to sound harsh, but....
    Sorry, but this whole process is no different from the way everything else in life works ! If you are doing this for the money, you're in the wrong place If you are doing this for public affection, you're still in the wrong place ("nobody cares...") Dehumanizing !!! c'mon... If you're looking for advice - Try to step back and re-evaluate what you really want to do, and if it is the money or something else, reorient yourself in the right direction (there is no right or wrong - just what you want). If research is really what you want to do - for the love of research (there - I said it, bite me!) - assess your rejections constructively rather than dismissing the process, spend the year re-building your profile, and apply to more than just 2 programs in the next season.
     
    Best of Luck !!!
  12. Upvote
    zapster got a reaction from RubyBright in F***k this process   
    Don't want to sound harsh, but....
    Sorry, but this whole process is no different from the way everything else in life works ! If you are doing this for the money, you're in the wrong place If you are doing this for public affection, you're still in the wrong place ("nobody cares...") Dehumanizing !!! c'mon... If you're looking for advice - Try to step back and re-evaluate what you really want to do, and if it is the money or something else, reorient yourself in the right direction (there is no right or wrong - just what you want). If research is really what you want to do - for the love of research (there - I said it, bite me!) - assess your rejections constructively rather than dismissing the process, spend the year re-building your profile, and apply to more than just 2 programs in the next season.
     
    Best of Luck !!!
  13. Upvote
    zapster got a reaction from callista in F***k this process   
    Don't want to sound harsh, but....
    Sorry, but this whole process is no different from the way everything else in life works ! If you are doing this for the money, you're in the wrong place If you are doing this for public affection, you're still in the wrong place ("nobody cares...") Dehumanizing !!! c'mon... If you're looking for advice - Try to step back and re-evaluate what you really want to do, and if it is the money or something else, reorient yourself in the right direction (there is no right or wrong - just what you want). If research is really what you want to do - for the love of research (there - I said it, bite me!) - assess your rejections constructively rather than dismissing the process, spend the year re-building your profile, and apply to more than just 2 programs in the next season.
     
    Best of Luck !!!
  14. Upvote
    zapster got a reaction from geitost in F***k this process   
    Don't want to sound harsh, but....
    Sorry, but this whole process is no different from the way everything else in life works ! If you are doing this for the money, you're in the wrong place If you are doing this for public affection, you're still in the wrong place ("nobody cares...") Dehumanizing !!! c'mon... If you're looking for advice - Try to step back and re-evaluate what you really want to do, and if it is the money or something else, reorient yourself in the right direction (there is no right or wrong - just what you want). If research is really what you want to do - for the love of research (there - I said it, bite me!) - assess your rejections constructively rather than dismissing the process, spend the year re-building your profile, and apply to more than just 2 programs in the next season.
     
    Best of Luck !!!
  15. Upvote
    zapster got a reaction from Comrade_S in So what are your criteria for deciding?   
    True Story...even if you skip all the rubbish(!) below, do see STEP 7.
     
    Step 1: Prepared a table including subjective ratings on a scale of 1 to 10 for POI personality(scale of Nice to Awful), POI pedigree, POI publications, POI research agenda (fit), departmental research agenda (fit), departmental ranking / reputation, school ranking / reputation, funding offer, placement record, profile of existing grad students, city/location (livability).
     
    Step 2: Built scenarios - experimenting with different weights for different criteria to test variability of results and discarded outlier choices
     
    Step 3: Repeated the process excluding outliers
     
    Step 4: Repeated steps 1 to 3 by ranking programs for each criteria rather than rating
     
    Step 5: Deleted the file and decided to go with gut feel
     
    Step 6: Recreated a new file next morning, repeating steps 1 to 4.
     
    Step 7: Decided to sit down with the most typical and latest research publications produced by each of these programs (areas similar to that I might be working on if I joined the programs), and spent an hour on each, trying to think through how I might have changed, improved or continued on this line of work, etc. Believe me, after I was done, my choice was made ! 
  16. Upvote
    zapster got a reaction from veggiez in So what are your criteria for deciding?   
    True Story...even if you skip all the rubbish(!) below, do see STEP 7.
     
    Step 1: Prepared a table including subjective ratings on a scale of 1 to 10 for POI personality(scale of Nice to Awful), POI pedigree, POI publications, POI research agenda (fit), departmental research agenda (fit), departmental ranking / reputation, school ranking / reputation, funding offer, placement record, profile of existing grad students, city/location (livability).
     
    Step 2: Built scenarios - experimenting with different weights for different criteria to test variability of results and discarded outlier choices
     
    Step 3: Repeated the process excluding outliers
     
    Step 4: Repeated steps 1 to 3 by ranking programs for each criteria rather than rating
     
    Step 5: Deleted the file and decided to go with gut feel
     
    Step 6: Recreated a new file next morning, repeating steps 1 to 4.
     
    Step 7: Decided to sit down with the most typical and latest research publications produced by each of these programs (areas similar to that I might be working on if I joined the programs), and spent an hour on each, trying to think through how I might have changed, improved or continued on this line of work, etc. Believe me, after I was done, my choice was made ! 
  17. Upvote
    zapster got a reaction from memyselfandcoffee in feeling demotivated.. because i have had to change my research topic   
    First of all try to avoid thinking that your effort last term was wasted - even if your research topic is new, the experience itself, learning from the planning process, the process of generating ideas will all be extremely useful when you set out on your new research area. Most students at some point in time do face roadblocks in terms of research and have to find a new path - try to analyse your experience to assess what you can do better to ensure that this time round you are actually ahead of the curve.
     
    Sometimes, putting things in perspective can help motivate you - imagine if you had gone ahead with your old agenda and realised this after two years rather than now.
     
    Take a day (or a few if you can afford them) off from your research work - mentally at least - and when you come back draw up an ambitious target schedule and ensure you hit it with a vengeance - nothing motivates more than seeing the 'ticks' pile up against your to do list!
     
    Try to split your time between reading and generating ideas / building an inventory of writing for your research - even if most of writing from this stage never makes it to the final draft, it will be well worth the effort.
     
    Best of luck !
  18. Upvote
    zapster got a reaction from Tall Chai Latte in How to interact with invited seminar speakers?   
    Try to ask open ended questions, where the speaker can provide her opinions (rather than fact-based questions), this usually provides far more opportunities to continue the discussion.
     
    Sometimes asking for her opinion on your work (not specifically your research maybe but the broad line of research) rather than her work can make for interesting discussions - leading the speaker to ask you more about your work for example.
     
    If she is on the review committee of some journal, ask questions about the focus of the journal, or what she looks for in up and coming research etc.
     
    Getting into the right frame of mind just before the lunch / meeting is important - don't worry too much about "saying the right thing", that can quickly trigger strong inhibitory controls (of course don't hit the other extreme either!).
  19. Upvote
    zapster got a reaction from biotechie in How to interact with invited seminar speakers?   
    Try to ask open ended questions, where the speaker can provide her opinions (rather than fact-based questions), this usually provides far more opportunities to continue the discussion.
     
    Sometimes asking for her opinion on your work (not specifically your research maybe but the broad line of research) rather than her work can make for interesting discussions - leading the speaker to ask you more about your work for example.
     
    If she is on the review committee of some journal, ask questions about the focus of the journal, or what she looks for in up and coming research etc.
     
    Getting into the right frame of mind just before the lunch / meeting is important - don't worry too much about "saying the right thing", that can quickly trigger strong inhibitory controls (of course don't hit the other extreme either!).
  20. Upvote
    zapster got a reaction from sansao in So what are your criteria for deciding?   
    True Story...even if you skip all the rubbish(!) below, do see STEP 7.
     
    Step 1: Prepared a table including subjective ratings on a scale of 1 to 10 for POI personality(scale of Nice to Awful), POI pedigree, POI publications, POI research agenda (fit), departmental research agenda (fit), departmental ranking / reputation, school ranking / reputation, funding offer, placement record, profile of existing grad students, city/location (livability).
     
    Step 2: Built scenarios - experimenting with different weights for different criteria to test variability of results and discarded outlier choices
     
    Step 3: Repeated the process excluding outliers
     
    Step 4: Repeated steps 1 to 3 by ranking programs for each criteria rather than rating
     
    Step 5: Deleted the file and decided to go with gut feel
     
    Step 6: Recreated a new file next morning, repeating steps 1 to 4.
     
    Step 7: Decided to sit down with the most typical and latest research publications produced by each of these programs (areas similar to that I might be working on if I joined the programs), and spent an hour on each, trying to think through how I might have changed, improved or continued on this line of work, etc. Believe me, after I was done, my choice was made ! 
  21. Upvote
    zapster got a reaction from Chai_latte in So what are your criteria for deciding?   
    True Story...even if you skip all the rubbish(!) below, do see STEP 7.
     
    Step 1: Prepared a table including subjective ratings on a scale of 1 to 10 for POI personality(scale of Nice to Awful), POI pedigree, POI publications, POI research agenda (fit), departmental research agenda (fit), departmental ranking / reputation, school ranking / reputation, funding offer, placement record, profile of existing grad students, city/location (livability).
     
    Step 2: Built scenarios - experimenting with different weights for different criteria to test variability of results and discarded outlier choices
     
    Step 3: Repeated the process excluding outliers
     
    Step 4: Repeated steps 1 to 3 by ranking programs for each criteria rather than rating
     
    Step 5: Deleted the file and decided to go with gut feel
     
    Step 6: Recreated a new file next morning, repeating steps 1 to 4.
     
    Step 7: Decided to sit down with the most typical and latest research publications produced by each of these programs (areas similar to that I might be working on if I joined the programs), and spent an hour on each, trying to think through how I might have changed, improved or continued on this line of work, etc. Believe me, after I was done, my choice was made ! 
  22. Upvote
    zapster got a reaction from Tuck in So what are your criteria for deciding?   
    True Story...even if you skip all the rubbish(!) below, do see STEP 7.
     
    Step 1: Prepared a table including subjective ratings on a scale of 1 to 10 for POI personality(scale of Nice to Awful), POI pedigree, POI publications, POI research agenda (fit), departmental research agenda (fit), departmental ranking / reputation, school ranking / reputation, funding offer, placement record, profile of existing grad students, city/location (livability).
     
    Step 2: Built scenarios - experimenting with different weights for different criteria to test variability of results and discarded outlier choices
     
    Step 3: Repeated the process excluding outliers
     
    Step 4: Repeated steps 1 to 3 by ranking programs for each criteria rather than rating
     
    Step 5: Deleted the file and decided to go with gut feel
     
    Step 6: Recreated a new file next morning, repeating steps 1 to 4.
     
    Step 7: Decided to sit down with the most typical and latest research publications produced by each of these programs (areas similar to that I might be working on if I joined the programs), and spent an hour on each, trying to think through how I might have changed, improved or continued on this line of work, etc. Believe me, after I was done, my choice was made ! 
  23. Upvote
    zapster got a reaction from MadScience in So what are your criteria for deciding?   
    True Story...even if you skip all the rubbish(!) below, do see STEP 7.
     
    Step 1: Prepared a table including subjective ratings on a scale of 1 to 10 for POI personality(scale of Nice to Awful), POI pedigree, POI publications, POI research agenda (fit), departmental research agenda (fit), departmental ranking / reputation, school ranking / reputation, funding offer, placement record, profile of existing grad students, city/location (livability).
     
    Step 2: Built scenarios - experimenting with different weights for different criteria to test variability of results and discarded outlier choices
     
    Step 3: Repeated the process excluding outliers
     
    Step 4: Repeated steps 1 to 3 by ranking programs for each criteria rather than rating
     
    Step 5: Deleted the file and decided to go with gut feel
     
    Step 6: Recreated a new file next morning, repeating steps 1 to 4.
     
    Step 7: Decided to sit down with the most typical and latest research publications produced by each of these programs (areas similar to that I might be working on if I joined the programs), and spent an hour on each, trying to think through how I might have changed, improved or continued on this line of work, etc. Believe me, after I was done, my choice was made ! 
  24. Upvote
    zapster got a reaction from kazuya in Evaluate my funding offer!   
    This is a fairly decent package - the 14.6k + 15.1k is basically the fees paid on your behalf - check if there is any residual amount you need to pay (usually there is a very small residual amount), and also check whether you need to pay for medical insurance separately (approx. USD 2k per annum) or whether this is included in these fees.
     
    The stipend+salary is the pre-tax income YOU will receive, usually given for 9 months - in your case this amounts to approx. USD 2k per month for 9 months. Check if you can get additional support during the summer ? 
     
    Did the prof. mention the university fellowship after this offer - in which case definitely ask him. If it was before this, then he was probably talking about the Tuition Fellowship.  
     
    Best of Luck !
  25. Upvote
    zapster got a reaction from FCP in Sh*t people say when you are applying to grad school   
    Worst #2: "Of course you will get in - it's not like you're applying to an MBA program or something! Right ? "
     
    Worst #1: "Oh, you're going to be sooo rich !" ...........Have NO words for this one !!!!!
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