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  1. Upvote
    Chai_latte got a reaction from 711fanatic in is Peterson's a reliable Grad School guide?   
    It depends.  
    According to a Peterson's employee, Peterson's gets the info from the departments themselves.  However, the information is not always current.  If a particular program has not responded to the survey in 3 years, the out-of-date responses may still be listed.
    At least, this was what I was told ~5 years ago.
  2. Upvote
    Chai_latte got a reaction from historyofsloths in Favorite Rejection Quotes from the Results Page   
    SUNY Buffalo (mechanical engineering):
    I applied for PhD, but accepted into Maser's degree without financial aid. They are unbelievable bastard! I emphasized in my application that I only want to study PhD, NOT MS. Such a crappy school. Don't go there otherwise your urine will start to build up a stalagmite in this harshly cold place :))
  3. Upvote
    Chai_latte reacted to PsyDuck90 in Is grad school possible at this point?   
    If your ultimate goal is a PhD, I would caution against an online MA. If you go for an MA, you want a research component. Online programs have a reputation for not providing the best training (even SNHU) so many doctoral programs will not take an applicant with online credentials that seriously because they have their pick of candidates. Also, it will be much harder to forge close relationships with faculty in an online program vs a traditional program. 
  4. Like
    Chai_latte got a reaction from WaliaIbex in Biomedical Engineering/Bioengineering Applicant Profiles for 2019 Admission   
    Have you looked at Maryland-College Park?  If it seems like a good fit, I'd add them.
  5. Upvote
    Chai_latte reacted to Kilos in Emeritus Involvement   
    I think that's a solid approach. As you well know, the whole point is to (succinctly) say "Hey, I'm convinced that this program/school/department is really good at XXX; furthermore, I'm convinced that some of the faculty in this program/school/department are particularly good at/interested in XXX niche/subfield/area of interest and I would love to work with them; additionally, I'm really good at/interested in/engaged in XXX--here's how I can prove that I know what I'm talking about." None of this requires any name-dropping. Then again, as I said above, if you've already talked to a POI/contact within the department and they've implied that they're interested in working with you, I don't think you can go wrong finding a way to fold them in.
    As far as tips on things to mention, I always hesitate to say too much because I'm no expert, and one of my biggest fears is to give anybody bad advice. That said, I'm happy to give examples as long as you promise to take everything I say as the anecdotal ramblings of somebody who is just as confused about the process as anybody.
    Disclaimer out of the way: What I did was a buttload of research. I know you're asking for specific examples, and I'll get to that, but I think I have to emphasize that you won't know what to mention unless you've really done your homework. I started at a very high level, eliminating places I knew I wouldn't want to live (very important), then eliminating schools that didn't guarantee full funding, then eliminating schools that didn't have opportunities for summer funding, fellowships, and conference funding. I'll admit that as much as I hate generic "rankings" of schools and departments, they probably played a role in my filtering (especially the National Research Council rankings, and placement rankings). Then I started getting way more picky. I eliminated schools that didn't have at least a few active faculty members whose bodies of work aligned with my intended research path (this took a lot of time and a lot of digging through CVs, and then a lot of digging through published works listed on said CVs--I feel like I did more reading for this than I did for my thesis or my last seminar paper). Then, once I had a list of about 25 schools that I felt fit me, I went and asked some people I trusted; I asked mentors, advisors, people who knew my interests and could recommend landing places that would fit well (I didn't share my list until after they'd given me their unbiased recommendations, and then I asked if they liked any on my list, or had any reason to remove any others). Then we discussed where our lists crossed paths, and I added a few that I'd missed.
    At that point I was down to about ten schools, and I started scouring the internet, the library, and even message boards like this one. I reached out to a few people at different schools (some reached back, some didn't), and I tried to make contact with current and former graduate students in the programs I liked. I tried to keep it short and sweet, and I got more than a few wonderfully detailed responses. I asked these people what they valued about the program, what they were looking when they entered, how that was working out, and what they'd discovered (both pleasant and not so) once they'd arrived. I compared these responses with what I'd uncovered through my own research and tried to build a picture of the program as best I could without ever setting foot there (which was as hard as it sounds, and could be completely off-base even now). Then, under the gun of looming deadlines, I eliminated a few more for random reasons (some just didn't feel like they were me, some didn't feel like they were in a location that my wife would feel comfortable, and others I just didn't get a good vibe about). Eventually, I was down to a handful of schools. One was local (convenience), one was the best program in the country (or at least it was in my mind, though the fit wasn't perfect), and the other one felt like it was made for me (this one rose to the top of my list while I was researching, and the rhet/comp faculty seemed open-minded, eager to expand the scope of their program, fully engaged, and the graduate students seemed happy, not overworked, and excited--they also talked about how they felt fully supported). Here's where I'll get into specifics, because I noticed how my SoPs diverged from this point.
    The local school was pretty much guaranteed. It was my alma mater, I knew the faculty, and I guess it's what some might call a "safety" school. I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't spend a lot of time on this SoP (basically a pared down version of my other ones) with almost no tailoring to fit, but I still got accepted with full funding and a T.A. position. I mentioned that I was familiar with the faculty and the program. I guess this could, possibly, be interpreted as evidence that perhaps proving fit isn't as important as establishing qualification or merit.
    The other two were more difficult. As I wrote the SoP to the really prestigious school, I found myself contorting my own thoughts (as well as interpretations of my past work) to try and make myself sound more appealing--it felt like I was changing who I was and what I was interested in in order to fit in better. Maybe they could tell. Maybe the fake veneer is what sunk my chances. I really wanted to attend this school, but the further I got into the SoP the more I felt that I didn't really belong. They had a few faculty members that would have been a dream to work with and whose work aligned with mine (which is why the program made it so far up on my list), but it didn't really feel like they had a huge rhet/comp contingent, and despite their great resources I was afraid I'd feel like an outsider in a top-shelf literature program.
    As I wrote the SoP for my top choice school, the exact opposite happened. I felt that I could just gush about who I was, what I was passionate about, how all of my past work aligned perfectly, how I knew I fit right in, and it all just made sense. I talked about these things in particular: this school is a strong research university with well-established and burgeoning schools/departments across dozens of disciplines (numerous sciences, linguistics, psychology, etc.), and the English department is known for having wonderful, productive relationships with many of them; the rhet/comp side of this department is run by a group of really gung-ho faculty who have a wealth of experience with the rhetoric of science, the interdisciplinary facets of composition, writing across disciplines, and (to a lesser extent) ecocriticism, which is the exact kind of environment I was looking for; these same rhet/comp faculty run a stellar FYW (first-year-writing) program with a 24 student cap on each section, and a 1-1 course load for the TAs (which really gives the TAs a chance to work one-on-one with students rather than lecture and pray); they also have a spread of courses that the TAs can begin teaching as they develop professionally, including literature and rhetoric courses, some of which the TAs have a great deal of control over. I've rambled too much already, and I could add some more detail, but I feel like I probably shouldn't re-write my whole SoP here. Essentially, I did what I could to briefly index what I loved about the program, why I loved it, why I knew this would be a unique, stimulating, resource-rich environment for me as an individual--and, most importantly, I made sure to turn all of this back around and relate it to my past work and future goals. All said, this probably amounted to 1/4th of my SoP. Another 1/4 was sign-on and sign-off, and the 1/2 remaining was diving into my proposed research topics and intended trajectory.
    What I'm getting at, while trying to answer your questions, is that you when you stumble across these things while researching potential schools, they will jump out at you. You'll think "holy crap, that's great, that's just what I'm looking for." When you have those moments, jot them down and try to remember why you felt so energized about it at that very moment. Put that energy and excitement into your SoP, and remember to do it without sounding like a crazed idiot. There's an important line between positive, focused energy and unhinged, aimless vomitus (trust me, I know, I'm a rambler, as is evidenced here). 
    Also, you asked about classes: Often times you can go on a department's website and they'll have the courses/seminars posted for the next year. All of the schools I applied to had this--one of them I was able to request. They usually say "subject to change," but this, paired with a list of past offerings, can give you a really good idea of what to expect from a department. Often times there will be great 1-2 paragraph descriptions of the seminar. Just feel it out!
    Finally, I think you're right when you say that you can't really get a good feel for the ethos of a program until you're actually in it. This sucks. It makes applying really hard. Then again, you don't know what that entree is going to taste like until you order it and eat it--you just have to do your best to figure out what it might be like by browsing some online reviews, looking at a recipe, reading the menu, looking around at the other diners' plates, asking the wait staff, and glancing into the kitchen. Research will get you as close to the finish line as anything else.

  6. Upvote
    Chai_latte reacted to Nico Corr in Elliott MIPP vs. SAIS MIPP   
    Could OP have meant Point of Contact when they said POC? Seems likely. 
  7. Downvote
    Chai_latte reacted to ExponentialDecay in Elliott MIPP vs. SAIS MIPP   
    ...Why they gotta be black?
    Also, I don't represent SAIS in any capacity. You're just as effective googling "SAIS admissions contacts" and writing or emailing the people that come up.
  8. Upvote
    Chai_latte reacted to ExponentialDecay in Ending with Terminal MA   
    Controversial opinion: I'm not sure that what OP is proposing is so reprehensible. Realistically, people need to attend the top programs in order to have a chance at a job, but even becoming competitive for admissions to top programs is logistically difficult and costly for anyone who's changing fields, who comes from a low-ranked undergrad, or who is simply ill-acquainted with how academia works. So what should those people do? Take out student loans for a useless MA in the humanities? Give up and get an office job? One is a stupid financial decision (and one consistently recommended against on this board) and the other is contributing to making academe a club for the wealthy. 
    On the other hand, you have low-ranked programs that graduate their PhDs into no chance of a job, and know that this is the reality, where professors will outright tell you that, if you're getting a PhD here, you shouldn't be getting a PhD. Yeah, agreeing to attend a program for 5 years and quitting once you've found something better can be construed as a breach of trust - but taking 5+ years of people's lives (and exploiting their vastly underpaid TA labor so you don't have to create tenure lines to support your undergraduates) and then pushing them out to a world where they have a better chance of winning at slots than getting TT? When the contract is so broken on the one side, I don't know that people on the other side should be held to pristine standards.
    I understand that people feel very emotional about the kind of plan OP proposes, because academia is more than just a job, but it's much easier to reflexively shit on the little person than to recognize that they are operating within the confines of a broken system.
  9. Upvote
    Chai_latte reacted to went_away in Let's Talk Debt   
    Amen to that. Welcome to 1-3 month STC's (short term contracts). It's the 'glamorous' life of a temp worker. Veterans' preference will do FAR more for one's career prospects than an elite international affairs degree. 
    Those who do the best coming out of these programs have a strong combination of things working in their favor. First they are probably quite successful BEFORE going to a top grad school. This means they come from a well-off family that values education and they were able to go to a top undergrad (think University of Chicago or U Penn). Next they joined the military as an officer and/or had a series of very elite level internships at top institutions. They likely also have family friends/acquaintances who are high level executives in the federal government, diplomats, or a Senator or Member of Congress. By the time they go to grad school they are already well on their way with a solid career assured to them. 
    Others working low-prestige jobs see these glittering examples of success and think a grad degree on its own will get them there. Sadly, that's really not the case and most will struggle. Doing well is a result of a long series of good choices, fortunate breaks, family wealth (in most cases), and big investments in yourself. 
  10. Upvote
    Chai_latte reacted to Crucial BBQ in How did you find TheGradCafe?   
    For me it was definitely from Internet searches into various topics relating to the graduate school application process.  I no longer remember what that initial first search was, and I had landed on GradCafe numerous times over the course of six months or so before signing up.  I do know that I did join so I could respond to a particular thread, though.  
  11. Like
    Chai_latte got a reaction from SopranoSLP in Is declining my only option crazy?   
    Do you plan to practice in the northwest?  If so, I'd pass on NYU (or defer)?  If you are going to take on an astronomical amount of debt, you want your alumni/professor/hospital network to be strongest in your preferred region.  That can make the job search process smoother and/or faster. 
    I'm in a different field, but I'll echo a previous poster: debt is no joke.  With graduate loans, interest begins accruing the day after each loan is disbursed...even while you're a student.  I realize that demand for SLPs is high, but if there's even a slight hiccup with your job search 2-3 years from now, that debt can really spiral out of control once interest capitalizes upon graduation.  As a prospective student, you may not fully appreciate that now.  But, you will once you graduate (or approach graduation).
  12. Like
    Chai_latte got a reaction from nwslp in Is declining my only option crazy?   
    Do you plan to practice in the northwest?  If so, I'd pass on NYU (or defer)?  If you are going to take on an astronomical amount of debt, you want your alumni/professor/hospital network to be strongest in your preferred region.  That can make the job search process smoother and/or faster. 
    I'm in a different field, but I'll echo a previous poster: debt is no joke.  With graduate loans, interest begins accruing the day after each loan is disbursed...even while you're a student.  I realize that demand for SLPs is high, but if there's even a slight hiccup with your job search 2-3 years from now, that debt can really spiral out of control once interest capitalizes upon graduation.  As a prospective student, you may not fully appreciate that now.  But, you will once you graduate (or approach graduation).
  13. Upvote
    Chai_latte reacted to GrlyFlynn in Low GPA, Super Stressed Out   
    My GPA in my undergraduate work was a 2.8. I just got into all the masters programs I applied to. My advice is: get some work experience under your belt in your field, cultivate relationships with people who can write you excellent letters of recommendation, get a good GRE score (a low GPA is really the only reason why a high GRE would mean anything in my opinion), consider taking classes at a community college and maintain a high GPA there. This is what I did and I submitted my transcripts from the community college as well as from the school where I did my bachelors. But I have also been out of school for a few years so this may not be as necessary for you.

    I did not do this, but I also agree that reaching out to potential advisors is a good idea.

    Make a list of the universities you want to get into and their advisors, dept chairs, professors and alumni. See if you can build a relationship with well connected alumni. This is what I did. I interned with the alumni of one school I wanted to attend and took a class with a professor who graduated from another program. I  asked both to write me letters. I also asked another professor from the community college where I took classes to write me a letter to a program where I knew she had a relationship with the program chair. So, a lot of this takes research. But there is a way but you obviously may need to take a year or two off to get work experience and build up contacts etc. 

    Just my 2 cents.
  14. Upvote
    Chai_latte reacted to shifgrethor in What age limit would you put on advisors, if any?   
    Ask the faculty members if they will take you as a student. They will be honest with you, and if they say yes and then choose to retire, will continue working with you while they are emeritus. No use skirting around the issue, they know it is a concern for students. (just don't say it in a way that is insulting or judgmental)
  15. Upvote
    Chai_latte reacted to TakeruK in What age limit would you put on advisors, if any?   
    Although my experience is limited, from talking to faculty members, I think many schools now have policies in place that provides incentives for faculty to announce their intention to retire early. For example, one school has an arrangement where faculty members have the option to state their intention to retire 4 years in advance. If they choose to do so, then they will be paid their full salary for four years (and maintain full benefits) but they will be phasing out: working full time for the next 2 years then dropping to half-time for the last 2 years. The school that has this policy is a fairly small school so the 4 years notice is helpful to arrange things like committee membership, class scheduling, and of course, hiring their replacements (academic job searches can take several years and then it might take another year or two for the new person to start). 
    So, most people would be up front about this when meeting prospective graduate students, especially if they have already publicly announced their retirement plans. But even if the prof is planning to announce retirement after you start, most professors don't just retire and disappear off the academic world (although some do!). Many professors will at least hang around to graduate their final students and do whatever research they want. I know many emeritus profs who say working for free post-retirement is the best part of their career because now they really can do whatever they want without any other commitments!
    There are other considerations such as getting reference letters for jobs after you graduate (emeritus profs / retired people may be harder to track down) and whether the more senior prof is still active in the field. But honestly, these can be problems for profs of any age. In my PhD department, there is a prof in his 70s that is still graduating students, producing papers, teaching classes, playing sports and even organizing hikes and ski trips with students.
  16. Upvote
    Chai_latte got a reaction from mochamocha73 in MIT or Harvard?? Biology   
    Hi Mocha,
    Congratulations on such great options!  I can only say what I would do: if the person at Harvard is tenured, is pulling for you and if the people in his/her lab are pleased with their choice/have enough support/graduate within a reasonable time-frame etc., I would go with him/her.  You're going to be working hard for the next 5-7 years.  At the very least, when starting out, you should be excited about the work & be paired with a good (and supportive) prof.  I wouldn't bypass that for the security of a few labs that don't bowl me over at another school. 
    But, I would do a lot of research into the Harvard lab (and MIT labs) beforehand, leaving no stone unturned and talking to a BUNCH of students...
    Congrats again!   
  17. Upvote
    Chai_latte reacted to TakeruK in What is a history of good placement?   
    Not in your field, but perhaps applicable across many fields.
    When considering graduate programs and where their graduates end up afterwards, I look for programs whose students "regularly" go onto the career path(s) that I am interested in. I don't think percentages/rates are very useful because:
    - They are often incomplete unless the alumni and department are especially good at keeping each other up to date
    - Because of small numbers, they often have to lump all academic positions into one category for percentages, or all TT positions no matter where they are
    - These stats are based on combining a diverse set of people/interests/talents/abilities/experience into the same pool and it's hard to figure out things like who wanted a TT job but didn't get one and who left the field because they wanted to etc.
    - Since they are an "averaged" rate across all graduates, it's not clear whether they will even apply to your specific case. Or to put it another way, even if you had no missing students, knowing that it's 40% academic, 40% non-academic and 20% not didn't finishing doesn't mean that you have a 40% chance of getting an academic job, for example. Probabilities and stats are only really useful when it's something measured over and over again but you are just one career outcome.
    So, instead, I think it's more important to just see that whatever path(s) you want post-PhD is actually possible for graduates of this program. This tells you a couple of things. First, that the program's degree is valued by the employers of the career path you want. Second, since students have gone through the path recently, it might mean that there are resources to help you get to these career paths. You don't know how you compare to an "average" graduate from the program (this abstract concept doesn't exist in reality anyways) so it doesn't really matter if only 1 or 2 graduates get TT positions at top tier schools or if it's 4-5 graduates because if you are not as good as those 4-5 graduates then you are just as likely to get zero TT job offers as if you went to the school with only 1-2 graduates placing at top tier schools.
  18. Upvote
    Chai_latte reacted to TakeruK in Would you turn down an Ivy?   
    I felt the same way as you when looking at my options for PhDs. I urge you to actually visit the school and get a feel for its culture and environment before making a decision. The school in my case isn't an "Ivy" but in my field, the Ivy League aren't necessarily the best. It is the #1 school in my area of science and it's a private school similar to the Ivy league schools.
    I was very anxious about the visit and the first event was breakfast where everyone introduced themselves. Everyone went to Ivy or other top tier private schools. I thought I had made a mistake. But actually spending time with people in the department over the two day visit, I learned that every worry and concern I had about this school was wrong. The department was like one giant family! I loved my 5 years there as a grad student and I am very happy that I visited and got to know the program before making a decision. I strongly believe that the resources available to me at this school helped me get to where I am today. I don't think the students at top tier schools are that much different than other schools but they just have so many more tools to succeed. I can discuss it further in private messages if you want.
    But my main message is to not get "prestige shy" and doubt your own abilities. Don't rely on stereotypes of these schools and especially not stories from other people who attended the school in different departments or different years. Schools vary a lot internally within departments and they change over time. Definitely get yourself out for an in-person visit if possible and decide for yourself. 
  19. Upvote
    Chai_latte reacted to FreakyFoucault in Shellacked again...   
    Bureaucratically shellacked! 
  20. Upvote
    Chai_latte reacted to FreakyFoucault in Shellacked again...   
  21. Upvote
    Chai_latte reacted to Eigen in Requiring so many!   
    FWIW, I'm at a SLAC, and I write a lot more recommendations than that- but well over half of our students go on to graduate programs, most at top 10 programs. Strong letters are one of the reasons they're able to do that. 
    I'll have had our average major that I'm writing for in 3-4 classes, another 2-3 labs, they may have done a summer of research with me (or more), I've traveled with them to conferences, I've seen them work on committees and in student organizations, and many of them have TA'd a class or lab for me. It means I can write a strong 2 page letter covering how they work in multiple situations, and can tell colleagues at an R1 exactly why they should choose them as a student. 
  22. Upvote
    Chai_latte reacted to khigh in Requiring so many!   
    Honestly, I went to a SLAC and my primary advisor wrote a total of one recommendation letter in 3 years. If I get into the one program I applied to, I will have to give a lot of credit to my writers. One was my advisor- I did an independent study/directed reading with him, he was the faculty advisor for many of my clubs, and I spent all four years in his office working on various projects. He is an alum of the program I am applying to. One was the department chair- I also worked closely with him and he was co-faculty advisor for clubs and I traveled with him to conferences. The third was the University President- I was Student Government Vice President my Junior Year and President my Senior Year, so I served on 15 university committees from Academic Appeals (actually did this one for four years) to President's Planning and Student Activities Funding and Faculty Senate as the student rep.
    Do you know how difficult it is to craft relationships like that in four years? I was on campus 14-16 hours a day, especially in my last 2 years. They will be able to tell the adcomm exactly what my strengths and weaknesses are. Will other people have this kind of letter writer? No.  Many people would rather go to undergrad at a large state uni or an Ivy, but you aren't going to get the same relationships as at a SLAC. I graduated with 6 people in my program. 
  23. Upvote
    Chai_latte reacted to TakeruK in Requiring so many!   
    Some programs have this. But the reality is that writing tons of letters is an expected part of the professor's job now. 
    I would recommend that you do as much as possible to make the lives of your recommenders easier. This means deciding on what universities you will apply to and noting down their deadlines and then providing a one-page summary with all of the dates and schools. This helps them plan their time. Once they write their letters, they just need 5-10 minutes to log in and upload so if they see that you have 3 things due Dec 15 and 5 things due Dec 20, they might know to put aside 1.5 hours on Dec 13 and upload it all at once, for example. 
    It sounds like you might be making requests one at a time, as they come up, and that could be very frustrating. It also means they don't know when the next one is coming up. So if you still have more schools to apply to, I'd take some time right now to figure out all the remaining deadlines and make the remaining requests all at once, promising that this is the last set.
  24. Upvote
    Chai_latte reacted to GreenEyedTrombonist in Need advice- thinking of leaving graduate school   
    This professor has no reason to sugarcoat your progress and current work level. If they are complimenting you, they mean it. 
    As Eigen said, imposter syndrome is a very real son of a bitch that most (if not all) people have to deal with at one point or another (especially in grad school). I really hope you are keeping up with the counseling as it can help with those thoughts and, as you've noticed before, keep you focused on your goal. 
    Keep your eye on the prize and keep up the good work. I'm sorry the transition was so difficult for you (and as someone with no undergrad chem, I am utterly blown away by your tenacity to learn such advanced chem-even if your grades weren't what you wanted) and I'm glad that you're now in a field in which you're able to make progress. Feel free to vent here anytime if need be, but it sounds like you're doing well (despite your thoughts to the contrary). Don't give up! <3
  25. Upvote
    Chai_latte reacted to Eigen in Need advice- thinking of leaving graduate school   
    Grad school is a whole different ballgame than undergrad and the transition can be rough. Especially if you're changing programs! Going into synthetic organic with just sophomore level OChem background would be rough.
    Keep up with the therapy, realize that imposter syndrome is very normal, and focus on where you are now. 
    Grad school is all about he research- classes are just something you do at the start and have to get through. Don't let bad coursework early stop you from doing well where you are now! Several of my colleagues (who are now faculty) were on and off academic probation all through grad school. They didn't let it shake them, focused on the work, and did fine. 
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