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lifetimestudent last won the day on August 21 2010

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  1. My suggestion is to take the GRE as soon as possible. That way, if you need to, you can take it again. Unless your program has rolling admissions, you also should wait to submit your application. There's no reason not to get it done early but as long as you have time, why submit it now?
  2. I wouldn't focus too much on your scores and numbers. There's not much you can do at this point to change them. What you should think about is not what programs you want to go to, but which professors you could work with. Who is doing research in your field? I am not so familiar with the area of suicide terrorism, but there must be a lot of people out there studying that. Contact them and talk to them. They will recommend the best programs, and maybe they will even let you into theirs!
  3. Be honest in your applications. If it really was just a freshman-year screw-up, and your grades improved after that, you should really be fine. Just explain it in your applications. I don't know if the SOP is the right place to do it, but you can also include an additional letter where you explain whatever reasons why your grades were the way they were. Adcoms understand that people do lots of different things in college. You probably didn't know 100% sure what you wanted to do when you finished. It's ok. Good luck with your app!
  4. Sorry to hear about your score. I would definitely suggest retaking it. I saw that you listed your score as cumulative (950 total). Most programs only care about one score, verbal/AW or math. Consider what kind of program you are applying to (i.e. sciences or humanities), and which score is most important and focus on that. There is definitely time to retake it. The schools will see the old score but if there is a big improvement that's good for you. And really, a lot of schools only use the GRE scores as a "last tie-breaker." The only real problem with taking it again is that it's expensive... at least that's what I thought when I was retaking it.
  5. Two years ago, the first time I applied for Phd programs, I took it about 4 weeks before the deadline. That was a mistake. This past year, when I reapplied, I made sure to do it in October. That way I would know for sure that all of the paperwork would go through. But there is an argument to give yourself as much time to study as possible; I would do it 6 weeks before the application deadline at the latest. (Meaning the beginning of November for most applications)
  6. I'm pretty sure they last for 5 years, but to be honest if I were on an adcom, I would be curious as to how applicable a 4.5-year-old GRE score is to the current applicant's knowledge.
  7. I am not sure if "safe" schools really exist. It's one thing when you are applying to undergrad and you know that school X takes most everyone with your kind of grades. But on the grad school level there just aren't enough spots to say that you will *definitely* be accepted. And again, often the "safe" schools will not take an "overqualified" applicant because they are afraid that a better school will accept them and that the student will go to the better school. My suggestion is not to apply to schools that you couldn't actually envision yourself attending. If you don't want to go there, why are you applying? That being said (and it is much easier to say that when you are already accepted!), applying only to Ivies is probably not the safest way to go about applying to grad school. Try to have a range of schools. You can usually tell based on looking at the current students and what the faculty do. The rankings are mostly useless, in my opinion. Hope this helps.
  8. Being in touch with potential advisors is probably one of the most important aspects of getting into grad school, and one of the biggest differences between applying to grad school vs. undergrad. People think that after you apply, you get an interview, but the truth is that the only time you really have to give a good impression to your potential advisor is to contact them. It shows personal initiative which is probably one of the most important characteristics of a great grad student. It is a bit nerve wracking (especially if you travel very far just to meet with this one person who you just hope just hope will actually think you have some little bit of potential) but totally worth it.
  9. That's really incredible. Congratulations! I don't mean to be a party pooper, but unfortunately most grad programs only look at the GRE as a way to differentiate students when all else is equal. In my experience it is the LORs and SOP which have a much larger impact on an application. But a perfect score--hey, it never hurts! It can only help. Good luck with your applications!
  10. I would *not* suggest that undergrads take grad courses in the same way in which high schoolers take APs. That's because APs are really a "high level" track in high school. Maybe they are "college level", whatever that means--as we know, different colleges are more or less difficult than others--maybe they are not. But you should focus on undergrad courses in college since that is what you are there as--an undergrad. Graduate courses have a very different purpose than undergrad classes. That being said, I think that it would be a good experience to take one or two in an area where you think you might like to specialize in. First, it helps you figure out if you really want to go to grad school in that area, and second, it can help you think about good topics to study in the field which will help you write your SOP.
  11. My advice is to be honest. The fact that you are re-applying shows that you are committed and really want to do this. I would be blunt with your potential advisors and ask them what about your applications made them weaker last time around, and then try to fix them. The real issue (as someone who re-applied) is that there really isn't that much time between now and when the applications are due to fix something like weak languages, which was one of my issues. I had to work my butt off over the summer & early fall to be able to claim that my languages were better than they were the last time around. Everyone freaks out about GRE scores which honestly aren't that important relative to issues like languages and LORs from your professors. Find out your weaknesses, fix them, reapply. Good luck!
  12. To succeed you really do need to publish. I am not sure if you need to publish while in grad school. I am just starting but from what I have heard there are competing camps on this issue. I have spent some time trying to publish an article, it is a lot harder than you would think... I would check out www.publishnotperish.org which has a really great set of articles on publishing in journals.
  13. There's not much you can do about a low GPA, especially at the end of undergrad where you have already completed the great majority of the classwork. But evaluate your transcript-- are more of your classes with lower grades outside of your primary major? Was there one year where your grades just went down the drain? Is there anything which can explain your performance and how you will improve as a grad student? Where do you excel? What will make you an outstanding graduate student and eventually a top scholar in your field? If you have good answers to these questions, make sure to communicate them to your potential advisors & adcoms. They are looking for "good material" that they can mold. Grades are often a good indicator of talent but not always.
  14. Your quant is actually pretty good. Of course an 800 is better than 780 but I'm sure that your potential computer science programs care a lot more about the quantitative score than the verbal one. That said, 350 verbal is pretty low -- any way that you can bring that up, even to 450, will make you a much stronger candidate. I had a lot of success when studying for the GREs with making flash cards while reading. I just read as much as I could and used a dictionary for all the words I didn't know. Over time you can grow your vocabulary, even just learning the top 200-400 GRE words (you can find many lists online) will do wonders for your score.
  15. The first thing is not to freak out. The second thing is to master as many languages as possible and improve your vocab so when it comes time to take the GRE you'll knock it out of the park. Otherwise it sounds like your friend won't have too many problems.
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