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About mseph

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  1. If you are interested in the program that you are already accepted, and accepted their offer, then I'd say go for it. While the decision is totally yours, I think it could be a bit of gamble to just walk away from the opportunity you already have in your hands. I agree, as MidwesternAloha said, education you get is more about the effort you put in. And if you still don't like the program, then you can apply second round, with better GRE scores and more specific SoP as you noted. To me, this makes a better sense and you will have less to lose, I think. Best of luck! (Btw, I went through the same string of thoughts--I thought of letting all my offers go and try the second round. I dealt with the thinking that it will never be an ending cycle. You will always want a program that is better ranked. Hope this helped, too..)
  2. You WILL!! I'll be looking forward to see you again here with your achievements. =)
  3. It seems preparing for math is essential before this fall. I also have a question about whether it would be a good idea to read and review some of the political theory? I don't intend to declare subfields in theory, but I was curious if this is still important? I think I am relatively more weak in empirical theory than formal theory, or anything that's with quant. I minored in a hard science that requires a lot of math, and did more course work than minor requirement in it because I originally intended to do double major (I am glad I didn't). So I am more worried that I might not have enough background in and familiarity with literature in political theory. I guess my questions is, how much familiarity an incoming grad student expected to have with political theory? Are courses taken in undergrad as a political science major sufficient? Or do we need more?
  4. How do you deal with "I should have applied there"? I am more than happy with the program I decided to attend, but also can't stop thinking of couple programs I ended up not applying.

    1. Show previous comments  1 more
    2. SublimePZ


      You're experiencing buyer's remorse b/c you just made a really important decision. Be confident in your choice, you ended up at your program for a reason!

    3. hypervodka


      I reconciled myself by reminding myself that if worst comes to worst and I end up hating the program I chose, I can always reapply next year, or the year after, to those shouldacouldawoulda schools. Nothing is ever set in stone.

    4. mseph


      Thanks everyone! I decided to simply drop that thought because I am happy with the current program I ended up with. I can picture myself there and like my advisors so far. Even if I applied to those "shouda" programs, I would be looking at more other programs and think the same way. In the end, I am happy with what I have and I decided to just focus on what I have rather than keep thinking about what I don't have. Thank you all for helping me out of that thought.

  5. Thank you, I really needed this. I am happy with the outcome of my applications than I initially expected. But I was always jealous of those who got into my first choice and occasionally regretted for not applying to some other higher ranked schools. But your words, that I am not a worse person than yesterday, really brighten me up. Rejections hurt, but I guess I still will be attending an amazing program that I am willing to commit myself for the next five years! =)
  6. Bumping this up! Because some of us are still visiting and making decisions, thought it would be nice to share what we know.
  7. So exhausted.

  8. I know ranking matters and school name is important! But can we talk about resources available at each department and the research fit just for a moment? Just. for. a moment... then it will make your decision much easier. ...Actually, whatever. I don't care, it's your school. It's up to you. So don't ask me for my advice anymore.
  9. ...I think it's a bit offensive, assuming that the minority groups are expecting a preferential treatment. No one is expecting that. And your accomplishments will be looked at equal level. They won't expect more from you just because you are white, nor expect less from someone who isn't. I think you are taking this factor as something against you because you are white. But that's not true. The reason the ad comm look at race and gender is to maintain diversity in the fields. But I cannot imagine they would have quota as you describe. And different fields tend to have differently skewed demographics, so what they consider will differ. One example we can think about is Asian male applicants in STEM fields. They are minority in many other fields but not necessarily in STEM. Admissions committees in these fields may look at applicants who are white women, which will include you, and consider it as a factor. But again, I want to emphasize that if you are in STEM, you won't get accepted just because you are a white woman. You need to have strong application to compete the rest of the applicant pool in the first place, then they may or may not consider the fact that you are white woman.
  10. Yeah, I agree. But it seems some misunderstood what you really meant. My post was largely a reaction to those who said minorities are more privileged in the admissions process because the admissions committee will lower the bar for them or white people are discriminated because they will be assumed to have had more resources. I just wanted to note that that's not the case.
  11. It sounds like some of the posts on race/gender factor are somewhat exaggerated. Yes, it is certainly a factor, but this is not as deterministic as some comments here imply. This is a bit ridiculous hypothetical example, but just because an applicant is a female, low SES, and from a minority group, it doesn't mean that she will get into Harvard.There is no department that will admit an "unqualified" applicant just because of race and gender. There is no department who will "lower the bar" for those who are from a minority group. No department will ever, "give privileges" to those applicants based on race and gender. You need to have strong credentials and relevant experience to apply to grad schools in first place. We will never know what really goes on inside the admissions committee, but generally speaking, the factor about your background never comes up in early stage of the process. That is, admissions committees usually look at GPA and GRE scores first, and reject those who do not pass their minimum standard, whatever that may be. Then they will probably look at LoR's, and make sure all three of your letters are strong. I've come across a comment that even one average-letter may put your application in a reject-pile because all applicants these days have strong letters. Then it will probably the statement of purpose and writing sample to determine who will be more fit to the program, and to discern whether your research experience can contribute to the department and if department has the right tools available for you to succeed. At the last stage, this will be probably the stage where the factors on gender, race, SES, and personal background will come into play. But at this stage, though, there are TONS of other factors being considered, not just race and gender. And who knows which factor will top another? Besides race and gender, they may look at whether you have family members working at the institution (come on, applications ask us if we have any family/relatives working at the school, and they are asking for a reason), your outside experience, internship/volunteer/work experience even though they may not be relevant to the field, the school you went to, etc... This will be rather a rare case, but if your family was rich and donated $$ to the department or school in the past, that might be a factor, too. All these things are pretty much equally considered at the later stage, once they believe all the applicants who passed up to the last stage are strong applicants with good fit. Are these fair? Hard to tell. But by the last stage of their admissions process, all applicants will have strong credentials, good amount of research experience, and a good fit. They just need to consider other factors to finalize their decision. Personally, I don't think these factors by themselves are good indicators of whether the applicant will be successful. But given that the race/gender is just one of the many factors, I don't understand the frustration particularly with race/gender, when the rest of other factors seem equally arbitrary to me.
  12. I don't have any solid statistics with me, but based on what I observed, I will say with confidence that it happens and it's not rare. If your GPA from undergrad is solid, can secure strong letters, and have specific area of interest, then I don't really see any reason why you shouldn't apply directly to PhD. I think those who choose to do Master's in between Bachelor's and PhD have their own reasons and I cannot speak for them--but for me, the reason I decided to take a terminal Master's was to refine my research interest, take some time to get more familiar with literature in the field, and to take the advantage of the opportunity for working on Master's thesis. But if you believe you do not need these additional time/training, then you can apply directly to PhD and save yourself some time. Good luck!
  13. Do you mind expanding a bit about asking schools about other schools? I think this is something I am missing. I did what many of previous posts suggested, such as asking specific questions and reasons for choosing their current program over the others etc. But I did not ask them about other schools. What did you specifically ask them?
  14. 24 when I started and about to finish my Master's now (26). Will turn 27 shortly before I start PhD this fall.
  15. Wow, thanks, your answer is really helpful. It seems you created the account to answer my question, so I truly appreciate. If you allow me to share my thoughts: I am not assuming that T40 will secure TT at R2. I am highly aware of the job market being competitive, that even top schools produce adjuncts. And the school I am highly considering has a record of placing their graduates in both R1 and R2, but that's not always the case. What I meant by "R2, masters granting institutions, or elsewhere," is that my aspiration after obtaining a PhD isn't as specific or limited. Some people have higher standards and only want to teach at R1 or even top 10 or whatever their standards may be, but that's not the case with me. The reason I stated my aspiration is just to clarify what I want to do with the degree. My subfield is IR (or world politics at Pitt), and I only applied to programs when I saw that the IR is fairly strong in their program. Perhaps it's not the strongest subfield in each program I got accepted, but I don't think any of the schools I am considering are necessarily weak in IR. I can probably take a year to improve my GRE scores since it's not perfect, but as I am thinking now, I think my true weakness comes from undergrad GPA. Not sure what I can do about this, since my uGPA will be what it is... Not worried about my LoR though. Lastly, I am also aware of people transferring, but I think doing so just for a brand name is highly unethical. I understand things happen -- cases such as if someone sees that the department can't provide what he needs to pursue his research, all the professors start leaving, or personal reasons come up so that transferring is inevitable. But entering a program, planning only to improve my application and transfer for the sake of better name, that seems just too unethical for me. Starting a funded program means that the department trusts you will finish the program with them. Entering with a thought of transferring so I can aim higher will not happen in my life. I am still thinking whether I want to take a year off or not, but if I end up starting a PhD this fall, I will at least commit myself wherever I end up until I graduate (given that there is no surprise and things work out as I expect). I am not judging you, I am pretty sure you had your own reason for transferring. I am just spelling out my thoughts on entering a program with a plan of leaving it. These are some of my initial thoughts based on reading your advice, but it seems I will need more time to process your suggestions. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this, it will def help me decide.
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