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Everything posted by sqxz

  1. No, this is an annual requirement (unless they've changed things for newer fellows). You have to list all of your publications, presentations, broader impacts activities, etc. that have come out in the last year using an online form, and you have to write a page-long summary of your accomplishments. Your research advisor also has to sign off on what you've said in your report and certify that you are making satisfactory progress. Once you've gathered all the necessary components, you submit your report on FastLane into the NSF ether, and you never hear anything about it again. (At least, that'
  2. sqxz

    Urbana-Champaign, IL

    @Eman2 No, I don't think you're missing anything. Like I said in my original post, it's possible to find one bedroom apartments that cost $700/month or less after factoring in utilities, but they'll be among the cheapest available. And, generally speaking, you'll get what you pay for. To get an apartment at this price, you might have to sacrifice square footage, newness/quality of appliances/cabinets/plumbing/etc., proximity to campus, amenities, or any number of other things. You have to decide for yourself which of these things if any are important for you to have with your apartment. I
  3. In my year, three of my seven invitations to interview came after this date. My last invitation to interview came on February 18. It's still early. The competitiveness of the interview process varies widely from program to program. Some places I interviewed stated (when asked) that they had a post-interview acceptance rate of less than 50%. Others stated (unprompted) that the interview was basically a formality. I just want to put this out there now to encourage people to temper their expectations about what getting an interview might actually mean.
  4. Generally speaking, this is a bad idea. If you're applying to the same schools, it is possible that the same professors will be reading your application. Whether they will remember it after reading dozens of other SOPs is another question, though some schools may have a procedure in place for tracking repeat applicants.. More to the point, if you want to be successful with your second round of applications when you weren't in your first, there should be major differences between your first and second applications, and those differences should manifest as more than two new paragraphs in your SO
  5. For anyone already thinking about taxes as they relate to the NSF GRF, here are some key facts and resources that I have found helpful over the past two years (especially last year when I was on tenure for the entire calendar year). The stipend fellows receive from the NSF GRF is considered "taxable income," but it is not considered "taxable compensation" by the IRS. Basically, what this means is that you have to pay income taxes on your stipend each year, but you cannot use your stipend to contribute to traditional or Roth IRAs. Your university will also not include stipend payment
  6. In general, the NSF GRF does not allow you to take a stipend from multiple sources at the same time (though there are some exceptions). However, unless things have changed, the length of the award is 5 years with 3 years of tenured support, and I've also heard of people deferring the NSF GRF for up to one year. It might be possible for you to defer the NSF GRF for one year, then take your first two years of the NSF GRF off tenure, then take the remaining three years on tenure. This would allow you to use all of the funding available to you. However, like a previous poster said, I would de
  7. As far as I know, this is not possible. You only have the option to declare your status for the full year, though you can give up the ramainder of a tenured year part way through if something comes up that makes you want to do so.
  8. sqxz

    Urbana-Champaign, IL

    I agree that it will be difficult to find a one bedroom apartment close to campus with all utilities included for under $700. It can be done if you're willing to accept some of the cheapest apartments in town, but it may not have all of the amenities you're looking for. Any website where apartments are listed (hotpads, ApartmentFinder, craigslist, etc.) can be used to see what options are currently available in Champaign-Urbana. I also agree that Urbana will generally have cheaper apartment options available.
  9. Congratulations! No, it's not bad to wait to accept. In fact, I would encourage you to do so until after your last interview.
  10. For additional information and solidarity as April approaches, this topic may be of interest to you:
  11. For me (speaking qualitatively and anecdotally), three of eight programs accepted almost all of those who were interviewed, and five of eight accepted about half of those who were interviewed.
  12. Don't worry about it. I had only received my first of seven interview invitations at this point in my application season, and my last interview invitation came in mid February. Official rejection letters will be sent, but most likely not until March or April.
  13. For general interest, you can estimate the amount you will have to pay in federal income tax using this website (https://apps.irs.gov/app/withholdingcalculator/), though I don't think this applies to international students. You will have to search state by state to get an estimate of how much you will pay in state income taxes. In addition to income taxes, you may also have to pay FICA taxes, which is a flat tax of 7.65% (for our purposes). If you are registered as a full-time student, you are exempt from FICA taxes. For this reason, some institutions make sure their grad students are alw
  14. As of last year (and I don't believe this has changed), each class of eligible student competes only against the same class for the available awards. That is, undergrad seniors compete only against undergrad seniors, first year grad students compete only against first year grad students, etc. This information comes from the Office of External Fellowships at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, whose director has served as a panelist for several years, and Bill Hahn, who recently served as the director of the NSF GRFP and who gave a workshop on applying for an NSF GRF at UIUC in 2015
  15. sqxz

    Urbana-Champaign, IL

    I lived in Minneapolis for my undergrad, and I do like living in Champaign-Urbana. I have heard Champaign-Urbana described as "micro-urban," and I would agree with that characterization. You can find almost all of the same things that can be found in big cities...there are just fewer of them and with less variety in Champaign-Urbana. For security, you can take a look at this map (https://www.crimereports.com/home/#!/dashboard?lat=40.1117&lng=-88.2073&zoom=13&searchText=Urbana%2C%20Illinois%2C%20United%20States&incident_types=Assault%2CAssault%20with%20Deadly%20Weapon%2CBre
  16. Cancelling an interview after a program has bought a plane ticket is considered really bad form and reflects very poorly on you. If you're feeling this way now, you should not have accepted so many interviews in the first place. Even if you're no longer interested in a program, most administrators would rather you come and fake it than force them to eat that sunk cost of a plane ticket. If you really feel that it's absolutely necessary for you to cancel this interview, you should explain the circumstances, apologize, and offer to pay the program back for the plane ticket. Having said all
  17. I emailed the professors with whom I interviewed asking if they had suggestions for improvement after my first interview and rejection. Some brushed me off, while others offered helpful feedback. If you do this politely and non-defensively/non-desperately, I think it can be a useful exercise. I wouldn't ask for particular reasons why you were rejected, though...I would just ask if they have any suggestions for improvement.
  18. If a program has bought your plane ticket for you, there's really no way for them to make you pay for it, though some programs may ask (demand) you to do so. If you've bought the plane ticket yourself and the program was going to reimburse you after the fact, you definitely shouldn't expect to get that reimbursement.
  19. As others have said, this is likely not a reflection on you. It's just that the professors you're interested in are especially popular or otherwise not available. However, I would say that when I was in a similar situation, it was especially difficult to make a good impression because our research interests were so different. As a computational biophysicist, when I was listening to an experimental immunology professor talk about his research, I felt like we were talking two completely different languages. I found it difficult to come up with any kind of interesting or insightful questions on t
  20. School B is not going to care that you have an interview from School A. If you think it's likely that you will go to School A if you are not accepted at School B, you should accept the interview. If not, then it might be worthwhile to wait on School B. However, if you're interested in School A, pass on the interview waiting for School B, then are not invited to interview at School B, I think you may regret it. That's my two cents.
  21. You should absolutely feel free to ask tough questions about a program or university during your interview weekend. These interview weekends exist in part for you, the candidate, to evaluate the program and university. When asking about this, I would be general and ask something like, "How has the situation with Gov. Walker and the state legislature affected things here at the University of Wisconsin?" Most current graduate students will likely be fairly candid in their responses to questions, while professors may be a bit more strategic. It also may be worthwhile to ask the program coordinato
  22. Interview weekends work both ways. They are trying to decide whether they want you, and they are also trying to convince you to choose them. Post-interview acceptance rates vary widely by program, and you definitely shouldn't take for granted an acceptance once you've secured an interview. Most of the programs to which I applied had ~50% post-interview acceptance rates, which resulted in highly competitive interview processes. It was not enough to simply show up to the interview; you really had to work to make a strong impression on your interviewers. This is why I said that you should we
  23. In my year, there was no interview. I was accepted in January and invited to visit with the rest of the accepted students in March. The past two years, there has been an interview before acceptance. We got a new director/admissions head last year, and he made some last-minute cosmetic changes to the interview weekend last year. It could be that more changes are being planned for this year, but I'm pretty sure there will still be an interview because of this excerpt from our website (http://biophysics.illinois.edu/program/admissions#interviews): Interviews Only applicants residing in t
  24. While it varies by program, this is not the case in general. Most people will wear business casual at the least. Last year, there was a lot of discussion on what was appropriate interview wear and how to make formal wear warm, and those posts can be easily found with a search. For what it's worth, my two cents is that you should wear what is going to put you in the best state of mind for the interview, keeping in mind that some interviewers' perception of you as a candidate will unfortunately be affected by what you wear.
  25. My reading of last year's solicitation suggested that all text within the figure must be 10pt Times New Roman, but I seem to recall the wording was a bit vague/soft. Nevertheless, I made damn sure that the text in my figure was 10pt Times New Roman because I did not want to take the risk of being disqualified on a technicality. You'll have to read the wording in the solicitation for yourself and decide if you're willing to take the risk, or you could send an email to the NSF GRFP folks to get a clarification on the exact rules.
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