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About etherealhav0c

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  1. How is everyone going about their decision making process? What factors are you looking for? Criteria? How are you prioritizing? I understand that having the right mentors is really important so I wonder how people are evaluating their advisors/mentors as well...
  2. I got a followup email with information on my academic advisor and some information on the training grant applications that are due tomorrow. Other than that, no concrete funding offer.
  3. I was rejected last year from three schools that I applied to (Harvard post-interview, Hopkins, and Columbia). I asked my interviewer at Harvard what I could do to make myself a more competitive applicant for the next round and I think the insight he gave me is really applicable to every research oriented PhD applicant. 1. Publish. First author publications in fairly decent impact journals are a huge boost. The PhD is all about training to be a researcher and to produce publications, so showing to the admissions committee that you have successfully published and can do research is a big deal. 2. Have GRE scores at a certain percentile threshold. You really can't do anything about GPA at this point, but you can do something about your GRE score. Some schools have basic minimum percentiles for applicants to be considered (like 50th percentile) but most competitive applicants will be in the 75th percentile and above. Having a score below that may be a tie breaker point when deciding between applicants that seem equally qualified but only one spot can be given. If you're going into a heavily quantitative field like Epi or Biostats, it's important to demonstrate a strong quantitative background and you can do that in part through the GRE quantitative section. 3. Contact people from the department/school before applying. It helps to put a face or voice to a name and to have some recognition of that person before admissions committees review the applicants. It also helps you craft and refine your personal statement to fit the resources and interests of the department. By talking to the faculty there, you'll get insider knowledge as to what the department values and would be looking for in a good fit candidate. 4. Choose letter writers well. If you have a well known scholar in the field as your letter writer who can vouch for your potential as a scholar, that's going to carry you a long way in getting recognized as a strong candidate by the admissions committee. If you don't know any prominent professors then it's important to make sure you have letters from professors who know you well and can talk more concretely about your skills, ability to produce as a PhD student/researcher, and probably something about your personality. In the end, it's about how good of a fit you are for the program/department and if you have a publication/research track record that suggests you'll do well in the future. GPA/GREs need to meet a certain acceptable minimum. Great LORs will carry you a long way, especially if they're from prominent scholars in your field of interest. As I said before, I applied last year to Harvard, Hopkins, and Columbia and wasn't accepted by any of the schools. This year I applied to UNC, Minnesota, UW, Michigan, and Berkeley and have received interviews at all schools except Berkeley and been accepted into two programs thus far with multi-year funding offers from both schools. Still waiting to hear back from the other three, but I've felt very successful so far after following this Harvard professor's advice during my second round of applying.
  4. That wasn't me, but I was just contacted by my POI at UNC Epi today to interview this week over the phone. She said that she had just finished reviewing my application. I get the sense they're wading through everything right now and will probably release decisions over the next couple weeks...
  5. I think it's too late to reach out to POIs especially since most admissions committees have already met and reviewed applications. The idea is to talk with POIs before the admissions committees meet. This is something that the different professors that I spoke with at each of the universities I applied to had confirmed as well when I asked them for strategies in applying to their respective programs. It's something I heard last year when I got feedback from Harvard after interviewing, and it's something I've heard repeatedly throughout the process this year.
  6. I agree with this advice 100%. Last year I wasn't accepted to any of the programs I applied to but this year I've been accepted to two great programs so far with full-funding and waiting to hear back from four more schools. I genuinely believe my success has been largely because i reached out to POIs at each school beforehand. The sense I've gotten from conversations with admissions committees, faculty members, and students is that most schools look for one major thing "goodness of fit". Grades and GPA typically have minimum cut offs (top 10 schools seem to generally want their applicants in the 70th percentile and above for GREs and GPA above 3.0), but ultimately you have to show the admissions committee how good of a fit you are for their program. The best way to do that is to become more intimately familiar with the department and the faculty members' work and then tailor your statements to reflect how you fit into the grand scheme of things. Websites and reading research articles from a professor can only take you so far. Talking to your POI makes a huge difference in getting your name recognized before the admissions process and in getting insider information on how to better craft your statement of purpose. Good luck to you all! It's a stressful time, but try to not let it consume you because this isn't the only thing in the world that defines you as a person.
  7. Thank you both! Fingers crossed that all turns out well for everyone. Also, i had two friends who were accepted and are currently attending the UCSF PhD program in Epidemiology & Translational Science in Fall 2015 and they are loving it. Really exciting new program that is quickly launching and will no doubt produce some great work and doctorates.
  8. Oh. Well then I guess there's no point in speculating or worrying about it until decisions come out in late February then!
  9. I had assumed that the FAQ was worded that way to be more applicable towards their masters students. I'm not sure, but I spoke with my friend who applied for the Fall 2015 cycle and was accepted into Harvard's SD in Epidemiology and he said that he got an interview. I honestly have no idea though, it could be candidate specific.
  10. Yeah looking at previous years results and posts I wasn't sure if Harvard even conducted interviews, but I shockingly got an email about interviewing and was proven wrong. It's entirely possible that different departments operate differently though! The whole process is just awful and a crapshoot once you get some core things in place in your application profile. Congratulations on UNC. What a great program! I've heard from my friends who were accepted for Fall 2015 matriculation that UNC offers fairly generous funding too. And Chapel Hill is such a good place to be.
  11. I applied to the PhD program in Population Health Sciences along the environmental health track and had an interview last week. From my understanding (and I'm uncertain how this may differ by department within the Population Health Sciences category so others may still be interviewing) interviews have been done/extended and faculty recommendations have been submitted to the chairs/deans for final applicant evaluation and selection based on fit, funding, availability of spots. That process of selection takes several weeks so decisions will probably come out later February. I hope that helps... I've realized that a lot of this process has really come down to strong fit with the department and faculty members who have funding as well as some luck.
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