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Neuro15

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About Neuro15

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  • Location
    East Coast
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  • Program
    Neuroscience

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  1. Congrats! You picked the best field. ? Without a science background it's going to be more difficult but not impossible. The easiest way to go about it would probably be to work as a tech at a local university and take classes there at night (if possible). That'll knock out two birds with one stone, with arguably the more important bird the research experience. A postbac isn't a bad idea either. Of course, you'll have to convince the AdCom that you know what you're getting yourself into, and that you're passionate enough about neuroscience to stick with it when the going gets hard. This can be accomplished in the form of a well-written SOP/PS, but also by doing the above and physically demonstrating it. So, TL;DR, my advice is to get a technician job if you can (this might be tough as you don't have the relevant background knowledge nor experience). If not, then perhaps consider taking the necessary classes in the form of a postbac. Good luck!
  2. Neuro15

    Dilemma

    The work you do during your degree will be much more of a factor in your career development than the prestige difference between Columbia and Harvard. Go wherever you will be happier, because happy students make successful ones.
  3. Research is generally more important than GPA anyways, so long that your GPA is of reasonable strength. The experiences at MIT will likely outweigh the possible grade deflation. But really, don’t worry about the PhD yet. You’ve got tons of time and your interests and career plans might change anyways. I see so many undergrad freshman stressing about the “next step” without enjoying their current step. An MIT degree will help open doors for you even if you don’t pursue grad school, I would go there.
  4. Typically I address the PI as Dr. X, even if he or she signs off with their first name. If they say something along the lines of “please just call me X” then I’ll switch, but I feel it’s always best to be a bit more formal in emails than to be less and risk coming across as rude.
  5. Neuro15

    PhD vs. MSc

    Sure we can run through the pros/cons, but it really boils down to what you want to do. So let’s start there. What do you want to do with your degree/ your career?
  6. Working as a tech in a lab (preferably a micro lab) is arguably the best thing you can do. It shows you know what you’re getting yourself into, and experience within the field you intend on going to grad school for is always a plus.
  7. It’s ok to admit you’re not very familiar with a topic, especially if that topic is well outside your past research experiences. I’d imagine that’s a better strategy than to go into the interview and pretend you know what you’re talking about. That’s a recipe for embarrassment. Try to comprehend what you can about the PI’s research, and maybe formulate a question of two (these will likely be very broad) to engage in discussion if the convo turns to the PI’s work.
  8. Agreed. A few interviews of mine ended up turning into a chalk talk after the PI requested I diagram what I was talking about. These ended up being some of my strongest interviews as it lead to detailed conversation and brainstorming.
  9. Eh, I personally wouldn’t. IMO bringing a print out of your research appears like a crutch, even if it’s not actually one.
  10. You can ask it won’t hurt, especially if that person will write you a favorable evaluation. Some programs won’t let you interview with a faculty member you’ve worked for though (I know mine did not). I wouldn’t necessarily say there’s an expectation to interview with them though.
  11. You’re not DOA, you still have a chance. With that said, you do face an uphill battle and you should cast a wide net. Target schools that do not have a gpa cutoff. Some schools explicitly say they do (usually a 3.0), while others do not. If not listed, I would email the program to determine if they have one or not. If they do not have one, add it to your list. After figuring out a long list, go through it in detail and determine which schools match your interests. Apply to those. Goodluck!
  12. For future’s sake, the Dean is not the person to contact with admissions questions.
  13. I'll copy/paste two posts from a recent thread here. StemCellFan: "I'm not sure what the actual statistics are for those places, but I've heard it ranges anywhere from 50% to 80%. It depends on the program though and the percentage of applicants admitted one year can differ from the next. Either way, I would go in with confidence and bring your A-game while you're there! As far as preparations go, I would look into the research of the people you are interviewing with. I would peruse a couple recent papers, but don't worry about reading their whole bibliography or anything. Some of these individuals are going to share your research interests and will come from a list you provided to the program coordinator or are faculty you've indicated an interest in working with when you applied. Some faculty you meet with could be from the admissions or recruiting committee whose research may differ from what you want to work on. I would still brush up on what they do and make sure you can have an intelligent conversation with them about your research and theirs. Be sure to ask questions pertaining to their research; they want to engage in a two-way conversation with you. I would make sure you can succinctly and coherently describe your research. If you have multiple, different research experiences, I would focus on your most current projects but be able to answer questions on past work you've done. Also make sure you can answer why you want to do a PhD at those programs specifically, why you want a PhD in general, and what your career goals are. If you have specific research interests, be sure you're able to communicate those as well. Other than that, know yourself. A lot of these programs will have social events with alcohol. If you don't drink, this isn't the time to start. Be personable, be inquisitive, there are resources online for questions to ask graduate students and/or faculty so you can get a feel of the program. Also make sure you dress appropriately for the weather. I've lived in the midwest my whole life and I can tell you that January/February gets really cold and there's salt, snow, and some ice on the ground. Not so much a problem for California, but it might be chilly in NYC. I would make sure to bring a warm coat and proper footwear to walk around in. In general, there will be a lot of walking, so I'd advise against heels (unless you can walk all day in them). I hope this helps! I know this advice as been helpful for me as I'm preparing for my interviews. Source: Graduate students/faculty at the university I'm currently working at." Neuro15: "I'll emphasize a few things: 1.) Know why you applied to each program. Seems simple, right? But I can guarantee you it's a trickier question than it seems when you go to actually say why (nerves play a role in this). Know your typical POIs, but also the program's general strengths. Out of all the great programs out there ---and there are a ton--- what made this school stand out? Additionally why do you want a PhD? The job market isn't amazing, and academia is a tough life. 2.) Know your research inside and out. You will be asked about what you did previously. If you interview with someone familiar with the area of your research you might get asked pretty detailed questions. It's best if you can answer these without appearing flustered or nervous. Knowing your research backwards and forwards really helps with this. 3.) PIs are nerds (aren't we all here?). They love to talk about their research. Accordingly, most PIs love it when interviewees ask thoughtful questions about their work. Bonus points if you make the PI think. 4.) Be polite and courteous...to everyone! This should go without saying, but it amazes me how people can be impolite to the secretaries or even other students. Assume everything you do will get back to the ADCOM." Goodluck!
  14. You can email the contact person for the program and ask if you can update your app with your fall semester grades. Though I would ask before attaching your grades to the email. Some programs may be receptive to updates while others may not (and some are completely done looking through apps even if all the interview invites are not sent out).
  15. Realistically science is a fairly liberal field when it comes to body image (heck we had a faculty Candidate this past year with tons of facial piercings!), but I always tend to err on the side of caution during interviews. I would suggest switching the hoop for the stud, or taking it out altogether.
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