FIRST - You as an applicant 1. What did you study in undergrad? Master's (if applicable)?
For my undergrad I studied Business Management and then my Masters I studied communication. 2. What were your grades like in undergrad? Master's?
Always had above a 3.8 for both degrees. 3. What are your research interests?
My research interests are primarily in sexual communication...the intersections between technology and interpersonal relationships (how couples use technology to communicate about sex, improve their sexual relationships, sexual fantasy disclosure, etc. as well as the increased usage of sexual communication in initial interactions and cultural shifts in acceptance and expectations of in computer-mediated contexts). 4. What teaching experience did you have before applying?
I have been an adjunct professor at three schools for 2 years. I had 14 classes as an instructor of record of two different courses. Additionally, I have designed a group communication workshop for an honors program at one of the schools. 5. What about research experience?
My research experience was limited. I spent a year between deciding to pursue PhD and actual applying building up my CV in both teaching and research. I did not complete a thesis in my Masters so I was starting from scratch. I had completed one study in my program so I turned that into a conference poster presentation. Additionally, I teamed up with a colleague of mine who was doing a study that ended up being a conference presentation and has been under review for publication. I submitted a Great Ideas for Teaching Students paper to a conference to have an additional CV line. Finally, I was working on a study that I turned into my writing sample. 6. What about miscellaneous experience (unrelated to Comm/corporate/private/etc)?
None. 7. How old are you (or, what is your age group)?
24 SECOND - Deciding to pursue a Ph.D. 1. What made you decide to pursue a Ph.D. in Communication?
I decided to pursue after it was suggested by my advisor that I was capable of such work. I really didn't want to pursue unless I knew I wanted to be in academia. So, I was able to try out being an adjunct first and within the first month of that I knew that I wanted to do this forever.
2. Did you contact faculty at the programs you were interested in? What did you say? How often did you communicate with these people (POIs)?
I did. I generally always started with the Graduate or PhD director and made initial contact from there. Often they would then make the contact for other professors that matched research interests. When possible I would either set up visits to the school or would try and meet people at conferences. Usually it was only one or two conversations with each person. 3. Did you visit or contact graduate students? How did that go?
I visited 2 out of the 3 schools I had applied for so I was able to get to know grad students in that respect. The visits were very eye-opening and made the decision very easy for me on whether or not it was a good school for me. 4. How did you decide who to ask for letters of rec? Were they all professors or did you get letters from outside of academia?
All of my letters were from professors and I strategically picked letters based on who I had worked with the most, and who had the most influence with each school. I analyzed who knew who from what school and maximizing on those professional relationships as much as possible.
THIRD - Actually applying 1. How did you look for programs?
I started with NATCOM's doctoral guide and then would look deeper into school websites from there. 2. How did you decide where to apply?
I had a personal list of schools I was interested in, and a list provided by my advisor that she thought would be a good fit. I would then research the school and what they had to offer, fit, etc. make some calls and then narrowed it from there. 3. What was your biggest priority in a program?
Fit and a strong development on both teaching and research. Not a competitive, but a collaborative environment. 4. How many schools did you initially set out to apply to, and how many did you actually apply to?
At one point I think my list was up to 7, but I applied to only 3. 5. What were your GRE scores like (either specifics or vaguely)? How many times did you take it? Did you feel good about your scores?
Decent. High writing, slightly above average verbal and quant. I took it twice. I would highly recommend for anyone struggling with the GRE to take an online class. I did one through Princeton Review. Expensive, but improved my scores greatly. 6. How did you frame your experience/interests/fit in your statement of purpose? Did you focus on something more heavily than other stuff (like faculty or experience)?
I focused on trying to communicate my interests and how I thought they fit with the school and department/faculty specifically. I wanted each school to be able to see a clear place for me in their department. 7. Did you feel good about your applications? Why or why not?
Some days yes, some no. I knew my research experience was lacking, but my teaching and grades/scores were up there. I didn't know if I was even on remotely the right track with my personal statements, or how good my writing sample was. 8. If you knew then what you knew now, what advice would you give yourself?
Just to relax and that it'll work out. FOURTH - GETTING IN (OR NOT) - feel free to update/answer later 1. How many programs did you get into (and which, if you don't mind sharing)?
I was accepted into all 3 programs that I applied for. 2. How many were you waitlisted for? Did you make it off the waitlist?
None. 3. How many were you rejected from?
None. 4. Did you get into your top program? Did you expect to get in?
Yes, I did get in. Again, yes and no. I truthfully thought I might only get into one school. 5. Did you receive funding?
Yes, full funding from all. 6. Once you've made your decision...how did you decide which school to attend?
I visited the schools and just went with my gut feeling and consideration of funding offers. 8. What do you want to do with your Ph.D.?
FINALLY 1. In retrospect...what was the best part of the application process?
Absolutely nothing, it is miserable. It is long, tedious, and stressful. 2. What was the worst?
Everything. I think the application process is so challenging just to weed out another 10% of applicants who won't go through the trouble. 3. What advice do you have for future applicants?
Start early so you aren't rushing. I started looking at schools Summer and Fall of 2015, focused January 2016-May 2016 on GREs and a research project. May 2016-November 2016 on personal statements and writing sample.