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dormcat last won the day on December 24 2016

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About dormcat

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  1. Are you already familiar with reading academic articles? If not, check this out: http://pne.people.si.umich.edu/PDF/howtoread.pdf (and even if you are, it might be helpful). One of the skills you learn in grad school is how to skim efficiently. Some people will split up assignments, some will prioritize classes during busy times, and some will read a reduced amount per class. It depends on what works for you. As for paper vs digital notes, it depends on what you're used to and what worked in college. Implementing a brand new system when everything else is new can be overwhelming, and you've established study skills for years at this point. It would be rough to try to switch to a new system then switch back and have to reconcile the methods. Personally, I don't like taking notes on documents themselves, digital or physical, so I create a separate document with the proper citation and notes.
  2. There are two options I can think of to assess competitiveness but they each have flaws so maybe they should be combined. 1) Look at top ranking schools in your area and assume the ones ranked higher are more difficult to get into. But the 25 most competitive applicants to a top 5 ranked school is probably likely more competitive than the top 25 applicants to a much lower ranked school. 2) Look for admissions info for each school and calculate their acceptance rate. However, acceptance rates can be deceiving because school A might accept 30 out of 700 while school B gets 100 applicants and accepts 4. School B has a lower acceptance rate but the number of applicants suggests school A is a more desirable/competitive school with faculty/programs that have more money for students. Of course, you can be nearly identical to another student and not be picked because the PI can only take one of you, or there's 30 great applicants for 5 spaces, or a great applicant's PI decides not to take a student, you're not a good fit, etc. Level of competitiveness doesn't always mean your chances are better or worse.
  3. First you have to get through the stressful process of being a PhD student
  4. A few things. First, you're not selfish for wanting to best prepare yourself for your lifelong career. At all. One of the first conversations I had with my husband when we first started dating was about how unpredictable the 10-15 years post-undergrad could be. I'm sure your husband supports your career choice and respects what it takes to get there. Also, read up on the two-body problem in academia for more conversation about this very common issue and the feelings asssociated with it. Second, I also have very niche research interests. I'll be studying women's psych but right now I'm in a child development/neuroscience lab. Basically the exact opposite of what my career will be. Sure it would be great if this lab did the research I want to pursue, but I've learned so much anyways. Maybe I won't use EEG, but frankly being in a huge, functioning lab for three years has taught me so much outside the specific tasks and measures we use. Don't limit your options thinking you won't get anything out of a lab doing research not relevant to your career. Third, what you described as "absolutely phenomenal fit" is what I had with my PI, and it's what you should chase. I talked with someone from TGC who will be at the same school as me, but who is transferring from their current grad school where the PI switched gears without really informing them. Doing research daily is taxing and you want to be passionate about your work. You've gotten a lot of good advice and I echo the others when I say you really want to be excited about what you'll be doing, don't go if you aren't sure.
  5. Have you experienced what you felt was "good fit" with a PI during an interview? I wasn't really sure what it meant until I had two interviews in a five day period. The first one left me on top of the world thrilled for days while the second one was really disappointing. Even though I was initially very excited about the second school, after the interview I just felt it wasn't right at all, and that was one conversation out of the thousands I'd have with that PI if I went there. With the PI I'll be working with it's hard to imagine I'll ever not want to talk with her. It's 40+ hours a week you'll have to work with these people that you may not get along with or not be interested in the work you're doing, for 5-7 years. Grad school really tests you. It's just easier to get through if you're in the right environment, which is why fit is so important. Not getting in is scary. I didn't get in my senior year and had to find a job, which I've now been at three years. I have so much more experience and I was a much more competitive applicant this past round. I don't know you but you've got kind of an maybe-scary (job) and a definitely-scary (bad fit school). I'd opt for the maybe-scary, personally.
  6. The subject of the email was "Declination of [School] admissions offer" because I wanted to temper expectations before it was even read. [PI name], After careful consideration, I have made the difficult decision to decline [School]'s offer of admission. While I very much appreciated the opportunity to meet the faculty and graduate students at [School], I believe another program is a better fit for my research interests. Thank you for your time and consideration during this process. Best, [Me] The PI wrote back and said they were sorry it didn't work out and asked where I ended up accepting and why. I said, "I really enjoyed my time at [School], am very honored to have been accepted, and hope to convey this was not an easy decision. However, based on my academic background and research interests, I accepted an offer from [program] at the [Chosen School]." The PI wrote back again and very kindly said I made a good choice and will have a good experience. Overall the conversation went as well as could be expected.
  7. I was accepted into a competitive program and got some advice from a grad student defending this year when I was at recruitment weekend. There's a culture, especially at competitive schools, of one-upping each other regarding working hours. She said that anyone (at this particular school) who says they're working more than 40-50 hours regularly probably has poor time management and not to let it make me feel like I'm slacking. Her advice was similar to other folks' in this thread, that you should schedule your time and not mess around on Facebook, chatting, making half a dozen coffee runs, etc. Treat it like a job. Just show up at 8 or 9, do your work, and go home at a reasonable time. Someone with poor time management gets done in 12 hours what someone with good time management gets done in 8-10. It made me feel so much better because it stressed me out so much to imagine having good time management AND working 70 hours a week every week. My goal is to work daily from 9-5, doing as much of my class work and research during that time as possible, limit my outside the office hours to 5-10 per week, and get at least 7 hours of sleep per night.
  8. dormcat

    Ann Arbor, MI

    Thanks, it was a relief as I'd been looking for two months (since January), toured a bunch of places in February but wasn't moved by any. And no I don't mind, it's $1795, which is pretty far past a typical grad student budget but fingers crossed my husband finds a job! We have a couple animals coming with us, so we needed to make sure there was enough space for them.
  9. dormcat

    Ann Arbor, MI

    I found an apartment (converted house) in Kerrytown on Craigslist.
  10. Can you get the opinion of the PIs writing you letters? My PI looked at my list of schools and told me it was a long shot. They should be able to give you an unbiased perspective, while grad students don't really have that comfortable authority. The only thing that can redeem your undergrad GPA is getting a solid Masters GPA, but none of us can truly tell you your chances because we're in the same position as you.
  11. My mentor has told me probably a trillion times that going to grad school isn't always about doing the research you want to do. You should find it interesting (enough to work on it for 5-7 years) but it doesn't have to be your lifelong passion. You should go where you will get the best training to do the research you want to do, even if the topic isn't your jam. At the same time you should be somewhere doing research that you care enough about to get as much work done as you can. If you're somewhere you don't love the work or the environment, you'll likely be less productive. Not to mention you will enjoy your time less. This is basically committing to a job for 5-7 years and you should choose the job that you will like the most, be the most productive at, and will give you the tools you need to succeed.
  12. I'm not sure, it really depends on her personality and your relationship with her. It could be something straightforward and professional like "I had two graduate students who didn't chase pubs" or it could be very personal (illness, death in the family, etc.). My two cents, this wouldn't even register as a con compared to working with someone you don't feel connected to/supported by in a program that is less than ideal.
  13. @milkymamahdf 2010-2012 is 5-7 years ago. Is it a very competitive program where PIs should be publishing tons? Is it possible she had a child around that time and slowed down her work load for a couple years? Maybe she was between grants, or between grad students? This isn't something that would concern me unless she was currently in a dry spell. And part of a PI's publication history depends on their students' work, maybe she had a particularly disinterested student who wanted to go into industry and didn't care too much about publishing. Option B sounds way better.
  14. dormcat

    Ann Arbor, MI

    I signed sight unseen, except for a FaceTime tour. Maybe they would be willing to do that? None of the companies I checked out required me to physically enter the apartment before letting me sign it, and many were willing to do video tours.
  15. Fully funded is tougher to get into but really you shouldn't consider a program that isn't fully funded, you'll end up paying so much (especially since people usually move out of state for grad school) with no guarantee of a job. And yes, cut offs exist but 3.3 isn't so low that you'd be rejected automatically from a higher ranking school. There have been some posts about people getting in with those GPAs, google around to see if you can find some essays about getting into a PhD program with a low undergraduate GPA. I've seen advice for and stories about folks with like 2.8 GPA getting into grad school.
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