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Everything posted by dormcat

  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 es
  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 applica
  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
  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 we
  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 ou
  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
  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 yo
  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 gr
  16. @thirdfromthesun I don't think you sound ungrateful or elitist at all. Not to be melodramatic, but it's a huge decision that'll impact the rest of your life. Makes sense you want to be sure the program is right for you. For me, knowing that the students are miserable, the location is undesirable, and the faculty can't confidently tell you about their placement record would be extremely troubling. But you also say there is a great fit. How does your PI rank in their field? Are they young or experienced but still doing a lot of work? You say this is maybe a pattern for you. How many schools have
  17. I suppose...6 is still fewer than 8 and much fewer than 15 though. My supervisor is intense so yes, 20 is excessive for most but not unheard of if you're aiming at a bunch of top programs with some mid and lower ranked ones that are particularly alluring. Even if it's unrealistic one could attend more than 3-5 interviews, it's not guaranteed 3-5 interviews per 8-15 applications. Really I think the best rule is apply to as many as you can afford and go to as many interviews as you can. You never know who you're competing with in a given cycle so the higher your chances the better.
  18. I'm not clinical so I won't touch the specific implications for that area of psych, but I have been told/seen here and elsewhere dozens of times a warning to NOT attend grad school at the doctorate level unless you're fully funded. You are not crazy for waiting one year (I personally took 3 years off school) when the other option is paying out the wazoo for 5-7 years of school. And, in general, going to a better ranked school does help in job placement after you finish. There wouldn't be rankings if the program didn't have an impact on your career prospects. In many ways grad school succe
  19. dormcat

    Ann Arbor, MI

    @ljo377 thank you, this is really helpful!
  20. dormcat

    Ann Arbor, MI

    How long is your walk to campus? I just signed on an apartment in Kerrytown, and it is a 10 min walk to one of my buildings and 20 from the other. This is a dumb question but Michigan has a harsher climate than what I'm used to - during the winter does it get too cold to walk that far? Even the closest bus stop to my apartment is a 10 min walk. Should be fine with good clothes right? @almondicecream I turned down UVA for Michigan! The universe is in balance
  21. @SocCog Seconding everything @01848p said! First, I'm sorry this has been a disappointing application cycle. This is my second time applying so I'm empathetic to how you're feeling. I work in a lab now and it's rare we have RAs from our area (DMV) unless they started as undergrad volunteers. Even then we've turned down undergrads who worked for us in favor of people from other states (Louisiana, Minnesota, Connecticut, Ohio, etc.). Unless it's absolutely necessary, don't limit yourself to a small geographic area. I've also heard it looks good on applications that someone is willing to mo
  22. The first cycle I applied my POI said junior faculty get first choice, then they see how much money is left by the time they get to senior faculty. I didn't get in that year because she said there wasn't money for her to take an out of state student.
  23. It's tough. I happened into my job almost accidentally. My first piece of advice is to start checking out big universities' labs' websites. We list job openings on our website, but even if we didn't our bios would show we were external hires. If labs have external hires and not just grad students as RAs, contact them to see if they have openings. Aside from that,I'm not sure what area you're interested in but my lab also posts jobs to a listserv (http://lists.cogdevsoc.org/listinfo.cgi/cogdevsoc-cogdevsoc.org) that is open subscription. I get job announcements sometimes through my
  24. If it's negotiable, negotiate. My first year fellowship has a pretty low stipend (especially considering I'm moving across the country and uprooting my partner from their career). I asked if it was negotiable and was told it wasn't. You have another offer you can use to request higher pay. There are obviously downsides but if all else is equal and the lower paying school says no, you don't have much to lose going to the higher paying school. Remember that a PhD is a job and your livelihood for the next 5-6 years should be a big deal!
  25. I took the GRE about six months ago so it's a little hard to remember day to day how much I was studying. I think there are about 100 hours of video content for quant, and it took about twice as much time to watch due to taking notes, working through problems, etc. So maybe 200 hours over the course of four months (~15 hrs/wk). I got married two weeks before the test date so inevitably my effort declined during the 6 weeks before the wedding and then I crammed for the last two weeks with hours a day of practice problems. Had I studied more consistently during those six weeks I would've been be
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