You can PM me if you want specific information.
I got accepted with full funding to a top 3 PhD CJ program and it was my first time applying. My grades are nothing special. I have lots of work experience as a security guard and recently as a mental health case manager, but that's not what got me in.
My point is, getting into a PhD program is much more than grades or work experience. Your statement of purpose is the MOST important thing, followed closely by your letters of recommendation.
If you don't know how to articulate WHAT you want to study, and how it is original AND important to the overall understanding of your field, you won't get it anywhere. If your professors cannot say anything positive about your academic rigor or insight into a specific research topic, you won't get in. The purpose of a PhD is to conduct groundbreaking research, and if you cannot convince the admissions committee of your ability to do this, then you are never getting in.
BTW I don't mean to be facetious or blunt, but I am just trying to help you out. I'm sorry if you're frustrated. Keep revising your research interests and rewriting your statement of purpose. Ask previous professors to critique your writing too. Last but not least, make sure you go into it with a positive attitude. It will only help you if you remain positive.
Now that I've received my revised funding offer from UCI, I'm ready to submit my SIR. It's a relief to finally be done with this part of the process.
Best of luck to all those still waiting and in the decision process.
No offense Brooke, I know it can be hard sometimes, but don't you have two offers? If it makes you feel better at all I'm an academic and nobody picked my up at all. Straight rejection. Being down on yourself won't make your situation any better. Maybe try to get a job with the Department of Public Safety at a school you could possibly go to and take classes on remitted tuition until the professors know you and you can apply again.
I'm gonna have to be smart about going to school since they don't think I would make the cut/aren't willing to pay for me. If you want to feel sad for yourself and work at Walmart you definitely can, but it's a little hurtful to pretend that everyone with an academic focused application is just getting into all the schools. We're not.