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megabee

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About megabee

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    Ph.D. in Political Science

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  1. Michigan State does the Afrobarometer. It also has a strong Africa focus in its comparative subfield, if I remember correctly. If you apply to a top school with a poor fit, it probably won't turn out well. Apply to places (top, middle, and safety) that have Africanists. If a top 5 has a good fit, that's not a waste of a fee. If it doesn't, then yes, you're wasting your money. A program won't accept you if you're a bad fit. Even if it did, you would have a hard time studying Africa with no Africanists.
  2. megabee

    Tips on stamina? (GRE)

    I don't know if this is applicable for you, but I had one section that I was much better at than the others. I scored in the 160s on the verbal without much effort, and it took me around ten minutes to finish and check over that section. Instead of immediately diving into the next section, I treated my remaining time like a small break (especially since the next section would be quant, and I was much worse at that). I'd let the timer run and lean back in my chair and relax until I felt ready to go on or my verbal section time ran out. It's worthy of note that you only get one extended official break during the middle of the exam. During the short two minute breaks between sections you will not have easy access to water/the bathroom/etc, and as it is likely that others will be taking the GRE or other exams in the same room, you generally aren't allowed to get up and walk around. Treat your practices like the real test in this way. Learn some "mindfulness" techniques that you can do sitting at a chair in front of a computer.
  3. Getting home necessities from scratch can be difficult and expensive. Easily movable things like kitchen stuff (pans/small appliances/utensils/tupperware/dishes/etc) can add up. I've been buying a few things every paycheck and when I see them on sale so I don't get hit with a huge bill. These things don't take up that much space and can be tossed in a car. Buying this stuff early is worth it. As for furniture, I'd hold off. I'm buying stuff near my new place, since it's a bit far from where I am now. My university sells old office furniture out of a warehouse, and I just don't see the point in buying something sturdy like a desk or a filing cabinet brand new. Of course, even without that option, there's always thrift stores and estate sales and such. Spending the money to move furniture is only viable if you already have the furniture, I think. Buying furniture where you live now + moving expenses probably costs a lot more than buying furniture there. Or, if you're shopping online, feel free to set aside a list of things that you like and be ready to order so it arrives the day your lease starts. Random furniture stores close all the time. You can generally find a good quality, new couch for a significantly reduced price if you seek out those closeout/clearance sales. Used is cheaper than new, obviously, if you're alright with that. A couch also isn't something that you necessarily need to have ready the minute you move in. You can wait a bit, shop around, and hold off on buying for as long as you need (or until you make enough friends that the seating situation becomes embarrassing).
  4. megabee

    Are interdisciplinary LoRs a bad idea?

    Interdisciplinary LORs can hurt you, depending on the field. I don't know how it is for developmental psych. Perhaps cultivate a new relationship in the psych department? Pick a prof that you've had a class with but don't know through research. Drop by their office and ask for advice with grad school apps, where to apply, etc. Even if they don't give you useful advice, seeing them in a one-on-one setting weekly will establish a relationship. It takes a surprisingly short amount of time to do this. If they're helping you through the application process, they'll probably happily agree to write you a letter.
  5. Many thanks to both of you for answering. Upon consideration, I realized that I will already have plenty of opportunity to interact with the potential advisor due to their role within the department and my subfield. I will instead use my first advisor assignment to cultivate a different contact. This is much needed perspective, thank you.
  6. Hello all! I know from searching through the forums that it's typical to have your first year academic advisor assigned to you, and that this advisor isn't meant to be your final advisor by any means. However, my program gave me the option of requesting an advisor or having one assigned. Is there a benefit to requesting someone I might want as an actual advisor to be my first year advisor? I'm slightly worried that starting our relationship mostly talking about courses/academics is going to put me in a position to be taken less seriously later on. However, there's so much "START EARLY" advice out there that I'm not certain if the benefits (early focus on cultivating thesis and publication ideas) outweigh the costs (being seen as coursework focused or not feeling allowed to discuss academics with my academic advisor).
  7. megabee

    Pens/Pencils which brands do you prefer?

    After years of searching, the Pilot Juice Retractable 0.38 is my pen soulmate. Relatively inexpensive and absolutely perfect for my writing style . Great for small or large handwriting, and doesn't smudge. Would take this over the G2s any day. Only downside is that they really aren't sold in stores, but they're available online (and with Prime shipping). Also slightly off topic, but the Ticonderoga Emphasis highlighters are wonderful. The only standard color highlighter set where the blue highlighter was actually usable and not immediately thrown out.
  8. megabee

    Application spreadsheet?

    PowerScore's My Grad School Apps Tracker. You put in your email and they send you the Google Sheet for free (and they didn't even spam me afterward since I unchecked the box below the email input), which you can then make a copy of and open in Excel/Google Sheets. I recommend keeping it online in Google Sheets. It's definitely a great resource that helped me keep organized as to who got my transcripts, who got my GRE scores, extra essays, etc. It was just the first one I found when I googled grad school application trackers, but it worked very well for me.
  9. megabee

    How did you find TheGradCafe?

    UCSD had a really weirdly worded essay question on their application that wasn't on the applications for any of the other schools I was applying to. Googled the question prompt with quotes around it, and found a few gradcafe posts made by other equally confused applicants. Haven't really left since then, and I attribute my successful application season to a lot of the advice shared on these forums.
  10. megabee

    First gen undergrad student seeking some advice

    I'm also a first gen student. I know it's hard to not be able to discuss and ask questions of your parents/family. The main thing is to reach out. Talk to at least three professors in your department. "I'm interested in these topics within the field and I want to know where I should apply and what literature I should read." Have regular meetings (monthly, bi-weekly, whatever) with these professors, because those relationships will help you immensely when you need advice on how this counterintuitive process works, and those meetings will turn into letters of recommendation. Also consult with them on your SOP (send your SOP to as many people as possible, beyond those three people). Additionally, look into your school's resources for grad school applications. A lot of this stuff isn't advertised, but it's available. My school had a Friday night GRE prep course for really cheap, offered half off GRE waivers through the financial aid office, and had an entire program devoted to helping first gen students with their grad school and career goals - and none of this was posted on a website or flyers or anything! I had to go out and hunt down these resources. If your school doesn't have them, reach out to another school that does. A big state school might have a McNair program (which helps first gen students with grad school readiness and applications), and you can probably reach out to the coordinator with a polite email. "I don't attend your school, but mine doesn't have a McNair program. Do you have any literature or tips that you give to your students that you'd be willing to share with a first gen student?" The main thing is finding the advice and resources that someone else might get from their family. Another tip I would give to a first gen student is to not undersell yourself. This process feels really alien and isolating, and you might be tempted to try and guess where you "deserve" to get in. Get application fee waivers (look up with the individual schools how to do this) and apply to the top programs in your field - along with, of course, backup options. Don't think that x school is too good for you, or that you'll never be able to get in there. My friend, another first gen, told me when I got my first rejection the same thing that someone else had told her: "Congratulations! To fail is to not self-select out of an opportunity." Side note, you're already using this site, which was immensely helpful to me when I needed advice. The search bar was my best friend last year. There are other first gen admits that you can PM for advice as well, you just need to find them. You can do this, you're capable of this. Good luck during your application season!
  11. If your other two letters of recommendation are only "passable", you may just need to get to know the writers better. Offer to do some free RA work for them if you can (I did a one hour per week RA gig and got a very nice letter out of it), haunt their offices for ten minutes once weekly or bi-weekly just to discuss the field. Getting their advice about grad school apps - where to apply, SOP reviews, etc. - is a great way to interact with them more and get them thinking about you as a scholar. I second the advice previously shared on taking the GRE again (find the quant question types you aren't strong in and go in on the GRE math concepts pdf and Khan Academy videos - if it's within your means, Magoosh bumped my score up by seven points in one month and I highly suggest it) and getting your main letter writer to mention your independent studies.
  12. Focus on how your unique experiences inform your research, i.e. your first point more so than your second point. I think it's an excellent idea for you to talk about your closeness with the female immigrants in your family, and it seems - based on your research interests - that this has definitely influenced your studies. These women made you want to go down this path and want to learn more! That's a good foundation for a great diversity statement, in my opinion. The second point (education) doesn't stand out to me. Several diversity statements I've read say something very similar to that, except those are typically from first gen students. It's difficult to say that you want to get a graduate degree to live a better life than your parents, who also hold graduate degrees. I'm sure it's true, since you're mentioning it, but it's not a unique story. Many people have families that stress the importance of education. As this doesn't relate to your research interests, and it's something that several diversity statements in the same application pool will probably say, my two cents is to skip it. Best of luck in your applications, and good on you for starting early!
  13. megabee

    Computer Recommendations

    If you have any way to contact current graduate students in your department (ask the graduate coordinator for emails), the best thing to do is ask them what they use. I've found that they are the best sources of information for questions like this.
  14. megabee

    Does this mean I have been accepted?

    Congrats, you're in! Maybe check your spam folder? I've found that, using Outlook, official communications from .edu email addresses sometimes end up in my "Clutter" folder, because I've received a lot of spam from .edu addresses in the past and Microsoft tries to autosort things. If the official acceptance isn't there, though, it may be coming via snail mail or you may receive it in a future email. If it doesn't come within a reasonable amount of time, definitely email a coordinator or something about it.
  15. Does anyone have a resource for online stats courses? Even better if the course is from a polisci perspective, or specifically for first years. I've been looking around but so far the only one I've found is this one: https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/political-science/17-872-quantitative-research-in-political-science-and-public-policy-spring-2004/
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