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BunniesInSpace last won the day on December 1 2019

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  1. Switching in your third year isn't a problem. There's a number of current students and profs at T10 schools who didn't switch until very late or have BAs in things like engineering, econ, math, stats, biology. Honestly applicants probably get bonus points in T10 admissions for having a STEM/econ degree because that means they've done some quantitative work that a lot of undergrad polisci programs don't get to. Applications are somewhat random but they're not that random, and the best way to avoid getting universally dinged is to apply widely (like if you're deadset on attending a top 10, apply to all/nearly all top 10s), get great GRE scores, find a professor who will seriously and critically look at your statement of purpose and writing sample, and make sure your letters of rec are from TT professors who actually like you. Lots of people currently in top 10 programs have actually applied twice, striking out the first time and then getting really sweet admissions the second time. A year in consulting, a think tank, or a pre-doc/post-bac really does wonders on maturity.
  2. Advantage: I mean yes in that your file is more likely to be looked at, and that if you have a 3.2 in [unrelated field] you won't get automatically disqualified if everything else is good. But like, the expectations are still very high: coming from a top undergrad you pretty much still need a great GRE (160+/160+), great letters from people who matter, and a good statement of purpose. IMO the real only advantages are ones that you already have: good access to world class professors who matter and who are friends with other T10 professors, probably a good aptitude at taking standardized tests, and a writing center that is very accustomed to reading PhD statements of purposes. But if everything is mediocre but your school's name, you're going to get dinged. At your current school: Anecdotally if your school is Harvard or Stanford, then my personal belief is that there is some extra advantage that you wouldn't get coming from Yale or Princeton.
  3. Yeah undergrad rankings in the US News are bullshit. That's what graduation rates, alumni giving, (and your link) go into. Schools fabricate, twist, and omit data on these to get better enrollment rates for that $weet undergrad tuition. But literally no one cares about these, and I can't recall a time in my gradcafe reading time in which anyone has ever seriously referenced the undergrad ratings. That's why I called Stony Brook (not very good in undergrad, but a fantastic PhD program) underrated in a prior post -- because the undergrad rankings are irrelevant. However, the way they rank grad schools is literally not about any of the factors that you've mentioned. Grad school rankings are built solely on how fellow academics think of your program. If you're going to attack the US News methodology at least reference the correct methodology: https://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/articles/social-sciences-and-humanities-schools-methodology Yes, expert opinion varies by subfield and by "expert", but that doesn't mean that there are strong themes within them and a strong perceived hierarchy by grad students and faculty writ large. We shouldn't pretend that there isn't a consensus. Also on the subject of rankings at large: yeah they're pretty dumb when we go by the US News methodology. But guess what? The US News rankings are very very highly correlated with the kind of rankings that matter: recent placement within your subfield. Another type of ranking that matters: how free-flowing the research money is at your school. The types of software/research pools/visiting academics/sixth-year funding/funding packages/faculty hiring your school can pay for all give some people advantages over others. The opportunities are worlds larger with a Harvard or Princeton PhD than with a Davis or UVA PhD, both inside and outside the academic market. Can you learn the same things at each program? Yeah. Will you have to work much harder to achieve the same things coming from a lower ranked school? Also yes. In an ideal world does the government seize all higher education and stop perpetuating these inequalities? Maybe yes, but until then, ranking is a big deal. I'm not advocating that anyone lose sleep over any of this, as luck and one's own effort play massive roles in academic success. I'm just trying to say that rankings are super highly correlated with things that do matter and that within the academic community, there is a consensus (especially with respect to who is in the top 6 (and that it's just my lowkey pet peeve when people spell out the CHYMPS with authority but don't match the CHYMPS that everyone knows are the CHYMPS -- like when you replace Michigan with MIT and Columbia or Chicago for Cal it's kinda obvious that people are starting from the acronym and filling in the holes -- else we'd see less CHYMPS and more CCCHYMMPS ya feel)). And to the OP @IRTphd915 sorry for hijacking this. My advice is that because IU and Irvine are not disproportionately endowed, is to really dig into the last 5-10 years of placements in your subfield and go to whichever is placing better. Google all those graduates and see what they're doing. Academic interests change a little bit, but odds are your main subfield will stay the same. Also think about possible things you would like to do if you don't get an academic job (this goes for everyone! even in the CCCHYMMPS!) -- IU has a world class business school and Irvine a really great law school and in some subfields, there's room for collaboration and cross-departmental networking at both. Ask an admin or faculty about placement in both places: their online lists are pretty clearly not complete (Irvine not updated for 2019 and Indiana not listing job title). That all being said, if they're about the same, my money is with UCI. Things happen to assistant professors, and you don't want to be reliant on any one faculty member. and @needanoffersobad, my impression of Vanderbilt and Penn State is that Penn State (recent Princeton placement aside) will set you up really well for a career in data science or consulting, but R1 academic jobs are hard to get with a PhD there. If you're truly 50/50 and want a career in industry, Penn State sets you up better than a lot of higher-ranked schools will. Vanderbilt is fancier name for sure (and I think they're disproportionately strong in my subfield so maybe that's why my opinion is higher of them), but they don't place as well as you'd expect. Ask Vanderbilt if they'll give you a full placement record. Their online placement record that I found doesn't include industry placements and these are important holes that need to be discussed -- are their PhDs without academic jobs baristas or are they RAND associates? It's a big difference.
  4. My hot take on this: Did you try to make the top 6 CHYMPS because that seems to be the conventional wisdom? The top 6 is very traditionally (and for good reason) Cal Berkeley and Michigan, not Columbia and MIT, and I struggle to think of a subfield that one could come from where they think that Columbia and MIT are both better than Berkeley and Michigan. In particular, MIT is very good but is hardly a full-service department. Some other minor quibbles: Emory ranked too low (esp. given recent hires and placements), Pitt/Rice/Iowa/Syracuse are a big step beneath everyone else in that column, Rutgers too high, Stony Brook ranked way too low (pretty much top 20 if you do pol psych, which is the only thing they do), and Rochester way too low. Very interesting to see how people interpret departments though. I really wonder what would happen if we individually made rankings and averaged all of those out
  5. For undergrad yeah the M is for MIT but Michigan is unanimously (niche subfields aside) stronger in political science PhDs. It's not subjective.
  6. Vanderbilt has been willing to reschedule a visit specifically for you in the past. Idk about Penn State. Schools try to be accommodating. ry to visit both.
  7. If the generic email went out already, it's likely that that's all they're admitting. Not everyone is on gradcafe. I'd be happy to be proved wrong but 9/10 times this is the right opinion on it.
  8. I'd say top 10, but it has certain strengths and weaknesses depending on your field of study and depending on what schools you're comparing it to. In American politics I'd definitely say top 10 if the professors and you are a good match, but it's a small subfield there and I'd hesitate to go there if I wasn't a good match. Security studies? Very good.
  9. eh it's about the right time and last time Harvard did do phone calls well before the email, so I trust it. Might be a little more scattered across the next couple of days depending on subfield.
  10. Chicago: no. If you haven't heard from them by now you're 99% rejected from the PhD. They take longer to send rejects because they consider admitting and consider funding to their masters programs, so there's a chance you get into one of those instead.
  11. No idea. I have no affiliation with Ohio State and don't know too much there beyond what I've read here.
  12. Ohio State has weird funding mechanisms. Some people get funded through the university via the university's fellowship competition, and then the department decides on funding for those who don't win the big University competition.
  13. I have no skin in this game, but just wondering if you can talk a little publicly about the methods curriculum there. I've always thought of Oxbridge to be methodologically years behind the US, and I'd love to update this prior.
  14. For Northwestern specifically the odds don't seem pretty good (based on my couple years of lurking). It seems like they keep a lot of people in waitlist limbo hell every year. Georgetown too. Both of these schools have way too many applicants and too low of acceptance rates for their US News ranking and it shows. Different schools with official waitlists are generally better -- though of course there are caveats. Don't expect movement on the Stanford waitlist (do they even waitlist??) but the waitlist at Duke or NYU is pretty fair odds. This isn't law school though, no one should have high hopes for any waitlist. Some schools have ranked waitlists, but I think most schools accept off the waitlist on an as-needed basis (where they compensate for losing all of their CP's to yield so they accept a CP or something along those lines). Another thing that people sometimes seem to forget on this forum: declining a spot at a school DOESN'T automatically open up a spot for someone waitlisted. Yale accepted like 40 people last year for a cohort of less than 20. They didn't give out 20 more offers to waitlisted prospective students, they knew this was going to happen and planned for it. All schools know that most people get into more than 1 school and it's just inherent in the process that not all offers will be accepted, so they admit around that. Besides, most schools lose money on grad students (again, unlike law schools who make $$$$$$ off of students) so the incentive to take someone that they're not 300% enthusiastic about is lower.
  15. And for some schools, math camp is very much not optional.
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