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About xyz234

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  1. xyz234

    GRE Retake? + Recommendation Advice

    Ok, there's a couple things going on here, but I'll do my best. First of all, ignoring GRE for a second, you are a very strong applicant. Good GPA, strong research experience, a clear substantive research interest/project, and strong recs. All of that is fantastic and you should feel great about it! I know it's easy to focus on the one negative aspect here. So, there's two ways to approach your problem. 1) The vast majority of your application is fantastic and your GRE scores are not disqualifying enough by any means. I think you should get into a fully-funded, and most likely top 20, program with your application as is. 2) You have a strong enough profile that you could shoot a little higher than that with a really strong GRE. Given your econ background and quantitative focus, I also believe you would be able to with adequate study time. While schools know that GRE math is not real math, it might look a little odd at the truly top end (top 5-10) to have a strong quantitative focus and have that be your weakest GRE score. This is really your judgment call as to how much you care about the top outcome of reach schools, versus how much you're happy to be at a good fully-funded school. I'm also slightly confused by your implication of how GRE score reporting works, so I want to check my understanding. It was my belief that you can choose whether or not to send your scores. If this is the case, there's not that much downside to taking the test on Friday and seeing what happens, other than money and time. Is my understanding correct? Lastly, regarding recs, I think this is a good problem to have. It looks like you have four potentially strong recs, two of which are very strong. I got into a top program with one very strong rec and two that I believe are about the quality of your #2; this puts you ahead of the median for sure. Personally, the advice I've always been given is to go with a professor who knows you very well, rather than one who looks slightly more impressive on paper. To me this signals using #4 over #2. I don't think there's much downside at all to having an econ professor, and in fact most sociology grad programs like econ for the strong quant methods focus. Committees care more about methods and research experience than subject area knowledge. I do think if you have apps that allow additional recs it wouldn't hurt to use #2 as well. I hope this was helpful, and please feel free to reach out to me via pm. I'm happy to give more of my personal experience, but I don't want to dox myself.
  2. xyz234

    Advice for Undergrad

    Second what high_hopes says. In general, methods courses are more valuable than content-based courses. PhD programs are largely designed to turn you into research producers, rather than consumers. Most of the coursework you will have in grad school is methods based for these reasons. Any opportunity you can get to give yourself a head start there will make you a great candidate. In addition, if there's any type of course you can take that gives you an option for an independent project, thesis, or even just original research paper you should do it. You will need a writing sample for your PhD application and in general this will show ad comms that you haven't just read sociology, but can actually practice it as well. Finally, take all opportunities to meet with faculty, go to office hours, etc. I was lucky enough to have a fantastic undergrad mentor this way and I got a job working as her research assistant after graduating. My relationship with her strengthened my application enormously, as it boosted my recommendations, my resume, and gave me more primary research opportunities. Sociology is also a small world. I got into my mentor's alma mater and other schools where she has a relationship, and I don't think that's a coincidence. It's not nepotism, but a recommendation means more if the ad comms know the person it's coming from. Feel free to pm me if you want to talk in more detail.
  3. xyz234

    Campus Visit -- Please Help Me Understand This....

    It definitely is not too bold to ask! For the record, all of the Soc PhD programs I've been in contact with have offered to reimburse travel expenses, at least up to a certain amount. I am not familiar with master's programs, but I think it is certainly reasonable to ask.
  4. To preface, I don't know the field of chemistry at all and it sounds like you have a tough decision between two great programs. Congratulations! I will, however, say that you should consider editing some of the more self-identifying information out of your post, especially since you say some not-so-flattering things about a potential advisor by name. I don't mean to sound condescending and I wish I could offer you more help on the decision itself, but I do think this is good practice on the internet in general.
  5. xyz234

    Washington, DC and Maryland suburbs

    Broadly speaking yes, but it depends where you want to live, what kind of situation (housemates?), etc. You should be able to get a decent room in a shared house for ~$1,000 p/month. It may be a couple hundred higher during peak housing season or in an especially in-demand area, but I would think that still leaves you enough room for other expenses technically speaking. This doesn't mean it will be easy. I would think your budget is basically going to be entirely taken up by expenses every month and that is a tough life. But it is doable if you're ok with that for however many years.
  6. This seems like a no-brainer. You haven't even listed any upside for Columbia. Is it just about the name? Because SAIS has a fantastic reputation. It's offering you funding, is longer, and gives the opportunity for more thesis-level work. I will also add that in many fields professors know which MA programs are considered cash cows. If you think that's what the Columbia MA is, then my guess is professors will also know this and not consider the program to be on par with Columbia's reputation as a whole. From talking to professors, this is certainly true in my field (sociology)
  7. xyz234

    Ranking vs. Funding???

    Can you elaborate more on your reason for choosing SUNY-Albany over WSU? I know you say ranking, but really the two are not substantially different in terms of ranking imo. Certainly not enough to pass up the fully funded offer. If you have an established relationship I think it's definitely worth inquiring about more funding, but I would not consider going into debt for SUNY-Albany at all, especially when you have a fully funded offer from what I believe most in sociology consider to be a peer institution.
  8. xyz234

    Washington, DC and Maryland suburbs

    You should be completely fine. I assume you'll be attending Howard, so you won't have to worry about a commute, and Howard is close to the Shaw/Howard metro stop. I've lived my entire life in DC without a car, so it is definitely doable.
  9. xyz234

    Fall 2018 Acceptances/Interviews/Rejections Thread

    You already have a masters? I can't see any way that getting another one will help you at all. The MA at Columbia is also largely just a cash cow for the university, so I don't think you should expect a level of quality significantly above the program at CUNY. It also seems to me like the reasons you list for considering the MA at Columbia are not going to help with the weaker points of your profile. You already have great research experience, have presented at conferences, and have had the opportunity to network with/get recommendations from faculty (at CUNY). It sounds like you already do have fleshed out research interests from your MA thesis as well. You're ahead of me in all of these categories and I had a relatively successful application season, so I don't think you should be worried. It does seem like your GRE would be the most immediate way you could make a tangible improvement. I don't think your scores are bad, but bumping up your quant and writing scores, paired with your research background, would make you a great applicant. One thing you haven't mentioned is your SoP. I don't think any of us on the forum is an expert in writing these, but maybe that's another area you could look to? I think with a couple tweaks you could be a very strong applicant, so I would seriously advise against going into debt and doing the Columbia MA as a hail mary.
  10. xyz234

    Sociology masters or PhD?

    I think you should think of the US News rankings as a rough gauge of perceived "prestige." On the rankings page you can click on the methodology section, but essentially US News sends out a survey questionnaire to professors in the field asking them to rate departments and then aggregates the results. So, what you see in the list isn't incredibly precise or scientific, but it does roughly show you how other faculty in the field view various departments. At the end of the day, these are the faculty that will be hiring you if you want a tenure track job in academia and academia is still a relatively prestige-focused place. I don't think ranking is the be-all and end-all, and each person has to decide how much they value other factors like location, faculty fit, and finances. That said, it's disingenuous to act like ranking doesn't matter, especially if your goal is to get a tenure track job in academia. If it isn't then the calculation may change. Some schools may consistently outperform their ranking in terms of placing students in the job market and others may underperform, but in the grand scheme of things this is largely a wash. Funding is also something to consider. Does the program you're considering fully fund students? I can't imagine it would be worth it otherwise. I'm not going to tell you what your goals are or what aspects you value most in a program, and there is certainly plenty of room to achieve your goals at a huge range of schools. But I would encourage at least attempting to shoot as high as you can in the rankings and then see what happens.
  11. xyz234

    Fall 2018 Acceptances/Interviews/Rejections Thread

    I don't think it matters either way, but I usually try to address people how they sign the email. All current PhD candidates I've talked to refer to those professors by first names too, so you're not being overly informal. That said, if you're worried about it, it absolutely can't hurt to be cautious and say Professor X or Dr. X.
  12. xyz234

    Deciding between programs

    It's counter-intuitive, but the number one mistake I've made when talking to professors from programs I've been accepted to is getting too detail-oriented. I want to know the specifics of each program of course, but my best experiences have been just having a conversation without as many pointed questions. These conversations often end up answering my questions anyway, and in going in a roundabout way give me more insight into the professors' philosophies and the overall vibe of the department. The advice I'm trying to give myself is that I've already been accepted multiple places and to just relax and have a normal conversation.
  13. xyz234

    Fall 2018 Acceptances/Interviews/Rejections Thread

    I can claim one, received an email this morning. Have not been posting on the results board though because honestly I feel it just contributes to the anxiety and stress of this forum. Happy to answer any questions if that's helpful though.
  14. xyz234

    Fall 2018 Acceptances/Interviews/Rejections Thread

    I didn't apply to UT-Austin, so I don't know about that, but as one of the UNC admits, please don't think too much of it. I was freaking out the first couple days results got posted and thought I definitely didn't get in. UNC is informing accepted applicants by phone calls from professors they listed on their applications, so it all depends on the professor's schedule and when they have a free block of time to call you.

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