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iwearflowers last won the day on September 9 2018

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  1. Georgetown is pricy. I paid around $1500 (utilities included) to live by myself in Glover Park, which is just north of Georgetown. You’ll be able to save a bit with housemates. The rental market in DC turns over quickly, with most units posted less than 30 days before they’re filled. That being said, you can start looking at Craigslist now to get a sense of what you want and can afford.
  2. I shipped via Amtrack, and it came out to around $1 per pound. It took a couple of weeks to arrive, but everything got there safely.
  3. It sounds like they interviewed you early and are waiting to make final decisions until they finish all the interviews. I know the waiting is hard, but don’t despair! You can always contact the person who set up your interview and see if you can get an updated timeline?
  4. This is a somewhat unconventional strategy, but if money is an issue, consider working part-time as an ACT/SAT test prep tutor. The math concepts are basically the same, it's just the complexity of the problems that differs on the GRE. I did this for a couple of years before I took the GRE, and it was enormously helpful. It also gave me a boost in terms of learning to think like the test in a way that I don't think being a student would have.
  5. Don't spend that kind of money on a class. I was accepted to 2 sociology PhD programs with a BA in religious studies and a masters of public health (plus 3 years of work experience as a research associate). I'd never taken a sociology class before. Economics to sociology is a reasonable path, particularly if you do a good job of selecting schools and POIs. For your letters, are you relying only on letters from undergrad? If your work involves research, I would encourage you to get at least one of your letters from senior staff at your job. The goal of a grad school recommendation letter is to have someone speak to your potential as a graduate student - can you persevere, communicate well, think critically and creatively, etc? Someone who has an advanced degree and works in research will be able to do this as well as a professor would, possibly even better since they will have likely had more opportunities to work closely with you in a broader variety of settings. I got one letter from a grad school professor and two letters from people I worked with who had PhDs and had supervised my work.
  6. I interviewed several places last year, but I think UCSF was the only sociology program that interviewed. (Other programs were public health/health services research.) Be prepared to talk about your research interests and how they developed. Be prepared to talk about one or two specific ideas you might propose for a dissertation. (They don’t have to be well developed, and no one will hold you to them. You just need to show you’ve thought about it.) Be prepared to talk about your previous training and experience with quant and/or qual methods and which you prefer. Be prepared to talk a little about your previous experience with theory and how it’s shaped your work. Be prepared to talk about why you want a PhD and what you’ll do with it. Don’t be afraid to think on your feet and toss out ideas. Not everything has to be perfectly thought through. They want to see how you think and respond in real time. If they tell you who you’re interviewing with in advance, it’s a good idea to read their bio and skim a few papers so you can talk about how your work intersects. It’s also good to be able to talk about who you hope to work with in the department. If you’ve been in touch with them, say so! While you probably have a particular POI, it’s also good to be able to talk about how you fit into the department more broadly. You won’t just have one mentor or work with just one professor while you’re in school. Something like, “I’m hoping to primarily work with X because of their interest in A, B, and C, but I also think I’ll benefit from Y’s experience with [method or topic] and the department’s overall strength in [method or topic]/connections with the D center/interdisciplinary focus on E.” Finally, remember that an interview is a dialogue. It should give you a better sense of the department’s culture and how you would fit in there as well as giving them a better sense of who you are as a candidate. You will ideally already know a lot of the basics about the department and their process by the time you interview, but definitely have some questions ready to ask them: funding, qualifying exams, time to completion, opportunities to work with other departments if relevant to your interests, etc. Go into interviews thinking, “If I got into every school I applied to, what would I need to know to make my decision?”
  7. It varies by program. If you call or email someone in the department, they can probably give you an outline of their process.
  8. Three years down the road from a very expensive MPH (~$100,000 in debt), I still don't have a good answer for this kind of question. Here are some things to consider: What would your life look like without this degree? Could you work your way up based on your current experience and connections in the field? How much does the ranking of the program really matter to job outcomes? Identify some less expensive programs and compare the career trajectories of alumns from these programs versus your dream program. (My MPH was from a top 10 program, and I don't feel like it helped me all that much on the job market, to be honest.) Figure out the median salary students make coming out of the program and use it to build a budget. Figure out how much you'll have to pay in taxes and what your student loan payments would be. Think about how much you'll want to save for retirement. Ask friends or family with salaried jobs how much they pay for health insurance and other benefits, and take an average. Then consider whether you could be happy living in a relatively high cost-of-living area with whatever is left over. (I suggest this because ~$50K per year sounded like a lot when I was a college student making ~$25K working full time in the midwest. It felt like a lot less when I ended up in a large, coastal city after graduation and had to turn it into a monthly budget.) And three things I wish I had known: A masters degree doesn't always add that much to a relevant bachelors degree plus some work experience. At the firm I worked at between my MPH and my PhD, employees who came in with a masters and employees who came in with a bachelors were doing similar work and making similar pay within 2-3 years (around the time it takes to do a masters degree). There were limited opportunities for them to move up, but there were also opportunities for them to go back to school part-time and get it paid for. When considering how a program will benefit you, focus on hard skills rather than knowledge. You can read books and attend conferences to gain subject-matter-knowledge. Skills and experience are what make you marketable. Don't assume you'll be able to take advantage of the public service loan forgiveness programs. I went into my MPH assuming I would make 10 years of income-based programs and get the rest forgiven, but the first cohort of students to apply has had miserable rates of acceptance, even if they certified their work experience as they went. (Here's a terrifying Slate article about it! https://slate.com/business/2018/09/public-service-loan-forgiveness-program-applicant-rejections.html) (Ironically, part of my cost-benefit analysis for going back for a PhD is that I could do it without adding to my student debt and would become eligible for an NIH loan-forgiveness program that requires a doctoral degree.) I would also be skeptical of the value-add of a second masters degree unless it added a very specific, high-demand skill or experience. If you can do just the MPA for less money, I'd pick that option.
  9. Sorry for the late reply on this. Another thing you might consider doing is to trade letters with a friend who is also applying so that your drafts have an obviously different "voice". (In other words, you write one of their drafts, and they write one of yours.) I've done this a couple of times with good results.
  10. Have you considered an MPH with a social/behavior emphasis? That might be a bit more marketable/give you more hard skills than an MA. Also, many programs will allow you take classes outside of your program, so if you find a social work program that you like, you might be able to take some sociology courses to round out your areas of emphasis.
  11. I'm a 30 year old first-year PhD student. My path was a little more straightforward, as I went from undergrad to an MPH to a research position at a non-profit, but I think my age and experience made me a better, more focused candidate. I think I would take this meeting as a sign that this particular department was not a good fit for you rather than a sign that you shouldn't pursue a PhD at all.
  12. I'm sorry you're having such a rough time. During orientation, my school talked a bit about how hard the adjustment to grad school can be and compared it to culture shock. I've been finding it helpful to remind myself that it will get better if I keep at it! I suspect that your cohort will bother you less as you spend more time with them. Not, necessarily, because you'll learn to like everyone but because you'll start to find people you get along well with and won't care as much about the students you aren't close to. You'll get a sense of whose feedback is meaningful on what topics and who you can ignore. Grad students feel a lot of pressure to perform well and stand out from the crowd, and some people try to do that by talking too much about themselves or by being overcritical of others. While you're waiting to get a sense of your cohort mates (who you can trust, etc), focus on your professor's feedback. If there are comments from students that particularly worry you, go to office hours and ask for her opinion on them. If you are having trouble with presenting, go to her office hours and ask if she has any suggestions about improving. You may find that your anxiety doesn't bleed through as much as you think it does! Also, talk with the other members of your group to make sure they feel you're contributing enough. If you're graded on that aspect, they're the ones your professor will ask for feedback. In terms of your professors comments, I would echo Meraki. If they were directed at you, that was inappropriate. However, the advice is still valid. I'm not training as a therapist, but as a researcher, I have to be constantly considering my personal bias about my projects. Some of my professional work intersects with some of my personal baggage, and I know I have to be extra careful about that. This is even more relevant for someone training to be a therapist. If you aren't already seeing a therapist yourself, this might be a good time to establish that relationship. Based on some friends' experiences, it's not uncommon to require students to be in therapy while they do their practicum, anyway. Final note on the presenting thing - One of my professors recommended Toast Masters as a way to get comfortable with public speaking. It's something that will probably continue to be an important part of your professional life, so it's worth investing some time now to build the skill! Keep your chin up, and remember that it's a process! This will all feel so much more comfortable in a few months.
  13. It’s not uncommon to find that the systems and strategies that worked for you in undergrad don’t translate well to graduate school. Consider looking into your school’s student services and see if there is someone you can talk to about study strategies.
  14. If there aren’t faculty with compatible research interests, why are you applying to that program? The match doesn’t have to be exact, but you will need to put together a committee who can mentor you through the dissertation process and evaluate the final product. In terms of how specific - I think the more specific you can be, the better. I found it helpful to create a “funneled” statement that started broad and got specific. BROAD: I’m interested in understanding how stigma or social disadvantage affects access to health care, LESS BROAD: particularly in terms of how patients seek out health resources, how providers offer health resources, and how patients and providers communicate. SPECIFIC: Specifically, I am interested in how these issues affect access to birth control and abortion care. I also included a final paragraph about where I want my career to go where I talked about a couple of specific research questions or goals I would like to pursue. The committee wants to see a sense of direction because it says you’ve really thought about this.
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