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  • Application Season
    2018 Fall
  • Program
    Environmental Engineering

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1PhDplz's Achievements


Decaf (2/10)



  1. I got the award!!! Wow, was absolutely not expecting to get it, just check out my post history to see how f***** hard of a time I've had adjusting to grad school this year. I know it's like 50% luck, but I'm so freaking relieved to have one fucking thing from this whole year that I did right.
  2. I'm coming to the end of my first year as a PhD student and I feel like I'm doing a bad job at research and school. I've felt behind my peers from the get-go, at least partly because I made a major field switch between my undergrad and graduate program. I'll explain my coursework troubles and research concerns separately. Coursework: I'm taking 3 classes this semester, which I realize is a lot. I have the same professor for two of the classes. After taking our last exam of the semester, this professor released a list of our names and ranks in his classes. I'm doing slightly below average even though it's my field of study. I received As on all the homeworks and Bs on the final exams. I know my grades are good, but now I feel like I'm underperforming and not cut out for a PhD. Research: I'm on an RA-ship this semester and getting almost no direction on the project I'm working on. As I mentioned before, I am completely new to this field of study. I don't feel that I know enough to be in charge of arranging and executing all of our measurements, but that is what I'm tasked with. I have weekly meetings with my advisor, and I know I should be grateful to at least have that. I prepare extensively beforehand, usually writing out a list of questions I have and putting together figures to explain what I did that week, but our meetings are never productive. He never seems to be listening to me and sometimes even plays guitar or grinds coffee beans while I'm speaking. I find it so incredibly rude and I leave the meetings feeling defeated and like I don't even know enough to be asking the right questions. I'm really shy, I take anxiety meds before our meetings to help me speak up, but even when I go in feeling confident I leave feeling like an idiot. Since I feel like I'm not making enough progress, I've resorted to ending the meetings by asking "Is there anything you think I should do this week?" I didn't think there was anything wrong with asking that until last week when we hosted a potential PhD recruit and my advisor mentioned that the screening exam was "to weed out grad students who need hand holding and weekly tasks to get any work done." I'm probably overthinking it, but it seemed like a slight at me. I realize some of this might be from self confidence issues I struggle with. I feel like I'm off to a bad start and I don't know what to do from here. Do I power through and pretend nothing's wrong? Do I drop out because I'm not cut out for it? I don't want to talk to my cohorts about it because my advisor is a very likeable guy and everyone seems to love him. It just feels like I'm behind the curve and not doing anything right.
  3. Hi everyone, This is the first semester of my PhD, which is in a different field than my undergrad (science to engineering). I'm taking an upper division elective that my undergrad completely neglected to prepare me for. Basically, the physics courses you take for a science major at my old university don't use calculus or derive equations and this course is 100% deriving equations for calc-based physics. I thought I would be fine because I have a strong math background, but I guess I was wrong. I'm totally lost every lecture and the professor never shows up to his office hours and has been at least thirty minutes late to every meeting I've set up with him. When I do get to ask questions, his general attitude is "you should know that already" and I feel more and more defeated after every meeting. I don't feel like I have an appropriate background to be successful in this course. I'm afraid to drop the course because the program requirements for "making satisfactory progress towards your PhD" are unclear. I realize I should talk to my graduate advisor about this, but I'm not sure how. I feel like I'm just starting to form a relationship with him and that this will make a bad impression. On top of that, I'm totally embarrassed to be struggling so much. What do I do? How do I bring this up to my advisor without him thinking I'm a lazy/unmotivated student? I keep spiraling to the worst case scenario of being kicked out of the program.
  4. I applied for the MS/ PhD and was automatically considered for the M Eng. I'm pretty certain you cannot transfer from M Eng to MS, but I would reach out to their graduate coordinator to make sure. The M Eng is the professional route and the MS is more research based and I think involves a thesis. If you're willing to spend the money on a masters, I'd consider Stanford if I were you. Their program seemed the most interdisciplinary from what I saw and even requires that you take a class on environmental policy, so your work experience would probably be seen as relevant and beneficial. I'm sure your work experience will be a good thing, but everything I've read and heard says research experience is extremely important and it's the first thing I'm ever asked about in any interviews. Good luck!
  5. GRE: 161 quant and 161 verbal GPA: 3.93 overall, 3.9 major (geology) Experience: I did an REU, a thesis for my undergrad, an internship with a NASA sponsored program, and I have 2 published abstracts and presented research at 2 national conferences. Other: 3 strong letters of rec (department head, thesis advisor, REU advisor), I've worked as a math and science tutor for three years, I was told my letter of intent was really good. Good luck! I came from a non-engineering background and got in, so I'm sure if you're working hard you can get in too!
  6. I would recommend going with Carnegie Mellon, even if that means you'll have to take out some loans, but wait until the week after April 15 to avoid the potentially awkward withdrawal situation. I think CM is a really great choice for an MS because they're one of the few good schools willing to give at least some funding to their MS students. If I remember correctly, it's only a year long program and afterwords you could reapply to your top choice for the PhD. If you decide not to do the PhD, it's not like employers will scoff at a masters from Carnegie Mellon.
  7. I emailed Stanford's grad coordinator and asked about funding and only then was I told a definite no. I'd recommend asking since it's so close to April 15! The guy I emailed didn't seem bothered that I was asking at all.
  8. I emailed and they FINALLY told me this week that I don't have funding. I'd ask if I were you, they didn't seem bothered with me asking before the end of March at all.
  9. What the grad students told me was that if you were admitted with the expectation of going from MS to PhD, a professor would have contacted you by now. When I said "Really? That's like the exact opposite of what we've been told all day" the current PhD students said that even though they've asked the professors and people in charge of admissions to be more honest and upfront about this, they just aren't. So they get a bunch of people to come for the unfunded masters because "people will pay for a masters from Stanford." I found this super dishonest. Honestly, just directly admit to PhD if that's the case. I emailed the graduate coordinator on Saturday asking if I'm being considered for funding or not (I was originally waiting until the end of march to be polite). My guess would be not since I haven't been contacted yet, but I'm checking because they did offer to reimburse some expenses from the visit day. I'll let post on here whatever I hear back. A few other negatives I got from the visit day: -It seems like funding is incredibly scarce in the department. I had one professor mention that it's not usual, but definitely possible, for your advisor to run out of funding for you, say during your last year as a PhD student. It kind of makes sense because when an advisor takes you on, they financially provide you the tuition and stipend money. But you'd think the university would wave your tuition so that each PhD student doesn't literally cost the advisor half a million dollars of grant money (not an exaggeration). -I heard a few other grad students say that their advisors are never around "because they're really important people." That might be true, but I'm looking for an advisor who has enough time to be a mentor, just not my cup of tea. -The master will cost $99.7K and TA and RA positions are reserved for PhD candidates so that their advisors aren't paying tuition from their own grant money. I was told there is practically no possibility of getting TA or RA positions as a masters student. -I got the feeling that MS students who do join in on the research groups (what they recommend you do to advance to the PhD) are pretty much free lab work (i.e. undergrads) and the likelihood of doing your own project is slim. I got this vibe from hearing some PhD students talk about MS students in the lab. Positives: -The program requirements are really flexible. The head of the department said you can even substitute the "mandatory" program requirements for whatever you want as long as you can make a reasonable appeal to your masters advisor. -Most of the PhD students seemed to enjoy the program, they just really don't like how the department handles admissions and the whole MS thing. My whole take on Stanford at the moment is a little jaded and I do realize that there are probably a million great things about the masters program and to be fair, one of the professors there started as a masters student with no funding at Stanford, so I guess transitioning to the PhD isn't impossible.
  10. Was anyone else super disappointed in the Stanford visit day? I had professors telling me one thing about transitioning from MS to PhD and the grad students not just saying the opposite, but telling me the professors weren't being honest! Also, it was an 8 hour visit in one building. There wasn't even a campus tour for PhD applicants in EES and no one showed up to lead my lab tour!! I always thought I wanted to go to Stanford (like, for the wholr duration of my undergrad), but not any more. At least this makes my grad school decision easier.
  11. I have no clue! I have a full funding offer from one school, but the research match is only okay. Stanford would be a perfect research fit, but I have no idea if the debt would be worth it (assuming no financial aid), and there's no guarantee that they would have room for me in the PhD program. I wasnt even considering MIT because I assumed i wouldnt get in, so now I feel like i have to at least consider it because it's such a great opportunity. But seriously. The debt. MIT is 66k! That's a mortgage where I come from! I have no idea where to go.
  12. Just curious, did they offer you information about financial aid with that? All of my grad admissions have included a clause like that, I think it's just to make sure you actually graduate and don't fail out of all your classes just because you got into grad school.
  13. I was admitted to a masters program two weeks ago (the program doesn't admit directly to PhD if you come from a bachelor's degree). So far, the school is offering to reimburse expenses for the visit day, which is coming up this week, but I still haven't heard about financial aid. Is it appropriate to ask if I'm even being considered? When I first asked about visit day reimbursements (1 week ago), I was told funds were reserved for students being considered for financial aid and that they were still figuring things out, but the response was very generic and I didn't get the feeling that the program coordinator was suggesting that I wasn't being considered. Funding for the masters program at this school is really competitive (only around 25% of the admitted MS class receives any funding at all) and their website says decisions are made by the end of March. Is it too early for me to ask? Also, do programs typically send out emails along the lines of "we know you indicated need for financial aid on your application, but unfortunately you have not been awarded any scholarships" without you asking directly? If anyone has a template for asking about financial aid, that would be incredibly helpful.
  14. No change to my application portal, they emailed me my acceptance letter. Also, I was admitted to the MEng program, not the SM/PhD.
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