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indecis

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  1. indecis

    Low GPA, Super Stressed Out

    At the school you are waitlist, it probably won't matter if you take extra classes at this point. If you are not accepted this year, I would recommend reading these two books: https://www.amazon.com/Graduate-School-Winning-Strategies-Getting-ebook/dp/B005DFLJYI/ref=pd_sim_351_3?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=P262AXW9F3X1WF2QYC5D https://www.amazon.com/School-Dimwitted-Undergrad-Smashed-Revised-ebook/dp/B0097X0FOM/ref=sr_1_fkmr2_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1524096950&sr=8-1-fkmr2&keywords=grad+school+low+gpa They give pretty clear strategies for getting in to grad school with low GPAs. They key is to contact potential advisors who share your research interests before applying and find a way to stand out from the crowd. Even if you have a really high GPA, if you are just sending your applications out with no contacts at a school, you are likely to get filtered out of the candidate pool pretty quickly. I don't know what a CSD is so I can't comment on that aspect of your post... One last note: Going to grad school because you are not sure what else you can do with your bachelor's degree is not a great reason to go to grad school. Grad school is stressful and expensive in terms of opportunity cost of staying in school versus starting a career and making real money. It also might not get you where you actually want to go in life and will not necessarily lead you to a career that is "better", more fulfilling, higher paying, etc. If you are not sure what you would do with your life if you aren't accepted to grad school this year, it might be time to take a close look at your interests and goals. Determine if you are looking to grad school as continuation of undergrad (which it is not) or if it is truly the next step towards something bigger.
  2. Does the PI have his/her own funding to support you? If so and the PI told you "welcome to the lab", you are most likely fine. PIs have a lot of leeway to recruit their students if they are using their own grant money. They've basically adopted you and are paying your stipend and tuition out of their grant. The department has an incentive to allow PIs to use the grant to bring in students that are essentially costing the department no money. As long as you meet the minimum entrance requirements for university and the department, admission is almost a formality. I've even seen a PI go through a process to obtain a waiver for the minimum requirements when there was some compelling reason why they should over look.
  3. I felt EXACTLY the same way after I hit send on my email accepting one of my two offers. After accepting, it took me a few weeks and a lot of conversations with friends, my masters advisor, my partner, and my therapist (and even a few posts here on GradCafe) to finally feel OK even though I knew I made the best decision rationally and emotionally. After struggling for weeks, here is what I figured out: I did not think I deserved it. I was accepted to my dream school, something I had been working towards for years, but for several reasons, I couldn't let myself be comfortable having it. Once I realized that, I could address the absurdity of my issue directly and now I feel confident. Based on your internal questions/doubts and your struggle with impostor syndrome (a biggie for me too), I wouldn't be surprised if you are experiencing something similar. But the truth is, you have value and deserve to let your light shine for the world to see. You deserve to go to your first-choice school, to work with superstar faculty, to learn and thrive in an engaging intellectual environment, and to receive compensation for your work and contributions. When you lay out your pros and cons, program A clearly stands out from program B. Have you asked yourself the simple question of where you want to go (or don’t want to go) and observed your visceral reaction to the two programs? Your decision to choose program A might not have been as pragmatic as you believe. Also, why do you think you are less prepared for the rigors of a competitive research program because you went to a SLAC for undergrad? I went to a SLAC. I worked for a few years and then went to a large R1 university that is top 3 in my field for my masters. I had no problems adjusting and I think the SLAC prepared me very well. In fact, I have observed (and my mentors and advisors have commented) that, in general, I tend to ask more questions, have more developed critical thinking skills, and possess a greater depth of understand about my own personal interests and goals than many of my peers. These are valuable traits and I feel I have my SLAC to thank for embracing and strengthening them in me earlier in my academic career. That is not to say that people who don't go to SLACs are not as strong in these areas, but in my first-hand experience, most undergrads at my master’s university are not getting the same attention I got from my SLAC. I second the comment from Entangled Phantoms about finding a good therapist. It is immensely helpful and provides a level of support you’d be hard pressed to find elsewhere. I’d recommend someone who has experience working with graduate students. Cognitive behavioral therapy is very helpful in working through self-doubt and impostor syndrome issues. Your school’s health center could probably recommend someone. So congratulations, BroHar! You made a great decision. You deserve to be at your new program and you are going to thrive.
  4. indecis

    Michigan State vs other options

    Thank you for your thoughtful replies! I agree that I may be overthinking the Nassar issue. I think, without realizing it at the time, my overthinking is why I decided to post here for advice. I was worrying that my disdain for Nassar and my disappointment in the university's handing of the situation were my main reasons for leaning toward the other school, and that didn't seem right. I had reached a point where I wasn't sure what part of my thought process was valid. I have tried my best to strip down my decision (and remove the influence of the Nassar drama) by isolating different characteristics of the schools for comparison. "School B" won out over MSU on the factors of advisor fit and department fit. Based on all that I have gathered about program decisions, these are two very important or even the most important, factors to consider. In the end, I think the money that MSU offered was making me feel crazy for turning it down. I have rationalized it like this: While MSU is offering me what amounts to an extra year of funding, I would also likely need that extra year to complete the requirements of the program (there are a lot). School B's program is much more open ended and because the advisor/research fit is good, I will be able to hit the ground running and likely finish a year sooner. That is huge. Also, finding additional funding, if needed, through writing a grant specific to my research at School B will not be a problem (and would also be an great opportunity), as my advisor is on board to help with this and the school is well connected. So, as you may have figured out, I made the decision to go to School B, and I feel confident now that Nassar was not the reason why. :-)
  5. indecis

    Michigan State vs other options

    Thanks for your reply, rising_star. Good point to think about the future. In the long run, MSU will probably weather this storm, though they are off to a very rocky start and I have a feeling that more details about the depth of this problem will continue to surface over the months/years. Because of this, my mind goes to what my experience will be like while I am there. Just last week, the former dean of the medical school was arrested on sexual assault charges (separate from the Naasar's case) and there is evidence that he knew about Nassar's behavior. The school keeps denying that anyone knew what was going on, but this is obviously not true, so it feels like a betrayal every time new information is reported. Sexual abuse and women's rights issues are extremely important to me. I am in a STEM field where women and minorities are extremely underrepresented and there is a long history of institutionalize discrimination and abuse. I already deal with the reality of being a woman in this discipline on a daily bases, so I am worried that being at MSU would open up more opportunity for stress. If I was a current or former student at MSU, I have no doubt I would actively be involved in the healing process of the community, but am not sure I want to throw myself into the middle of this while starting a new PhD program in a new part of the country with no local support system. So, I guess I am answering my own questions about what I should do... The other program I was accept to is a better fit (slightly) and more highly regarded. MSU was just offering me a significantly higher funding package (~33% more over the course of the program). The other school's funding is very competitive for my field, though, and I am starting to suspect that part of MSU's extra funding is coming from them having a hard time recruiting this year (some of the money was added later on as I was still waiting to hear back from other schools).
  6. I've been accepted to two PhD programs, Michigan State and another public R1 university that has a slightly better reputation in my specific research area. However, MSU has really pulled out all of the stops with their funding and are offering an extra year plus a sizable recruitment fellowship over the other school's offer. I have already tried negotiating a better offer with the other school, but was unsuccessful. Beyond the funding, there are a lot of great things about the program at MSU and I really respect the faculty and students there. One thing that I just can't get out of my mind is how the university is handling the aftermath of Larry Nassar's terrible actions. I knew about his pending case before I applied at the end of last year and I have been watching things unfold to see how the university responds. Unfortunately, I have not been impressed and I am concerned about the priorities and culture of the university. I honestly start to feel ill when I think about it all. Larry Nassar aside, the non-MSU program may be a slightly better fit for me, but they really are neck and neck. In normal circumstances, MSU would pull ahead because of the funding. The department and program I would be joining at MSU is not related to sports or medicine, and there is evidence of the department and college proactively addressing issues related to diversity and discrimination over the past decade and longer. I just can't figure out how much weight I should be giving this ongoing scandal. How important are the reputation and actions of a department/college compared to the university? Is anyone able to speak to their own personal experiences at MSU? Or, is anyone else also considering MSU versus other options and pausing for the same reasons as me?
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