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About DRMF

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    2019 Fall
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  1. I only have personal / anecdotal experience to share re: the GRE: (1) my undergrad PI definitely cares about GRE and GPA scores when taking grad students; there was at least one instance where he basically refused to interview an applicant b/c of their score (it was more like, "I could meet them but I don't think there's too much of a point..."). (2) during one of my own grad school interviews, the interviewer had my app profile printed out in front of him and had clearly written notes/highlighted certain bits; I could see that he circled out my GRE scores (as a positive note, I think). Both of these people were Asians who had their early education in Asia, and I'd guess that the way they were brought up probably influenced how much they valued these stats. Otherwise, I interviewed at 4 places and the GRE/GPA never came up in any interactions with interviewers/program directors/other applicants, besides the aforementioned incident. So I guess the conclusion is there are surely some PIs who care about these scores, but whether that alone will "cause a problem" likely depends on who's in the specific program's ad com / interviewer pool.
  2. As long as you're not in the subfields of biology where they do direct admits to specific labs (like ecology?), and the program page doesn't say things like "we strongly recommend that you contact potential PIs before applying", reaching out to specific people isn't usually necessary. I, for one, did not email anyone.
  3. I'd assume having a lot of bioinformatics background is a plus regardless of research area, so I think your list is probably fine. Like the first reply said, make sure you have a few potential people to work with at each of those schools. If you're not dead set on cancer bio, I'd suggest you look at more "true" umbrella programs, ie programs that make everyone interview and do lab rotations together and let you pick a subfield after you've started the PhD. UTSW is one example, and it takes in a lot of international students each year. UChicago, on the contrary, doesn't really have an umbrella program; the "umbrella clusters" are just for administrative convenience as far as I can tell (you can rank more than one interested programs in your app, but you will only get interviews with one program, typically your top choice). If you're actually very committed to doing cancer bio, then you must be able to use your SOP to convince the reader of your passion for (and knowledge of) the field. In terms of school selection, you might want to consider Sloan Kettering. I don't actually know if it's "easy" to get in statistically, but I do know of one international student who applied to 4-5 programs and only got into GSK. This program is quite new, small and more cancer focused than most others since it's a cancer research institute. They do take in people with non-cancer backgrounds and I think a good percentage of internationals each year. They just became GRE optional recently I think. (Anecdotally though, when I interviewed there one professor had my app materials printed in front of him and apparently had circled out my GRE scores when he read it before the meeting.) I didn't look into UC Davis, but I would check their international student numbers and what their funding situation looks like (UC schools typically have a harder time funding international students).
  4. So is your goal to "go back to school", or to "improve yourself, preferably through/while earning a degree"? If you're actually just looking to gain new knowledge, online courses or shorter certification programs may be more viable options. Enrolling in (non-selective) courses first may be a way to demonstrate your passion for your goal and also help you gain some connections/a rec letter from someone reputable enough to offset the low GPA. Alternatively, doing very well at the GRE or similar exams may also help offset that. Also, if you're not really sure how you didn't get the grades you wanted during college, I'd suggest you figure that out first. Was it time management? Study methods? A particular life event that prevented you from focusing? What kind of courses did you do well in and how were they different from the ones you failed? I think it's important to set some specific aspects for yourself to work on if you're serious about doing more school. It may not be true that biology is simply too hard for you - maybe try watch a few different YouTube videos or online courses on the same topic, and see what kind of explanations / demonstrations / structure of learning (or even tone of speaking) work best for you. Also, assuming you currently work in an industry related to what you ultimately want to do, you might want to ask more senior workers or clients you meet on your job how they got to where they are now and see what you can learn from them. I don't have specific advice to offer wrt kinesiology or medical school, but feel free to PM me if you want to chat more. Best of luck.
  5. Have you emailed/called? Checked spam folders etc.? My specific interview schedules were all sent to me 2-7 days in advance.
  6. Of course you can refuse a roommate proposal for any reason; you just have to phrase it nicely and respectfully. Like others said, you might want to reflect on your own thinking/why you feel more comfortable living with females only, and decide for yourself if it is a healthy mindset for your own sake. Maybe you don't want to share a bathroom with a guy because you don't want to deal with the toilet seat being up - pretty small thing in general but if it's a significant factor for you, then it sure is a valid reason. There are also plenty of cultures in the world in which living with someone of the opposite gender (who's not your family) is completely unimaginable. I lived with 2 girls and 1 guy for 2 years during college and throughout the entire time the guy told his parents he was living with 3 male roommates. If you're culturally accustomed to a certain kind of living conditions, I'd say it's a personal decision whether you want to break the habit/embrace a new possibility.
  7. I am an international student and I will be out of the US for the summer. My program starts in late Aug and, being my super prepared self, I've already signed a lease and will be booking a moving/box -shipping service soon. I know plenty of international students who are still looking for places though (my school's student housing lottery app was due 5/1, so they results are being released now).
  8. You should look into the graduate courses first and see who they're designed for. For example, an umbrella biosciences program usually require the same "intro"/"fundamentals" courses for first years that are meant to bring everyone (with different undergrad majors) up to the same level in terms of genetics, mol/cell bio, dev bio etc. These usually will not require extensive knowledge in each subject. But if your program is just for a specific subfield, then it's likely you'll have to review somewhat in order not to fall behind.
  9. I don't know enough about mechanical engineering or German schools to offer specific suggestions, I just hope you can get someone or a grammar-check software to fix the grammar issues. Your essay for the most part is understandable (for me), but there are a lot of phrases that made me stop and think for a second. Since it's not a master's in English, your writing doesn't have to be perfect, but having too many noticeable mistakes/awkward wording will make it harder for the reader to get the message you're trying to get across.
  10. Seeing some different opinions above, I would just like to reiterate my belief that it's unethical not to disclose any potential conflict of interest, including significant personal connections, in the letter. The letter itself, obviously, will be recommending you in a strictly professional capacity. (It's like stating "I received this product for free in exchange of my honest opinion" at the end of an Amazon product review; the review itself shouldn't talk about how nice it is that the seller sent it to the reviewer for free, but the conflict of interest must be declared.)
  11. Have you contacted any of the schools? A phone call to inquire would definitely be appropriate at this point. Also check the Results sections of the grade cafe website to see if anyone else has heard back from those programs you haven't heard from.
  12. I have never heard of this and would assume that it's not respectful behavior on that department's part. Can you reach out to ask for a refund for your application fee, on the grounds that your application was never properly reviewed? Would anyone in your current department be happy to side with you on this exchange, since they (presumably) unknowingly helped distribute misleading information? (I know of someone who asked for a refund from a program that essentially did not consider international applications.)
  13. Does this mean you did NOT get an interview? Or did you get waitlisted AFTER an interview? If you didn't get an interview I'd assume you've lost your chance.
  14. I have a lab mate (current grad student) who finished college in 3 years and when she was applying, she was told that it was controversial whether that would be a positive, negative or irrelevant factor. Did you get specific comments on that from those who helped you? Otherwise, your stats and experience are really great ("second author on 1 pub" definitely did not hurt). You may want to have a few others read over your SOP, preferably people who don't know you well to offer an uninfluenced opinion (I'd be happy to do so if you want to share). Especially since your stats look great, I'd particularly look for parts that could be interpreted as arrogant or presumptuous (I have another lab mate who sat on the adcom of his program, and he said there was one person whose application looked perfect except the SOP just read like "you'd be so lucky to have me" - everyone voted a straight nope on that one). Not at all saying you held that attitude, it's just that sometimes one's tone doesn't come off as intended when read by a stranger. Although I agree in general research fit is important, I'd assume for the schools you applied to there should have been enough breadth to fit your interests (unless you had a very specific subfield in mind and indicated that in the application). And yes, apply to less selective schools. Also, could there have been an unhelpful LOR? Anyway, sorry and best of luck!
  15. I applied for the PhD program at Albert Einstein College of Medicine this cycle, and received this email an hour ago: "As you may know, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine is transitioning from its prior relationship with Yeshiva University to an independent degree-granting institution. As part of this transition, Einstein has applied to the U.S. government for permission to sponsor student visas. Unfortunately, at this time, the application is still pending and we are not yet able to sponsor student visas. Therefore, we will be unable to admit international students this year. We are sorry for this news and will soon be sending you an electronic Amazon gift card to defray part of your expenses." I already have offers from schools higher on my list and have committed to a program, so the situation doesn't affect me in the least (in fact, I'm happy I'll be getting some money back). I just want to leave it here and warn future international applicants to keep an eye on the progress of their visa sponsor application, which I was not made aware of until now.
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