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Everything posted by DRMF

  1. Some programs may be more willing to offer reimbursement if they know it's helping their own future student rather than someone still uncommitted. There are plenty of reasons to visit in person after accepting the offer, they just might not apply to you - checking out school facilities and connecting with individual PIs, checking out rental options, also seeing schooling and employment options if you're bringing family, etc. I personally do not see most programs offering funding for visiting, unless it's stated somewhere in their recruitment agenda as an optional activity - or if they jus
  2. Schools that I know are international friendly (in non-COVID times): UTSW, Sloan Kettering, Weill Cornell. Potentially also: WashU (Washington University in St. Louis) and UChicago. Harvard probably but I'm not sure about all bio programs. UCs are notorious for being low on international admits. The year I applied UC Berkeley's website had a bolded line stating there are *very few* spots for international students. My undergrad PI spent 6 years as a post doc at Stanford and said he never saw a single international Immunology student - I have not fact-checked that myself. Most school
  3. I don't know about biotech jobs. I think in academia UTSW is well-respected; people may debate about it being top 20, but I don't expect anyone to say it's an unknown or no-name school. I interviewed there and met multiple faculty members who did postdocs in or moved from other well-known places (the 2 examples I now explicitly remember were from UChicago and UCSF iirc). The school is less popular than it deserves science-wise, because people usually want to live on the coasts rather than in Texas. The specifics will depend on your specific area of study, and where (location-wise) you're hopin
  4. Probably needs a bit more context... does the program normally do rotations? Is this form of "early" admissions a part of the program's setup? Usually PIs reach out to tell you that they'd love to have you join, but that just means they want you to rotate and then hopefully stay. Most bio programs have a required number of rotations anyway.
  5. I'm in no way trying to take the joy of online shopping away from you, but just dropping in to say that when I did interviews (in person) I didn't wear any "business casual", and still to this day do not own a blazer lol. My go-to was knitted/sweater dresses in muted colors. I interviewed with 4 schools and was probably among the least dressed up for all of them. Ended up with offers from all 4 🤷‍♀️
  6. I sent thank-you emails to all interviewers, usually the Mon/Tue after the interview weekend. Emailing the director wouldn't hurt either. Regardless, I'd say that the emails are just niceties and really wouldn't change your chances in most cases. Some admissions results come out super fast, so some of my emails actually ended up being sent after I got accepted lol
  7. I got that when I applied 2 years ago, also moved from Immuno to Cancer. I then got an interview from Cancer, which conflicted with other interviews I already committed to, and in the end didn't happen since I got into places I liked better. I mostly worked on tumor immunology at the time of application, so it could just be a general thing they do for tumor immunology-oriented applicants, if that applies to you.
  8. Essentially all US grad school offers have the same reply deadline from you (April 15th). There are exceptions, but generally that's the national deadline. https://cgsnet.org/april-15-resolution
  9. What exactly is this money referring to? Not personally relevant, and I'm not familiar with post bacc programs, but I've just never heard anyone say having to pay a lot of money for them?
  10. A few potential factors, some are wild guesses: - location (people like California). - the fact that Stanford Bioscience allows you to choose 3 programs under the umbrella and use the same application for them, so nominally the number of apps per individual (e.g. Genetics) program probably looks much higher than that of a standalone program elsewhere. - great outreach/advertising. Anecdotally, out of the ~dozen outside speakers my program invited over and had lunch with us (while I was a first year), the Stanford person was the only one who specifically asked which of the first
  11. A couple schools have a checkbox on your phd application asking whether you'd like to be considered for their Master's program as well. I can't remember specifically which ones though. I don't think that tick would change your chances of admission either way.
  12. From my personal experience and anecdotal knowledge, I think it's pretty common for international students mostly due to lack of private funding at some less resourceful schools. Also like you said, some of it is just arbitrary. I applied to both GSK and Weill Cornell, which have almost overlapping faculty because they used to run a joint program, and yet I was only invited to interview at GSK. And then one of the GSK interviewers started telling me about the differences between the two programs and how to choose between them, so I had to semi-awkwardly interrupt him and say I didn't get
  13. I'm from China and have been in the US for 6 years (college, gap year, now grad school). I've seen a similar thread on TGC and I actually posted a thread on my personal FB to get more responses from my American friends. It was quite a shocker to me how dating people of a different age group/life phase is frowned upon in the US. I personally see nothing wrong (meaning, neither morally wrong nor instinctively "creepy/gross") with socializing with or dating someone much younger/older, and tbh if I see a couple like that my first reaction would be "it's is so sweet and inspiring that they're worki
  14. I think your chance of NOT getting in anywhere is pretty low. If you'd be truly happy to go to any of the schools you have listed, I think you're fine. If you're looking for more "international-friendly" schools, I recommend UTSW and Sloan Kettering. Also what areas within Biology are you thinking of? BTW please check each program's funding info carefully. Even schools that normally would be able to take on international students may not be able to this cycle due to Covid. If anything is not clear I'd email program directors. (Back then I decided not to apply to Washington Immunology beca
  15. I think you have a solid shot at the schools you listed; whether you're reaching too high depends on how important it is for you to go to grad school in 2021. Some people only apply to competitive programs because they simply wouldn't be willing to go anywhere else; maybe they have a good plan B and would rather apply again next cycle. If however you really want to get in *somewhere*, I'd personally add in some safer schools. One school that was recommended to me that'd be easier to get in (especially for an international student) but still great for a PhD was UTSW; my interview experienc
  16. I mean, the standard duration of a Bachelor's is 3 years in the UK, I can't imagine universities there having a problem with 3.5 years... I feel finishing college early is seen as neutral to slightly positive in the US (as in, it took you less time to do the same amount of work, so you must be a studious and efficient student). The only downside is if you didn't take as many elective courses that would otherwise be relevant for the field you're trying to get into, or if you could have done a thesis research project but chose not to, etc.
  17. I'd say you should, though you don't have to use that letter for every school you apply to. (It's always good to have a 4th alternative rec letter anyway.) Some programs' app portals will explicitly state that at least 1 letter needs to be from faculty; some may not care at all. The tricky ones are those that actually strongly prefer a letter from a professor but doesn't make it clear - I recommend contacting each program's director to get a sense of what they want to see.
  18. (1) I'd say many of the programs I applied to required (at least 1 of the 3) rec letter writers to be university faculty that taught you. Their general website may not specify but the actual application portal usually would state such requirements, if there's any. You may want to start an application account for each target school to figure out this detail. (2) For your grad student friends - are their PIs nice/sympathetic people? Have you interacted with them in any academic/research capacity? If so, you could ask for the student/friend and their PI to "co-sign" the letter, which is not
  19. I have no answers for most of your questions, though I can relay a few pieces of advice of what to do with a low GPA. I think from what I saw, people primarily say don't focus too much on your negatives - maybe a sentence in the SOP, but not a whole paragraph. Consider phrasing it as a jumping point and ending on a positive note, e.g. "although personal hardships in my X year made it difficult to ..., I ..." A few application portals I've seen have a designated section for you to explain things, and that could be a suitable place for a short paragraph explaining the situation. Now, if you
  20. I think this depends quite a bit on the rest of your profile. E.g. if there are shortcomings (esp in GPA) that could be made up by a good GRE score, it's probably worth it. It also depends on how much time/money/stress taking the GRE would mean to you, and how well you expect to do. Find a free practice test online and see? When a program no longer requires GRE it represents a general attitude that it's not important overall, but the specific adcom members who happen to read your application may still have different views. I assume you've worked in a lab in college, so you could consult y
  21. Every single grad school app info session I went to, including ones tailored towards all STEM subjects and not just biology, emphasized first thing that rec letters have to be Faculty/PIs - no postdoc, no lecturer, no senior scientist (and oh my of course no students!). If you were working with a lab member, they can co-write and co-sign the letter with your PI; in reality, it sometimes means the lab member writes the entire letter, and the PI who doesn't know your name reads it over in 3 min and signs - but the official name of recommender absolutely has to be the PI, and the link for submitt
  22. If you have a rough school list, look at their application requirements and see if they explicitly state who can write you letters. As a rule of thumb your recommenders should be people who know you as a future scholar/scientist. Some application portals will explicitly say if these people need to hold faculty (and not "staff") positions or certain degrees. If the wording is vague you can email their program director to double check. Your first 2 look like solid choices (if you've worked in any sort of lab for years, the ad com would want to see a letter from that PI regardless of the spe
  23. Email the program director / whoever emailed you with the offer to ask. Just be polite and to the point.
  24. Which has nothing to do with Trump's announcement on immigration halt. The user I was replying to thought this "immigration halt" would have to be lifted for international students to come to school, showing that they probably didn't know what the word immigrant means in legal contexts.
  25. International students are NOT immigrants. To get most types of visas you explicitly CANNOT want to immigrate. By definition you're in the US as a temporary guest to do a specific thing (education, tourism, visiting a family member etc.) and are not here to stay.
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