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  1. To be completely honest, it will definitely be harder to get a full picture and feel for a school over zoom interviews. That being said, the students and faculty putting together the virtual recruitment events are going to be putting a lot of time and effort into trying to make it the best experience possible, and including lots of more low-key non-interview-based events, while balancing zoom fatigue. When it comes to getting a good picture of what doing you PhD at a particular institution is actually like, current students are still going to be your best resource - and the vast majority will be happy to go out of your way to help you make an informed decision. I'm more than happy to give any and all perspective if anyone wants. I've been at Stanford Biosciences for a year and a half so I have both pre- and during- COVID perspectives on the program and community. I also interviewed at 8 places when I applied, so I have lots of interview perspective I can give on other schools as well. Just shoot me a DM.
  2. Happy to help! The way I did it was write up the personal and research statements first and then frankensteined them together until I was happy with it for the combo SOPs I had to do. And definitely happy to share my experience with Stanford Biosciences and give ya some perspective on the different home programs - just DM me any questions you like. Its been a great place for me so far.
  3. So as far as I can tell there are three types of essays for grad school apps: personal - often called a personal statement, sometimes framed as a diversity statement - want to hear mostly about your research trajectory and future goals in the context of pursuits outside of research. So maybe you talk about how you became interested in science, what mentors/role models you've had along the day, what major struggles you've had in your pursuit of your education/research, where you hope to end up in the future, and/or extracurriculars broadly related to your goals like TA-ing, volunteering, significant coursework etc. research-oriented - often called a research statement. Here they definitely want you to go more in-depth into your research experience(s) and see that you are able to show that you know what you're doing and can put your work in the broader context of the field and of your own goals. If you hav multiple significant research experiences, you should connect them in a meaningful way and relate them to your broader research interests. You don't want this to read like a research paper where you're in the weeds about exactly what you did, but you do want to show that you get why you did certain things and that you weren't just following protocols blindly - paint the research in broad strokes and focus on the goals and maybe describe overcoming some research-related struggles. combo - often called the SOP, its usually what schools want if they're only asking for one essay. Combines the elements of the two previous choices into one cohesive narrative. They are still expecting to see that you understand the research that you did and its context but also want to hear more about your background and goals outside of research. Hope this is useful
  4. Honestly, I wouldn't worry so much about the low UG GPA, particularly since your master's was great. Yes, its probably below average but with a good GPA in your masters you show that you have the capacity to do will in school and your research/publishing record shows you can do well in science. Definitely apply to some mid-tier programs you'd feel comfortable with, but apply to some reach ones as well. Multiple first author publications is nothing to scoff at - I still have a solid 0 pubs under my belt and managed to get into good schools with a 3.5 and a lot of time spent on my personal statements.
  5. I'm happy to give people feedback on application profiles as well as strategies I might suggest for how to strengthen weaknesses thereof. Also can give perspectives on Stanford biosciences - I do molecular/cellular/developmental/genetics type stuff so I can particularly give advice in that realm. I'm not the most active on here, so I'll be more responsive to direct messages! I know things are super weird with COVID and all right now - hope you all are doing alright and not stressing out too much!!
  6. Your GPA/GRE are very similar to mine & I also went to UW (go dawgs!) Your main potential weakness is probably on the research experience front because they're shorter in duration. If you can talk clearly and compellingly about that research in conjunction with your extracurriculars in your personal statements you should still have a good shot at the programs on your list though. Alongside strong rec letters hopefully!
  7. Applications and interviews will definitely still be conducted at most if not all places - but at most if not all places I would speculate that interviews may be virtual. My department is already talking a little bit about virtual interviews and the logistics of that.
  8. Honorable mention for me and can't apply next year. aw well. Congrats to those who got it!!!
  9. Current Stanford Biosciences first -year here - I'm not in M&I, but I know some of the first year cohort. Also have no info on UCLA, so can't really give any perspective on them. I am a big fan of Stanford and with hindsight absolutely made the right choice with it. Your two main worries with Stanford are the same ones I had when deciding - affordability and the PA bubble. Both are worthy of consideration, but both have been less of an issue for me so far than I had anticipated. While I am used to living in a city and miss that, I do find time to get up to SF and outside of PA fairly often and even have found myself liking the suburbs more than I would have thought. You're also right in that affordability is a major consideration, but our Stipends do allow us to live without feeling like we're in abject poverty. I, and others I know in my and other programs, successfully live off campus (with roommates, of course) for a comparable price to living on-campus - so you don't have to be stuck on campus the whole time, even though many people do chose to go that route. Definitely feel free to DM me if you want to talk more specifics - happy to answer questions about Biosciences/Stanford/PA/etc.
  10. I feel you. I'd sort fo forgotten about it until I had a dream last night that the selection email had gone out...
  11. I would venture to guess that most offers have already gone out. They have at my school.
  12. current Stanford biosciences student here - if anyone has more specific questions, feel free to DM me.
  13. Seconding the above comments - I went to 8 interviews last year (which is what, like 40 different PI interviewers?) and didn't have a single interviewer that I felt was trying to trip me up or discourage me. I did have a couple PIs who posed thought-experiment type questions, but the purpose was more for their own curiosity since our conversation was already going well, and even when I didn't get to the answer I still felt the interview went fine. I have heard stories from others of the occasional PI who will try to trip you up, but I really don't think its necessary to plan for that, if it does happen you wouldn't want to join their lab/care about their opinion anyways.
  14. My scores were rather similar (165 (96%), 154 (53%), 4.5 (81%)) and I figured they didn't really stand out enough in any direction to send them anywhere that didn't require them - worked out fine in my case
  15. This is what I do. follow-up emails I sent post-interview were addressed to Dr. Suchandsuch, even though most introduced themselves at the interviews by first name. However, if they then replied and signed with their first name, as many do, I address follow up emails to their first name. I agree its very department-dependent, but most places I interviewed at it definitely seems like grad students are on a first name basis with PIs, even if they weren't in that person's lab, and that kind of collegiality seemed to make for a better environment for the grad students I spoke with.
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