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    2019 Fall
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  1. 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.
  2. I spent a LOT of time going back and forth between Stanford and Columbia, and I ended up going with Stanford in part because it was the safer bet (I'm not from the bay, but am currently on the west coast and have family in the bay). I don't think that a safer bet is necessarily a bad thing, especially if you felt better about the faculty and students at UCSF - as you say, UCSF and MIT are of very similar caliber in the bio field. I would spend some time thinking about what it is that makes you feel that UCSF is safer and how those factors would relate to your overall grad experience: safer in terms of a good program fit is probably a good thing. That being said, don't let "feeling like you're not good enough" stop you from going to MIT if that's actually the place you prefer. You were clearly good enough to get in out of a lot of applicants which means that MIT thinks you're good enough to succeed (despite what your inner Imposter Syndrome may tell you). I also hear that Boston is a great city to be in, both academically and culturally, and obviously MIT is top-tier.
  3. Cold Spring Harbor for sure has lots of conferences in the summer, but I doubt there's much going on in the winter; Cornell will give you the opportunity bonuses of being an actual college campus and not just a set of labs (which I would classify as being of greater value, but that's a personal preference). I would worry less about resume-building and more about which is a better fit for you research-wise: which profs were you most excited about working with, which programs seemed to have the best resources for comp bio, which group of students seemed more enthusiastic about the work they were doing? Out of curiosity, which program would you attend at Cornell? I interviewed with GGD and really liked the program there.
  4. Man, you guys definitely should have gotten it back by now. The only one I'm still waiting on is the place I interviewed with in March. I would try reaching out to someone else in the program (Admissions chair or something).
  5. Echoing the others here in saying that your profile is top notch. It really seems like it's probably SOP and/or LOR-related - especially given the fact that you're applying to really top tier schools, who will get a lot of applicants who check all the boxes and need to sort them out by way of less than stellar SOPs and recc letters.
  6. Officially accepted an offer to come do my PhD with Stanford Biosciences - Now I'm trying to sort out the grad housing situation. We toured a few options when I interviewed but I would love to get some perspective on the differences in environment for the different buildings/areas from current students and/or other incoming students more familiar with the housing sitch.It seems like most people live on the EV side of things (versus Lyman, which seems nice but kind of isolated). In EV itself; How social are different buildings? How much does this vary for the high-rise options versus the low-rise options? If I opt to live in a studio (and spend way too much money) will I be totally isolated or is there some level of socialization even in the studio-only buildings? What are the best options for groceries (particularly without a car)? Do people generally relocate after their first year (to live with new friends, move to a better option, etc.)? What would you say is the best bang-for-your-buck in terms of housing?
  7. I have narrowed down my list to two programs: Stanford Biosciences and Columbia Biological Sciences. Both programs are excellent and well-respected in my field and have a selection of great faculty that I would love to rotate and work with. Apart from that, the two programs are very different and I think that's why I'm having such a hard time deciding between them. Obviously there's the west coast/ east coast switch - I am on the West coast now so it would be quite a big move to go to NYC, but that in itself is not a limiting factor. NYC and Palo Alto are also VERY different cities in pretty much every way: I really liked NYC itself (but interviews were my first visit) and don't like Palo Alto nearly as much. On the other hand the Stanford campus itself is a little more vibrant than Columbia (and certainly better weather). The direct program I would be in at Stanford is also significantly smaller and more focused than Columbia's. This has the benefit of getting lots of faculty attention and a big focus on the kinds of research I want to do, but I worry about that sort of small-program environment that puts you under the microscope at all times and makes things a little more high-pressure. TL;DR Give me some perspective on deciding between these two. I am currently leaning towards Stanford because the program fit is just slightly better, but I worry about living in the Palo Alto bubble for six years and am torn about how highly the city I will be living in should rank on my comparisons here.
  8. Am I interpreting correctly that #4 means you're next on the waitlist? I would say that's a very solid place to be and you should ride it out at least until April 10th or so. Its your right to wait right up until April 15th if you want to and you should absolutely take advantage of that if this place is high on your list.
  9. Naw you should be alright. I have a D on my transcript and still got interviews-- if you made it to interviews and they liked you enough to give you an offer then they don't care much about your grades at this point unless you fail the whole semester, don't graduate, or reveal yourself as a serial killer.
  10. Not my field at all but Seattle is a really great place to live. I've been living here for the past 6 years and did my undergrad at UW and can't speak highly enough of the school and the city. The university as a whole is a huge research university, so there's no way that you'll have trouble finding research opportunities (and at least at the undergrad level, I know that the school of social work is well respected.
  11. Who knows how many of them are just hanging around this forum, but worth a shot: People who have lived/are living car-free at Stanford: How do you get by? How useful do you find public transit? How easy is it to get to/from a reasonably-priced grocery store? How trapped do you feel in the Palo Alto bubble (and how do you deal)? How often do you get out of the city - by public transit or by bumming rides off friends? etc.. I am heavily considering accepting an offer from Stanford but am not a huge fan of Palo Alto. I also don't drive now and would like to keep that up in grad school, but as great as Stanford itself if, I imagine that Palo Alto gets real bubble-like if you don't have a car to escape now and then. Would love to hear perspective from people already getting by without a car.
  12. Honestly I think that option 3 here is the most valuable (and saves you the cost of a masters). A 3.3 GPA shouldn't get you turned away from programs ( when combined with solid experience and a demonstrated understanding of your research) and GRE won't matter by the time you re-apply. Research experience and really good LORs that can come from that WILL be the most important deciding factor in your application. I will echo that working with someone well-known in your field probably helps, but only if they're also going to write you a stellar recommendation- you don't want a top name that you'll never see who will, as a result, write you a very generic LOR. I will also say that "well-known" is relative: a shocking number of people I interviewed with knew my undergrad PI despite the fact that she is by no means famous - just well known in the fly community because she's been around for awhile.
  13. I am also just emailing people that I had substantial interactions with at/after interviews - at one school this was just one POI who I interviewed with and who notified me of my acceptance, at another it was two POIs I interviewed with, one of whom I emailed with several times post-interview and one whose research I was really excited about.
  14. I think you can safely wait a couple weeks longer. Once you hit April, I would recommend reaching out to the waitlist schools to tell them how interested you are in their program and see if they'll tell you where you fall on the waitlist (if you're high up on the waitlist, its in a school's best interest to tell you so that they can have the best people replacing students who decline).
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