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Posts posted by inq-biostats

  1. Hello,

    I got some really useful advice the last time I posted, so I thought I would ask for everyone's help again. I applied to five programs and have been accepted to: Columbia, University of Michigan, University of Pittsburgh, Boston University, and Northwestern. I genuinely did not think I would be accepted into some of these programs given my background, so I'm really grateful.

    The tough situation I'm in is deciding where I should go. Although Pittsburgh is not my top choice, they offered me a really generous scholarship that would make it significantly more affordable than any other program. It would be amazing to go to University of Michigan, but it's also very expensive. It would also be a dream to go to Columbia, but there is the same issue of the amount of debt I would incur by going there (especially when taking into consideration cost of living).

    My question is whether it's worth the debt to go to Michigan or Columbia when I likely will not pursue a PhD afterwards (not completely out of the question, just somewhat improbable). I know the biostatistics departments are highly reputable, but how strong are their MS programs in giving rigourous and practical training? Will my job prospects after graduation be improved in a meaningful way that would warrant going? Or should I just go to Pittsburgh because there won't be much of a difference?


  2. On 7/3/2019 at 2:52 PM, cyberwulf said:

    I would take a shot at a few programs this year. Masters applications aren't typically reviewed until the spring semester, so you will have at least one math grade in (hopefully an 'A'!) by then and can submit that as a supplement. If there's any way you can take both Calc II and Linear Algebra in the fall, that would put you in an even stronger position. 

    Thanks for your reply! Unfortunately, my university has Calc II as a prerequisite for Linear Algebra so I can't take it until the spring. I have decided to apply to around two to three programs and just see what happens. One of those will be University of Michigan. It's a strong program with a higher admission rate and offers conditional admissions in some cases, as previously mentioned. Do you maybe have suggestions for other programs that might suit my situation?

  3. On 6/25/2019 at 10:39 PM, bayessays said:

    Since you have such a great profile in general, I think it's definitely worth waiting the year to apply.  If you can do well in calc and linear, the entire world of MS programs is open to you. Without those courses on your transcript, you're going to struggle finding a program to take a chance (and they'd have to wait on at least your fall grades if not your spring to consider taking that risk at all - but even then, it will not be a well regarded program).

    I wouldn't usually recommend dropping research, but if you think it's going to impact your grades, drop it. As a psychology major, you don't have many opportunities to prove you can handle the math, so take it an focus on it. Also to see if you even like it! You need to do well in those math courses.

    If you can get As in those math classes and do well on your GRE, I bet you'll get into pretty much any biostatistics MS.  The difference that will make for your career prospects is enormous. I would highly recommend you wait a year.  I don't think it matters much what you do during your off year - job experience doesn't count for a whole lots especially only 6 months of it, so do what makes financial sense and will make you happy.  

    I appreciate your feedback! Another question I've been mulling over: how much do you think letters of recommendation account into the decisions made by admissions committees? If I drop the research-focused honors program, I'm not sure how that might affect the letter of recommendation my mentor would have written me. I don't think he would write me a bad one, but it just might not be as glowing as it would originally have been.

  4. On 6/25/2019 at 10:55 PM, omicrontrabb said:

    I will start by saying that I am more familiar with PhD admissions than masters admissions, but I don't think that you need to be quite so worried.

    For your specific questions:

    1/2.) Waiting would definitely improve your chances of admission. Doing well in those math classes is really important and would significantly boost your profile. It's your opportunity to show that you can do advanced math. I agree with @bayessays . If you get good grades in those classes and get a 165Q on the GRE, you should be able to get in anywhere you want.

    Depending on your financial circumstances, you could apply to programs this year and then just wait and apply again if you don't get into ones that you are happy with. It's possible you'd get in somewhere very good and I don't think that they penalize you for reapplying. So that would depend on how okay you are with potentially wasting hundreds of dollars. (I personally would wait and just find something fun to do for a year.)

    If you really want to start a masters next year, you could apply to somewhere like Michigan (currently ranked 5th for biostats). Last year their acceptance rate for the MS was about 80% and they have a January 15 deadline. (Even still, there's still a decent chance you wouldn't get in without having grades for lin alg and calc iii.) I'm not sure how that would affect your job prospects versus going to say, Harvard or UW.

    3.) I don't think working would benefit your application. It's difficult to get a job doing something relevant to biostatistics without a degree in statistics/biostatistics. The advantage of waiting would be having your grades for prerequisite math classes. Do something you'd enjoy.

    4.) Definitely prioritize doing well in those math classes. Biostatistics admissions committees don't seem to care that much about applied research, especially in other fields. It shows you're a hard worker, can help you form relationships for LOR, etc., but isn't a qualification in and of itself. During visit days at top 10 biostat PhD programs, plenty of admitted students had basically zero relevant research experience. Math skills, on the other hand, are crucial.

    Thank you for replying to my questions! You and @bayessays have really helped with some of the decisions I need to make, as well as confirming some of my initial thoughts. I'll most likely apply to just a few programs this year with the understanding that I'll probably end up taking a gap year. It's good to know I can pursue anything during that time in-between.

  5. Hello, everyone!

    I'm a rising senior thay has just recently made the decision to pursue a MS in biostatistics rather than the original path I've been working at for the past couple years (PhD in Clinical Psychology).

    Clearly, this is a major shift in my plans so I have been attempting to familiarize myself with the field and what credentials I'll need in order to be admitted into such a program. The underlying question of this post: do I even have a chance of admission for Fall 2019 or I should apply for the following year?

    Undergraduate Institution: Large Public University (top 60 in national universities, top 20 in public universities)
    Major(s): Psychological Sciences, BS
    GPA: 3.92/4.0 (I had an "off" semester)
    Type of Student: Domestic URM Female

    GRE General Test: (TBD, expecting 165 Q and V)
    Programs Applying: MS Biostatistics
    Research Experience: 2 years as a research assistant for five laboratories in different areas of psychology (not all at once, currently in two), 1 year as a project manager for a large meta-analysis in clinical psychology, 1/2 year developing a senior's thesis pertaining to pathological personality under the guidance of a mentor as part of a research-focused honors program for a small cohort of PSY students (program will last until graduation, culminating in a potential publication and poster presentations), just started in a lab this summer in the area of quantitative methods lab and clinical psychology (I'm their only research assistant so I'm getting the opportunity for meaningful involvement in projects involving advanced quantitative methods)
    Activities or Jobs: 
    (N/A for work in statistics but to give more background) 1 year as a mental health technician for a group home for adults with severe mental illness, 1 year as president of mental health advocacy organization, 1 year as crisis counselor for Crisis Text Line
    Letters of Recommendation: research mentor (strong), supervisor for meta-analysis (strong), quantiative methods lab supervisor (strong)
    Relevant Coursework: 
    Psychology - Introduction to Statistics in Psychology, Research Methods in Psychology, Understanding and Analyzing Experiments (ANOVA and Research Design), Introduction to Bayesian Statistics, Honors Research Seminar I (all As)
    Math & Statistics: Calculus I (AP credit)
    Honors and Awards: Phi Beta Kappa, Office of Undergraduate Research Scholar ($1000 scholarship program), Psychological Sciences Research Focused Honors Student
    Skills: programming in R (developing skill under the guidance of the quantitative methods lab I'm in, hope to become proficient)
    Plan of Action:
    Fall - Calculus II
    Spring - Calculus III, Linear Algebra, Statistics
    Summer (considering) - Real Analysis, ODE, Probability
    1. Unfortunately, I'm currently in a position of playing catch up on prerequisite coursework. I have a plan to take the classes I need, but my grades will of course not be finalized in time for the many programs that have application deadlines in early December. My concern is that the programs will have nothing to go on as far as my ability to take rigorous math courses and will thus not be able to seriously consider me for admission. For the programs that have early spring deadlines, they will only be able to see my grade in Calculus II. This is the primary reason I'm asking if I even have a chance of admission. Thoughts?
    2. If I do have a chance, which range of programs should I be applying to? My worry is that many programs I've been looking into are out of reach given my background.
    3. If I likely don't have a chance of admission, what kind of jobs can I pursue in a gap year that will be benificial on my application for the following year?
    4. I'm truly trying to set myself up for success this next year, but I also have a lot on my plate given commitments I made prior to this change in post-graduation plans. From what I've gathered, grades and letters of recommendation are the strongest selling points on an application. Therefore, I've been thinking of stepping down from the research focused honors program in order to give myself the chance to study more for the math classes I need to excel in (I would have more time for studying without the significant amount of credit hours from research seminars, individual study, and meetings that will take up my schedule in the fall and spring). My concern is that I would me removing perhaps one of the few pulls, if there even are any, to my application. Is this experience even something admission committees would look at favorably to warrant the added stress? I don't want to stretch myself to thin and not perform well in my courses.
    I know this was long so I'm grateful for you sticking with me. Any and all feedback is appreciated. Thank you!
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