Forest Owlet

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About Forest Owlet

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  • Application Season
    2017 Fall
  • Program
    Biology/Conservation Sciences

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  1. Frustrations with transcript requests

    Before I read this post, I had wondered many times if I was the only one getting hassled by this. As an international applicant, this is not just an inconvenience, it is a clear sign that the institution does not really care about international applicants or has even thought about the fact that things might be very different in other parts of the world (which to me, is mind-blogging in itself). I find it strangely arrogant or crazy that universities, of all the places, do this. My undergraduate university is a large, old institution with tens of thousands people graduating every year. The official time required for transcripts to be issued is 60 days. The actual time required can be anything between that to 100+ days, with no clarity as to what is happening and when the darn things might actually ship. There is no system of e-transcripts. I find it insane that I have to suffer through the torture of doing this for multiple places and keeping track of what has gone out and what hasn’t. So I simply decided that I was not going to do this - I decided pretty late that I was going to apply this year, and my first filter for selecting schools to apply for was whether they required official transcripts. I decided that I’d rather spend that time reading more papers of potential POIs and writing better emails to them. As it happens, I’ve been accepted into my first choice school, which would very likely still be my first choice school even if I’d applied to half a dozen more places, so it worked out well for me. I guess if I hadn’t made it into this place, I might have regretted a bit. I have half a mind to write to some of these schools which I didn’t apply to and complain about this official transcript requirement sometime over the next few months, but then it’s quite likely that nobody will care a damn. I do hope things change, and I guess they do have, bit by bit. I also hear that many places say that they need official transcripts but are ok with unofficial ones if you send them a nice email explaining the situation. So I guess in about 20 years or so, things should be ok
  2. Just go with a short, simple and polite email asking for feedback on your application and any hints as to why it was rejected, so that you can work on your profile and submit a stronger application in the next cycle. If they don't respond, send a polite reminder in a couple of weeks time (many profs are likely to be busy with admissions decisions and responding to selected applicants queries about the offer). Yet another polite reminder a couple of weeks after that might not be a bad thing, but do let it go after that if they don't respond. I am sure that you will get help here on gradcafe on your profile, and there are lots of folks, especially from your field, who can guide you to ensure a stronger application. Don't give up, lose hope or let the frustration get to you
  3. I don't know anything about your field, and how the application process works in it. But I am an international applicant who has been accepted into 2 of the 4 places I applied to (still awaiting 1 result). My experience has been that it is almost completely dependent on the nature of the POIs you have been in touch with before/during the application process and how the interaction has been. If that went well, and the person remembers you (or he/she is a genuinely nice person), there's a chance that he/she may respond to your email and let you know what happened. Otherwise, it looks difficult. Even with just 4 applications, the responses have been right across the spectrum, from super helpful and nice to a slightly terse response (I actually got in there!), to complete silence. While it is definitely not rude to ask for feedback on your application, you shouldn't take a stance that you deserve to know because you spent time and money on it. I don't want to be rude or unhelpful, I am just trying to explain how things are likely to work - please don't take this the wrong way! Think of it from the admissions committee's perspective - it would be unreasonable to expect them to respond to hundreds (or even dozens) of queries on how a specific application is weak.
  4. Reapply next year... but when do I plan my wedding?

    I am not yet in grad school, but I was stuck in a similar situation a few years ago (though I had an offer then). Be like a gazillion percent sure about it if you decide to put grad school off by a year or 2 - you don't want to be holding that against your to-be spouse (as much as you know its your own decision, etc. etc.). I decided to get married and apply 'later'. Later turned out to be a solid 6 years later. Worked out fine (got some incredible experience, have landed some nice offers now), but it was a tough decision and there were moments when I regretted not taking up the original offer.
  5. Help with student visa questions

    Thank you for this thread - it's great to have this, especially in these times of uncertainty! I have received a couple of offers from PhD programs in the US in environmental sciences/conservation area. One of these is a top school, and is a big brand (though not Ivy league). The funding situation is also pretty decent (From my calculations and understanding of the costs, things should be pretty comfortable and I don't see myself using my savings), and I am covered for the length of the PhD. I have really good test scores, including the TOEFL. I am still worried about the immigration intent aspect, though. I have a younger brother who works in the US with his wife (neither are US citizens or residents), and have heard that having family in the US can be an issue. I actually am really keen on coming back to my country after my PhD, as there's a lot of amazing work here in this sector. My current boss has said that it'd be great to have me back, and also wants me to keep working on a 20-30% freelance basis during the PhD if that would be possible (legally, course load-wise, etc.). He is also really keen that I do my PhD research here instead of the US. Family reasons (parents who are getting old and definitely have no intention of moving anywhere ) are also an important factor. How do I demonstrate this intent to return in the visa interview? What documentation should I have with me for this? I was thinking of getting a letter from my employer, but if anybody showed me a letter from their current employer saying that they will be taken back after a 5 year break, I'd not be convinced and smell desperation - I am worried it might hurt my case rather than help it.
  6. 2017 EEB Applicant Profiles & Admissions Results

    Thank you Nopes, not planning to do anything with owls
  7. 2017 EEB Applicant Profiles & Admissions Results

    Thank you! I am an international applicant, so the process was a bit different for me. I have had detailed discussions with my POIs, but haven't had a formal interview. I think the best way to find out is to get in touch with your POI to check what the status is.
  8. UC Berkeley 2017

    Very excited to get an offer, and have decided that I will be taking it up! International applicant for Environmental Science, Policy & Management (ESPM) PhD program!
  9. 2017 EEB Applicant Profiles & Admissions Results

    Got through into UC Berkeley ESPM and Minnesota EEB! Super excited
  10. 2017 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results

    I think this is a key point. In one of my interviews, I think both sides realised that the fit thing was an issue. I'd be surprised if I get through there, although I was told multiple times that my statements and application were very strong.
  11. Understanding Funding Offers

    Thank you for that incredibly detailed answer! This will be very helpful when I discuss these points with my POI.
  12. Understanding Funding Offers

    I’ve received an offer from one of the PhD programs that I had applied to, along with funding details. A am a bit confused about some of the points, and while I will definitely try to clarify these with the department/POI, I need to understand how things work before I do that: 1. The letter says that they are offering me a 5 year funding package (and have stated a $ amount), including 1 year of GSR support from the department + 1 year from my POI. Then it says that funding in the remaining years will consist of a combination of GSR, GSI and competitive fellowship funds that I obtain on my own. I am confused - are they guaranteeing support for 5 years, or will I have to compete for it after 2 years? 2. The letter mentions that support will be for the 10-month academic year. What about the Summer months? What typically happens? 3. It also says that my in-state tuition costs and fees are covered. 'International students will have their NRT covered for 2 years'. Again, what happens after 2 years? 4. There's no mention of Health Insurance. Is this normal? 5. Does this funding include any fellowships or do the decisions for that typically happen later? Is there anything else that I should watch out for/clarify? Also, is it ok to ask so many questions to your POI
  13. Someone is reading my application right now

    Hahaha... Completely get you! Waking up in the morning is stressful.. the good part is that by the time its morning here, its more or less the end of the day in the US, so I used to check my email and go back to sleep for an hour so, this time peacefully This worked well till the day I woke up after my peaceful, nothing-is-going-to-happen-now slumber, only to find the golden words awaiting me in my inbox Still waiting to hear from a couple of more places, but it's so much better now!
  14. Is the stipend enough?

    The American health insurance system is truly bewildering If that ever happens to me, I might just pack up and go home
  15. Is the stipend enough?

    Wow, this article and the raw data behind it is scary. As an international applicant in my early 30s, this is making me seriously worried, especially given the opportunity cost. Not knowing how many things in the US work and what to watch out for is also pretty scary (for example, medical insurance in my country is VERY affordable and has almost no co-pay)