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twocosmicfish

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About twocosmicfish

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    Double Shot

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    EECS, PhD

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  1. You are starting from rock bottom. First, get some archaeology courses under your belt now - grad level if possible, the highest level you can handle otherwise. It is very very very important that you do very well in these classes - a B-average will not help you. Prove that you have the passion, discipline, and talent to succeed at the academics. If you can show 5-6 classes with a 3.5+ GPA they might not care about your undergrad. Second, get in the dirt as soon as possible. If you are in the US you are probably not too far from some groups accepting volunteers, whether the sites are historic, contact period, whatever - many of the techniques will transfer over, and you just need to demonstrate that you can do the work. Many of the people will be hobbyists, but there will be a few professionals as well. Get involved, help out, seek advice, try to dig in as far as you can. Make it clear to the pro's that you are interested in getting your PhD - they might be able to open some doors for you. Third, get into a field school. It will be expensive, but it will be a step up. If you did the volunteer thing, you will be advanced in the group and can spend some time impressing a higher caliber of better-connected professionals. Keep demonstrating competence and building contacts. Fourth, go after a masters program. Baby steps, but I would not recommend a new bachelors degree until you try at least 2 admissions cycles at the grad level. You may have to pay for this degree, especially with your undergrad GPA, but if you want the PhD this is probably a necessary step. Fifth... PhD applications.
  2. I refuse to comment until I see the hats.
  3. I did not intend to trivialize your concern - I stated quite clearly that in your case location obviously was and should be important. I feel your situation is not representative of the general body of applicants because I do not think that many students have sufficient issues with the location of their schools as to cause them any significant problems with completing their programs. As you yourself indicated, SAD is not highly prevalent - ~0.2% of the population? - and even assuming that there were a hundred other equally common and equally substantial reasons to so highly weight location, it would still only add up to 20% of the population - still not representative, assuming of course that such issues are distributed in a similar manner between the total and "prospective grad student" populations. I have met people who were unhappy with the location of their chosen or prospective schools, but have never personally met anyone who indicated that it was preventing them from finishing their degree, or even that it was affecting their grades or their research. That may just be my limited perspective, but that is all I have to go on. I have heard from people who used it as a "tie-breaker" between roughly similar programs, or who have had family issues to consider, and certainly from people who have a financial stake in the location - either because of the income/expenses ratio, or because some of their income/expenses are tied to a specific location or regions - but I have not personally met anyone who turned down or refused to apply to their best academic opportunity because it was too hot/too cold/too urban/too rural/too far from home/too close to home, etc, for them to succeed. There are certainly going to be non-academic issues to consider, but how much of those issues cross-over into the academics, and what is the cost of those issues compared to the long-term benefit of your education? To put it another way, how much impact to your long-term academic and professional success are you willing to accept to obtain a certain amount of in-school happiness, in so far as they may be considered seperate? Enough to turn down a 2nd ranked program in favor of a 5th, a 10th, a 20th, a 50th? Most people only get into a handful of schools, and the career prospects associated with them often vary widely, so when considering those programs, how much long-term impact does location have compared to the impact the decision has on the rest of your life? Personally, and from my experience with others, I would say comparatively little. Finally, the original post was in regards to defining "fit", and I have never before heard location mentioned in that context, but instead as a seperate issue. From my experience, "fit" is usually used in regard to the relationship between your prospective advisors' research interests and personalities and your own, and likewise in regard to the department in general.
  4. From what I have observed it is generally a negative - you have a more limited exposure to other faculties, other methodologies, etc. There is always the question of how much of your success is due to your department or advisor. The exception (as someone else noted) is when you are at a top-5 program in your field. Everyone knows that grad admissions at that level are very capricious, and no one expects you to drop to an inferior program just so you have that diversity. This is why it is not uncommon to find Harvard and MIT grads who went the BA/BS to PhD at the same school, and no one has a problem with it.
  5. Coya - I think it is fair to say that you are probably not representative of the majority of students. That may be supposition on my part, but I think it true. Nonetheless, for you location is obviously very important, and considering the impact you state that it has on your academic success, it should be. Everyone has to rank their own issues based on what is important to them, and it is ultimately your life, not mine. Personally, I have yet to find two schools that were so closely matched on what I consider important that the location has really mattered to me - excepting of course financial concerns, which I think are always important. Are the two schools going to provide you comparable preparation for your desired post-PhD career? Then who cares what other criteria you use? The mistake is passing up a strong program for a weaker one if you can avoid it - the long term costs can be quite high.
  6. A good offer? It depends on how much you want Berkeley. After the 3rd year it looks reasonable - a combination of assistantships and fellowships up through year 7. Prior to that, it depends on (a) whether or not you are a CA resident, and ( whether or not you can swallow the extra living expenses during that time. If you are NOT a CA resident, then you are going to be on the hook for the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition - a hefty hunk of change, I am sure. As to the rest... what are your other options? Is Berkeley worth paying an extra $20k+ in living expenses during those two years, and does holding a "readership" prevent you from seeking a paying part-time job? If your other options are lesser programs and lesser advisors, then this might be worthwhile, especially if you are Californian. If Harvard makes you an offer... take it.
  7. I am not expecting that people would be able to post their decision immediately upon receipt of an "accepted" note from the school - with a few exceptions of course. Rather, much like a post indicating "interview" or "waitlist" will likely be eventually followed by another post indicating "accepted" or "rejected", this would allow a follow-up post indicating where people are actually attending. Perhaps even just adding an "attending" option to the current "Notification" list would suffice, as people could freely indicate the schools they were rejecting. The reason is just that the "Accepted" tag tells a very incomplete story. The average poster is accepted at multiple schools, so most of the accepted tags become meaningless. Even allowing for the fact that not all "declines" result in subsequent offers to other students, it at least lets people know more about the process going on in their desired departments.
  8. Would it be possible to add another field to the Results Search, to indicate the posters decision or intention? Even something that just listed : Attending, Declining, Unsure? In the case of the first two choices, a handful of posts would let everyone know what spots had just opened and which ones had just closed.
  9. Generally the advisor, but it depends a bit. If you want to go into academia, and have an admit from a top-top school in your general field, that is hard to pass up - a lot of schools show a preference for hiring "elite" phd's. Likewise, if you know you are going into non-academic, non-research after graduation, then the school may be more important. For example, if you are going into consulting or policy, they want to hear from the Harvard phd, not the Wisconsin phd. Just remember that in your subfield (eg computational electromagnetics), your advisor is most important. In your general field (eg electrical engineering) your department reputation is most important. Outside your general field (eg everyone else) your school reputation is most important. So think about which group is most going to affect your life and career, and that shows what will be most important to you.
  10. See, I'm older too - 33 with a wife and 2 kids - and I just cannot imagine a climate or area so bad that thousands of other people can live their whole lives there but I cannot tolerate 5 years. The area doesn't have what you are used to? There will be other stuff to do, and it will apparently be stuff you have never explored before! This is not your whole life, it's a few years, with the option of escaping in the summers.
  11. socnerd - as others have noted here, the difference in funding practices is because as an undergraduate you are an academic consumer, while as a graduate student you are expected to contribute a little more in research and teaching than you consume in education and resources. Now, those who are expected to contribute more (because of grades, previous research, recommendations, etc.) get better funding, and of course there is always a limited pool of funding available, but that is the principle. As to your situation, many applications ask the question "do you require financial assistance to attend?" but if not, don't push it - many schools view the funding/admission issue as a single question. If they only WANT to admit X students, and funding for at least that many, then it is irrelevent to their decision.
  12. "Fit" is usually used here in regards to the other side of the admissions equation - how well the admissions committee and advisors think you match up with their needs. As far as YOUR decision on where to go... it is really up to you. What's important to you? I think the atmosphere of the place is very important - after all, they're going to be rubbing elbows with you for the next 4-8 years! At the same time, keep an eye towards graduation - when will you graduate, what will you have produced, and what job/academic position will you be in? I would not worry too much about the location or other issues outside the school, as you should be able to put up with it until graduation.
  13. They will reimburse you - no school wants a reputation for stiffing potential grad students.
  14. Really? That was not my experience at all! Champaign-Urbana is much cheaper than Austin, despite which the funding tends to be pretty similiar - a large part of my reason for NOT going to UT last time was financial.
  15. I think it is a good idea in principle - it allows people with loans the assurance that they will not be pushed too far below water - but I can see some problems with it. First, people need to be comparing their intended career with their required tuition and seeing how they line up. If you are going into an area that averages $25k a year for grads, don't drop $200k on an education. This plan works best when it is helping people who planned well and got hurt by the economy, not people who chase their dreams off a cliff. Second, it does not eliminate the loans, just postpones them. In many cases, 10% may not do any more than pay down the interest, so anyone taking advantage of this needs to be aware that the snowball is growing, and that if they do not find that better-paying job that they will still be paying on the loans when they retire. I don't think it will significantly limit student loan availability for a while yet - it will depend on the total effect on loan repayment...
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