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Everything posted by slaNYC

  1. I think rising_star makes excellent suggestions. I also want to point out that what people go into doctoral programs wanting to study isn't what they necessarily end up doing their dissertations on. That is, interests change and evolve. The fact that your POI is leaving my not be bad. You have options and time to figure them out. The first year or two I suspect you'll be focusing on course work so fit with advisor may not be as important. When it's time to begin to think about your dissertation that is when it really matters. At that point, if your research interests have not shifted, potentially you can have your former POI serve on your committee for the content and have another advisor who provides different expertise. That's just my two cents.
  2. In general McGill is a very well known and respected school. Like other posters, I don't think there would be a benefit of prestige of one university over the other. I say that though not knowing anything about your program and rankings. And for all the comments about cold, yes Montreal is cold but so is NYC. It's not like you're comparing Los Angeles to Montreal. Congratulations on two great offers. Very exciting!
  3. The role of graduate students in the admission process is probably field, school, and department specific. No graduate students are involved in admissions in my doctoral program. In fact, just the other day I asked the vice chair if students had ever been part of the process. I was told they hadn't but that didn't mean they couldn't be in the future. She seemed surprised that I'd want to be part of it.
  4. I took the GRE after a 5+ break from my masters program. While the GRE is not a great predictor for how well you will do in a graduate program, schools do use it as a measure of comparison so I took it seriously. I decided to treat it like a job and studied full-time for about 3 weeks. I signed up for the Kaplan computer class. I thought spending the money would be an incentive and that it would provide me with structure. I didn't study any vocabulary until the night before. Instead I focused on the other components of the verbal and quantitative section. My scores improved dramatically and were better than the reported minimum/average/typical admitted student scores/percentiles from the doctoral programs I was interested in applying to. My main advice is to sign up for a test date first and work backwards. Having a test date will make it real. And then make a schedule for what you need to study/accomplish per day and stick to it. Lastly, take timed practice tests. They help! Best of luck to you as you begin to start studying. Studying for the GRE sucks but we have all survived. It is only for a limited time. When you think you can't possibly do another practice problem always remember that it's almost over.
  5. I think what the school is doing happens pretty regularly. It happened to me during my application process. From what you wrote it sounds like you haven't accepted anywhere else, nor are you "planning" on accepting anywhere else. So I would call or write to school B and be absolutely honest: you have yet to be accepted anywhere else, you remain very interested in their school and are not actively "planning" to go elsewhere, but of course your final decision will depend on a number of factors including any financial or fellowship offers you receive, and that you'd be delighted to be accepted by them and you would give them every consideration. Most importantly, this is great news that you are being considered. I would guess they only reach out to top candidates to see if they are interested knowing that their top candidates are also at the top of other lists too!
  6. Waiting is the worst and I understand how anxious everyone is. I completely understand seeking encouragement during this time. I think, however, it would be more helpful in these general forums to include information beyond stats such as the degree you are seeking (MPH, MS, PhD or DrPH) because that information matters. Usually those applying to professional programs (i.e. MPH) are accepted with lower GRE and GPAs than those applying to academic programs (i.e. PhD). I wish everyone the best of luck. I can say when I applied to PhD programs I heard from my first school around February 15th. And I think that timeline was pretty normal. Hang in there!
  7. i know not getting a response from a school is frustrating. i get it. but ucla has 5 departments: community health sciences, epi, health policy and management, environmental health and biostats. one cannot just say don't apply to ucla. we have no idea which department(s) were difficult to get information from. just because one department didn't reply doesn't mean they all don't. moreover, during application time departments become overwhelmed. when i was applying i emailed schools and often had to call when i did not get a response to my email (this happened at multiple schools including columbia and berkeley). there are only a few staff and hundreds of applicants with questions. my point is, make decisions about school applications based on more than a few unhappy people posting on a message board. afterall, we know that people who are most unhappy will take the time to post or fill out a survey or an evaluation whereas those that are satisfied are much less likely to do so. what we have here is a very biased group of people!
  8. I would warn against calling schools and asking if they have professors who conduct research in your area of interest. That information should be on school websites. Faculty and staff alike are crazy busy and I'm afraid it might reflect poorly on you and suggest that you don't really know anything about the school and worse that you are not capable of doing your own research. What is more, they might feel that you are wasting their time. That's just my two cents.
  9. As a public health PhD student I think it's interesting that few people are talking about the fact that this product is linked to obesity, poor health outcomes, and growing inequalities... see: http://gu.com/p/3meve
  10. I'm sure that others might have a different opinion but I think the importance of getting research experience depends largely on your future goals. That is, if your end goal is an MPH and you plan to work after you earn that degree then having research experience isn't all that important. However, if you plan on continuing on and getting a PhD then having research opportunities becomes much more critical.
  11. I'm excited to see this string because I think this is a very interesting and important question. I agree with the other posters here that have said quite eloquently that GRE scores are but just one element of your overall application. I went to Wagner at NYU. And I didn't submit GRE scores at all. However, I had a strong policy and advocacy background having worked for about 6 years before returning to school. I'm a very strong believer that MPA programs are MUCH MUCH MUCH more useful for those people that have work experience ( > 2 years ). It should be an applied program. All that is to say, if you have a strong work background in a related area, strong letters of recommendation, and a strong personal statement those are all just as, if not more, important. GRE scores are merely an indicator that you can meet a minimum threshold. The rest of the application tells your story. Good luck to you!
  12. I actually kind of disagree. I think admissions committees give serious thought to the make up of the cohorts they put together each year. If you know you are not going to attend it's better to do that now rather than later. It allows the school to carefully consider other applicants. It's just my opinion but I don't see anything wrong with withdrawing your application.
  13. I agree that it is hard to say what it means. However, if I had to guess I would say they are looking for funding opportunities for you. I really don't want to get your hopes up but I got similar inquiry last year from Berkeley about my residency status. I hadn't been admitted and wondered why they cared so much if I was a resident, not a resident, and/or would qualify for a waiver. Im quite sure though they were trying to figure my funding package as I was admitted shortly after that exchange.
  14. I talked to students when I was making my decision and I found it to be really helpful. These are some questions that I used to guide our conversation. You'd be amazed by some of the answers. 1. What is the one thing you wish someone told you before starting this program? 2. What has been the biggest surprise to you about the program? 3. What are some of the challenges you faced in the program? 4. What are some of the successes you have had in the program? 5. What are the cohorts like? Do they support each other? Does it tend to be competitive? These were really open questions and it offered an opportunity to get information I wouldn't have expected. I of course also asked about my advisor, places to live, commuting time, expectations etc. Good luck. And remember these people are your potential peers. It was so great when I started my program to have some people I sort of already knew because I had been in touch (I stayed in touch with one).
  15. When I was admitted to programs last year some notifications came with funding information and some did not. However, I never had to ask because that information came from the school shortly after the initial notification. While this is such an overwhelming time (for us), they have experience with this process so they know they need to provide funding information in order to make decisions. If you decide to contact anyone reach out to the student affairs/administrator person. Congrats on getting accepted. That is a huge accomplishment. Woo hoo!!!
  16. I worked for a professor for many years and she had a former student who had applied to PhD programs over two or three cycles. I remember that she commented over and over how she never heard from this person despite all that she had done for her. Recently a thank you letter showed up in her mailbox from 2 or 3 years ago. It was lost in our university's mailroom. Obviously this professor felt badly that she had been so annoyed and had thought so poorly of this former student. I just think it goes to show you that they care and remember the little things. When I applied I was older and worked for and with the professors that wrote my letters for many years. I gave my LOR writers nice individualized gifts since they had invested so much in my professional and personal growth. I gave one a gift certificate for a nice restaurant, one a nice bottle of wine, and one gift certificate for a local performance theater. I think for most people a letter is enough. And I can say that the professors I worked for would have been very appreciative of any of the things listed by previous posters here (fudge, coffee, wine, etc.) Those are all very nice and generous gifts.
  17. nic_t12, I can't say for certain what is going on. But perhaps my story might make you feel better. My advisor was the one that asked me to contact her in January. I did that and NEVER heard back from her. I didn't send a follow-up email because in all honestly I didn't really want to say anything that might make them not admit me. When I was admitted it came with a note that she had agreed to be my advisor. Following my acceptance she reached out to me several times to see what she could do to recruit me. She even got me a really great fellowship. If you think talking to someone would help at this point, when they have already begun reviewing applications, then I think I would recommend sending one more gentle email. That's totally appropriate. I really do stand by my comment that there are MANY of us and only ONE of them. It's just like when people are hiring for jobs. While they want to get the position filled they must keep up with their daily work and sometimes interviewing/reaching out to candidates is the last thing an employer has time to do. Good luck!
  18. When I applied to programs last year I too wrote emails to professors I thought I might want to work with. I heard back from some immediately while others replied much, much later. For instance, my POI where I'm now enrolled wrote to me about a month later asking me to contact her again after the new year (in Jan). My POI at Berkeley wrote to me AFTER they had reviewed my application. At that time she apologized for taking so long to reply, indicated she was busy, and asked if we talk after decisions had been made. She also indicated that I was still in the mix and a strong candidate. What I really think is going on is that they might want a chance to look at your application before engaging with prospective students. There are so many of us and so few of them.
  19. In my program we were presented with statistics that demonstrated that assistant professors, associate professors and full professors all work a little more than 50 hours per week. It was suggested that we treat our PhD program like the job we hope to have one day and work just as hard/as many hours as faculty members. I actually thought it was really great advice!
  20. I could be wrong but the master's program the original poster is applying to seems to be a professional program. While having an academic letter of recommendation is ALWAYS best, it might not be quite as necessary for professional programs. I applied to my master's program with letters of recommendation from a Senator and my boss at the time (the president of a national advocacy organization). It was a policy program so those letters had credibility. Clearly they were sufficient as I was admitted. However, when I applied to my PhD program I submitted three faculty recommendations. All that is to say the importance/significance of professors writing letters of recommendation may depend not only on the degree (masters vs. PhD) but also the field (professional vs. academic). I understand the difficulty with having professors write you letters when they don't know you well. There is a very real concern that such a letter would essentially be damning you with faint praise. However, I wouldn't use a graduate of the program either. There is no way to assess if that person was liked or respected by the faculty of the program. Good luck finding another appropriate letter writer. Hopefully the other aspects of your application will be strong and will make up for any perceived or real deficiencies with your letters of recommendation.
  21. This is really an interesting question. I applied and was admitted to a number of programs and one thing that I cared about was the make up of the cohort as I am an older student with lots of research experience. One school only accepts 2 students each year and that was less interesting to me. What if I didn't like that person considering this is someone theoretically I would be spending the next 5 years with? That said, the program I did select told me that too many people had accepted in previous years and so they were purposefully accepting fewer students. I was told 9 applicants were admitted with the hopes that 4 to 5 would come. And guess how many came? Two. Yep, it's true. So there you go.
  22. First I want to apologize if there is already a discussion on this. I did a search and came up with nothing. I have been admitted to UCLA and was notified today that they want to nominate me for the Eugene Cota-Robles Award. I'm aware that this is quite competitive but I'm wondering just how competitive? Does anyone out there have a sense of how many awards are given out each year? And how many per campus (UCLA vs. Berkeley vs. UCI vs. UCSB etc)? Any information would be greatly appreciated. Just so you all know, I've done the standard google search and not been able to find this information. Thanks!
  23. I don't know about your field but in mine we are asked for 3 letters of recommendation. Two should come from professors and one may come from a professional relationship. If you have a boss now that can write an exceptional letter that will help a lot. Then if the prof that you do have some relationship with writes you a letter you will only need one more. I work at a major university doing research so I hear about the process a lot from my boss. She's always asked to write letters for students she hardly knows (at the graduate level!). You could reach out to one or two professors that you got A's in their class, tell them you are considering applying to graduate school, remind them of who you are (maybe attach a paper) and ask them if they would be willing to write you a letter. Give them an out by saying something like "I understand how busy you are so if you don't feel like you will have time I completely understand." Professors should tell you if they don't think they can write you a good letter. They will say something like "I don't know you that well so I can only write about how you did in this one class." The good news is that you have nearly a year until the application process starts (if I understand your post). Therefore, I might suggest rather than having a letter that isn't so strong, I might take a class in your field and really spend time getting to know that professor. That will give you your 3rd letter, and hopefully a good one, where the person can write about more than how you performed in one class several years ago. A strong letter should be able to speak to both your personality and your potential to do well in graduate studies. Good luck.
  24. I just thought I'd jump into this discussion. From my experience schools say things like, as others have mentioned, "average scores of admitted students were..." or "competitive applicants should have...." I will say though that competitive scores are different for masters programs and PhD programs within the same school. So while a website might say a combined score of 1200 is competitive, PhD applicants might need greater than 1300. But as many have pointed out on this site in other discussions, I doubt the scores are a very important aspect of one's application (except if someone were to have exceptional/perfect scores).
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