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Everything posted by Physwimic

  1. I tried applying to two different departments two years ago and was told you can't do it.
  2. Personally, I feel like grad school is not the easiest of places to meet SOs. Primarily, this is because much like many of your other friends, a lot of grad students I know are in committed relationships. Unlike undergrad, at least to me, a lot of the social gatherings feel more like networking opportunities than pick-up spots. These two things combine to make finding a SO also in grad school difficult. And as a grad student, it is difficult to meet people outside of school. For one thing, no matter how good at time management you are, you only have limited time to commit to a relationship. Add on top of that the perception of grad students in the outside dating game, and finding a non-grad student SO is also difficult. I guess what I'm trying to say is that grad school, unlike undergrad, is not an ideal place to find a relationship. That being said, it is certainly possible. Like anything, you need to prioritize it. As some other people have suggested, make sure you go to group social activities. Don't be afraid to let friends know you are interested. It can be really difficult in grad school to distinguish who is interested in dating and who just wants to be left alone. Finally, I'll suggest something that I don't think anyone else has mentioned: online dating. Gasp, I know. But this is an efficient way to streamline some of the randomness that you perhaps don't have time to deal with. You probably want to try and minimize the amount of random dating you do, since it takes a lot of time. Online dating "can" help you narrow down what dates are worth going on and broaden your social network if done correctly. Of course, it can also be a huge waste of time.
  3. As far as asking for 3 letters from a single writer, I think that is fine. A large part of their letter will probably be generic, with maybe a few sections that are tailored to the specific program. I was told by a prof when I applied that the hard part (ie time consuming) is writing that generic part. The program specific part is normally pretty easy. As for whether to get new letters from the same person, I'd let them make the decision. Approach them about getting a letter and let them know what has changed. Personally, I would then ask them if they would write you a letter and leave it at that. Most people will have your old letter saved and will probably make some minor changes and send it off again. If you give them the option to just reuse right off the bat, the lazy LOR writer is very likely to just say "Sure." And then all of your work to improve your application over the last year will be lost. If anybody gives you trouble about not having time, ask them then if it is ok to reuse their letter from last year.
  4. My college girlfriend broke up with me about a week before I started grad school, so I can definitely sympathize. Focusing wasn't really an issue for me because I tend to bury myself in work when I'm depressed. The only advice I can give you is realize that this type of thing happens to (almost) everybody at some point and to give yourself a little slack. Most people have similar experiences. Its going to take some time to get over this. In the mean time, try your best to continue with classes and work. Also, make sure you take some time to hang out with friends/colleagues. For me, I began to feel very isolated and it is only recently that I started to force myself to reconnect with other people. I think it could have been very helpful to start this sooner.
  5. I'm with Nerd_For_Life; give it until the end of March unless you have another decision deadline (other than the usual April 15).
  6. I'd add to that list funding concerns. Depending on how the department get's their funding, they may not be able to fund international students very easily. Also, it is often harder for international students to win external funding (ie the NSF or other US fellowships that require citizenship). This makes international students less appealing.
  7. I wasn't entirely able to keep all of the schools straight, but have you considered trying to pressure the schools that haven't made their decision yet? You can try to get them to give you more information as quickly as possible.
  8. I was accepted via phone by one program, and that was by the program director.
  9. I agree with spacezeppelin, this is getting blown out of proportion. While I agree this is not common practice in America, I certainly had a few people do this at interviews last year, and while I certainly thought it was odd, it in no way colored my opinion of the person. I think most people would shrug this off as excitement about the interviews, and not look too much into it. I would also agree that if someone e-mailed you back complaining, they are probably worried about privacy. Chances are, you probably won't care what this person thinks about you in the future anyway, and they will find plenty of other reasons to not like you, through no specific fault of your own. I'd move on and stop worrying; go enjoy the weekend!
  10. First, in my opinion, whenever a school asks you "if you are really interested in going there," it is kind of an obnoxious thing to do. They know that we are all in hard situations where we are weighing a lot of variables and often don't have all the information when we are asked this question. In that sense, I think you were perfectly justified in answering "yes, I am considering your school," and are also perfectly justified in declining a spot later. There is also a reason to visit at the open house for any school if there is a chance that you may want to go, since this gives you an opportunity to meet your potential classmates, other students in the program, and get the information to make a decision either way. As for the idea that you would be "stealing" a spot from someone else, if you believe there is a chance that you may go to that school, it is your right to visit. There is no way to even be sure that you dropping out will free up another spot. That being said, if there is no way that you are ever going to go to the school and you still choose to go to be wined and dined, then you have entered into an amoral regime.
  11. Just a reminder to factor in the cost-of-living in the area around a school. Sometimes factoring this in will even out deals, and schools do factor this into their funding packages. It would be embarrassing to ask for more $ and then get told the deal is equivalent.
  12. There are some rare cases of admissions denying an applicant admission after the department recommends them; however, they are usually pretty rare. It usually occurs when something is not acceptable with the application (ie the GPA doesn't meet a cutoff or something similar).
  13. I don't think that is a terrible start. The student-advisor relationship is difficult, and can often lead to horrible failure. But like most things, it takes a little work, on both sides, to cultivate. When your advisor told you communication was off, he probably didn't mean anything negative by it other than to let you know what his expectations were and how the problem could be fixed. By addressing those issues, you are back on the right track. Everyone has their own personal styles, and as a PI of many students, your advisor has got to realize this. As a fellow introvert, I can sympathize with your plight. It can be difficult to talk with PIs, particularly when they are big names. That being said, they are usually understanding that this whole process is a learning experience for you. If you continue to make the same mistakes, then he may doubt you, but probably you are being a little paranoid.
  14. Physwimic

    Bowing out...

    I may not be from sociology, but I personally think it is admirable for a faculty member to invest some of their time in these types of endeavors. You are able to provide a different perspective which most of the other posters cannot hope to provide. Like many of the other posters have already said, it is high time for people to remember that what they post on the internet is not private and likely to be exploited by any means necessary. This means if you do have a sensitive topic to discuss, you should post accordingly. If you don't want something to influence your chances of admission somewhere, post in a method that doesn't single out schools or people. Take precautions so that you can post anonymously if you are going to post about sensitive matters. These are common sense things that I feel are being lost as technology seeps into our everyday life.
  15. Physwimic

    Late LOR

    I think the most important question is whether he gets them in at all. From talking with people on admissions committees, they recognize that LOR writers are busy people, and your letter is one of many things for them to do. Generally, as long as they receive the letter before they make any decisions and the letter is favorable, they are willing to overlook them missing the deadline. In short, all is not lost.
  16. One of the most interesting ones I encountered was "What traits would you look for in an advisor?"
  17. I think it is important to remember that the NSF is not looking for the most creative, important, and just jaw dropping research proposal. In fact, if you propose a project which might win you the next Nobel prize, you probably won't get an NSF. What the NSF is looking for in the proposal is that you can formulate a solid scientific proposal that is doable in ~3 years with a plausible hypothesis, valid methods of testing that hypothesis, back up plans for if/when things go wrong, and an understanding of why the research you are proposing is important. I guess what I'm saying is keep in mind that the NSF is more than just the basic ideas, its about convincing the committee that you can carry out those plans.
  18. I think this is incredibly rare because most people realize there is a degree of randomness to the application process. While I was comfortable that my application would be seriously considered, I also knew there were too many people applying to every school that would fall into a similar category for me to just be automatically accepted. It really comes down to whether or not your application connects with the adcom. And once in grad school, even if you know you are good, you realize you still have randomness in other aspects of grad school, such as picking advisors, and the course your research takes. Finally, most people have at least mild impostor syndrome at some point. Although I guess you're really asking for people who don't have this at all. I'm with Usmivka here, good luck finding a unicorn.
  19. I had several universities ask for this information on their general application (for example, I believe Harvard asks for it), so I think it would be a good idea to include on all of your apps. Also, I had a couple schools ask what book was used for the courses, although this may be specific to my field where that is helpful info.
  20. Alright, I will stick my neck out here. I think this is an okay idea, as long as it is implemented correctly. Everyone should still read all of the articles and think about them on their own, but having just a basic outline of the article can still help you during discussions to remember details about the article or to process your own thoughts. These summaries should under no circumstances contain other people's analysis of the article though, since then I think you would be correct that everyone would enter class with the same ideas and something would be lost. As far as your specific points go, I think 1 is your own personal style. You should remember that life requires collaboration in almost any field. Management often requires you to rely on others to write up reports that you will have to read and understand. 2) If you do the summary as I have suggested above, everyone will still have to figure things out on their own, you will just get a short summary to refresh your mind before class. Also, you still learn the process because you will have to write the summary every once in a while. 3) People will still come to class with their own ideas if they continue reading the articles and analyzing on their own. In fact, this may add to the learning process because someone might think something was really important that wasn't mentioned in the summary and bring it up, and this would underscore that point. 4) Again, I would think this skill of working with other people and reading and understanding someone else's summary will be very important for later in your career, so now is a good time to work on this. This would be a great way to hone your summary writing skills, since you would get feedback during class on what other people found important and what you missed in writing your specific summary, and you can help other people learn from their summaries. 5) As long as you are still doing the readings and thinking about them, I don't feel this is cheating. However, if you are really still worried about this, go and talk with the professor. Carefully ask him if he thinks this is acceptable or not, and if not, can he fill the rest of the class in on his belief without singling you out. I would also be interested to hear other's opinions as well, so hopefully I got the ball rolling!
  21. I don't know how it works for photography specifically, but in the sciences your GPA in your field of interest is much more important than your overall GPA. Thus, many schools would ask for your overall GPA, and then a GPA for your photography courses. Also, it seems that most grad school programs are willing to overlook people who had a rough start, so that if you really messed up your freshman year but then did well the other three years you would be OK.
  22. So I think you are falling into a common misconception that many people have when applying to grad school. Most programs in biology, particularly ones that require some sort of rotation prior to choosing a final lab, don't require you to be too specific about your research interests. Unlike some areas, where getting the backing of a professor is crucial to getting into the school (for example, physics or chemistry), these programs make decisions based on overall merit and promise, not on adding to a specific lab. So you don't have to feel like you must list a specific area. That being said, you should let them know what areas you are interested in. Presumably you have certain things that you have absolutely no interest in and others in which you are more interested. The tact I took was to be honest that I was not set on a specific field or topic, but I was potentially interested in X, Y, and Z or closely related areas. It sounds like you have enough of an opinion that you can do this. This worked fine for me and got me into a program that allowed me the freedom to explore these options (which it sounds like you are interested in doing).
  23. Tricky situation. I'd like to believe that the director is just super busy and sent you a curt reply because the department honestly hasn't sent out their aid letters yet. I feel like very often directors are a little out of the loop on some of the administrative sides of the grad school process. I'd send another email to the director and ask for an update. If you have the contact information of your departments administrative assistant, they might be a better person to contact about this. If not, then the director it will have to be.
  24. A lot of program websites will post stats (ie average GRE scores, occasionally GPA), however, this is, from my experience, rare. And as you said, other things are taken into consideration than numbers. I think the best way to get a feeling is talk with one of your LOR writers. They normally have a really good feeling for what schools you have a chance at and which ones you don't. I talked with 2 of my LORs about schools, and gave them a preliminary list. They both told me I would get into at least one of the programs I was applying to, and they were right. One of my LORs actually called which program I would end up at.
  25. Yes, you can apply without having fully completed your ugrad degree. Schools require that you will have completed the degree prior to enrolling, which you will. They may ask in the application what classes you will take prior to graduation so they know what background you will have, and obviously they will require satisfactory marks in your remaining courses.
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