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Found 96 results

  1. Howdy everyone! I'm currently a freshman at a large, public top 50 school and I'm determined to go onto graduate school, with the goal of ultimately getting my PhD in statistics. I absolutely adore mathematics and statistics, and while I don't know what branch of statistics I'd like to research or even what sector (academia, industry, government) I'd like to go into, I am certain that I want to do higher-level statistics for the rest of my career. I know it seems incredibly early for me to be discussing/ considering any of this, but please hear me out. After reading through this forum fairly extensively, I realized that a very large chunk of the advice that is given in profile evaluations is worded something along the lines of, "Well it's too late now to work on your GPA/ undergraduate research experience/ finding better recommenders, so instead just focus on the GRE/ statement of purpose/ etc." I know that the closer I get to the actual application deadline, the fewer aspects of my application I can change. Because of this, I figured that now's the best time to learn what to prioritize over the next four years. I spent the past couple months figuring out what opportunities I might have over the next couple years, but I've been having a hard time figuring out what to prioritize or which experiences might be the most valuable. The rest of this post will consist of some of the academic and extracurricular activities that I know I have access to. If there is anything you think is worth prioritizing (or might not be worth it), or if there is literally any general advice you have, please say it. Additionally, I'm not sure what 'level' of school I'm interested in (e.g. top 5 vs. top 40), so I'm curious about what I would have to do to have a chance in different levels of graduate programs. Academic Options: Theses are the statistics and mathematics classes I currently plan on taking over the next four years. Do they seem to be enough for me to be accepted into a PhD program after graduation, or is there some a major section of statistical or mathematical understanding that I might be missing? Freshman Year: Calculus II, Multivariable Calculus, Intro to Linear Algebra Statistical Methods I Sophomore Year: Differential Equations, Intro to Proofs, Calc of Several Variables, Advanced Calculus Statistical Methods II, Theoretical Statistics I, Methods of Regression Analysis, Experimental Design, Probability and Distributions Junior Year: Discrete Mathematics, Elementary Real Analysis I, Linear Algebra Theoretical Statistics II, Communication in Statistical Collaborations, Data Analytics and Visualizations, Applied Bayesian Statistics, Applied Multivariate Analysis Senior Year: I'm not sure yet, because it's around here that I can no longer understand the fundamental idea of the classes of this level with what I currently know. I'm planning on keeping senior year more math-heavy, but I don't understand what all of my options mean. Extracurricular Options: Putnam Exam Contestant Statistics Club Vice President/ President: I was presented with the opportunity to be the Vice President of the undergraduate statistics club, and probably the president of the club for the next 3 years after that. Besides being a fun experience, the only belief that I could see would be that it could make it easier for me to meet notable faculty members, as the VP and president organize guest speakers to come in. Undergraduate Research Math Tutoring Honors Program Summer Internships Summer REUs Study-Abroad (Budapest Seminars, Math in Moscow, University of Karlsruhe, etc) There might have been more, but I can't remember them off the top of my head. Regardless, thank you for your help.
  2. Hey New gradcafe user and prospective MS applicant for an MS in Operations Research / Statistics / Management Science for Fall 2018. Please evaluate my profile and whether I'm being too ambitious/do I stand a chance here? Key features of my profile - Low undergrad GPA, high quant GRE score, related work ex Here's my profile followed by an initial university shortlist GRE 324 - Q 166 (91st percentile) V 158 (80th percentile) (Might give again to offset low undergrad GPA) TOEFL - Yet to give Undergrad CGPA - 6.3/10 from the National Institute of Technology Warangal in Mechanical Engg - Top 10 India for engineering Work Experience - 3 years 1.5 years - Data Analyst for a Fortune 200 MNC (1 promotion) + 3 good projects - Quantitative Sales/Marketing analytics 1.5 years - Senior Analyst for a Loyalty Card company (jump in designation from previous org) Fair amount of projects on quantitative modelling work Research papers/Publications: None Certifications: 1. SAS certified base programmer 2. SAS certified statistical business analyst: Regression and Modelling 3. Machine Learning from Coursera Recommendations: 1. HOD from work - ex prof at a premier MBA school in India - Strong 2. Team Leader from previous org - Moderate 3. Professor from college - Moderate SOP structure: Considering that my weakest point is my undergrad GPA, I'll bring in a point about how I messed up the first year but post that my gpa has been increasing plus ever since starting work I've been really driven and talk about my projects as proof. Programs I'm looking to apply for: 1. Statistics (with electives from the CS department) 2. Operations Research Not applying for "Analytics" or "Data Science" masters because I feel such programs have breadth but seriously lack depth. Current university shortlist: 1. Columbia 2. University of Chicago 3. UCLA 4. Georgia Tech 5. University of Michigan 6. John Hopkins 7. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 8. University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign 9. Duke 10. Cornell Questions: 1. What is my profile like? 2. How would you categorise the above universities considering my profile as Safe, Moderate, Ambitious and reasons for the same? 3. Thoughts on the SOP structure?
  3. Dear all, I am a sophomore student at an Israeli university. My mother tongue is Hebrew. I am interested in attending a top-15 program in Russian History, and I have delimited my range of potential advisors, which resulted in a list of about 10 institutions. My GPA is 90.02 currently, but I have studied the second semester while being under conscription which has hurt my grades. I believe I will graduate with a GPA of 92 (out of 100), since rarely do we get grades above 95 here. I have published one paper in a German journal, one more is under peer-review, two chapters in books (one is peer-edited), and 14 book reviews in scholarly journals. Moreover, I speak all the relevant languages for my field of study (Russia and the Balkans): Russian in a (tested) Advanced High level, Serbian, and Modern Greek. Today I took my GRE. Don't know about writing yet, but my verbal and quantitative scores were both 161. As far as LORs are concerned, I count on 3 professors: two know me for all years of study and I'll take a seminar with them (which will result in a paper of 35 pages each) and one professor I'll only meet this year and I'll take a seminar with her two. Two questions: Would you retake the GRE? Should I go for an MA in Israel and then apply, or may I apply in September of my third (and final) year? Thanks!
  4. Applying to a methodologically divided department

    Hi everyone: I was hoping to get some opinions on the best strategy when applying to methodologically divided departments. After speaking with a current PhD student, he seemed to imply that the department is split and a lot of your research will depend on the professors you get grouped in with from the beginning (this is a top program). He went as far as to suggest there was an underlying resentment/hostility between faculty, which makes me second guess whether or not that's the place I want to be -- but I plan to apply regardless and I've also heard that other programs may have similar atmospheres. (I guess you don't truly know until you're there) With that said, as an applicant, how important is it to be aware of these methodological splits? Can some of you help me navigate what types of splits there frequently are in programs and how that may influence the way an admissions committee views my application? If it matters, I'll be applying to IR subfield. Thanks for your help.
  5. Advice on jobs

    I'm currently working as a direct staff support for a home of adults that have intellectual disabilities. I thought I was going to be working a lot on communication with them but that part is pretty much 25% of it. The rest I am basically a caregiver-- cleaning the house, cooking, helping them with personal management, hygiene, etc. I'm looking into other jobs. I got an interview for an assistant to a teacher at a preschool but I'm not sure if that will better my chances at getting into grad school. I'm kinda having second thoughts about quitting the job search and sticking with the one I have but I'm not entirely sure. Anybody have any advice?
  6. Advice Needed

    I just recently graduated this past spring with a degree in Film & Media Studies (with a focus on journalism). Because my major was an interdisciplinary program and because I went to a liberal arts university, I was able to take classes in different departments and connect patterns among various ideas. I took many Sociology classes, which I not only did well in, but also loved. However, over time I have realized that the Anthropology perspective is more suitable for me. Additionally, I have much extracurricular experience in the world of journalism, and I’ve found that long-form journalism has ethnographic elements. I hope to pursue graduate school in Anthropology (perhaps Sociocultural or Applied) as I feel it will give me the proper foundation in order to understand other cultures, and provide me with the skills to be a deeper critical thinker, better writer on culture, and more. I am also interested in potentially pursuing either a career in international reporting or user research, which I feel a Master’s in Anthro will help me succeed in (I'm not interested in a PhD program at this time). I hope to enroll in a grad program that is a combination of practice and theory, and I am interested in doing fieldwork. Do you have any advice for me? What programs should I look into?
  7. Desperate need for advice!

    I have my bachelor's degree in Spanish and speech pathology (double major). I was accepted to grad school for slp, and I attended a year, however, I was going through a really difficult period in my life and I ended up not being able to continue in the program because after re-taking a class, I got a C. I know that I was completely unfocused, and if I could take it all back and start it over, of course I would. I then took some special education classes after that, and did a semester of student teaching, which stands as an Incomplete on my transcript. I did fine in my teaching and I had all my assignments turned in, except the final project was not uploaded to the internet. I am going to contact the school about getting credit for the student teaching, but needless to say, there is a sufficient amount that I am not too proud of on my record. My GPA cumulative is 3.3 and my GPA in speech is 3.1. My GRE is 147 Q and 153 V and 4 AW. I have been working as an English language learner paraprofessional in an elementary school where I do small 40 minute reading groups (that focus on phonics, decoding, or comprehension) with kids who's primary language is Spanish. I have also been volunteering at a Conductive Learning Center in a classroom with students that have cerebral palsy. I also do tutoring, and I am going to volunteer at the local Hispanic Center. I am going to apply to grad school again and I am wondering what my chances are of getting in? Any tips on where to apply or what I could do to get in? I applied to one school a couple years ago, and did not get accepted. And since I already have tons in loans, I can't really afford to go anywhere in the country where I would pay DOUBLE. I already owe an astronomical amount, so I am mainly looking at schools that are all online, or the ones in my state. The funny thing is, I have read so much about how Spanish bilingual speech pathologists are in SUCH GREAT NEED- and HERE I AM, yet I feel I BARELY have a chance! I must say, I really don't get that. If they are in such HIGH NEED, you would think the field would WANT to scoop me up- that they almost have a DUTY TO DO SO, even if my marks aren't stellar. Is it hopeless? And this will probably have to be my last shot at being an SLP. I will have to move on, and choose something else that I don't completely want to do, so I can get a real paycheck.
  8. Hi all, So after taking two years off after completing my B.Sc. in Canada, I'm preparing to apply for graduate schools for a clinical psychology doctoral program specializing in neuropsychology. I know these sorts of programs are extremely competitive, so I will likely be applying to 18-20 schools, but thought I would post some of my application credentials and get any advice from anyone willing to give it! Education: B.Sc. with Honor's in Psychology, Minor in Biology. Completed an Honor's Thesis in my final year in cognitive neuroscience. GPA: Overall: 3.3 (first 2 years of B.Sc. were as a Biomedical Science major, which I did not enjoy, and my GPA reflects this). Major GPA: 3.8 Last 2 years/60 credits: 3.8 GRE Scores: Psychology Subject GRE: 750 (91st percentile) General GRE (taking this in the next few weeks, likely will be around 156V/160Q/5.0AW) LOR: 2 clinical neuropsychologists (Honor's thesis supervisor and current work supervisor; both on admissions committees for CN programs at 2 different schools), 1 supervisor who is also a clinical psychologist (supervisor from Developmental Psychology lab mentioned below) Experience: 4 poster presentations Honor's thesis (supervised by a clinical neuropsychologist, see LOR above) and Independent Research Project (supervised by Neuroscientist) Volunteered at 2 hospitals, 3 different research labs in my last 2 years of undergraduate studies Moved from Toronto, Canada to San Diego, California after graduating with my B.Sc. to work as a Lab Manager in a Developmental Psychology lab and then as a Research Coordinator in a Neuropsychology lab (multi-site project; still currently here - see LOR above). I guess I am worried that my GRE scores will make my applications less competitive. I feel as though my applications are well-rounded elsewhere and my time off and additional experience has helped me. I do not have any location preferences and will be applying all throughout North America. Any and all advice or insight is welcome! Also, please don't hesitate to mention any schools that you guys know of which are very reputable for CN! Some on my radar include: SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program, Drexel, Boston University, Northwestern University (Feinberg), University of Florida, University of Houston, University of Wisconsin... Thank you!!
  9. SOS

    I recently completed a summer language emersion program at Middlebury College. I did horrible. I had a 2.33 GPA for the summer. I had a medical condition that I was being treated for that made me miss part of the program and I was being treated for it while I was in school. I am applying for grad school in international affairs this fall. I graduated college in 2013 and these are the most recent grades that I have. How will grad schools view these grades since they were completed after my degree GPA? Is this a death sentence to a good program? My undergraduate GPA was a 3.3 and I am doing well on my GRE practice tests.
  10. GRE Help

    Hello everyone, I recently took a diagnostic GRE practice test and scored a 156 on verbal and 154 on quant. I was wondering what the likely hood of getting above a 165 on both sections would be. Have any of you been able to increase your score more than 10 points per section? I will be taking the GRE on October 7th. Thank you
  11. I’m currently applying to Ph.D. programs and I’m seeking advice regarding writing samples. For context: About half of the programs to which I’ll be applying are Philosophy Ph.D. programs and the remainder of which are either English Ph.D. programs or some combination of the two (e.g., Ph.D. in Cultural Studies at Ohio State Uni). My background is a Bachelor’s in English Literature with a minor in Philosophy and a Master’s degree in Critical and Cultural Theory. My question is: for literature program applications, if my Master’s work focused predominantly on media studies and involved virtually no material from a specific literary epoch or period but rather focused on philosophical and theoretical works, would it be better to submit as my writing sample an undergraduate essay focused primarily on literature (to display my abilities in this field), a Master's level essay that hints toward the literary application but does not engage in close readings, or a Master's level work that better represents my intended areas of study at the Ph.D. level but does not emphasize my abilities in traditional literary study? (Another issue is that my best literary works composed during my undergraduate career were independent research projects or for graduate courses and are much longer than max. writing sample lengths and may perhaps be the most difficult to reduce to any succinct excerpt.) I’m struggling to decide if my best Master’s essay on Critical Theory, which is also my starting point for my intended Ph.D. dissertation topic, would be overlooked by English programs due to the lack of traditional literary engagement even though the English programs to which I am applying are fairly open-minded regarding the definition of “literature.” Thank you in advance for any advice you can provide!
  12. I am planning on applying to PhD programs Fall 2018. I am proficient in one of my languages, but am still at an intermediary level in my new (probably dominant) language-Korean. My professors tell me that I am ready to apply, but I still find it very intimidating. I have conversational fluency, but I know I am not capable of doing intense research (lots of documents) in the primary language. I have a year to work to beef up my research language skills and I am comitted to a job in the US for the year. Any suggestions that will allow me to keep my full time 9-5 and not break the pocketbook?
  13. Dear All, This is my first post on this forum. I have been working in Global Health for past 6 Yrs. and now decided to get my second masters in Public health. The first one I have is in International Business. I got accepted in the PG Certificate, Public Health long distance course at London School of Tropical medicine and Hygiene. My goal is to eventually roll this certificate into an MSc in Public Health. I am looking for recommendations on how to prepare for long distance courses, how many modules are doable per year? Any suggestion and your personal experience stories are much appreciated. Thank you!
  14. CMU is my dream school and i have read a lot about its programs online but i was hoping if anyone can share from there own experiences what particular things should i highlight in my SOP for admission into MS Mechanical Engineering at CMU. My Profile is Undergraduate: 3.77 / 4.00 (2nd in Department , Silver Medal) GRE: (166 Q, 154 V, 3.5 AWA) 320 IELTS 8 3 years industry experience in Machinery Diagnostics
  15. Advice on jobs

    I'm currently working as a direct staff support for a home of adults that have intellectual disabilities. I thought a majority of the job was going to be on communication with them but that consist of 25%-30% of the job. The rest I am basically a caregiver--cleaning the house, cooking, helping them with personal management, hygiene, etc. I'm looking into other jobs. I got an interview for an assistant to a teacher at a preschool but I'm not sure if that will better my chances of getting into grad school. I'm having second thoughts about the job search and just sticking with the job I have. I have a second job and between that and this other job, I don't have time to shadow SLPs. When I asked what I needed to improve on, the admissions said my GRE could use some work. I'm studying for the GRE but I feel that that is not enough and I don't want to waste my time with this job and not doing something else. Any advice would be great!
  16. Hey everyone! Long time scowler of these forums but first time poster! I'm looking for some opinions/insight concerning my decision for a graduate program starting in the fall. I attended Sacred Heart University for my undergrad and graduated Summa Cum Laude with my b.s. in psychology. After many applications and acceptances/denials I had finally made the decision to attended Adelphi University for their mental health counseling masters program. However, just two weeks ago I heard back from Teachers College at Columbia University and was accepted to the Psychology in Education (general psych) masters in the clinical department. So here lies my dilemma...I am so drawn to the name on the diploma when it comes to Columbia but I know that the program will not end in licensure. I would be open to attending a PhD program to become a licensed psychologist after Columbia but I would hope to gain acceptance to a fully funded program which I know is extremely difficult. My end goal is to become a practicioner whether that be as a licensed psychologist or licensed mental health counselor. However I'm also aware that as a mental health counselor I will be making significantly less money than if I had a PhD. So my questions are 1) does anyone have opinions on the TC program? I've heard the professors don't pay much attention to the masters students which concerns me. 2) if I get my psychology in education (general psychology) masters from TC at Columbia what are my chances of gaining acceptance to a PhD program? Specifically a fully funded program. 3) should I be more concerned with the name on the degree or the licensure that will be granted after the 2 year Adelphi program? And 4) if I attended Columbia and got the General masters and then decided not to pursue a PhD what could I do as far as career options with just the masters? All opinions are welcome, especially if you have personal experience or knowledge of either program! I need to make a final decision by July 1st so please contribute. Thank you!!
  17. Hey guys, hoping I can get some advice on here for my applications to MPP programs. I'm literally just starting the process and am simply looking for some advice/direction. My application background is as follows: Undergrad school: University of Chicago (degree in economics) GPA: 3.1 Work Experience: currently two years in the private sector (both are fairly notable jobs). I'm currently a senior manager overseeing a $50M yearly advertising budget and two employees at a startup. GRE: 168Q/162V w/ 5.0 writing Volunteer/Public Service experience: none since graduating college. I was much more involved in volunteering in college (tutored for all 4 years) but once I started working, I didn't really have time nor was I planning on applying to MPP programs. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I've come to realize that working in the for-profit space is not for me and will not satisfy me in the long-term. I'd like to transition to non-profit/policy/government roles, specifically in the econ development space. After graduating, I had always thought I would pursue an MBA or a business related masters (eg Masters in Financial Engineering) which is why I took the GRE and which is why I have very little volunteering/public service experience since graduating. I have a few questions that would be really helpful if answered: (1) I believe the biggest holes in my applications are my GPA and my volunteering / public service experience. There is nothing I can do about my GPA now (hopefully my GRE scores can help offset) but in regards to volunteering / public service, I plan to get involved asap. However, if I am applying to graduate programs this fall, would 3-4 months of volunteering truly be enough to display my interest in transitioning from for-profit to non-profit work? If not, should I instead apply to programs in 2019? (2) How should I approach letters of recommendations? What do admissions counselors look for? For my letters of recommendation, I never really developed genuine relationships with my professors from undergrad. However, I can absolutely get letters from my former supervisors. Although they can't speak to my ability to succeed in public service, they can speak to ability to succeed within an organization (quantitative, leadership, soft skills, etc). Is this enough? (3) This might sound like a really stupid question but is it possible / normal to reach out to schools and ask to speak with their admissions counselors for advice? I live in SF and would love to reach out to admissions counselors at Berkeley but I'm not sure if this is a common practice. (4) I'd like to go to a program in or near NYC (my fiance lives there). Do you guys have any idea on what types of schools I should be focusing in on? Is Columbia SIPA a stretch for my profile?
  18. Hey guys, I have been a silent lurker on this site for a long time! I've finally decided to post with the traditional "what are my chances" post! Hoping I can get some advice on here for my applications to MPP programs. I understand that no one here is an expert and can give perfect answers, but some direction about how my profile stands will be very helpful in deciding I am looking to apply for fall 2018 for MPP/MPA programs to mid-to-top-tier colleges such as SIPA, IHEID, LSE, LKYSP, Fels', Sanford.. Still working out this list of course, but essential a course that focuses on overall development policies, good combination of theory and practice and a flexibility in courses, esp quant (ie, not quant heavy). My application background is as follows: Undergrad school: B.A in Economics (major) with sociology and political science majors from top 5 arts college in India GPA: 3.6 with an undergraduate thesis Other qualifications: Diploma in leadership and liberal arts from a competitive and renowned fellowship program Work Experience: Currently 1.5yrs in a not-for-profit (social enterprise incubator and investor), 1 month of development consultancy work in Vietnam and 1 yr as a co-founder of a social enterprise GRE: 160V/158Q Volunteer/Public Service experience: none since graduating college. I was much more involved in volunteering in college (head of social action club, publications, and editor of a few department magazines) and internships in think tanks Look forward to hearing from all of you and learning more as we go through this grueling process soon! Thanks!
  19. Milieu Therapy Question

    Hi everyone, I've got a question. I'm currently studying psychology which was my academic entry choice because a year ago I still didn't know how I could monetize my interests in the human mind and behaviors. Recently I've been doing research on addiction therapy, and I came across this article: and I got really interested because that seems like it could help people on a larger scale (I'm currently thinking- addict cities, a bit excessive I presume) than one-on-one therapy. It also touches other areas I'm really interested in - sociology, a bit of logistics. So here's the question: has anyone had any experience in this field, heard about this type of therapy (I believe it's different from what most rehab facilities propose), and possibly does anyone have a second degree proposition? Thanks!
  20. Leaving Grad School-Problem

    Hi all, So after a year of graduate school in foreign languages and literatures, I realized it was not for me. I thoroughly enjoy the teaching aspect, however I loathe the literary research aspect which is of course the most important. Additionally, I have been having severe stomach issues over this past year and my doctor thinks it is due to 1) stress and 2) the realization this program is not for me. He has advised me to consider postponing graduate school for now and that perhaps in the future I could do a M.Ed. or something similar (my current program is a M.A./Ph.D. in literature and culture). The main issue for me is not leaving the program itself. Rather, I was offered a position within the department this past January (which they give to grad students) and the other grad student who occupied the position before me trained me over most of this past semester. There was no binding contract about me staying in this position for any specific amount of time, but the TA coordinator offered it to me because of my teaching abilities in the hopes of staying in this other position while teaching and taking classes/doing research. The guilt about having to leave this position they offered so generously to me and putting my supervisor in a tough spot regarding training the next person is what is making this rather difficult. Anyway, I am hoping someone could perhaps give me a few pointers on how to have this conversation as I would like to do this as soon as possible and not drag it out. Thanks in advance!
  21. I wrote this to answer a question in the questions and answers forum, but I thought people over here may find it useful! I wrote it from the STEM perspective, so feel free to correct me/add details for other fields. If you think you may want to apply to grad school, there are several things you can do now to set yourself up well for your future applications if you end up deciding to apply to later down the road. 1. Keep your grades up! This goes for getting a job post graduate school as well, but GPA tends to be a reasonably large factor in the admissions process. The most important classes will be those related to your field of study, but you will also want to have the highest overall GPA you can manage. 2. Start/maintain strong relationships with a few of your professors. Talk to them during their office hours, go above and beyond in their class, chat with them regularly, create relationships with them. When the graduate school application process rolls around, you are going to need professors to write recommendation letters for you where they vouch that you are an amazing student and have strong potential to succeed in graduate school. The best letters come from professors that actually know you well and can speak to their personal relationship with you. 3. If you end up in a lab research-centric field (like biology, chemistry, engineering, etc.), start in undergraduate research as soon as you can. The best way to do this is to poke around on professor and department websites and search for their research blurbs. Read through those until you get a feel for the types of work that interests you. Obviously your interests are going to be broad and undefined at this point - that is absolutely fine. Just find a few things that sound fun and roll with it! Reach out to those professors (either by email or by actually going to their office) and ask if they have any openings for an undergraduate research assistant. Be persistent! It is HIGHLY unlikely that you will be able to get into the lab of the first person you talk to (depending on your department/university), but you will get absolutely no where if you don't try. The easiest professors to get in with are ones who you have had class with and already have a good relationship with (see #2), so you can always start there! 4. Use your summers wisely - do something with your summer breaks that is meaningful. This can be a summer internship, a volunteer experience, an outreach program, a study abroad term, or something similar. Whatever you do should be something that gives you a new experience and helps you grow as a person. Get out there, explore, try something brand new, broaden your horizons, all those cliches. Not only will you grow, but you'll get a better feel for who you are and what you want you want to do, and you'll also have something to talk about in that beast of a personal statement you eventually have to write. Summer internships are an amazing way to get some research experience. If you are having difficulties getting into a lab at school, look for an internship that typically takes students with little research experience and use that as your springboard into the field. Internships are also a great way to explore research that's different from what you are doing at school and can help you narrow your broad research interests! 5. Do something with the research you're doing. Publications are the gold shining star of a graduate school application, but it can be extremely difficult to publish your research as an undergraduate (this depends on your lab). Whether or not you are going to be able to get a paper out of your research, try to find avenues to present it. Most research universities offer some type of undergraduate research symposium where undergrads present what they've been working on. There are also regional conferences as a part of the big national societies that students frequently present at. You can also present at a national conference (depending on your lab)! This is also an option with any research you do over the summer - be sure to talk to the people you intern/work with to see if that is an option. 6. Get involved with something you are passionate about outside of the classroom. So now that I've harped on the huge importance of research, I can move on to the other stuff. Do something outside of your classes/research that you are excited about. This can be band, sports, outreach to local schools, volunteering at a food pantry, working for the school newspaper, photography, something. Get involved and not just on the surface level. Show commitment to the activity/organization. Take on a leadership role, branch out and start a new organization, or something along those lines that shows it is important to you. The goal here is to show that you are a real person with interests outside of school and also that you are committed and motivated. It's much, much better to be deeply involved in a select few things you are passionate about than to be barely involved in twenty different activities. 7. Look into awards, prestigious scholarships, etc. that you may qualify for. There are tons of awards and scholarships out there that will recognize you for all of the hard work you have been putting in. Depending on what your interests/fields are, you can join honor societies like Phi Kappa Phi or Phi Beta Kappa or field-specific ones. You can apply for the Goldwater Scholarship when you have one to two years of college remaining if you are in STEM. There's also Fulbright, Truman, Marshall, Rhodes, Gates Cambridge, and a whole slew of other prestigious scholarships that you can look into applying to. A lot of professional societies also have undergraduate awards and scholarships that you can consider for your individual field. Your university probably has an office/person to assist people in applying for these types of awards, and I definitely encourage you to find them and talk to them about your options! There are also specific awards for minorities if that applies to you and first generation college students. While these are not nearly as important to your application as a strong research background and recommendation letters, they can definitely be extra jewels in the crown. 8. Keep track of everything that you are doing. You are going to be busy during college with lots of class, activities, research, and summer plans! Start a resume, CV, and list of classes (with course number, full title, number of credits, professor, textbook, your grade in the class, and a one-line blurb about what you did in the class). You can find good templates online for a resume and CV, or you can talk to the career office at your school for help. You will thank yourself later for starting early because it's so much easier to remember all of the details about your involvement when it's actually happening than three or four years down the line! 9. Keep in mind the components of the graduate school application so you can plan ahead as necessary. For every field, your graduate school application is going to have several key components: GPA (major and overall), GRE scores (verbal, quantitative, and writing), two to three recommendation letters from faculty, a CV, and a personal statement. For some fields, you may also need a subject GRE score, a writing sample, and/or a portfolio of your work. This is why I said keep your grades up (#1), have good relationships with faculty (#2), do research (#3 - 5), and start your CV early (#8). 10. Do your research! When you reach your junior year (probably the spring of your junior year), you should start thinking about what grad school programs you might be interested in, what you want to study, and what you need to prepare for your applications. You should also think about when you want to take the GRE and set up a study plan. I won't go into more detail here because there's TONS of information about both of these things on the site, and that's still a while away for you. 11. Take a deep breath and enjoy college. I listed tons of advice here, but the last thing you need to do is stress out. By already thinking about what you need to do to prepare for grad school, you're way ahead of the game and you're going to be just fine. Take the time to enjoy your college experience because undergrad can be a whole lot of fun, and you don't want to miss out on that! GOOD LUCK!
  22. Writing the Statement of Purpose is hard. It's supposed to be. It is a synthesis of years of experience and intellectual development, but, depending on your program, it is also a very purpose-driven document. It forces you to think clearly about why you want to take this next step, and how best to communicate that vision to different stakeholders. The Masters of Public Policy was my program of choice, and I can't think of better preparation. Before the process I considered myself a strong writer; my personal Bible is Strunk and White, and my work has performed well in the professional contexts it has been tested. Still, the Statement of Purpose is hard. So, I thought I might offer a few pieces of advice. They may not be helpful, but they're what I wish someone would have told me. Disclaimer: I realize the hard sciences and research-driven SOPs have specific research requirements. While my SOP didn't require that, I'd venture to guess the creative processes are still similar. 1. If you feel like your first drafts are "perfect", you're doing it wrong. It's relatively easy to string together a narrative and slapdash a philosophy into a few relatively coherent paragraphs (or pages, as the prompt may be). You're applying to graduate school. Everyone can do that. Play with structure, from narrative to thesis driven, always understanding writing as the aligning of audience and purpose. Figure out what works best for you and why it works best. What are the weaknesses you are compensating for, the strengths you are accentuating, and how can you do that with a "show" rather than "tell" execution? How can you set a tone? How can you be different while still being you? These are the questions behind the white page and blinking cursor, and by answering them through writing exercises or more "informal" writing sessions (I prefer pen and paper), you can begin to create a fully functioning draft. 2. Give yourself time to sit on a "fully functioning" draft for two weeks before doing anything with it. I'm terrible with time management, so the first school I applied to also happened to have the most worked-over, crafted SOP. By being able to shelve it and come back with fresh eyes, I could do a re-write as opposed to a revise, emphasizing certain parts and cutting others. Once I felt comfortable with this document, I started sharing it among my network of LOR writers, peers I admire, etc., which leads me to... 3. Listen to all of your advice, but also none of it. Everyone who has a note is pointing something out that isn't working, even if their identification is off or their diagnosis doesn't work. So be open to potential changes. That said, if you're taking the road less traveled and are truly being a little original, a little novel, a little -- dare I say -- interesting, some people will hate it. One of the people I admire most said of my final draft something along the lines of "It's well written, but it's certainly not what I would have written." At the time it felt like a slight (or a huge blow), but I've grown to appreciate the sentiment. Only one person really understands your Statement of Purpose, so while constantly looking for a better execution is a virtue, being confident in your basic construction is essential. Unfortunately, you're still an academic, which means... 4. You're probably going to hate your SOP by the time you send it out. It's never going to be a perfect distillation of your potential as a graduate student or professional in your field. It's never going to talk the adcomms into admitting you. It's never the all-powerful document we make it out to be in our minds when we are obsessing over dependent clause construction. Still, it's the one-thing (outside of maybe the GRE) you can really control heading into admissions, which makes it a lightning rod for doubt and self-loathing. So, unless your mental health is much better than mine, you're pretty much destined to hate your SOP until... 5. When you finally know where you're going to go, take a look at the SOP you wrote. Most people tell you to tailor your SOP to the school, and while I agree with this sentiment wholeheartedly, I also felt it was important to be honest about my study and career aspirations, even if they didn't align perfectly with the school. That's not strategery out of the "How to Write Your Way Into Grad School" game plan, but at the end of the day it led me to a school with a great fit that also happens to be Top 5 in my field. Also, I'm surprised to report, outside of one typo, one misplaced however, and one flawed introductory clause, it was a document I can be proud of. Good luck, and remember. It's supposed to be hard.
  23. Advice on well-being

    Hello, I am a first-year PhD student. I want to ask about input on thriving. As background: in undergrad, I consistently had leadership roles in extra-curriculars, which helped balanced the necessary classroom focus. During Master's studies, I was also engaged (more participatory) in social and recreational groups. Now, as a PhD student , I would like to be able to connect better - it is strange, since more opportunities seem available than ever before, at my current institution. There is certainly a difference in rigor, but I have also never had so much time to focus exclusively on my studies (no need to work externally, for example). I would love any feedback you can share on growing as a healthy individual, and developing ties within the community.
  24. Hi all, I'm an engineering student in Ireland and as the title of this thread suggests I am deciding between doing a masters degree in Mechanical Engineering ONLY or in a masters degree in Mechanical Engineering WITH business. I am unsure of what I want to a do moving forward in my career and I am unsure which will be better in the jobs market upon graduation. I do enjoy studying engineering but I do feel I could really benefit from studying business related subjects, to become more rounded and increase the number of roles I could work in moving forward. I have read the statistics about the amount of times people re-invent themselves in the workforce and I feel that the joint masters minoring in business may provide greater flexibility down the line if I decide that better opportunities are away from the very technical focused jobs . There is only 5 more mechanical engineering classes in the Mechanical Engineering only masters but I am unsure if this would put me in a disadvantage in applying for purely mechanical engineering roles later in my career from a perceived less complete engineering education. Would HR Departments read through my cv if I chose the masters in engineering with business and decide I am not as capable and as good a candidate when it comes to applying for purely engineering roles? Which program would you recommend? Both are delivered in a good school Thanks for taking the time to read this. I would love to hear your feedback.