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"Let's just TALK about it..." Decision Edition


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Just a fun story. I'm in NYC after a campus visit, just hanging around town in a hostel, and a woman came into my room who told me she is a prostitute. She's incredibly nice, she talked to me about her business, and we hit it off. 20 minutes after meeting her, I've told her about graduate school and why I'm here, and she has weighed in on where she thinks I should go! 

This decision-making process has definitely been a fun one! 

Edited by madamoiselle
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You guys all being picky when you got admissions with funding when most of us won't even get a single admission...

@sprklinthe I get that this can be a sore subject, but that's actually why this thread was made. I didn't get in anywhere last year and it hurt. Luckily, there are multiple places to discuss that (and

I'm not entirely sure how to decide. I seriously figured I would at best bat 1/7 but I have two offers and one visit invite. Still waiting to hear back from my top choice program. Somewhere deep

A rejection got posted at my first choice.  I know I shouldn’t be stressed especially with my other offers but I don’t know if I will sleep tonight.  

One of my organizations is doing a fast to raise awareness of child hunger and since not eating would be a bad idea for me medically I am giving up gradcafe for 30 hours.  I have a website blocker so I can’t cheat and honestly I am a little excited about taking a break.  I already block out most of the day but when it’s allowed I spend a lot of time on it.  I have no self control. 

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I think I know the answer, but I would like verification of what I belief. 

I got into a great M.A. program without funding. At the moment, it's the only accept (1 wait list, 1 rejection, 3 still pending). 

Should I take out loans for the M.A.? One year alone would double my undergrad debt. 

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On 2/28/2018 at 6:28 PM, SomeoneThrewMyShoe said:

My field isn't even that small but I feel like I'm going to offend someone? A pretty big name in my field is my assigned advisor at one of my schools; he JUST got there and he said he's never had a doctoral advisee before and he's so excited for me! I'm pretty sure I'm not going there but I AM FEELING ALL OF THE GUILT. Like...is he going to resent me when I see him at conferences? 

 

Honestly, you should brag! That's amazing!

Waitlist Guilt should be a named phenomenon. I'm fairly confident that I'm going to one of the schools that accepted me - but I can't confirm until I visit next month. Gotta get a feel for it. Hopefully in mid-March I'll let schools know and that's enough time for them to notify the waitlist. Like this is such a nice problem to have but it's also the source of all of my anxiety. 

I agree about the bragging that is amazing! @SomeoneThrewMyShoe its a great contract to have the advisor that is excited for you, you can always keep in contact with him. There was a program I interviewed with and realized it wasn't for me but I still email one of the professors I connected with even though I'm not going to attend her school.

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I unexpectedly got accepted to the University of Nevada, Reno! They told me application decisions would be given out in late-April, two weeks after the program's deadline. I got an email this afternoon informing me of my acceptance and being considered for funding. I'm still in shock. 

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For my top school, I see only results posted of people getting waitlisted (no acceptances) and begging in the comments for accepted ppl to drop if they don't want to go. Meanwhile, I haven't heard back yet have direct experience in my POI's research area with my senior thesis (I thought this was a differientator). Also, acceptance letters went out by this time in previous years. The anxiety of quietly waiting is too real.
*My brain on fire like Spongebob trying to remember his name* 

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@Bayesian1701Yup it sucks stalling on that top program that seems like the perfect fit from every POV, but they can't deliver it...I would be content going with either of my 2 current acceptances (even with unofficial full funding), but I must know this one decision before being certain to the unfortunate of waitlisted people. 

Edited by GirtonOramsay
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On 28/02/2018 at 4:31 PM, catsareme said:

I'm currently living in St. Louis, if you have any questions about the area let me know! Hopefully they take you to City Museum while you're here visiting!

Thank you!

Just finished my visit and it was fantastic, though sadly I mostly saw the area around the university and a little of Clayton. It seems pretty nice there.

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The US. News ranking system of graduate programs irks me. I’ve gotten into 3 schools (I got 2 acceptances in 1 day!). But the school offering the most funding with a great faculty is ranked lower on US news grad ranking system than the other two.

Im not even sure how trust worthy this list is but now I’m wondering if I should follow money and faculty or should I follow prestige that looks better on paper. They are both only MA programs but still...

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13 minutes ago, Oklash said:

The US. News ranking system of graduate programs irks me. I’ve gotten into 3 schools (I got 2 acceptances in 1 day!). But the school offering the most funding with a great faculty is ranked lower on US news grad ranking system than the other two.

Im not even sure how trust worthy this list is but now I’m wondering if I should follow money and faculty or should I follow prestige that looks better on paper. They are both only MA programs but still...

So I really don't understand what factors the US News ranking system uses and the ranking seems arbitrary to me at times (but then again I didn't taken into account rank super highly when I was applying to programs). What I take away from the US News rankings is a rough estimation of how well that department/school is known for the field that is being ranked. I'm not sure if this is the case or not but I always thought of those rankings as an indication of how likely a wider audience would recognize that department at that school.

Honestly, I would personally choose faculty research fit over prestige. Also if the money is with the best research fit then that's even more of a selling point. If you think the faculty are a good fit, are productive researchers and would make you a better researcher then I think you should choose the place that seems like it will be the best to advance your studies as a researcher. Now if you come to find that the more prestigious programs have more productive faculty then that could be an indication of a program that would help you further in your academic career. But if you think you will be more productive and advance your knowledge at the school with the great faculty that isn't as prestigious I think you should go that route.

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On 3/1/2018 at 1:37 AM, senorbrightside said:

I think I know the answer, but I would like verification of what I belief. 

I got into a great M.A. program without funding. At the moment, it's the only accept (1 wait list, 1 rejection, 3 still pending). 

Should I take out loans for the M.A.? One year alone would double my undergrad debt. 

I’m going to be perfectly honest and I hope that this aligns with what you want to hear but doubling debt is not worth one MA degree. Especially if you plan on getting a PhD. 

As someone who didn’t start my MA after undergrad b/c of getting unanimously rejected, I’m glad I took a year off. It hurt but I’m glad it happened.  After the year had passed, my application had become so much stronger and it didn’t even feel like that long of a wait. I didn’t even do anything that glamorous during my gap year, I just worked at my parents restaurants and tutored school children via care.com. But it gave me a lot of time to improve my application material. I got to talk to people who were admitted, speak with my advisor who told me not to give up and I got to  take a breather from school. The year also made me realize how badly I wanted the career i was trying to have and how determined I needed to be in order to make it happen.

A gap year to improve my prospects for next time was so much more beneficial than the debt I would have undertaken to avoid it. I still wish I had gotten in the first time I attempted grad apps but now I have been accepted into 3 fully funded programs and waitlist for a 4th. Again, the only thing about my application that changed was the time taken to re evaluate myself, talk to other people, and improve my application. 

At the end of the day, you know what’s best. And if you really want to take out loans, go ahead. But waiting it out for a year is not easy. But when it does work out, you will have much more drive and motivation. Good luck!

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17 minutes ago, Oklash said:

I’m going to be perfectly honest and I hope that this aligns with what you want to hear but doubling debt is not worth one MA degree. Especially if you plan on getting a PhD. 

As someone who didn’t start my MA after undergrad b/c of getting unanimously rejected, I’m glad I took a year off. It hurt but I’m glad it happened.  After the year had passed, my application had become so much stronger and it didn’t even feel like that long of a wait. I didn’t even do anything that glamorous during my gap year, I just worked at my parents restaurants and tutored school children via care.com. But it gave me a lot of time to improve my application material. I got to talk to people who were admitted, speak with my advisor who told me not to give up and I got to  take a breather from school. The year also made me realize how badly I wanted the career i was trying to have and how determined I needed to be in order to make it happen.

A gap year to improve my prospects for next time was so much more beneficial than the debt I would have undertaken to avoid it. I still wish I had gotten in the first time I attempted grad apps but now I have been accepted into 3 fully funded programs and waitlist for a 4th. Again, the only thing about my application that changed was the time taken to re evaluate myself, talk to other people, and improve my application. 

At the end of the day, you know what’s best. And if you really want to take out loans, go ahead. But waiting it out for a year is not easy. But when it does work out, you will have much more drive and motivation. Good luck!

That was what I was thinking, thanks for confirming :) and thanks for your lovely reply! 

This is technically my third cycle...after getting rejected from all the schools I applied to in 2008, I came to Spain for a year and have stayed 10. I applied to one school last year, was accepted, funding fell through, so didn't happen. This year I'm at one acceptance without funding, one rejection, one wait list, 3 pending. I've pretty much given up hope. (Yet still hoping for a pleasant surprise.)

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@senorbrightside

I completely with @Oklash  that a gap year is completely worth taking the time off to reflect on your undergraduate and get a reprieve from the ~16 yrs of continuous school that you likely went through. Taking a year off >> potentially doubling your student debt (no matter how great the research program might be) for a MA.

I personally gave up applying half way through last season because I had been so overwhelmed by my senior year and felt clueless about what I wanted to do in graduate school (even now, I'm very conflicted). During my gap year, I did research and worked various jobs at my school that would give me a better reality of my capabilities and interests with graduate school (computational modeling, working in a lab, etc.) and grow upon my strengths. More specifically as an astronomy major, I worked as an observatory assistant teaching astronomy students how to take/process astronomical images, became a certified programming instructor, and learned how to collect high-quality observations of exoplanets for citizen science purposes. I'm not trying to show off, but highlight how I had time to explore these activities/jobs and grow my skills that ultimately helped to strengthen my applications and highlighted my passion/commitment to continuing research in my research field to prospective POIs and AdComs.

The confidence of my applications in this season so much higher as a result of taking that time to contemplate over my undergraduate experiences and work on new activities like teaching astronomy & programming, so don't fear turning down the offer if it's not in your best financial or personal interests.

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@Oklash I am also not a fan of US news.  They have a methodology page somewhere and for stats at least it’s a survey where they don’t rank all the scores but instead rate them on a scale.  From a statistical perspective I don’t think it is advanced enough to really be exact and rankings should be determined more as plus or minus 3 spots.  Honestly I have my own ranking system where I rank them on certain factors (funding, completion rate, etc) I care about.  Ranking the factors generally works better than assigning a number in a range because it avoids ties. 

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Rejected a school (for the first time) today. It just didn't have the same funding opportunities as my other schools, had way more fees (like, double the fees) of the other programs, more requirements for classes, work, and living situation, and, on top of that, they misspelled my name in their docs. :/

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13 minutes ago, GreenEyedTrombonist said:

Rejected a school (for the first time) today. It just didn't have the same funding opportunities as my other schools, had way more fees (like, double the fees) of the other programs, more requirements for classes, work, and living situation, and, on top of that, they misspelled my name in their docs. :/

I kept getting emails from a highly sought after programs starting with "Dear Prospective Grad Student..." My friend and I kept replying "Dear Prospective Grad School" they stopped emailing us.... There are programs that auto-fill your name into their letters it shouldn't be that hard to put the correct spelling of someone's name

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@SetDec It really shouldn't. On top of that, I have to put an alternate last name in my apps because of a poor decision to get married. I really don't like reminders of that relationship and this school decided that, since it was my alternate name, it gets to be my official name unless I go through this detailed process to change it... I'm like, really? 

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I just got my last rejection. But with that comes an end to my grad school  application process! It’s weird but since I have a few acceptances I feel like I’m breathing fresh air for the first time in months. After months, probably even a year of stress, I can finally stop refreshing the results page, delete the application portal bookmarks, and be excited about having actual prospects. 

Edited by Oklash
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15 minutes ago, Oklash said:

I just got my last rejection. But with that comes an end to my grad school  application process! It’s weird but since I have a few acceptances I feel like I’m breathing fresh air for the first time in months. After months, probably even a year of stress, I can finally stop refreshing the results page, delete the application portal bookmarks, and be excited about having actual prospects. 

That sounds like a great feeling. The constant checking can really run a person ragged. 

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36 minutes ago, Oklash said:

I just got my last rejection. But with that comes an end to my grad school  application process! It’s weird but since I have a few acceptances I feel like I’m breathing fresh air for the first time in months. After months, probably even a year of stress, I can finally stop refreshing the results page, delete the application portal bookmarks, and be excited about having actual prospects. 

Best feeling ever. 

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I got an offer to a very exciting program but I am still waiting to hear about funding (should be some time this week) and I'm just wrecked with anxiety that the funding package will not be enough for me to go :( 

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This is going to sound ungrateful; I promise it's not meant to be. I'm incredibly excited to have two great offers, but I promised myself that I would have to wait until I hear back from every school before officially making my decision. IT'S KILLING ME!!! Of the three schools that I haven't heard from, I'm sure one is a rejection (no interview), but I interviewed at the other two (one in late January and one in early February), and I don't know what's taking them so long to get back to me! I would honestly be happy to just get officially rejected, so I can get over it and then go ahead and start on the actual decision-making process.

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19 minutes ago, eevee said:

This is going to sound ungrateful; I promise it's not meant to be. I'm incredibly excited to have two great offers, but I promised myself that I would have to wait until I hear back from every school before officially making my decision. IT'S KILLING ME!!! Of the three schools that I haven't heard from, I'm sure one is a rejection (no interview), but I interviewed at the other two (one in late January and one in early February), and I don't know what's taking them so long to get back to me! I would honestly be happy to just get officially rejected, so I can get over it and then go ahead and start on the actual decision-making process.

I'm a big proponent of gathering all the information before making a decision (especially one that's going to significantly impact your life for the next 4, 5, 6 years). I feel like every time I get back from a visit or talk to a current grad student, I think of three more things to add to my decision spreadsheet! I think in about three weeks, I'm going to get tired of thinking about everything and just make a decision. 

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