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I went through the hugely popular  'Am I competitive'? Thread in Government Affairs and was wondering if it made sense to create an overall thread in this forum as well. I only noticed three very specific threads on here (linking the one I found to be slightly more general). Hopefully, I get answers and others who are asking themselves the same/similar questions get on here and find answers as well! 

Program: PhD in Sociology

Schools Applying To: Columbia University, University of Chicago, Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania, National University of Singapore, University of California - Berkeley, London School of Economics, Sciences Po

Long-listed Schools: Harvard University, University of California - Los Angeles, Yale University, Princeton University, University of Wisconsin - Madison, University of Amsterdam, New York University, Cornell University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of North Carolina, University of Texas -Austin, Brown University, Duke University, Boston University, John's Hopkins University, Northwestern University, University of California - Irvine, University of California - San Diego, University of Maryland

Interests: Urban sociology - Qualitative Transportation, Identities, Spatiality, Heritage ; Comparative Sociology; Applied Sociology;  International Development; South Asia; Public Policy

Expectations from Programmes

Program: Interdisciplinary, Allowing students to choose courses across departments, emphasis/known for applied approach

Resources: Ongoing projects with vibrant research space, Access to funding, Encouraging collaborations, Good enough brand to ensure employment on completion of programme, preferably located in an urban area to aid fieldwork. 

Graduate Institution: Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India

Graduate Major/Degree: MA in Development Studies (Integrated Course, no undergraduate degree granted separately) 

Graduate GPA: 7.99/10

Undergraduate Minor: Operations Research

GRE:  V 168/ Q 156 / AW 4.5

TOEFL: 113 (iBT)

Age: 25

Languages: English & Tamil - Fluent ;  German - A2 completed, B1 in progress ; Hindi - Working Knowledge

Work Experience: (2 years research experience currently, 3 years professional experience by Fall 2019)

> 1.4 years at Indian Center of International policy think-tank : Spearheaded research project on on-going urban policy scheme in India

> Currently freelancing as urban research consultant for local organization apart from volunteering with organizations dealing in gender and mental health advocacy

> Multiple research internships as student

Policy report & newspaper OpEds published

> Presented in multiple International conferences since undergraduate days

SoP: Not begun yet, but will focus on specific research I hope to do (along lines of a proposal) 

LORs: 1 from Masters supervisor (senior Indian Urbanist and extremely well known internationally for seminal work on Urban informality) ; 1 from Professor during Masters degree (rising Anthropologist in India, knows me well personally) 

Can obtain 1 from previous boss (Head of Research at International policy think-tank, Member of PM's Economic Advisory Council in India) - however, would be one year since I quit the job. 

Concerns: 

1. Low Graduate GPA

2. No academic/journal publications yet

3. Applied to Northwestern, NYU, U.Penn & U.Minnesota for Sociology PhD for Fall 2018 and got rejected by 3. U.Minn placed me on the Waitlist, but did not convert to an admit

Would really love feedback if I am competitive for the range of schools I plan to apply to. I am posting early only to gain an understanding of what I can fix for the next round of applications. 

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Some people may disagree with me on this, but if you can rewrite your GRE to boost your Quantitative and Analytical Writing scores, it could boost your application. 

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Help me?

Program: PhD in Sociology

Schools Applying To: Harvard, UC Berkeley, Princeton, U of Michigan, U of Chicago, Stanford University, University of Pennsylvania, UCLA, Brown, Northwestern, NYU?, Wisconsin?

Long-listed Schools: ?

Interests: Sociology of poverty and culture. Parenting practices and their relation to the reproduction of inequality. 

Expectations from ProgrammesRemarkable professors not only as academics but as people, cutting-edge research, vast resources, access to funding, prefer suburban areas or close to suburban areas [I have two kids, would be easier to not raise them in a dense city]. 

Undergraduate Institution: UC Berkeley

Major/Degree: Soc

Graduate GPA: 3.91

Undergraduate Minor: 

GRE:  My diagnostics rn are both 149. Shit, I know. Verbal I can definitely see improving- vocab is the only thing really stopping me but I am working on that. My quant seems pretty much hopeless tbh.

TOEFL

Age: 25

Languages: English

Work Experience:  As an undergrad I worked in research for sociology [4 positions over three semesters- 2 paid, 2 unpaid], city and regional planning [1 position for 8 months, paid], Berkeley law internship [unpaid] at the death penalty clinic and Berkeley law research for a semester- unpaid...all overall were for 2 years. I am now employed full time doing research within a center at UC Berkeley. My prior work experience is unrelated- teen mentor for 3 years, retail management for a year, and serving tables [point being that I have worked non-stop since I was 17, not sure if this is relevant to note...I know when applying as an undergrad transfer I was told it was important to show I was working while in school....]

SoP: Drafting it, finding it hard to disassociate my purpose with my life experience. I think it will be pretty decent in the end.

LORs: 1 from soc prof who I have worked directly with doing research for for 2 years and she is now becoming dept chair of soc....another from a FT faculty who I took 2 classes with who offered to write a letter for me and is helping me with my SOP, and one TBD....either my current boss, the director of the berkeley department for which I am now working [but worried because she likes me a lot but doesn't know my work that well and tends to have a lot of typos....orrrr my GSI that I had for 3 semesters who gave me 3 A+ so he knows I'm a good student and knows me as a person.

FEEL FREE TO GIVE ME ANY ADVICE ON WHICH 3RD LETTER WOULD BE BETTER. DEFINITELY NEED SUGGESTIONS.

Concerns: 

1. My GRE will be average AT BEST.

2. No academic/journal publications yet

3. Still unsure of what to do for my writing sample, I have a research paper that got a good grade but is not relevant to what I want to study now, or I have an ethnographic type of paper but I would need to add 10 pages to it.

4. I also took a semester off [what would have been my 3rd semester out of 6]. So I'm not sure if I should explain that or not...?

Any and ALL advice would truly be appreciated. And sorry for typos, I'm at work and just tried to jam this out fast lol.

 

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On 6/6/2018 at 10:58 AM, high_hopes said:

Some people may disagree with me on this, but if you can rewrite your GRE to boost your Quantitative and Analytical Writing scores, it could boost your application. 

I agree. Improving your quant score [I need to do the same] may be able to offset your gpa. 

Also, in your prior applications, did you write "Why X" statements in your SOP for each program?

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@jriveracal I have a couple of thoughts, but let me be blunt first of all: You either need to significantly up your GRE scores or adjust the schools you're looking at. This is not to say that there isn't an outside chance that you might get lucky and have someone sitting on an Adcomm that really likes your research interest, but it is much more likely that you'll quickly be put in the pile of people that does not get a second look. One bad score (either quant or qual) can be overlooked if the candidate is looking to do research relying on the other side of methods, two, most likely, will not be overlooked, especially at the level of schools you listed above. So my number one advice would be to really get going on that GRE prep. On the plus side, it is not even July yet, you'll have about 5 months to work on them.

 

A couple other thoughts/questions:

  1. How did you come up with your list of schools? It kind of looks like you just picked the top 12 (and Brown). I'm asking because research fit is incredibly important. If there aren't at least 2-3 people at each school that you'd see yourself working with, you're a) going to have a much harder time making a convincing case as to why you should be admitted and b) much less likely to succeed and enjoy yourself during the program. Plus, as noted above, most of these are going to expect top notch GRE scores.
  2. What kind of methods do you plan on using/have you been trained in? As hinted towards above, that might put your GRE scores in perspective and further might help you figure out which schools to apply to.
  3. Regarding you having worked since 17. I personally would advise you against writing about personal stories unless these directly inform your abilities or research interests. You want to convince them that you are interested in research, have your own ideas, able to make it through their (rigorous) program, and that you are a good fit for their department. If your personal experiences are part of that, fine, but make sure your skills and potential come across.
  4. What was your UG GPA? (or is that supposed to refer to your UG instead of graduate)
  5. Coming from Berkeley and a stellar GPA should definitely help. So should your extensive research experience. 
  6. I wouldn't worry too much about not having any publications. Most people don't. And unless there's something you can do about it over the next few months, it doesn't help to worry about it anyways.

Look, aside from you're GRE scores, you're overall profile seems very competitive. Good grades at a well-known institution. A lot of research experience. Presumably strong LORs. If you can get your GRE score to match that profile you should get into a good school. If you can up your GRE scores a little bit, so that the rest of your profile might make up for them, you should be able to get into a decent school (but then I'd start removing schools like Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, or Michigan from that list as these tend to report the highest avg GREs).

 

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6 hours ago, European Lumpi said:

@jriveracal I have a couple of thoughts, but let me be blunt first of all: You either need to significantly up your GRE scores or adjust the schools you're looking at. This is not to say that there isn't an outside chance that you might get lucky and have someone sitting on an Adcomm that really likes your research interest, but it is much more likely that you'll quickly be put in the pile of people that does not get a second look. One bad score (either quant or qual) can be overlooked if the candidate is looking to do research relying on the other side of methods, two, most likely, will not be overlooked, especially at the level of schools you listed above. So my number one advice would be to really get going on that GRE prep. On the plus side, it is not even July yet, you'll have about 5 months to work on them.

 

A couple other thoughts/questions:

  1. How did you come up with your list of schools? It kind of looks like you just picked the top 12 (and Brown). I'm asking because research fit is incredibly important. If there aren't at least 2-3 people at each school that you'd see yourself working with, you're a) going to have a much harder time making a convincing case as to why you should be admitted and b) much less likely to succeed and enjoy yourself during the program. Plus, as noted above, most of these are going to expect top notch GRE scores.
  2.  What kind of methods do you plan on using/have you been trained in? As hinted towards above, that might put your GRE scores in perspective and further might help you figure out which schools to apply to.
  3. Regarding you having worked since 17. I personally would advise you against writing about personal stories unless these directly inform your abilities or research interests. You want to convince them that you are interested in research, have your own ideas, able to make it through their (rigorous) program, and that you are a good fit for their department. If your personal experiences are part of that, fine, but make sure your skills and potential come across.
  4.  What was your UG GPA? (or is that supposed to refer to your UG instead of graduate)
  5. Coming from Berkeley and a stellar GPA should definitely help. So should your extensive research experience. 
  6. I wouldn't worry too much about not having any publications. Most people don't. And unless there's something you can do about it over the next few months, it doesn't help to worry about it anyways.

Look, aside from you're GRE scores, you're overall profile seems very competitive. Good grades at a well-known institution. A lot of research experience. Presumably strong LORs. If you can get your GRE score to match that profile you should get into a good school. If you can up your GRE scores a little bit, so that the rest of your profile might make up for them, you should be able to get into a decent school (but then I'd start removing schools like Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, or Michigan from that list as these tend to report the highest avg GREs).

 

Thank you very much for this! I have narrowed my list down to 7 based on fit of the program and based on if the program has 2-3 professors that align with my interests...The list provided above was more of my long-list. It's very helpful to hear that I really do need to work on my GRE because as of now I have been working on other items [sprucing up my writing sample and working on my SOP] instead of focusing on what needs my attention most [the GRE]. I didn't think that GRE would carry such a heavy weight.

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@high_hopes Thanks for your response. Would you say this is applicable only to North America or anywhere else too? 

 

@jriveracal Thanks for your inputs. I did have a section on why I was choosing that particular school and those particular professors. 

But I'm still unclear how to improve the overall status of my application, given that I am an international applicants and not many schools are keen on us right now. 

 

Edited by Andromeda3921

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Look @Andromeda3921,

I think generally your profile looks quite good, but I would agree with @high_hopes that upping your quant score would definitely help. This probably applies to schools outside of the US as well, partly because some are trying to model themselves after US PhDs and partly because other applicants simply will have higher scores. I also think people might be suspicious of a low quant score in combination with a operations research degree (at least those schools that value the GRE quite highly).

High GREs will be especially helpful if your GPA isn't that great (don't know your UG GPA and have no idea what do with your grad GPA scale, so take this as general advice rather than me saying your GPA looks good/bad).

One more thing you should spend time on in your SOP is making clear that you want to do sociological research (and not development studies/IR as your CV might suggest). If you talk about urban sociology, this should become clear without you having to spell it out, but just keep in mind that AdComms need to see why you want to go to a Soc department.

 

Also, there are a lot of schools on your long list. Have you gone through all of these yet to figure out where your research interests might fit? Some departments (e.g. Duke) are very quantitative and your research sounds somewhat more qual-focused to me.

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On 6/18/2018 at 6:34 PM, jriveracal said:

...

 FEEL FREE TO GIVE ME ANY ADVICE ON WHICH 3RD LETTER WOULD BE BETTER. DEFINITELY NEED SUGGESTIONS.

...

3. Still unsure of what to do for my writing sample, I have a research paper that got a good grade but is not relevant to what I want to study now, or I have an ethnographic type of paper but I would need to add 10 pages to it.

4. I also took a semester off [what would have been my 3rd semester out of 6]. So I'm not sure if I should explain that or not...?

 

I would ask your first two letter-writers who they think your third letter-writer should be. I would particularly ask the first one you mentioned - the incoming chair of sociology at Berkeley. She sounds like an excellent reference and will have a strong sense of what other grad schools are looking for. I would also ask her for feedback on what to select as your writing sample. 

I don't think you need to mention that you took a semester off on your application. Many people take time away from school for a variety of reasons.

Edited by high_hopes

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On 6/25/2018 at 3:10 PM, European Lumpi said:

Look @Andromeda3921,

I think generally your profile looks quite good, but I would agree with @high_hopes that upping your quant score would definitely help. This probably applies to schools outside of the US as well, partly because some are trying to model themselves after US PhDs and partly because other applicants simply will have higher scores. I also think people might be suspicious of a low quant score in combination with a operations research degree (at least those schools that value the GRE quite highly).

High GREs will be especially helpful if your GPA isn't that great (don't know your UG GPA and have no idea what do with your grad GPA scale, so take this as general advice rather than me saying your GPA looks good/bad).

One more thing you should spend time on in your SOP is making clear that you want to do sociological research (and not development studies/IR as your CV might suggest). If you talk about urban sociology, this should become clear without you having to spell it out, but just keep in mind that AdComms need to see why you want to go to a Soc department.

 

Also, there are a lot of schools on your long list. Have you gone through all of these yet to figure out where your research interests might fit? Some departments (e.g. Duke) are very quantitative and your research sounds somewhat more qual-focused to me.

@European Lumpi Thanks for the feedback. I am really rethinking the entire GRE scene now. I have been searching for sociology departments that have profs that work in the areas that I'm interested in, with inter-disciplinary programs. But I will take your advice and look up which ones favour qual-focused research as well. 

 

 

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@Andromeda3921What I've found helpful in identifying schools with good fit is searching Google Scholar for work that interests me or that is similar to the kinds of questions I hope to explore in grad school, and checking out which departments the scholars that are publishing in those areas are working at. 

Edited by sociopolitic

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9 hours ago, sociopolitic said:

@Andromeda3921What I've found helpful in identifying schools with good fit is searching Google Scholar for work that interests me or that is similar to the kinds of questions I hope to explore in grad school, and checking out which departments the scholars that are publishing in those areas are working at. 

Thanks @sociopolitic, this is super helpful! 

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3 hours ago, Andromeda3921 said:

Thanks @sociopolitic, this is super helpful! 

No problem, @Andromeda3921!

By the way, I agree with the above that boosting your quant score would boost your application, but with a verbal score of 168 you'll almost certainly make the GRE cut-off at a lot of places. Maybe retake it once and aim for a high quant score, but even if you end up around the 70th percentile most places (maybe not Harvard) will give your application an honest look, I would think. Depending on how much you think work bumping your quant score would take, it might be more worthwhile (and time-effective) to spend that time writing a killer SOP!

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@jriveracal Speaking from personal experience, good letters from Berkeley soc. profs and extensive research experience go a long way. These are the things people asked me about when I went to campuses on admitted student visit days: they asked how my Berkeley recommender was doing and mentioned what a glowing letter she wrote for me; they also inquired about my various research projects. I think if you bring up your GRE scores a bit more (in the mid-to-late 150s) and craft kick-ass writing samples (sometime you have the option to upload two), your chances would be excellent at any school. Feel free to ask any other questions you may have here or over PM.

I could also try to answer questions about Brown if anyone is interested, but at this point I have only spent a couple of days there when the faculty was putting on a good face.

Edited to add that you should always opt for recommendation letters from professors or PhD-holding researchers who are employed at think tanks or institutes/ departments within universities, instead of TAs or GSIs who are graduate students.

Edited by qeta

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@Andromeda3921 As a fellow international student, I have to say that public universities have a lot of trouble paying for international students. Berkeley especially struggles in this regard. My Berkeley soc. advisor told me from the beginning to apply to a mix of public and private schools for this reason. Another option is to win doctoral fellowships and emphasize it in your SOP, and then the university doesn't have to worry about paying for you.

The low grad GPA (I'm a fellow sufferer in this respect) thing would be a red flag, so please contextualize it. In my SOP, I explicitly mentioned that McGill is famous for not inflating grades and cited Canada's Social Science and Humanities Research Council GPA cutoffs as proof. I also mentioned that I went from an uber-leftist undergrad school to the liberal-conservative mecca of McGill for grad school and it was a systems shock. At least one professor remembered this during my visit and we had a fantastic chat about these schools' different cultures. I called McGill "staid" in my SOP and didn't mention that I was harrassed by the professor who sank my grad GPA. So be strategic about how candid you want to be, but definitely definitely provide reasons for low grad GPA.

I also think Brown should perhaps be higher on your list because it and surrounding schools are hard to beat in terms of the number of South Asianists. Brown also has a dedicated institute on spatiality called Spatial Structures in the Social Sciences (S4), which was begun and is run by the soc. department. Patrick Heller considers himself a comparativist and told me that Brown soc. has a long tradition of housing comparativists, so you have an advantage there. Cornell Development Sociology, though a niche program, could be a good fit. I can answer some questions about both departments, if you'd like. Stanford is quite quant-heavy and it's hard-but-not-impossible to survive as a qual person there according to one of my profs.

We have a lot of the same interests (spatiality, qual methodology, comparative sociology, sociology of development, and South Asia namely). So feel free to ask specific questions related to those things or more general questions here or through PM.

Edited by qeta

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Help please!! :)

Program: PhD in Sociology (but also a few odd masters programs)

A very preliminary list of schools I'm interested in (in no particular order):  UW-Madison, Princeton, Columbia, UC-Berkeley, University of Michigan, UT-Austin, Harvard, LSE (for their Taught MSc in Sociology/Gender & Social Policy), UChicago's MAPSS program

Expectations/what I'm looking for:  Programs with strong poverty/gender/family focuses

Interests: Big topics include Inequality, Poverty, Gender, Race, and Class, Education, Social Policy. More specifically I'm interested in the feminization of poverty. Most specifically, I hope to research the impact of welfare work requirements on parents' ability to engage with their children's education.

Undergraduate Institution: UW-Madison

Undergraduate Major/Degree: Sociology with certificates (minors) in Gender & Women's Studies and Education Policy Studies (Graduated with distinction)

Other undergraduate notes: member of Phi Kappa Phi and Alpha Kappa Delta, public service intership scholarship, attended school on full tuition music scholarship, member of UW Symphony Orchestra

Graduate GPA: 3.93/4.0 overall, 4.0 within my major/certificates

GRE estimates courtesy of Magoosh:  V 167/ Q 157, hoping to get quant up to 160 and get as close to 170 as I can for verbal

Age: 22

Languages: English 

Work/Research Experience: 

> Currently working as a digital political consultant.

> Previous work experience: City Year Executive Office internship, worked in the district office of my Congresswoman

> Research experience: Student researcher with a policy analysis lab during my senior year, involved in a planning grant for a center for reproductive health research, have completed multiple research projects and presented to the WI Department of Public Instruction on my proposed research focus (impact of welfare work requirements on parental school engagement)

SoP: Finally finished a full draft and have sent it out to a few professors to look over.

Concerns: I don't have a ton of research experience compared to others, but I have a really high undergraduate GPA, will hopefully get above average GRE scores (very confident I'll get a high verbal score), have a research focus I've already explored extensively through classes, and have good relationships with professors writing my letters. I've convinced myself that those offset each other well enough to be competitive, but I'm looking for more opinions. I'm also planning on looking for a research-focused/policy-oriented job in late 2018, early enough to put it on my CV for applications - this is partially for personal reasons but also because I think it'd be a good resume booster.

I'm also torn over what to submit as a writing sample. I believe my best work is an extensive research paper on the history of segregation in Milwaukee's public school system. It was for a history/education policy studies class, so it's obviously not sociological; however, it relates to the area I want to focus on within sociology and certainly shows my writing and critical thinking abilities. I have several papers from soc classes that I'd be comfortable submitting as a sample as well, but I'm not nearly as excited about those.

Any thoughts/suggestions/other schools I should look at would be appreciated!

Edited by rising_star
to remove identifying info

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Program: PhD in Sociology or Organizational Behavior

Schools (Thinking of) Applying To: 

  • Sociology Schools
    • University of Texas-Austin, Sociology (Work, Occupations, and Organizations)
    • Northwestern University, Sociology (Law, Economy, and Organizations)
    • Stanford University, Sociology (Macro)
    • University of California Berkeley, Sociology (Economic Sociology)
    • New York University, Sociology
  • Business Schools
    • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Sloan School of Management (Economic Sociology)
    • University of Chicago, Booth School of Business (Organizations and Markets)
    • Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management (Management & Organizations & Sociology)
    • Stanford University, Graduate School of Business (Macro Organizational Behavior)
    • University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School (Management: strategic management of resources in alliances, networks, and ecosystems)
    • Harvard University, Harvard Business School (Organizational Behavior)

Interests: 

  • Studying the way that cities organize, strategize, and tactically compete to attract, grow, and retain businesses that require tech talent
  • Developing metrics that better illuminate how cities perform in global and national competition for tech talent 
  • Tracking the migration of tech talent as it relates to concepts of agglomeration and comparative advantage
  • Improving the collection and analysis of occupation and employment data (using machine learning and other techniques)
  • Note: Enrico Moretti's book "The New Geography of Jobs" is a great example of some work that really interests me!

Expectations from Programs

  • Program
    • Tier 1 job placement
    • Strong university and program branding related to technology
    • Multi-disciplinary approach that gives me access to business, economics, public policy, education, computer science, and sociology
  • Resources:
    • Experts in working with government and non-government labor market and economic firm data sets
    • World class training in data science techniques such as machine learning
    • New school research tools such as Quid
    • Located in a major metropolitan area that needs to compete for tech talent (New York, Boston, Chicago) or an area that has made significant progress to outperform in recent years (Austin, Denver, Raleigh-Durham) for more immediate access to economic and workforce development thinkers

Education: 

  • Master of Business Administration, University of Michigan, 2015, 3.8 GPA, full scholarship
  • Master of Public Policy, University of Michigan, 2015, 4.0 GPA, full scholarship
  • Master of Accounting, University of Missouri-Kansas City, 2012, 4.0 GPA, multiple scholarships
  • Bachelor of Business Administration, Oklahoma State University, 2001, 3.2 GPA, full scholarship

GRE:  Q170 (96th), V166 (97th), AW5.5 (98th)

Age: 37

Work Experience: 

  • Chief Operating Officer of a national, workforce development nonprofit focused on closing the tech talent gap, 2 years (by time of matriculation)
    • Some developing work with Brookings Institution's Metropolitan Policy Program, may or may not result in some published work
  • Engagement Manager for Accenture Strategy, Talent & Organization, 3 years
    • Developed talent strategy for the City of Chicago's Amazon HQ2 bid
    • Researched jobs of the future (AI, blockchain, IoT, etc.) and recommended how Chicago can better prepare its businesses and residents
    • Researched labor market inequalities among good occupations for various demographic groups in Chicago, developed a socioeconomics framework to reveal major contributing factors, and recommended how the city could make progress
  • IT Manager and Software Developer, 11 years

SoP: Currently researching and planning; my key problem is I don't really know much today about the nuances of sociology or its sub-fields.  The good thing is that I know what I want to study, and so I'm trying to figure out where in sociology or organizational behavior my interests are best suited.

LORs: 

  • Professor at University of Michigan (PhD Economics, Harvard, AB Harvard):  top-ranked student in their class and a graduate teaching assistant for 2 semesters
  • Professor at University of Michigan (PhD Economics, Berkeley, BS MIT): top-ranked student in their class and a graduate teaching assistant for 1 semester
  • Executive Vice President for economic and workforce development in the City of Chicago: completed 2 substantive labor market research projects, quoted after receiving my team's work, "I dare say we have the most innovative labor market research in the country."

Concerns: 

  1. Need to write a great statement of purpose
  2. No prior coursework in sociology (not even 101)
  3. No research publications or substantive academic research, only professional research that is largely confidential
  4. No multivariate calculus or linear algebra in case of a more quantitative subfield
  5. Age
Edited by method

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@egr37 Honestly, there don't seem to be any notable weaknesses in your profile. Seeing as you're at UW, you should try and get LORs from some of the more well-known professors, which should really help make your case. I don't know too much about your subfield, so there's nothing much else I could say. Higher quant scores can never hurt, but if you're not planning on doing heavy quant work, you should be fine as is.

 

EDIT: regarding your writing sample, just submit whatever you believe is your best piece of work and, potentially, showcases some of your research skills.

Edited by European Lumpi

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@method I was in exactly the same boat as you are in last year in terms of applying to soc depts and b-schools, so let me try and help.

  • Just because you've highlighted your work experience and are currently writing your SOP, let me just stress: don't focus on your work experience in your application. People are only interested in why you want to do research, what kind of research, how that fits into the department, and why you're going to succeed. So unless your work experience informs the first of those points, I would not advise to spend much time on it.
  • Especially for B-schools (even the sociological ones), it doesn't matter that you haven't taken any soc classes. If you look at their current grad students you'll see that plenty have no soc background. You will, however, need to make clear why you want to do sociological research, especially at the soc departments. This might be a little difficult for people with interdisciplinary interests. But as long as you can refer to people at the department doing similar research, you should be fine.
  • There's nothing you can do about not having published anything. That being said, your profile, which generally looks very strong otherwise, would benefit from some academic research experience. Not sure if there are any feasible ways to check that box before application due dates.
  • Not having taken any math classes is definitely not going to hurt at soc departments, and even most b-schools don't care too much as long as you're applying to the OB/management concentration.
  • There's nothing you can do about your age either. I've only heard anecdotal complains about this and officially it shouldn't be a factor, but who knows. If you can't change it, don't worry about it.

 

A few more things to be aware of regarding the schools you are looking at:

  • Have a look at Yale SOM (very sociological) and Duke soc (strong faculty in econ soc and organizations). Maybe someone will fit your interests there.
  • Booth's OM program hasn't been taking in students for the last two years. Burt stopped working on it, and it might take some time for the younger faculty to pick up the slack.
  • Wharton, albeit a great school obviously, kind of sticks out of your list as it is the only schools that is decidedly not very sociological. Whether or not that matters is up to you, just be aware that they are doing much more general management research, whereas you'll find plenty of people publishing in soc journals at the other programs.

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On 7/11/2018 at 10:42 AM, egr37 said:

I'm also torn over what to submit as a writing sample. I believe my best work is an extensive research paper on the history of segregation in Milwaukee's public school system. It was for a history/education policy studies class, so it's obviously not sociological; however, it relates to the area I want to focus on within sociology and certainly shows my writing and critical thinking abilities. I have several papers from soc classes that I'd be comfortable submitting as a sample as well, but I'm not nearly as excited about those.

Sorry for the very late reply here, but this would be a great question for a mentor and/or letter writer. You could send them a short description of the papers you’re considering so they don’t have to read them (which they likely don’t have time for).

Also, I really like the way you’ve phrased your research interests. I found being able to funnel my interests like that (start broad and get very specific) was helpful when I was interviewing.

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Program: PhD in Sociology, Comparative Human Development, and Psychology

A very preliminary list of schools I'm interested in (in no particular order):  Princeton, Columbia, Northwestern, UChicago, and UW Madison

Expectations/what I'm looking for:  Programs strong in family poverty research, poverty policy, and child-development 

Interests: The role of social supports in family stress and child outcomes, child welfare policy and interventions, child development across SES, and parent-child relationships

Undergraduate Institution: Notre Dame

Undergraduate Major/Degree: Major in Psychology, minor in Interdisciplinary Poverty Studies

Other undergraduate notes: Completed a thesis, where I developed and tested an at-home intervention with parents and children. Also took several sociology classes as an undergrad.  

Graduate GPA: 3.52, 3.8 within my major/minor (I started out as a pre-med, which messed w my overall GPA)

GRE:  V 168/ Q 155/ W 5.5

Age: 25

Languages: English, French, Spanish

Work/Research Experience: 

> Research in a Developmental Psych lab for 3 years in undergrad, where I completed my grant-funded thesis

> Paid and credit research assistant, co-authored 2 presentations/proceedings in developmental pysch lab. Also presented independently-researched paper in an unrelated field on the side at an international conference my senior year of undergrad (I was a little all over the place with my academic interests back then).

> Moved to France, was a live-in au pair for a family, collected data/interviews about school and daycare access

> Now I'm a Social Worker for children and families. It will be 2.6 years of work by the time I'd leave for school. It's very intense work, and has really driven my current interests: policy, social supports, and child outcomes (as opposed to cognitive development). 

SoP: Finished draft, getting feedback now

Concerns: Low quant score, low overall GPA, scattered research history. Took a lot of time off to do some soul searching. Also, I loved my Soc classes in undergrad, but never really considered Sociology as a PhD until I realized how many incredible poverty and family policy researchers exist in the field, so I'm in uncharted territory (even for me). 

Would love to know if I even have a shot. 

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