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2019 Applicant Profiles and Admissions Results


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Would anyone find it helpful to create a separate thread just for interviews? Looking back through previous years, I felt it would have been more helpful to have a thread dedicated to just interview n

After waiting and waiting, happy to say I got two acceptances today! Guess I'll be going to graduate school this year after all!

I've planned for alternate options. I have 3 separate contingency plans, lol. I applied to a PREP program, and I am working on my resume so I can get applications going for lab positions as soon as I

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There didn’t really seem to be a thread to discuss interviews, so if I should move this lmk. 

For interview/recruitment weekends, is there anything that you wish you could go back and do different? There’s loads of advice out there regarding what to wear/questions to ask/how to put your best foot forward/etc., but maybe something happened during your visit that you didn’t expect? Any advice is helpful.

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2 hours ago, socialinsects4eva said:

There didn’t really seem to be a thread to discuss interviews, so if I should move this lmk. 

For interview/recruitment weekends, is there anything that you wish you could go back and do different? There’s loads of advice out there regarding what to wear/questions to ask/how to put your best foot forward/etc., but maybe something happened during your visit that you didn’t expect? Any advice is helpful.

I spoke with a professor yesterday who is new to my school but conducted PhD interviews at his previous university. He said getting an interview is the most difficult part of the process. Mainly during the interview process these programs are checking to make sure you are not a psychopath (haha!) and half as interesting as your application makes you seem. He stressed that most students forget their manners during these interviews. Always be polite, don't slouch in your seat, be dressed appropriately, when speaking with a faculty member be actively listening and do not interrupt them while speaking, etc. Most importantly, don't be on your phone and make sure it is silenced!!

He also said DO NOT speak about yourself unless you are directly asked a question and if you are asked, keep it brief. They have poured over your application and know it well, so don't drone on and on about yourself. He said be sure to ask questions to grad students "What are you studying? What do you do in lab? How are the classes here?" etc etc. Don't be afraid to ask about the city, how its like to live there and what are some good areas for housing? You can also ask the grad students about fellowships and funding. Ask professors if they are taking students or will be doing lab rotations, ask them about new developments in they research. He also said it is extremely important to have background knowledge on the professors you will be speaking with, read their faculty research profile and if you are extremely interested in them read a few of their papers. Make notes about their research so you can refer to it during the interview process. Be aware if a professor publishes very little or publishes consistently, how many students they have, and what kind of grants they have currently (or if they lack grants). He said that you can expect to encounter two types of faculty during interview weekends, those who want to talk about their research and recruit you to their lab or PI's who will grill you about your research background. Take note of your interactions with the PI, if your personalities clash then you might not want to request them for a lab rotation if you pick that program.

He also encouraged me to take notes about the program and my experience during break times throughout the day, obviously you're not going to remember every single detail of the 2+ days you'll be interviewing. Never take notes during interviews or during meals, only during designated break times. Be aware the faculty members are looking at you as a potential mentoree while grad students are looking for potential lab mates, everyone is watching you at all times! Good luck during your interviews :)

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2 minutes ago, cidmeister said:

Always be polite

 

2 minutes ago, cidmeister said:

Don't be afraid to ask about the city, how its like to live there and what are some good areas for housing? You can also ask the grad students about fellowships and funding. Ask professors if they are taking students or will be doing lab rotations, ask them about new developments in they research.

 

3 minutes ago, cidmeister said:

He also encouraged me to take notes about the program and my experience during break times throughout the day, obviously you're not going to remember every single detail of the 2+ days you'll be interviewing. Never take notes during interviews or during meals, only during designated break times.

I completely agree with all these. 

Be polite to everyone. Everyone is evaluating you in some way, but also being a nice person is generally a good idea (whether or not you're at an interview). Don't be that guy who was noticeably rude to a waiter.

You're going to be living and working in these places, so you should definitely ask about what it's like to live in the area/specific questions about the area. It's great to ask professors during interviews about the city, but you should also ask about what their lab is like. Questions like "Do your students have fellowships?" "Do they go to conferences?" "Where is your funding from?" "What do your students go on to do?" "How many people are in your lab?" show that you know that there's more to being in a lab than just the research. You can love the research but the lab could not offer good opportunities, or not have funding, or is too big/small for your preferences, etc. Of course you can ask grad students the same questions.

Definitely take notes. If you have more than one interview, you're going to forget what you did or didn't like at every school by the time you're deciding. I took notes after each faculty meeting about what we talked about and what my impressions were. But taking notes during would be rude (these interviews are supposed to be like a conversation), so take them when there's nothing else going on. Feel free to take notes during powerpoint presentations.

10 minutes ago, cidmeister said:

He also said it is extremely important to have background knowledge on the professors you will be speaking with, read their faculty research profile and if you are extremely interested in them read a few of their papers. Make notes about their research so you can refer to it during the interview process.

I agree to this only to the extent that you should be aware roughly of what they do, but faculty profiles are often out of date. They won't expect you to know everything about their work, or to have read any papers. Only read papers if you're actually really interested. They will likely tell you about their work during the interview (if not, you should ask them about it). Don't refer to any notes during the interviews, but feel free to glance at the one sentence "Dr. X works on XYZ" you should have before you go into the interview.

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15 minutes ago, BabyScientist said:

 

 

I completely agree with all these. 

Be polite to everyone. Everyone is evaluating you in some way, but also being a nice person is generally a good idea (whether or not you're at an interview). Don't be that guy who was noticeably rude to a waiter.

You're going to be living and working in these places, so you should definitely ask about what it's like to live in the area/specific questions about the area. It's great to ask professors during interviews about the city, but you should also ask about what their lab is like. Questions like "Do your students have fellowships?" "Do they go to conferences?" "Where is your funding from?" "What do your students go on to do?" "How many people are in your lab?" show that you know that there's more to being in a lab than just the research. You can love the research but the lab could not offer good opportunities, or not have funding, or is too big/small for your preferences, etc. Of course you can ask grad students the same questions.

Definitely take notes. If you have more than one interview, you're going to forget what you did or didn't like at every school by the time you're deciding. I took notes after each faculty meeting about what we talked about and what my impressions were. But taking notes during would be rude (these interviews are supposed to be like a conversation), so take them when there's nothing else going on. Feel free to take notes during powerpoint presentations.

I agree to this only to the extent that you should be aware roughly of what they do, but faculty profiles are often out of date. They won't expect you to know everything about their work, or to have read any papers. Only read papers if you're actually really interested. They will likely tell you about their work during the interview (if not, you should ask them about it). Don't refer to any notes during the interviews, but feel free to glance at the one sentence "Dr. X works on XYZ" you should have before you go into the interview.

All good points! I think the points about what to ask faculty were really good. One of my programs lists current students and funding but I realize not every program website lists these things. 

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53 minutes ago, cidmeister said:

I spoke with a professor yesterday who is new to my school but conducted PhD interviews at his previous university. He said getting an interview is the most difficult part of the process. Mainly during the interview process these programs are checking to make sure you are not a psychopath (haha!) and half as interesting as your application makes you seem. He stressed that most students forget their manners during these interviews. Always be polite, don't slouch in your seat, be dressed appropriately, when speaking with a faculty member be actively listening and do not interrupt them while speaking, etc. Most importantly, don't be on your phone and make sure it is silenced!!

He also said DO NOT speak about yourself unless you are directly asked a question and if you are asked, keep it brief. They have poured over your application and know it well, so don't drone on and on about yourself. He said be sure to ask questions to grad students "What are you studying? What do you do in lab? How are the classes here?" etc etc. Don't be afraid to ask about the city, how its like to live there and what are some good areas for housing? You can also ask the grad students about fellowships and funding. Ask professors if they are taking students or will be doing lab rotations, ask them about new developments in they research. He also said it is extremely important to have background knowledge on the professors you will be speaking with, read their faculty research profile and if you are extremely interested in them read a few of their papers. Make notes about their research so you can refer to it during the interview process. Be aware if a professor publishes very little or publishes consistently, how many students they have, and what kind of grants they have currently (or if they lack grants). He said that you can expect to encounter two types of faculty during interview weekends, those who want to talk about their research and recruit you to their lab or PI's who will grill you about your research background. Take note of your interactions with the PI, if your personalities clash then you might not want to request them for a lab rotation if you pick that program.

He also encouraged me to take notes about the program and my experience during break times throughout the day, obviously you're not going to remember every single detail of the 2+ days you'll be interviewing. Never take notes during interviews or during meals, only during designated break times. Be aware the faculty members are looking at you as a potential mentoree while grad students are looking for potential lab mates, everyone is watching you at all times! Good luck during your interviews :)

This is really helpful (And BabyScientist's additional comments as well)! I was planning to be taking notes during interviews so its good to know that that's not the way to go.

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My profile:

Washington University in St. Louis

Major: Mechanical Engineering BS+MS, international student, Chinese

GPA overall: 3.85

GPA in major: 3.91

GRE (my GRE is a piece of shit): V:150 Q:169 Writing: 4.0 

Sth happened on the test date and there is not time at all for compensation :( plus that I have 17 credits this year, I am a transfer student so my schedule is a bit tight.

TOEFL: 112. But did not submit it for many tier one schools kind of regretted

SOP: Super strong, been revised by my thesis mentor and the school so many times and every says it's good.

LoR: four endowed professors with titles. I didn't ask them to do that but they asked me if I need any letters and they are willing to help me out... So I guess they would be good?

Extracurricular activity: the president of Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor society at WashU       

Research experience: 2-year of FEA experience. My concentrate is biomechanics, FEA, solid/continuum mechanics. But no publication available yet. some manuscripts in process. May have two publication this upcoming semester and I know it's going to be useless at all to the application.

Schools applied:

All the top ones.

Tier-two: Purdue.

20 schools in total. I know my GRE is a shit so I have to apply for more schools to save my application.....

Trying to contact the POIs right now, have done 5 only got one template reply. Feeling desperate now...  :(    

Will continue reading papers of the prospective professors and try contacting them..    

Everyone feel free to comment. thx

Edited by douerwan
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On 1/10/2019 at 12:14 PM, failing_upward said:

I have been, lol. As well as anywhere else I could possibly consider and watching my phone (and even my snail mail) like a hawk. I saw all the responses from Boulder, but not much from Denver/Anschutz. I think they are still processing applications, but I'm still worried I'm shuffled to the bottom. After WashU rejected me I've been pretty sobered about my chances. 

I got my interview invite from Denver/Anschutz on the 19th of December, just FYI.

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6 hours ago, CancerBiology said:

Is it safe to assume that we have been rejected from all schools that we have not heard back from already?

In my year, three of my seven invitations to interview came after this date. My last invitation to interview came on February 18. It's still early.

 

3 hours ago, cidmeister said:

I spoke with a professor yesterday who is new to my school but conducted PhD interviews at his previous university. He said getting an interview is the most difficult part of the process. Mainly during the interview process these programs are checking to make sure you are not a psychopath (haha!) and half as interesting as your application makes you seem.

The competitiveness of the interview process varies widely from program to program. Some places I interviewed stated (when asked) that they had a post-interview acceptance rate of less than 50%. Others stated (unprompted) that the interview was basically a formality. I just want to put this out there now to encourage people to temper their expectations about what getting an interview might actually mean.

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4 hours ago, biggielarges said:

Does anyone know if NYU Sackler (specifically immunology and inflammation) is finished sending invites?  I got bounced from Rockefeller's program today without an interview... oof 

Same here friend... ? now standing with two official rejections and two interview offers.... 

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Should I send thank you emails after interviews?
Just finished my interview at a biomedicine program. I talked to the interviewers for 30 minutes and the weekend was spent with other faculty members, students, and "upperclassmen". 
I don't want it to seem tacky or want to seem insincere

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15 hours ago, yash13177 said:

Same here friend... ? now standing with two official rejections and two interview offers.... 

Rockefeller is consistently a tough one to get into, I've heard, which definitely helps to not take it toooo personally.  Stay strong!! ❤️

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Anyone hear from EEB or CEB? I accidentally stumbled into a lit PhD results page where they were discussing fake early results in the results section. The results section said invited were sent out 12/15 and they’re only taking 4 people. Holding out hope that’s not true!

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Since it has been more than 6 weeks since I submitted, and it has almost been 6 weeks since the deadline, I feel I should send out an inquiry email. However, I don't have the slightest clue how to ask. I am so worried that no matter what I do I'm just going to look needy or impatient or nosey. 

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