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So I'm in the process of picking graduate schools to apply to and Im having a hard time of getting past the mentality of applying for the best schools in my field and seeing what happens? (Yale BBS, NYU, Northwestern, Princeton, Brown-basically all the reaches). I can stay a second year in my current postbacc fellowship and have been advised to do so if i want a shot at these schools, but as i have fee waivers and the worst they can say is no, my head is stuck on aiming high and just taking feedback this round. Wondering what some match schools would be though! Also, unsure if id have a somewhat better shot applying to biology umbrella programs for neuroscience or straight into neuroscience?

Undergrad Institution: Big state
Major(s): Neuroscience
Overall GPA: 3.3, in major probably around 3.05  (pretty average student except for chem/ochem-mostly B's, pretty much few equal in science A's-C's cancelled out)
Type of Student: (Domestic/International, male/female, minority?): Domestic, female, Puerto Rican & African American

GRE Scores:
Q: 156/61%
V: 159/83%
W: 4.5/82%
 

Other: Several extensive research experiences, (3 academic years, 2 summer fellowships, presented posters at 2 university conferences and won awards, ABRCMS national conference poster award, 2 travel awards, 1 middle author publication in submission, writing a review paper with a well known PI now), 3 pretty good LORs, and the typical grad cv full of extracurriculars

I held 2 jobs most of my 3 years of undergrad, and graduated in 3 years rather than taking the 4th to improve my gpa due to financial considerations. Im currently in an NIH funded postbacc at Mayo Clinic.

 

Bless you for reading this far, any and all advice is greatly appreciated!

 

 

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I'm not sure what you would get out of staying an additional year in your postbac, and I have no idea why they are advising you to stay. You have enough of everything on your CV from the looks of it to have a shot at those schools. I say just go for it this year. Umbrella vs. neuroscience doesn't matter unless you have zero experience in neuroscience.

You should definitely apply to a decent selection of best/good schools and see how it goes if it wouldn't be a financial burden to do so.

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On 8/18/2018 at 2:46 AM, BeakerBreaker said:

I'm not sure what you would get out of staying an additional year in your postbac, and I have no idea why they are advising you to stay. You have enough of everything on your CV from the looks of it to have a shot at those schools. I say just go for it this year. Umbrella vs. neuroscience doesn't matter unless you have zero experience in neuroscience.

You should definitely apply to a decent selection of best/good schools and see how it goes if it wouldn't be a financial burden to do so.

They were thinking along the lines of having additional publications and grades from the grad courses the program pays for. And thanks! As ABRCMS gives participants fee waivers for pretty much anything the only cost is GRE scores which are always required officially at first. 

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Do you have a plan B school if any of the tops school don't work out? It's always good to have a backup plan. 

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32 minutes ago, leecy77 said:

They were thinking along the lines of having additional publications and grades from the grad courses the program pays for. And thanks! As ABRCMS gives participants fee waivers for pretty much anything the only cost is GRE scores which are always required officially at first. 

You might want to look at some of the individual schools. WUSTL recently dropped the GRE requirement for about half of their biomed programs but I don't know if that's the case anywhere you are applying (will save on the GRE transfer fee at least)

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3 hours ago, Marlene5 said:

Do you have a plan B school if any of the tops school don't work out? It's always good to have a backup plan. 

Yep! I would just stay in the postbacc a second year, also Im applying to 2 state ones I know I can get into. Take the feedback and try again lol?

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22 minutes ago, leecy77 said:

Yep! I would just stay in the postbacc a second year, also Im applying to 2 state ones I know I can get into. Take the feedback and try again lol?

Idk. On one hand, you might get feedback, on the other hand it can be stressful and you might get unconstructive feedback, since you haven't done the amount of grad/postbacc work advised and it can show in your work. Then you will take the feedback next year out from your drawer and see that after that one year more of study all of what they told you is very obvious.

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I was so surprised that you included Brown in your list -- I don't think I've ever heard of them having a particular reputation for neuroscience -- but didn't include Columbia, which definitely does. 

Would recommend taking the chance and applying only to schools you would be super excited to attend in your first round of applications (as long as you have the resources to do so). It might be worth retaking the GRE to get your quant score up a little higher if you want to be really competitive though.

As for recommendations: I don't know if you have any personal reason for listing schools mostly in the northeast, but there are some stellar neuroscience programs out west -- UCSD, University of Washington, UCSF, UCLA (I may be biased...lol) -- as well as UNC Chapel Hill, Duke, Weill Cornell, and WUSTL

One more word of advice: I tend to caution against the idea of having "safety schools" (the two state schools you mentioned) -- if those were the only places you got in, would you still happily go? If the answer is anything other than a wholehearted YES, then save them for next year, again assuming you have the resources to do so. 

Best of luck!

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On 8/25/2018 at 4:01 PM, eevee said:

I was so surprised that you included Brown in your list -- I don't think I've ever heard of them having a particular reputation for neuroscience -- but didn't include Columbia, which definitely does. 

Would recommend taking the chance and applying only to schools you would be super excited to attend in your first round of applications (as long as you have the resources to do so). It might be worth retaking the GRE to get your quant score up a little higher if you want to be really competitive though.

As for recommendations: I don't know if you have any personal reason for listing schools mostly in the northeast, but there are some stellar neuroscience programs out west -- UCSD, University of Washington, UCSF, UCLA (I may be biased...lol) -- as well as UNC Chapel Hill, Duke, Weill Cornell, and WUSTL.

One more word of advice: I tend to caution against the idea of having "safety schools" (the two state schools you mentioned) -- if those were the only places you got in, would you still happily go? If the answer is anything other than a wholehearted YES, then save them for next year, again assuming you have the resources to do so. 

Best of luck!

Thank you for your reply! Columbia is definitely on the list, and Brown has a Neuroscience partnership program with the NIH that I've heard great things about so I thought it might be interesting! As for the west coast, I don't have much family that way, and cost of living in California seems to be much too high on a graduate budget so I just sort of skipped over that region ?

Id honestly been thinking a lot about having the safety schools myself and agree with you, I don't think I would go to them rather than take the extra year so Im likely not applying to them- this round will be a complete batch of crazy reaches lol. 

I was unsure if retaking the GRE for the quant score would be necessary as so many schools are discounting the GRE entirely now, looking at it moreso as a pulse check. I took the GRE last year cold turkey, so studying might help, but Im unsure if its worth getting the books and taking the time to study to go up possibly a few points?

 

I really appreciate your advice, thanks again! 

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