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drosoanxiety

How well do I match with top grad schools?

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Hi guys, 

I'm currently in my 4th year looking at molecular biology grad school programs (PhD) to apply for. I'll be graduating with a double major in Psychology (B.A.) and Biology with emphasis in Molecular cell Biology (B.S.). My GPA is at a 3.5, but hoping to graduate with 3.6+. I've been in 2 research labs, and both of my PIs have already agreed to write me a letter of recommendation. I should have one publication this year, and I have a good amount of lab experience (qPCR, producing cDNA, biotinylation/purification of RNA, dissection of Drosophila) 

I haven't taken my GRE yet, but I know for a fact I suck at taking standardized tests, so it probably won't be anything special.

I plan on applying to: UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC Davis, Scripps, Stanford, and Caltech. These will not be the only schools I'll be applying to, just schools that have 3-4 PIs that I'm interested in working with. 

How well would I match up to these schools? Do I have any kind of competition here? 

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Competition should be steep and honestly I think they might be a bit of a reach, but no harm aiming for them. I would recommend looking at less competitive schools as well

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Then it sounds like you have all bases covered! I would suggest contacting them now! that's what I'm doing hahaha. i had a list of about 23 progs that had POIs i was interested in, then culled some based on the interactions with them! Let me know if there's anything else I can help with (eg. CV or something.)

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16 hours ago, loffire said:

Competition should be steep and honestly I think they might be a bit of a reach, but no harm aiming for them. I would recommend looking at less competitive schools as well

Hi loffire, 

Do you have any suggestions as to how to improve my application? What am I missing from my application that would in turn improve my chances at these schools? Also, what schools would you suggest that I look at? Thank you for your honest opinion.

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Thank you for accepting my honest feedback ? I say the things I say cos I think your profile is similar to mine. I graduated with a 3.6+ gpa as well. Though most schools state 3.5 as a min, the more competitive schools might very well have a higher unofficial cutoff (aka your application never reaches the POIs). Your GREs then have to be stellar. Some people say 310 is good. I think you might need 160ish for V and Q and probably a 5.0 for AWA. 1 publication is good! really sell your research experiences in your CV. last 2 times I applied I either failed to contact POIs or contacted them without including my CV in the email. This year I included my CV detailing everything I've done and have gotten pretty good replies. You probably also need little more research exposure. Not just running assays but like from scratch to finish, lit review, being involved in designing an experiment, running the experiment and collecting data, analyzing, writing portion of the manuscript. The more "intellectual contribution" to a research project. These are things I believe POIs are looking for. Then again I could be entirely wrong. I've applied twice without success so what do I know hahahahah ?

TL;DR, 

You need to show you've been had intellectual contribution to research projects and when you contact POIs, find people who really do something you think would be a good fit, include your CV and get a discussion started. (doesn't need be exactly same. same theme different mechanism or something to that extent) I think you're off to a good start. So apply to those schools you mentioned (they're grrrrrrreat!) but also look at not so premium schools. like public/state colleges eg. SUNY colleges or like UC merced or something (those are just examples cos I have no idea what exactly your interest is or where they do what you wanna do. Feel free to clarify anything or ask further question. Also please use bowl of salt. kthxbai

Edited by loffire

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1 hour ago, loffire said:

You probably also need little more research exposure. Not just running assays but like from scratch to finish, lit review, being involved in designing an experiment, running the experiment and collecting data, analyzing, writing portion of the manuscript. The more "intellectual contribution" to a research project. These are things I believe POIs are looking for. Then again I could be entirely wrong. I've applied twice without success so what do I know hahahahah ?

 

I'm glad there is someone who is similar to me! 

In terms of research experience, I've been given my own experiment to run by my PI, and that's actually the potential publication! From start to finish, I've been there almost every step of the way (barring a few steps) but I've done the steps either on my own or with a graduate student helping me. However I will admit, I haven't partaken in the writing of the manuscript or designed any experiment, but I have run my own experiment, and analyzed and collected data with the help of graduate students.

I will definitely look at some "not so premium schools" as well, as I am open to options. I've found 3-4 POIs from each school I've looked at so far that I would really enjoy working with, so it's not just because I'm attracted to the school, I'm attracted to the research interests of others! 

I definitely have to refine my CV, so thank you for your suggestion! Do you know approximately when during the year I should reach out to these POIs?

Edited by drosoanxiety

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