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2018-2019 Application Thread


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26 minutes ago, eggsalad14 said:

Thanks for the perspective. Again, like I've said previously, what mostly matters is stuff outside of math and outside of the common quantifiable things like GRE and GPA (past a threshold). 

That being said, it surprises me that even an F turned B- in intro calc isn't really disqualifying (assuming you don't show better scores in further math classes). Maybe it depends on what school that B- was earned at, but I'd be really surprised if a B- from a mid-to-not ranked school would not at least raise some eyebrows.

A bit off topic but generally speaking a B from a mid to range school would be less disqualifying than a B from an Ivy or similar school. It's well understood that grade inflation is rampant at the top while mid tier and state schools give grades that are more indicative of aptitude. There's kind of a goldilocks zone between Harvard and your local community college.

My own experience in grad school reflected this. I went to a small state school and sweat blood for my grades. Then when to an elite graduate university and grades were basically free.

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15 minutes ago, oats said:

A bit off topic but generally speaking a B from a mid to range school would be less disqualifying than a B from an Ivy or similar school. It's well understood that grade inflation is rampant at the top while mid tier and state schools give grade that are more indicative of aptitude. There's kind of a goldilocks zone between Harvard and your local community college.

My own experience in grad school reflected this. I went to a small state school and sweat blood for my grades. Then when to an elite graduate university and grades were basically free.

You do have to keep in mind that graduate and undergrad grading scales are also wack and not really comparable. I've had it explained to me as for grad courses, A=average, B=bad, and you should drop out if you get a C, whereas undergrad courses regularly will fail 1/3 - 1/2 the class. 

But I digress, you are right in that a B from Harvard shouldn't look good as it's well established that an A- is the modal grade. 

Edited by eggsalad14
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I interviewed with Notre Dame yesterday and they say they’ll send out acceptances within the next week or so. Sounds like if you haven’t gotten an invite to interview for CP subfield chances for admittance are pretty slim, but I could be wrong. Does anyone know how comparative politics programs at UT vs. Notre Dame rank? I’ve heard conflicting things but both have fantastic faculties.

Also, when I started speaking with my mentors about getting a PhD, they all told me to take stats and econometrics, which I feel is super relevant with the quantitative field now and no one has really mentioned yet. I’m also double majoring in econ so I guess it’s easier for me to take with required prerequisites.

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33 minutes ago, oats said:

As someone with similar experience, I completely disagree. And if you've never seen a student with linear algebra come though... I'm not sure what to even say to that.

Sorry, I must have given the wrong impression. Plenty of applicants have linear algebra. I meant to say that I have not seen a situation in which it seemed like linear algebra had a strong impact on admission whereas a great letter from a professor who taught a grad quant methods course can be a different story. At any rate great for anyone who has an exceptionally strong math preparation. You will see, when you start your program, this is not the case for all of your classmates, even at top programs. 

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I have two acceptances at top-20s so far and did not take a single math course in undergrad. Intro to stats from a cc in high school was it for me. A decent Quant GRE can definitely mitigate things if you have little formal training, and I think in that case the SoP and writing sample are very important. 

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1 hour ago, eggsalad14 said:

Thanks for the perspective. Again, like I've said previously, what mostly matters is stuff outside of math and outside of the common quantifiable things like GRE and GPA (past a threshold). 

That being said, it surprises me that even an F turned B- in intro calc isn't really disqualifying (assuming you don't show better scores in further math classes). Maybe it depends on what school that B- was earned at, but I'd be really surprised if a B- from a mid-to-not ranked school would not at least raise some eyebrows.

If you look at hundreds of (accepted) applications each year, over time you learn that (in poli sci and most programs) almost nothing is disqualifying. Truly. At least a handful of your classmates (non theory included) will not have completed a calculus class. Ever. So the one who fails, then gets a B-, often won’t be considered any worse off. Also, right, a B- can mean many things. In my story, for the student who eventually scored ok on the GRE and has a head for methods, it can even signal persistence. 

Edited by PonchoVilla
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6 minutes ago, IR1995 said:

I have two acceptances at top-20s so far and did not take a single math course in undergrad. Intro to stats from a cc in high school was it for me. A decent Quant GRE can definitely mitigate things if you have little formal training, and I think in that case the SoP and writing sample are very important. 

 

6 minutes ago, IR1995 said:

I have two acceptances at top-20s so far and did not take a single math course in undergrad. Intro to stats from a cc in high school was it for me. A decent Quant GRE can definitely mitigate things if you have little formal training, and I think in that case the SoP and writing sample are very important. 

Exactly. And congratulations!

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14 minutes ago, PonchoVilla said:

Sorry, I must have given the wrong impression. Plenty of applicants have linear algebra. I meant to say that I have not seen a situation in which it seemed like linear algebra had a strong impact on admission whereas a great letter from a professor who taught a grad quant methods course can be a different story. At any rate great for anyone who has an exceptionally strong math preparation. You will see, when you start your program, this is not the case for all of your classmates, even at top programs. 

I'm not an applicant. I'm on the other side of a Ph.D.

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I was rejected by Princeton, Berkeley, Duke, and Wisconsin-Madison. My first acceptance came today, and all I can say is that the process is extremely arbitrary provided that you meet the minimum requirements.

People on this forum have talked about math, SOP, research experience, GPA, etc being important factors in the admissions process. But my experience tells me that even if you excel in all these areas, it's still not sufficient. (N=1, so take my words with a grain of salt.)

I took advanced math and programming classes and graduated with a minor in computer science. I worked as a research assistant for two CHYMPS political science professors and got recommendation letters from both of them. My GRE scores are in the 95% percentile for all three subsections, and my GPA is in the top 20% of my class at a top 20 university. I wrote my undergraduate thesis on political economy, and the project involved a lot of heavy programming. The two CHYMPS political science professors read my SOP and said it was good. I wrote two paragraphs for each school emphasizing research fit.

All that is to say that I still got rejected almost everywhere despite these credentials. I honestly do not know what I would do differently to improve my chances. I would think it's the same for a lot of great applicants, like @acmnny and @Chronicoverthinker.

Also, I think research fit is too subjective to be a useful topic of discussion. I met with another CHYMPS professor recently, and he said my research idea was "uninteresting" and "did not speak to any larger issue in political science." But the two professors I worked with both liked my proposal and one said he hired me because I wrote it in my job application.

I think a more productive approach to rejections is simply accepting the arbitrariness of life. If you meet the minimum standards (90% GRE, okay GPA at a known university, good letters from people who do research, some research experience), there's no use faulting yourself for rejections or thinking you could've done things differently to improve your chances. The process is simply just random, like job searches and the search for a romantic partner or a true friend.

Finally, there's a lot of reporting bias on this forum. I wouldn't have created an account to share my experience had I not received an acceptance today. So when you see people getting multiple acceptances, know that they are hundreds of others who have been rejected everywhere or who have only gotten into one school. Please don't think less of yourself as a person or as a political scientist just because there are two or three people getting accepted everywhere.

TLDR: The process is random. Pedigree definitely matters, especially when it comes down to picking two people out of the final ten. Research fit is super subjective, so don't worry about it if you've said what you wanted to study in your SOP. And if you don't think there's anything you can change, either apply again next year or find a job! The application process says nothing about you as a scholar let alone a person.

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2 hours ago, oats said:

A bit off topic but generally speaking a B from a mid to range school would be less disqualifying than a B from an Ivy or similar school. It's well understood that grade inflation is rampant at the top while mid tier and state schools give grades that are more indicative of aptitude. There's kind of a goldilocks zone between Harvard and your local community college.

My own experience in grad school reflected this. I went to a small state school and sweat blood for my grades. Then when to an elite graduate university and grades were basically free.

Sorry I just joined this site and didn't realize i was in poli-sci ignore my previous comment.

Edited by XLW
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15 minutes ago, peggy.olson said:

Agreed! I hope more come out soon. And also still wtf @ Northwestern just tell me already !!!

 

edit: somehow the quote wasn't included? was responding to eggsalad re: more decisions

Northwestern is killing me. Still have only heard definitively from one school (rejection - Berkeley - pretty expected). Waiting on Northwestern, and it looks like Washington might be doing decisions this week. Otherwise, everything else is still out there. 

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3 minutes ago, schuaust said:

Northwestern is killing me. Still have only heard definitively from one school (rejection - Berkeley - pretty expected). Waiting on Northwestern, and it looks like Washington might be doing decisions this week. Otherwise, everything else is still out there. 

Best of luck !!!! And yeah, I think spacing decisions apart by a few days or so is fine, but it has...literally been two weeks since they sent out those acceptances! It's insane

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6 minutes ago, peggy.olson said:

Best of luck !!!! And yeah, I think spacing decisions apart by a few days or so is fine, but it has...literally been two weeks since they sent out those acceptances! It's insane

Have any Northwestern rejections gone out, or was it just acceptances? I've been assuming a rejection for awhile, but it would be nice to know definitively. 

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Congrats to the admits! Do you think it's safe to assume that I would get rejections from NYU and UChicago if I didn't hear/see anything yet? All the decisions seem to be out, I guess.. Also, anyone heard back from Cornell at all? It's so hard to keep it cool when I have this weird feeling of imminent doom of rejections :unsure: Well, good luck to myself and everybody here! Fingers crossed so hard they might just snap ;)

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9 hours ago, quesadilla said:

I interviewed with Notre Dame yesterday and they say they’ll send out acceptances within the next week or so. Sounds like if you haven’t gotten an invite to interview for CP subfield chances for admittance are pretty slim, but I could be wrong. Does anyone know how comparative politics programs at UT vs. Notre Dame rank? I’ve heard conflicting things but both have fantastic faculties.

Also, when I started speaking with my mentors about getting a PhD, they all told me to take stats and econometrics, which I feel is super relevant with the quantitative field now and no one has really mentioned yet. I’m also double majoring in econ so I guess it’s easier for me to take with required prerequisites.

Applied for theory at Notre Dame and didn’t receive anything yet. I’m assuming it’s a rejection now as I know that someone in theory has gotten intervirwed already according to the results survey...

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42 minutes ago, plzuniverse said:

Applied for theory at Notre Dame and didn’t receive anything yet. I’m assuming it’s a rejection now as I know that someone in theory has gotten intervirwed already according to the results survey...

Keep in mind it also just depends on who gets stuck with your application. There could be three different theory profs who each get so many applications to vet, and only one prof may take the time to interview any students.

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