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2018-2019 Application Thread

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8 minutes ago, PBandMachiajelly said:

Claiming a Yale rejection! Also got a generic email to check portal. Generic emails are the best. If you haven't gotten the email yet go log in obsessively until you're notified.

Really appreciate schools that send out all decisions all at once. It's not that hard!!!

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Hello, I’ve been following this thread for awhile now and I wanted to thank everyone for their frank and honest advice about grad school. This cycle wasn’t successful for me, so now I’m looking for something to fill at least one gap year between undergrad and grad school. What have you all done to get research experience after undergrad? It seems like there aren’t very many research jobs available for someone with only an undergrad degree. 

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25 minutes ago, polisci1 said:

Hello, I’ve been following this thread for awhile now and I wanted to thank everyone for their frank and honest advice about grad school. This cycle wasn’t successful for me, so now I’m looking for something to fill at least one gap year between undergrad and grad school. What have you all done to get research experience after undergrad? It seems like there aren’t very many research jobs available for someone with only an undergrad degree. 

I'm sorry it didn't work out for you, I am looking down the same dark hole of rejection this cycle. I am also a graduating college senior so I understand the flurry of trying to find something to do after you graduate and while you wait to reapply. 

I don't have info about research, but I did apply for a handful of jobs at policy think tanks as research assistant or similar positions. So far those have been unsuccessful. But, if you are looking for something to do between undergrad and grad school, maybe check out AmeriCorps? I am in a similar situation and it looks like that is what I'll (hopefully) be doing next year, it seems like a great opportunity to give back and serve the community and they do give about 6k to pay off student loans, it also looks good on any resume. 

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I have on UK school outstanding, but it looks like this cycle is over for me. As I decide on whether to re-apply next cycle, I'm realizing it would be helpful to try to get some feedback from the schools that rejected me on whether the main shortcomings of my application were things I can improve on next cycle (GRE, personal statement), or things that cannot be changed at this point, like courses taken in undergrad or grades. Have people been able to get this sort of feedback, and if so, who did you email? Should I attempt to get feedback right away while the decisions are fresh, or is it rude to email while these programs are courting their admitted students? It seems awkward to even ask, but it would genuinely be very helpful for me. 

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44 minutes ago, Dwar said:

I'm sorry it didn't work out for you, I am looking down the same dark hole of rejection this cycle. I am also a graduating college senior so I understand the flurry of trying to find something to do after you graduate and while you wait to reapply. 

I don't have info about research, but I did apply for a handful of jobs at policy think tanks as research assistant or similar positions. So far those have been unsuccessful. But, if you are looking for something to do between undergrad and grad school, maybe check out AmeriCorps? I am in a similar situation and it looks like that is what I'll (hopefully) be doing next year, it seems like a great opportunity to give back and serve the community and they do give about 6k to pay off student loans, it also looks good on any resume. 

Thanks for the suggestion! Americorps seems interesting but my interests are very internationally focused (CP sub-field) so I don’t know if it would benefit me that much. When you’ve applied to think tanks, have you applied for specific positions or just sent in your CV? I’ve seen very few listings that seem to be designed for recent college grads and I also haven’t had any luck with job applications.

Edited by polisci1

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Also, following up on my question about conflicting visit days — I'm deciding between two T10 ranked (but tied) programs, one of which I already decided was my top choice. However, the other program had gotten back to me first and already booked me a flight, etc to their visit weekend. My top choice's visit weekend is at the exact same time. Any advice? 

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1 minute ago, peggy.olson said:

Also, following up on my question about conflicting visit days — I'm deciding between two T10 ranked (but tied) programs, one of which I already decided was my top choice. However, the other program had gotten back to me first and already booked me a flight, etc to their visit weekend. My top choice's visit weekend is at the exact same time. Any advice? 

ya that is tough. I have a paranoid fear that snubbing departments is a bad look and the academic world (particularly within a subdiscipline) is so tiny that it's the wrong way to start, but you might just reach out to your preferred school and say you've already RSVP'd to another visit weekend, is there anyway you could come another time to meet with professors and get a lay of the land there? I think most would be happy to do that, particularly if it's just you meeting with a few professors and grad students.

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2 hours ago, peggy.olson said:

FINALLY rejected from Northwestern lmao

EDIT: likely wait-listed, told to contact Dr. Reno. 

Edited by schuaust
Update

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14 minutes ago, peggy.olson said:

Also, following up on my question about conflicting visit days — I'm deciding between two T10 ranked (but tied) programs, one of which I already decided was my top choice. However, the other program had gotten back to me first and already booked me a flight, etc to their visit weekend. My top choice's visit weekend is at the exact same time. Any advice? 

I really thought they coordinated these, but as far as I know there are at least 3 T10 school visits (of the like 6 or 7 I'm so far aware of) in that same March 31-april 2ish timespan. 

I'd recommend not reneging on Duke, especially because they've paid for the tickets. I'd ask Columbia politely if they'd be able to accommodate some other time, and explain that while your prefer them, Duke was much quicker in all this and you know it would be a lousy thing to do to bail. Maybe emphasize that you're sure that many others are in this situation. I know I'd love to visit Columbia but have also committed to a different visit in the same timespan, and I'm sure you and I are not the only ones in this boat. 

I haven't specifically requested an alternate visit day anywhere, but multiple have offered it and have in fact said that an alternate visit day provides a better real look into the grad program (though whether the funding is there for the alternate visit is probably not all universally there). 

 

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1 hour ago, eggsalad14 said:

I really thought they coordinated these, but as far as I know there are at least 3 T10 school visits (of the like 6 or 7 I'm so far aware of) in that same March 31-april 2ish timespan. 

I'd recommend not reneging on Duke, especially because they've paid for the tickets. I'd ask Columbia politely if they'd be able to accommodate some other time, and explain that while your prefer them, Duke was much quicker in all this and you know it would be a lousy thing to do to bail. Maybe emphasize that you're sure that many others are in this situation. I know I'd love to visit Columbia but have also committed to a different visit in the same timespan, and I'm sure you and I are not the only ones in this boat. 

I haven't specifically requested an alternate visit day anywhere, but multiple have offered it and have in fact said that an alternate visit day provides a better real look into the grad program (though whether the funding is there for the alternate visit is probably not all universally there). 

 

Yes, definitely was not thinking of reneging on Duke - I'm still very excited to go and meet with everyone, but also a little sad about missing Columbia — but I will go ahead and email them like you said, thanks!!

 

Thanks for the advice, everyone - its good to know I'm not the only one! And congrats to everyone, again!!!!

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18 minutes ago, peggy.olson said:

Yes, definitely was not thinking of reneging on Duke - I'm still very excited to go and meet with everyone, but also a little sad about missing Columbia — but I will go ahead and email them like you said, thanks!!

 

Thanks for the advice, everyone - its good to know I'm not the only one! And congrats to everyone, again!!!!

Tbh, if I were in your position, I would see if it was still possible to visit Duke on an alternate date. It sounds like you have a pretty strong preference for Columbia, and I think for the schools you're most strongly considering, there's a lot to be gained by visiting on the actual visit date. For one thing, it's the only chance you'll have to meet the other prospectives, and those are the people you'll be spending the most time with. 

Obviously, it's very unlikely that you'll be able to change your date to visit Duke, but I would still take a few minutes to dial up the airline you're flying with, particularly if you're a status customer, and see if it's possible. I've had a really good track record with changing flights to different dates with my regular airline. If they say no, which they will in most cases, at least you tried, and you only spent a few minute's time doing so. If they say yes, I don't think you'd offend Duke by still visiting, just at a different date. If there's a fee to switch flights (I've done it for $50 on a major airline, during a busy time of year for travel), I would eat that rather than expect Duke to pay it. And if you would have stayed with students during the Duke visit but now require a hotel, I'd consider eating that cost as well.

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2 hours ago, peggy.olson said:

Also, following up on my question about conflicting visit days — I'm deciding between two T10 ranked (but tied) programs, one of which I already decided was my top choice. However, the other program had gotten back to me first and already booked me a flight, etc to their visit weekend. My top choice's visit weekend is at the exact same time. Any advice? 

Many schools would be happy to host you another time before 15 April. Obviously there are things in a visitation event that you would miss, but it's still possible for you to meet faculty, students, etc., which are probably more important!

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2 hours ago, schuaust said:

EDIT: likely wait-listed, told to contact Dr. Reno. 

did they email you or how did you find out about this?

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Just now, Tobz said:

did they email you or how did you find out about this?

 

2 hours ago, schuaust said:

EDIT: likely wait-listed, told to contact Dr. Reno. 

I contacted the graduate program coordinator this morning, did not get a reply yet. Did you also contact her? Because then we should all email DGS Reno for any info, I guess.

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1 hour ago, Tobz said:

did they email you or how did you find out about this?

Emailed another professor in the department, he was very nice. He said that his intuition was if we haven't heard anything back at this point we are likely wait-listed (hence why I say likely, not certainly). He said to contact Dr. Reno. Was very nice. 

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7 hours ago, polisci1 said:

Hello, I’ve been following this thread for awhile now and I wanted to thank everyone for their frank and honest advice about grad school. This cycle wasn’t successful for me, so now I’m looking for something to fill at least one gap year between undergrad and grad school. What have you all done to get research experience after undergrad? It seems like there aren’t very many research jobs available for someone with only an undergrad degree. 

Last cycle was unsuccessful for me. I ended up taking a gap year and am currently working on a research paper independently and submitted it to present at conference. Also, I studied and retook the GRE, since I knew it could stand to improve that, and doing some intensive sorting of schools to apply to the next round. Trying to get work failed for me as well, even with a Master's in hand, but luckily my spouse was able to support me focusing on improving me applications. Things worked out this year to be accepted to multiple programs, so I guess something in there worked. My suggestion is to soul search on what you need to do and get creative on ways to do research.

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I’m not sure if this is helpful for those reapplying but I’m really realizing the importance of connections. The two schools I got into both have professors who were in my recommender’s cohort, one he went to for undergrad, and I got waitlisted where my other recommender went. Don’t be afraid to ask your recommenders or other mentors to reach out to their colleagues when you apply! Emailing professors at schools yourself won’t carry as much weight as a colleague telling them to keep an eye out for your application. And it may not hurt to consider where your professors have connections when deciding where to apply. This isn’t to say that this matters MUCH but it might matter ENOUGH when admissions committees are looking through hundreds of stellar apps and trying to decide between two great students. Obviously don’t apply somewhere that’s not a good fit just because your thesis director knows the DGS.

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1 minute ago, quesadilla said:

I’m not sure if this is helpful for those reapplying but I’m really realizing the importance of connections. The two schools I got into both have professors who were in my recommender’s cohort, one he went to for undergrad, and I got waitlisted where my other recommender went. Don’t be afraid to ask your recommenders or other mentors to reach out to their colleagues when you apply! Emailing professors at schools yourself won’t carry as much weight as a colleague telling them to keep an eye out for your application. And it may not hurt to consider where your professors have connections when deciding where to apply. This isn’t to say that this matters MUCH but it might matter ENOUGH when admissions committees are looking through hundreds of stellar apps and trying to decide between two great students. Obviously don’t apply somewhere that’s not a good fit just because your thesis director knows the DGS.

Out of just pure curiosity, i'd be interested to hear people's self-evaluations of what worked and what didn't for them.

I think some of the letter-writer-preferences is probably trusting others' evaluations of students, which I think is a big part of why students from prestigious institutions have an easier time getting into prestigious grad institutions. If the letter readers think the person writing it is a good political scientist who has trained top-level grad students themselves, they'll trust the evaluation of the applicant more. Going to the same school as the recommender probably does this as well by signaling the writer is of the same caliber as the reader. The professor who advised me on grad school apps suggested using the biggest names who knew me best because recognizable names carry more weight, but letters still need to be personal.

I'd definitely second the importance of fit in my experience. My area is pretty popular these days so there are lots of people doing research on it generally, but given my unusual (read unsexy) methodological interests, I got in only where there were people using those methods and who are actively interested in the particular topic I want to research. This might not be a problem if you're wanting to study American politics with quantitative methods, but seems to have been a big one for me. For the programs that were 'great' fits, I got into two and rejected one (where they typically have more accomplished prospective students than I, anyway).

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43 minutes ago, quesadilla said:

I’m not sure if this is helpful for those reapplying but I’m really realizing the importance of connections. The two schools I got into both have professors who were in my recommender’s cohort, one he went to for undergrad, and I got waitlisted where my other recommender went. Don’t be afraid to ask your recommenders or other mentors to reach out to their colleagues when you apply! Emailing professors at schools yourself won’t carry as much weight as a colleague telling them to keep an eye out for your application. And it may not hurt to consider where your professors have connections when deciding where to apply. This isn’t to say that this matters MUCH but it might matter ENOUGH when admissions committees are looking through hundreds of stellar apps and trying to decide between two great students. Obviously don’t apply somewhere that’s not a good fit just because your thesis director knows the DGS.

Second the comment on connections. If you’re not from a prestigious university, perhaps consider doing an MA at Chicago or working as an RA for a social scientist. There are lots of economists hiring full-time RAs fresh out of undergrad.

I would also add that how much your connections are willing to vouch for you is a function of your own ability as well. They’re putting their reputation on the line, so you have to be good enough to make them go that extra mile.

Fit didn’t really matter in my case. Two out of the three schools whose fit paragraphs I spent 30 seconds writing (because I knew the professors’ work by heart) rejected me. Two schools with the worst fit both accepted me. And these are all equally competitive programs where my recommenders had equally weak connections, so I don’t know what worked or didn’t work in those cases.

Edited by sandmoon

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To get into the Chicago MA program or to get a full-time RA-ship, it also helps to have one or more of the following things:

- research skills

- connections

- money (if you can’t get a scholarship)

I understand that this isn’t ideal but from the people I’ve talked to it seems like those of us from non-prestigious undergrad institutions have only a few options if we want to have a shot at the most competitive programs.

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