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Neuroscience PhD apps-- too much reach?

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Hi all-- first time posting here so if something is off please be patient with me :)

I'm currently in the process of applying to neuroscience Ph.D. programs (hopefully with a computational neuroscience focus). I'm applying straight out of my undergrad and am absolutely terrified... I was convinced by my parents (mistake no 1) to apply to all the top tier schools in my field. Ie: Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Dartmouth, Brown, Princeton, NYU, Cornell, MIT. I'm also applying to Boston U, Mt Sinai (aka Icahn School of Medicine) as kind-of backup schools. (Realistically I think they're the only ones I have any shot at MAYBE getting an interview.)

I know everyone asks this here, but: do I actually have a realistic chance of getting in? 

GRE: first attempt, 169V/162Q/5.0AW. second attempt, 164V/164Q/5.0AW.

GPA: 3.69 cum, 3.6 (biochem) and 3.7 (math) major GPAs at my current school, but they don't count my (two years of) transferred credits from community college. With transfer credits, 3.84 cum GPA, 3.73 (biochem) and 3.84 (math) major GPAs.

Math, biochem double major. I've been doing math research for ~1.5years, in a field that has neuro applications, but haven't actually done any neuroscience research. (1 publication as 2nd author; lots of poster/conference presentations.) My college is a mid-level public university, with no neuroscience program or coursework. However, I've tried to choose my electives so that they would help a grad degree/career in neuroscience.

I'm active in academic clubs on campus and have some leadership experience. I also have quite a lot of community service, if that helps. Without revealing personal details I am very "well-rounded" both on paper and irl.

I have 4 solid letters of rec, and am fairly confident with my statement of purpose. I interview well, but of course I have to get invited back for an interview first...

I've been in contact with some faculty from most schools. At the very least, an email back from them saying "you look like a great fit, email me again if you get an interview".

I'm sorry if this is a stupid thing to ask, but I'm nervous that I'll send out 11 apps and get 11 rejections. Please let me know what you guys think! Do I need more low-level schools? Are these all too much "reach"? Or would I be better off taking some time off to work as a lab tech or RA, and then applying in a few years from now?

Thanks in advance~

~coffeeveins

 

 

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4 hours ago, coffeeveins said:

Hi all-- first time posting here so if something is off please be patient with me :)

I'm currently in the process of applying to neuroscience Ph.D. programs (hopefully with a computational neuroscience focus). I'm applying straight out of my undergrad and am absolutely terrified... I was convinced by my parents (mistake no 1) to apply to all the top tier schools in my field. Ie: Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Dartmouth, Brown, Princeton, NYU, Cornell, MIT. I'm also applying to Boston U, Mt Sinai (aka Icahn School of Medicine) as kind-of backup schools. (Realistically I think they're the only ones I have any shot at MAYBE getting an interview.)

I know everyone asks this here, but: do I actually have a realistic chance of getting in? 

GRE: first attempt, 169V/162Q/5.0AW. second attempt, 164V/164Q/5.0AW.

GPA: 3.69 cum, 3.6 (biochem) and 3.7 (math) major GPAs at my current school, but they don't count my (two years of) transferred credits from community college. With transfer credits, 3.84 cum GPA, 3.73 (biochem) and 3.84 (math) major GPAs.

Math, biochem double major. I've been doing math research for ~1.5years, in a field that has neuro applications, but haven't actually done any neuroscience research. (1 publication as 2nd author; lots of poster/conference presentations.) My college is a mid-level public university, with no neuroscience program or coursework. However, I've tried to choose my electives so that they would help a grad degree/career in neuroscience.

I'm active in academic clubs on campus and have some leadership experience. I also have quite a lot of community service, if that helps. Without revealing personal details I am very "well-rounded" both on paper and irl.

I have 4 solid letters of rec, and am fairly confident with my statement of purpose. I interview well, but of course I have to get invited back for an interview first...

I've been in contact with some faculty from most schools. At the very least, an email back from them saying "you look like a great fit, email me again if you get an interview".

I'm sorry if this is a stupid thing to ask, but I'm nervous that I'll send out 11 apps and get 11 rejections. Please let me know what you guys think! Do I need more low-level schools? Are these all too much "reach"? Or would I be better off taking some time off to work as a lab tech or RA, and then applying in a few years from now?

Thanks in advance~

~coffeeveins

 

 

It's hard to say. I think your odds are good for getting at least a couple interviews, but it really depends on the extent of your research, and how good your LORs and SOP actually are. Your numbers are good enough that you'll get through those checks, but research experience and the rest depends on other applicants and how your LORs/SOP are.

They're not all reach - Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Princeton, Cornell, MIT are reach. Brown is probably reach just because they place a large emphasis on research experience/taking time off (though idk, you might have enough experience). Dartmouth is less reachy, I believe. NYU, BU, and Mt. Sinai I think you have better chances at, but it still depends on the aforementioned factors.

As a general rule of thumb, I always think it's a good idea to take time off and work as a tech. You couldn't be worse off for it; it could only help. It really depends on what you want. If you're dead set on only going to the top schools, taking time off for more experience and publications and the likes could really help.

P.S. Don't apply to schools just because they're highly ranked - make sure you have at least 3 faculty members you'd be excited to work with at each school.

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On 11/25/2018 at 1:35 PM, coffeeveins said:

Hi all-- first time posting here so if something is off please be patient with me :)

I'm currently in the process of applying to neuroscience Ph.D. programs (hopefully with a computational neuroscience focus). I'm applying straight out of my undergrad and am absolutely terrified... I was convinced by my parents (mistake no 1) to apply to all the top tier schools in my field. Ie: Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Dartmouth, Brown, Princeton, NYU, Cornell, MIT. I'm also applying to Boston U, Mt Sinai (aka Icahn School of Medicine) as kind-of backup schools. (Realistically I think they're the only ones I have any shot at MAYBE getting an interview.)

I know everyone asks this here, but: do I actually have a realistic chance of getting in? 

GRE: first attempt, 169V/162Q/5.0AW. second attempt, 164V/164Q/5.0AW.

GPA: 3.69 cum, 3.6 (biochem) and 3.7 (math) major GPAs at my current school, but they don't count my (two years of) transferred credits from community college. With transfer credits, 3.84 cum GPA, 3.73 (biochem) and 3.84 (math) major GPAs.

Math, biochem double major. I've been doing math research for ~1.5years, in a field that has neuro applications, but haven't actually done any neuroscience research. (1 publication as 2nd author; lots of poster/conference presentations.) My college is a mid-level public university, with no neuroscience program or coursework. However, I've tried to choose my electives so that they would help a grad degree/career in neuroscience.

I'm active in academic clubs on campus and have some leadership experience. I also have quite a lot of community service, if that helps. Without revealing personal details I am very "well-rounded" both on paper and irl.

I have 4 solid letters of rec, and am fairly confident with my statement of purpose. I interview well, but of course I have to get invited back for an interview first...

I've been in contact with some faculty from most schools. At the very least, an email back from them saying "you look like a great fit, email me again if you get an interview".

I'm sorry if this is a stupid thing to ask, but I'm nervous that I'll send out 11 apps and get 11 rejections. Please let me know what you guys think! Do I need more low-level schools? Are these all too much "reach"? Or would I be better off taking some time off to work as a lab tech or RA, and then applying in a few years from now?

Thanks in advance~

~coffeeveins

 

 

It's difficult to gauge whether you will be outright rejected since you are well-rounded on paper.  It will come down to your LORs and your SOP since there's nothing here that indicate that your app will immediately get sent to the "no" pile.  For applicants who don't have glaring flaws in their application, it really is a crapshoot since graduate school admissions aren't like med school ones.  It really depends on whether YOU are ready to go to graduate school or not.  Would YOU feel more comfortable taking a couple years off before applying?  There is nothing wrong with sending out applications this year and taking a lab tech job for a couple years if you're rejected (except you're maybe out ~1000 dollars).  There's also nothing wrong with taking time off--many students these days are taking time off before going back to school with stronger applications.

And like BabyScientist said, you should have at least 3 faculty at each program you are interested in working with, if not more than that, before you apply.  Committees can tell if applicants are just fishing for "prestige schools" with no real research fit.

Edited by StemCellFan

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