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This is more for BME/ BE majors but definitely applies to all others if the process are similar!

I am wondering if anyone know what the process is like? I know it's not healthy, but I've been stalking the results page like everyday lol 

This is completely random and I'm definitely making it up. I am thinking.. AdComm will get about 400-600 applications total. They will sort out the applications by...

1. Completed applications <- not completed will be in another pile (let's say -100) - Completed means with all 3 LOR, 1 SOP and Resume etc = 500 left

2. Start by sorting GPA (3.8-4.0 = 120, 3.5-3.79 = 180, 3.0-3.49 = 200)

3. Sort by GRE for each pile of GPA  (cut off 160Q, 150V) 

4. Start reading SOP to see who they are interested in, by this point they should have about 300 total students I'm guessing. Coming to the number of about 2-4 students per professors depending on their availability / funding. 

5. Pass them to the professors to made decisions 

6. Final decisions by professors then back to the adcom to make final decisions (including the director)


Am I about right? Am I too far off? My GRE is very horrible.. so I am very worried especially with so many great and awesome applications I've seen here! What do you guys think? 

And why some take forever to reject? :(


Edited by StHoly
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I don't have any input, but I'm also BME and getting so antsy...... every day is refreshing the results page. At the weirdest of times, too. My GPA is awful, so I hope it can be overlooked... ?

Some places won't reject outrightly because not all applicants will accept the interview offer or offer of admission, methinks.

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Definitely nerve wrecking! I hope they weighed in more on Experience, SOP and LOR more than others! (GRE and GPA not so good!) 

I just hope they don't cut off with GPA or GRE... Also I've had experiences with rejections on the week of April 15th. I am wondering why that is... Not sure if I am considered applicants (waitlisted) until the end or what.. I wish they would have told me though.. 

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As the other BME with a pretty bad GPA... this waiting game is horrible!!

I woke up today with a missed phone call from an unknown number that wasn’t from my local area code (like most spam calls are) so I freaked out, only to listen to the voicemail and see it was in fact just a spam call. 

I imagine the process is something like you think, where they get rid of anyone who doesn’t meet a cut off first. I really don’t know what they do afterwards though. Sort by research experience?? Publications?? Who knows.

I think some schools (UCLA is the one relevant to me) might send out applications to professors earlier rather than later, since they have very sporadic interviews that all seem to be from emails/phone calls from POI. (I also think I’m screwed for not reaching out to professors because of this yikes.) Maybe they separate by area of interest and then send it to a head person for that area who then sends it out to relevant professors. 

Obviously all we can really do is speculate... which is unhealthy but I can’t stop!!

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Ah! You're right, I'm pretty sure experiences played a big role too! I hope they look at my applications without pushing it away because of bad GRE. I forgot to add, my undergrad GPA was horrendous but my Master's GPA was ok at 3.83/4.00. So I hope they won't look only at my undergrad GRE and take consideration of my Masters.


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It wasn't for graduate programs, but I had a job involving reviewing applications for a prestigious research program- check the websites of the schools that you are applying to. If they have specific cutoffs, they will probably have a process such as the one you presented. If the program suggests reviewing applications "holistically" then it is more likely that they use some sort of weighted ranking system and scoring each section rather than specifically putting an application in a pile in relation to a GRE score.

When I reviewed applications, I wasn't interested in individuals that had amazing grades, but seeming lack of interest in the field (equivalent to having no field experience at all), and basic, boring essays about being passionate. These people may have been excited about the program but were unable to articulate how our research program could help them grow as scientists. Conversely, we had applicants with imperfect GPAs, but had lots of exciting thoughts on research and a clear motivation to grow. We accepted the latter.

Pretend you're a faculty member that has funding for a student for five years- Do you want a student you can further teach the nuances to (give extra nurturing in knowledge where the grades may be "lacking") that clearly wants to BE there or do you want a student with perfect grades, perfect scores, but lacking substantial depth in their reasoning for wanting higher education? Which one do you think would be more likely to stick around? Which one would benefit from working in your lab? Which one would help promote growth in yourself while you teach them? Which one would you want to help earn their PhD?

It's very easy to put pressure on grades. Sure they do not want applicants that failed all of their classes. They might raise an eyebrow at a "C" grade in a crucial course. But it'd be completely their loss (and they know it) if that is their reasoning for rejecting someone.

Additionally, there is a LOT of controversy regarding the application process. Some individuals believe that the GRE is disadvantageous to marginalized populations. Others are convinced that LORs are disadvantageous. Some professors believe it is crucial that you e-mail them prior to sending in your application. Others will post on their website specifically asking you not to. There's so much up in the air that you just can't guess what the outcome will be until it happens.

Regardless, best of luck. :)


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