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2021 Neuroscience PhD Applicants and Admissions Results


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On 7/3/2020 at 3:59 PM, itsannat said:

Hey Everyone! 

Have any of y'all heard about the PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience at Boston University? 

I haven't seen anything about it on this site and I think it looks fascinating. 

Is it a newer program?

From my understanding it's realllly small. They accept like 1-3 students a year.

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Hey all,

 

I direct a pro-bono consulting organization that provides one-on-one mentorship for individuals applying to PhD programs. Our mentors are PhD students and postdocs from all sorts of STEM fields (but especially Neuroscience, mostly because I'm a Neuroscience PhD student at Penn). Check us out at project-short.com and feel free to share with other applicants!

Project SHORT_Info.pdf

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  • 2 weeks later...

 Hi all,

I need some second opinions to help me decide on what to do after graduation. My plan was to take some post-baccalaureate fellowship or work in a lab for a year or two before applying to programs that I like, but after checking the profile of some of the students, I think although the chances are slim, there might be a possibility that I could get in this year. I'm graduating in three years so I think compared to other applicants I might not have as much research experience and I don't have any publication.

 about me: First generation, International student from a middle eastern country, (currently in the US)

high school: top of my class in a very competitive national gifted student school(only 30 students in each class, one school in town) have some experience teaching and doing some research. 

undergrad: University of Oklahoma, Psychology GPA: 3.9, 4.0 Major, 

GRE: not gonna take but from practice tests, I'm guessing > 90th-95th. 

Awards and honors: President list, dean list, some merit scholarship 

Experience: 

this is what I'm not confident about, I'm graduating in three years, so I don't have as much experience compared to a 4-year student, 

by the end of fall 2020 I'd have: 

3 semester in a cognitive psychology lab 

1 semester teaching assistant 

1 semester neuroscience lab 

NO publications.

Letter of recommendation: 

1) from the psychology lab GA whom I've worked with for 1.5 years, 

2) from the psychology professor whom I've taken a class with and I'd TA for her this semester

3) from the professor who I have a class with and also would be in her lab for next semester, 

I'd like to get into one of these programs: Rockefeller( #1 choice), Columbia, UCLA, UCSF, USCD, north Carolina chapel hill, U Penn, U Michigan, CNUP, MIT

what are my chances of getting to these schools? 

 If you have any feedback or comments please let me know. any specific gap year program/ job or research opportunity that would help me increase my chance of getting in, other good programs to consider, or programs that I have a good chance of getting in this year.  

 

 

 


 

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20 hours ago, Nik K said:

 Hi all,

I need some second opinions to help me decide on what to do after graduation. My plan was to take some post-baccalaureate fellowship or work in a lab for a year or two before applying to programs that I like, but after checking the profile of some of the students, I think although the chances are slim, there might be a possibility that I could get in this year. I'm graduating in three years so I think compared to other applicants I might not have as much research experience and I don't have any publication.

 about me: First generation, International student from a middle eastern country, (currently in the US)

high school: top of my class in a very competitive national gifted student school(only 30 students in each class, one school in town) have some experience teaching and doing some research. 

undergrad: University of Oklahoma, Psychology GPA: 3.9, 4.0 Major, 

GRE: not gonna take but from practice tests, I'm guessing > 90th-95th. 

Awards and honors: President list, dean list, some merit scholarship 

Experience: 

this is what I'm not confident about, I'm graduating in three years, so I don't have as much experience compared to a 4-year student, 

by the end of fall 2020 I'd have: 

3 semester in a cognitive psychology lab 

1 semester teaching assistant 

1 semester neuroscience lab 

NO publications.

Letter of recommendation: 

1) from the psychology lab GA whom I've worked with for 1.5 years, 

2) from the psychology professor whom I've taken a class with and I'd TA for her this semester

3) from the professor who I have a class with and also would be in her lab for next semester, 

I'd like to get into one of these programs: Rockefeller( #1 choice), Columbia, UCLA, UCSF, USCD, north Carolina chapel hill, U Penn, U Michigan, CNUP, MIT

what are my chances of getting to these schools? 

 If you have any feedback or comments please let me know. any specific gap year program/ job or research opportunity that would help me increase my chance of getting in, other good programs to consider, or programs that I have a good chance of getting in this year.  

 

 

 


 

You have a chance. There's always a chance. You'd just have a wayyy better chance with a year or 2 of full time experience under your belt... If you have the means to apply, then apply to your favorites now, just know you may get rejected. If you'd rather have a better shot, get more experience first. Full time research experience is incredibly important, not just for getting in, but for succeeding once you're in. I took 2 years off and I know how to do most techniques and keep projects organized and all the logistical things that go into research that my labmates who didn't take time off struggle with regularly. 

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On 7/21/2020 at 12:00 AM, Nik K said:

 Hi all,

I need some second opinions to help me decide on what to do after graduation. My plan was to take some post-baccalaureate fellowship or work in a lab for a year or two before applying to programs that I like, but after checking the profile of some of the students, I think although the chances are slim, there might be a possibility that I could get in this year. I'm graduating in three years so I think compared to other applicants I might not have as much research experience and I don't have any publication.

 about me: First generation, International student from a middle eastern country, (currently in the US)

high school: top of my class in a very competitive national gifted student school(only 30 students in each class, one school in town) have some experience teaching and doing some research. 

undergrad: University of Oklahoma, Psychology GPA: 3.9, 4.0 Major, 

GRE: not gonna take but from practice tests, I'm guessing > 90th-95th. 

Awards and honors: President list, dean list, some merit scholarship 

Experience: 

this is what I'm not confident about, I'm graduating in three years, so I don't have as much experience compared to a 4-year student, 

by the end of fall 2020 I'd have: 

3 semester in a cognitive psychology lab 

1 semester teaching assistant 

1 semester neuroscience lab 

NO publications.

Letter of recommendation: 

1) from the psychology lab GA whom I've worked with for 1.5 years, 

2) from the psychology professor whom I've taken a class with and I'd TA for her this semester

3) from the professor who I have a class with and also would be in her lab for next semester, 

I'd like to get into one of these programs: Rockefeller( #1 choice), Columbia, UCLA, UCSF, USCD, north Carolina chapel hill, U Penn, U Michigan, CNUP, MIT

what are my chances of getting to these schools? 

 If you have any feedback or comments please let me know. any specific gap year program/ job or research opportunity that would help me increase my chance of getting in, other good programs to consider, or programs that I have a good chance of getting in this year.  

 

 

Of course you have a chance, but I am attending one of the schools on your list and interviewed at several others and I can tell you the trend is moving towards needing to do something else between undergrad and grad school. I would say apply this year because it can't hurt (if you can afford to of course) but have a back up plan. A masters program, a post-bac, or tech job to get some extra experience in case it doesn't work out. If you want, you can DM me about the NIH postbac program. I did it for two years and would be happy to help.


 

 

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On 7/9/2020 at 8:37 AM, gliagirl said:

Hey all,

 

I direct a pro-bono consulting organization that provides one-on-one mentorship for individuals applying to PhD programs. Our mentors are PhD students and postdocs from all sorts of STEM fields (but especially Neuroscience, mostly because I'm a Neuroscience PhD student at Penn). Check us out at project-short.com and feel free to share with other applicants!

Project SHORT_Info.pdfUnavailable

Hey, I wasn't able to access the pdf.  Could you repost? Thanks for your help!

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 7/20/2020 at 9:00 PM, Nik K said:

 Hi all,

I need some second opinions to help me decide on what to do after graduation. My plan was to take some post-baccalaureate fellowship or work in a lab for a year or two before applying to programs that I like, but after checking the profile of some of the students, I think although the chances are slim, there might be a possibility that I could get in this year. I'm graduating in three years so I think compared to other applicants I might not have as much research experience and I don't have any publication.

 about me: First generation, International student from a middle eastern country, (currently in the US)

high school: top of my class in a very competitive national gifted student school(only 30 students in each class, one school in town) have some experience teaching and doing some research. 

undergrad: University of Oklahoma, Psychology GPA: 3.9, 4.0 Major, 

GRE: not gonna take but from practice tests, I'm guessing > 90th-95th. 

Awards and honors: President list, dean list, some merit scholarship 

Experience: 

this is what I'm not confident about, I'm graduating in three years, so I don't have as much experience compared to a 4-year student, 

by the end of fall 2020 I'd have: 

3 semester in a cognitive psychology lab 

1 semester teaching assistant 

1 semester neuroscience lab 

NO publications.

Letter of recommendation: 

1) from the psychology lab GA whom I've worked with for 1.5 years, 

2) from the psychology professor whom I've taken a class with and I'd TA for her this semester

3) from the professor who I have a class with and also would be in her lab for next semester, 

I'd like to get into one of these programs: Rockefeller( #1 choice), Columbia, UCLA, UCSF, USCD, north Carolina chapel hill, U Penn, U Michigan, CNUP, MIT

what are my chances of getting to these schools? 

 If you have any feedback or comments please let me know. any specific gap year program/ job or research opportunity that would help me increase my chance of getting in, other good programs to consider, or programs that I have a good chance of getting in this year.  

 

 

 


 

I'm attending one of the schools on your list, and I think your list is currently a little top-heavy, but you definitely do have a chance with your great GPA and the research experience you *do* have. I disagree with the other folks who replied saying that there's a movement towards needing a gap year -- I applied straight out of undergrad, and in my cohort there was a fairly even split between people who came straight from their bachelor's and people who took gap years.

4 semesters of research is pretty good, and plenty of people get in with no publications. Do you have anything else to "show" for your research though? Any posters / abstracts? Does your department offer the possibility of an honors thesis? I was unclear on when you're actually graduating, but there may still be time to 'clean up' some of the work you've done to submit to a journal or a conference. Even if it's not accepted by the time you're applying, having something under review can still be a plus since it shows that you've taken initiative. 

I know you said you weren't going to take the GRE, but if your practice test scores are that high, you may want to take it 'just in case' because it may be able to help you ever so slightly. 

GAs are generally not a great choice for recommenders, since they don't have the same connections/name recognition as professors. Is there any reason why the PI of the Cognitive Psychology lab you spent 3 semesters in would not write you a letter? 

Other than that, I would recommend you narrow down your application list a little bit, and apply to some gap year programs/jobs as well (I know the NIH postbac is quite prestigious, but honestly you could just apply for any research assistantship at any school -- if you really like the lab you're in now, you could even see if they would take you on full-time for a gap year). For grad school applications, just focus on writing really good personal statements, getting in touch with potential PIs and students at the schools you're interested in, and figuring out your 'elevator pitch' to talk about the research you've done and what you're hoping to do in grad school. Normally I'd also recommend networking at conferences, but those aren't exactly happening this year, unfortunately. If you take a gap year, though, definitely do go to conferences and network if you can!

But honestly your profile does look like you could apply this cycle. You could certainly stand to be more competitive, but it just kinda depends on whether you WANT to get started on your PhD ASAP or whether you want to take a year to do more full-time research. It's kind of up to you! If you decide you want to go for it and apply to programs this year, feel free to DM me about anything, especially the UCLA NSIDP program :) No matter what you decide to do, you're in a great position and I'm sure you'll land on your feet!

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Hi all,

Happy to meet you all here! It will be my second attempt to apply to phd program this year and given the current pandemic situations, I am extremely anxious. So, it will be nice if you can give me some advice.

About me:  I am an international student currently pursuing a MS degree in the US.

GPA: 3.4 in undergrad, 3.8 in MS

GRE: verbal and quant are above 90th percentile, AW is 4.0

Research experience:

Worked in a cerebral cardiovascular lab since sophomore and learnt about rodent behavioral, in vitro electrophysiology, animal surgeries, etc. I finished an honored thesis in the same lab and had a second authored pub in a journal (IF ~ 11), a poster presentation, two fellowships.I am working on my MS thesis right now but thanks to the pandemic, things got a little bit delayed. I am lucky to have gained some dry lab experience and learnt about in vivo ephys this time. hopefully I can gather enough data for a complete story before November.

LOR: two letters from my supervisors (undergrad and MS), one from a professor I took class with in my MS program.

School list: SUNY stony brook, UMass Amherst, Pittsburgh, Penn state, U Kansas, Tulane, Temple, Drexel

My biggest drawback is my undergrad GPA. I had a below 3.0 GPA before junior year (depression bc of family tragedies). I only officially worked in two labs though I spent a summer in another lab learning ephys. I know it will be exceedingly competitive this year esp for international applicants. So, I basically will go for school ranged from top 50 -200, but I really like the PIs in Pittsburgh and want to give it a try. Should I add more safety school to my list?

Thanks!

 

   

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1 hour ago, alwaysNeuro said:

Hi all,

Happy to meet you all here! It will be my second attempt to apply to phd program this year and given the current pandemic situations, I am extremely anxious. So, it will be nice if you can give me some advice.

About me:  I am an international student currently pursuing a MS degree in the US.

GPA: 3.4 in undergrad, 3.8 in MS

GRE: verbal and quant are above 90th percentile, AW is 4.0

Research experience:

Worked in a cerebral cardiovascular lab since sophomore and learnt about rodent behavioral, in vitro electrophysiology, animal surgeries, etc. I finished an honored thesis in the same lab and had a second authored pub in a journal (IF ~ 11), a poster presentation, two fellowships.I am working on my MS thesis right now but thanks to the pandemic, things got a little bit delayed. I am lucky to have gained some dry lab experience and learnt about in vivo ephys this time. hopefully I can gather enough data for a complete story before November.

LOR: two letters from my supervisors (undergrad and MS), one from a professor I took class with in my MS program.

School list: SUNY stony brook, UMass Amherst, Pittsburgh, Penn state, U Kansas, Tulane, Temple, Drexel

My biggest drawback is my undergrad GPA. I had a below 3.0 GPA before junior year (depression bc of family tragedies). I only officially worked in two labs though I spent a summer in another lab learning ephys. I know it will be exceedingly competitive this year esp for international applicants. So, I basically will go for school ranged from top 50 -200, but I really like the PIs in Pittsburgh and want to give it a try. Should I add more safety school to my list?

Thanks!

 

   

I think your list looks good and your GPA is fine. I had a 3.4 without a masters. I think at this point your biggest focus should be on writing a good SOP. The worst part of your application is that you're an international student. I think you should add a few more schools (I hear the pandemic is decreasing admissions slots), and maybe add a few more private schools. I'm not sure if this is true, but I'm under the impression private schools have more ability to fund international students. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 8/19/2020 at 6:51 PM, eevee said:

 

GAs are generally not a great choice for recommenders, since they don't have the same connections/name recognition as professors. Is there any reason why the PI of the Cognitive Psychology lab you spent 3 semesters in would not write you a letter? 

 

thank you so much for your response! 

To answer the question: I barely know the PI for the lab! I don't know how common this is among other labs, but out PI barely attend any of the weekly meetings, the main way to contact him is to Email him which he'd respond within 2 weeks, and he might show up to a lab 2-3 times a semester. he could write a recommendation for me, but the GAs know me way better than him and I think their reference letter would be much more helpful than the one I'd receive from the professor. would this look bad on the application? 

Also I have another question: I'm taking a seminar class on cognitive neuroscience with a pretty well known neuroscience Professor, I'd be in his lab starting next semester, should I ask him for a recommendation, or since I've known him for only a few month the letter would not be as impressive?

thanks! 

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On 8/30/2020 at 1:10 AM, Nik K said:

thank you so much for your response! 

To answer the question: I barely know the PI for the lab! I don't know how common this is among other labs, but out PI barely attend any of the weekly meetings, the main way to contact him is to Email him which he'd respond within 2 weeks, and he might show up to a lab 2-3 times a semester. he could write a recommendation for me, but the GAs know me way better than him and I think their reference letter would be much more helpful than the one I'd receive from the professor. would this look bad on the application? 

Also I have another question: I'm taking a seminar class on cognitive neuroscience with a pretty well known neuroscience Professor, I'd be in his lab starting next semester, should I ask him for a recommendation, or since I've known him for only a few month the letter would not be as impressive?

thanks! 

I've heard of people having a post doc write the letter and the PI cosigns it. It's like the PI saying I don't know this kid but I trust the judgment of the person who wrote this.

If you feel he could write a good letter after knowing you a short time, couldn't hurt. 

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Is anyone else anxious to get their applications submitted and over with? I've been getting my applications in order since the beginning of the pandemic and now I'm just counting down the days until applications for my programs of interest open later this month. 

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Are you guys applying to only neuroscience phd programs or also to other programs like biomedical science, for example? Neuro seems to be quite competitive and i'm wondering if it would be less risky to branch out and go broader. Esp since lots of neuro faculty are in multiple different areas of science and can take students from more than one program. Thoughts?

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4 hours ago, allions said:

Are you guys applying to only neuroscience phd programs or also to other programs like biomedical science, for example? Neuro seems to be quite competitive and i'm wondering if it would be less risky to branch out and go broader. Esp since lots of neuro faculty are in multiple different areas of science and can take students from more than one program. Thoughts?

The department you're in matters mostly only in the structure of your program. The training you get is mostly from your lab, so if you have access to your labs of interest, the program doesn't matter as much. 

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Hey everyone, 

Good luck to everyone applying this year! I'm applying to Neuro phd programs and want to get some feedback on my intended school application list to see if I should adjust it given my stats. 

Undergrad: UPenn; Majors: Mathematics and Economics, Minor: Statistics GPA: 3.2

Graduated in 2018 and then worked for a year at a data analytics job and then joined an NHP systems neuroscience lab at nyu as a research tech. 

Research Experience: 2 years of mathematics research in high school/summer after freshman year of college at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in cryptography and presented a poster during my senior year of high school at Intel ISEF and got 4th place in Mathematics award. 

Siemens Semifinalist for another quantitative research project in high school as a second team member. 

No research exp at Upenn. 

1 year working as a research tech at Nyu full-time after college in a systems neuroscience NHP lab. Had many diff responsibilities and am second author on a NeurIPS paper under review, final results out late September. 

LORs: 2 will be strong from PIs (Nyu and RHIT) and one will be from a Math Prof at UPenn i took two classes with.

Current List: NYU, UCSF, UC Berkeley, UCLA, University of Washington, Columbia (maybe), Stanford (maybe)

My application's greatest weakness is clearly my undergrad GPA and that I didn't get involved with research during undergrad. Given this I am going to reach out to specific labs doing NHP systems neuroscience and demonstrate my enthusiasm for their work and my computational background. Any advice/feedback positive or negative would be greatly appreciated!

 

 

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Hey everyone, 

Here is my info. I feel really under-qualified compared to a lot of people on here.

Undergrad: a regular state school in the US; Major: Biology, Minor: Psychology GPA: 3.7

Graduating this December.

Awards: a few regular scholarships, one research scholarship, Phi Kappa Phi, Dean's and President's list a few times

Research Experience: a year and currently counting (until I graduate) at my current university. doing a project that sequences genes in human samples of a chromosome disorder, going to eventually combine results with the psychology department. I assisted with getting the project off the ground and into actual practice. Its the first of its kind at my university. I also do some basic animal care stuff not related to my project around the lab. 

a two month internship last summer at a hospital, just some light epidemiology research. 

One presentation from my summer internship, I will present again in November for my current project. 

No publications.

LORs: 2 from lab PIs and professors in upper level courses I took/am taking (one in my biology lab, other is from our psychology department). 1 from an old boss in an unrelated field who knows me very well.

Other: Treasurer for the biology honor club at my school for a year.

Current List: UT Austin, UT San Antonio, UT Southwestern, CU Boulder, Drexel, University of Washington, Boston University

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi everyone, 

I'm also wondering if my profile will be competitive enough for the programs I'm applying to. I'm interested in computational neuroscience related programs

Undergrad: Computer Science major at NYU (finishing this year in 3 years)

GPA 3.75

GRE: Not taken

Research Experience:

  1. Research in an Human Computer Interaction(Subfield of CS) Lab at UCSD, freshman year
  2. Research assistant in Nikolaus Kriegeskorte's Lab at Columbia, 2nd and 3rd years
  3. Research assistant in Liam Paninski's Lab at Columbia  3rd year
  4. Research assistant in Dmitri Chklovskii's Lab at the Flatiron Institute 3rd year

last three are current. I've worked in niko's lab since september 2019. got not publications yet but have a COSYNE poster in submission.

LORs: 

getting LORS from all three neuroscience professors and all of them are big names in the field of computational neuroscience so I'm hoping that will help me substantially.

Applications: Columbia Neuro, Princeton Neuro, Harvard Neuro, MIT BCS, Stanford CS, Oxford Health Data Science, Oxford Experimental Psychology, Cambridge Engineering, UCL SWC, UCL Gatsby, Tübingen Neuroscience.

Any advice or feedback on my application is greatly appreciated.

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I have a couple of dumb questions on the NYU Neuro application requirement this year... 1. Did the GSAS application specify a word-limit? 2. What is that separate computational/systems neuroscience optional statement? I want to apply to computational, so my SOP already talks about why that's what I want to do and why I'm qualified. So how is that second statement different?

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On 11/12/2020 at 5:23 PM, snowbabyjia said:

I have a couple of dumb questions on the NYU Neuro application requirement this year... 1. Did the GSAS application specify a word-limit? 2. What is that separate computational/systems neuroscience optional statement? I want to apply to computational, so my SOP already talks about why that's what I want to do and why I'm qualified. So how is that second statement different?

@snowbabyjiaThere is no word limit for the GSAS application, however it just cannot be longer than two pages, double-spaced! With that being said, I would make it a typical font and font-size. As for the computational neuro statement, I am in the same boat. Since two pages, double-spaced is not that long, perhaps try briefly mentioning it in your SOP and then truly elaborating on specific qualifications in the computational statement. I am in the same boat, as my research and skills are mostly computational based and so is my desired field of research. But, I 100% would write the second statement and focus on specific skills, how they will translate in the Neuro program, and perhaps, other computational neuroscience skills you hope to gain and use in your research at NYU. Hope that helps a bit! I am no expert, but that was my thought process as I am writing my statements :) 

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20 hours ago, puppiesandyoga31 said:

How is everyone coming along? Deadlines are nearing and this thread has been pretty quiet.

Personally, getting excited/nervous! I am going to submit my apps next week before the December 1st deadline, since my final LOR should be in by the end of this week. With COVID, I have been working on these for so long so I am excited to just get them submitted and have that aspect over with! Then, the waiting game  begins 😬! How about you @puppiesandyoga31?

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Hello there! As my ID implies, I'm a highly unmotivated, hopeless neuroscience PhD applicant for this cycle. Hope that I can get some feedback to my question, and wish everyone good luck :)

Undergrad: Double major in cog neuro + stats, minor in CS at a top20 non-Ivy uni

GPA: 3.95 (honestly I don't think this matters)

GRE: V162/Q168/W5.0 (again I don't think this matters)

Research Experience:

  • Clinical neuroscience lab 1 since freshman year
  • Clinical neuroscience lab 2 (PI is very famous) since junior year, and now doing honors thesis

Posters: one at undergrad symposium, the other at a famous national convention which was unfortunately suspended due to COVID-19

Publications

  • Co-authored on a publication at a prestigious journal (IF ~ 18)
  • First-authored manuscript submitted for review
  • First-authored manuscript in prep

LORs: two PIs from the two clinical neuroscience labs, and the other one from a course instructor who doesn't know me well (I have no choice..). But I'm sure that the first two ones will be strong. 

Applying to: UPenn neuroscience

My biggest weaknesses: 1) I don't have a third strong LOR; 2) I'm an international student; 3) I don't have enough publications.

Some beacon of hope: I'm specifically applying to UPenn because some NGG professors fit my interests so well. I've sent inquiry emails to these NGG professors, and their replies are like, "I'll write to the director of admissions and tell him that I support your application" (he did), "You are an excellent fit to what we're doing, and an extremely strong candidate. I have no doubt that you will have your choice of which program to join" (I honestly don't think so), "I'll flag your application to my friends in the admission committee" (hope he'll remember), "I'll welcome you to my lab if you do end up at Penn". 

My question to you: I'm not asking for chances, since I know it's not going to be high. I'm hoping someone could tell me what I can do to maximize my chances of getting in after submitting my applications, given that these profs already show some interest in me as a potential PhD student. 

Thanks very much for reading through my post. I appreciate any feedback you have for me :)

Edited by UnmotivatedNeuroApplicant
Totally forgot senior thesis just now
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On 11/19/2020 at 2:06 AM, UnmotivatedNeuroApplicant said:

Hello there! As my ID implies, I'm a highly unmotivated, hopeless neuroscience PhD applicant for this cycle. Hope that I can get some feedback to my question, and wish everyone good luck :)

Undergrad: Double major in cog neuro + stats, minor in CS at a top20 non-Ivy uni

GPA: 3.95 (honestly I don't think this matters)

GRE: V162/Q168/W5.0 (again I don't think this matters)

Research Experience:

  • Clinical neuroscience lab 1 since freshman year
  • Clinical neuroscience lab 2 (PI is very famous) since junior year, and now doing honors thesis

Posters: one at undergrad symposium, the other at a famous national convention which was unfortunately suspended due to COVID-19

Publications

  • Co-authored on a publication at a prestigious journal (IF ~ 18)
  • First-authored manuscript submitted for review
  • First-authored manuscript in prep

LORs: two PIs from the two clinical neuroscience labs, and the other one from a course instructor who doesn't know me well (I have no choice..). But I'm sure that the first two ones will be strong. 

Applying to: UPenn neuroscience

My biggest weaknesses: 1) I don't have a third strong LOR; 2) I'm an international student; 3) I don't have enough publications.

Some beacon of hope: I'm specifically applying to UPenn because some NGG professors fit my interests so well. I've sent inquiry emails to these NGG professors, and their replies are like, "I'll write to the director of admissions and tell him that I support your application" (he did), "You are an excellent fit to what we're doing, and an extremely strong candidate. I have no doubt that you will have your choice of which program to join" (I honestly don't think so), "I'll flag your application to my friends in the admission committee" (hope he'll remember), "I'll welcome you to my lab if you do end up at Penn". 

My question to you: I'm not asking for chances, since I know it's not going to be high. I'm hoping someone could tell me what I can do to maximize my chances of getting in after submitting my applications, given that these profs already show some interest in me as a potential PhD student. 

Thanks very much for reading through my post. I appreciate any feedback you have for me :)

What can you do to get into the 1 school you're applying to where multiple faculty have told the admissions committee they support you? 

Don't be an ass at the interview. 

Seriously. That's it. 

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