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12 minutes ago, meghan_sparkle said:

It really sounds like the second program is where you want to go and where you belong. The difference between 17 and 27 does not sound like it should be a dealbreaker to me given the other factors, though hard to say for sure as a third party that isn't you and doesn't know either school. Plus rankings can change a lot in 5-7 years' time (evidence schools like UC Davis working hard to develop their PhD program and jumping up a ton in the last US News rankings release compared to the previous one). It also may be #27 school is markedly stronger in your subfield than #17 school and that should matter.

Could you ask the grad administrator if they could provide contact information for other cohort members, for the purpose of connecting given the lack of ability to visit and met each other? They may want to send a blanket email giving people the option to opt out, but both UChicago and Princeton have given us the emails of other admits. You may have middling success but it's pretty common knowledge that cohort camaraderie / getting a feel for your fellow students is often a big factor in people's decision-making process so it can't hurt to ask!

Last, I totally sympathize re: feeling much more "wanted" by one school than another; I'm in this situation myself and it's hard not to draw conclusions or develop instinctive feelings when you have a lot of professors reach out from one place and fewer from others. However my very limited experience so far (cruelly cut short by cancelled visits!!) is that every school has a different strategy when it comes to recruitment, some much more aggressive than others. No one at Yale seemed to have the vaguest clue of what Harvard or Chicago were doing, and Berkeley's DGS had zero idea either when I spoke to him and was very curious about it ... so if possible try not to set too much store by it? Other than the loveliest email from the DGS I had no contact with Yale professors before my visit (compared with 5 professors at Columbia emailing me and 3 at Berkeley) and I went in assuming that maybe they didn't want me as much or there wasn't much of a fit. But this wasn't the case at all. It's worth a good faith effort to reach out and have conversations is what I'm saying, though from what it sounds like you may well still end up liking program 2 a lot better.

Thank you so much for this! The schools are UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara, if that helps at all.  

I will for sure ask for the contact information of my potential cohort members! I didn't even think of this. 

I will for sure keep that in mind! All schools have different recruitment methods, and the DGSs at both schools have been super helpful and transparent about the process. 

I think the most important step at this point is for me to reach out in order to weigh the pros and cons. 

I came into this process pretty blindly and without much guidance, so I've definitely been feeling lost lately lol

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Accepted off the Michigan waitlist! Beyond thrilled.

After a ridiculously wonderful visit at Yale, I've decided not to visit Michigan and Cornell and have officially accepted Yale's offer. SUCH PEACE!

Annnnd I just accepted my offer from the University of Pennsylvania. This was an agonizing decision but I'm convinced that I've made the right choice. So pleased to be joining a program featuring so m

29 minutes ago, spikeseagulls said:

Thank you so much for this! The schools are UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara, if that helps at all.  

I will for sure ask for the contact information of my potential cohort members! I didn't even think of this. 

I will for sure keep that in mind! All schools have different recruitment methods, and the DGSs at both schools have been super helpful and transparent about the process. 

I think the most important step at this point is for me to reach out in order to weigh the pros and cons. 

I came into this process pretty blindly and without much guidance, so I've definitely been feeling lost lately lol

Irvine is phenomenal. And isn't the cost of living at UCSB really high? 

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9 minutes ago, snorkles said:

Irvine is phenomenal. And isn't the cost of living at UCSB really high? 

It is ridiculous. I forgot to include that which is another concern of mine. I could only afford to live in the grad housing.

At least with Irvine, if I ever got completely sick of it, I could potentially move to Long Beach or LA after my first year or two. I'm not too familiar with Santa Barbara, but I don't think there's anywhere near by enough for me to do that?

I'm definitely taking @meghan_sparkle advice about not putting too much stock in the recruitment methods. 

The DGS at Irvine is using my offer from UCSB in order to raise my funding. There are also two new brilliant professors who were hired in my field (I haven't the slightest idea about who they are, but everytime I shared my interests with anyone, grad student or professor, excitedly informed me about the new professors in my field). 

Talking through this is actually making things more clear for me. I'm very indecisive and have been working on my confidence when it comes to decision making, but I tend to constantly go back and forward between two options. 

And honestly, if I am awarded the fellowship at UCI (fingers crossed!) it absolutely would not make sense for me to accept my other offer. 

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Garrulous post alert in response to so many of the comments and thoughts here. What a time to be alive and contemplating the ivory tower! I've been torn between three of my offers for the last two weeks, but I've achieved some clarity of late. It's disappointing that the visits have been cancelled, but I think I have come to a (tentative) decision without them. Maybe my thought process will be helpful to some of you. Of the three (similarly ranked) schools, I eliminated one just based on location. There was nothing wrong with the location per se (in fact many people speak highly of it), it's just that it would have been a slightly more arduous move for me and ultimately the merits of the program did not outweigh the other two enough to justify the move. Down to two, both of which were tempting me enough to want to pull a James Franco so I could attend both at once (jk). Of the two programs, school 1 is very well known in my field, has an excellent placement record, has lots of young faculty doing cutting edge work, and is known to be extremely rigorous. School 2 is also very well known and prestigious. But while it has excellent faculty in my field, it isn't quite as well known for producing scholars in my field as school 1. It's also older, whiter, and somewhat more old fashioned than school 1. On the flipside, school 2 is offering me more money (in fact it is throwing money and fellowships at me). Attending it would be the more comfortable experience overall (they also require less coursework of you and leave you alone more). BUT I've decided on school 1 because I think it will make me the better scholar. It will be tougher to survive (though I'm lucky enough that it's still very well funded, so I'm definitely not making a case for anyone to choose financial hardship for the sake of excellence or whatever), I will be challenged more, and I will be more tired, but I do think that I will get better engagement overall from the scholars I want to work with. I've determined this by Skyping/calling with the professors in question at both schools and asking them how they would mentor my specific research project. I have also talked to other graduate students who are currently dissertating at both schools to learn more about the mentorship styles of both institutions. In response to what we're all wondering about (how involved will faculty actually be in your work once you've committed to attend), I am finding that some schools have clear positions vis a vis mentoring such that it's not even really a question of the style of individual professors so much as it is of the school’s overall ethos. In my case, school 1 clearly takes a very hands on approach (sometimes to the extent that it can become a problem) whereas school 2 is much more handsoff. So I'm wondering less about individual professors (though so many have reputations for being either too checked out or too invested) than departmental ethos (to which most professors ultimately subscribe). I'm probably going with school 1 because I ultimately think more engagement is better than less. I have a few friends in departments where their advisors are checked out, and they're struggling with their dissertations (and looking job market prospects). 

All of this is to say, thinking about where my intellectual interests would be best served has helped me make this decision. I know my project will change, but I'm choosing the place that I think will hold me to a higher standard. Other (more minor) things that have helped: looking at coursework from this academic year as well as for the upcoming fall term (if it's listed) to see which school had more interesting/exciting/cutting edge offerings. There's such a wide range. Also imagining myself in these courses and trying to think about which seemed like a better fit for me. Also convenience of location and money. Even though I'm (probably) declining the school giving me more money, the difference is not all that significant given that school 1 is located in a city with a lower cost of living. Also pleasantness of location (school 1 is in a city, school 2 is near some cities but I wouldn't actually be able to live there until later). Also thinking about job placement statistics. Ok, I'll stop now.  

Edited by Rani13
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7 hours ago, snorkles said:

That's a really tough situation. 

I want to be careful here and not give you misleading ideas about your visits. "But" my experience has been that I had anticipated, based on conversations during the recruitment process, to develop a mentor-style relationship with a faculty member. Or at least have some kind of advising-level interactions. This has not happened at all. I don't think I was misled or that the faculty member has been negligent in some way: A friend of mine at UVA received similar effusive compliments during his visit, and I don't believe he ever connected with that faculty member. I'm learning that academia never turns out exactly as you wanted or expected it to be. 

So if your only reason for choosing Northwestern over Yale is to develop a close relationship with that faculty member, then you might feel disappointed somewhat. And, of course, I say "might" because it could be amazing and all the things you want it to be.  Or it might be that this faculty member will happily be on our orals/dissertation committee but you don't develop that kind of proximity you're looking for. 

I've heard similar things about Yale's visit days--feeling less warm and all. I don't know how much you can make out of it, but I'm definitely a big vibe person. Both programs are amazing, and I don't think you can make a bad decision either way. 

I really appreciate your anecdotal sharing about your experience building relationships with faculty - this exactly what I'm concerned about. I definitely don't want to sound like I'm saying Yale's visit wasn't nice, either - I had several faculty members reach out to me beforehand to engage with me about my work and had good conversations with them and others while visiting. I would just say the overall vibe was more professional and less effusive, which maybe is good - I'm not sure Northwestern could possibly maintain the level of warmth and enthusiasm displayed during my visit, and frankly if they did it might stifle rather than augment my academic growth. Or maybe such warmth would keep me from having the mental health issues that seem to plague grad students, which would be a good thing... What I'm hearing myself do in all of this is try really hard to talk myself out of Northwestern, though, which makes me think deep down maybe I do think it's the right choice? And I haven't even visited Michigan yet - argh!

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7 hours ago, killerbunny said:

Just wanted to say I so relate to your sentiments about (over)responding to approval from mentors. I'm currently experiencing a sense of abandonment: with one exception, my thesis committee is being slack, but I realized my frustration is compounded by emotional needs that I need to separate out from grad school. Absent parents aside, being an academic tends to make for a solitary existence, and few people have the knowledge or interest to understand the work we do, at least the finer details that consume us day in and day out. It can be hard to separate eagerness for attention and affirmation from the reality of academia. But if you thrive off a support system and like to have deeper connections with your mentors and peers, that is not something to ignore. Your description of your visit to Northwestern sounds lovely, and even if it is in the context of recruitment, it makes one wonder how much cooler your reception will be at Yale if it feels close to lukewarm now. I wonder if you could speak further with advisees of of the NW professor who you were wooed by?

These are definitely all things I worry about! I'm terrible at separating work from life - work is my life, which makes my work relationships probably inappropriately important to me.

Regarding contacting this professor's advisees: I spoke briefly with two current students who have him as their advisor before I actually met him; both described him as nice but a bit intimidating (I didn't find him intimidating at all and am not sure exactly what they meant). I suppose I could email them to find out more, though it's a bit awkward to know how to phrase what's basically a request to be told honestly if their advisor is secretly a jerk.

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2 hours ago, The Hoosier Oxonian said:

These are definitely all things I worry about! I'm terrible at separating work from life - work is my life, which makes my work relationships probably inappropriately important to me.

Regarding contacting this professor's advisees: I spoke briefly with two current students who have him as their advisor before I actually met him; both described him as nice but a bit intimidating (I didn't find him intimidating at all and am not sure exactly what they meant). I suppose I could email them to find out more, though it's a bit awkward to know how to phrase what's basically a request to be told honestly if their advisor is secretly a jerk.

Interesting both advisees said the same thing. It seems worth following up on; maybe you can simply ask, in what way is he intimidating? It could mean so many things and not necessarily, negative. For instance, in person and in emails, my advisor is never anything but pleasant and engaged but he's intimidating in the sense that I greatly admire his writing, which can be inspiring or petrifying depending on my confidence levels, when I'm working on something with him in mind as a reader. 

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13 hours ago, The Hoosier Oxonian said:

These are definitely all things I worry about! I'm terrible at separating work from life - work is my life, which makes my work relationships probably inappropriately important to me.

Regarding contacting this professor's advisees: I spoke briefly with two current students who have him as their advisor before I actually met him; both described him as nice but a bit intimidating (I didn't find him intimidating at all and am not sure exactly what they meant). I suppose I could email them to find out more, though it's a bit awkward to know how to phrase what's basically a request to be told honestly if their advisor is secretly a jerk.

Another thing you might try and do is find a student who works in his area and doesn't have him as an advisor and ask why. (And generally I think you're more likely to get candid answers to questions like these via phone/skype than email. Students may be reluctant to say anything in too strong terms in writing)

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Although my visit to Brandeis was cancelled, after talking to the faculty and students I have decided to accept the offer from Brandeis! I'm excited for this new journey to begin!

Thank you everyone for your supportive words of wisdom throughout this application season. Good luck to all of you in your future endeavors and I hope to meet some fellow Grad Cafe members in the future!

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13 minutes ago, CanadianEnglish said:

Although my visit to Brandeis was cancelled, after talking to the faculty and students I have decided to accept the offer from Brandeis! I'm excited for this new journey to begin!

Thank you everyone for your supportive words of wisdom throughout this application season. Good luck to all of you in your future endeavors and I hope to meet some fellow Grad Cafe members in the future!

Yes!!! Congrats!

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On 3/11/2020 at 10:18 AM, Glasperlenspieler said:

Another thing you might try and do is find a student who works in his area and doesn't have him as an advisor and ask why. (And generally I think you're more likely to get candid answers to questions like these via phone/skype than email. Students may be reluctant to say anything in too strong terms in writing)

This is a really good idea! I'll poke around a bit and see if I can identify such a person to talk to.

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48 minutes ago, CanadianEnglish said:

Although my visit to Brandeis was cancelled, after talking to the faculty and students I have decided to accept the offer from Brandeis! I'm excited for this new journey to begin!

Thank you everyone for your supportive words of wisdom throughout this application season. Good luck to all of you in your future endeavors and I hope to meet some fellow Grad Cafe members in the future!

Congratulations! So awesome you made a decision!  

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47 minutes ago, meghan_sparkle said:

Welp in the midst of the madness professors (with the exception of a couple at Columbia) have stopped responding to my emails about setting up calls/Skype to replace meetings on visits, so ... that's fun!

I haven't even bothered asking anyone for anything in the last few days given all they have on their plates. Hopefully you'll get more response if you try again in a week or two once everyone has had some time to adjust to the level of crazy that looks like it's going to dominate at least the next few months!

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The real question is are universities going to push the April 15th deadline? I honestly feel like they'd be crazy not to, but I don't know what difficulties doing so would bring for them. It's just such a weird time and it adds even more pressure to the decision-making process than it already had. I literally go to sleep and wake up thinking not only about what the hell we're going to do but also about what this fall will look like. Will classes all be online? (I actually think that's likely.) In that case, will we still have to move? It's just a big prolonged wtf moment.

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According to the Council of Graduate Schools, which is the organization responsible for the April 15th resolution:

CGS’s position is that the April 15 deadline should continue to remain in effect for 2020. Because signatory institutions and programs may be affected differently by COVID-19, and may adjust their admissions and funding decision timelines accordingly, we believe that it is not feasible for the community to agree to a different deadline this year.

I feel like the exact reasons being cited for why they're not adjusting the deadline are actually compelling reasons to adjust the deadline, but whatever. It does seem that individual schools have discretion when it comes to pushing back their own deadlines, but if there's no formal agreement among all signatories to the April 15th resolution, then that's not particularly helpful, I don't think. (More info is available here, but it's none too promising. 😕 )

Edit to add: Helpful conversation re: the April 15th deadline is also happening over in the 2020 Applicants thread, beginning here.

Edited by politics 'n prose
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Signing all of my Johns Hopkins paperwork today; after the visit cancellation, they did an exceptional job of setting up meetings with faculty and students, so I feel very informed, despite never having set foot in Baltimore. I have some feels about how my cycle went, but they've really convinced me I ended up in the exact right department for me. I'm grateful! 

Good luck to everyone still agonizing. I know it's got to be doubly stressful with everything else that's going on.

Edited by merry night wanderer
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1 hour ago, merry night wanderer said:

Signing all of my Johns Hopkins paperwork today; after the visit cancellation, they did an exceptional job of setting up meetings with faculty and students, so I feel very informed, despite never having set foot in Baltimore. I have some feels about how my cycle went, but they've really convinced me I ended up in the exact right department for me. I'm grateful! 

Good luck to everyone still agonizing. I know it's got to be doubly stressful with everything else that's going on.

Congrats!!!! I live in the outskirts of the city, and JH is in a really great area!

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3 hours ago, merry night wanderer said:

Signing all of my Johns Hopkins paperwork today; after the visit cancellation, they did an exceptional job of setting up meetings with faculty and students, so I feel very informed, despite never having set foot in Baltimore. I have some feels about how my cycle went, but they've really convinced me I ended up in the exact right department for me. I'm grateful! 

Good luck to everyone still agonizing. I know it's got to be doubly stressful with everything else that's going on.

Congrats on Hopkins! I loved it there as an undergrad and I hope you fall in love with it, too. 

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I’ve been thinking all weekend and I feel as though UW really is the place for me. I’m trying to hold off on my decision until I have all the information possible, but UW has made a real effort to welcome me even with the cancellation, without pressuring me to pick them. They’ve kept me in the loop and they’ve been honest about the ups and downs of their program. The more BU leaves me hanging, the less I want to go there. The only real attraction for me there would be the resources and non-service fellowships. But to be honest, I don’t feel like I have any connection to them. Nobody’s reached out at all or replied to my inquiries. It’s....a bad look.

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4 hours ago, tinymica said:

I’ve been thinking all weekend and I feel as though UW really is the place for me. I’m trying to hold off on my decision until I have all the information possible, but UW has made a real effort to welcome me even with the cancellation, without pressuring me to pick them. They’ve kept me in the loop and they’ve been honest about the ups and downs of their program. The more BU leaves me hanging, the less I want to go there. The only real attraction for me there would be the resources and non-service fellowships. But to be honest, I don’t feel like I have any connection to them. Nobody’s reached out at all or replied to my inquiries. It’s....a bad look.

BU has been somewhat awful to communicate throughout in my case. I reached out to the DGS pre application 2-3 times and they made me feel as though I was asking really stupid questions, when in reality I sent my initial queries to all relevant unis and was getting lovely responses from them. 

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11 hours ago, Emailchecker said:

BU has been somewhat awful to communicate throughout in my case. I reached out to the DGS pre application 2-3 times and they made me feel as though I was asking really stupid questions, when in reality I sent my initial queries to all relevant unis and was getting lovely responses from them. 

what! that is awful!!!

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11 hours ago, Emailchecker said:

BU has been somewhat awful to communicate throughout in my case. I reached out to the DGS pre application 2-3 times and they made me feel as though I was asking really stupid questions, when in reality I sent my initial queries to all relevant unis and was getting lovely responses from them. 

That is horrible. I am so sorry they treated you that way; that's unacceptable. There is nothing wrong with asking questions, especially when you've been left in the dark. I don't appreciate their conduct at all. Please don't let them make you feel stupid.

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On 3/16/2020 at 4:54 PM, tinymica said:

That is horrible. I am so sorry they treated you that way; that's unacceptable. There is nothing wrong with asking questions, especially when you've been left in the dark. I don't appreciate their conduct at all. Please don't let them make you feel stupid.

Many thanks for this. I try not to, because they were the odd uni out as I said. I know that people complain about cambr admin sometimes, but coming from cambr I was not prepared for this level of inadequacy. 

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