heyheyhey42 Posted May 4, 2020 Share Posted May 4, 2020 I was rejected from my overall top choice school, UW-Madison. I'm graduating with my bachelor's from UW this weekend, so I already knew the area and some of the faculty. It was a great choice for me: location, cost, externship opportunities, and strength of the program. I thought I had a pretty solid application and was fairly confident I would at least be waitlisted. Imagine my surprise when I read my rejection email. Given the craziness that is COVID-19, I've recently been considering taking a gap year, and applying again to schools this fall. I decided to email someone on the admissions committee at UW to see if they had any suggestions on how to improve my chances. She said that overall, my application was pretty competitive. My downfall was my letters of recommendation. I work in a large lab, and decided to use a PhD student mentor as a recommender. This is someone I've met with regularly over the last couple years, and has seen my work. I decided to go with the PhD student over my PI, because I have never had a one-on-one conversation with them. I figured it would be better to get a personal letter from someone who knows me, rather than a template one from someone who probably doesn't know my name. I doubt this was the only reason I didn't get into UW, but I bet it made a pretty big impact. So, for those of you applying this fall or any other time in the future: learn from me! Even if you don't know your PI that well, ask them for a letter of rec over a grad student. Maybe it won't be the deciding factor between admitting you or not, but it certainly won't hurt. Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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