Jump to content
The Realist

Admission Committee Notes

Recommended Posts

With the GRE discussion, my question got left behind, so I'll ask it again:

If an applicant is applying, say, for the second or third time, what effect, if any, does it have on his or her chances? I'm guessing adcom members are aware of the fact that the student applied and was rejected before. Is that taken as a strike against the applicant, or is not much made of it? Would you advise applicants not to reapply to schools they've already been rejected from once or twice before?

If 80% of the applicant pool were plausible candidates for admission, it seems that being rejected should not count too heavily against one's future applications...

Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In my experience, this makes no difference: remember that the admissions committee's composition is often quite different from one year to the next, so we may not know that you applied last year.

With the GRE discussion, my question got left behind, so I'll ask it again:

If an applicant is applying, say, for the second or third time, what effect, if any, does it have on his or her chances? I'm guessing adcom members are aware of the fact that the student applied and was rejected before. Is that taken as a strike against the applicant, or is not much made of it? Would you advise applicants not to reapply to schools they've already been rejected from once or twice before?

If 80% of the applicant pool were plausible candidates for admission, it seems that being rejected should not count too heavily against one's future applications...

Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for responding. At the risk of sounding pretentious, which, believe me, I'm not, I do have an MA and have some idea of the various duties and commitments faculty have. I fully expect that they "don't really care" about our 'feelings' as applicants.

I think these suggestions, though, actually make it easier in a number of ways for faculty: they wouldn't, for instance, be fielding 'endless emails' from applicants if there wasn't so much uncertainty and opacity in the process. I'm not suggesting that they should be pressured to make decisions quicker; for all I care, the date could be the middle or end of March, or even later (personally, I don't see a reason why the whole admissions calendar couldn't be pushed a few months, but that's a different issue).

In terms of the notifications, by your account of the process, at some point, all decisions have been made, no? After that, the faculty on the admissions committee are pretty much done their part. Since most of the rejects usually come in the form of a generic letter, I don't see why this isn't just an administrative matter: create a mailing list of all the rejects and send them out, and do the same with the accepts and waitlists. If individual professors want to e-mail 'their' prospective students, they can do so at their own leisure, but at least everyone knows where they stand. I'm not suggesting, again, that the notifications need to be sent out right after decisions are made, only that all notifications are sent at the same time (or within a few hours).

Forgive me if I'm just missing something obvious here, but I don't think these changes would even affect in any way the actual decision-making process, only the actual notifications. They would also be no more taxing on the faculty or the department; as I suggested, they may even alleviate some of the work.

These questions are essentially asking why admission committee members do not take the feelings of prospective students into consideration when managing the admissions process. This will sound mean, and I don't mean it to be, but I don't think that there's much point sugarcoating it. There is no good reason why we don't let you know the second we decide that you have been rejected. There's also no good reason why we don't have a fixed end date that we tell you about.

The reason why admissions committees do not worry about these things is that they don't really care.

Again, let me stress, I don't think that there is anything malicious about this. But admissions committee members are busy people, often teaching a class or two at the same time as they are managing hundreds of applications, endless emails from curious/nervous prospectives, and also trying to get their own work done. If there were no other time constraints or committees, and you sat a committee member down and explained how you feel, that person would probably say, "yes, you're right, it would much nicer if we sent our emails out all in the same time." But here is my experience (an n of 1 of course): in the craze that is mid-February, we don't think about these things. And moreover, the feelings of prospective students who have not made the cut rank pretty low in our list of priorities.

This might be a consequence of the generational divide between you and us. When I applied to graduate school, I remember coming home every day in March eager to check the mail. (I mean, the US postal service mail.) Every day there was a discrete window of time in which I could worry about grad school: when the mailman came. There was email, but not everyone used it, and certainly no departments informed their students via email or the web. There definitely was no GradCafe. I had no idea when to expect a letter, so I just put it out of my head after 4 PM every day. What this means is, I just do not have the same experience that you all seem to have, sitting around your computer checking email constantly and worrying about other students who have already heard from the schools to which you've applied.

I actually think that this is a teachable moment, though. One thing that many prospective PhD students do not seem to grasp is that faculty have busy lives with multiple commitments. We care about you--most of us do, at least--but you are not at the center of our universe. Being a PhD student is hard, and you'll quickly learn just how few faculty are tuned in to the concerns of their advisees. This, I suppose, is just your first exposure to that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On the Chinese student's question: Probably the only aspiring PhD students for whom a US MA has value are foreigners, since it gets you grades and recommendations from known people.

He is clearly referring to applicants who are Chinese in the sense that they are applying directly from universities on the mainland (beida tsinghua etc), and not by their ethnicity or nationality. Of course your MA in the states would obviate those concerns. The usual caveats apply: reputable school, relevant program, doing well, getting good letters etc. As for TOEFL/GRE, the scores probably come with test center codes or test dates that fall within your MA period.

Finally, chill out. It is still February. Let the sorting process trickle down and you should see some offers materialize sometime before Apr 15. Realist and PHiggins can probably tell you that people do get offers off the waitlists in late March and April and beyond.

Also, as noted above, our concerns about Chinese students only apply to those with degrees from Chinese universities, letters from Chinese faculty at those universities, and generic-seeming applications.

Please don't worry too much about this. If you have a strong file you will not have any trouble--we just are very careful with strong files from China, we don't keep them out. But if you have an American master's degree, letters from American professors, and GREs taken from when you were in the US (you wouldn't need the TOEFL, I don't think, if you have a US degree) then you will be treated like any other student.

I did hear one story, possibly apocryphal, of a US applicant who forged his/her letters of recommendation. If that becomes common then we're all doomed.

Thanks very much for all these kind responses!

Well, regarding the "fake" application materials, I guess only time can solve that problem. Just as Korea in 1980s mentioned in a previous reply, maybe after five or ten years the situation would be better.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for responding. At the risk of sounding pretentious, which, believe me, I'm not, I do have an MA and have some idea of the various duties and commitments faculty have. I fully expect that they "don't really care" about our 'feelings' as applicants.

Normally I pop into these things to offer the occasional rational yet ultimately consoling word, but here I simply have to say: we are adults now. We do not need the admissions committee holding our hands and looking out for our delicate feelings. The fact that these forums are anonymous allow us to spew our nervousness on to a lot of strangers without fear of embarrassment, but (I certainly hope) none of us would do this in front of a real, live stranger, and certainly not one whom we are trying to convince that we have the chops to make it in an ass kicking environment like graduate school. We will have to spend the rest of our careers waiting. Waiting to find out if we got the grant. Waiting to find out if our journal article was accepted. Waiting on job applications. We will realize that we are not nearly as smart as we think we are, we are not the smartest person in the room anymore. Sometimes, it will make us doubt ourselves. But we will do it anyway, because we love our research, students, or lives. We have to, because that love is the only thing that will make up for the otherwise unpleasant things we must endure. As awful as this process is, if you cannot ultimately stomach it, if not knowing it is worse than your love for the work, then please do yourself a favor and do not try to brave grad school, because it will eat you. Cold. Ninth circle of hell cold. And eating.

Edited by history?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Let's not make a straw man out of the argument. I fully understand faculty commitments and the like. However, there's no good reason why there can't be a set deadline that's late enough to guarantee it gets met.

Think back to your days of applying for undergrad schools: most respond on April 1. They're actually pretty sure about the incoming class, at least 95% of it, by the first week of March or so. But they set the date far enough in advance that they have time to maneuver, and rarely release decisions before then.

What I'm trying to say is that rather than have a school say "sometime in February" and then spend all month worrying before getting a response the 18th, I'd prefer they'd just say 1 March and stick to it. Sure, we'd find out later. But at least the anxiety wouldn't be there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Let's not make a straw man out of the argument. I fully understand faculty commitments and the like. However, there's no good reason why there can't be a set deadline that's late enough to guarantee it gets met.

Think back to your days of applying for undergrad schools: most respond on April 1. They're actually pretty sure about the incoming class, at least 95% of it, by the first week of March or so. But they set the date far enough in advance that they have time to maneuver, and rarely release decisions before then.

What I'm trying to say is that rather than have a school say "sometime in February" and then spend all month worrying before getting a response the 18th, I'd prefer they'd just say 1 March and stick to it. Sure, we'd find out later. But at least the anxiety wouldn't be there.

There are several notable differences between undergrad and graduate acceptances, particularly including 1) funding and 2) the decision committee. Decisions for undergrad are often made by, not by faculty who have no time, but by admins whose schedules are structured around this time of year. In terms of finances, blowing an estimation of an undergrad cohort by a few percentage points is not that big a deal, unless you happen to be at a weensy liberal arts college without a lot of money. Graduate departments, like that weensy liberal arts college, are small and do not have a lot of money. So if 3 more people agree to come than they were anticipating, they are SCREWED. Especially considering the current economy and the impact it has had on most universities, this means that departments really, really cannot afford to overshoot their estimation of incoming students, which is most likely why they admit a handful of people, wait to hear back, and then admit a few more if some of that initial bunch declined. This means that sending out all decisions at one time is simply not feasible logistically.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Normally I pop into these things to offer the occasional rational yet ultimately consoling word, but here I simply have to say: we are adults now. We do not need the admissions committee holding our hands and looking out for our delicate feelings. The fact that these forums are anonymous allow us to spew our nervousness on to a lot of strangers without fear of embarrassment, but (I certainly hope) none of us would do this in front of a real, live stranger, and certainly not one whom we are trying to convince that we have the chops to make it in an ass kicking environment like graduate school. We will have to spend the rest of our careers waiting. Waiting to find out if we got the grant. Waiting to find out if our journal article was accepted. Waiting on job applications. We will realize that we are not nearly as smart as we think we are, we are not the smartest person in the room anymore. Sometimes, it will make us doubt ourselves. But we will do it anyway, because we love our research, students, or lives. We have to, because that love is the only thing that will make up for the otherwise unpleasant things we must endure. As awful as this process is, if you cannot ultimately stomach it, if not knowing it is worse than your love for the work, then please do yourself a favor and do not try to brave grad school, because it will eat you. Cold. Ninth circle of hell cold. And eating.

Well, I'm not going to take this personally, because I don't think that was your intent, but my concerns have nothing to do with not being able to 'take it'. I simply would like the process to be more rational and transparent than it is. If we could alleviate some of the more negative aspects of the process while not substantively changing it, why should we not think about it? I'm not asking for someone to 'hold my hand' and 'look out for my feelings'; if anything, I'm asking to get rejected outright several times, in my case. As I said, I'm not expecting adcomms to care about my feelings, but about the efficacy and orderliness of their own processes, with the side-effect of making it 'easier', i.e., more predictable, on applicants.

Alright, maybe I did take it a little personally.

Let's not make a straw man out of the argument. I fully understand faculty commitments and the like. However, there's no good reason why there can't be a set deadline that's late enough to guarantee it gets met.

Think back to your days of applying for undergrad schools: most respond on April 1. They're actually pretty sure about the incoming class, at least 95% of it, by the first week of March or so. But they set the date far enough in advance that they have time to maneuver, and rarely release decisions before then.

What I'm trying to say is that rather than have a school say "sometime in February" and then spend all month worrying before getting a response the 18th, I'd prefer they'd just say 1 March and stick to it. Sure, we'd find out later. But at least the anxiety wouldn't be there.

Yes, exactly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are several notable differences between undergrad and graduate acceptances, particularly including 1) funding and 2) the decision committee. Decisions for undergrad are often made by, not by faculty who have no time, but by admins whose schedules are structured around this time of year. In terms of finances, blowing an estimation of an undergrad cohort by a few percentage points is not that big a deal, unless you happen to be at a weensy liberal arts college without a lot of money. Graduate departments, like that weensy liberal arts college, are small and do not have a lot of money. So if 3 more people agree to come than they were anticipating, they are SCREWED. Especially considering the current economy and the impact it has had on most universities, this means that departments really, really cannot afford to overshoot their estimation of incoming students, which is most likely why they admit a handful of people, wait to hear back, and then admit a few more if some of that initial bunch declined. This means that sending out all decisions at one time is simply not feasible logistically.

I don't see what the first point has to do with anything. By the description of the Realist's OP, it's clear that there's a point at which all decisions have been made. As balderdash and I have said, it doesn't matter, after that, when decisions are sent out, only that they're all sent out on a specified date. This could be done administratively, with individual faculty following up on their own.

I also don't understand your point about funding at all. How would they admit more people than they could fund? If they wanted a cohort of, say, 10 students, they could send out admits to them, waitlist a sufficient number of others (perhaps 20 or so; a good number could probably be ascertained through trial and error, modeling, or just educated guessing), and reject the rest who under no circumstances would have been admitted. That's the stage of the decisions I'm suggesting could be sent out simultaneously. Granted, being waitlisted is another kind of agony, but at least every applicant gets a clear idea of where they stand.

Edited by wtncffts

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't see what the first point has to do with anything. By the description of the Realist's OP, it's clear that there's a point at which all decisions have been made. As balderdash and I have said, it doesn't matter, after that, when decisions are sent out, only that they're all sent out on a specified date. This could be done administratively, with individual faculty following up on their own.

I also don't understand your point about funding at all. How would they admit more people than they could fund? If they wanted a cohort of, say, 10 students, they could send out admits to them, waitlist a sufficient number of others (perhaps 20 or so; a good number could probably be ascertained through trial and error, modeling, or just educated guessing), and reject the rest who under no circumstances would have been admitted. That's the stage of the decisions I'm suggesting could be sent out simultaneously. Granted, being waitlisted is another kind of agony, but at least every applicant gets a clear idea of where they stand.

I'm no expert, but I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that adcoms like to "test the water" by sending out a few acceptance letters at a time. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that most applicants are more likely to withdraw their application after they've been accepted. Out of some strange mixture of ego and curiosity, I want to see what sort of offers I get from my safety schools even though I am about 80% sure where I want to go already and about 95% sure that I won't accept an offer from any of my safties. So, schools want to see how their best applicants (who are likely to have been accepted at other high ranking schools) react to their offers before they send out offers to middle-tier schmucks like you and me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm no expert, but I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that adcoms like to "test the water" by sending out a few acceptance letters at a time.

I can't speak for other departments, but we've never done that, at least since I've been here. The acceptance emails go out as soon as we have run the admit list by the full faculty and the deans.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't speak for other departments, but we've never done that, at least since I've been here. The acceptance emails go out as soon as we have run the admit list by the full faculty and the deans.

Sorry for misrepresentation then. I was told by a faculty member in the econ department at my current university that the adcom used phone interviews and staggered acceptances for the reasons explained above. However, that may not be the case for all departments.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I called UNC a few weeks back, the person I talked to expressed something approaching the gradual dispersal of notices. Some of this may be that they need to check with their initial admittees to see if they're still interested, as for some, UNC may be a fallback for if Harvard, Stanford etc. don't offer admissions. Then, based on those initial reactions, they can adjust the rest of their admissions as necessary and send out the next round, doing the same. My third school first asked me if I was still interested in pursuing them (to which I quickly responded "YES").

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I also don't understand your point about funding at all. How would they admit more people than they could fund? If they wanted a cohort of, say, 10 students, they could send out admits to them, waitlist a sufficient number of others (perhaps 20 or so; a good number could probably be ascertained through trial and error, modeling, or just educated guessing), and reject the rest who under no circumstances would have been admitted. That's the stage of the decisions I'm suggesting could be sent out simultaneously. Granted, being waitlisted is another kind of agony, but at least every applicant gets a clear idea of where they stand.

For what it's worth, we generally put a large portion of accepted applicants up for fellowships funded externally. We usually get a couple of these, though there's a decent amount of year to year variance. There's also a delay in when these rewards are received and it has significant consequences for the rest of our graduate cohort. I don't anticipate this is common, but I wouldn't be surprised if most public R1's have unique processes that make the graduate admission process a little bit more complex.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, The Realist and others, for all your responses. I certainly understand that the process is more complex and less structured or formalized than my assumptions suggest. I also understand the staggered acceptances thing, even if it does result in greater anxiety for applicants.

Edited by wtncffts

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Departments also prefer not to have a long waitlist or obviously staggered acceptances, since this establishes up front a sense among grad students that some were the ones the department wanted while others were second-best. This isn't very good for departmental camaraderie. Also, we would like everyone we admit to come. If you get waitlisted while you have an offer from another school, you might start feeling more positive about the other school and resentful of the one that apparently almost rejected you, so you might go to the other place. Now that this website exists, however, departments are less able to play games. For that reason, I think they will increasingly move toward making a single wave of acceptances. However, as someone noted, that can make for big problems if you get a ten person admit class when you only meant to have five, and budgets are tight.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am definitely not a qualified person to discuss this topic, but I have a strong feeling that there is a bias against international students. And I say this as an international student applying now, after a 2 years MA in the US... I can see three main reasons for that. First is the GRE. I have the feeling that committees do not properly weight the difficulty of taking this exam when english is not one's first language. Not only that, but also the structure of this exam is one that American students are already used to (from the SAT and so on) , while international students generally are not. Second is that I don't think committees have perfect knowledge about universities around the world. My undergraduate university is the best in my country and the admission rate is less than 10% for undergraduates... Even when adcoms know of this university, I doubt they would know that the average level of students there is super high (I think it is higher than the top 25 school where I did my masters), even though grades are generally super low (a 3.2 GPA was the highest in the history of the department). Third is the recommendation letter system. Not all countries make use of this mechanism for selecting students. Since in my school back home very few students go to the US for their PhD's , my professors had little experience writing recommendation letters and, ironically, avoided any excessive praising of my skills and abilities... nearly the opposite of the letters I've got from American professors.

I don't think adcoms intentionally discriminate against international students, but I have the feeling that this system is slightly harder on International students then it is against American students. And, given the same skill level of two students, one American and one International, I believe an American one would perform better on this application process simply because she would now how to work this system better and adcoms would know how to read her signals better.

Still, I think the US has probably the most welcoming educational system.... but it is a bit unfair to international students.

To be honest, I am a little shocked by your comment. As an international applicant, I admit it, it took me months to understand the application process, getting familiar with the GRE that doesn't exist here, getting recommendations that barely exist in my country, explaining the principle of US recommendation letters to my recommenders so they won't make any blunder, paying a lot of money to get ready for the tests, putting a lot of work in my "SOP" (at first I was like "what the hell is that thing?"). So yes, it was definitely harder for me or for you to apply than it was for a native speaker familiar with the culture. But come on, no one forced us, plus it is absolutely normal to prove yourself as a potential immigrant. You are a guest in that country, you have to prove your understanding of the system you're getting yourself into. AND for some programs, being an international applicant is an asset : several languages, different experiences, different perspective and creativity. The pros make up for the cons. You definitely can make your application as good as an american one, even better if you understand the strategy and "personal-brand" yourself. Plus it is up to you to help them understand the cultural differences. For instance, I sent along with my transcripts a school profile of my university (even if it's well-known world wide) with an explanation of the grading system (way more severe in my country) that I had the director of the department I graduated from to sign. To conclude, yes it takes more efforts for us, but it's only fair and definitely doable. I wish gradschools in my country would treat the international applicants with the same consideration as Americans gradschools...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are two questions here. (1) Do international immigrants face any disadvantage. And (2) do minorities or women have any kind of advantage?

The answer to (1) is no, with one exception: as Penelope Higgins notes, Chinese students face hurdles that non-Chinese students do not face. In our experience, a non-trivial proportion of applications from Chinese students are either partial or complete forgeries. That means writing samples and statements of purpose that are plagiarized, and letters that are made up from faculty who do not exist (or who do not know that they have written a recommendation for a particular student). On the whole, we do not trust GRE scores or TOEFL scores from Chinese students. This does not mean that we do not accept Chinese students, we just have to be more careful with them, and we often have slightly different application procedures for them (we will almost always insist on speaking to a Chinese student on the phone before making a decision).

I don't know why Chinese students are the only nationality that has this problem. The only other country that has had this problem is South Korea--this was before my time, but apparently in the 1980s we saw forgeries and fraud from these applicants--but today the higher education system in South Korea is of such high quality that we do not find problems from these applicants anymore; at any rate, most of the students come from the "Big 3" Korean universities, or from Ehwa Women's University, each of which is a great university.

Of course, international students often face "structural disadvantages," such as language barriers and insufficient preparation in the undergraduate years. But the fact that they are from another country does not stand in their way.

The answer to (2) is, quite naturally, yes. We strive for an incoming class that is roughly 50% women, and we are likely to treat students from certain minority groups more favorably. We never admit unqualified students, but we have far too many qualified students as it is, so things like race/ethnicity/gender/sexuality/economic hardship can often nudge us in one direction.

I know this post is a few months old, but I have a question that nobody can seem to answer. I am a 40 year old Marine officer with 13+ years of service. I am about to graduate from the Naval Postgraduate School with an MA in a regional studies curriculum. But, I am being medically retired due to a service connected disability (nothing that would prohibit me from the rigorous academic work required of a PhD). I want to continue on for a PhD and I am wondering if I should mention, in passing, my disability in my SOP or somewhere on my application. It is unfortunately a major part of my life and is the only reason I am leaving the military. I know schools are not supposed to discriminate, but at the same time, I do not want to give someone an opportunity to do the wrong thing.

On the flip side, not to be crass, but could the disability help me?

Thoughts?

Edited by mako06

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know that there's an absolute right or wrong on your question, but I probably wouldn't mention it. The two risks in mentioning it are 1) someone may infer that it would interfere with your prospects for timely completion of the Ph.D., and 2) mentioning it may sound like you're trying to introduce it as a reason why departments should look more favorably on your application. The other important factor is that, since it's a major part of your life, one or more of your letter-writers very well may bring it up. It probably would be better coming from them than from you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know that there's an absolute right or wrong on your question, but I probably wouldn't mention it. The two risks in mentioning it are 1) someone may infer that it would interfere with your prospects for timely completion of the Ph.D., and 2) mentioning it may sound like you're trying to introduce it as a reason why departments should look more favorably on your application. The other important factor is that, since it's a major part of your life, one or more of your letter-writers very well may bring it up. It probably would be better coming from them than from you.

Absolutely agree. As a Marine, I am not one to ask for special treatment anyway, but some people around me are trying to convince me I should use it to get as much as I can. Others are not. To be honest I find that kind of entitlement attitude pathetic. It probably will get brought up anyway by the authors of my LORs like you say. My stats and work experience are pretty good anyway and speak for themselves, so I would rather play things straight. If it comes up, it comes up. If not, then it doesn't.

Thanks...

Any other opinions out there? Am I off base for any reason?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I tend to believe you shouldn't mention it. I don't see a great risk for harm, but it's hard to imagine why the admissions committees would care. They want promising researchers before interesting or broadly promising students.

On the other hand: A 40 year old Marine with a Naval postgraduate degree and an interest in a polisci PhD? Seems to me like you probably have some rich material that would be relevant AND interesting your should spend your precious 1000 words on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I know this post is a few months old, but I have a question that nobody can seem to answer. I am a 40 year old Marine officer with 13+ years of service. I am about to graduate from the Naval Postgraduate School with an MA in a regional studies curriculum. But, I am being medically retired due to a service connected disability (nothing that would prohibit me from the rigorous academic work required of a PhD). I want to continue on for a PhD and I am wondering if I should mention, in passing, my disability in my SOP or somewhere on my application. It is unfortunately a major part of my life and is the only reason I am leaving the military. I know schools are not supposed to discriminate, but at the same time, I do not want to give someone an opportunity to do the wrong thing.

On the flip side, not to be crass, but could the disability help me?

Thoughts?

A lot of public universities (Michigan and the UC system, for example) require a personal statement in addition to your SOP. In the personal statement, it would be fine to write about your experience in the service and your disability within the context how they affected your path to academia.

Edited by slacktivist

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A lot of public universities (Michigan and the UC system, for example) require a personal statement in addition to your SOP. In the personal statement, it would be fine to write about your experience in the service and your disability within the context how they affected your path to academia.

Good to know...thanks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't want to speak for the US educational system for many reasons, not least of which is I'm Canadian and have never attended a US institution, but I think many of these points also apply to Canadian schools.

First, the GRE. From everything I've read, GRE scores aren't a very significant part of admissions decisions; used as a cut-off, perhaps, but not much more. Believe me, I'm the last person to defend the GREs use as a measure of anything meaningful, but to the more general point, if you're going to a US university you have to be expected to communicate in English at a roughly equal level with domestic students. That's just the way it is. I TAed at a school where many students had English as their second language,and while I admired their courage at trying to write and speak in their non-native tongue, I could not 'relax' standards of, say, proper syntax and semantics on papers. They chose to attend an English-speaking school, as you have.

Second, of course US schools don't know everything about every university around the world. I don't expect that they should, and they couldn't even if they tried. It works the other way around, too. There may well be, for example, a state university which has a great reputation but which a top school in, say, Germany, has never heard of because it isn't Harvard or Princeton or the like. It's only common sense that schools will know the most about other schools in their own countries, in the US as in everywhere else.

Third, the recommendation system. Again, I'd just say that that's the way it is. That's how US schools do things. They can't tailor their admissions processes for every particular international context.

I seem to be reiterating the same basic point, which is that it's only "unfair" if you expect US schools, or any other institutions, to account for every educational practice and make admissions uber-individually tailored. That's logistically impossible and I see no need for it. I understand that a lot of international students want to study in the US; I'm one of them. But I don't see the system as being "biased" or "unfair"; if it is, then I fully expect it to be. I understand that, given equal 'skills', I would likely have a lesser chance than a native German of getting into a German university, simply because they've been immersed in that particular educational system for much longer. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that. International students make an intentional choice to 'subject' themselves to the American educational system. Noone forces them to.

Of course no one forces him to. He took the initiative himself, to cross oceans, to go to another country that does not even speak his own language, to get himself the best education that he could possibly acquire. I think it is admirable and courageous, and it should be admired and praised, not to be discriminated against, told to leave, not to come, or just shut up if he raises concerns or gives his opinion on his admission process or other institutions or people or phenomena of his new country.

"No one forces you to come" - I doubt that you would ever dare to utter such words to the Blacks, for the fear of being called a racist or getting you a$$ whooped. But you did not think twice about saying such things to a Chinese or other minorities. How ironic. Maybe we need a Chinese Dr. King to change such mindsets; Some people never learn.

I do not think there is anything to debate about the points Wallerstein raised; of course it is unfair to him and puts him at a disadvantage. I would love to hear what you'd say if you have to take the GRE in Chinese, or what your score would be like compared to the routinely perfect marks the Asians get in an English GRE. This being said, I do not think the admission process is intentionally biased. On the contrary, I believe America aims to attract the best and brightest minds to this country no matter where he lives, Russia or China. Yet, like so many things in this country, having such an unfair process, in reality only serves to do disservice to its own objectives and violate what it requires of, or expects from, itself.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.