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Frustrating.


Owlie
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I e-mailed the head of the adcomm at my top choice--a standard "Thank you for considering my application. Although I didn't get in, I'm still interested. Do you have any advice on how I could improve my application?"-kind of email. I didn't expect to get anything back.

This, paraphrased, was his response:

"I'm sorry we weren't able to accept you this year. You were actually viewed rather favorably by the committee, and were placed in the "accept" pile along with some other students. Then we looked at the finances. Any other year, we would have taken you, but the funding situation is such this year that we had to decrease the size of our cohort. In fact, this will be the smallest group of students we have ever taken.

"As for improving your application, I can't offer any useful advice. If I remember correctly, some of your grades were a bit low, but there's not much you can do about that now. One thing you could do is to continue to work in a research area. I'm sorry I can't offer anything helpful, but I wish you the best of luck in your career goals."

On the one hand, I'm glad he sent it--I guess I do have what it takes to get in, but for funding. At the same time, I wish it was a "Well, compared to other students, you suck" response. That I could understand, and I could find a way to take steps to fix it, whether it be taking some classes to boost my GPA or finding a research job for some more relevant experiences.

So close, and yet so far.

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Oh yuck...that is pretty hard to take, that if they just had the money you would have been in. Not that it makes you feel any better but I think it's like that at most schools and for most applicants, they're not unqualified but there's so many applicants for so few spots, lots of them will just not get in at all. I mean how do you choose, say for simplicity's sake,10 best candidates from hundreds of really great ones? Especially when there are so many components to the applications, each one with different strengths and weaknesses. When it comes down to it, the less money they have the fewer the spots, regardless of how many great applicants they might want. At my top choice they had over 2,100 applicants but 350 spots, I consider myself lucky to have been waitlisted, but how many other candidates just as good as me got cut right out? Probably a lot. These past few years have been even harder for both applicants and schools, less money, same amount or fewer spots then previous years and record numbers of applicants. It just sucks all around for most of us, it's a such a tough and emotionally arduous process and when someone says you're were considered accepted but we just couldn't afford you then you're right...so close yet so far. It's kind of like getting a 99 on a test, it's upsetting because there was just one little thing and it would have been perfect, but really in the grand scheme of things there's nothing much you could have done to improve.

Are you still waiting on any schools? Maybe you can contact them for your status...

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I don't know... For me "compared with other applicants you suck" would be the worst reply I could imagine :) For me it's better to know that I am a good applicant but that they didn't have enough funding for me this year. But may be it's just me... :)

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"As for improving your application, I can't offer any useful advice. If I remember correctly, some of your grades were a bit low, but there's not much you can do about that now. One thing you could do is to continue to work in a research area. I'm sorry I can't offer anything helpful, but I wish you the best of luck in your career goals."

I am new to the forum and today I have been trying to get around this fact. HOW do you actually manage to offset a low GPA? I've got a 7.05/10 and got two more years to go before my program gets over. Over here, although the Grades matter, people are more of the opinion that if you pursuit your interests and get results, it should suffice. Ofcourse, it took me a while to realize that it was about getting a job NOT a PhD!

So it all comes down to this - how do I offset the low GPA? Also, most univs have a cutoff for the GPA. Is there no special circumstance that this can be circumvent?

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I am new to the forum and today I have been trying to get around this fact. HOW do you actually manage to offset a low GPA? I've got a 7.05/10 and got two more years to go before my program gets over. Over here, although the Grades matter, people are more of the opinion that if you pursuit your interests and get results, it should suffice. Ofcourse, it took me a while to realize that it was about getting a job NOT a PhD!

So it all comes down to this - how do I offset the low GPA? Also, most univs have a cutoff for the GPA. Is there no special circumstance that this can be circumvent?

Most have a 3.0/4 or equivalent, and this particular university tends to weigh more heavily the last 60 units. I had just above a 3.0, but a)the courses that killed my GPA were either my first year or b)not really applicable to my program of interest (p-chem 2, anyone?). I got solid A's and B's my last two years (except p-chem 2). I also had research experience (not in my field, but related), and I guess some good letters of recommendation. If the other parts of your application are solid, they'll go a long way toward offsetting a low GPA.

Strangefox, I'm not entirely sure which I'd have preferred to get. It's a big self-esteem boost, to be sure, to be told that "we think you're good enough, we just don't have the money." On the other hand, I was rejected because of factors entirely outside my control, as opposed to something that I had/hadn't done and could take steps to change before I apply next time.

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Strangefox, I'm not entirely sure which I'd have preferred to get. It's a big self-esteem boost, to be sure, to be told that "we think you're good enough, we just don't have the money." On the other hand, I was rejected because of factors entirely outside my control, as opposed to something that I had/hadn't done and could take steps to change before I apply next time.

I believe there is something you can change in this situation.

1) Apply to more schools, then the chance will be higher that one of them will have enough money for you.

2) Make sure that there is a perfect fit between you and some faculty members in these programs. When I was rejected by one school this year, I was told that my application is great but, as they do not have enough money to take all people they wanted, they had to take only those with the best fit - and that was not me. Contact faculty in all schools you are going to apply to, tell them about the research you are going to do and ask if they would be interested in supervising you.

I think if you research fit really well, you will surely get in next year - because as that professor wrote you, your application is great. That is why I prefer this answer. Now you don't have to improve your application, you just need to search for fit.

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Obviously the situation is frustrating, but the fact that you nearly made it should be an encouragement for the next round of applications (looks as though you have already started thinking about that). With a bit more relevant experience, a few more drafts of your statement, and a (hopefully) better economy, you should stand a very good chance of an acceptance with funding next year.

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I believe there is something you can change in this situation.

1) Apply to more schools, then the chance will be higher that one of them will have enough money for you.

2) Make sure that there is a perfect fit between you and some faculty members in these programs. When I was rejected by one school this year, I was told that my application is great but, as they do not have enough money to take all people they wanted, they had to take only those with the best fit - and that was not me. Contact faculty in all schools you are going to apply to, tell them about the research you are going to do and ask if they would be interested in supervising you.

I think if you research fit really well, you will surely get in next year - because as that professor wrote you, your application is great. That is why I prefer this answer. Now you don't have to improve your application, you just need to search for fit.

I felt that this one was a good fit--there were three or four profs doing things that I could get excited about, and one of them was doing something similar to what the lab I worked in as an undergrad did. I didn't get their view of my fit, one way or another. They told us at the recruitment event that there were six spots this year (down from seven or eight in previous years), and I got the impression from the e-mail that they'd cut it down further even than that, and went with mostly in-state applicants. (This university, according to a friend who goes there (but for an unfunded master's), makes it very difficult to qualify for in-state tuition, even if you take the steps to establish residency.) I can't blame them for that, considering the economy.

This time, I really only applied places in areas where I have ties with research that I was interested in, but I think next time (for fall 2012 or -13) I'll be more comfortable moving elsewhere. As you can see, I've started looking, and yes, I'll apply to this university again, and hopefully the economy will have picked up.

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I felt that this one was a good fit--there were three or four profs doing things that I could get excited about, and one of them was doing something similar to what the lab I worked in as an undergrad did. I didn't get their view of my fit, one way or another.

May be that was a problem. You should not just assume that they are good fit, you should ask them. Also, even if they are good fit these profs may not be taking students this particular year, so you should ask them about it as well. Contacting profs will help you eliminate programs that may look like a good fit but in reality aren't.

It's great that you want to try again!

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