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Anyone else regretting not applying to more schools?


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Since in the end I applied to 14 programs, my answer is no.   If I had to do it again, I’d probably omit a couple and try a different mix of departments. Also, I’d focus more precisely on “fit.” Pra

Hrm your post does not really fit in with this thread....

Like, now that it's nearing decision time... why didn't I apply to more schools in warm climates? Or maybe I should have applied to a couple more "safety" programs. Oh my god what if I don't get in

I applied to 21... got rejected by 1, advanced to on-campus interview with another, got accepted by 1, and waiting to hear from the other 18...

 

Just out of interest, how much did you end up spending on the 21 applications? I felt ripped off after 3 but now regretting not putting in the effort to do more. Oh well, I think have a sort-of acceptance now so it should be ok.

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Wow, I actually only applied to two schools, and am becoming quiet nervous now. I see people applying to 5 and more, and I'm starting to panic. Why didn't I apply to more schools!? I had initially planned to apply to 4 but ruled out the other two because they weren't offering exactly what I wanted.

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I have to disagree with the whole idea of safety schools for grad school. It makes sense for undergrad where you might do more exploring but for something as focused as grad school it seems a bad idea to apply to schools that you don't really want to go to. I would think it's be a better strategy to work hard for a year and reapply. At least that's what I would be tempted to do.

I applied to three because I wanted to stay in my area and wanted somewhere with almost full funding. There were four more that I was considering but one turned out to be a very expensive degree mill with little funding (as in more expensive than undergrad!), one was completely narrow and not what I was focused on, another was my alma later and I wanted to make new connections elsewhere, and the last is the only one I wonder if I should has applied to. But I'm happy with three. I'd be okay with going to any of them, though of course I'd love to get into my top school.

I am felt okay about the number since one of my profs has been very encouraging and believed I was a good candidate, and during my research I spoke with faculty from one of the schools and he confirmed this after looking at my portfolio. I'd encourage anyone who is tempted to apply to so many schools to actually try to get some feedback about what your chances are at certain places. There is no point in spending a grand and you would've gotten into your top choice easy, or if you don't even have a shot. I felt like anything over $400 was too much for me at this point, so I didn't apply to the two schools I was on the fence about. I figured if the lack of funding made it impossible for me to go anyway, why torture myself with the knowledge of what could've been?

Plus I think at this point you've gotta have enough perspective on and initiative in your life that you're not lost if you don't get in. I think it's good to think about other options and a back up plan during app season. Life isn't over if you don't get into grad school! You could do self directed research or get into relevant volunteer opportunities or apply to grants even if you don't get into school.

Edited by iomarch
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I guess the notion of "safety school" is different for everyone. I applied to 7 Universities this year, and I can actually see myself at any of them. Of course, certain programs have a better fit with faculty members, and my off-campus life would be more interesting in some cities above others.

 

For my undergraduate, I only applied to two schools, I got in to both my desired University and the "safety" school. I had a great experience, but I still wonder what would have happened if I extended my reach, if only slightly.

 

I think the idea of safety schools work for people who would only be happy at a few Ivy League institutions, or have a field where the options for their particular type of research are very limited. I'm in a pretty small field, but I still cherry picked from about 14 Universities to apply to.

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I applied to 8 universities, 9 programs (I applied to a related A.M. as well as their PhD), got my first rejection (Berkeley) yesterday. I am getting rather worried as well, thinking I should have applied to more, maybe some in the UK as well.

In regards to safety schools, I applied to one, but am getting worried about that as well. Alas, all we can do is wait.

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I started off with a list of 20 PhD programs and a master's program. My "final" list had 8 PhD + 1 MA. By the time I actually applied, I was down to 4 PhDs and decided not to apply to the MA program. I really felt like the schools I ended up dropping weren't a great fit. They may have been good, but certainly not great. My first notification from a program was a rejection, and at that moment I really felt like I should have kept the MA in the mix. I still haven't heard back from the other schools, though I'm certain I'm either rejected or wait listed at Vanderbilt, but I don't know...I mean, why spend money to attend a program if it isn't going to be a good fit. On the other hand, maybe I've been too specific and too focused with my research interests, and maybe it's going to cost me in the long run...

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I started off with a list of 20 PhD programs and a master's program. My "final" list had 8 PhD + 1 MA. By the time I actually applied, I was down to 4 PhDs and decided not to apply to the MA program. I really felt like the schools I ended up dropping weren't a great fit. They may have been good, but certainly not great. My first notification from a program was a rejection, and at that moment I really felt like I should have kept the MA in the mix. I still haven't heard back from the other schools, though I'm certain I'm either rejected or wait listed at Vanderbilt, but I don't know...I mean, why spend money to attend a program if it isn't going to be a good fit. On the other hand, maybe I've been too specific and too focused with my research interests, and maybe it's going to cost me in the long run...

 

Our situations are very similar. I had a long list of Psyc PhD programs to apply to, but I felt like I was trying to force a fit in most places, so I decided to only apply to 3 Psyc programs. Fortunately, one of my professors suggested that I look into communication programs instead, considering my research interests.  I had a much easier time putting together my Comm applications. So, I did 3 Psyc and 3 Comm. 

 

There was no way I was going to spend the next 4-5 years in a program with a bad research fit.  I would have been miserable.  I may feel differently if I end up getting rejected from all of them, though.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I applied to 6, rejected by 2, still waiting on the others. Definitely wishing I applied to more, but I also agree with what a lot of people have said here: when it comes to grad school you it's probably better to work, gain experience, and try again next year rather than go to a school that doesn't really fit. a PhD is a long haul if you don't have relevant faculty members of don't really feel like you fit in.

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Nope - but I have an acceptance already so that helps with the anxiety. However, if I applied to more schools it wouldn't have been anywhere I would have actually wanted to attend. I actually wish I applied to less. If I could do the application process all over again, I only would have applied to 3 of my 5. One of the schools isn't a good fit but I applied to as a back up, and one of the schools is so competitive that I wish I didn't apply and saved my money instead!

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I had time constraints that contributed to me only applying to three schools, but even then after thinking about it some more I think I really only want to go to one of those. My research field is very specific though, and I was limiting my search to well known US schools. I think if I don't get into my first choice this year I will aim closer to home and do more research and campus visits.

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Since in the end I applied to 14 programs, my answer is no.

 

If I had to do it again, I’d probably omit a couple and try a different mix of departments. Also, I’d focus more precisely on “fit.” Practice really did make perfect, and the last few were far superior to the earliest ones. This was one reason to do many, and to hit Ivies with early deadlines even though I figured I had no chance.

 

I also tried different mixes of writing samples and research proposals, even of recommenders. As for the many different departments, the fact is my interests are the same in each case but can be approached via several disciplines. That’s the way of the social sciences with their sometimes artificial distinctions. I will benefit from mastering any one of these disciplines and its methodology.

 

What’s amusing me here is that anyone believes there is such a thing as a safety school! This can only be the product of delusion, arrogance, or weak definition.

 

Example of delusion: I saw one poster here upset about a rejection by the excellent and highly competitive Pittsburgh Anthro program, because this was supposed to be the safety school.

 

Definition issues: If you define the consolation prize of an unfunded Masters (perhaps with paid tuition!) as acceptable, then yes, there is such a thing as safety. If so, however, please don’t take out loans to do this, because that’s not safety; it’s a lifetime of debt, ruin and misery. Not to be misunderstood: Masters in the professions are worth acquiring. But in the Arts and Sciences, these are “safe” only to independently wealthy hobbyists. An unfunded Ph.D. may be even worse.

 

In the 2014 economy, in the Arts and Sciences, the only thing that counts is admission to a Ph.D. program with funding. The least competitive of these are still rejecting to fund six applicants for every admission with funding, and a 9:1 ratio seems to be far more common. So there is no safety school. Not even if you have 99/99 on the GRE, a 4.0 GPA, prior publications in the field, and a recommendation from Paul Krugman. (If you do, however, just apply to four schools and you’ll be admitted to at least two.)

 

The closest thing to safety is in applying to many programs. However, you’re not the only one who has that idea.

Edited by Nikos Evangelos
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Applied to 9 schools, admitted 3, no heard 4, rejected 1, interviewed 1. I would also have applied 2 more schools, which are better. I definitely regret that after I am admitted to the schools easily...

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Noo!! Too much money spent on transcripts and application fees.... and on mailing the documents in extremis so that they arrive on time! I applied for 5 and if I don't get into any of them, next year I will only apply for one. It is either that school or no school at all.

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Yess!! I wish I applied back to my Alma Mater and one or two more :( 

Kicking myself because I applied to schools all in the cold except for San Diego and thats so far fetched coming from NYC. I avoided the South at all costs, but now I wish I could have tried at least one school

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