Jump to content

What surprised you the most going through this whole process?


Recommended Posts

Now that we've completed this process it's time to reflect on the things that took us by surprise.

 

For me, I was absolutely shocked by how impactful the visitations were. My mental rankings of the programs I chose to apply to completely swapped after setting foot on each campus, meeting with my potential PI's, and watching how the department interacted with the recruits.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 158
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

I was surprised that I got into...anywhere.   Background story: I only have a 3.2, and a guidance counselor told me not to bother applying anywhere.  She said I wouldn't get in anywhere decent.  I

Just how much I sat on GradCafe...

For me, I was absolutely shocked by how impactful the visitations were. My mental rankings of the programs I chose to apply to completely swapped after setting foot on each campus, meeting with my potential PI's, and watching how the department interacted with the recruits.

 

Same here.  Some faculty profiles looked amazing on the website, but they turned out to be much less awesome in person.  A few don't even update their website, and no longer do what they advertised on their pages (!).  And vice versa.

 

Im heading to the school that was originally lowest ranked in my list of schools applied/accepted.  It is now the best in my book :D for everything: faculty, research, campus, department environment, student support $$$, students happiness.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Visits were the most important thing. I ended up hating a school that I thought I would turn down all my schools for (and was rejected anyway), and was accepted to and loved two schools including one reach that I decided to apply to last minute. I wish I would have visited the schools before I even paid the app fee!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I was surprised that even thought I KNEW I was applying to schools that were beyond my reach, it still hurt being rejected. Of course I was rejected, but it seems rejections still feels like...well, rejection. I really didn't think I'd take it so personally.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Visits were the most important thing. I ended up hating a school that I thought I would turn down all my schools for (and was rejected anyway), and was accepted to and loved two schools including one reach that I decided to apply to last minute. I wish I would have visited the schools before I even paid the app fee!

This scares me because I accepted an offer at a school that I never visited. I actually didnt even think I was still in the running at this school because I never heard anything from them (no interview or anything). I emailed to check my status last Thursday and I mentioned I had another offer with the 15th deadline, but that I was still interested in the program. The professor requested we Skype on Friday and I had an offer in my inbox by 7:30pm. The school is in British Columbia while I am in NY so I obviously never visited. The research is a GREAT fit (more so than the other program I mentioned) so I took a leap of faith and accepted. My advisor and I are planning to meet at a conference in June, so that is a bit comforting.

 
Link to post
Share on other sites

I was glad that I took the time and money to visit all of the schools last summer that I was considering.  It definitely eliminated one (couldn't see myself living there) and gave me the opportunity to meet PI's and grad students face to face.  Some PI's blew off meetings, offering a grad student to give me a tour.  I was a bit surprised at how confident they were in August of 2012 about funding (or were they just blowing sunshine?) that did not turn out to be as forthcoming in the end.  At the end I was surprised how long it took to get answers.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I was glad that I took the time and money to visit all of the schools last summer that I was considering.  It definitely eliminated one (couldn't see myself living there) and gave me the opportunity to meet PI's and grad students face to face.  Some PI's blew off meetings, offering a grad student to give me a tour.  I was a bit surprised at how confident they were in August of 2012 about funding (or were they just blowing sunshine?) that did not turn out to be as forthcoming in the end.  At the end I was surprised how long it took to get answers.

 

This was probably the most frustrating experience for me. I was in continuous contact with a POI since August who said he would be taking a student (and even floated the idea of taking a second). In the end, due to budget constraints, he didn't take any. I was incredibly disappointed because I didn't find out definitively until April 14th (after ~8 months).

 
Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree that visits were very important and I ended up committing to a school which was not my original first choice because of how immediately I felt at home.  Also, despite feeling torn between my top schools I was surprised how NOT talking about grad school and taking a few days to try to forget the process before making a decision allowed me to suddenly have an epiphany about what school I wanted to choose.  At a certain point all of my complex spreadsheets and logic fell by the wayside and I had to go with my gut.  Afterwards I thought through it logically again, but taking that time and trusting my instincts was critical.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm most surprised that my friends didn't strangle me, as grad school applications are all I've talked about since December. :lol:

 

Also, the school that I thought was most likely to accept me rejected me, and the school that I thought was most likely to reject me accepted me. The latter ended up becoming my top choice and is the school that I'm going to be attending in the fall. This whole process was full of surprises!

Edited by zabius
Link to post
Share on other sites

I was surprised that I got into...anywhere.  

Background story:

I only have a 3.2, and a guidance counselor told me not to bother applying anywhere.  She said I wouldn't get in anywhere decent.  I went ahead and applied anyway.  And I guess all the undergraduate research paid off.  I think my grades were offset by the fact I was in ROTC for the first half of college... it was tricky to juggle a math-heavy major while in the program (I'm not a math whiz).

 

And here I am, 12 months after she told me not to bother applying, getting ready to go to Hopkins, the top school in my field :) so glad I didn't listen!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I was surprised that no matter how much I prepared myself for this process beforehand (knowing decisions would take a while), I still stressed out all the way through it. As if my stressing would make decisions come faster... But I think it was a good test of my resiliency and patience given the numerous hiccups in the application materials along the way.

 

I agree that visiting schools really does help with deciding but I think it eventually comes down to what feels the most right. No school is perfect and we're not going to know exactly how our individual experiences will be. Just hope we feel confident with our decisions onces were in :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Visits were a must, and how visiting programs I ended up not being very interested in helped form my understanding of what I really wanted.  They were not necessarily a waste of my time, as they helped me figure out which program was really the right choice for me.

 

And how shitty rankings actually represent a program.  They can help you look for and rank programs prior to interviews, but should be one of the last items you consider when making choices.

 

Also, if you didn't get in this time, don't give up.  Just make a better, more concerted effort next year!

Link to post
Share on other sites

It's a great question. I was surprised by my application package... Yes - my own. Because you need to present yourself in a certain way in the application process, and at some point you look back and - "Hey, this IS me! At least one appearance of me. And it's pretty cool!" I found this reveailng, because in my attempt to run ahead I rarely have the chance to look back and relect on myself. Which is also why I like this question - another opportunity to do that. :)

Lital (LLM, SJD, founder of gradtrain).

Link to post
Share on other sites

After reading a few more of the posts...

 

A LOT is out of our control.  You can do everything in your power...write a great SOP, have fantastic LOR's, a respectable GPA, research experience...but you are who you are and there will always be someone better than you.  And there is never enough funding for everyone, especially this year.  I went to visit each of my potential schools, PI's, and their current staffs.  So meeting people can be a positive or a negative.  We all know people who look great on paper but you wouldn't want to work with them once you've met them.  So that can work in an applicant's favor...or not.  But I was able to narrow my application list by eliminating the schools/staff that were not a good fit for me.  I was surprised at how outdated and rundown some research facilities are.  And I surprised myself by knowing that there turned out to be certain locations where I could not picture myself living.

 

If I had to do it again (and I won't...WOOOHOOOOOO!!!!) I would have started earlier on my application materials, studied sooner and longer for the GRE (I underestimated the difficulty as I tend to be an excellent test taker with little effort in the past), thought deeper about my ultimate career goals since grad school can help that process down the road, and I would have looked deeper into myself about what I really want...not what everybody else wants for me.  

 

I have accepted at a school that will make me happy for an MSc.  And I realize that I have a bit of academic fatigue so I think I will be stopping for a while (maybe forever) after a masters.  I'm happy to have found a home at a smaller school in a smaller environment that suits me.  My particular situation is not about the most prestigious university or the most recognized in my field.  I found those programs to be too pretentious for me.  But I found that out when I was touring UG schools.   I could have had a full ride at Stanford but chose a smaller state school for my own personal reasons.  And it worked out well for me.  It pays to know yourself and what makes you happy.  I just recently saw a quote..."You have to turn your back on the audience to conduct an orchestra."  I feel that defines my views on my education...you have to go with your gut on what feels right, no matter what other people may think is right for you.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I was surprised by how much the location of a school impacted my decision. I tend to make my decisions with a kind of emotional detachment, so the location hardly crossed my mind in comparison to the strength and research fit of a program. It makes sense though, since I'll be at the school for 6 years or so.

 

Also, I could usually get a sense for the program after talking with faculty for a few hours or so. The personality-fit made a much larger impact on my decision than I'd expected. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I was surprised by how much the location of a school impacted my decision. I tend to make my decisions with a kind of emotional detachment, so the location hardly crossed my mind in comparison to the strength and research fit of a program. It makes sense though, since I'll be at the school for 6 years or so.

 

Also, I could usually get a sense for the program after talking with faculty for a few hours or so. The personality-fit made a much larger impact on my decision than I'd expected. 

 

So atlanta???? Me too!

Link to post
Share on other sites

How much visits impacted - as in, how I felt on each campus. And also, how much I'm not part of the decision making process - it's not about me. That was definitely an eyeopener as I was rejected from 3 programs!

 

I did, however, know that I would end up choosing based on my heart. Luckily my heart happens to be in the heart (no pun intended) of my field.

Link to post
Share on other sites



×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

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