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Admitted afraid of crashing/reapply?


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So I have to make a very tough decision and I’d like to know what people here think. I apologize for the very long post ion advance

  • I am an international student (European)
  • I have a BS and an MS in Forestry Engineering (VERY strong degree in the hard sciences, 192 credits)
  • I am in my mid-thirties and completed my studies long ago so I don’t really remember all that much.
  • I have some professional experience as a forestry  engineer but never really  been in a leadership position so I don’t feel all that prepared in the technical sense (poor job market). I also have experience (3 years) as an instructor for forestry workers.

I applied to 4 schools and got admitted to 3 (the one left hasn’t released their results yet). I’ve been set on one program from the get go in school X. The program is a Phd in Civil Engineering with an emphasis on Water Resources.

I actually declined another offer (now  REALLY regretting it) because I got admitted to X and basically were told I had 99% chances of getting fully funded. One week before April 15th they tell me because of my low GPA I’ll be on probation the first semester but that I’m offered a combination of TA/RA position. The official letter states the offer for the first year and my POI told me via email that my funding schedule would be TA/RA the first two years and RA  from then on. Also I would have to TA a junior class in Hydraulics that very first semester.

Being on probation means I have to cover all tuition, fees and health insurance that first semester. (It’s a State school, not ridiculously crazy expensive but still a huge amount for us). If I remain in good standing (3.0 GPA) the probation will be lifted the second semester and I’ll get a tuition waiver. I have to take 9 credit hours each semester.


At this point I’m reconsidering the whole thing and thinking of not taking the offer and reapply to other schools next year and this is my reasoning:

I am afraid to not succeed that very first semester considering that :

  1. Although I do come from an engineering background is not strictly my major so that would be challenging (plus the fact that I haven’t been in school in a while)
  2. I am TERRIFIED about the TA thing since I remember NOTHING about the Hydraulics I took ages ago (and got something like a mere C)
  3. For what I read 9 credits per semester is no joke.
  4. Being a non-native speaker and new to the American university system adds a little bit of a toll.
  5. They never guaranteed the funding for the remaining 3 years. All I have is one email from the POI (but maybe this is more common that we’d like?)


I’d hate to spend a considerable amount of money (around 15k) just to not succeed, as a second semester of tuition is completely out of the question.  In addition it would annihilate any chance to get into grad school in the future.


The fact that I don’t REALLY know what to expect as I haven’t experienced the university system in the US doesn’t help either and I’m not sure this is a huge case of impostor syndrome or a reasonable and valid hesitation.


Lastly, if it helps with your comments:

Students don’t seem all that excited about the program and my advisor to be is apparently just ‘meh’. I do LOVE the research project though.

I could use the extra year to brush up on the things I’ll be needing no matter what (statistics, GIS, etc ) so I feel somewhat more prepared.  PLUS,  due to a stupid/crazy story my GPA will be actually higher (my school kindda  messed up this year).

My 3rd school (U of Washington!!) couldn’t offer any funding. My POI says he’s still looking but I’m not really counting on it. 4th school I have no clue what’s going on (even though I have asked)


Thanks for putting up with his long post and I’m looking forward to hearing your 2 cents.

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Not international or engineering, so don't know how valid my thoughts are, but...


1) I was a physics undergrad, took five years off, and then went to school for science education but had to take some physics classes.  In my experience, calculus is NOT like riding a bicycle.  There was a lot of math I had forgotten, and even when I re-learned, it, I was "out of shape" computationally and things took me forever.  People were very helpful and I survived with a B, but if I had had to deal with all the other grad school transitions you are dealing with, and TAing, I don' think I could have done it.


2) I wouldn't worry so much about knowing the material for TAing.  It seems a lot of people have to re-learn material (or, in some cases, learn it for the first time) in order to TA, and that is acceptable.  In many science programs, it is common for students to TA the first one or two years before becoming an RA.


3 &4) Yes, 9 credits can still feel like a full load.  Moving and new jobs are always stressful, moving to another country adds a layer, and foreign language adds another letter.  (It sounds like your English is fluent, but having to do everything in a foreign language can be exhausting!)  That being said, most schools do have support systems in place for international students.


5) I don't know how common it is to not guarantee funding, but I don't like the idea of having to pay for everything and hope for the best, especially since moving here is such a big investment by itself.  I think I would go with the less exciting offer that provided funding, if that is possible.  Or, like you say, wait a year and work on skills you know you'll need.


Maybe you could email the school you turned down and ask to be put on their wait list?  You can explain that you were trying to give them the best information you had in a timely manner, but you didn't have all the information yourself at the time, and new information makes their offer more appealing.


Good luck!

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Thank SO much for your input, I really appreciate it!!!

As you can imagine I am still really torn. Saying no and starting all over again feels completely sickening.


1) I'm glad someone understands the real challenge and doesn't just go with the usual 'oh , you'll be fine'.


2) Agreed. Many people do it,  so maybe i'm just self doubting too much.


3&4) Again, I fully agree but once again, hundreds of international students pull through every year...terminal case of self doubt?


5) This and the TA thing are the 2 biggest factors. I hate the idea of risking the money without any assurance. I understand this may be the case in a LOT of cases but ... I am just not feeling the love. I mean... if they think my GPA is low enough to put me on probation (hence, all not that brilliant according to them), it doesn't make sense that they would make me TA such a hard class, not related to my major and with such a courseload.... I mean, I would barely have 4 months (end of August till Xmas) to prove my potential and that doesn't provide too much wiggle room.



I believe the offer I already rejected is out of the question by now. I feel I burnt some bridges there. By the tone of my previous conversations and the tone of the email after I declined tell me my POI was definitely NOT happy. But thanks for the idea anyway!... that goes to show that sometimes is good to keep in mind the saying '“A bird in hand is worth two in the bush”


However, and as much as I hate it,  I think I'm going to decline the offer, at least for now. I'm gonna ask if I could defer and maybe they will reassess me once I get my new GPA. That would eliminate the $$$ factor and give me some time to prepare better.


But as we all know, I may apply to tons of places next year and not get anywhere or without any funding (there goes the bird again...)


Seriously, toughest decision ever. :( :( :(

PS. Thanks for praising my English! :rolleyes:

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