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Older applicant to European Phd programs


Johndg2

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Hello all,

     I'm just seeing if anyone has experience with applying to PhD programs in Europe.  I applied to 10 programs for Fall 2014 in the USA but I really don't think I'm going to get in anywhere given my C/V so I'm looking at options in Europe.  From what I've seen so for via websites, you do not take coursework and a lot of times can be directly admitted to a particular lab.  This would benefit me as I have a Master's and my research interests are more specific.  I have only contacted 2 professors so far, at the University of Dundee in Scotland, and I'm wondering if it would be a good strategy to contact professors before I formally apply to the announcement (usually they have announcements advertising open positions in labs).  I am very eager to begin PhD studies, and would prefer to do one in the USA, but I have an unusual background that I feel makes me poised to start doctorate studies, but doesn't look so "good" on paper.

     I have 11 years of research experience spanning 4 labs.  I have 2 publications and one pending in decent journals.  My GRE is V(510) Q(700) W (4).  My master's g.p.a is 3.2.  My undergraduate g.p.a is low, like a 2.4, and I have explained this in an informal letter I wrote that most programs I applied to this cycle has allowed me to give them.  Basically, I said that I was not motivated until I finished my undergrad and started doing research.  However, the biggest reason I think I don't have a shot this time around is that I was actually in a doctorate program for 2 years but had to quit because my advisor ran out of money and the department couldn't offer me a TA.  I had no other choice.  My research was going well.  What was I to do? Get a fulltime job AND be a student, that would have been insane.  My former doctorate advisor and master's advisor are supporting my application and I have strong letters from them.  Also not so good, I took four classes as a doc student and made 3 A's and 1 measly C.  I have also explained that C in the letter I wrote.  My SOP from programs was probably strong too.  I dunno, I'm sure that most applicants are actually qualified to do the programs, but it seems so competitive, that I think I'll be passed up for a younger applicant with less research experience with a better academic record (I'm 39).  I can see why an addcom would not accept me and this makes me depressed, especially knowing that I'm well capable.

     So you do you think? Do I have a better shot at getting into a lab in Europe by doing some networking?

Thanks for your advice!  

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Well because in a lot of situations, you can apply directly to the PI, and they will have an influence on admissions.  Instead of being up against 200 applicants, a PI may only have 10 applicants.  I really don't know, that's why I posted my question.  It seems like there are various ways of getting admitted depending on the university and the program.  I thought by networking with PIs, I could build a relationship and have a better chance. 

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Well because in a lot of situations, you can apply directly to the PI, and they will have an influence on admissions.  Instead of being up against 200 applicants, a PI may only have 10 applicants.  I really don't know, that's why I posted my question.  It seems like there are various ways of getting admitted depending on the university and the program.  I thought by networking with PIs, I could build a relationship and have a better chance. 

 

Plenty of programs in the US allow you to (and even recommend that you) develop a rapport with a PI.

 

Doing so helped me get into Berkeley because the PI lobbied on my behalf even when my grades were below average.

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Yes, I've made contact with POI at each program that I applied for, even had Skype conversations with 3, and went to visit one for two days at my expensive.  I'm doing all the things I should, but I'm still doubtful somehow. I'm glad you got into Berkley and that a PI helped you, it seems like that would be the way in for me too.  I've applied to 10 programs and only have been rejected from 1, but no interviews.  Granted most of the deadlines were Jan 15th or Feb 1st.  A lot of the programs I applied to are large, and it seems almost by chance that I would find a POI and have them help my app, although, like I said, I have made quite of few contacts.  It just seems like that if you build a rapport with a PI in Europe, they have better sway in admissions, they even advertise specific projects.  Thanks for the reply.

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Johndg2,

 

You should totally try to get into Europe by contacting PI.  I am trying to get a summer internship in Austria for research by contacting one of the assistant directors.  I'm hoping to hear by the end of Feb. so currently I am obsessing in finding funded master programs.

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knightrunner,

     Hey there, ya, I'm definitely considering it as an option.  It's funny that you mentioned Austria, I am looking at a really cool program with a focus on cancer at the CeMM Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.  You should take a look (it won't let me copy the link, just google it).  It seems like that they promote collaborations within the program, very international group, doing some cool basic biomedical research.  The program seems small, like only 10 professors as far as I can tell.  I emailed the coordinator with my resume and she encouraged me to apply. 

 

Can I ask what websites you are using to find PIs? I didn't know that European programs would fund master's program, that's really cool, go for it!

 

I got an invitation to see a program yesterday, been rejected from 1, and this looks like an acceptance, but I have 8 more programs to go. 

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Sorry, I worded that badly.  I am just applying for a research internship program this summer just to get more international research experience in the Vienna Biocenter.  I'm looking for fully funded programs in the US, but who knows they might offer something interesting.  I only know they offer PhD programs.

Edited by knightrunner
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