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Joining a Ph.D. program w/o funding

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Guys, I am in need of a serious suggestion. Please help.

I am graduating this May. Have applied for grad school, 10 of 'em. I already got rejected by 6. I got accepted at Drexel University but w/o funding. I have emailed several professors asking for RA availability in their lab for accepted student but have not had any luck getting response. I am still waiting on 2 good program and I mediocre program. With all the rejection I got, I am not very optimistic anymore; aint really excited abt undergrad graduation next month either.

My GRE was Q800, V370, W3.5; Institutional cGPA 3.95; Overal undergraduate cGPA 3.57

I had 2 good recommendation letter and the third one was average i guess.

So, my question to you all is - Is it good idea to join Drexel w/o funding for now and hunt for RA when I get there in first quarter? I talked to one of the current Ph.D student and he said thats one of the options but the grad secretary said very rare cases are there when a student joins Ph.D. program w/o funding expecting to get funded in the first quarter.

Drexel is in Philadelphia, PA. Its an expensive city and their tuition is abt $1000/credit hr. So, it will be sort of gambling for me. But, if funded it is one the universities that i would love to go to.

Please provide your views regarding it. all your suggestions are highly welcome and appreciated.

- Case

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Drexel is in Philadelphia, PA. Its an expensive city

I don't know anything about the funding situation at Drexel, but I just wanted to say that Philadelphia is probably one of the cheapest cities in America. Obviously you will pay less if you live somewhere very rural, but rent in Philly is very cheap, food is cheap, gas is reasonably cheap, etc. It's cheaper than NYC, Boston, Washington DC, Chicago, just about every single place in California, and lots of other comparably sized cities.

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The general rule of thumb is to never attend a PhD program without funding! It's a polite form of rejection (they didn't really want you). The opportunity costs are so great that it will be very difficult to repay that kind of debt.

Wait to hear back from the other programs. If you don't get accepted at all, try again another year. You might be able to add more relevant experience. I graduated from college two years ago, and I would say I'm a much stronger candidate now than when I was a college senior (I am attending graduate school in the fall!). Many people take time off to work and improve their resumes/CVs.

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your verbal score on GRE is awful and, judging by the writing in your post, your english skills don't appear terribly polished. are you an international student? at any rate, the combined score falls below 1200 and that may be holding you back. ordinarily i wouldn't recommend retaking the GRE, but in your case, i might. and i might also try some tutoring at your current program's writing center to get those english and writing skills on track. while you appear to be headed towards the sciences, those skills are still essential, and regardless of your GPA and other credentials, a PhD program will expect you to have them.

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I have also been admitted for PhD program in Drexel in electrical engineering. I have 1500 in GRE and 15 months teaching experience....still no news on funding.......

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your verbal score on GRE is awful and, judging by the writing in your post, your english skills don't appear terribly polished. are you an international student? at any rate, the combined score falls below 1200 and that may be holding you back. ordinarily i wouldn't recommend retaking the GRE, but in your case, i might. and i might also try some tutoring at your current program's writing center to get those english and writing skills on track. while you appear to be headed towards the sciences, those skills are still essential, and regardless of your GPA and other credentials, a PhD program will expect you to have them.

For someone pursuing an English PhD, that could have been said more tactfully, and also with proper capitalization! Also, what was the purpose of inquiring whether or not s/he was an international student?

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For someone pursuing an English PhD, that could have been said more tactfully, and also with proper capitalization! Also, what was the purpose of inquiring whether or not s/he was an international student?

sorry if i offended you. lack of capitalization is an expediency, lack of subject-verb agreement and missing plurals is a sign of someone with weak grammar skills. there's a difference.

i asked if the OP was international because those students often have a very difficult time with the verbal section of the GRE -- obviously this is not meant as a statement on the person's intelligence. if such is the case, an entirely different tutorial track might be necessary and the expectations on the part of the reviewing committee might differ as well.

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I think your verbal score killed your chance to get into a lot of programs. I, honestly, think you shouldn't attend Drexel w/o funding, but reapply for next year. If you are international, I understand it's hard for you with the verbal section (I'm international student too). However, you can spend this entire summer to prepare for it. 500 ish is not impossible; and since you are doing engineering, 500 in verbal will be more than enough for you to get into a decent program with funding. Good luck tho!

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Thanks for all the suggestions guys. I am an international student; will have a US B.S. degree next month.

I thought I could get about 450-500 in GRE verbal but it went terrible. Honestly, I am not offended by the question asking if I am an international student.

New situation from my side is as follows:

I have an option to continue in my current school where I will be funded $18,000/year if I join Ph.D program. But the reputation of the school is not that good. If rejected by remaining schools (TAMU, CWRU, UTK), I am thinking abt joining my current school (Ph.D. program) and may be I can produce couple of papers in first 2 years and apply to better programs. I will have to leave my current school with M.S. and I will officially be Ph.D. drop out. Will there be any problems in joining other programs when one is Ph.D. drop out? I cant just join M.S. program because I wont be funded for that and I cant continue w/o funding. Please share your opinions or experience or whatever story regarding it.

In the mean time I plant to retake GRE and build a better application. Might be a silly question but how the heck do I improve in verbal section in GRE? I memorized about 1500 words (seem to forget most already). Its just that the time limit of 30 mins in verbal section seems to be really short for me. How did u all prepare for GRE? Especially other international students' experience might become really helpful to me.

I sincerely look forward to hearing from you all and I appreciate all the help.

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For the GRE, I just kept retaking the GRE powerPrep exam everyweek. Practice is the key, I figured that learning 2000 ish words doesnt really help when you take the exam. You need to practice as much as you can, tt's the key.

Peace

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English is not my first language. I had to retake the GRE to get a reasonable score. The best way I found is to memorize GRE vocabs and their use in a sentence. I got the Kaplan GRE in a box flashcards and memorized them (500 words). You will have to review them the day before the exam but they should be able to stay in your short term memory until you finish the test. If you memorize them I think you will be able to improve your score by at least 100 points.

I think your problem however is not with the verbal, it is with the writing section. For PhD students the analytical writing section is the best indicator of your writing skills. Unless you can prove your writing skills in some other way, the minimum GRE score should be 4-4.5 for a PhD applicant.

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Thanks for all the suggestions guys. I am an international student; will have a US B.S. degree next month.

I thought I could get about 450-500 in GRE verbal but it went terrible. Honestly, I am not offended by the question asking if I am an international student.

New situation from my side is as follows:

I have an option to continue in my current school where I will be funded $18,000/year if I join Ph.D program. But the reputation of the school is not that good. If rejected by remaining schools (TAMU, CWRU, UTK), I am thinking abt joining my current school (Ph.D. program) and may be I can produce couple of papers in first 2 years and apply to better programs. I will have to leave my current school with M.S. and I will officially be Ph.D. drop out. Will there be any problems in joining other programs when one is Ph.D. drop out? I cant just join M.S. program because I wont be funded for that and I cant continue w/o funding. Please share your opinions or experience or whatever story regarding it.

In the mean time I plant to retake GRE and build a better application. Might be a silly question but how the heck do I improve in verbal section in GRE? I memorized about 1500 words (seem to forget most already). Its just that the time limit of 30 mins in verbal section seems to be really short for me. How did u all prepare for GRE? Especially other international students' experience might become really helpful to me.

I sincerely look forward to hearing from you all and I appreciate all the help.

It's generally frowned upon to leave a PhD program unless you have an understanding with the department that this is your intention. And if you enroll at your undergrad institution and you plan to reapply to schools while doing the PhD at your undergrad, who is going write your recommendations?

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It's generally frowned upon to leave a PhD program unless you have an understanding with the department that this is your intention. And if you enroll at your undergrad institution and you plan to reapply to schools while doing the PhD at your undergrad, who is going write your recommendations?

I agree with Stories. Although I've heard of this kind of thing happening, it's like an academic faux pas. If you are upfront with your department about it then maybe it might be alright. But my advice would be not to intentionally jump ship.

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It's generally frowned upon to leave a PhD program unless you have an understanding with the department that this is your intention. And if you enroll at your undergrad institution and you plan to reapply to schools while doing the PhD at your undergrad, who is going write your recommendations?

I totally agree with Stories. Getting recommendation letters would definitely be tricky if you aren't planning on telling anyone that you are leaving. The other issue is the academic faux pas factor as Jackrabite has said. The only situation that I can think of like this where it would be ok is the following: You apply to master's program. School admits you to PhD program with funding because their standard policy is not to fund master's students. When I asked them, they said that it would be ok for me to leave with a master's because that's what I had applied for and wanted to pursue. They explained that the PhD admission was for funding and that they did it because they wanted to fund me. See the difference between that situation and what you're describing, case?

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sorry mates I was frustated regarding the admission and was away from the forum for some time. And no, Drexel is continuing to behave the same way. I have UTK decisions pending only. South Carolina accepted admission but fund is upto professors and also SC's faculty behaved hysterical. Now I am looking for chances that I accept Drexel then wait for the I-20 whether any wonder is there. Someone in Drexel-CS Deptt said that the worst case is, u go there w/o fund and pay money for 1 sem then manage TA. What about this?

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I think your problem however is not with the verbal, it is with the writing section. For PhD students the analytical writing section is the best indicator of your writing skills. Unless you can prove your writing skills in some other way, the minimum GRE score should be 4-4.5 for a PhD applicant.

That's not true. I had 3.5 as well and I have been accepted to several top15 programs (including one in top5, with funding)

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