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Made my decision! This is so UNREAL. 

 

Thank you to all of you posting on this forum. It's been a long struggle full of doubt and awkwardness and lurking here has really been helpful for advice and also just to know that we're all going through this together. And best of luck to those of you still waiting!!!! 

 

Now to turn down my other offers... any tips on how to do this gracefully? 

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eteshoe, at least turn down SOME of those acceptances.  It's not polite to hold onto so many when others might want in.

YES!! Got my first official offer today! Happens to be from the same school that rejected me two years ago.   

I didn't get in the second year in a row.

 

Fuck American science.  I'm going to Europe.

 

EDIT:  Am I just getting downvotes because you lot think I got rejected for being an idiot?  Here's my stats:

 

I have a 3.69 GPA with honors, 167V/163Q/4.0A GREs, a second-author pub, about three semesters' worth of research experience including at two prominent research stations, two and a half years spent at community college, one first abortive try at college when I was younger before the second time went through, and I'm not sure anymore what my letter writers think of me. I may not have taken enough credits each semester as I was going through undergrad.

My interests are a little niche, probably (evolutionary developmental biology with a focus on neuroscience). Evo-devo bio has only just now set up a professional society in the United States. I don't THINK I'm socially awkward, and everybody I've asked has said I have no problems, but I'm beginning to be doubtful.

I'm twenty pounds overweight, if that makes much of a difference, which according to peer-reviewed research it might. I'm just a little introverted. Not shy. Just more easily exhaustible than average when it comes to social shit.

I got three interviews each year, so the adcom clearly knew all this going in and invited me and then fucked me over.

My undergrad school was somewhere in, like, the top 250. Third-tier shit. Public institution. Yes, this matters: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/03/education/edlife/why-you-cant-catch-up.html?_r=0

Edited by acetylcholine
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Made my decision! This is so UNREAL. 

 

Now to turn down my other offers... any tips on how to do this gracefully? 

 

1. Congrats!

2. As others have advised in various forums, keep it short and sweet. Here is my minimum form letter:

Dear [so-and-so],

I am writing in response to my offer of admission to the [blah department / program] at [blah university]. I appreciate the committee’s interest in me, but I regret to inform you that I will not be accepting the offer of admission. I have found a better personal fit at another university. My thanks go out to the committee, my interviewers, and the current grad students for their time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[elkheart]

 

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1. Congrats!

2. As others have advised in various forums, keep it short and sweet. Here is my minimum form letter:

Dear [so-and-so],

I am writing in response to my offer of admission to the [blah department / program] at [blah university]. I appreciate the committee’s interest in me, but I regret to inform you that I will not be accepting the offer of admission. I have found a better personal fit at another university. My thanks go out to the committee, my interviewers, and the current grad students for their time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[elkheart]

 

 

Ooh this is helpful. Thanks! 

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1. Congrats!

2. As others have advised in various forums, keep it short and sweet. Here is my minimum form letter:

Dear [so-and-so],

I am writing in response to my offer of admission to the [blah department / program] at [blah university]. I appreciate the committee’s interest in me, but I regret to inform you that I will not be accepting the offer of admission. I have found a better personal fit at another university. My thanks go out to the committee, my interviewers, and the current grad students for their time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[elkheart]

Mine was similar

(Person with whom I corresponded and arranged visit with),

Thank you again for all your help in arranging for my visitation. I wanted to let you know that I decided to accept an offer at another institution and would like to decline my offer from (school though it's obvious from my sig which one) with gratitude.

Thanks again,

Me

Edited by BiochemMom
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I didn't get in the second year in a row.

 

Fuck American science.  I'm going to Europe.

 

EDIT:  Am I just getting downvotes because you lot think I got rejected for being an idiot?  Here's my stats:

 

I have a 3.69 GPA with honors, 167V/163Q/4.0A GREs, a second-author pub, about three semesters' worth of research experience including at two prominent research stations, two and a half years spent at community college, one first abortive try at college when I was younger before the second time went through, and I'm not sure anymore what my letter writers think of me. I may not have taken enough credits each semester as I was going through undergrad.

My interests are a little niche, probably (evolutionary developmental biology with a focus on neuroscience). Evo-devo bio has only just now set up a professional society in the United States. I don't THINK I'm socially awkward, and everybody I've asked has said I have no problems, but I'm beginning to be doubtful.

I'm twenty pounds overweight, if that makes much of a difference, which according to peer-reviewed research it might. I'm just a little introverted. Not shy. Just more easily exhaustible than average when it comes to social shit.

I got three interviews each year, so the adcom clearly knew all this going in and invited me and then fucked me over.

My undergrad school was somewhere in, like, the top 250. Third-tier shit. Public institution. Yes, this matters: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/03/education/edlife/why-you-cant-catch-up.html?_r=0

Honestly, I don't think it has anything to do with your stats, school, etc. 3 semesters of research experience is pretty short, especially if that was not a full time job. Most people I met at my interviews had at least a two years. If you applied the first time around with even less research experience, I can see why you didn't get in. Sorry for your troubles though, I'm sure it is very frustrating 

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Made my decision! This is so UNREAL. 

 

Thank you to all of you posting on this forum. It's been a long struggle full of doubt and awkwardness and lurking here has really been helpful for advice and also just to know that we're all going through this together. And best of luck to those of you still waiting!!!! 

 

Now to turn down my other offers... any tips on how to do this gracefully? 

Congrats! 

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I didn't get in the second year in a row.

 

Fuck American science.  I'm going to Europe.

 

EDIT:  Am I just getting downvotes because you lot think I got rejected for being an idiot?  Here's my stats:

 

I have a 3.69 GPA with honors, 167V/163Q/4.0A GREs, a second-author pub, about three semesters' worth of research experience including at two prominent research stations, two and a half years spent at community college, one first abortive try at college when I was younger before the second time went through, and I'm not sure anymore what my letter writers think of me. I may not have taken enough credits each semester as I was going through undergrad.

My interests are a little niche, probably (evolutionary developmental biology with a focus on neuroscience). Evo-devo bio has only just now set up a professional society in the United States. I don't THINK I'm socially awkward, and everybody I've asked has said I have no problems, but I'm beginning to be doubtful.

I'm twenty pounds overweight, if that makes much of a difference, which according to peer-reviewed research it might. I'm just a little introverted. Not shy. Just more easily exhaustible than average when it comes to social shit.

I got three interviews each year, so the adcom clearly knew all this going in and invited me and then fucked me over.

My undergrad school was somewhere in, like, the top 250. Third-tier shit. Public institution. Yes, this matters: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/03/education/edlife/why-you-cant-catch-up.html?_r=0

I know you're frustrated, but this is a tantrum. On paper, you're honestly a good candidate. On paper, you're actually a stronger candidate than I was. (3.5 GPA, BA from an open enrollment regional state university, 161V/161Q/3.5AW, 1 semester senior research project, 1 year as a formulation chemist, applied for 5 programs, got 2 interviews, 1 acceptance) Getting 6 interviews should be enough so that even by dumb luck you'll get an admit. Graduate programs aren't going to the expense to bringing you there to jerk you around. To put it bluntly, you fucked up. The simplest explanation is that during the interview process you said or did something that raised alarms. One post-interview rejection is bad luck, 6 is a pattern.

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Getting 6 interviews should be enough so that even by dumb luck you'll get an admit. Graduate programs aren't going to the expense to bringing you there to jerk you around. To put it bluntly, you fucked up. The simplest explanation is that during the interview process you said or did something that raised alarms. One post-interview rejection is bad luck, 6 is a pattern.

 

And from literally EVERYBODY I asked, faculty who were and were not on the adcoms, I couldn't extract an answer from them as to what, and I have no idea what it could have possibly been.  If that was the problem, nobody's being honest with me.  I certainly wasn't the yob at my Florida interview who got so drunk that he wandered into the woods outside town, passed out, and got mugged the next morning.  (Yes, that happened to some guy at the interview.  Very weird to hear about.)

 

I have gone around asking virtually everybody I know who knows me well enough that it wouldn't be awkward if I do in fact have a problem with how I come off, and I get a 'no, you're fine, why are you so concerned?' answer.  Consistently.

 

I would be perfectly happy if someone gave me a blunt answer that maybe made me sad a bit but that I could act on rather than telling me a lie.  And I don't know if the people I'm talking to about this are being honest with me anymore.

Edited by acetylcholine
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And from literally EVERYBODY I asked, faculty who were and were not on the adcoms, I couldn't extract an answer from them as to what, and I have no idea what it could have possibly been. If that was the problem, nobody's being honest with me. I certainly wasn't the yob at my Florida interview who got so drunk that he wandered into the woods outside town, passed out, and got mugged the next morning. (Yes, that happened to some guy at the interview. Very weird to hear about.)

I have gone around asking virtually everybody I know who knows me well enough that it wouldn't be awkward if I do in fact have a problem with how I come off, and I get a 'no, you're fine, why are you so concerned?' answer. Consistently.

I would be perfectly happy if someone gave me a blunt answer that maybe made me sad a bit but that I could act on rather than telling me a lie. And I don't know if the people I'm talking to about this are being honest with me anymore.

You said you were an introvert. It's possible your personality is preventing you from conveying your passion for research. Sheer passion and drive go a lot further than stats. I would recommend scheduling a mock interview (a lot of universities have career centers that offer this service free for students and alumni) and getting feedback that way.

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And from literally EVERYBODY I asked, faculty who were and were not on the adcoms, I couldn't extract an answer from them as to what, and I have no idea what it could have possibly been.  If that was the problem, nobody's being honest with me.  I certainly wasn't the yob at my Florida interview who got so drunk that he wandered into the woods outside town, passed out, and got mugged the next morning.  (Yes, that happened to some guy at the interview.  Very weird to hear about.)

 

I have gone around asking virtually everybody I know who knows me well enough that it wouldn't be awkward if I do in fact have a problem with how I come off, and I get a 'no, you're fine, why are you so concerned?' answer.  Consistently.

 

I would be perfectly happy if someone gave me a blunt answer that maybe made me sad a bit but that I could act on rather than telling me a lie.  And I don't know if the people I'm talking to about this are being honest with me anymore.

 

3 semesters is definitely not a lot. If it wasn't full time, especially if you're already 26, that's definitely a red flag. Even if it was full time work, that's still very odd and won't be very competitive against the 21-22 year olds who have 1-3+ years experience. You're also competing against 26 year old technicians and master's students who have significantly more experience. You need to prove to them that you can work full-time on research, for say 1-2 years minimum AND get publications. Doesn't need to be 1st author, but get your name on pubs. Help out with other people's projects in the lab. This should be relatively easily if you work 2 years full-time in any average lab. The harder you work, the better. You should be working your ass off anyways.

 

To put it in perspective, I was a very competitive applicant with a decent GPA (3.5 w/o 1st semester), but about 5 years of combined research experience (2 years in 2 labs simultaneously). I'm age 22. I worked my ass off way more than full time while taking classes and it undoubtedly showed in my letters of rec, publications, etc... For someone who is 26, they are expecting a lot more research experience barring extenuating circumstances. Since I don't know what those are in your case, I can't guess how that would affect your chances. I have circumstances that affected my school performance, so it's certainly possible to overcome those with a strong research/work performance.

 

I did come from the university of michigan as well, which will definitely make a difference when comparing someone's grades from that school to some from a rank 250 school. I don't know exactly what a rank 250 school is like, but Umich is about rank 20 and I've taken classes at a community college (unranked). The difference in course difficulty was phenomenal. What you learn in Calc I at a community college is not equivalent to what you learn at Umich.

 

My advice, if you still want to pursue research, would be to directly email any professors at any institution that are doing research that interests you. Ask them if they have need of a tech and if you could tech in their lab for 1-2 years. You should get paid for this work. Include your CV and tell them that you can have your recommenders send them letters of rec on your behalf if they are interested in considering you for the job. You will probably have to apply widely and won't hear from most or get rejected outright. Alternatively, you could pursue a MS if you have the money.

 

I can only imagine your frustration. Whatever you do, get in a lab or keep working in the one you are in. If you don't do that, I can't see your situation improving, even in Europe.

 

Best of luck with everything. If this is something you really love, keep at it. 

Edited by mikef522
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3 semesters is definitely not a lot. If it wasn't full time, especially if you're already 26, that's definitely a red flag. Even if it was full time work, that's still very odd and won't be very competitive against the 21-22 year olds who have 1-3+ years experience. You're also competing against 26 year old technicians and master's students who have significantly more experience. You need to prove to them that you can work full-time on research, for say 1-2 years minimum AND get publications. Doesn't need to be 1st author, but get your name on pubs. Help out with other people's projects in the lab. This should be relatively easily if you work 2 years full-time in any average lab. The harder you work, the better. You should be working your ass off anyways.

 

To put it in perspective, I was a very competitive applicant with a decent GPA (3.5 w/o 1st semester), but about 5 years of combined research experience (2 years in 2 labs simultaneously). I'm age 22. I worked my ass off way more than full time while taking classes and it undoubtedly showed in my letters of rec, publications, etc... For someone who is 26, they are expecting a lot more research experience barring extenuating circumstances. Since I don't know what those are in your case, I can't guess how that would affect your chances. I have circumstances that affected my school performance, so it's certainly possible to overcome those with a strong research/work performance.

 

I did come from the university of michigan as well, which will definitely make a difference when comparing someone's grades from that school to some from a rank 250 school. I don't know exactly what a rank 250 school is like, but Umich is about rank 20 and I've taken classes at a community college (unranked). The difference in course difficulty was phenomenal. What you learn in Calc I at a community college is not equivalent to what you learn at Umich.

 

My advice, if you still want to pursue research, would be to directly email any professors at any institution that are doing research that interests you. Ask them if they have need of a tech and if you could tech in their lab for 1-2 years. You should get paid for this work. Include your CV and tell them that you can have your recommenders send them letters of rec on your behalf if they are interested in considering you for the job. You will probably have to apply widely and won't hear from most or get rejected outright. Alternatively, you could pursue a MS if you have the money.

 

I can only imagine your frustration. Whatever you do, get in a lab or keep working in the one you are in. If you don't do that, I can't see your situation improving, even in Europe.

 

Best of luck with everything. If this is something you really love, keep at it. 

 

Here's what baffles me:  If this was a problem, they would have tossed my CV out the window without even inviting me for an interview.  Yet three places did.  I'm confused.

 

Regarding why I finished at 26 after an abortive first try, those years off were spent earning money at shit jobs to pay for college again.  Perhaps I should have explained this on my app.  We're not all privileged.

 

Regarding research, I was under the very mistaken impression until about sophomore year of college, and I'm STILL very angry at the person who misinformed me about this, that you couldn't DO research as anything earlier than a junior in college, and I still don't quite understand how anyone without an upper-level class or two under their belt gets into a lab.  In theory, freshmen and sophomores don't even have any real lab skills yet.

 

I don't think I actually learned any useful lab skills until I started taking a graduate-level molecular methods class, actually, despite the fact that I compared lab syllabi from my undergrad institution and other more highly-ranked, household-name ones and they were pretty much identical.

Edited by acetylcholine
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Like Vene said, there must have been some red flags during your interviews. You're shy, but not socially awkward enough to warrant a rejection. That's good. Those professors meet with a lot of people, and if they're not on the adcom, they're probably more concerned with recruitment than with trying to pick apart your application. If you want an answer, you need to speak to someone who has been looking at your profile and your character critically, i.e. someone on the admissions committee.

 

Let's just assume you're reasonably likeable and that you communicate your science well such that you are not being rejected for issues with your resume or personality. The only thing I can imagine that would earn you these rejections is your niche research interest. If it's so specific that there are only a couple faculty that have the expertise to advise you, that might be the problem. In fact, if that's clearly your passion and it's not something you'll be able to work on at the schools you're interviewing with, you will get rejected as a bad fit for the program. Having a narrow or extremely well-defined research interest is a red flag to a lot of professors from what I've been told during my interviews.

 

It's also possible that you make a poor first impression. People who know you well probably think you're fantastic. People you meet for a first time might think something else. My impression is that you're judgmental, entitled and self-centered. Obviously, your friends know you well enough to see beyond that and this probably isn't who you really are with people you like. However, this is the sense I get having read several of your posts. This is my honest feedback that you asked for, albeit with a very limited sample size, so take it with a grain of salt. I hope you can read through your past posts and figure out why I think this (hint: look at how frequently you make yourself out as a victim and how much you shit on other people).

 

My suggestion is that you apply to programs that don't do interviews. Your profile is strong enough to get you in somewhere and your recs were clearly good if they got you six interviews.

 

Edit: For the record, starting research in your junior year is not late. I didn't start until after my sophomore year. Your academic record looks OK for middle of the pack schools; you got interviews so you passed the "written" portion of the application process.

Edited by velli
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You said you were an introvert. It's possible your personality is preventing you from conveying your passion for research. Sheer passion and drive go a lot further than stats. I would recommend scheduling a mock interview (a lot of universities have career centers that offer this service free for students and alumni) and getting feedback that way.

 Maybe.  I have difficulties with being terribly effusive.  It seems like there's a fine line between 'this person's communicating sheer passion and drive' and 'this person is a wacko'.

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Like Vene said, there must have been some red flags during your interviews. You're shy, but not socially awkward enough to warrant a rejection. That's good. Those professors meet with a lot of people, and if they're not on the adcom, they're probably more concerned with recruitment than with trying to pick apart your application. If you want an answer, you need to speak to someone who has been looking at your profile and your character critically, i.e. someone on the admissions committee.

 

Let's just assume you're reasonably likeable and that you communicate your science well such that you are not being rejected for issues with your resume or personality. The only thing I can imagine that would earn you these rejections is your niche research interest. If it's so specific that there are only a couple faculty that have the expertise to advise you, that might be the problem. In fact, if that's clearly your passion and it's not something you'll be able to work on at the schools you're interviewing with, you will get rejected as a bad fit for the program. Having a narrow or extremely well-defined research interest is a red flag to a lot of professors from what I've been told during my interviews.

 

It's also possible that you make a poor first impression. People who know you well probably think you're fantastic. People you meet for a first time might think something else. My impression is that you're judgmental, entitled and self-centered. Obviously, your friends know you well enough to see beyond that and this probably isn't who you really are with people you like. However, this is the sense I get having read several of your posts. This is my honest feedback that you asked for, albeit with a very limited sample size, so take it with a grain of salt. I hope you can read through your past posts and figure out why I think this (hint: look at how frequently you make yourself out as a victim and how much you shit on other people).

 

My suggestion is that you apply to programs that don't do interviews. Your profile is strong enough to get you in somewhere and your recs were clearly good if they got you six interviews.

 I am fairly sure I'm not shy.  Somewhat introverted, yes, but not shy.  They're two different things.

 

I am moderately sure that my research interests are very near the top of the list of reasons as to why there might be a problem.

 

I probably come off the way I do because lately, the only reason I've been posting is because I'm upset and very confused about what's going on.  'Entitled' is one thing, but I don't feel entitled to a degree so much as completely unsure as to why I'm being dinged so badly and concerned that it's for really crappy reasons, and consequently, I am in fact fairly angry.

Edited by acetylcholine
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Here's what baffles me:  If this was a problem, they would have tossed my CV out the window without even inviting me for an interview.  Yet three places did.  I'm confused.

 

Regarding why I finished at 26 after an abortive first try, those years off were spent earning money at shit jobs to pay for college again.  Perhaps I should have explained this on my app.  We're not all privileged.

 

Regarding research, I was under the very mistaken impression until about sophomore year of college, and I'm STILL very angry at the person who misinformed me about this, that you couldn't DO research as anything earlier than a junior in college, and I still don't quite understand how anyone without an upper-level class or two under their belt gets into a lab.  In theory, freshmen and sophomores don't even have any real lab skills yet.

 

I don't think I actually learned any useful lab skills until I started taking a graduate-level molecular methods class, actually, despite the fact that I compared lab syllabi from my undergrad institution and other more highly-ranked, household-name ones and they were pretty much identical.

 

True. It may be that you weren't up to speed with the literature and that showed in the interviews? After describing my previous research in my interviews, I would say what I would do differently and brought up relevant current research. I also used the current research to explain what types of projects I was interested in. Basically, they could tell I had read a lot of articles. Also, talking about techniques in detail would show that you really understand that technique and show that you're knowledgeable.

 

Definitely talk about having to work the jobs. That's extremely relevant. 

 

The freshman definitely are not expected to have lab experience, and they usually don't. They usually have good grades. In my case, I failed my 1st semester and was put on academic probation for a year (basically, kicked out), so I had a 0 GPA. I got a job prepping intro bio labs my freshman year (just cleaning dishes, making media, etc... [not research]) after being denied for several research positions (that means restocking and doing dishes for 1-2 semesters if you're a freshman). Then I joined a student org where undergrads do a summer research project and got a lot of independent experience that way. Then I emailed dozens of PI's my sophomore year and finally got a research position midway through my sophomore year. I spent a semester proving myself doing genotyping and finally got an independent project the summer before junior year. I definitely didn't go the standard route and I think I learned a lot more than I would of if I had.

 

I don't think any class, even graduate classes, teach you any skills in sufficient detail. The upper level cell and molecular biology lab class at umich was a complete joke. I really think they should abolish them and just make theory based lab classes. The in depth knowledge of techniques and troubleshooting skills of those techniques is really only learned by doing that technique a lot in a real lab.

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 I am fairly sure I'm not shy.  Somewhat introverted, yes, but not shy.  They're two different things.

 

I am moderately sure that my research interests are very near the top of the list of reasons as to why there might be a problem.

 

I probably come off the way I do because lately, the only reason I've been posting is because I'm upset and very confused about what's going on.  'Entitled' is one thing, but I don't feel entitled to a degree so much as completely unsure as to why I'm being dinged so badly and concerned that it's for really crappy reasons, and consequently, I am in fact fairly angry.

 

Professors don't want to hear that you're 100% set on a sub-field of research. They need to know you can handle doing 2-3 rotations without hating the research you're doing. Your interests will change, so you might want to change "I will study X in graduate school" to "I understand my interests have room to grow, but right now I find X most interesting." Obviously, I don't know what you said, but if you think the problem is research fit, the task for the next cycle is emailing potential advisors before applying to make sure they think you're a good fit for the program and that they will be recruiting graduate students for their labs. You also applied to at least five programs that I think were "reach" schools, given your stats and research background. Maybe apply to more middle tier programs? Those programs you got interviews from are no joke -- if you don't care too much about prestige, quite a few programs out there would be willing to take you. A few things to consider next time around.

Edited by velli
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Professors don't want to hear that you're 100% set on a sub-field of research. They need to know you can handle doing 2-3 rotations without hating the research you're doing. Your interests will change, so you might want to change "I will study X in graduate school" to "I understand my interests have room to grow, but right now I find X most interesting." Obviously, I don't know what you said, but if you think the problem is research fit, the task for the next cycle is emailing potential advisors before applying to make sure they think you're a good fit for the program and that they will be recruiting graduate students for their labs. You also applied to at least five programs that I think were "reach" schools, given your stats and research background. Maybe apply to more middle tier programs? Those programs you got interviews from are no joke -- if you don't care too much about prestige, quite a few programs out there would be willing to take you. A few things to consider next time around.

 

To be honest, I don't know where I would find out how prestigious any of these programs are without making several annoying posts asking 'how prestigious is the University of X?'.  Where I got my information was from the National Research Council's most recent survey of graduate programs, and that was back in... 2012, I think.

Edited by acetylcholine
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Is anyone else still interviewing?

 

I have one interview left - I had to reschedule it due to weather issues, but I have to say that after 4 interview weekends and an accepted students weekend, I'm honestly exhausted. I'm excited to see another city/program and meet awesome faculty, though!

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To be honest, I don't know where I would find out how prestigious any of these programs are without making several annoying posts asking 'how prestigious is the University of X?'.  Where I got my information was from the National Research Council's most recent survey of graduate programs, and that was back in... 2012, I think.

You can start with the biological sciences rankings from us new and world report. It seems like you applied to only schools ranked in the top 50. When I started applying last fall I had absolutely no idea how I ranked among other students so I applied to a huge spread of schools (that i didn't list below, there were 16 total) just to be safe. The ranking of the schools I applied to ranged from the 70's to the top 20. Given your credentials and background the schools you got interviews at were probably reaches for you. I think you should find a school at the tier that you would be interested in, and try to work 2 yrs there as a research tech. That would significantly boost your chances at those schools if you would not be satisfied applying to schools outside of the top 50. 

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I didn't get in the second year in a row.

 

Fuck American science.  I'm going to Europe.

 

EDIT:  Am I just getting downvotes because you lot think I got rejected for being an idiot?  Here's my stats:

 

I have a 3.69 GPA with honors, 167V/163Q/4.0A GREs, a second-author pub, about three semesters' worth of research experience including at two prominent research stations, two and a half years spent at community college, one first abortive try at college when I was younger before the second time went through, and I'm not sure anymore what my letter writers think of me. I may not have taken enough credits each semester as I was going through undergrad.

My interests are a little niche, probably (evolutionary developmental biology with a focus on neuroscience). Evo-devo bio has only just now set up a professional society in the United States. I don't THINK I'm socially awkward, and everybody I've asked has said I have no problems, but I'm beginning to be doubtful.

I'm twenty pounds overweight, if that makes much of a difference, which according to peer-reviewed research it might. I'm just a little introverted. Not shy. Just more easily exhaustible than average when it comes to social shit.

I got three interviews each year, so the adcom clearly knew all this going in and invited me and then fucked me over.

My undergrad school was somewhere in, like, the top 250. Third-tier shit. Public institution. Yes, this matters: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/03/education/edlife/why-you-cant-catch-up.html?_r=0

 

how were your letters? I was told they are a major factor to some universities.

I have the same GPA and GRE as another user in this forum and they had acceptances to heaps of fancy schools, I would even say I have better experience than they do. 

 

I called the university I applied to, they said I am still an active applicant in the pool, and I will be notified when a decision has been made, but they haven't even asked me for an interview yet.  Should I just give up on it at this stage? I feel silly now expecting it to happen, but I still really want it.

 

Also would you think that my time difference could play a factor, as in perhaps they put me in the too hard basket? Has anyone else international had their skype interview at an awkward time? I get I'm not a first string choice, but they haven't rejected me yet so I dont quite understand it.

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acetylcholine, you have all around better stats than i did in your application, so something must be deeper. i dont think it has anything to do with weight or being introverted. in these interviews you really have to make a connection and be passionate about your research. so if you are introverted, you can still come across as loving science without being an over the top kind of person. when you say you are more easily exhaustible than average for social shit - that seems like a bad way to enter these interviews.  granted these interviews are SO tiring that even for me, a pretty social person, i felt brain dead afterward. these people are trying to see if they find a connection with a person to see if the program fits with their personality. so if someone comes across as not introverted and shy, but possibly standoffish (which can be confused with introvertedness) it might be a bad sign and they might go for someone that they really click with. when it comes down to it there must have been something at the interview stage. you're getting interviews so on paper you come across well, you just have to follow through with your interview! theyre not trying to fuck you over at all - theyre trying to see if you live up to the hype from your application and to see the person they read on paper. so if you can come across as passionate and make a special connection with the adcoms - you're golden. i think of it like speed dating. you have one chance to put yourself out there and make a special connection and in the end, hopefully you get the girl!

 

it might be scary but you should open up to these people and show that you're human, that you want to learn and grow as a person and that you're not set in stone. grad school is a process of growing- they dont want someone who thinks they know everything they want in life, etc.  i really think you have great interests and a good application, but maybe need to grow as a scientist. 3 semesters of research is very little and even after that it seems like you are dead set on what you want to do. i've been in research for 5 years and have changed my mind at least 4-5 times. be open minded, science is such a fluid area that you should be open to new things and new possibilities. 

 

also a lot of the people i interviewed with went to colleges that I had never heard of. probably in the top 250 in what you were saying. honestly this doesn't matter as much. yes, going to a top tier research institution will pull some weight, but in the end its how you present yourself in your application AND in your interview. how did you enter this round of interviews? were you still thinking about last year or more nervous?going through one cycle without any acceptances must be so hard. but hopefully you brushed that off and didn't let that affect you this time around? 

 

if you're in a very niche field consider looking at UChicago (i might be biased lol). Cliff Ragsdale does a lot of evolutionary development in squid and comparative development of the neocortex in birds/mice/turtles etc (if thats what youre into) but he does some cool stuff that might interest you. you can find plenty of evo-devo bio programs everywhere that have your niche interests. i know its still an up and coming field, but there are tons of labs that can cater to your interests. but also be flexible. if you're too set in stone with what you want to study they might not think you are a good fit.

 

good luck! i'm rooting for you!  :D

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I'll go ahead and say this process is a crapshoot as well, in regards to figuring out what went wrong with your application. I got into some good programs (by my standards at least) even though when I turned in my applications, I had less than a year of research behind my belt. Granted, I think I really utilized my time conducting research effectively, but that's besides the point.

 

There's a very close acquaintance of mine who has a stellar GPA, research experience, and GRE scores, and I must say I am confused on how he was rejected from most of the places he applied. He was accepted, but to less prominent programs.

 

This goes to show you how difficult it is to really determine who is the perfect candidate. As everyone has said: it's probably your interviews that are screwing you up. But it's really up to you if you're going to try again next application season. Best of luck, acetylcholine.

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