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I'm actually fairly familiar with applications in Psychology as well, and I can assure you that it's not all about stats. I actually can't think of a field that *is* all about stats.

 

But that was a quite condescending worded assumption, that I was only familiar with or talking about one field.

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Maybe unusual - but my main goals would be automation and transparency - making the selection more fair, speeding the process up, and saving uncompetitive applicants time & money.    Integrate s

That is easier to say when you have systematically benefited from the privileges of being of a certain gender or race. By which I mean that the literature is very clear that, for example, first genera

Check TheGradCafe to see how stressed out applicants are and see how long I can keep them guessing. Then, put pressure on them to decide in a week or less without visiting.

It wasn't condescending. I was simply stating what I (still) suspect to be the case. Stats appear to be very important in the admissions process for psychology, especially in the social and clinical sub-disciplines. I also allow that I know less about chemistry admissions than you would as a chemistry major and, likewise, think it is reasonable to assume the reverse.  

 

Many departments won't admit it and claim to take a "holistic" approach to their selections, but any fair reading of the published stats suggests otherwise. 

 

And it's also never *all* about stats. That's not at all what I'm saying. It is just very important, especially for the superficial weed-out that takes place when sorting through 500+ applications in the first round. Schools who admit to using this process, like UT-Austin and Iowa State, do a great service to students by providing this information. 

 

It may also be that those two schools care more about stats than most others. Unlikely, but possible. Either way, it is good of them to honestly and accurately describe their selection process.

Edited by TXInstrument11
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I was more assuming that after being in grad school for a while, I know more about the admissions process than you do applying.

 

Stats are used to weed people out, yes. But focusing on that is pretty useless. There are, in my experience no hard and fast minimums that the rest of your application can't overcome.

 

Schools weed out applicants, but it's rarely entirely based on stats.

 

Your assumption that schools that don't state they weed out applicants based on some numbers that they don't post seems quite unfounded, and I have yet to see you base it off of anything.

 

The selection process at most schools is the same- faculty roughly rank, and then pick out students who they think would be a good fit, and then the committee discusses those. It rarely goes the same year-to-year, and it's not a mechanical process that can be easily described, because what the school is looking for changes year-to-year, depending on their needs.

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Because of the color of your skin, you may or may not have had access to more resources and opportunities. However, because of the color of your skin, you are much less likely to be stopped by police. When you are stopped by police, you are much less likely to be arrested or ticketed, all because of the color of your skin. Because of the color of your skin, it is easier for you to find an apartment. Because of the color of your skin, it is easier for you to find a job. Because of the color of your skin, you were less likely to be singled out as a "troublemaker" in school. Despite the challenges you have almost certainly faced and overcome in your life through your own intelligence and force of will, you were more likely to succeed because of the color of your skin. That is our reality, and an admissions program should take reality into account when making its decisions.

I love how people have no qualms about using stats to generalize facts about white people, but when we do the same we are labeled as racists. You're taking statistics about a given race and using them to assume that all of us fall into those categories. Blanket statements are problematic because it pigeonholes people into certain stereotypes. So according to you I have an easier time getting a job? That's kind of ironic considering I live in a city where white people are the minority and about 75% of my coworkers are people of color. I have an easier time getting an apartment?My credit is less than stellar so I live with my friend who's Mexican (I'm not being racist, she really is Mexican) and had no problem getting a lease in her name. I'm less likely to be pulled over and given a ticket? Again, not true. I was pulled over in January of this year and given a ticket. I realize the possibility that I could be considered an anomaly, but I'm basing my opinions on my experiences. 

 

With all of that being said, I'm not naive. I'm not blind to the social injustices of the world. I know racism is alive and well. The point I'm trying to get across is that based on my experiences, I think that my accomplishments and merits should be looked at on an equal level with other applicants. I would not want to get a job based solely on the fact that I'm a woman when there are men with higher stats so I don't believe other groups should expect preferential treatment either. Schools and businesses that accept and hire people based on a predetermined quota are missing out on a large chunk of highly qualified applicants. Let's take race out of the equation for a second. Would you want to be rejected from a school because they need to include 5 Atheists even though you are more qualified than these people? People that don't fall under these categories will automatically be excluded and I'm sorry, but that's not right. You don't have to agree with me, but these are my own personal beliefs and opinions. 

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I was more assuming that after being in grad school for a while, I know more about the admissions process than you do applying.

 

The selection process at most schools is the same- faculty roughly rank, and then pick out students who they think would be a good fit, and then the committee discusses those. It rarely goes the same year-to-year, and it's not a mechanical process that can be easily described, because what the school is looking for changes year-to-year, depending on their needs.

I respectfully disagree. While I appreciate advice from current grad students and find it very valuable, the fact that you're a current grad student is not a guarantee that your views on the admissions process are actually accurate. For example, my supervising grad student applied only to my school due to geographical constraints. She openly admits that she can't speak for processes at other schools because she didn't even look at anywhere else besides my university and encouraged me to speak with other graduate students. She has helped our adcomm, so she knows our process pretty well, but that's it. 

 

What I'm citing as evidence is the same as what you are citing - anecdotes, experience. I have an extremely high GPA that's just shy of a 4.0 and my GRE scores are reasonably high, so I obviously don't think my stats are a concern. Instead, I think my problem is as you described - fit. I should have done a better job picking schools and writing my SOP differently. That said, websites for many competitive schools I looked at in researching were very clearly using stats to weed people out. If they didn't explicitly state it in their instructions, it was evident when they posted class averages for the preceding years.

 

Funding changes and the advisors that need/can get new students is variable, sure, but stats overall were unnervingly stable from year to year. There are so many students to choose from in psychology, so there is little incentive to make exceptions for a promising student when you can likely find another good fit with better stats. This isn't to say, however, that admissions in other disciplines produce less capable students - I suspect quite the opposite with weed-outs being as blunt and indiscriminate as they often are in psych.

 

A personal experience that has probably given me much angst is another undergrad RA in my lab. We aren't really friends, but I am unnerved about his rejection by all the schools he applied for. He is probably the best student in our lab, perhaps in the whole department, and is overall much more competent than me. Maybe he flubbed his SOP. Maybe. But I don't think it's a coincidence that his stats are below average for admitted students. This also appears to be the case for another RA in our lab. Her GPA is less-than-stellar, as are her GRE scores, I suspect. Even though she completed a competitive summer research program, has years of research experience under her belt, and is a McNair Scholar, she is having significant trouble with admissions. It is enough to make me feel guilty when I talk to them, and I mostly keep my acceptances to myself for this reason. 

Edited by TXInstrument11
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What I'm citing as evidence is the same as what you are citing - anecdotes, experience. I have an extremely high GPA that's just shy of a 4.0 and my GRE scores are reasonably high, so I obviously don't think my stats are a concern. Instead, I think my problem is as you described - fit. I should have done a better job picking schools and writing my SOP differently. That said, websites for many competitive schools I looked at in researching were very clearly using stats to weed people out. If they didn't explicitly state it in their instructions, it was evident when they posted class averages for the preceding years.

 

You're strongly conflating correlation and causation. The fact that average stats are high does not imply that they're weeding based on the stats. Rather, it implies that a number of the successful applicants had high stats.

 

This is the main reason I'm arguing that schools posting stats from their accepted students on the website can be bad for applying students- it makes them think they need those stats to get accepted, when the chances are it was the rest of their materials that got them accepted, and they also had high grades and scores.

 

You also say you don't mean to be condescending, but in your first paragraph, you assume that my experience as a current grad student isn't valid (accuratE) based off of a grad student you happen to know who didn't apply broadly and isn't familiar with other schools. As you say, she openly admits it.

 

I'm more comfortable speaking broadly than she is, likely due to a broader range of experience. On the flip side, I'd argue that you seem to be speaking quite broadly with no experience past having applied to schools.I don't really feel I need to convince you of my experience, however. You're the one that keeps calling my opinion into question based on assumptions about my background and experience.

 

Most people in academia have a very small "N". The average professor has been at 2-4 schools over their entire career. That said, you'd be amazed at how similar things are across disciplines and across schools within disciplines.

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I love how people have no qualms about using stats to generalize facts about white people, but when we do the same we are labeled as racists. You're taking statistics about a given race and using them to assume that all of us fall into those categories. Blanket statements are problematic because it pigeonholes people into certain stereotypes. So according to you I have an easier time getting a job? That's kind of ironic considering I live in a city where white people are the minority and about 75% of my coworkers are people of color. I have an easier time getting an apartment?My credit is less than stellar so I live with my friend who's Mexican (I'm not being racist, she really is Mexican) and had no problem getting a lease in her name. I'm less likely to be pulled over and given a ticket? Again, not true. I was pulled over in January of this year and given a ticket. I realize the possibility that I could be considered an anomaly, but I'm basing my opinions on my experiences. 

 

With all of that being said, I'm not naive. I'm not blind to the social injustices of the world. I know racism is alive and well. The point I'm trying to get across is that based on my experiences, I think that my accomplishments and merits should be looked at on an equal level with other applicants. I would not want to get a job based solely on the fact that I'm a woman when there are men with higher stats so I don't believe other groups should expect preferential treatment either. Schools and businesses that accept and hire people based on a predetermined quota are missing out on a large chunk of highly qualified applicants. Let's take race out of the equation for a second. Would you want to be rejected from a school because they need to include 5 Atheists even though you are more qualified than these people? People that don't fall under these categories will automatically be excluded and I'm sorry, but that's not right. You don't have to agree with me, but these are my own personal beliefs and opinions. 

...I think it's a bit offensive, assuming that the minority groups are expecting a preferential treatment. No one is expecting that. And your accomplishments will be looked at equal level. They won't expect more from you just because you are white, nor expect less from someone who isn't. 

 

I think you are taking this factor as something against you because you are white. But that's not true. The reason the ad comm look at race and gender is to maintain diversity in the fields. But I cannot imagine they would have quota as you describe. And different fields tend to have differently skewed demographics, so what they consider will differ. One example we can think about is Asian male applicants in STEM fields. They are minority in many other fields but not necessarily in STEM. Admissions committees in these fields may look at applicants who are white women, which will include you, and consider it as a factor. But again, I want to emphasize that if you are in STEM, you won't get accepted just because you are a white woman. You need to have strong application to compete the rest of the applicant pool in the first place, then they may or may not consider the fact that you are white woman.

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You're strongly conflating correlation and causation. The fact that average stats are high does not imply that they're weeding based on the stats. Rather, it implies that a number of the successful applicants had high stats.

 

This is the main reason I'm arguing that schools posting stats from their accepted students on the website can be bad for applying students- it makes them think they need those stats to get accepted, when the chances are it was the rest of their materials that got them accepted, and they also had high grades and scores.

 

You also say you don't mean to be condescending, but in your first paragraph, you assume that my experience as a current grad student isn't valid (accuratE) based off of a grad student you happen to know who didn't apply broadly and isn't familiar with other schools. As you say, she openly admits it.

 

I'm more comfortable speaking broadly than she is, likely due to a broader range of experience. On the flip side, I'd argue that you seem to be speaking quite broadly with no experience past having applied to schools.I don't really feel I need to convince you of my experience, however. You're the one that keeps calling my opinion into question based on assumptions about my background and experience.

 

Most people in academia have a very small "N". The average professor has been at 2-4 schools over their entire career. That said, you'd be amazed at how similar things are across disciplines and across schools within disciplines.

I know the difference between correlation and causation. I'm not brain dead. GPA and research experience/fit simply do not have seem to have a high enough correlation to justify such a narrow range of successful GPA numbers. That is, if GPA were not an admissions criterion at all and only research experience/fit was considered, I would expect to see a much larger range of GPAs. Also, multiple students on this forum have had experience making it to the interview stage, doing well in that interview, and low GPA/GRE numbers being cited in their ultimate rejection. Sure, their POIs could have been lying to spare their feelings, but why?

 

Also, calling each other's experience into question is going both ways here. You are talking down to me as a senior student and I pointed out that the admissions situation may be different in your discipline. Acceptances rates definitely vary widely in psychology based on subfield - from 48.4% in school psych to 13.7% in social psych. Elevated levels in school psych and I/O (36.3%) vs developmental (23.3%) and social probably have a lot to do with the fact that school and I/O are master's heavy, and master's programs have higher acceptance rates on average. However, quantitative psychology (unreported by APA, so no numbers) is also widely known to have higher acceptance rates because it is a growing field with very few applicants. Social psych, in contrast, is poorly funded and has a glut of applicants. Finally, I applied to criminology programs as well, and they too have a higher acceptance rate than psych does by a pretty decent margin. They also tend to have lower requirements for GPA and GRE because it is an applied field with many applicants coming in with years of work (in this case, law enforcement) experience. Point is - the picture of what admissions looks like is very field-dependent as, I suspect, are norms in how adcomms behave.

 

Furthermore, programs continue to rank GPA and GRE highly in admissions criteria when asked even though professors routinely claim that it means little. Also, you hold that professors even with a small sample size of schools are reliable reporters of admissions criteria, but mine contradict your position. One of my recommenders was very explicit that GPA and GRE are used as blunt weedout criteria in clinical programs. 

 

And really, it doesn't even matter if GPA is as important to adcomms as I say it is. It is still a very solid predictor of whether you're going to get into a top program. Even if the link between GPA and research exp/fit is as high as you presume, someone sitting on a <3.0 needs to stop and rethink whether they should apply. Regardless of the reason - biased selection or true aptitude - if 90% of applicants below a certain threshold don't make it at a certain school, that says something about how someone should view their odds of success and the worthwhileness of applying. 

Edited by TXInstrument11
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I love how people have no qualms about using stats to generalize facts about white people, but when we do the same we are labeled as racists. You're taking statistics about a given race and using them to assume that all of us fall into those categories. Blanket statements are problematic because it pigeonholes people into certain stereotypes. So according to you I have an easier time getting a job? That's kind of ironic considering I live in a city where white people are the minority and about 75% of my coworkers are people of color. I have an easier time getting an apartment?My credit is less than stellar so I live with my friend who's Mexican (I'm not being racist, she really is Mexican) and had no problem getting a lease in her name. I'm less likely to be pulled over and given a ticket? Again, not true. I was pulled over in January of this year and given a ticket. I realize the possibility that I could be considered an anomaly, but I'm basing my opinions on my experiences.

With all of that being said, I'm not naive. I'm not blind to the social injustices of the world. I know racism is alive and well. The point I'm trying to get across is that based on my experiences, I think that my accomplishments and merits should be looked at on an equal level with other applicants. I would not want to get a job based solely on the fact that I'm a woman when there are men with higher stats so I don't believe other groups should expect preferential treatment either. Schools and businesses that accept and hire people based on a predetermined quota are missing out on a large chunk of highly qualified applicants. Let's take race out of the equation for a second. Would you want to be rejected from a school because they need to include 5 Atheists even though you are more qualified than these people? People that don't fall under these categories will automatically be excluded and I'm sorry, but that's not right. You don't have to agree with me, but these are my own personal beliefs and opinions.

Definitely missing the point. The whole point is that SOPs will help anyone who had a tougher time. Also, just because you got a ticket once or that you're white and you had struggles doesn't mean the overall trend doesn't still exist. There are plenty of exceptions, but that doesn't make the rule any less true. Forming your opinions based on your own personal experience is flawed- you're only considering you. Maybe ask your roommate or coworkers what issues shes had to deal with because of her race. Appreciate that not everyone has the same experience.

Edit: I just wanted to add that I'm happy we can all talk about this issue. It's a tough one.

Edited by ERR_Alpha
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It is a tough issue, and something I've had to think about recently.  Most people who apply to my field are Asian with very high quant scores, whereas mine are mediocre, but good enough to do well in the field, just not amazing. And I come from a small state school. Plus my only B in undergrad was in math.  So, I would like a chance to explain why to adcoms instead of being passed over because those stats aren't wonderful like other's. OTOH, I think adcoms should choose the best candidate...

But, I think we do sometimes rely on stats too much instead of taking individuals into consideration.  It's like a man going to the doctor for a broken leg, and being treated for lung cancer because he's smoked a pack a day for 20 years and so he is statistically more likely to have a lung cancer than a broken leg...
Or, instead of the short person vs. tall person example given earlier, I would say it is more between a person who can't walk, and a person with a mental disorder.  We can see one disability, but we can't see the other.  It is easier to help the person who can't walk, we see that disability and make changes for it, as we should, but we think the person with the mental disorder should be fine because they look just like everyone else, so we don't help them, even if they actually need it more.

Also, with races that are at a disadvantage, the problem is, we think we can fix it up here, when we need to be fixing it down there.  If a student can survive the police who are statistically more likely to pull them over, and being labeled a bad child, an all the other crap that is thrown their way, then they can apply and maybe get some help to get into grad school.  But what about the other children who can't survive?  We aren't fixing the inequality, just changing it at different levels.

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1) Move up deadlines: Dec. and Jan. are way too late. This will also mean the process should be over well before the Apr. 15. deadline.

2) Increased levels of transparency. Should be relatively easy given everything is electronic now.

3) Send out Rejects asap. 

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It is a tough issue, and something I've had to think about recently.  Most people who apply to my field are Asian with very high quant scores, whereas mine are mediocre, but good enough to do well in the field, just not amazing. And I come from a small state school. Plus my only B in undergrad was in math.  So, I would like a chance to explain why to adcoms instead of being passed over because those stats aren't wonderful like other's. OTOH, I think adcoms should choose the best candidate...

But, I think we do sometimes rely on stats too much instead of taking individuals into consideration.  It's like a man going to the doctor for a broken leg, and being treated for lung cancer because he's smoked a pack a day for 20 years and so he is statistically more likely to have a lung cancer than a broken leg...

Or, instead of the short person vs. tall person example given earlier, I would say it is more between a person who can't walk, and a person with a mental disorder.  We can see one disability, but we can't see the other.  It is easier to help the person who can't walk, we see that disability and make changes for it, as we should, but we think the person with the mental disorder should be fine because they look just like everyone else, so we don't help them, even if they actually need it more.

Also, with races that are at a disadvantage, the problem is, we think we can fix it up here, when we need to be fixing it down there.  If a student can survive the police who are statistically more likely to pull them over, and being labeled a bad child, an all the other crap that is thrown their way, then they can apply and maybe get some help to get into grad school.  But what about the other children who can't survive?  We aren't fixing the inequality, just changing it at different levels.

Thank you!! Great example about the person who can't walk and the person with a mental disorder. I feel like I oftentimes get frustrated when people in my life have assumed that because I'm white I've lived some fantasy life where I get everything handed to me when in reality I feel like I've struggled throughout my life. But because of the color of my skin, I shouldn't be allowed to get any kind of consideration for help since history and statistics dictate that we haven't struggled as much . I'm not saying that people from disadvantaged backgrounds shouldn't get help, but rather we somehow amend the ways in which we view the people that need the help and make them applicable to more groups of people. Your point is exactly what I was trying to convey, but you did it much more clearly. 

 

 

...I think it's a bit offensive, assuming that the minority groups are expecting a preferential treatment. No one is expecting that. And your accomplishments will be looked at equal level. They won't expect more from you just because you are white, nor expect less from someone who isn't. 

 

I think you are taking this factor as something against you because you are white. But that's not true. The reason the ad comm look at race and gender is to maintain diversity in the fields. But I cannot imagine they would have quota as you describe. And different fields tend to have differently skewed demographics, so what they consider will differ. One example we can think about is Asian male applicants in STEM fields. They are minority in many other fields but not necessarily in STEM. Admissions committees in these fields may look at applicants who are white women, which will include you, and consider it as a factor. But again, I want to emphasize that if you are in STEM, you won't get accepted just because you are a white woman. You need to have strong application to compete the rest of the applicant pool in the first place, then they may or may not consider the fact that you are white woman.

That was actually a poor choice of words on my part so I apologize if that came across as being offensive. That truly was not my intent. I know not all minority groups expect a handout, but because of the way the system is set up oftentimes many people are given one regardless of their intentions/wishes. I went to high school with a girl who turned down an admission to Harvard because none of her non-minority friends she grew up with, some of whom had much higher stats, didn't get in and she didn't want to attend knowing she was chosen to "fill their black quota." Her words, not mine. I guess my problem is with the process itself and less with the people that benefit from it. I just think it would be better to amend the system and re-evaluate the way the system chooses to help people. 

 

 

Definitely missing the point. The whole point is that SOPs will help anyone who had a tougher time. Also, just because you got a ticket once or that you're white and you had struggles doesn't mean the overall trend doesn't still exist. There are plenty of exceptions, but that doesn't make the rule any less true. Forming your opinions based on your own personal experience is flawed- you're only considering you. Maybe ask your roommate or coworkers what issues shes had to deal with because of her race. Appreciate that not everyone has the same experience.

Edit: I just wanted to add that I'm happy we can all talk about this issue. It's a tough one.

But that's just the thing, statement of purposes don't always help the individual. Nearly everyone I know that is struggling to get into a program suffers from either a low GPA or a low GRE score. Many of these people have TONS of relevant experience in the field and/or unique experiences so it seems insane to me that many of them are forced to be applicants for a second or sometimes even a third year. And many of my SOP requirements were limited to a single page or to a maximum number of words so it would be almost impossible to include a lifetime's worth of accomplishments/hardships into that limited amount of space. And trust me, I know that me getting a ticket or having struggles doesn't mean the trend doesn't exist. My whole point of bringing up my experiences was to expose a flaw in the system. The original poster was saying that I am less likely to be pulled over, arrested, etc. so I was simply trying to show that just because it is less likely doesn't mean it doesn't happen. That's the thing about judging people based on statistics. Some people fall under those categories, but many others do not. Because there is a supposed trend that white people don't have to struggle as much, those that do struggle should have to fall through the cracks?

 

You kind of proved my point because you assume I'm an anomaly in the system and have instructed me to question my friends of color because SURELY they've had it worse than me and can school me on race relations. (Ok so you didn't actually say that, but that's kind of how it made me feel.)  Do you know what it's like to be one of only about 20 white kids in a school? Trust me when I say I am well aware of the color of my skin. I was reminded of it nearly every single day. Because I went to a high school where white people were considered a minority, perhaps I have a different perspective on race relations. Honestly, some of the most racist people I have ever met in my life have been those from minority groups that feel free to label me a "rich white B!tch" or think that all of the things I've accomplished in my life have been because I am white. Honest to God, an ex-coworker of mine told me that I was only able to go to college because I'm white and the world caters to "people like me." I was like, what the heck? We live in the same area, went to some of the same schools, and work at the same place. I'm not saying that he didn't encounter racism or struggles of his own (some of which I may or may not have ever experienced myself), but white people aren't immune from racism and hardship regardless of what the statistics seem to perpetuate. Like I said above, I'm not against people from disadvantaged communities receiving help, just that there is a flaw in the criteria used to decide who should get this help. (For the record, my opinions aren't based solely upon those going to graduate school. I'm referring to opportunities for people in general)

 

By the way, I'm also happy we can talk about this issue. We might not all agree, but talking about it is a heck of a lot better than sweeping it under the rug and acting like these issues don't exist. 

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Thank you!! Great example about the person who can't walk and the person with a mental disorder. I feel like I oftentimes get frustrated when people in my life have assumed that because I'm white I've lived some fantasy life where I get everything handed to me when in reality I feel like I've struggled throughout my life. But because of the color of my skin, I shouldn't be allowed to get any kind of consideration for help since history and statistics dictate that we haven't struggled as much . I'm not saying that people from disadvantaged backgrounds shouldn't get help, but rather we somehow amend the ways in which we view the people that need the help and make them applicable to more groups of people. Your point is exactly what I was trying to convey, but you did it much more clearly. 

 

 

That was actually a poor choice of words on my part so I apologize if that came across as being offensive. That truly was not my intent. I know not all minority groups expect a handout, but because of the way the system is set up oftentimes many people are given one regardless of their intentions/wishes. I went to high school with a girl who turned down an admission to Harvard because none of her non-minority friends she grew up with, some of whom had much higher stats, didn't get in and she didn't want to attend knowing she was chosen to "fill their black quota." Her words, not mine. I guess my problem is with the process itself and less with the people that benefit from it. I just think it would be better to amend the system and re-evaluate the way the system chooses to help people. 

 

 

But that's just the thing, statement of purposes don't always help the individual. Nearly everyone I know that is struggling to get into a program suffers from either a low GPA or a low GRE score. Many of these people have TONS of relevant experience in the field and/or unique experiences so it seems insane to me that many of them are forced to be applicants for a second or sometimes even a third year. And many of my SOP requirements were limited to a single page or to a maximum number of words so it would be almost impossible to include a lifetime's worth of accomplishments/hardships into that limited amount of space. And trust me, I know that me getting a ticket or having struggles doesn't mean the trend doesn't exist. My whole point of bringing up my experiences was to expose a flaw in the system. The original poster was saying that I am less likely to be pulled over, arrested, etc. so I was simply trying to show that just because it is less likely doesn't mean it doesn't happen. That's the thing about judging people based on statistics. Some people fall under those categories, but many others do not. Because there is a supposed trend that white people don't have to struggle as much, those that do struggle should have to fall through the cracks?

 

You kind of proved my point because you assume I'm an anomaly in the system and have instructed me to question my friends of color because SURELY they've had it worse than me and can school me on race relations. (Ok so you didn't actually say that, but that's kind of how it made me feel.)  Do you know what it's like to be one of only about 20 white kids in a school? Trust me when I say I am well aware of the color of my skin. I was reminded of it nearly every single day. Because I went to a high school where white people were considered a minority, perhaps I have a different perspective on race relations. Honestly, some of the most racist people I have ever met in my life have been those from minority groups that feel free to label me a "rich white B!tch" or think that all of the things I've accomplished in my life have been because I am white. Honest to God, an ex-coworker of mine told me that I was only able to go to college because I'm white and the world caters to "people like me." I was like, what the heck? We live in the same area, went to some of the same schools, and work at the same place. I'm not saying that he didn't encounter racism or struggles of his own (some of which I may or may not have ever experienced myself), but white people aren't immune from racism and hardship regardless of what the statistics seem to perpetuate. Like I said above, I'm not against people from disadvantaged communities receiving help, just that there is a flaw in the criteria used to decide who should get this help. (For the record, my opinions aren't based solely upon those going to graduate school. I'm referring to opportunities for people in general)

 

By the way, I'm also happy we can talk about this issue. We might not all agree, but talking about it is a heck of a lot better than sweeping it under the rug and acting like these issues don't exist. 

Circumstances are definitely different in different areas, I give you that. My boyfriend went to a high school in the next town over from mine where whites were the minority- where my school had less than 5% of minority groups. However, the statistics prove that in general, these hardships and inequalities do exist for people of color. As unfair as it may be, schools are allowed to consider this as much or a little as they want in the admissions process. You're right in the fact that it may be unfair to those not in these groups who also suffer hardship. You could also argue that everyone suffers some kind of hardship- each of varying degrees of difficulty. SOPs are short, but they are designed with this idea in mind. There is no way for a graduate school to evaluate every candidate on a personal level- hence the GRE, GPA, LORs, etc. In a perfect world, everyone who applies would get an in-person interview where they could tell their story. Since this isn't possible, schools have to decide whether they want to use these statistics, and to what extent. It's difficult, it may be unfair, but it's the best way to handle this situation. Good candidates may fall through because of GRE score, GPA, arrest records, what have you. I agree with you that the process makes people blame each other. I've heard people say "well, if I was a female Native American who played golf and the oboe, I would've gotten in!", but there may in fact be a Native American woman who had to overcome a lot of issues to be the best golf and oboe player, but people assume she only got in because she's Native American. I also find that some schools value diversity more than others. MIT is a classic one that comes to mind for undergrad. They get so many qualified applicants, they basically get to pick the makeup of the incoming class by hand. 

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Hi Holly, I just wanted to clarify one thing since I think you were responding to me before. I never said that anyone should get preferential treatment and certainly not based solely on their race. I said that the adcom should take all sorts of circumstances into consideration, including having a lower SES (socioeconomic status), which would include someone like you. It is worth being able to consider whether someone only did one semester as a RA because that's all that was available versus someone that did one semester but had the opportunity to do 4-5 semesters but turned that down. That's what I meant by not reducing everything to just the CV on the first pass and wiping CV's of identifying info when doing so. I hope this helps clarify what I meant 2 pages ago in this thread.

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I've been actually thinking about this question... Here's what I think:

I would set and put on the website a minimum GPA and GRE requirement. However, students who think they have an explanation can submit a pre-application to get approval to apply. International students would also do a pre application.(IMHO, saves everyone time and $$$)

I would then read SOPs and LORs and sort into three piles: Yes, Maybe, and No. The No group would get rejected quickly.

The maybe group would then be deliberated. This is where I would use wording to this extent: "program at awesome university requires a 3.0 and a 150/150. However, most of our students have a 3.5 and a 160/160" For the middle group, scores would be used to differentiate. (For example, Sally and Tom both have some research experience, mediocre SOP and LORS, but Tom had an excellent GPA...)

The Yes group and the top Maybes get interviews. The lower tier Maybes get emails saying they are on a wait list for an interview. I would also include that if anything chances (NSF, publication, etc) to let us know. (These are the people who would benefit from an extra nudge)

After interviews, sort candidates into accepted/maybe/rejected. Send as many acceptances as necessary. Reject people immediately. If not enough candidates accept or are suitable for acceptance, pull from the wait list.

Once ~75% of the class is full, I would send rejections to the people on the interview waitlist.

Also- being in contact with professors would of course help, but would not be required. Minority status would likely only come into play for the "maybe" group. If spots for international studnets are separate, so would the process and vice versa.

Too idealistic? Haha.

Edited by ERR_Alpha
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ERR_Alpha, I think your pre-application idea is interesting and worth further investigation. As for the rest of your process, I ASSUME to "an extent" (Please no one take this out of context) is similar to current adcom procedure barring the early notifications and some of the finer details. Overall, well done.

 

My approach would be a little different. Applicants would participate in an obstacle course/puzzle challenge held in various locations across the country. Each puzzle trial would require critical thinking skills while the obstacles would require teamwork and collaboration. If too many applicants remained at the end of the race (minus those disqualified for unsportsmanlike behavior), then winners would duke it out in knockerballs till the end<--- hilarious looking things. I think this process really brings out the perseverance and importantly qualities in a grad student. :rolleyes:  Agreed?

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I think the only thing that I see wrong with a pre-application idea is this: What if a student is approved to apply and still gets rejected? Would that not instill some kind of false sense of hope if they had passed some kind of screening process but still didn't make it? I am in no way trying to discredit the merit behind a pre-application process, and I actually really like the idea. I'm just trying to see that it covers all the bases, I suppose. 

 

As for me personally, I think I would take the time to reach out to as many students as I can so that they have some form of personal connection to the program. It influenced my decision-making process when a professor did the same for me. I wouldn't say that reaching out guarantees that I "want" them in the program and makes them feel hopeful, but that I am interested in getting to know them on a deeper level than what I see on their application. I would be transparent about this. And, if the committee as a whole decides that they will not receive an acceptance, I will inform them of this decision and then provide my own words of support or any resources that they want that will help them in other places, whether it be another program, a job, etc. I'm all about making sure that people feel that what they are doing or what circumstances they are in will benefit them somehow. As a faculty member I might be stretched thin, but these students will be taking my place one day, and I would gladly do so to contribute to everyone's venture in the field.

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Our department used to do pre-applications- you'd fill out a web form with your stats/research experience/a bit about your interests, and get a response in a week or two with either "we'd be very likely to accept you", "we wouldn't be very likely to accept you", and "it could go either way". 

 

The problem (as scarvesandcardigans points out) is that some people looked like they'd be likely to be accepted in the pre-application, and wouldn't end up making the cut. 

 

On the flip side, a lot of the people who were told they wouldn't be likely to be accepted decided to damn the odds and apply anyway. 

 

I liked it, but it didn't work out to be particularly useful in practice, it seemed. 

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ERR_Alpha, I think your pre-application idea is interesting and worth further investigation. As for the rest of your process, I ASSUME to "an extent" (Please no one take this out of context) is similar to current adcom procedure barring the early notifications and some of the finer details. Overall, well done.

My approach would be a little different. Applicants would participate in an obstacle course/puzzle challenge held in various locations across the country. Each puzzle trial would require critical thinking skills while the obstacles would require teamwork and collaboration. If too many applicants remained at the end of the race (minus those disqualified for unsportsmanlike behavior), then winners would duke it out in knockerballs till the end<--- hilarious looking things. I think this process really brings out the perseverance and importantly qualities in a grad student. :rolleyes: Agreed?

I'm picturing something like the show Wipeout... Which would be fantastic. One of our interviewees was from Cali and had actually been on the show (the Brains vs. Brawn one... She was brains). Definitely a memorable fun fact haha.

Also on the pre application idea- I think it would give those who don't make qualifications to plead their case. Also stressing that a successful preapp doesn't mean admission- especially since LORs wouldn't be a part of it, feasibly.

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  • 8 months later...
  • 2 weeks later...
On 3/8/2015 at 1:52 AM, TXInstrument11 said:

Maybe unusual - but my main goals would be automation and transparency - making the selection more fair, speeding the process up, and saving uncompetitive applicants time & money. 

 

  1. Integrate some kind of survey-esque/Qualtrics-like software that can quickly and neatly divide applicants based on the most relevant stats, such as GPA, GRE, and years of research experience [if most schools have this, they really have no excuse for their slowness].
  2. If sub 3.5 GPAs don't cut the mustard and/or the university has strict GRE score requirements, auto-email all applicants fitting those criteria w/in a week of their submission with a short message explaining just why they were rejected so that they don't reapply next year. 
  3. (related to the above) Have such spoken and "unspoken" stats published on the admissions website.
  4. (related to the above) Release stats for the previous five years of admits. 
  5. If interviews are required, reject all applicants who are not invited to interview IMMEDIATELY.
  6. List whether or not faculty are seeking students on their webpages, preferably 2 month in advance of the application deadline.
  7. Indicate in instructions whether students should contact faculty or not; make it clear when individual faculty are responsible for accepting students [uT-Austin is, admittedly, very explicit on this front].
  8. If I were a faculty member, have guidelines for exactly what I would want for a prospective to email me (CV + 1 page research statement, etc.)
  9. (related to above) Maintain a separate lab email for this purpose
  10. Expunge identifying information like name, race, gender, and undergrad/master's university from adcomm's first read-through materials. Add back in uni information and names only after top 5-10% are chosen based on CVs and SOPs.
  11. Publish this exact process as well as any other relevant procedures on the website.

Oh my god. You are fantastic. You should be an admission department advisor or something. I can imagine you running a company that goes "Making admission office great again!" :D

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