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Opinions and suggestions on reapplication for 2016.


Mechanician2015

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I would like to ask for your opinion and/or suggestions for a new application, Fall 2016.

 

Just to be clear, I already have an idea of my approach for next year, and this is certainly not the "Q145 V141, what are my chances?" post.

 

Preamble: I applied to 5 programs this year. Rejections=3, Admissions=2. I am not sure I will be able to secure funding at the two programs that accepted me.

 

My profile:

International student.

~Alma Mater: Best national school in engineering, but certainly not in the top 500 worldwide.

~Major: Mechanical engineering

~GPA: 3.43 out of 4.00( Cum laude, if it's any worth) 

~1.5 years of experience as research/lab assistant, no publications.

~Research-focused undergrad thesis 

~2 years of experience in the industry(nothing related to research)

 

GRE: Q161 V163 AWA: 4

 

TOEFL: R:30 L:30 S:27 W:28 Total: 115.

 

Recommenders:

1 strong( in the sense that it's a working PhD in applied math)

2 weak( one from industry, one from a PhD candidate that is research leader of a project I worked for)

 

Research interests:

Dynamics and vibrations

Nonlinear dynamics

Computational Fluid Dynamics

 

Comments:

 

I applied to two types of programs: the standard PhD in mechanical engineering and a PhD in a more obscure field tightly related to applied math and mechanics. My 3 rejections are from the later type of programs(that happen to be from the top 15, one ivy and two "new" ivies). The two admissions are from PhD in Mechanical engineering, roughly ranked #23 and #24.

 

I think I didn't refine my research interests as deeply as I could have(I'm thinking on writing something more similar to a research proposal than a personal statement). Also, my background and GPA might be a limitation at the top 10. I will retake the GRE, since I think I can get into the quant 90th percentile without much effort( same for AWA ).

 

I am also thinking on finding new recommenders(at least 1 new). 

 

At this point, I am not sure if I should keep trying into the top 10, or just try to maximize my chances applying to the 20-40 range, contact faculty earlier to try to secure funding, or a combination of both. In fact, my position at this point is to ask for an admission deferral, but I am not very sure this will help me with funding. 

 

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Try to contact the programs where you were rejected to get feedback on your application. Perhaps they can tell you that it was your personal statement, your GRE scores, or something else, which will help you figure out where to go next. For the type of programs you're applying to, no one will care about your AWA score, though they may care about your quantitative GRE score. I'm not at all sure why you'd want to find new recommenders unless you think one of your current ones deliberately sabotaged your applications.

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Try to contact the programs where you were rejected to get feedback on your application. Perhaps they can tell you that it was your personal statement, your GRE scores, or something else, which will help you figure out where to go next. For the type of programs you're applying to, no one will care about your AWA score, though they may care about your quantitative GRE score. I'm not at all sure why you'd want to find new recommenders unless you think one of your current ones deliberately sabotaged your applications.

Thanks for your suggestion.

 

I know for sure(to the extent that things can be known) that none of my recommenders sabotaged my application. However, I have been reading in some sources related to academia that recommendations from " the industry" are virtually invalid/extremelly weak, as well as recommendations from non-PhD's( despite their work in research/position).

 

One of the programs that admitted me has a cutoff at AWA 3.5, though.

 

I will try to get feedback from the other programs. 

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@rising_star:

I'm not retaking because of the AWA, I'm retaking because of the quant. However, even in my field an AWA around 4.5~5.0 is desired.

 

 

 

Gee, I expected a bit more of feedback =P

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  • 3 weeks later...

If you are interested in computational fluid dynamics and nonlinear dynamics, have you ever thought about going into Earth Science? Oceanography, Atmospheric Science, and Geophysics all involve a great deal of that.  And, you will probably stand out with your strong math (and hopefully computer) skills as there are far less people with that in the earth sciences than there are in engineering. 

 

 

Just a thought. 

Edited by GeoDUDE!
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I would cover all bases possible -- reach out to faculty in advance, apply to a wider range of schools, and get new recommenders. LORs are really important and I think not having professors as references could have been a major weakness in your application. 

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I agree that you should aim for at least 2 letters from current PhDs. That, broadening the range of schools you apply to, and making your research interests clear in your statement should help.

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If you are interested in computational fluid dynamics and nonlinear dynamics, have you ever thought about going into Earth Science? Oceanography, Atmospheric Science, and Geophysics all involve a great deal of that.  And, you will probably stand out with your strong math (and hopefully computer) skills as there are far less people with that in the earth sciences than there are in engineering. 

 

 

Just a thought. 

Thanks for your suggestion. I wasn't sure about what Planetary science was until now. I will give it a thought( as I need to weight how much detracts the fact that I already have research experience in another area).

 

I would cover all bases possible -- reach out to faculty in advance, apply to a wider range of schools, and get new recommenders. LORs are really important and I think not having professors as references could have been a major weakness in your application. 

Now I realize this... In retrospective, for STEM PhD's, I don't think a recommendation from industry is any worth. These same letters would have been strong for a MEng. And I do have a third PhD I worked with that could recommend me. I guess I did some of the most important research after actually applying :P

 

I agree that you should aim for at least 2 letters from current PhDs. That, broadening the range of schools you apply to, and making your research interests clear in your statement should help.

Will do. Although I am having a hard time estimating good target schools.( Not everybody publishes admissions statistics, and just applying to "low ranks" is no guarantee".

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