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Hello everyone,

I am currently a sophomore at a top70 U. I have been interested in social sciences since high school and recently I am thinking about if I should apply to graduate school. I read many posts on gradcafe and other forums and realized that the Ph.D application is not as simple as I thought. So I think it's better to do a brief introduction to myself and I would really appreciate any suggestions!!

[My Profile]

(1)Undergrad in a top 70 University, honors student. I don't think my university has a famous undergraduate program, but the graduate school is great.

(2)Majors: Sociology,Mathematics, Statistics. Overall GPA:3.88, with almost every A-F credit belongs to upper division; 

(3)GRE:V153,Q170,AW4.0. (I am a non-native student and I did not do much preparation before this test. I will undoubtedly retake it in the future.)

(4)Beginning a directed research this semester.

[My Shortcomings and Confusions]

(1)Alma Mater. Not a really prestigious school in U.S. though it is the best university within the state. SO, should I transfer to another well-ranked college to get better resources/chances?

(2)Research Interests. Sometimes I feel really nervous if someone (especially Professors) ask about my research interests. I have read many soc papers and books outside the classroom. I feel like so many topics in the sociology is interesting. What I enjoy most is the explanation of  a social phenomena/structure, especially from a new perspective or applying a new idea. But I really don't know what is the topic I am particularly interested in. If possible, can I have your experiences about finding your research interests?

(3)Math grades are not that high. I skipped Calculus 1&2 by AP, and in my freshman year I took 3 upper level math classes and the grade is around B+~A-. I enjoy doing math but I am not very intelligent and at the same time not a good test-taker, so my GPA is really affected by Math classes. (I think the math undergrad program in our school is great and much harder than soc). In the future I will take further math classes but I am so afraid that if my GPA would be destroyed by Math. I know quantitative skills are becoming more and more important in sociology, so I am worrying if the low grades would hurt my application.

[Other Questions]

What kind of classes should I take in the future, to get both a better "taste" and a better skill of sociological research? Statistical softwares or grad level soc classes or other social sciences or...?

What should I do to better figure out if I should apply to PhD? For now, I really enjoy learning sociology, I enjoy understanding the society at the same time myself.

Is there any differences between a recommendation from a Professor, Associate Professor and Assistant Professor? How much would the recommendation weigh in the admission process?


Thanks so much for clicking in and I appreciate any suggestions!


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Take grad classes. Reach out to people whose work you admire and ask them pertinent questions about their work.  Maintain relationships with faculty. If all that makes you feel super cool, apply to a PhD program.  Your bonafides, scores, etc, in my experience, don't quite matter as much to admissions committees as much as who says what about you, and what your essays say about your intellectual potential.

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instead of chasing your love of sociology broadly, focus in on a area that you can see yourself working in for a long time such as race, immigration, sexuality, etc. Let your professor for directed research know of your intentions to apply to graduate school so that they know that they need to help you prepare a writing sample. 

Your verbal and analytical writing scores need to be increased. 

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