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What you think the adcoms are saying about your application


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I have this idea that the adcoms look at my application, look at each other and then say:


Then they take a few moments to collect themselves, then someone starts laughing again, then everyone's hysterical again, and then...

"Oh man, that was good. I needed that."

Then they toss it aside and start looking at some apps that are, you know, worth their time and attention.

(I am getting more paranoid every day.)

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I pictured this as I was filling out the one paper app I had to submit:

*Looks at first page

"GRE is solid, but the GPA is way too low, and the transcript has too many W's. No way."

*Flips to second page on auto-pilot from mind-numbing and redundant work

"Wait a sec. Statistical programmer? Survey design? Stata and SPSS? Wants a graduate research assistantship? We NEED her! Full ride!! Get her here NOW!"

I can dream, right? ;)

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I always suspect that they'll view all the 1.7s I got in a lot of my CS (i.e. major) classes during my exchange study in Munich unfavorably (even though they count as A's at my home institution :\ ). In particular I wonder if they'll see the European Credit Transfer System grade equivalence chart that says that those are B's when my U.S. school doesn't count them as B's. Also they'll probably laugh at the fact that the lowest grade I got while in Germany, a 2.3, was in the field that I've done all of my research work in for two years now (computer vision).

(By the way the German grade system has 1.0 as the best grade, 5.0 as the worst).

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Also I think my research statements are mostly too long and some of them are a little deficient in discussion of professors I want to work with and specific future work I want to do. Some of them really shine in this area (I think Stanford and Princeton are schools where I definitely blew this out of the water), while this section in some of them is as silly as "here's a random paper by this guy at your school, and here's a brief overview of what he does in it, and I think that's cool so I want to work with him" expanded into a couple of paragraphs. My research statement for my home institution I think doesn't even cite any papers and can be summarized as "lots of people here are good, here are some names for you!"

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From my first choice - *looking at my portfolio* "Why on earth is he applying here? He doesn't even have a solid foundation of skills!!"

From schools I got into last year - "Oh, so now he's reapplying after we accepted him last year? We weren't good enough for you last year and you've decided to use us as your safety school, eh? REJECTED!!!"

From schools I got rejected to from last year - "How many times are we going to have to tell this guy no?"

From new schools I applied to - "A colleague of mine told me about this guy who applied to their school. Let's reject him too!! MWUAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!"

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On a bad day....

They're thinking, who is this kindergartener who thinks she can get into PhD programs a year out of undergrad? No Masters?!!?! No extracurricular research experience?!?!?! What, you think your dinky undergrad thesis will satisfy our expectations? HELLs naw. Let's wait three months and then send her a mass "reject" email.

On a good day..

They're thinking, this girl may be newly graduated... but man, she's got POTENTIAL. Did you see that GRE? Did you see that SoP? She's got a great transcript too! She's determined, and we could use an open mind with a willingness to do the work. Let's give her a call right now and scoop her up before another program does!

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I have this vision of my labored over writing sample being ripped a new one while the adcom members scratch their heads and say, Professor So and So recommended her, really?

It's good to know I am not the only one who is a Debbie Downer about their own app. I wasn't worried that much until I emailed a school to see if my app was complete. They said it was and the adcom was reviewing it. That made me really nervous for some reason! I wish I could take it out of the pool before it gets thrown in the NO pile. Le sigh...

I decided to take all this nervous energy and hit the gym to run it out of my system. Hopefully that will help and I will stop running around like all neurotic like Woody Allen or something...what I need is the thick glasses...maybe a corduroy jacket too, haha.

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Schools I'm sure I won't get into:

"She only graduated in 2009? ... wait a minute she spent seven full years to do her undergrad? We sure don't want her type of philandering malingerers around here! Plus, what the hell is this personal statement? Is she trying to show off her vocabulary? Sounds like she gargles with a thesaurus every night ... and it doesn't even make any sense, it's all over the place. Next!"

One school I think I might have a real shot at and have visited often:

"God, is it THIS chick again? Who does she think she is, showing up on campus and trying to shake my hand all the time? Does she even realize what a huge tool she is? And I saw her in the parking structure at that screening at RedCat last week ... she's totally stalking me. Weirdo. Next!"

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