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2017-2018 Application Cycle


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I got into Maryland Holy shit I thought I was going to strike out. I'm so freaking happy right now. I actually don't have to go back to Japan now to do PhD work.

She said Yes!!! She is Yale. Claiming an admit, slightly hysterically.  Edit: notified by POI email. 

^ Seek professional help. That goes for anyone that is expressing significant depression symptoms, and definitely suicidal thoughts. Your mental health is way more important than god damn gr

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On the money topic, I have some tips? I dunno how useful they will be for the people on here who have mostly already paid for these things (hence why I'm not specifically tagging or quoting anyone), and it still comes out to be very expensive, but I found a lot of ways to cut my costs. Maybe one of you will pass this info on to someone asking for your advice next application season.

Another disclaimer: Most of these things are contingent upon current attendance at an institution for undergrad/masters. So:

1. If you attend school, your institution may offer a half off GRE voucher through the learning center or financial aid office. This is especially true of large, public universities with grad programs. You may need to provide proof of recieving financial aid or proof of income. My institution had no limit on how many vouchers a person could get, but it's still an expensive $100 bucks per exam. I took it twice, reasoning that I paid the same as anyone else taking it once.

2. Used bookstores can have lots of great GRE study materials. I got the huge Kaplan quant book for like $4. However, the free math review and two free practice tests provided by ETS helped a lot. In addition, check with your institution's learning center or equivalent for GRE courses. Mine offered a Friday night prep course at ~$30 for 6 weeks.

3. Most graduate schools have a system in place for those who cannot afford the application fee. I structured my entire list around these systems. Some schools are jerks about it and will absolutely not waive the application fee for any reason. In the end, I paid for 2/9 schools and got the rest to waive those fees. Some schools make it incredibly difficult. UPenn never responded to my emailed documentation in spite of having a fee waiver program. I ended up paying there since the due date came and still no waiver. Other schools make it incredibly easy. UCLA in particular comes to mind - their waiver was built into the application and made it easy to add in the documentation.

As I said, I know a lot of this stuff isn't applicable or maybe some of you already knew and used these resources but hey, it's 8 AM and I haven't heard from Stanford so I'm bored.

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Just now, megabee said:

On the money topic, I have some tips? I dunno how useful they will be for the people on here who have mostly already paid for these things (hence why I'm not specifically tagging or quoting anyone), and it still comes out to be very expensive, but I found a lot of ways to cut my costs. Maybe one of you will pass this info on to someone asking for your advice next application season.

Another disclaimer: Most of these things are contingent upon current attendance at an institution for undergrad/masters. So:

1. If you attend school, your institution may offer a half off GRE voucher through the learning center or financial aid office. This is especially true of large, public universities with grad programs. You may need to provide proof of recieving financial aid or proof of income. My institution had no limit on how many vouchers a person could get, but it's still an expensive $100 bucks per exam. I took it twice, reasoning that I paid the same as anyone else taking it once.

2. Used bookstores can have lots of great GRE study materials. I got the huge Kaplan quant book for like $4. However, the free math review and two free practice tests provided by ETS helped a lot. In addition, check with your institution's learning center or equivalent for GRE courses. Mine offered a Friday night prep course at ~$30 for 6 weeks.

3. Most graduate schools have a system in place for those who cannot afford the application fee. I structured my entire list around these systems. Some schools are jerks about it and will absolutely not waive the application fee for any reason. In the end, I paid for 2/9 schools and got the rest to waive those fees. Some schools make it incredibly difficult. UPenn never responded to my emailed documentation in spite of having a fee waiver program. I ended up paying there since the due date came and still no waiver. Other schools make it incredibly easy. UCLA in particular comes to mind - their waiver was built into the application and made it easy to add in the documentation.

As I said, I know a lot of this stuff isn't applicable or maybe some of you already knew and used these resources but hey, it's 8 AM and I haven't heard from Stanford so I'm bored.

This is important! I also used waivers and even emailed a couple schools that said they "didn't" have waivers and ended up getting them. Not worth paying $$$ with a chance of getting rejected. I did not pay the app fee for any of the schools I applied to! Wish I was aware of the GRE voucher bc that did end up costing me quite a bit. Also Magoosh guys, the Princeton Review was not helpful (IMO). 

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5 minutes ago, possibleirphd said:

Also Magoosh guys, the Princeton Review was not helpful (IMO). 

Second the Magoosh thing. I got an organization for underrepresented groups/low income/first gen students in graduate studies to pay for my Magoosh, but those were very specific circumstances that I don't know how to replicate. In any case, I only needed one month of it to bump up my score significantly, but it is expensive. The quant section on Magoosh is more difficult than the actual exam, so it really makes the GRE simpler. 

Also yeah, my school made it hard to find out about the GRE voucher and had no advertisement for it whatsoever, but the actual process was fairly simple. It never hurts to ask what a school can do for you, money-wise.

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12 minutes ago, megabee said:

It never hurts to ask what a school can do for you, money-wise.

This 1,000,000x. 

I could have never afforded to take the GRE twice or apply to 9 schools on my own. I'm from a low-income background and had little in the way of savings even. I harassed everyone I could think of at my small LAC for assistance--both of the departments I was affiliated with, the learning center, the internship/career development office, and even at one point the president's office. 

Between that, and requesting waivers from most/all of the schools I applied to (and providing the necessary documentation), I didn't pay anything out of pocket for the GRE, and ended up having all but one application fee covered. Especially if you're from a low-income or underrepresented group--and have good grades and a good reputation--people are willing to do a lot to help you. 

---
Also, can we take some of this info and make it a pinned post or part of a wiki or something?

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I have a MA in Geography and have applied solely to Anthro programs but put in an application to Hopkins Pol Sci. I know little about the dept.s ranking and or its odds. I saw on Petersons they accept about 10%. Curious if anyone here has more experience or info about getting into the department. Thanks and good luck to all. I've been through this waiting game once before and it's always miserable. 

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well, i got into uc riverside last night and they included my funding package.  i also got my funding package from uc davis yesterday as well.  i guess in california they have a non-resident supplemental tuition charge that is like $15,000/year.  i can become a resident after a year and not have to pay that, but the first year it will apply to me.  the good news is that uc riverside has given me the money to pay that fee and davis said that "at this time, the department cannot cover your first year of Nonresident Supplemental Tuition."  do you guys think this is more of it's not that they cannot, it's that they have decided not to for me specifically?  also, both schools gave me a stipend for the first year and notated that i will be working for pay as a TA the second year, but riverside didn't mention anything after that as far as TA/Reader potential income.  is this the usual way this works, or will i be up a creek after two years of schooling at riverside?  davis said they are "committed to funding your graduate work for five academic years so that you can concentrate on your Ph.D. studies at UC Davis." which i found encouraging.

Edited by jnewcomb08
updated the TA information
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2 hours ago, possibleirphd said:

Has anyone heard back from Duke lately? (Security, Peace, and Conflict Studies)

Also any interview requests from Vanderbilt for IR?

It has been extremely quiet on my end... 3 weeks since no new notifications. 

I've not got any interview requests from Vanderbilt. If there was a chance, a request would have arrived by now. Judging by the DGS email pre-application-deadline, I'm assuming a rejection. :(

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19 minutes ago, skhann said:

I've not got any interview requests from Vanderbilt. If there was a chance, a request would have arrived by now. Judging by the DGS email pre-application-deadline, I'm assuming a rejection. :(

i interviewed with vanderbilt on friday.  had a good time as well afterwards of picking myself apart about all the things i could have said differently, lol.  oh well, hopefully it was more a chance for the department to see if i was not crazy and i have a great shot of acceptance.

Edited by jnewcomb08
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1 hour ago, jnewcomb08 said:

well, i got into uc riverside last night and they included my funding package.  i also got my funding package from uc davis yesterday as well.  i guess in california they have a non-resident supplemental tuition charge that is like $15,000/year.  i can become a resident after a year and not have to pay that, but the first year it will apply to me.  the good news is that uc riverside has given me the money to pay that fee and davis said that "at this time, the department cannot cover your first year of Nonresident Supplemental Tuition."  do you guys think this is more of it's not that they cannot, it's that they have decided not to for me specifically?  also, both schools gave me a stipend for the first year and notated that i will be working for pay as a TA the second year, but riverside didn't mention anything after that as far as TA/Reader potential income.  is this the usual way this works, or will i be up a creek after two years of schooling at riverside?  davis said they are "committed to funding your graduate work for five academic years so that you can concentrate on your Ph.D. studies at UC Davis." which i found encouraging.

I would reach out to UC-Riverside and request information on the years of funding just to be sure (questions about funding are totally okay!). In the long run it may be financially more savvy to pay Davis' $15k if you aren't guaranteed funding for 5+ years at Riverside.

From what I know the Fellowship for first year, TA or RA in subsequent years is not unusual, though.

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