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3 hours ago, publichealthhbadv said:

Hi all,

I applied last year and found this forum extremely useful, although I didn’t make many contributions to it. I vowed that if I got admission, I would give back this year. I thought I would share my thoughts and experience with the process in case it helps those of you currently applying or thinking about it.

Last year, I applied to 8 programs (nearly all top ranked public health schools), interviewed with 4 schools, and was admitted by 2. One of my main takeaways from the process is that the most important factor in admission is narrative (although you might also note that I benefited by casting a wide net; you never know who will find your application appealing)! You must identify the common thread in your studies, work, research, and tie it all together into a story that demonstrates a logical transition/progression. If you are hoping to shift from what you did before to what you want to study going forward, the application and interview are not the time to make that known. Although plenty of people change paths during their PhD studies, schools are looking for people with direction, so if you provide evidence that you have too many interests or hope to shift focus, it will put you at a disadvantage (in my opinion). Programs will try to classify you based on topic of past research; embrace your category (for now)! Maybe this is obvious to you, but to me it wasn’t (at first). I wanted to pursue a PhD to develop my own area of expertise and research questions, which were not necessarily perfectly aligned with my work experience. So, I would recommend trying to show general area cohesion across all parts of the admission process: in your statement of purpose, in identifying faculty with whom you would be interested in working, and during your interview.

I only contacted faculty at one school in advance of the application, and in my case, I think it hurt me for admission to that school, but helped me with admission to others. The faculty members who I spoke with gave me direction (including that I needed to show more focus with my interests), which I applied to other schools, but I think it hurt me for that school. Be careful in who you pick to talk with first (unless you feel highly confident that you have it all together)! Although I did not reach out to faculty at most of the programs, I did a significant amount of research to identify faculty at each school with whom I would be interested in working, and I included a paragraph in the statement for each school detailing who those people were and why. I typically identified three faculty members for each school (because I didn’t know who would have time/space for taking on another advisee, if my application/narrative would be appealing to that person, etc). The schools that I didn’t receive interviews from were also those that I did not feel a strong match with faculty or had trouble seamlessly tying them to my narrative, so I probably would have been better off to just recognize that and skip those programs.

Be sure to follow up and follow up again if it is taking longer than anticipated for a decision. I sent thank you emails after each interview and was told I would hear back within X weeks. I only received admission to one program within the time frame they had specified at interview. The other three programs took far longer to release a decision after interview than they had specified. For two of the three, I did nothing and just waited. The third program that was taking longer, I emailed, let them know I was still very interested in their program and was waiting to hear from them before accepting another program. This offer turned into an acceptance. The other two that I did not email turned into rejections. I chose not to email them because after interview, I had already received admission to what I thought was my dream, perfect program. At that point, I wanted these two programs to reject me. I didn’t want to mislead them by inquiring about my status and feigning interest. I also didn’t want to insult the program by withdrawing my application after interview but before receiving their decision (I’m not sure if this would be taken as an insult, but it seemed wrong to me). I might have been rejected by these schools anyway, but to be on the safe side, if a school that you are very interested in is taking a long time to decide, I would recommend reaching out to let them know you remain highly interested. If their program is your top choice, you should let them know that. However, I would be cautious in wording because what you think is your top choice may change (and you also don’t want to seem desperate or pushy)!

Ultimately, I decided to turn down my dream, perfect program in a top ranked public health school to go to a small, relatively new public health program at Washington University in St. Louis. This was the last program to which I applied because I didn’t even know it existed until in my paranoid state of wondering whether I had cast the net wide enough, I read through from A to Z the entire list of accredited public health programs to determine whether I should add more. Previously, I had explored programs based on rankings of schools of public health, and that is how I missed the program at WashU, which provides 100% full funding (tuition and stipend) and is housed in an awesome institution. You wouldn’t come across the program in the rankings because WashU doesn’t currently have a school of public health. Because the program is still growing, lots of resources are being devoted to its growth, making it an ideal time for you as a student to benefit. I completed my MPH at a top ranked public health school, which was awesome, but I also feel ecstatic over the rigor of WashU’s program and quality of research opportunities here. If you haven’t considered it, I highly recommend checking it out.

Some logistics stuff… I didn’t submit my initial SOPHAS application until pretty late… 11/28/2016. So, if you’re rushing to get stuff together, it won’t necessarily hurt you. I was extremely careful in entering my courses, etc, to make sure there wouldn’t be delays with verification. I also filled in all the sections even if they weren’t required. I detailed every relevant experience with an explanation and what I learned from each one.

I hope these notes help! I know the application process is so excruciating, but it will soon pay off! Good luck to you all!

 

would you mind sharing what kind of ph programs (epi/global health/ etc) you applied to and some of your background information/ stats like GRE scores for context? Thank you!

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On 20/10/2017 at 3:03 PM, ewriad18 said:

RE: typos in SOPs - get your computer to read your SOP to you. I caught like, 10 typos in mine (example: moment instead of momentum, addition instead of addiction) that way that I didn't catch after reading the bloody thing 100 times.

Thanks... I only caught them after I submitted so just hoping it won't impact on my chances too much.

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On 20/10/2017 at 9:31 PM, publichealthhbadv said:

Hi all,

I applied last year and found this forum extremely useful, although I didn’t make many contributions to it. I vowed that if I got admission, I would give back this year. I thought I would share my thoughts and experience with the process in case it helps those of you currently applying or thinking about it.

 

Thanks, I think advice from past year's appliers is invaluable! It would also be extremely helpful l if you could share your interview experiences? 

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On 10/20/2017 at 11:07 AM, ewriad18 said:

Would help if you were a bit more specific about stuff but I mean your scores are awesome so I feel like that's a good start!  Did you not get in last time around? Or just not into a good program?

I was wait-listed at a school during the 2016 cycle. Unfortunately, I was a couple spots away from the top and they only let one or two people off the wait-list last year. Here are some of the things that I learned from the last time around.

1. If you say you want to be in academia then published, peer-reviewed manuscripts are clear signals to admission committees. I had years of experience of wet-lab research, but no published manuscripts. Really great LORs, some conference abstracts, and two theses, but the lack of a paper really hurt me. The hard thing for me was that I actually did get a paper accepted for publication after the application deadline. The timing was unfortunate, however, since schools had already made a decisions about interviews. I reached out and let schools, but it didn't result in any extra interviews. When I did go on interviews and mentioned the paper they got excited.

2. Know who has money. Get on NIH Reporter and find out who potentially has money for students. Even if you're in a program with fully funding - you should find out where the money comes from. Is it a T32 grant? Is it based on you working 20 hours a week as a TA or researcher? I went on interviews and mentioned all these junior faculty members that I might want to work with - sadly, none of them had the funding they needed to support a student. I thought it was overreaching for me to contact a full professor, but they're the ones with money. Plus, they mentor junior faculty, so the best route might be to find a junior faculty member that you want to work with, contact them early, learn who their mentor is on the faculty, and then talk to their mentor as well.

3. Really think about location and life logistics. A PhD is a long process, and programs want to know that you'll be able to make it. You should be able to articulate why that specific academic program is good for you, but you might also want to talk about why the city or wider context could work. Do you have family, friends, or some social support network that could help you? Do you actually want to live in X-city across the country or did you just apply because they were ranked highly?

 

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On 10/20/2017 at 2:44 PM, ewriad18 said:

A bunch of the schools I've looked into say they won't even start looking at the applications until after the deadline.  So I think you're fine no matter when you apply!  It takes the stress off doing them early, but I wouldn't freak out too much and rush just to get them in a month early. :) 

I got the same sense last time I applied. I knew of when the application committee at my school met, so I can say that they waited until after the deadline to have any serious conversations. Take your time and make sure you've read through everything carefully.

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Are any of you finding it hard to complete the Personal History Statement required for some schools?  I'm just finding it difficult to differentiate it from my Statement of Purpose and Objectives.  

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For the statements of purpose that request research topics you may want to pursue, how specific are you all being? I don't want to be too vague and sound like I have no direction nor do I want to be too specific and possibly eliminate myself.... Any guidance? 

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1 hour ago, west_k said:

For the statements of purpose that request research topics you may want to pursue, how specific are you all being? I don't want to be too vague and sound like I have no direction nor do I want to be too specific and possibly eliminate myself.... Any guidance? 

I don't know.. I mention a research topic and what I'd want to do, and even a slight bit of methodology behind it, but the whole bit is less than a paragraph.  I feel like they just want to see that you've identified something you'd like to study. Just my thoughts though, not sure if anyone else has an idea.

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1 hour ago, west_k said:

For the statements of purpose that request research topics you may want to pursue, how specific are you all being? I don't want to be too vague and sound like I have no direction nor do I want to be too specific and possibly eliminate myself.... Any guidance? 

I broke my research topics down into their five distinct categories, which all relate to one another in some semblance. For each topic, I'm providing 3-4 sentences on why it is important, what direction I'd like to go with the research, and/or what background I already have in the area and how I'd like that to grow further. I then finish it all off with a research narrative (of sorts), demonstrating how the topics are all intertwined and important to one another.

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On 10/19/2017 at 11:11 AM, ewriad18 said:

I'm applying to 11 programs with the hope that someone will accept me! I haven't submitted my applications as I was waiting to hear back from professors but think I may submit in the next week or so anyway.

 

I personally am cautious to this approach, as one of the most important things when you're deciding on your program is faculty match for your future research. I wouldn't want to feel as if I'm applying just "with the hope that someone will accept me."

Do you feel as if you have gotten good feedback from the programs/potential mentors that you have contacted? 

I suppose another way to state it is, are there any programs to which you are applying that if you were rejected, you would say "oh well, there wasn't really a good faculty match there?" If so, I wouldn't even bother applying...wasted time/effort/money to do that to yourself!

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3 minutes ago, ianmleavitt said:

I personally am cautious to this approach, as one of the most important things when you're deciding on your program is faculty match for your future research. I wouldn't want to feel as if I'm applying just "with the hope that someone will accept me."

Do you feel as if you have gotten good feedback from the programs/potential mentors that you have contacted?

I suppose another way to state it is, are there any programs to which you are applying that if you were rejected, you would say "oh well, there wasn't really a good faculty match there?" If so, I wouldn't even bother applying...wasted time/effort/money to do that to yourself!

Honestly, I haven't been hearing much back from people I've contacted.  I've identified a few (usually 2) in each application that I feel would be good matches, but identifying and getting them to contact you back are a completely different thing.  There are a few schools I've ended up taking off my original list (Emory and Rutgers, for exactly the reason you mentioned), but from people I've talked to (like my mentor right now), they've encouraged me to apply to a lot of programs for exactly that reason: you never know who will accept you, and you never know where the funding is, so apply everywhere there could be a good fit.  This is just what I'm doing - I know it's not for everyone, but I am genuinely interested in all the schools I am applying to  so I figure, why not?

 

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On 10/22/2017 at 2:10 PM, jjj02027 said:

Thanks... I only caught them after I submitted so just hoping it won't impact on my chances too much.

I'm sure you'll be fine! I wish these applications deadlines would pass so we can know where we are headed next year!

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On 10/30/2017 at 5:52 PM, ewriad18 said:

I'm sure you'll be fine! I wish these applications deadlines would pass so we can know where we are headed next year!

Couldn't agree with you more !

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Well, I figure it's time to get off of the sidelines and start contributing to this forum. Good luck to all! Just submitted a few days before Thanksgiving. Now the waiting begins...

Here are my stats:

  • Undergrad Institution: small liberal arts college in GA
  • Major: Biochemistry
  • Minor(s): N/A
  • GPA: don't remember, ~3.1-3.2ish?
  • Post-Bacc: University of Florida, Certificate in Public Health Foundations
  • GPA: 3.80
  • Grad Institution: Brown University, MPH, Global Health focus
  • Grad GPA: 3.96
  • GRE: 166V, 162Q

Research Experience

  • Graduate Research Assistant (1 semester)
  • Graduate Research Intern (2 semesters)
  • Current job: Research and Data Specialist for a small non-profit (2 years)

Publications/Presentations

  • 1 First Author, peer-reviewed journal article
  • 1 co-author, peer-reviewed journal article
  • ASTMH Poster (2014)
  • APHA Poster (2015)
  • Brown University Global Health Day Conference Poster (2015)
    • Runner-up, Master's Poster Presentation

Applied to

  • Emory (Epi); Univ of GA (Epi); Univ of NC (Epi); Virginia Commonwealth (Epi); Johns Hopkins (Int Health- Global Epi); Yale (Epi of Microbial Dis); Brown (Epi); Boston Univ (Epi); Harvard (Pop Health Sci- Global Health and Pop) 

 

 

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On 10/24/2017 at 4:14 PM, ewriad18 said:

Honestly, I haven't been hearing much back from people I've contacted.  I've identified a few (usually 2) in each application that I feel would be good matches, but identifying and getting them to contact you back are a completely different thing.  There are a few schools I've ended up taking off my original list (Emory and Rutgers, for exactly the reason you mentioned), but from people I've talked to (like my mentor right now), they've encouraged me to apply to a lot of programs for exactly that reason: you never know who will accept you, and you never know where the funding is, so apply everywhere there could be a good fit.  This is just what I'm doing - I know it's not for everyone, but I am genuinely interested in all the schools I am applying to  so I figure, why not?

 

I had a mixed bag when contacting faculty. Some emailed me back quickly or after one "resend". Some, I never heard from. I ended up applying to all of my original schools, save one. As you stated, I found a few people at each of the schools (usually a main person and then some faculty whose research is somewhat tangential to mine) and mentioned them in my SoPs. 

In the end, it all works out. My wife applied for PhD History programs in 2015 (she's a 3rd year now, finishing up comps!). She was both accepted at and rejected from schools that she had great conversations with. Sometimes, there are things going on behind the scenes that we don't know about. All we can do is fill out the apps, do our best on the GRE, write a decent SOP and hope for the best. But, those little things (attempting to contact, solid LoRs, mentioning POIs in SoPs) can make a difference. 

Good luck! I'm already anxious with waiting!

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Hi all,

I recently was accepted to the University of Gothenburg in Sweden for a joint PhD project between there and UCLA Fielding School. I HIGHLY encourage you all if you are unsuccessful or do not get the stipend you want to consider European/Scandinavian schools.  Although the process is a bit different, I'm going to Gothenburg with all tuition and fees paid and $40,000/yr salary. In most Scandinavian schools PhD students are considered more of junior researchers/junior faculty rather than students, so you get a lot more benefits and opportunities for growth, research abroad, etc. 

Just a thought.  Best of luck to everyone else! Just wish I had found out about this before I submitted all my GRE scores for about $300 :( But I guess it's better to spend there than on submitting 10 applications.......

If you have any questions feel free to message me, happy to help as much as I can as this process was really long (I had been applying and interviewing pretty consistently since May before I found one but feel it was pretty worth it in the end).

Cheers and best of luck!

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On 9/21/2017 at 3:22 PM, eek_ said:



Applying to Where: UMD (Toxicology and Environmental Health),  Oregon State (Environmental Health), Pittsburgh (Environmental Epidemiology), UMN (Environmental Health), Michigan (Environmental Health), maybe Columbia (Climate and Health), JHU (Environmental Epi and Exposure Sciences)

I actually ended up applying to:

UMD, Oregon State, UMN, Columbia, JHU, and Boston University. 

 

 

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8 hours ago, ewriad18 said:

Hi all,

I recently was accepted to the University of Gothenburg in Sweden for a joint PhD project between there and UCLA Fielding School. I HIGHLY encourage you all if you are unsuccessful or do not get the stipend you want to consider European/Scandinavian schools.  Although the process is a bit different, I'm going to Gothenburg with all tuition and fees paid and $40,000/yr salary. In most Scandinavian schools PhD students are considered more of junior researchers/junior faculty rather than students, so you get a lot more benefits and opportunities for growth, research abroad, etc. 

Congratulations on that! I had thought about applying to both European and Canadian programs as well, but ultimately decided that I have a significant number of reasons to stay here in the States. 

Just hit the last submit button on my applications this morning. Now, we wait.

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Hi all,

I have been following for awhile, but thought I should join in.  I think I have strong recommendations and my writing sample is very strong (imho).  My stats are fairly lackluster, but here goes:

  • Undergrad Institution: Maine state school
  • Major: English
  • Minor(s): N/A
  • GPA: 3.67
  • Grad Institution: University of New England, online MPH
  • Grad GPA: 4.0
  • GRE: 160V, 154Q, 4.0AW

Research Experience

  • Mix of remote and on-the-ground research...very scant as I was working full-time while completing my MPH (maybe totaling 1.5 semesters)

Publications/Presentations

  • Zip!
  • Casual blog contributor for the American Public Health Association's International Health Section blog

Applied to

  • All Social & Behavioral Health equivalents: Johns Hopkins, Columbia, NYU, Wash U in St. Louis, University of Texas Health Science Center, University of Pittsburgh,  University of Memphis, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Accepted

  • University of Texas Health Science Center - by email on 11/29/17 (I am surprised as anyone!)

Rejected and/or Waitlisted: nothing to report yet!

 

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Hi everyone! Lurking super hard, so wanted to jump in while waiting for results...

Letter of recommendation should be fairly strong, but my master's research advisor missed the deadline for one the universities...I'm hoping that they will accept his rec late, since he also was late when I applied last year -_-. Have the required 3 LORs, with at least one additional (would be two, maybe my research advisor will pull through!!). 

  • Undergrad Institution: Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Major: Bachelor of Science in History, Technology and Society
  • Minor(s): International Affairs
  • Grad Institution: Georgia Institute of Technology, Master of City & Regional Planning; Environment & Health Specialization
  • Grad GPA: 3.76
  • GRE: 156V, 153Q, 4.0AW
  • Demographics: Hispanic, female, mid-twenties

Research Experience

  • Undergraduate research: no publications, undergraduate research scholarship (one for tuition, one for travel to a conference), one independent research project on bioethics and yellow fever
  • Graduate research: applied research paper focused on wastewater systems in informal communities along TX-MX border, presented at a conference, two independent research projects on homelessness in Atlanta and solar zoning policies. 
  • Work research: research on wind energy permitting process, presented at national conference

Work Experience

  • Research and project coordinator at major research university for 4 years while working towards graduate degree part-time; in K-12 outreach/research, subsequently in energy
  • Part-time work at local non-profit on industrial stormwater research and Clean Water Act enforcement

Publications/Presentations

  • Campus blogs?
  • One publication from first job out of college on implementation of a STEM program to improve performance in physical science- NSF funded

Fun Facts

  • Study abroad in UK for ~6 months
  • Strong involvement on campus for undergrad and graduate degree, notable groups include environmental and public health clubs. Some international public health volunteering experience 
  • Contacted faculty and had informational interviews with at least two at each uni

Applied to

  • Epi: University of Washington, Columbia University
  • Population, Place and Health: University of Southern California

Accepted

  • Nothing yet!

Rejected and/or Waitlisted

  • Nothingggg yet
Edited by redroses310

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Hey guys - here are my stats. Good luck to everyone!!!

  • Undergrad Institution: University of Chicago
  • Major: Public Policy
  • Minor(s): Visual Arts
  • GPA: 3.4
  • Grad Institution: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Grad GPA: 4.0
  • GRE: 156V, 159Q, 4.0 AW

Research Experience

  • Graduate Research Assistant - Substance Use & Health Policy (current)
  • Psychiatric Clinical Research Coordinator (2 years)
  • Undergraduate Addiction Research Assistant (1 semester)

Publications/Presentations

  • Co-authoring publications in progress...

Applied to

  • University of Southern California (Health Behavior Research PhD)
  • University of California, Irvine (Public Health PhD)
  • University of California, Los Angeles (Health Policy & Management PhD)

Accepted

  • Nothing yet!

Rejected and/or Waitlisted

  • Nothing yet!

 

Edited by Abhery Das

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On 12/5/2017 at 8:23 AM, tiyapakhi said:

Hey guys - here are my stats. Good luck to everyone!!!

  • Undergrad Institution: University of Chicago
  • Major: Public Policy
  • Minor(s): Visual Arts
  • GPA: 3.4
  • Grad Institution: Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Grad GPA: 4.0
  • GRE: 156V, 159Q, 4.0 AW

Research Experience

  • Graduate Research Assistant - Substance Use & Health Policy (current)
  • Psychiatric Clinical Research Coordinator (2 years)
  • Undergraduate Addiction Research Assistant (1 semester)

Publications/Presentations

  • Co-authoring publications in progress...

Applied to

  • University of Southern California (Health Behavior Research PhD)
  • University of California, Irvine (Public Health PhD)
  • University of California, Los Angeles (Health Policy & Management PhD)

Accepted

  • Nothing yet!

Rejected and/or Waitlisted

  • Nothing yet!

Hopkins too eh? I wonder if we know each other? :P Also not keen on staying? I have reservations about staying here as well... 

 

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2 hours ago, pbcup said:

Hi everyone! Been lurking for a bit, but now that half of my apps are in (totally procrastinating on those with Dec 14 deadlines) I thought I'd contribute! 

Good luck! 

 

I’m trying to decide if there are any more schools I can apply to for the 14/15th deadline. 

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Hey all, my stats are not that great but I did make meaningful relationships with many faculty in the department. A few of them want to work with me if admitted and I've been in constant contact with my future faculty advisor/mentor. I attended their open house, research presentations at APHA, and their anniversary reception. Hoping this is enough to get me in. I do have very strong recommendation letters from my director at work and my research advisor. 

  • Undergrad Institution: State public University
  • Major: public health-community health
  • Minor(s): health services administration
  • GPA: 3.66
  • Grad Institution: same as undergrad
  • Grad GPA: 3.66 (should be 3.8 or higher by the time I graduate in January)
  • GRE: 146V, 150Q, 4.0 AW (horrible, I know)

Research Experience

  • Graduate Research Assistant
  • Undergraduate research assistant 
  • Research assistant at a prestigious University as part-time job

Publications/Presentations

  • None 

 

Work experience:

8+ years of health care experience. (Variety)

Health educator

Project coordinator for diabetes grant

Applied to: 

  • University of Maryland-Maternal & child health

Accepted

  • Waiting

Rejected and/or Waitlisted

  • Waiting

 

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My SOPHAS application for JHU is still not verified. Last cycle I applied it took 5 business days. Now I'm worried it won't be done by their supporting material deadline of Dec. 19th. Definitely my fault for not getting transcripts submitted earlier, but now I feel powerless.

Anyone have experience with talking to the admissions office in cases where supporting material didn't make it by the deadline? Would they really throw out my application if SOPHAS ends up getting it to them a few days late?

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