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samman1994

When are you aiming too high?

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Hello everyone, 

 

So i have been searching for schools in the biochemistry section, and have been narrowing my list down to top 10 schools. The problem is, I have some top league ivy schools (harvard, brown, yale) as well as some middle tier schools (university of nc chappel hill and case western) and some lower tier schools (university of conneticut and state university of Iowa) rankings are mostly based on asking around (not from newsrank or anything, just asking professors). That being said, my application isn't too hot. 3.00 gpa and 50% GRE scores on my quant (good AW and verbal). I have good research experience (3+ years but no pubs) and nice LOR. Now to the problem:

I want to narrow my schools down even further down to 5. Ideally I would want to go based just off of research, but so far the ivy league schools have caught my attention the most. Now my dilemma is, my application isn't very good, and space is limited. I think I have a chance to get admitted to at least one ivy league, albeit a low chance though. Should I just ditch the idea and not waste my money or time applying to them? And instead replace it with a school I might actually have a better chance of getting into? Again, if I had the perfect application, ideally I would choose the ivy leagues (based off research interests), but I don't. The middle tier and lower tier schools also interest me as well, so I could apply to those. So am I aiming to high? I know when it comes down to looking for schools, you look at research interests, interest of the PI to take you on (which I am sure they would be), room in the lab and funding. Assuming the previously stated issues (PI interest, funding etc.) are good, should I still apply given my application? Or cut my loses short and move on to a lower tier school. 

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I'm currently in the same position, but I know I'll regret it if I don't apply to my top choice schools (not Ivy leagues, but comparable). Similarly, I ditched the "safety" schools that didn't interest me; unless I would still be ecstatic to go, they're not worth applying. Lastly, my primary interest is neurobiology, but of the ~8 schools on my list I'm only applying to 2 neurobiology programs - the rest are programs known to be less competitive (like umbrella programs) that will provide access to neuroscience labs. Maybe you can do something similar with your top choice schools.

Good luck

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12 minutes ago, 1apples said:

Similarly, I ditched the "safety" schools that didn't interest me; unless I would still be ecstatic to go, they're not worth applying.

 

Kudos to you for intending on only applying to programs in schools that you genuinely want to attend! I never understood why some people apply to schools that they don't really want to go to. I think it's paramount for students to apply to programs at universities or colleges they would love to attend. Good luck!

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Thanks for the replies guys. I basically narrowed my list down primarily by research interest. After emailing the grad coordinators about the average student they admit at each school, it appears I basically have 1 safety school out of the 5, and I'm almost positive I'm going to get rejected from the other schools if I apply, but I'ma apply anyways and see how it goes. I.e. average gpa is above a 3.6 at almost all the schools, with GRE scores above 65%, and a publication (which I have none), and multiple years of experience. So I lack the gpa, gre, and publications. Anyways, worst case scenario is they just reject me. 

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Is there a specific reason why you only wanted to apply to five programs? Five is a small number for PhD program applications - I think even most competitive applicants probably apply to somewhere like 7-10. This is especially true for borderline students who need to cast a wider net because they have an interesting application.

At this point you may have moved on, but for posterity, the answer to this question is really up to the individual student. It all depends on how crucial a PhD is to your personal and professional goals, and how much you'd like a PhD vs. doing something else next year (or ever). Some students can't see the point of getting a PhD if they can't go to a top program to do exactly what they want  - and their Plan B involves doing something that doesn't require a PhD. Those students might apply to fewer programs than the student who knows 100% that they want an academic career and knows they need a PhD, and/or who wants to go to a PhD program so badly that they don't really mind going to a more mid-ranked school.

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Well the sole answer is just money. I'd apply to more schools if I could afford to. In regards to the other point, I know for my career I definitely want a MA or PhD, but again money reasons. MA you need money, PhD they give you stipends. 

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