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Thread: more application questions

  1. #1
    Cyburbian jbr's avatar
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    more application questions

    is it true that grad school admissions dudes don't actually read recommendations and letters of intent? this is what i'm hearing.

    grad school applicant pools are relatively small, right? wouldn't it be hurting the schools to not take more of an investment in what kind of student they'd be getting?

    i'm just a little pissed off here because i know i have a lot to offer these schools, but if they're going to treat my application like yesterday's newspaper, what am i even making the effort for?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian The District's avatar
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    Whoa!

    ok, assuming that all the admissions people i have spoken with are telling the truth, i have gotten the exact opposite impression. while i can't speak for every school, i can speak speak for a few. i was at MIT's open house last week and it was made very clear that the personal statement and recommendations are of upmost importance. other schools (harvard and ga tech, in my limited experienced) said the same thing. it would be hard for these items to be so important if no one is reading them.

    as to the size of applicant pools, this varies WIDELY depending on the school. i would be willing to bet that MIT's is close to the largest, at ~260 apps. other schools have a much smaller pool.

    i really have a hard time believing that there is this giant conspiracy, wherein everyone i've spoken with says that personal statement are very important, but in fact have little or no value. just my experience.

  3. #3
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    Hey district,

    I don't want to be a nuisance but could you give us immobile types an idea of what was discussed at the open houses and what sort of impressions you took away from the different schools. Actually, I would appreciate anyone's feedback from the open houses. Thanks. And I'd also like to add that the various admission departments I've spoken to have clearly stated that the personal statement is really important. But I wonder how work experience is looked upon in the admissions process; I get fairly hazy answers when I ask about this one. I know most schools have a policy where work experience is not required and people can be accepted directly from undergrad; but I wonder how many acceptances go out to people with that type of profile. From what I can gather, a lot of the accepted applicants to the top programs (MIT, Berkeley, etc.) seem to have a few years of direct experience before they enter.

    alan

  4. #4
    Cyburbian The District's avatar
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    i will try to post a review of my visits in the next week or so.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian The District's avatar
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    i will try to post a review of my visits in the next week or so, although i've only been to one formal open house (MIT). my other experience just comes from visiting schools on my own or via email or phone conversations.

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    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    what?

    I was told by the admissions officer that I spoke with at NYU in the spring that the letter of intent and the recommendations were what they looked for most. The GRE isn't 'required' there, but she said it can help to have a 'decent' score. She didn't define what 'decent' was.

    Depending on the school different components are weighted differently. The best way to figure out what emphasis they place on any given aspect is to visit or talk to whoever decides on admissions.


    Good luck!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally posted by kjelsadek
    The GRE isn't 'required' there, but she said it can help to have a 'decent' score. She didn't define what 'decent' was. Good luck!
    Based on all of the admissions reps I've spoken with, for planning programs if you score over 1200 combined math/verbal then it's considered a "decent" score (though this is highly subjective and varies by school). Oddly, most don't look at the writing sample score. But as most of the threads here will tell you, the whole of you application is worth more than the sum of its parts. Don't get hung up on one component of your application.

  8. #8
          bross's avatar
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    i've begun applying for graduate schoolas well and I'm applying to pretty much every top school. My GRE scores aren't "decent" but it does not hurt to apply. I have great recommendations and my letter of intent is coming along. From what I've been told, the letter of intent is the most important part of the application because they read it first and decide whether or not to even discuss your application.

    My list thus far:

    Rutgers, Cornell, Michigan, NYU, Columbia, Penn, MIT, SUNY Albany

  9. #9
    Cyburbian jbr's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by bross

    My list thus far:

    Rutgers, Cornell, Michigan, NYU, Columbia, Penn, MIT, SUNY Albany
    haha, i'm applying to rutgers, nyu, and michigan as well! considered albany (i'm from nyc and slogged through the suny system for undergrad) but i hadn't heard enough about the program.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Peter Bratt's avatar
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    Applying to Michigan

    I'm applying to Michigan as well, and just completed my application. The program looks excellent, and hopefully I'll hear soem good news from the school at some point this spring.

    As far as Rutgers goes, its a good program, but they give very little money.

  11. #11
          bross's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jbr
    haha, i'm applying to rutgers, nyu, and michigan as well! considered albany (i'm from nyc and slogged through the suny system for undergrad) but i hadn't heard enough about the program.
    I went through SUNY as well but I've heard Albany is looked favorably upon by employers in the Tri state area. Since I went through SUNY i think i probably have a good shot of getting in.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian fructa's avatar
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    speaking of letters of intent and statements of purpose... who else is entirely sick of writing about themselves? diversity statements, personal history statements -- ugh. seriously? i am not this interesting. i won't contribute meaningfully to the diversity of your graduate school. take me on my merits or leave me out; don't make me keep regurgitating my life story, it's really not been long enough to bear this many retellings!

  13. #13
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    no kidding fructa. i'm writing berkeley's essays last minute right now and after a certain point it really does become ridiculous. the whole 'tell us the barriers in your life' part of the essay is ridiculous. i want to be admitted because i'm qualified, not because i used to be a refugee (which i was, and which i refuse to put in the essay). i guess its their attempt to get more diverse backgrounds into the profession, which is big at berkeley.
    and i really don't know how specific to be when discussing what problems or issues i want to study or pursue. i mean, i don't have a specific research topic in mind; i thought part of the experience of grad school was figuring that out. should i make something up, so it seems like i'm focused? maybe it's an indication i'm not ready to go back to school...who knows.
    anyways, my point is that i completely agree with you fructa, and i too am sick of myself right now.

  14. #14
    Cyburbian shishi's avatar
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    me too...

    Quote Originally posted by alan_tall
    no kidding fructa. i'm writing berkeley's essays last minute right now and after a certain point it really does become ridiculous. the whole 'tell us the barriers in your life' part of the essay is ridiculous. i want to be admitted because i'm qualified, not because i used to be a refugee (which i was, and which i refuse to put in the essay). i guess its their attempt to get more diverse backgrounds into the profession, which is big at berkeley.
    and i really don't know how specific to be when discussing what problems or issues i want to study or pursue. i mean, i don't have a specific research topic in mind; i thought part of the experience of grad school was figuring that out. should i make something up, so it seems like i'm focused? maybe it's an indication i'm not ready to go back to school...who knows.
    anyways, my point is that i completely agree with you fructa, and i too am sick of myself right now.
    At the graduate level some of these do seem a bit silly. I will say when the schools ask for them, "they are dead Serious about it." I went to Berkeley as an undergrad and they are very aware of the the diversity (or lack thereof) on campus.
    Even though a huge pain, take it as serious as your PS, it might just pay off in the long run.

    Good luck.

  15. #15
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    I am sick of writing about myself too. I don't want some sort of pity party because I was a single parent at age 19 and on welfare and now getting ready to graduate from college. Who wants to relive that or any part of the dicier moments in one's past. I think too the more I write the more paranoid I become that I am not going to be admitted anywhere. Anyone else having problems with a slow professor completing recommendations?

    Cheers!

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Peter Bratt's avatar
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    Applications

    I finished up my University of Illinois-Chicago application last weekend, and I'm about done with my Portland State application. After these two are sent off, I only have to work on getting my U Penn and Virginia Tech-Alexandria applications out. I hope to get this all done over the next two weeks before I fly to my parents on Christmas Day.

    Here's an interesting question. What makes one school choose rolling v. set admissions? Of the schools that I am applying to, it seems that Berkeley, Penn, Michigan, and Portland State have set admission dates, while Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Illinois-Chicago, Virginia Tech and Wayne State have rolling admissions dates. I would assume that the more prestigous schools tend to set admission dates, but I could be wrong.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian shishi's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Peter Bratt
    I finished up my University of Illinois-Chicago application last weekend, and I'm about done with my Portland State application. After these two are sent off, I only have to work on getting my U Penn and Virginia Tech-Alexandria applications out. I hope to get this all done over the next two weeks before I fly to my parents on Christmas Day.

    Here's an interesting question. What makes one school choose rolling v. set admissions? Of the schools that I am applying to, it seems that Berkeley, Penn, Michigan, and Portland State have set admission dates, while Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Illinois-Chicago, Virginia Tech and Wayne State have rolling admissions dates. I would assume that the more prestigous schools tend to set admission dates, but I could be wrong.
    From my exp. all departmens have set deadlines to apply to the program and be considered for funding. Those that have rolling admission will admit you, but your gonna pay your way, and not be considered for funding.

    That has been my experiance when appling to masters and PhD programs in the past. An email or phone call to the department will show that the department might have a deadline, while the Graduate school has rolling admisions.

    Good luck.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian fructa's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kjelsadek
    I am sick of writing about myself too. I don't want some sort of pity party because I was a single parent at age 19 and on welfare and now getting ready to graduate from college. Who wants to relive that or any part of the dicier moments in one's past. I think too the more I write the more paranoid I become that I am not going to be admitted anywhere. Anyone else having problems with a slow professor completing recommendations?

    Cheers!
    As far as I can tell, none of my recommenders have gotten letters in yet. I emailed Portland yesterday to get some sort of reassurance that they'd received my application (mailed in before Thanksgiving), and recieved word that yes, the application was in, but they hadn't received any letters or transcripts. <gulp> So I started quietly panicking, since I had receipts from all my undergrad schools that said transcripts were mailed on Nov 14, and was assuming that all was well in that department -- about 20 minutes of back-and-forth emails later I get a message saying: "On second thought, I have transcripts for you from 3 schools right here. Should I be expecting any more?"

    Agh!
    <laughter>

    OK, off to overnight Berkeley's departmental package to them, replete with newly-created design "portfolio"...

  19. #19
    Cyburbian shishi's avatar
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    yikes...

    Quote Originally posted by fructa
    As far as I can tell, none of my recommenders have gotten letters in yet. I emailed Portland yesterday to get some sort of reassurance that they'd received my application (mailed in before Thanksgiving), and recieved word that yes, the application was in, but they hadn't received any letters or transcripts. <gulp> So I started quietly panicking, since I had receipts from all my undergrad schools that said transcripts were mailed on Nov 14, and was assuming that all was well in that department -- about 20 minutes of back-and-forth emails later I get a message saying: "On second thought, I have transcripts for you from 3 schools right here. Should I be expecting any more?"

    Agh!
    <laughter>

    OK, off to overnight Berkeley's departmental package to them, replete with newly-created design "portfolio"...
    That sucks.

    Always double check after you send your app in. I was robbed of a full ride over a year ago b/c my app was pulled for not being complete. Actually the admission office put my letters in a file for the previous year b/c they got them in late October, who would have thought.

    PSU will send you an official letter when they have all your materials, I got mine in the mail yesterday. Sending in two application packages to every school is just bound for stuff to be lost or misplaced.

    Hang in there, it is almost over.

    Matt

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Peter Bratt's avatar
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    U Penn

    I just want to vent about U Penn's personal statement being no more than 500 words With every other personal statement essay being twice the length, I'm a bit annoyed!

  21. #21
    Cyburbian jbr's avatar
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    i got my first two applications (of seven) in yesterday. i'd breathe two sighs of relief, but i still have to get those fellowship applications in on time...

  22. #22
    Cyburbian
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    the process will soon begin...

  23. #23
    Cyburbian fructa's avatar
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    They're in! They're in! They're all in!

    Well, "in" meaning "in envelopes," for two of them. But "in" something! No longer in my computer or in my head! Hahahahahaha!!!

    Peter Bratt: all my apps had statements that were to be around 500 words, I thought that was standard? (now paranoid that I didn't read the application right...) All of them except &$%!$ing Berkeley, whose statement was to be 3 times that long. Gaaaah.

  24. #24
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    3 times as long? did berkeley's application have a specified word/page limit? when i filled out the essays online, all it said was max 12000 characters for the 1st essay and 8000 for the 2nd. did anyone else find the 2 separate essays really frustrating? i made many of the same points and used the same examples in both essays. honestly, i prefer the 500 word limit; brief, concise, and less room for error and less of a chance of boring the reader.

  25. #25
    Yeah, I've tried to keep my essays in the 500 word range. Anything extra just feels like it's padding/redundant or it's getting too detailed. After all, I think they want to see some general research interests, but they don't want to see an air-tight thesis... in the longer essays I fear that I did verge on writing what sounds like a proposal for a term paper.

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