So, if you want prove that you have potential, prove that you have the fortitude to take on the system. There is way too much randomness in the grad-school admissions process. Many excellent applicants will be rejected for reasons totally apart from their research potential: they selected the wrong potential advisor, or their personal statement was too long, or their application was read later in the process when reviewers are exhausted, or no one even bothered to read it at all. At "top" schools, acceptance rates will be in the low single-digit percentages.
If you only want to go to a top grad school, then you're going to grad school for the wrong reason, and the odds of you getting in are low.
You should go to grad school because you want to do research, and you don't need to go to a "top" school for that. At top schools, virtually all applicants are qualified, which means that your probability of getting in is roughly the same as the acceptance rate. If you really want to go to grad school, then the odds are that you'll end up disappointed if you take this strategy.
This is a lot better, but it still feels a little low to me. Decide ahead of time on the probability you'd like to get into grad school, and compute the appropriate mixture of "top" and "regular" schools to which you should apply. I don't care if it's 2. I won't even look at it. The school you went to? I'll judge you the same whether you went to Nowhere State U or a top-ten school. Never seen one. Unless it's a research lab, it's not important.
I don't think these items have much predictive capacity as to whether or not someone can complete a Ph. I discovered through feedback that some schools including Utah have a GPA cut-off. I think GPA cut-offs are absurd. Of course, GPA cut-offs are not hard.
4. Playing the Game: The Streetsmart Guide to Graduate School, Frederick Frank & Karl Stein
In practice, there is a way to override them, but it probably requires a professor going to bat for you and getting the right bits flipped in the university bureaucracy. So, if you have a low GPA, mention it after you've piqued a professor's interest, and ask if you think it will be a problem during the admissions process. We're glad we didn't reject him. Definitely do not misunderstand a quote and weave that misunderstanding into a narrative about why you want to go to grad school. If you got rejected from everywhere but you followed my advice, contact me. I'll do my best to give you a candid assessment of why I think you were rejected and what you can do to improve your chances.
Keep in mind that there's a lot of randomness involved; don't take the rejection personally. If you're serious about grad school and academia, you're going to end up getting rejected a lot more. Improve your publication record and apply to more schools next time. Keep trying! If you were working with a professor during the admissions process, contact them.
There's actually a chance they forgot to ask the admissions committee about your application. Professors are always juggling a lot of balls. You might even find out the reason you weren't accepted was that the professor s that wanted you didn't have enough grant funding this year. That is, you may have done everything right, but were rejected for factors totally out of your control.
Getting what you came for : the smart student's guide to earning a Master's or a Ph. D
HOWTO: Get into grad school for science, engineering, math and computer science [ article index ]  [ mattmight ] [ rss ]. What graduate schools want When graduate schools are admitting students M. Helpful books Most of the books out there give bad advice on getting to graduate school. Letters of recommendation When letters of recommendation come from active, well-known researchers in your field of interest, a sentence in your recommendation like, "I've supervised her on a research project, and I have witnessed and believe in her potential to do research," counts for a lot.
Personal statements Personal statements should be short one page , and anything important like the name of Professor X should be in bold. What if I don't have a publication? Showing interest To show interest, you need to do your homework. Showing experience If you have experience on a research project with a professor, this will come across in the recommendation, but you should also describe the project in your personal statement. Showing potential In my experience, the most important character trait in research is not intelligence, but self-discipline.
Do the math There is way too much randomness in the grad-school admissions process. What doesn't matter GPA? Ten application tips Contact a faculty member you'd like to work with.
General Survival – Grad Resources
Email them a month or so before you apply. Comment intelligently on some research that faculty member has done. Attach any research you've done, and briefly summarize your research interests. That faculty member can then make sure your application receives a thorough review. Bear in mind that professors receive lots of form-letter spam from prospective students. It's painfully obvious when the email is form-letter spam, and most professors will summarily discard it.
Getting what you came for
Be brief. Even "lowly ranked" schools will receive hundreds or even thousands of applications for a few dozen slots. Most applications are skimmed first, and read only if something catches the reviewer's eye. Bold-facing items can help catch a reviewer's attention. There simply isn't time to read long-winded applications.
Short bullet points Make it easy to digest Your application [But, please, make your bullet points grammatically parallel. Applications are reviewed by the faculty in the area for which the prospective student states an interest. If you choose this poorly, the right person will not see your application. Reviewers also get annoyed when there is a mismatch between area preference and faculty preference. At least skim the home pages of every faculty member. It's also a good idea to look for faculty with an active research program and current Ph.
Faculty without funding can't easily admit students. Be different. The admissions committee already knows that it's been your lifelong dream to become a scientist. That's why you're applying. Many personal statements start off this with this standard back-story, and it's a waste of space. Use quotes carefully.
A lot of personal statements start off with a quote. If you use a quote, make sure it's witty, relevant and one that the reviewer has never seen. Do not misquote or misattribute a quote. Also, Benjamin Franklin was not a U. Make it professional. Highlight any interesting projects you've worked on there.
Proof-read your documents. Because, boy howdy, does graduate school require writing, writing, lots and lots and lots of writing, and more research than what should be legal, understanding how to navigate this milieu is an essential skill. Best of all, Paul J. This guide caters to both students and faculty members involved with graduate programs, allowing either side to see what goes on with the other and building understanding relationships.
Nontraditional and minority students should especially read up on the sometimes institutionalized examples of discrimination, though they ought not let it stand as a detriment towards applying and accepting Ph. With cheeky humor, the anarchic minds behind Playing the Game: The Streetsmart Guide to Graduate School outline all the ins and outs of what potential, upcoming, and current grad students can expect and what to do when common situations arise. Readers seem to absolutely love it because of how straightforward it portrays the overall experience, leaving no positive or negative behind.
The full title might be quite a mouthful, but anyone considering graduate school would do well to consider this one of many valuable options toward understanding the whole crazy thing. Jason Karp pulled from his very own experiences hacking through a Ph. Because a Ph. This particular guide mostly targets anyone working toward something in the technology field, though almost anyone with crippling shyness or Not The Right Way With Words Syndrome might certainly benefit.
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Related Getting What you Came For: The Smart Students Guide to Earning a Masters or Ph.D.
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