question for applicants - number of scools you applied

chewy
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question for applicants - number of scools you applied

Postby chewy » Thu Mar 04, 2010 4:46 pm

To those of you who have applied to many many schools (double digits), what made you decide to apply to so many. I only applied to 5 and that was costly enough. The entire application process between testing and visiting and applying for just 5 schools was over $1,000. out of pocket expense. how do you afford these 10, 15 schools. If you applying to 15 schools, does that not show lack of confidence of getting in somewhere. And dont say application fee is waived as none (0) of my schools even considered that.

blackcat007
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Re: question for applicants

Postby blackcat007 » Thu Mar 04, 2010 4:52 pm

chewy wrote: If you applying to 15 schools, does that not show lack of confidence of getting in somewhere.


Exactly

matonski
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Re: question for applicants

Postby matonski » Thu Mar 04, 2010 5:19 pm

Also, visit the schools after they accept you, not before. That narrows the traveling down and it's often fully paid for. I applied to 16 schools and the app fees cost about $1000 total I think.

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notnaps
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Re: question for applicants

Postby notnaps » Thu Mar 04, 2010 5:22 pm

There is an extreme amount of noise in the process (of applying for grad school), so you take as many measurements as possible to counteract the noise.

delton
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Re: question for applicants

Postby delton » Thu Mar 04, 2010 5:23 pm

Yeah, I applied to 13, and I think some of it was a waste of money.

My advice is be realistic, don't bother with the very top unless you are exceptional , but apply to a broad range of schools. On the other hand, some people like to apply to the top just on the "random chance" they get in. I'd say 6-10 is a good number these days.

ddubs
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Re: question for applicants

Postby ddubs » Thu Mar 04, 2010 6:00 pm

I applied last year to top schools and didn't get in anywhere. So, I spent a year doing research and learning more about the process. I applied to so many schools this time because even though I was confident of my application this time around, I could NOT take another year off, so I had to make sure I got in somewhere.

Plus, I wanted to get into a top school, and unless you have an exceptionally strong application, the top schools are always a little bit of a crapshoot. That's how I ended up doing 4 Top 5-10ish schools, and 5 Top 20ish schools, and two ~safeties.

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grae313
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Re: question for applicants

Postby grae313 » Thu Mar 04, 2010 7:07 pm

chewy wrote:To those of you who have applied to many many schools (double digits), what made you decide to apply to so many. I only applied to 5 and that was costly enough. The entire application process between testing and visiting and applying for just 5 schools was over $1,000. out of pocket expense. how do you afford these 10, 15 schools. If you applying to 15 schools, does that not show lack of confidence of getting in somewhere. And dont say application fee is waived as none (0) of my schools even considered that.


I think if you are applying from a school with a good reputation (like top 10), have great grades, great test scores, great research experience, and you know you'll have great letters, then yeah it would be weird to apply to 10+ schools. However this is not most people, and applying to graduate school is an uncertain and even scary experience. For me, I had a decent looking profile, but I did my undergrad at an unknown state school with a poor reputation, and my PGRE was not amazing. I wasn't sure how my application would be viewed so I applied to 9 schools ranging from top tier to middle of the road.

At first I was worried about the expense, then I realized that you only apply to graduate school once, and I didn't want to be stuck wondering "what if." I did hours and hours of research finding schools in locations I would enjoy living in and with research groups and facilities that matched my interests, and applied to all of the high ranking schools that met my criteria. I thought that if I could just get into one of them it would be amazing, and I wanted to give myself the best chance to be accepted somewhere. The expense is an extremely minor detail, all things considered. 20 years from now, am I going to care about how much I spent applying to graduate school? No.

So yeah, I think it does show lack of confidence, and I think it's perfectly reasonable. I ended up being accepted to 8/9 schools, but when I was applying there were times when I was terrified I wouldn't get accepted anywhere. Coming from a crap school, it was my dream to get into a prestigious institution and the expense of applying to 9 schools was not on my mind.

jmason86
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Re: question for applicants

Postby jmason86 » Thu Mar 04, 2010 8:44 pm

I'm right there with you, grae. Same exact scneario for me (except I went to UC Santa Cruz, which is well known). But I also applied to 9 schools (my list was originally for 15 schools but I widdled it down because there were some places I just simply would not want to live, or the research focuses didn't align all that well with me own). I did a ridiculous amount of research. Applied to a couple top 5 programs (stanford and berkeley). Applied to some mid tiers. Applied to a couple back ups. Then I applied to a couple aerospace engineering programs (UW and CU) as a separate interest.. having no idea how my background in astrophysics would look to them.

There were certainly times that I was afraid that I would be rejected everywhere. So far I have 3 rejections, 3 acceptances, and 4 pending. My total application costs were around $1300, not including the fees required to take the GREs. I'd have to say it was entirely worth the money.

mobytish
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Re: question for applicants

Postby mobytish » Thu Mar 04, 2010 9:07 pm

Well, I'm not an applicant who applied to a lot of schools (only 3), but some of that was because I didn't have the PGRE, so my options were limited. Had I had the option, I would have added three more schools to my list, making my total 6, which were based on the following categories:

I don't really think I'll get it, but it's worth a shot: 3 (currently only 1)
I have a decent chance, but I'm not positive I'll get in: 2 (currently only 1)
I'm almost sure I'll get in: 1 (still 1)

My application process was pretty cheap, but that was because there was no fee for applying to Rochester Optics online and I got a fee waiver for going to Lehigh's open house (it's an hour from where I live, so it wasn't hard to visit).

It'd be nice, of course, if we could all limit the number of schools we apply to because it would make this acceptance/rejection process go much faster (far less applicants for schools to consider) If we could only be a little bit better at evaluating our chances of getting in, we could also do a better job of sorting schools into one of the above categories and making our lists smaller.

But, then again, that's what this forum is all about :) (thank goodness)

jmason86
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Re: question for applicants

Postby jmason86 » Thu Mar 04, 2010 9:13 pm

True.. sometimes you just gotta give it a shot though. For instance, I've been working in a physics lab at stanford for 2+ years but my pgre is pretty weak. So I decided that there was a (remote) chance that I could be accepted there. I wasn't. But if I hadn't applied, I always would've wondered how my life might be different if I had applied and got accepted. Plus, I'm sure Stanford had no qualms with taking my $110 for the application fee.

chewy
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Re: question for applicants

Postby chewy » Thu Mar 04, 2010 9:21 pm

wow 110 bucks. I thought 75 was excessive. No way it costs the school 110.00 per an application to review it for a half an hour. wtf, are their lawyers looking at?

jmason86
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Re: question for applicants

Postby jmason86 » Thu Mar 04, 2010 9:46 pm

Yeah.. stanford is as expensive as it gets I think. I talked to Phil Scherrer who has been on the committee for the last 13+ years. He says that they do actually look at every single application (as opposed to just cutting the people below some pgre value) and that their goal is to have every application looked at by 3 people on the committee. They usually don't reach that goal and there will be many apps that only one person looks through. So maybe they charge so much because they are actually looking at every single app, or because they want to deter people from just applying for the hell of it, or because they are a private university, or maybe because they simply can. haha dunno..

chewy
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Re: question for applicants

Postby chewy » Thu Mar 04, 2010 10:01 pm

most likely i would think private university as they are in the business to make money, not educate. for 11.00 an application they better look at every application, or they can expect a series of lawsuits to follow.

kroner
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Re: question for applicants

Postby kroner » Fri Mar 05, 2010 12:45 am

High cost also deters people from applying who know they have very little chance. The admissions committee doesn't want their time wasted. In fact I'm pretty sure that's the main reason there are application fees in the first place. They need to deter people from applying unless they're really serious or else everyone would apply to 300 schools.

MacCutcheon60
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Re: question for applicants

Postby MacCutcheon60 » Fri Mar 05, 2010 1:33 am

ddubs wrote: the top schools are always a little bit of a crapshoot.


Yup. I thought the $100 (including score reports, etc.) was a fair gamble on a 1/100 shot at a few dream schools. If I had that much luck on an actual craps table, I might have applied to UNLV.

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xudis149
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Re: question for applicants

Postby xudis149 » Fri Mar 05, 2010 2:33 am

chewy wrote:how do you afford these 10, 15 schools. If you applying to 15 schools, does that not show lack of confidence of getting in somewhere. And dont say application fee is waived as none (0) of my schools even considered that.



i applied to around 18 places... afford? i gambled all my savings and borrowed a few....

lack of confidence... ABSOLUTELY, .... :|

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grae313
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Re: question for applicants

Postby grae313 » Fri Mar 05, 2010 11:13 am

hey sidharthsp, how are you liking Texas A&M?

ddubs
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Re: question for applicants

Postby ddubs » Fri Mar 05, 2010 2:24 pm

MacCutcheon60 wrote:
ddubs wrote: the top schools are always a little bit of a crapshoot.


Yup. I thought the $100 (including score reports, etc.) was a fair gamble on a 1/100 shot at a few dream schools. If I had that much luck on an actual craps table, I might have applied to UNLV.


My biggest regret is not applying to UNLV. I can only imagine their visitation weekend.

highbounce
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Re: question for applicants

Postby highbounce » Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:26 pm

kroner wrote:High cost also deters people from applying who know they have very little chance. The admissions committee doesn't want their time wasted. In fact I'm pretty sure that's the main reason there are application fees in the first place. They need to deter people from applying unless they're really serious or else everyone would apply to 300 schools.


Also where do you think the departments get the money to reimburse the prospective students attending open house for their meals, drinks, and other amenities? Out of the pockets of the people who didn't get in. When I was at Johns Hopkins for their open house and drinking expensive red wine a italian restaurant, I could imagine what Harvard would do with my +$100 application fee that I wasted to entertain the more fortunate applicants.

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xudis149
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Re: question for applicants - number of scools you applied

Postby xudis149 » Fri Mar 05, 2010 5:57 pm

grae313 wrote:hey sidharthsp, how are you liking Texas A&M?


hi grae
well I had a horrible time the first semester. Due to lack of undergrad prep in QM I had to Q-Drop out of grad QM. It was tough to start from the level of Landau and Merzbacher, especially after doing a dull programming job for 3 years. I can concur with the general view that PGRE scores are not at an indication of how well we can do in grad school. Grad courses are pretty hard and contrary to general perception students often fail these courses too...

But now the dust has settled and I am feeling more comfortable with grad life. IT IS HECTIC. I am taking QM again this semester, but learning a lot more this time :)..... And yes I am definitely liking Texas A&M...

this forum still rocks! :)

rahuldatta
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Re: question for applicants - number of scools you applied

Postby rahuldatta » Fri Mar 05, 2010 6:06 pm

Hey siddhatrhsp

it appears that your undergrads was in engineering which is the same in my case...i applied to some 15 places...till now i have 4 rejects 2 waitlists and 2 admits (Umich Phy and Pennstate A&A)

how hard is this transition for an engineering undergrad? and what field are u planning to pursue as your research area?

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xudis149
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Re: question for applicants - number of scools you applied

Postby xudis149 » Fri Mar 05, 2010 6:26 pm

rahuldatta wrote:Hey siddhatrhsp

it appears that your undergrads was in engineering which is the same in my case...i applied to some 15 places...till now i have 4 rejects 2 waitlists and 2 admits (Umich Phy and Pennstate A&A)

how hard is this transition for an engineering undergrad? and what field are u planning to pursue as your research area?



hi rahul,

seems you are more prepared than me. You have done some research and project works in astro. And you have got admits in nice places.
I found it very hard, the first semester. QM is so counter intuitive and I could not deal with the texts like merzbacher. I fancy HEP theory or exp, so there is no way around QM :) .... If you have not taken any QM in undergrad then you should prepare well during summer, preferably read from 2~3 books to get a broad view...

btw.. congrats on the admits... those are nice places u got into...

rahuldatta
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Re: question for applicants - number of scools you applied

Postby rahuldatta » Fri Mar 05, 2010 6:33 pm

Thanks Siddharth...i m looking for observational/theoretical cosmology and its relevance towards constraining particle physics...
Last edited by rahuldatta on Fri Mar 05, 2010 11:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

mobytish
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Re: question for applicants - number of scools you applied

Postby mobytish » Fri Mar 05, 2010 8:26 pm

rahuldatta wrote:Thanks Siddharth...i m looking for observational/theoretical cosmology and its relevance towards constraining particle physics...it would be great if you could share your email id ...mine is rahuldatta07@gmail.com


You do know you can send private messages on this forum, right?

jmason86
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Re: question for applicants - number of scools you applied

Postby jmason86 » Fri Mar 05, 2010 9:25 pm

Does anyone know about the opposite case i.e. going from a physics undergrad to engineering grad (specifically aerospace)? Is this difficult to do?

sidharthsp wrote:
rahuldatta wrote:Hey siddhatrhsp

it appears that your undergrads was in engineering which is the same in my case...i applied to some 15 places...till now i have 4 rejects 2 waitlists and 2 admits (Umich Phy and Pennstate A&A)

how hard is this transition for an engineering undergrad? and what field are u planning to pursue as your research area?



hi rahul,

seems you are more prepared than me. You have done some research and project works in astro. And you have got admits in nice places.
I found it very hard, the first semester. QM is so counter intuitive and I could not deal with the texts like merzbacher. I fancy HEP theory or exp, so there is no way around QM :) .... If you have not taken any QM in undergrad then you should prepare well during summer, preferably read from 2~3 books to get a broad view...

btw.. congrats on the admits... those are nice places u got into...

sravanskarri
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Re: question for applicants - number of scools you applied

Postby sravanskarri » Fri Mar 05, 2010 9:30 pm

[quote="jmason86"]Does anyone know about the opposite case i.e. going from a physics undergrad to engineering grad (specifically aerospace)? Is this difficult to do?

You would see that it is not a problem at all. Expect a few necessary courses to be a bit boring :D .

MacCutcheon60
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Re: question for applicants

Postby MacCutcheon60 » Fri Mar 05, 2010 9:32 pm

ddubs wrote: My biggest regret is not applying to UNLV. I can only imagine their visitation weekend.


Haha. It'd either be the best open house or the worst.

rahuldatta
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Re: question for applicants - number of scools you applied

Postby rahuldatta » Fri Mar 05, 2010 11:56 pm

ohh i am extremely sorry for digressing from the topic

thanx mobytish ...i was really not aware of the private message thing....

getting back to the topic, since my background is non-traditional, hence i took a chance applying to 15 places.
I was not sure if they would consider an engineering undergrad (especially the top ones)...but i am relieved now
And being an international having only 870 on the PGRE was certainly not a strong point in my application....but the review process considers a lot of things ....

ddubs
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Re: question for applicants

Postby ddubs » Sat Mar 06, 2010 2:26 pm

MacCutcheon60 wrote:
ddubs wrote: My biggest regret is not applying to UNLV. I can only imagine their visitation weekend.


Haha. It'd either be the best open house or the worst.


Haha. They'd have to be very dumb to screw that up. Sample itinerary:

Lab tours all day, etc.

Dinner at 6pm.

Empty schedule until next afternoon.

GG

dct64xx
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Re: question for applicants - number of scools you applied

Postby dct64xx » Wed Mar 31, 2010 12:44 pm

I applied to 10 schools in the US plus U. of Toronto as a safety. At the time I kinda thought that was too many (and man was it expensive!), but then I didn't get into any in the states. So go figure.

quark314
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Re: question for applicants - number of scools you applied

Postby quark314 » Thu Apr 08, 2010 4:00 pm

I applied to fifteen schools. It was definitely because I was scared I wouldn't get in anywhere. In the end, I was accepted to 3 in the top-15 neighborhood, 1 in the top-50 neighborhood and still waiting to hear from one. And yeah, it was expensive. Fortunately I took a year off to work between college and grad school (which certainly helped finance my applications, and possibly helped me get into the 4 schools since my job involves physics-related research).

That said, was it really expensive to apply to all those schools? Yes. But in the grand scheme of a process that determines the entire trajectory of my career... I definitely think "applying broadly," as my adviser put it, was the right choice for me.




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