applying for a phd with a girlfriend

postman
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Sep 20, 2010 4:26 pm

Re: applying for a phd with a girlfriend

Postby postman » Tue Feb 15, 2011 11:07 am

bfollinprm wrote:Most top schools havent finished their admissions. Hold tight. Fellowship offers have gone out, but most big schools haven't filled their TA positions. I shouldn't say this, since your SO is in direct competition with me (similar stats), but if you send an email that probably wouldn't be inappropriate. They obviously like you (they gave you a fellowship), and if accepting your SO (who has an application that indicates she'd be successful as a grad student) gave them a better chance of keeping you, they have a good incentive to accept her over similar applicants (like me :( ). Good luck!


Thank you for your kind words. It helps a bit. :)

bfollinprm wrote:EDIT: To be clear, an experimentalist with a PGRE in the 65-80th %ile range is not a bad applicant; that's not a bad PGRE score for an experimentalist. It's a good score. Assuming good LoR's and good grades, she stands a good (<30%) chance of getting into top schools on her own merit (this is from the mouth of my PI at a top 5 school). Emailing the department is just giving them a reason to break the ties at the fringe of the acceptance pool (which is where someone with those stats will normally lie) in favor of your SO.

EDIT2: I forgot you were an international. That changes things. Where has she published, and does she have US LoR writers? If so, she has a good chance. If not, that PGRE might be the only data point they trust 100% (it's hard to compare GPA/LoR's across cultures). In that case, still try, but don't get your hopes up.


We have two recommenders working in world-renowned insitutions: one is a well-known professor from a top-5 european medicine institution, another works in a top-5 US university (he is not a professor though). The problem could be that they both are from the same country as we are. However, she has a paper in an international journal with Impact Factor ~4.5, which is ok for our field. Another paper was submitted to a less popular and more specialized journal. As you can see, it is hard to estimate her chances, because there are a lot of details.

Another question, what could I write to them? "Hi, I've got accepted, but what about my SO?". I don't see a right form for this enquiry. :(

Thank you!

bfollinprm
Posts: 1203
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: applying for a phd with a girlfriend

Postby bfollinprm » Tue Feb 15, 2011 11:31 am

postman wrote:Another question, what could I write to them? "Hi, I've got accepted, but what about my SO?". I don't see a right form for this enquiry. :(
Thank you!


Im in a similar situation, though its hard to say whether me or my SO are better applicants (and we're different departments). I can share what I've written though:

When they make an offer, they give you funding to go visit the school. Since your SO didn't get in yet, she isn't funded to visit. I wrote something like this,

Dear [admissions chair],

Thank you so much for your offer of admission. [School name] is at or near the top of my list right now, and I'm really excited to make a visit. However, my [girlfriend, fiance, etc], [insert name], has yet to hear back from the university regarding the department's decision on her admission. Since we will be making our graduate school decision together, we'd like the opportunity to visit concurrently once we know whether we've both been accepted. Do you have any information as to the status of her application?

I look forward to scheduling a visit in the near future once a decision on her application has been reached.

Sincerely,

[Admitted Student]

I think this gets to the basic points: (1) you'd go if she's in, (2) you aren't likely to if she's not, and (3) gives her name, all without straight-up asking, "Will you admit X for me? kthnx."

EDIT: As to her chances, none of us obviously know, but what country are you coming from? UK, Japan, Germany, France (depending on the field) are more likely to have noted US collaborators who might recognize them. China, Russia, India are respected but more unknown in the States. The journal article helps, especially if she wrote it with US/Western European collaborators. The old world order still matters a little bit.

On the other point: One of my friend's recommenders was a researcher (not professor) at a school and it worked out fine, but not at every school (only ones where someone on the admissions committee had heard of the group).

postman
Posts: 8
Joined: Mon Sep 20, 2010 4:26 pm

Re: applying for a phd with a girlfriend

Postby postman » Fri Feb 18, 2011 8:17 am

bfollinprm wrote:
postman wrote:Another question, what could I write to them? "Hi, I've got accepted, but what about my SO?". I don't see a right form for this enquiry. :(
Thank you!


Im in a similar situation, though its hard to say whether me or my SO are better applicants (and we're different departments). I can share what I've written though:

When they make an offer, they give you funding to go visit the school. Since your SO didn't get in yet, she isn't funded to visit. I wrote something like this,

Dear [admissions chair],

Thank you so much for your offer of admission. [School name] is at or near the top of my list right now, and I'm really excited to make a visit. However, my [girlfriend, fiance, etc], [insert name], has yet to hear back from the university regarding the department's decision on her admission. Since we will be making our graduate school decision together, we'd like the opportunity to visit concurrently once we know whether we've both been accepted. Do you have any information as to the status of her application?

I look forward to scheduling a visit in the near future once a decision on her application has been reached.

Sincerely,

[Admitted Student]

I think this gets to the basic points: (1) you'd go if she's in, (2) you aren't likely to if she's not, and (3) gives her name, all without straight-up asking, "Will you admit X for me? kthnx."

EDIT: As to her chances, none of us obviously know, but what country are you coming from? UK, Japan, Germany, France (depending on the field) are more likely to have noted US collaborators who might recognize them. China, Russia, India are respected but more unknown in the States. The journal article helps, especially if she wrote it with US/Western European collaborators. The old world order still matters a little bit.

On the other point: One of my friend's recommenders was a researcher (not professor) at a school and it worked out fine, but not at every school (only ones where someone on the admissions committee had heard of the group).


Thank you! Your words helped me a lot. At least, now I have a feeling that I did all I could.
Good luck to you and your girlfriend, hope you'll be admitted where you want. :)

Lavabug
Posts: 66
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2012 6:19 pm

Re: applying for a phd with a girlfriend

Postby Lavabug » Mon Aug 13, 2012 4:27 pm

postman wrote:
bfollinprm wrote:
postman wrote:Another question, what could I write to them? "Hi, I've got accepted, but what about my SO?". I don't see a right form for this enquiry. :(
Thank you!


Im in a similar situation, though its hard to say whether me or my SO are better applicants (and we're different departments). I can share what I've written though:

When they make an offer, they give you funding to go visit the school. Since your SO didn't get in yet, she isn't funded to visit. I wrote something like this,

Dear [admissions chair],

Thank you so much for your offer of admission. [School name] is at or near the top of my list right now, and I'm really excited to make a visit. However, my [girlfriend, fiance, etc], [insert name], has yet to hear back from the university regarding the department's decision on her admission. Since we will be making our graduate school decision together, we'd like the opportunity to visit concurrently once we know whether we've both been accepted. Do you have any information as to the status of her application?

I look forward to scheduling a visit in the near future once a decision on her application has been reached.

Sincerely,

[Admitted Student]

I think this gets to the basic points: (1) you'd go if she's in, (2) you aren't likely to if she's not, and (3) gives her name, all without straight-up asking, "Will you admit X for me? kthnx."

EDIT: As to her chances, none of us obviously know, but what country are you coming from? UK, Japan, Germany, France (depending on the field) are more likely to have noted US collaborators who might recognize them. China, Russia, India are respected but more unknown in the States. The journal article helps, especially if she wrote it with US/Western European collaborators. The old world order still matters a little bit.

On the other point: One of my friend's recommenders was a researcher (not professor) at a school and it worked out fine, but not at every school (only ones where someone on the admissions committee had heard of the group).


Thank you! Your words helped me a lot. At least, now I have a feeling that I did all I could.
Good luck to you and your girlfriend, hope you'll be admitted where you want. :)

So how did this turn out for the OP?

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Last edited by Lavabug on Wed Mar 13, 2013 12:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

bfollinprm
Posts: 1203
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: applying for a phd with a girlfriend

Postby bfollinprm » Mon Aug 13, 2012 10:14 pm

Don't know about the OP, but it worked out great for us. In the end we had a choice between 2-4 schools we were both accepted to (depending on how you count) in the top 25. We applied to 15 ranging from top 10 to ~50, but had to wait until almost the deadline, so we had a pretty harrowing spring. Sending the emails definitely helped; schools worked hard for both of us to inquire about the status of the other's application, and several volunteered to pay to take us both out when one of us was accepted.

Lavabug
Posts: 66
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2012 6:19 pm

Re: applying for a phd with a girlfriend

Postby Lavabug » Mon Aug 13, 2012 10:36 pm

bfollinprm wrote:Don't know about the OP, but it worked out great for us. In the end we had a choice between 2-4 schools we were both accepted to (depending on how you count) in the top 25. We applied to 15 ranging from top 10 to ~50, but had to wait until almost the deadline, so we had a pretty harrowing spring. Sending the emails definitely helped; schools worked hard for both of us to inquire about the status of the other's application, and several volunteered to pay to take us both out when one of us was accepted.

That's awesome, I'm glad it worked out for you. Where did you end up going, if I may ask? (pm if necessary, I'm interested in a lot of the schools you got accepted at).

Edit: Oops nevermind, found your post in the applicant profile sticky.

bfollinprm
Posts: 1203
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: applying for a phd with a girlfriend

Postby bfollinprm » Mon Aug 13, 2012 11:38 pm

Lavabug wrote:
bfollinprm wrote:Don't know about the OP, but it worked out great for us. In the end we had a choice between 2-4 schools we were both accepted to (depending on how you count) in the top 25. We applied to 15 ranging from top 10 to ~50, but had to wait until almost the deadline, so we had a pretty harrowing spring. Sending the emails definitely helped; schools worked hard for both of us to inquire about the status of the other's application, and several volunteered to pay to take us both out when one of us was accepted.

That's awesome, I'm glad it worked out for you. Where did you end up going, if I may ask? (pm if necessary, I'm interested in a lot of the schools you got accepted at).

Edit: Oops nevermind, found your post in the applicant profile sticky.

Hah. I'm not very big into net anonymity, for better or worse (as you might have found out). If you have any questions about any school I was accepted to, or especially UC Davis in particular, send me a PM, or post in the relavent school profile thread.

Lavabug
Posts: 66
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2012 6:19 pm

Re: applying for a phd with a girlfriend

Postby Lavabug » Sun Aug 19, 2012 3:47 pm

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Last edited by Lavabug on Wed Mar 13, 2013 12:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

bfollinprm
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Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: applying for a phd with a girlfriend

Postby bfollinprm » Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:38 am

It's hard to transfer in grad school, but possible.

TakeruK
Posts: 937
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: applying for a phd with a girlfriend

Postby TakeruK » Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:27 am

I would say it's even harder to transfer in grad school than getting in originally. A transferring graduate student brings a lot of "baggage" -- you are going to need financial support, etc. So, if they let you transfer, they have to turn down someone else who is applying to their school. This means you would need to be at least good enough to have gotten into their school if you had applied the year after.

In addition, during your first year, your old school would have invested a bunch of money in you already. So, leaving that to go to the new school might send a message to the new school that you are "flakey" -- how do they know you aren't going to leave them too? You will probably be burning bridges with the old school as well. However, you could let everyone know up front what your plan is, but that is likely to cause problems for you at the old school this year, since they know you want to leave.

I think starting grad school is also a good time to seriously consider your relationship and what your goals (personal and career) are for the future. My girlfriend and I did this before deciding on my Canadian masters program and my wife and I did it again when deciding for PhD programs this year!

If being together is your priority (it would be ours too), it might even be better for both of you to also be applying to (funded) masters programs as well as PhD programs. So, if there is no school that accepts both of you, one of you could do a 1-2 year masters and then reapply to the partner's PhD program after that. Then you would only be long distance for 1-2 years instead of a full PhD (of course, there will be another 1-2 years possibly after the first partner graduates). Or one partner could just take a year off and reapply to their partner's school the following year. Personally, any of the above situations would be preferable than hoping a transfer is possible after 0.5-1 years. But at the start of grad school, our relationship was at the stage where we knew marriage was just a matter of time, so the best choice for each couple depends seriously considering your own life and career goals!

Lavabug
Posts: 66
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2012 6:19 pm

Re: applying for a phd with a girlfriend

Postby Lavabug » Mon Aug 20, 2012 4:55 pm

TakeruK wrote:If being together is your priority (it would be ours too), it might even be better for both of you to also be applying to (funded) masters programs as well as PhD programs. So, if there is no school that accepts both of you, one of you could do a 1-2 year masters and then reapply to the partner's PhD program after that. Then you would only be long distance for 1-2 years instead of a full PhD (of course, there will be another 1-2 years possibly after the first partner graduates). Or one partner could just take a year off and reapply to their partner's school the following year. Personally, any of the above situations would be preferable than hoping a transfer is possible after 0.5-1 years. But at the start of grad school, our relationship was at the stage where we knew marriage was just a matter of time, so the best choice for each couple depends seriously considering your own life and career goals!

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Last edited by Lavabug on Wed Mar 13, 2013 12:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

TakeruK
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: applying for a phd with a girlfriend

Postby TakeruK » Wed Aug 29, 2012 12:09 pm

I have heard of couples where one person might get into School X but not the other, and the person who gets in basically says "I'm interested but I'm only coming here if you accept my partner too." I've heard (friend of a friend, so beware), that this worked sometimes but in some cases, the department just fails the "second student" at the comps/quals level.

Applicants change from year to year so sometimes a similar profile will get rejected one year but accepted the next. Of course, you wouldn't really send in the exact same application -- if you are in your last year right now, when you apply, your final semester of courses won't be on your transcript. In addition, the extra time can help improve your SOP, or test scores, for example. I mean, I wouldn't say your chances are high if you didn't get in the first time, but if you end up moving to where your SO gets in and working for a year, it might be worth it to give grad school one more try, if you're still interested in it.

The Canadian average requirement (A- average) is for the Canadian system. In our system, the 3rd and 4th year physics/astro courses (which is what admission is based on) have class averages at around 72% to 78% level (i.e. B/B+). I'd say the upper 1/3rd of students will have A- averages and will go to grad school. Also, not every school requires the A- level, just the major ones (UBC, Toronto, McGill).

So, since you're not from Canada, they wouldn't just apply the A- minimum to your transcript. They would try to convert your country's grade system into an equivalent one. However, the requirement will be higher because international students cost more -- they can probably fund 2 domestic students for the cost of an international one. I would say you should apply if you are in the top 1/3rd or 1/4th of your class!

Lavabug
Posts: 66
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2012 6:19 pm

Re: applying for a phd with a girlfriend

Postby Lavabug » Wed Aug 29, 2012 12:22 pm

TakeruK wrote:I have heard of couples where one person might get into School X but not the other, and the person who gets in basically says "I'm interested but I'm only coming here if you accept my partner too." I've heard (friend of a friend, so beware), that this worked sometimes but in some cases, the department just fails the "second student" at the comps/quals level.

Applicants change from year to year so sometimes a similar profile will get rejected one year but accepted the next. Of course, you wouldn't really send in the exact same application -- if you are in your last year right now, when you apply, your final semester of courses won't be on your transcript. In addition, the extra time can help improve your SOP, or test scores, for example. I mean, I wouldn't say your chances are high if you didn't get in the first time, but if you end up moving to where your SO gets in and working for a year, it might be worth it to give grad school one more try, if you're still interested in it.

The Canadian average requirement (A- average) is for the Canadian system. In our system, the 3rd and 4th year physics/astro courses (which is what admission is based on) have class averages at around 72% to 78% level (i.e. B/B+). I'd say the upper 1/3rd of students will have A- averages and will go to grad school. Also, not every school requires the A- level, just the major ones (UBC, Toronto, McGill).

So, since you're not from Canada, they wouldn't just apply the A- minimum to your transcript. They would try to convert your country's grade system into an equivalent one. However, the requirement will be higher because international students cost more -- they can probably fund 2 domestic students for the cost of an international one. I would say you should apply if you are in the top 1/3rd or 1/4th of your class!

Many thanks for the reply.

Thanks, I'll keep this in mind. I should have mentioned that Toronto, McGill and McMaster had explicit grade requirements for students coming from Spain's grading system, they required an 8/10 which is very rare.

I am in the "bottom quarter" of the students that will graduate this year at my university, but my graduating class is will be 4-5 students at most, including myself! So I don't think ranking means much in this regard since the fraction of dropouts/late graduates at my university is so high (~40 first years which got cut down to an 4th year class of <10 , of which only half don't have to retake any courses and thus postpone graduation).

I hadn't thought about my senior year courses, good call, but I was planning on at least including a registration sheet showing the courses I'll be taking even if I wouldn't be getting any grades until May. I'm taking the pgre in November but I guess it could be improved upon if I had a whole year to prepare for it.

bfollinprm
Posts: 1203
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: applying for a phd with a girlfriend

Postby bfollinprm » Wed Aug 29, 2012 5:00 pm

Lavabug wrote:Fortunately I am legally able and willing to work in the US wherever my girlfriend gets in, so giving up on grad school is another option if it comes down to it. Priorities indeed change when one is in a relationship...

Applying the following year sounds reasonable but how can I improve my application in that year so as to not get rejected a second time? Most of the schools we are interested in (~10) don't accept students for terminal masters(nor do I think there's funding for this), and to my understanding, you don't really get any opportunities to do REU's/research(non-existant at my home university) if you've already graduated (and there's no way in hell I can afford taking another year to graduate, while being at least 5500km apart). If I send in an identical application the following year, wouldn't it just end up in the rejection bin?


If you have residency, check out the post-baccalaureate research opportunities the DOE offers:

http://science.energy.gov/wdts/suli/
http://science.energy.gov/wdts/suli/eligibility/

Also, don't underestimate the power of just contacting a professor and expressing interests in donating your time working on a project. Stick to experiment, you'll be more likely to get something done quickly and that will make a bigger impression. If all else fails, there are funded masters programs at places like the California State schools, the University of Illinois system, and farm campuses of most major state universities (for instance, University of Maryland-Baltimore Campus offers a terminal masters program). Funding isn't guaranteed with admission, but (a) it doesn't have to be full time, so you can work to help pay bills, and (b) most of these programs don't have PhD students, so capable masters students should find themselves offered TAships, since these schools have large undergraduate populations. About 30% of the students at my graduate school took this route to get here.




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