If you're applying to 20-25 schools, how to send LORs?

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InquilineKea
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If you're applying to 20-25 schools, how to send LORs?

Postby InquilineKea » Mon Jan 17, 2011 4:22 am

Okay, I definitely do *not* want to inconvenience my professors with having to mail out 20-25 LORs. Rather, I know that my school has a LOR mailing service that I can use, and the professors can simply send the LORS to my school and have the school mail them out for me.

Does anyone else use this? What else do you do? Obviously, this takes time, so professors might have to finish letters earlier for me than for others.
Last edited by InquilineKea on Mon Jan 17, 2011 4:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

spoiledscientist
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Re: If you're applying to 20-25 schools, how to send LORs?

Postby spoiledscientist » Mon Jan 17, 2011 4:55 am

Most schools use a system that allows your recommenders to submit their letters online, so it won't take much time for them to fill out forms and submit letters on your behalf, as they won't change much of the letter for each university. I think it's okay.

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WhoaNonstop
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Re: If you're applying to 20-25 schools, how to send LORs?

Postby WhoaNonstop » Mon Jan 17, 2011 3:30 pm

InquilineKea wrote:20-25 LORs


Honestly, why do you need to apply to this many schools? Do some eliminations.

I initially wanted to apply to a bunch of schools as well, but as you start to go through them, you'll realize that isn't necessary. Even after going through them all, I still applied to 11 and felt that was too many.

-Riley

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InquilineKea
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Re: If you're applying to 20-25 schools, how to send LORs?

Postby InquilineKea » Mon Jan 17, 2011 3:34 pm

Well, because I have the money and I'm more likely to regret applying to less rather than applying to more. It's not that much work now that I have form autofill extensions on Chrome.

But also because my GPA is VERY weak compared to the rest of the applicant pool, and I may need to apply to more given that some schools may just throw my application out (hopefully I have other ways to compensate, but I don't know if they will fully compensate)

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WhoaNonstop
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Re: If you're applying to 20-25 schools, how to send LORs?

Postby WhoaNonstop » Mon Jan 17, 2011 3:44 pm

InquilineKea wrote:Well, because I have the money and I'm more likely to regret applying to less rather than applying to more. It's not that much work now that I have form autofill extensions on Chrome.

But also because my GPA is VERY weak compared to the rest of the applicant pool, and I may need to apply to more given that some schools may just throw my application out (hopefully I have other ways to compensate, but I don't know if they will fully compensate)


Yeah, but even with the weak GPA. Let me tell you how I went about the process. Let's say you get your list down to 24 schools right? Let's say 8 of them are hard to get into, 8 of them are easy to get into, and 8 of them are somewhere in between. Now if you were accepted to all 8 of the easy schools, which probably will be the case, you'll only get to choose 1 of them. And if you're getting accepted to 1 of them, you're probably going to get accepted to them all. Would it not be more beneficial to cut that number in half to 8? I realize you're thinking about the statistics of it all but I truly think this is going overboard, but truthfully, if you feel that is needed, then jump right in. I'm just handing out my advice. =)

-Riley

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InquilineKea
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Re: If you're applying to 20-25 schools, how to send LORs?

Postby InquilineKea » Mon Jan 17, 2011 3:48 pm

Ah okay, thanks very much for the advice. :)

Actually, I was thinking of just cutting my applications to most of the easy schools and mostly applying to "fits" and "reaches".

Mostly, it's really just that I know that astrophysics grad school admissions is A LOT more random than undergrad admissions, and due to this randomness, I might be able to get into a top school simply through pure luck (I have some parts of my application that will stand out relative to most others - namely - graduate level courses in Applied Math and other areas). So why not apply to every top school? And spare myself the future agony of believing that I could have gotten an academic position (if I do end up like most grad students and leave academia), if only I got in a better grad school through applying to more places?

CarlBrannen
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Re: If you're applying to 20-25 schools, how to send LORs?

Postby CarlBrannen » Mon Jan 17, 2011 4:52 pm

As far as the time required to fill out an LoR on line, I suspect it's longer than just a few minutes. This is from the time delay I've observed between consecutive notices of an LoR writer doing one letter after another.

One way to test this would be to sign up for an application at a school you're not really going to go to, and have yourself set as one of the LoR writers. The only problem is that this seems to require that you pay them the application fee. Hmmm. But there are some schools that waive the fee for some students.

On second thought, this sounds like a bad idea. I'm just going to ask one of my LoR writers...

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Re: If you're applying to 20-25 schools, how to send LORs?

Postby admissionprof » Mon Jan 17, 2011 8:39 pm

CarlBrannen wrote:As far as the time required to fill out an LoR on line, I suspect it's longer than just a few minutes. This is from the time delay I've observed between consecutive notices of an LoR writer doing one letter after another.

One way to test this would be to sign up for an application at a school you're not really going to go to, and have yourself set as one of the LoR writers. The only problem is that this seems to require that you pay them the application fee. Hmmm. But there are some schools that waive the fee for some students.

On second thought, this sounds like a bad idea. I'm just going to ask one of my LoR writers...



I've written hundreds of LoRs. It usually takes about 2-3 minutes for many schools. Occasionally one takes 10 minutes or so, and even more occasionally one must send hardcopy (which means printing, signing, enveloping and walking it down to the secretary.

CarlBrannen
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Re: If you're applying to 20-25 schools, how to send LORs?

Postby CarlBrannen » Tue Jan 18, 2011 1:20 am

admissionprof wrote:It usually takes about 2-3 minutes for many schools. Occasionally one takes 10 minutes or so, and even more occasionally one must send hardcopy (which means printing, signing, enveloping and walking it down to the secretary.


I'm guessing the numbers I saw were due to gross unfamiliarity with the process. But the next time I see my old boss I'll ask him.

Oh and thanks for answering about the extremely late LoRs.

cryingsun
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Re: If you're applying to 20-25 schools, how to send LORs?

Postby cryingsun » Mon Jan 31, 2011 12:04 am

Two of my recommenders told me that each additional letter took very little time after they finished writing the first one, and that it was their job to fill out recommendation forms.

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Re: If you're applying to 20-25 schools, how to send LORs?

Postby bfollinprm » Mon Jan 31, 2011 9:10 am

InquilineKea wrote:Ah okay, thanks very much for the advice. :)

Actually, I was thinking of just cutting my applications to most of the easy schools and mostly applying to "fits" and "reaches".

Mostly, it's really just that I know that astrophysics grad school admissions is A LOT more random than undergrad admissions, and due to this randomness, I might be able to get into a top school simply through pure luck (I have some parts of my application that will stand out relative to most others - namely - graduate level courses in Applied Math and other areas). So why not apply to every top school? And spare myself the future agony of believing that I could have gotten an academic position (if I do end up like most grad students and leave academia), if only I got in a better grad school through applying to more places?


Like Riley, just offering my opinion, but it seems to me better to spend a large amount of time applying to the schools that fit you best, and maybe sending emails to professors who might have an interest in you there. By and large, if you have a major hole in your application, my guess is you're going to need to be flagged to get into a top school (that's certainly what I'm hoping for with the 3 I applied to). It'll be easier to get flagged if you focus on the schools you are the best fit for, and don't simply apply to every top 10--look at potential advisors!

Also, I disagree with only applying to a few safeties for grad school. If you aren't going to a top 10, by far the most important thing in your graduate experience will be your relationship with your grad advisor (and his relationship with the rest of the scientific world). That's going to be where the doors open up for you, so you'll want some options when it comes to picking schools. Most schools in the 15-30 range have 1-3 great faculty members whose research puts you in as good a position as a higher-ranked school, but you don't know which of those fit you (have an opening, do research you like, have a personality that matches yours) until you visit after you're accepted. And don't apply anywhere you aren't excited about, I made that mistake and it was a waste of $100. It's probably better to do a masters and increase your chance of getting in to a school you like than to go to a school you don't really feel attracted to for your PhD.

Of course, if the time comes and you know exactly the specific thing you want to do (like me), it makes sense to just apply to every school that has someone doing it. Also, if you're trying to coordinate grad acceptances with someone else (like a fiance or girlfriend) you'll need to apply to more to increase overlap. If I had to give numbers I'd say 6-10 total if you're applying alone (with 1-2 reaches and 1 safety, if there's one you like), and I'd double those numbers if you're trying to coordinate.

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InquilineKea
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Re: If you're applying to 20-25 schools, how to send LORs?

Postby InquilineKea » Mon Jan 31, 2011 1:57 pm

Oh, good points there. Well, I expect to get a high PGRE score, which should hopefully get my application flagged. How big was the major hole in your application?

Good point about the schools in the 15-30 range as well - interesting that I'd have to do more research in them than schools in the top 15.

I'm not very picky though, so I do feel that all the top 15 schools would be a good fit for me (school-wise, I'm pretty much happy with anything that's north of the 37th parallel).
Last edited by InquilineKea on Mon Jan 31, 2011 5:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: If you're applying to 20-25 schools, how to send LORs?

Postby bfollinprm » Mon Jan 31, 2011 3:22 pm

InquilineKea wrote:How big was the major hole in your application?



I just missed the 70th percentile for PGRE and averaged about an A- as an undergraduate. I'm hoping to make it up by being very well versed in my field of interest, with publications and experience in major collaborations. Neither of those are death knells, but it certainly makes it harder; I think with my peripherals and an 900 on the PGRE I'd have been a shoe-in at a place like Berkeley (at least as much of a shoe-in as can exist for a top 10 school).

Regarding top 10 schools, they're top 10 because they're good at everything. If you already know what you want to do, there is less of a loss by going to a school ranked 12-30. Just make sure you get assurances that the person you want to work with actually has money for you, you don't want to end up being unable to join the group you went to the university to join. For the same reason, it's really nice if there are several people at the school who you have interest in (in case an professor is hired away to Harvard, or some other such calamity). This isn't actually that hard to find, since if someone is a leading light in the department they generally have the cachet to draw a like-minded collaborator to the faculty.

(BTW, I'm using the word "flagged" in a positive manner here, to mean that someone in the audience has a vested interest in getting you to the school beyond your basic intangibles. I think it's pretty much required unless you have a (1) 3.8+ gpa, (2) >950 GRE and (3) a publication if you want to get in to a top 10 school.)

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InquilineKea
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Re: If you're applying to 20-25 schools, how to send LORs?

Postby InquilineKea » Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:36 pm

I just missed the 70th percentile for PGRE and averaged about an A- as an undergraduate. I'm hoping to make it up by being very well versed in my field of interest, with publications and experience in major collaborations. Neither of those are death knells, but it certainly makes it harder; I think with my peripherals and an 900 on the PGRE I'd have been a shoe-in at a place like Berkeley (at least as much of a shoe-in as can exist for a top 10 school).


Wow - those actually aren't that bad at all. But maybe they are for Physics - I'm more familiar with the astrophysics side of things.

Huh - I just looked at your profile stats - why aren't you applying to astrophysics departments with strong cosmology programs? Like Caltech's?

Regarding top 10 schools, they're top 10 because they're good at everything. If you already know what you want to do, there is less of a loss by going to a school ranked 12-30. Just make sure you get assurances that the person you want to work with actually has money for you, you don't want to end up being unable to join the group you went to the university to join. For the same reason, it's really nice if there are several people at the school who you have interest in (in case an professor is hired away to Harvard, or some other such calamity). This isn't actually that hard to find, since if someone is a leading light in the department they generally have the cachet to draw a like-minded collaborator to the faculty.


Oh, good points. :) Hm, perhaps it's also possible that a professor I email at a school ranked 15-30 might be more likely to vouch for me than a professor I email at a top-ranked school (is it even worth emailing professors at the top schools? they have so many strong students to choose from). Of course, part of it is simply because I'd probably be better relative to the others at a 15-30 school (so then they might be willing to look past some of the weaknesses in my application if they really want me). Whereas at a top 15 school, there are so many strong students (especially students who could be "talked into" their field) that it's hard for them to really want me relative to any of the other applicants.

(well, 15-30 in physics probably translates to 10-15 in astrophysics since there are fewer astro departments).

(BTW, I'm using the word "flagged" in a positive manner here, to mean that someone in the audience has a vested interest in getting you to the school beyond your basic intangibles. I think it's pretty much required unless you have a (1) 3.8+ gpa, (2) >950 GRE and (3) a publication if you want to get in to a top 10 school.)


Oh wow, I see. But what about astrophysics? Students in astrophysics seem to be weaker than students in physics, and this definitely shows up in their Physics GRE scores.

Also, I have a publication in the Astrophysical Journal (>100 citations too), but what if I'm in the middle with 40 coauthors? (I didn't play a role in writing the paper - that's for sure)

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Re: If you're applying to 20-25 schools, how to send LORs?

Postby bfollinprm » Mon Jan 31, 2011 4:44 pm

InquilineKea wrote:Oh wow, I see. But what about astrophysics? Students in astrophysics seem to be weaker than students in physics, and this definitely shows up in their Physics GRE scores.



You keep saying astrophysics. There aren't any astrophysics departments. There are astronomy departments and physics departments. My interest is in astrophysics, but I didn't apply to astronomy departments because I see myself as a physicist, working on problems in astronomy. I don't know about your interests, but a lot of people in astrophysics end up in a physics PhD program.

Regarding which students are "weaker", I would say that's hard to measure. Astronomy programs place less emphasis on the PGRE for obvious reasons (they aren't granting a PhD in Physics). However, they're often harder to get in to because they're significantly smaller. I know next to nothing about what you need to do to stand out when applying to a top astronomy program, someone else will have to answer that question (I bet it matters a lot more who's vouching for you in your LoRs, but that's only a guess based on the size of the field). What I do know is it isn't likely to be significantly easier than getting into a top physics program.

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Re: If you're applying to 20-25 schools, how to send LORs?

Postby sphy » Tue Feb 01, 2011 3:25 am

InquilineKea wrote:Okay, I definitely do *not* want to inconvenience my professors with having to mail out 20-25 LORs. Rather, I know that my school has a LOR mailing service that I can use, and the professors can simply send the LORS to my school and have the school mail them out for me.

Does anyone else use this? What else do you do? Obviously, this takes time, so professors might have to finish letters earlier for me than for others.


Dear InquilineKea!
Why do not you try the following link: and share your experience,
http://www.ets.org/Media/Campaign/12150/index.html

Best of luck for your application process.

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InquilineKea
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Re: If you're applying to 20-25 schools, how to send LORs?

Postby InquilineKea » Tue Feb 01, 2011 3:32 am

Oh wow, nice! Thanks for the link! I'll look into it

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Re: If you're applying to 20-25 schools, how to send LORs?

Postby InquilineKea » Sat Mar 19, 2011 3:30 am

Oh, wow... I just looked at the online applications for several programs, and they all have special reference forms that must be individually completed. This may be a huge inconvenience for them. =/

Well, if everything goes *super* well, I can reduce it to 15. But 15 is going to be the bare minimum.

EDIT: Geez, for a safety school, New Hampshire sure demands a lot out its LORs. I might shift that to a "not apply" due to that.

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Re: If you're applying to 20-25 schools, how to send LORs?

Postby HappyQuark » Sat Mar 19, 2011 4:50 pm

InquilineKea wrote:Oh, wow... I just looked at the online applications for several programs, and they all have special reference forms that must be individually completed. This may be a huge inconvenience for them. =/

Well, if everything goes *super* well, I can reduce it to 15. But 15 is going to be the bare minimum.

EDIT: Geez, for a safety school, New Hampshire sure demands a lot out its LORs. I might shift that to a "not apply" due to that.


Of the schools I applied to, Boulder, Hawaii and Utah all had special forms that had to be filled out.




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