Year off or graduate school?

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astrofan
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Year off or graduate school?

Postby astrofan » Tue Apr 08, 2008 2:29 pm

As April 15th approaches, my options seem to dim. I am pretty sure it was my extermely low GRE score that kept me out of all the places I applied to (except one). Was my fault I guess, for not studying enough; just annoying that one exam erased four good years of work.

Anyway, I have one offer from BU. After the visit, I realized I *could* go there, but it is not ideal. I would probably be happier somewhere else.

So here is my question. Would I stand a better chance to go to BU for a year with the intention of trying to transfer or taking a year off to reapply? The advantage of a year off is I can try the GREs again, and I would have a research position (unpaid, but that means nothing to me) with the hope of a paper to show for my work. I think either way I am going to try to apply again to a lot other schools this coming fall, I am just trying to see which is my better option.

Thanks in advance for advice.

hpharty
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Re: Year off or graduate school?

Postby hpharty » Tue Apr 08, 2008 3:51 pm

I took a year off and managed to improve my GRE score a fair bit [570 (27%) to 750 (68%)]. I think that moved me into a whole different category as far as admissions go. In hindsight, I am pretty happy I took some time off, but the four months of unemployment was not cool.

Since you were accepted to BU, I'm going to guess your GRE score wasn't as bad as mine the first time around. I imagine going from 570 to 750 was easier than going from say 750 to 930.

Work isn't so bad. I have a nice little cubicle here.

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grae313
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Re: Year off or graduate school?

Postby grae313 » Tue Apr 08, 2008 6:01 pm

I would vote for taking a year off. Work hard at your research, get an excellent letter out of it and do your best to get a publication or two. Study your ass off for the physics GRE. I'll bet you twenty dollars that you have better luck next year. Seriously, PM me and I'll give you my email address, if you don't have better luck next time, I'll paypal it to you. :lol: I know lots of people who have done this and I've heard lots of anecdotal evidence that it can be a very good thing. I have not met people who took a year off before grad school who regretted it.

vroomfondel
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Re: Year off or graduate school?

Postby vroomfondel » Tue Apr 08, 2008 6:22 pm

be prepared to take 2 years off. one year really means, 6-7 months research before you have to reapply. not enough time to get a pub...maybe a good letter if you really kiss ass. but you can definitely up your gre scre.

myass
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Re: Year off or graduate school?

Postby myass » Tue Apr 08, 2008 6:49 pm

I took a year off without trying anything last year, so I don't have any comparison. However, I vote for taking a year off.

Although taking a year off helps, I belive high GRE score doesn't guarantee much about admission. I know one school which ranked as the best in this year's physics US news ranking actually had a cut off GRE score. I believe well above 800 of GRE will help your application to be reviewed, but you might need further strength to get admitted. Now taking one year off is not that special and being in a research group for long time does not guarantee a good letter for you. You should be careful about that point.

I have a friend who has an excellent academic capability and took 1 year off working hard as a paid employee in a famous research group and he did not get in any of his top choices this year. There are people who don't want to speak about how bad one year off resulted in their cases. I thought I should mention this point instead of being all optimistic about potential of taking one year off. Field in which you are applying is also important. Many HE is more competitive compared to CM this year and there are reasons. Being in research group is good in this regard since you get the updates in physics fields quickly. If the purpose is to get in, it's a strategy to choose a field to get in and then change the field after you get in. All these things should be taken care of, I think.

That being said, I vote for one year off and think that would be a great experience!

randn(1)
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Re: Year off or graduate school?

Postby randn(1) » Tue Apr 08, 2008 7:35 pm

I am in a situation somewhat similar to that of astrofan and I have a couple of additional questions for anyone who thinks they have advice:
1.) Will it hurt to reapply to a school where you were rejected from last year?
2.) Will it hurt to reapply to a school where you were accepted from last year, but declined?
3.) If you are unsuccessful and don't significantly improve your PGRE or manage to produce a publication, are you viewed poorly when applying next year?

megatron
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Re: Year off or graduate school?

Postby megatron » Tue Apr 08, 2008 7:45 pm

randn(1) wrote:I am in a situation somewhat similar to that of astrofan and I have a couple of additional questions for anyone who thinks they have advice:
1.) Will it hurt to reapply to a school where you were rejected from last year?
2.) Will it hurt to reapply to a school where you were accepted from last year, but declined?
3.) If you are unsuccessful and don't significantly improve your PGRE or manage to produce a publication, are you viewed poorly when applying next year?

I am by no means an expert, so this will be just another grain in the salt pile.

1.) From talking with my professor, it does not hurt (or significantly hurt) your chances if you were rejected a previous time (this could have been specific to my case, since when I was rejected he said I was on the cusp of acceptance).

3.) You will probably be viewed poorer than the first time (this is my opinion), since a lack of progress in PGRE scores despite presumed effort suggests that your scores are representative of your ability, and aren't simply a fluke or due to an illness. However, I will say that admissions seems to be quite the crap shoot. So what applies one year could not apply the next. You could change absolutely nothing and your outcome may change (though you should NOT rely on this!).

astrofan
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Re: Year off or graduate school?

Postby astrofan » Wed Apr 09, 2008 12:44 am

Thanks everyone. The group I am in I have been working with for a few years, just nothing materialized into a paper. *Hopefully* that would change working full time for a year. My letters will be fine.

By the way, for observational astrophysics, from what I have read/seen, 800s is not nessary. If I got anywhere near an 800 the first time around, I would not have gotten so many rejection letters. Its funny, for the first time in 8 years (since I was a freshman in high school) I hesitate to pursue astrophysicis as a career; almost completly from one exam ...

Back to the point, I just wanted to confirm that taking a year off would be superior. The best reason I have heard for going to grad school for a year is the money, which is of no concern to me. Does anyone think that you have a huge advantage trying to transfer as opposed to taking the year off?

myass
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Re: Year off or graduate school?

Postby myass » Wed Apr 09, 2008 11:09 am

In above my comment, "well above 800" was for HE experiment. Sorry for confusion. The particular school I was talking about had a cut off at 750, which was not an official cut off but they used in this year in last minute (to cut some people in the end) due to high acceptance rate in last year. I think it's an example of how GRE score can be used. It's possible to get into a final list without a high GRE score and schools never claim to use as an official cut off but they do use it to separate group of students in practical way sometimes.

fermiguy
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Re: Year off or graduate school?

Postby fermiguy » Wed Apr 09, 2008 1:06 pm

As I stated in a previous thread, I was in pretty much the EXACT situation you are in now, last year. I royally messed up the PGRE (490) and needed to re-evaluate what I was doing with my life. That 490 was a blow to my ego like you cannot imagine. I decided the best course of action was to get a job and give the PGRE another try. With a ton of studying I managed to get it to 870, and with my extra work experience managed to score admission to some pretty good schools.

A "year off" is what you make of it and for me it was one of the best decisions of my life... If you can dedicate yourself to fix any problems you have, with that time, I'm all for it!

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grae313
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Re: Year off or graduate school?

Postby grae313 » Wed Apr 09, 2008 2:13 pm

astrofan wrote:Does anyone think that you have a huge advantage trying to transfer as opposed to taking the year off?


Transfering is extremely difficult. Very few people do this.

VT
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Re: Year off or graduate school?

Postby VT » Wed Apr 09, 2008 2:50 pm

Transfering is extremely difficult. Very few people do this.




:( :(

enchede
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Re: Year off or graduate school?

Postby enchede » Sat Apr 26, 2008 9:30 pm

I am in the same sitiuation, and accepting an offer at a not so reputed school with the intention of transferring in a couple of years..
Why is this so difficult?

___
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Re: Year off or graduate school?

Postby ___ » Sat Apr 26, 2008 10:46 pm

grae313 wrote:Transfering is extremely difficult. Very few people do this.


You know, those two statements are very different. What makes you think that the former is true, and not just the latter?

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grae313
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Re: Year off or graduate school?

Postby grae313 » Sun Apr 27, 2008 2:55 pm

___ wrote:
grae313 wrote:Transfering is extremely difficult. Very few people do this.


You know, those two statements are very different. What makes you think that the former is true, and not just the latter?


Because I've heard from professors that it is generally frowned upon. Even though you are working your first year or two, you are not working enough to fully cover your tuition at most places. The school is still investing a lot of money in you. Also, many students begin getting to know the research groups and even doing their research in the first year or two, and you would have to start this all over again at a new school. It's risky business for the school accepting you, a loss of investment for the school loosing you, and I've only heard of it being done in extreme cases or for two-body problem resolution. Of course it is anecdotal. I'm just offering advice based on what I know, and my advice is usually to tell people to take the course of action that gives them the best chance at success. I just don't like the statistics for transferring. Also, I am thinking of top 20 schools here, outside of this the story may be different.

But without a doubt, it is something that ought to be investigated before that course is set. I would call a few potential graduate schools and ask them how they treat transfer applicants and what percentage of transfer applicants are typically successful, and if there were any common features to these successful applicants, like having a wife with a great job offer in that city or something. I don't like taking gambles with these sorts of things.

VT
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Re: Year off or graduate school?

Postby VT » Sun Apr 27, 2008 6:21 pm

I would call a few potential graduate schools and ask them how they treat transfer applicants and what percentage of transfer applicants are typically successful, and if there were any common features to these successful applicants, like having a wife with a great job offer in that city or something


Well, I will be calling you to know how Cornell treat their transfers, grae313 :wink: j/k
Last edited by VT on Sun Apr 27, 2008 6:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

VT
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Re: Year off or graduate school?

Postby VT » Sun Apr 27, 2008 6:28 pm

I cannot figure out how we can write "somebody wrote" when we try to quote that somebody.

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will
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Re: Year off or graduate school?

Postby will » Sun Apr 27, 2008 8:49 pm

VT wrote:I cannot figure out how we can write "somebody wrote" when we try to quote that somebody.

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noojens
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Re: Year off or graduate school?

Postby noojens » Sun Apr 27, 2008 9:06 pm

VT wrote:I cannot figure out how we can write "somebody wrote" when we try to quote that somebody.

Use the normal syntax for quote tags, but in the opening tag (inside the brackets), write, for example, quote="noojens"

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dlenmn
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Re: Year off or graduate school?

Postby dlenmn » Sun Apr 27, 2008 11:02 pm

[quote="VT"]I cannot figure out how we can write "somebody wrote" when we try to quote that somebody.[/quote]

VT
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Re: Year off or graduate school?

Postby VT » Mon Apr 28, 2008 12:50 am

ahhhhhh, I see it now. Thanks folks.




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