i wonder whether me being gay can help m in my admissions ..

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karankaran
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i wonder whether me being gay can help m in my admissions ..

Postby karankaran » Tue Oct 13, 2009 2:37 am

i apologize for the title of the thread but please read my post before commenting..

hello guys i am new to this community. i am a gay guy living in one of the most deeply conservative societies in the world, india. i have given GRE and i am going to appear for physics GRE next month. i have average academics and no publications.
i was thrown out of my house by my parents after i came out to them 3 months back. and i sustain myself by working in a call centre. i completed my college this year. and i am hoping i get admission in a decent college next year.

WOuld including my story in my SOP help me in gaining admission ...

Mataka
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Re: i wonder whether me being gay can help m in my admissions ..

Postby Mataka » Tue Oct 13, 2009 9:25 am

Well it depends where you apply, you might want to tailor that segment of your SOP to the university you are applying. For instance, if I were you I wouldn't mention anything about being gay in a SOP to a university in Texas ;) On the other hand, Santa Barbara for example has this additional form (on top of the SOP) where they ask you to tell what kind of diversity you will bring to the university, in that case I think it would be a very good idea to tell your story.

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noojens
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Re: i wonder whether me being gay can help m in my admissions ..

Postby noojens » Tue Oct 13, 2009 3:06 pm

Depends how you spin it.

"Hey, I'm a gay Indian, do I fill your diversity quota?" will get you exactly nothing.

If, on the other hand, you discuss the hurtles your sexual orientation has presented, and how you've overcome that adversity, it may help.

You might also hit on an admissions committee full of homophobes. It's a risk.

kroner
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Re: i wonder whether me being gay can help m in my admissions ..

Postby kroner » Tue Oct 13, 2009 6:27 pm

I find it hard to imagine that your chances would be hurt because of homophobic admissions officers (unless you're applying to Liberty University or something). There is homophobia in the United States, just as there is racism, but homophobia or racism influencing the decisions of the admissions office of a mainstream school would be a major major scandal. Not to mention the politics at the typical university are much more liberal than the politics of the nation in general.

Telling your story might help. I don't think it could hurt. As noojens said you should definitely frame in the context of how you overcame adversity.

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grae313
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Re: i wonder whether me being gay can help m in my admissions ..

Postby grae313 » Tue Oct 13, 2009 7:16 pm

I'd like to thank everyone for their responses. You never know what you'll get with a post like this on a public and international forum, and I'm pleased with what's here so far.

karankaran, as others have said, it may depend to some extent on where in the US you apply as certain parts (the south, to make a broad generalization) are less liberal than others. However, in general college towns and urban areas in the US tend to be pretty liberal and accepting. All of the UCs require a "diversity statement" and I think it is certainly worth addressing the hurdles you have faced to complete your education in your SOP. However, it goes without saying that you will be judged primarily by your merits as a physics student. Good luck!

karankaran
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Re: i wonder whether me being gay can help m in my admissions ..

Postby karankaran » Wed Oct 14, 2009 1:13 am

@all d above

thanks a lot guys. you do not know how much i appreciate your replies. after my parents kicked me out of my house i have become so pessimistic. i posted this query in a indian dominated community first. i was subjected to homphobic slurs. that is one of the reasons i do not want to live in this country.
i am very thankful to all of you for your support.

PS: if anyone would like to add to the suggestions mentioned above, you are most welcome.

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zxcv
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Re: i wonder whether me being gay can help m in my admissions ..

Postby zxcv » Wed Oct 14, 2009 1:38 pm

To clarify the geographic areas grae313 referred to: the "south" in the US refers generally to the geographic southeast quadrant of the country.

I think telling your story may help at some schools, but it's unlikely to be a decisive factor in your admission. Where physics grad programs most value diversity is in groups typically unrepresented in physics in the US (i.e., racial minorities other than asian and women). Foreign applicants are usually considered in an different pool from domestic applicants, and I'm not sure that diversity is as valued in this group.

EDIT: corrected geographic mistake
Last edited by zxcv on Fri Oct 16, 2009 3:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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grae313
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Re: i wonder whether me being gay can help m in my admissions ..

Postby grae313 » Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:03 pm

zxcv wrote:To clarify the geographic areas grae313 referred to: the "south" in the US refers generally to the geographic southwest quadrant of the country.

I think telling your story may help at some schools, but it's unlikely to be a decisive factor in your admission. Where physics grad programs most value diversity is in groups typically unrepresented in physics in the US (i.e., racial minorities other than asian and women). Foreign applicants are usually considered in an different pool from domestic applicants, and I'm not sure that diversity is as valued in this group.


No, I was definitely NOT referring to just the southwest quadrant. The southeast quadrant is probably much worse.
Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, South Carolina... not what I would call gay-friendly states. I would add all of the rural mid-west to that as well.

kinda like this ;)
Image

On a slightly more serious note, it's perhaps more informative to look by county, because even in red dominated states, often times the urban areas and *especially* the university areas are almost always blue.
Image

Mataka
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Re: i wonder whether me being gay can help m in my admissions ..

Postby Mataka » Wed Oct 14, 2009 3:48 pm

grae313 wrote:kinda like this ;)


Haha, pretty funny ;) but to be fair there are a few places in Canada I would call Jesusland as well ...

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quizivex
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Re: i wonder whether me being gay can help m in my admissions ..

Postby quizivex » Sat Oct 17, 2009 12:27 am

My opinion is, if you'd like to mention briefly in your SOP the adversity you overcame as a result of being gay, then that would look fine/good, like noojens said. But I doubt being gay itself will help get you in. Physics PhD programs like to admit girls/minorities because being diverse makes them look good... but sexual orientation is not a statistic schools keep track of. They don't ask for it on applications (and I don't even know if it'd be legal to ask)... so it's not something they can use to promote themselves.

For instance, one time the DOE head, and some congressmen (or people like that) were visiting PPPL to meet with the lab director, some researchers and a few students... The director wanted to make it look like there were females in plasma physics so he had all 3 of the department's girls come... The point of this is, sexual orientation is not something schools can use to advertise their diversity, since it's not visually obvious like gender or race (unless the guy wears pink socks). So being gay probably won't provide any bonus points.

Keep in mind that while most people today are accepting of all races, more people are still uncomfortable with homosexuals. I surely hope nobody on an admissions committee where you apply will be homophobic, but there's still a chance it could backfire if you mention this. But I don't think the location of the school is relevant as mentioned above. The general population in the South and Midwest may be culturally quite different from say the Northeast or California, but physics profs are not the general population... Most physics profs in any school are foreign and even the Americans most likely grew up elsewhere... Profs go wherever they can get a position and usually move several times during the dreadful search for a tenured position. Especially at a well-ranked place like UT Austin, I doubt the profs are there because it was "close to family and convenient".

admissionprof
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Re: i wonder whether me being gay can help m in my admissions ..

Postby admissionprof » Sun Oct 25, 2009 11:36 am

Hi. I've been off physicsgre.com for a while. I'm admissions director at a top 50, but not top 20, university.

I think geographic location doesn't matter much, simply because physicists are generally not homophobic and live in college towns that are pretty liberal. So I don't think you will be hurt at most places. Of course, you wouldn't want to LIVE for several years in Mississippi or Alabama, so that should be a factor in whether you apply there.

I agree that you shouldn't treat it as a "diversity" issue, since that doesn't help check any boxes. But mentioning it as a hardship you overcame in your personal statement could be quite powerful. Still, it's only helpful if you're borderline---you will primarily be judged based on all of the other factors.

If you have choices of where to go, I would go on-line and send an e-mail to the head of the student gay/lesbian group (easy to find online) at the university and ask them what the climate is like.

Good luck.

karankaran
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Joined: Sat Oct 10, 2009 10:38 am

Re: i wonder whether me being gay can help m in my admissions ..

Postby karankaran » Mon Nov 02, 2009 5:02 am

@admissionprof

i am giving physics gre this month. let me see the score and then decide what might be my destination. once it gets decided i will ping u. thanks a lot for your help.




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