Fellowship Benefits

  • This has become our largest and most active forum because the physics GRE is just one aspect of getting accepted into a graduate physics program.
  • There are applications, personal statements, letters of recommendation, visiting schools, anxiety of waiting for acceptances, deciding between schools, finding out where others are going, etc.

DiracMan
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:59 pm

Fellowship Benefits

Postby DiracMan » Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:57 pm

Based on postings from years past, it seems like we can expect the NSF to release decisions on their fellowship within the next week and a half or so. But given how late in the admissions-season-game they release their decisions, I began to wonder...

From the perspective of an incoming graduate student, just how useful is the NSF fellowship? Before I offend anyone, or appear disrespectful, I understand that it does have a number of benefits:

1.) You can work with the professor you want more easily,
2.) you might not have to TA for as long a period,
3.) you might get paid somewhat more,
4.) and the fellowship is simply quite prestigious.

But I think it must be fair to say that the overriding concern of most prospective graduate students is list of schools they are accepted to.

This leads to my central question. Lets say you apply to school X, and are rejected. A month latter, you are awarded prestigious fellowship Y, that carries with it a nontrivial amount of funding. Is there any universe in which it would be appropriate to contact someone from school X, like professor Z, who you are interested in working with, inform them of your updated circumstances, and inquire if this could change anything about your acceptance/rejection status? Would this be seen as an egregious breach of etiquette? It is obviously easy to label this as trying to 'back-door' your way into a school, but I have no context for how severe an offense that might viewed as. It seems like the worst that could happen is professor Z simply says 'no,' in which case you will not be at school X to incur their wrath anyways. If this is not possible, then the pragmatic impact of winning the NSF fellowship (or any other late-spring award) seems somewhat marginal to me.

I might add that I harbor no real expectations of winning the NSF award. But you never know. :)

ol
Posts: 57
Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2011 5:07 pm

Re: Fellowship Benefits

Postby ol » Tue Mar 26, 2013 8:20 pm

Some people have posted on here that they were actually rejected/waitlisted but told that if they found funding they could come. An NSF would certainly suffice.

That said, if you were rejected somewhere and receive a fellowship offer, you should definitely contact them. These fellowships are very competitive, and to receive one indicates that there are scientists who think you have what it takes to succeed at a competitive phd program.

I see several possibilities:
1) The worst that could happen is that the school ignores your email.
2) The school considers that you now have a competitive fellowship, and comes back with "no" anyway due to misalignment with research interests or other reasons
3) The school considers your new funding situation and decides that you are indeed qualified to attend. They reverse the decision.

I doubt seriously that a school would be offended if you emailed them and tried. It shows initiative on your part, and almost undoubtedly, the school will have admitted people who were rejected for the fellowship you got. Are those people really more qualified to be there than you? Probably not.

TakeruK
Posts: 813
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Fellowship Benefits

Postby TakeruK » Wed Mar 27, 2013 3:48 am

I agree with ol. In addition to what ol posted, you should keep in mind that some fellowships do not cover all the costs of having you at the school, since there's more than just the cost of your stipend + tuition.

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: Fellowship Benefits

Postby bfollinprm » Wed Mar 27, 2013 10:27 am

To the op, this is exactlly what you do with fellowships...turn rejections into acceptances.

DiracMan
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:59 pm

Re: Fellowship Benefits

Postby DiracMan » Sat Mar 30, 2013 11:02 pm

If anyone would be willing to comment on this draft to a professor:

"Hello Professor ________,

My name is _________, and I am a senior physics undergraduate at 'small lib. arts college.' I am very interested in your work regarding 'the theory of perpetual motion machines.' I have in the past done work related to 'something related to his/her work,' and feel I could contribute meaningfully to your program of research. Unfortunately, my initial application to study in your department was unsuccessful.

I have recently been awarded the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship, an award carrying with it a substantial amount of funding. I wish to inquire if this could at all serve to alter the circumstances of my admissions status. Thank you for taking the time to read this message; if there is anyone else in your department I should contact I would greatly appreciate the redirection. If I can provide you with any additional information about myself, I would be happy to do so. Thank you for any response you are able to provide."

Is that too long? Too short? Is there some crucial detail I should mention that I have left out? I deeply appreciate any feedback.

microacg
Posts: 62
Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 2:06 pm

Re: Fellowship Benefits

Postby microacg » Sat Mar 30, 2013 11:20 pm

I think the shorter the better for a message of this type, where you get right to the point.

Is the professor you want to do research with the best person to get in contact with? Hopefully somebody with more experience here can weigh in.

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: Fellowship Benefits

Postby bfollinprm » Sun Mar 31, 2013 12:01 am

You should be contacting the department chair and the admissions coordinator, but starting there is fine; you'll want to know if your research interests want you at the school anyway.

Qfields
Posts: 5
Joined: Sat Feb 23, 2013 9:48 pm

Re: Fellowship Benefits

Postby Qfields » Wed Apr 03, 2013 1:28 pm

bfollinprm wrote:To the op, this is exactlly what you do with fellowships...turn rejections into acceptances.


If anyone is still interested, I tried contacting schools I got rejected to (which were higher on my preference than those I had an offer) and their answer was that they still don't have the capacity to offer me a position.

I'm curious if anyone has ever been able to get an acceptance in a situation like this and from where.

ol
Posts: 57
Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2011 5:07 pm

Re: Fellowship Benefits

Postby ol » Wed Apr 03, 2013 8:41 pm

Qfields wrote:
bfollinprm wrote:To the op, this is exactlly what you do with fellowships...turn rejections into acceptances.


If anyone is still interested, I tried contacting schools I got rejected to (which were higher on my preference than those I had an offer) and their answer was that they still don't have the capacity to offer me a position.

I'm curious if anyone has ever been able to get an acceptance in a situation like this and from where.


Well, it was worth a shot, and again, I seriously doubt they will hold that against you.

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: Fellowship Benefits

Postby bfollinprm » Thu Apr 04, 2013 7:03 pm

Qfields wrote:
bfollinprm wrote:To the op, this is exactlly what you do with fellowships...turn rejections into acceptances.


If anyone is still interested, I tried contacting schools I got rejected to (which were higher on my preference than those I had an offer) and their answer was that they still don't have the capacity to offer me a position.

I'm curious if anyone has ever been able to get an acceptance in a situation like this and from where.


It's hard to change the minds of top schools. You're already in great programs, I'd expect that if you were competing for top 20 (rather than top 10) schools, they'd care a lot more about the external 3 years of funding.

DiracMan
Posts: 22
Joined: Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:59 pm

Re: Fellowship Benefits

Postby DiracMan » Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:51 pm

I thought I might provide an update on how this course of action ultimately went for me.

I contacted professors (plural) at Cornell, U. Chicago, and Berkeley. I actually got responses back from professors at each school. The Cornell professors forwarded me on to the department chair, who never responded to me. I took that as a no. One professor at Chicago actually told me that I had been close to being accepted, and that she would try to have my application re-reviewed. Again, I never heard back anything. Berkeley was probably the most interesting. I actually had a protracted email exchange with one professor there who seemed legitimately interested in having me join his group, and he seems to have fought somewhat to have my admissions decision reversed. Unfortunately he failed, and emailed me back congratulating me on my fellowship and wishing me the best.

Due to a confusing email screw-up I had to call Stanford to actually confirm that I had been rejected in the first place, and this put me on the phone with the admissions director/secretary person anyways. As soon as I confirmed my rejection, I immediately went into my spiel about my fellowship, and was promptly told that the reversal of an admissions decision over funding allocation was "unethical." :?

At the time I learned of my fellowship I had not yet heard back one way or the other from Illinois, so I emailed the graduate admissions person updating them about my status. I received my acceptance email shortly thereafter. So, my fellowship may-or-may-not have played a role in my acceptance there. Of course they gave me a TAship anyways, which kind of makes me think I was going to get in regardless. Who knows.

I will now make a sweeping observation based on N = 5 statistics:

Stanford, U. Chicago, Cornell = Private Schools = Very little interest

Berkeley, Illinois = Public Schools = Significant Interest

Coincidence? You be the judge.




Return to “Prospective Physics Graduate Student Topics”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

cron