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Opinions on my list

Posted: Sat Jun 06, 2020 1:21 pm
by Act2021

Re: Opinions on my list

Posted: Sat Jun 06, 2020 2:11 pm
by geekusprimus
Your list looks good. There's a nice mix of reaches, probable matches, and probable safeties. I did notice that all the schools, though, are on the East Coast. That's fine, and there's nothing wrong with the East Coast (I'm actually attending Penn State in the fall myself), but don't be afraid to look for schools elsewhere in the country. There are a lot of really fantastic programs elsewhere, especially if you're undecided. In particular, I'd recommend taking a look at UT, Michigan, UIUC, Stanford, Caltech, Washington, and some of the UC schools.

Now that I've just told you to double your list, here are my main tips for your list:
  • Narrow down your list a bit. You don't need to go to the extremes that I did (I only applied to five schools), but you probably don't want to apply to more than ten or so schools. Applications take a lot of time and money, especially if you want to write a good application tailored to the school.
  • You're undecided, but you should still apply based on people you might be interested in working with. Try to find at least three people in three different fields that look like they might make good advisors. If your interests narrow closer to the application deadline, you can trim that down to two or three people in the same field.
  • Try to get in contact with some of these people before you apply. Talk to graduate students and researchers in their field. You'll save a lot of time and frustration if you find out who's retiring, who's leaving, whose groups are full, and who's a royal pain in the butt to work with before you actually apply. This is going to be especially important in the next year; the exact effects of the coronapocalypse on higher education have yet to play out yet, but it's quite likely that grants and donations for research are going to be more competitive.

Re: Opinions on my list

Posted: Tue Jun 23, 2020 7:42 am
by Act2021
Thank you for the reply! I appreciate your input.