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School Rankings (again)

A while ago I wrote a post on here about school rankings and how when you are deciding where to apply you should come up with your own ranking list. I would cross reference that here, but I'm writing my dissertation and it feels like more wasted time to do that. It's on here, look it up.   The main point of that post was that any ranking system is going to be flawed and that we, as senior members on this forum, use non specific terminology to reference program rankings intentionally. There

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Some stuff to do after acceptance before starting a program

I thought that I would share some of my experiences on what I wish I would have known before entering a PhD program. Let me be clear before I start though, things will work out. If you don't get this stuff done, it's not a huge deal, it will work out. So at this point a lot of you have your acceptances and are beginning to plan your PhD life. First of all congratulations, it's a big deal to be accepted, welcome to the fold. Also get ready for a life filled with stress and uncertainty. Also

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School rankings

Here's a typical post from a newcomer on this forum   Newcomer: "Hi here's a bunch of stats about me, please evaluate my chances and tell me where to apply." "Senior" Member: "Generic advice and insights about profile, you should target T50 (T20, T10 etc...)" Newcomer: "Wow here are some platitudes for you. When you say I should focus on T50, what specific schools are you talking about?" "Senior" Member: "There aren't any specific ranking systems that are used. It's really up to you, so

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How to decide where to apply

Continuing in my quest to help future students decide where to apply I present for your consideration:   "The XAres Simple Steps to Situational Systematic School Sample Selection (trademarked name)"   Deciding to go for a PhD is hard. Deciding where to go for a PhD is even harder. To give yourself some wiggle room and time, I'm going to suggest that you start early. Some people don't and they do perfectly fine in the applications. Ideally, though, you would start this process at least in J

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Top 10 programs

Good morning children. In an ongoing effort to not write the papers that are due in two weeks, as well as the effort to better educate newcomers, I thought I would take a moment to discuss what I view as a growing problem many of us face when deciding where to apply. If you read through a lot of the posts on here asking about where to apply, you'll notice a trend: "The only places doing the type of research I'm interested in are HBS, Stanford, Wharton and Duke (paraphrased)."   While it is

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Safety Schools

So we're right in the midst of application season. Most applicants have completed their school lists, GMAT or GRE, picked out their LOR's, and, hopefully, started, if not finished, their SOPs. So this post is not particularly timely, but, alas, we press on.   A common theme amongst my posts as of late has been school selection (I'm way too lazy to post links to previous threads, but believe me they exist). A big reason for this is that I have extremely strong opinions about selecting schoo

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Offers

Alright to continue my posts of, hopefully, helpful advice, I'm going to spend a little bit of time today talking about offers. It should be noted that this advice holds true whether this is your first acceptance or your 10th. Remember how hard you worked for this, and how much you want it. Don't let the fact that you've been accepted somewhere else take away the excitement of future acceptances. Each acceptance is a big deal. To those of you who haven't been accepted yet, there's still ple

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Commitment and life pre PhD

Alright so we’re getting towards the end of the interview season. We are not at the end of the season, there is still hope. I’m still not writing a post about complete rejection yet. I also began this post almost a month ago, but things got in the way of me writing an extended post (mostly school and research and all of the fun stuff that comes with being a PhD student, you’ll know soon enough).   Many of you are in the envious position of having multiple offers. More of you will be in this

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First year thoughts (and other ramblings)

Alright so for my 1000th post, I thought that I would post something really good (other than the normal crap I submit). I was thinking about my time here as a lurker, then a newbee, now a distinguished member of the senior members and one day an actual professor. Rather than going into extremely boring details about how this site really helped me to achieve my goals (which it did), I thought that I would just give all of you future students some rambling thoughts of my first year. Of course we

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For those who haven't made it in

I’ve been away from writing long posts for a few weeks since classes picked up and, surprise, a PhD program is very difficult. But I wanted to write today now that it’s officially April 16. What does this mean for you? Well for some of you it means that you made your decision about where you are going yesterday. And there is plenty of praise and excitement to go around with that. I’m not here to talk to you, though, at least not today. Today I’m here to talk to those who applied this year

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The importance of being earnest, or rather of LOR's

In my ongoing effort to not read these 50 papers, today I’m going to talk about letters of recommendation. First allow me to state from here on out I will be using the popular LOR instead of typing out the full words. First this saves me time in writing and second, even though I am a PhD student, I have no idea how to spell recommendation and am sick of seeing that little red line under it. Quick aside, Microsoft word will always get a notice and thank you in my papers. Without it I would be

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Cost of a PhD

A lot of the focus on this board is on people who are applying. While we have a stable of active current students, I would guess that the majority of readership is driven by applicants. Which is great, but sometimes I feel like this can be a disservice to future students. We talk in generic terms of the difficulties of PhD life, but I'm not always positive we do a good enough job at really explaining how stressful it can be.   Before I continue, let me tell you that getting a PhD can be one

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Tips for Interviews

Interviews are going to start here in a few weeks, and I thought that I would give you some helpful tips (in a conveniently numbered format). A lot of you have the same questions year after year so I thought this would be a convenient place for you to start.   Before you get an interview:   1. Just because people are posting on GradCafe and on here that they got interview invites, doesn't mean you should freak out. As hard as this advice is to take, try to remain calm. There is plenty

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