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2021 Sweat Thread


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Gut feeling is the most important. Throw a coin, and see if you regret the outcome.

 

Since everyone could probably use a little lightness about now...

Here is Piet Hein’s grook on coin flips:

A Psychological Tip

Whenever you’re called on to make up your mind,

and you’re hampered by not having any,

the best way to solve the dilemma, you’ll find,

is simply by spinning a penny.

No – not so that chance shall decide the affair

while you’re passively standing there moping;

but the moment the penny is up in the air,

you suddenly know what you’re hoping.

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I'm currently deciding between two programs that are virtually tied in all rankings. What are some factors you would recommend considering before making a decision? Things beyond the obvious (program structure, location, stipend, quality of life, faculty friendliness, etc).

 

I would put very little weight on program structure and stipend.

 

Focus on

Fit with your research interests

Whether students are happy and feel supported by faculty

Talk to students and faculty at each school. Ask faculty what they are working on, how they approach advising, etc. Ask students what they like about the program, who the popular professors are and why, etc.

If at that point you don't have a gut feeling, flip a coin and see if you are disappointed in the outcome.

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I'm currently deciding between two programs that are virtually tied in all rankings. What are some factors you would recommend considering before making a decision? Things beyond the obvious (program structure, location, stipend, quality of life, faculty friendliness, etc).

 

Stipend is not very important unless you're choosing between no funding and some funding, in which case it is important.

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Here is Piet Hein’s grook on coin flips:

A Psychological Tip

Whenever you’re called on to make up your mind,

and you’re hampered by not having any,

the best way to solve the dilemma, you’ll find,

is simply by spinning a penny.

No – not so that chance shall decide the affair

while you’re passively standing there moping;

but the moment the penny is up in the air,

you suddenly know what you’re hoping.

 

Thank you for sharing this! It’s great.

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Less than a week to the deadline and so many of us still seem to be on waitlists. I don’t understand what’s holding up this market from clearing. Is it a few offer hoarders who are not turning down offers? Is it because admission is so noisy at the top schools that almost everyone is waitlisted at a more dominant school (relative to their other offers)? Someone needs to create a model to explain this
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If you have offers from identically ranked schools with comparable strengths in your subfields of interest, it can be really hard to make a decision until the last minute. It's even worse when one school has an obvious advantage over the other in some aspect while is disadvantaged in the other aspect.

 

Talking to busy faculty and past students also takes time.

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If you have offers from identically ranked schools with comparable strengths in your subfields of interest, it can be really hard to make a decision until the last minute. It's even worse when one school has an obvious advantage over the other in some aspect while is disadvantaged in the other aspect.

 

Talking to busy faculty and past students also takes time.

 

This is really true. I'm going to commit tomorrow, but the choice ended up being way more difficult than I thought and I'm not at all sure I've made the right decision.

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Less than a week to the deadline and so many of us still seem to be on waitlists. I don’t understand what’s holding up this market from clearing. Is it a few offer hoarders who are not turning down offers? Is it because admission is so noisy at the top schools that almost everyone is waitlisted at a more dominant school (relative to their other offers)? Someone needs to create a model to explain this

 

I think this is (at least partly) because schools are being extra cautious in sending out offers this season due to the limited/uncertain amount of funding. They seem to be admitting students only when they are 100% certain that they have a spot for them and waitlisting others so they can make an offer later, unlike other seasons when they had the capacity to admit more students and see how it goes. But this is just my guess and I just hope that things will move along faster...:( the anxiety from being waitlisted is terrible.

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I'm currently deciding between two programs that are virtually tied in all rankings. What are some factors you would recommend considering before making a decision? Things beyond the obvious (program structure, location, stipend, quality of life, faculty friendliness, etc).

 

Research interest fit!! Here's an intensive but useful thing to do. Go through *every* faculty listed on each department, make a list of the ones whose research fits with your interests. I did this for two programs that everyone agreed were equally ranked and equal on most dimensions. I found that one of them had 15 mid-career professors I would be excited to work with, while the other had only 5. This strips away all the marketing and generic information and zeroes in on the things you care about.

 

Corollary: do not coin flip until you feel like you have gathered all the information that is relevant to you. It's very easy to feel like you have all the info after visit days, but you definitely don't.

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Research interest fit!! Here's an intensive but useful thing to do. Go through *every* faculty listed on each department, make a list of the ones whose research fits with your interests. I did this for two programs that everyone agreed were equally ranked and equal on most dimensions. I found that one of them had 15 mid-career professors I would be excited to work with, while the other had only 5. This strips away all the marketing and generic information and zeroes in on the things you care about.

 

Corollary: do not coin flip until you feel like you have gathered all the information that is relevant to you. It's very easy to feel like you have all the info after visit days, but you definitely don't.

 

I did this at 4 schools and it was super helpful, also pay attention to how active they are over the last few years. I also, at the urging of one of the schools' professors, checked to see which professors had a top-5 publications. Just one data point, but every part matters.

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Research interest fit!! Here's an intensive but useful thing to do. Go through *every* faculty listed on each department, make a list of the ones whose research fits with your interests. I did this for two programs that everyone agreed were equally ranked and equal on most dimensions. I found that one of them had 15 mid-career professors I would be excited to work with, while the other had only 5. This strips away all the marketing and generic information and zeroes in on the things you care about.

 

 

This is a very good idea. I'd add a few columns to that list. For each faculty member, indicate whether they teach graduate classes, whether they advise graduate students, and whether they are actively publishing. (Also, be sure you are looking at actual tenure track/tenured professors and not adjuncts, visitors, etc.) Some of this you can get from the web, but these are also good questions to ask current students or your faculty contacts.

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Anyone else still waitlisted by their top choice? I’m having trouble sleeping at this point

Can definitely feel you there. I was also contacted by one of a better ranking, but less fit school yesterday saying that my chances are still high with them... really not sure what to do. I am already in a dilemma in the offers I have now(will decline one by the end of today), and with top choice WL and another higher ranking wl, I'm anxious af.

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Anyone else still waitlisted by their top choice? I’m having trouble sleeping at this point

 

I'm on the same boat. I haven't been sleeping well since Feb.(because of different time zones, most e-mails from the U.S. arrive at midnight) and my fatigue is through the roof. I am waitlisted on one of my top choice schools and I am just hoping that I will be accepted off the waitlist asap so I can decline my other offer and position on the waitlist....

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Anyone else still waitlisted by their top choice? I’m having trouble sleeping at this point

Same here. I was contacted by my top choice last week, and they asked if I was interested in accepting an offer if it were to be given. They said they were 'excited' at the chance that I may join them... I responded right away but haven't heard back from them yet. This is excruciating. Why did they have to sound so hopeful?? :torn:

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Good to hear from all others in the same boat! I have a question, what should we do if we don’t get off the waitlist by tomorrow? Should we accept our best offer and hope that they will let us renege later?

Basically, yes.(And it is almost certain that you'll be allowed to renege.")

 

But if you haven't already done so, if you are on a waitlist and would accept their offer unconditionally tell them right-away.

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Good to hear from all others in the same boat! I have a question, what should we do if we don’t get off the waitlist by tomorrow? Should we accept our best offer and hope that they will let us renege later?

 

I was going to respond that I thought the April 15th deadline extended to midnight, but I see what you're saying. I assume that a lot of people keep their offers in hand until very late on the 15th, and that the waitlists start clearing on the 16th. Can anyone confirm?

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