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Programs A bit depressed searching PhD opportunities

  1. Jan 15, 2013 #1
    Hi All,

    Maybe my first post is a bit sad/depressive, but I need some advice.

    I have finished recently my MSc. degree in Space Technology & Space Sciences. I have a BSc. in Physics as well and I'm considering to do a PhD. with a challenging topic.

    However, I'm unlucky. Since last december, I've been rejected from about 20 universities.

    Maybe is my age (I'm 35), but when I speak at the interviews, I'm tired to say I started my undergraduate courses at 24 (before I was working and doing my militar service). Maybe is because I spent nearly 10 years to pursue my BSc in Physics (with a GPA of 3.11) but nobody see or knows I was working at the same time and doing research by my own (traduced on a successful parabolic flight for the european space agency and with several scholarships or grants in some departments of my faculty). Maybe is because my records on my MSc were not so high, but I haven't told to any interviewer I was diagnosed with Leukemia and during my treatment I had to study, and was a bit hard…

    I'm feel I'm hungry of new problems. I really enjoy with physics and engineering, I don't feel I'm "old" to start a PhD, but I started to be a bit tired.

    Any advice fellows?
    Regards!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 15, 2013 #2

    G01

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    You are not too old to start a PhD, but your GPA, without knowing any background about your educational history low enough to hinder you in the admissions process.

    You should consider using part of your personal statement in the applications to explain your unique circumstances, if you are not doing so.
     
  4. Jan 15, 2013 #3
    Thanks for your reply! About my GPA, I had excellent grades in some subjects and normal grades in others. I also worked at the same time but as I wrote, I found time to do some research. My intention was not to be the typical student who is going to the lectures but be the'different' or original (I did a parabolic flight and I'm very proud of that period because instead study, I was the only student to experience the microgravity).

    I didn't mention any of my personal circumstances in my applications, and maybe I have to do it.
     
  5. Jan 15, 2013 #4

    G01

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    I'm sure the microgravity experience was really cool, but I wouldn't say things like "instead of studying, I had this experience." The fact of the matter is that experiencing microgravity personally will not help one pass first year courses or thrive in a lab environment.

    If your application implies that you think this experience is an alternative to classes or lab research, it will make the admissions committee worry. By all means talk about the experience in your personal essay (it would work great in an introduction) but don't accidentally give the impression that it is more important than what you will be doing for 6 years in grad school!
     
  6. Jan 16, 2013 #5
    I get it. That's a good point. Thanks!
     
  7. Jan 16, 2013 #6

    Vanadium 50

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    Your application has a number of red flags. 10 years to get a BS is one. Extrapolating, that's 16 years for a PhD. 3.11 GPA is another. 3.00 is the bare minimum to achieve in graduate school. And, like G01 says, your microgravity work will look a lot like "instead of studying, I went on an airplane ride".

    The biggest challenge, though, is that you have a long (11-13 years) and consistent track record - one that has you performing below the level that grad schools are looking for. This will not be easy to overcome.
     
  8. Jan 16, 2013 #7
    Apply to UT-San Antonio. It's a good program, but it's brand new and growing. The application isn't due for another while yet, and I'm fairly confident you can get in.
     
  9. Jan 17, 2013 #8
    Thanks for your reply. However, I think you missunderstood my words. I wanted to say, that instead to be the typical student who is going to the lectures and pass the exams, I wanted to get involve with a good level of research and pass my exams as well. What do you prefer? A guy who has an A or a guy who has a B+ but is curious and have done some research? I don't think my PhD will last 16 years...during my BsC I had to work at the same time to pay my fees, but due my achievements, I've got a grant to do a double MsC abroad my country and I did it in the normal period (2 years). Life, is nonLinear Sir....
     
  10. Jan 17, 2013 #9

    Vanadium 50

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    But you didn't get a B+. You barely got a B.

    How are you going to convince the admissions committee of this? "Life is nonlinear" is not going to convince the admissions committee to accept you over someone who has fewer red flags in their application. You will need a much stronger argument.
     
  11. Jan 17, 2013 #10
    Tenacity?, congency?...maybe perseverance?
    On the other hand, I've noticed I have some red flags in my applications, for that reason I'm looking for some advice.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013
  12. Jan 17, 2013 #11

    Vanadium 50

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    And the other applicants won't say they have that?

    I am glad you are recognizing that there are red flags in your application. Those are part of the reason that you have amassed so many rejections. What you need to be doing now is to find a way in the application to show - not tell - the committee that they don't have to be worried by them.
     
  13. Jan 17, 2013 #12
    Indeed. That's the point: to show instead to tell.
    I've applied for an interesting PhD in Zurich. At this moment I'm in London, so, do you mean I might go to Zurich, to speak with the proffesor in charge and show my motivation for the PhD?
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013
  14. Jan 17, 2013 #13

    Vanadium 50

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    "Telling" in person is still "telling".
     
  15. Jan 17, 2013 #14
    I think you should tell your whole story. I dropped out of a grad program due to a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and im applying to new ones. I wrote a separate essay, which one school accepted, dedicated to my circumstance. I have a great deal of respect for you for chugging through your degree despite such opposition- much more so than a straight A student who's had an easy life. Only concern I see is that the committee may question where you have resolved all your issues.
     
  16. Jan 17, 2013 #15
    Sorry for typos sent from my droid
     
  17. Jan 18, 2013 #16
    I had one teacher who said the same. He added: instead 'telling' use 'selling'...sell yourself.
    So, the point is: take a risk, go to speak in person with the professor in charge, show my motivation and sell myself, isn't?

    Aero51: thanks for your words. Your problem is harder than mine but you still are there, and that's great!. During my MsC, I had an interview to get a job in an important company. Then, I was diagnosed with leukemia (still with treatment) and I thought: 'what's the point to being alive, if there is nothing 'remarkable' in your life?'. That's why I wanted to enter in a grad program: just to add something...
     
  18. Jan 18, 2013 #17
    That's a wonderful story and you ought to make that the backbone of your essay. Very genuine. Very powerful.
     
  19. Jan 18, 2013 #18
    I'm writing a new essay, telling what I did, what I doing and what I'll do. Being a scientist is fail and fail again and make notes about why are you failing and repeat again the test.
     
  20. Jan 18, 2013 #19

    Choppy

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    Life Itself is remarkable. It's easy to forget that.

    As for visiting a campus, you absolutely should. While this may not guarantee an increase in your chances of admission, it will give both you and potential advisors much more information about whether or not the program is a good fit for you.
     
  21. Jan 18, 2013 #20

    Vanadium 50

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    I agree with Choppy. I doubt a visit makes any difference in their decision, but it should be a big factor in yours.
     
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