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Admissions Transferring after dropping out of a PhD for medical reasons

  1. Apr 15, 2016 #1
    Let's say that I was given unacceptable conditions for returning from medical leave; basically I had to self-fund at least the following year of a physics PhD. Knowing that doing so would result in a financial disaster, I am definitely withdrawing from the program, with the understanding that, if I still wanted to earn a PhD at some point, I would have to transfer. (But if I do somehow find work in industry, and then don't feel the need to go back to graduate school, this whole discussion is mooted)

    I could always mention, in an addendum (if there is space for one), medical problems, going to medical services, such as a physician (on-campus and later off-campus) on a regular basis for 75% of the only semester I ended up attending, and leaving school to take better care of myself. (I feel I did what was right from a medical standpoint) But when there is no space for an addendum in an application, I was advised to just drop a line about "personal problems" or "extenuating circumstances".

    And also, I have two publications on file by now, whereas I had none when I applied to PhD programs the first time around (2015 cycle). Because I do not feel my GRE scores were an issue, I do not feel the need to re-take the GRE, general or physics, since they are still valid. But TOEFL, on the other hand, I would have to retake because the scores are no longer valid.

    Is there anything else I should do? (I do not think I aimed too high the first time around, just too wide; this time around, I am willing to consider Canadian as well as American PhD programs - one of the big motives, beyond pursuing particle cosmology as an area of research, of why I attended Minnesota in the first place was that I did so as a protesting measure against Harper's abysmal civilian science policy)

    P.S.: I never had Ws before that particular semester, but still somehow ended up with 3.80 for what coursework remained. If you need more information about my file or anything else, please, let me know.

    P.P.S.: Having learned that the day-to-day work in two areas of observational (or experimental) work in particle cosmology out of three (data analysis and modelling) share quite a bit in similarities with theoretical work, I've been toying with going for observational particle cosmology, rather than theoretical particle cosmology, at the top-10 schools (potentially Harvard, Stanford or UChicago), provided that the POIs I would then choose actually do work in my area of interest mostly using data analysis and/or modelling (I don't think I have the dexterity to do instrumentation, and I am otherwise not instrumentation-minded). But I am confused as to whether to apply for theory or for observation [at top-10 schools], given what I know about the day-to-day work in each area. That, knowing that applying straight up for theory is just fine for non-top-10 American schools (UPenn, Carnegie Mellon, WUSTL, Notre Dame, ASU?).
     
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  3. Apr 15, 2016 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    The worst thing possible on a graduate school app is having previously dropped out of a grad program. No school wants to put in the situation of investing the time and effort of teaching a graduate student, only to have him leave before finishing. Every school is going to think "He bailed on Minnesota - he'll likely bail on us, too." It's not enough to show that you had a good reason to drop out of Minnesota. Every school is going to look for proof that you won't do that to them as well. A detailed statement from your doctor is the sort of thing they will want to see.

    Next, you seem to think you're in more or less the same position you were in the first time you applied. That's not true. You are much worse off. You have enrolled in graduate school and demonstrated that you couldn't handle it.

    Finally, as people who have read your past posts (and your former avatar) can attest, you seem to have a great big chip on your shoulder. You want to make as sure as you can that this does not appear in your LOR's.
     
  4. Apr 16, 2016 #3

    radium

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    Well that's pretty disturbing that Minnesota gave you those conditions. I'm almost positive my program would never do that and I would expect the others I know of would be similar. Are you sure that there isn't anything else you could do.
     
  5. Apr 16, 2016 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    We don't know why Minnesota gave those conditions, but Minnesota is one of the most grad-student friendly schools. They probably did not decide this casually.
     
  6. Apr 16, 2016 #5
    Oh I can assure you that the "extenuating circumstances" of my case made it so that it took months for them to reach that (highly unfortunate) decision. I understand they exhausted all their options before making that decision. Then again, I do not think anything program-specific actually caused these medical problems to crop up, and I am not otherwise disparaging the program or the department people.

    Plus I knew going in that Minnesota actually didn't have much of a choice for the last 20+ years (that one graduate from that program I met in person prior to applying graduated about 15 years ago and also said that it was rather grad-student-friendly even in his time in grad school) to be grad-student-friendly one way or another; while UMN had good research (condensed matter, cosmology and HEP) Minneapolis was viewed by many prospective grad students at the time as a cold, isolated city (I'm not sure if that perception still holds true today), if otherwise affordable on a $25k salary (that number, however, is today's grad-student salary).

    P.S.: That particular chip on my shoulder my former avatar displayed was resolved with provisions in the latest federal budget.
     
  7. Apr 16, 2016 #6

    radium

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    So if you were to go back, would you be required to pay tuition too? If not, why aren't the allowing you to get a TA? I assume there must be some financial trouble they are having for this to happen because I have never heard of anything like it. In fact I believe our graduate student heads etc encourage students to take leaves when needed and are currently trying to make it easier for students to do so in response to student comments.

    In regards to looking for another program, I would not get my hopes up for Harvard, Stanford etc. You could always try if you don't mind paying the fee, but there a lot of really impressive applicants applying out of undergrad etc. and you would be competing against them.
     
  8. Apr 16, 2016 #7
    Yes, unfortunately.

    I know top-10 schools amount to lotteries, yet the DGS once slipped some details about my position in that particular year's applicant pool when I asked about the possibility of returning from a medical leave before said leave started. It turned out that I was on some shortlist for CSE fellowship money that included a bunch of people who ultimately attended UIUC (x3), Cornell (x2), Stanford (x1) and another one that turned down UChicago (that guy is now at UMass Amherst on RA money)

    It seems that it's easier for me to find good fits at the non-top-20 level (Wisconsin should no longer be regarded as a top-20 BTW). So while I can realistically consider Arizona State, WUSTL, Notre Dame, Carnegie Mellon even, in the US (UPenn would still be a rather difficult one, but more realistic than Harvard, UChicago or Stanford)
     
  9. Apr 16, 2016 #8

    radium

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    Did you get into any of the schools you listed (which you applied to) last year?
     
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