Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I hate mood swings

So, it really stinks when you hear news from people you've taken field courses with, and it turns out that not only have they applied to some of the same grad programs that you have, they've been accepted.

And you haven't.

I'd like to be happy for this person, but I am just the teensiest bit bitter to hear about their acceptance (AND paid visit), when this particular grad program has told me that they aren't accepting more than two people in my research area. (Which is the same research area that this person would be applying for.) So, is this person one of the two, or was the program just lying to make me feel better?

This being the same program that said they looked at people "years in advance". Arr. This person hasn't even graduated yet. How can the program have been considering them for that long?


Kim said...

I think the grad program probably did only accept two people, and your friend, for whatever reason, was one of them.

It's hard to know exactly what grad programs are looking for. It's usually something odd - some combination of interest and experience that sounds like a good fit for the department.

They also may have been looking only for PhD students - you mentioned that you were applying for M.S. programs. That can make a difference - PhD students stick around longer, and do more research compared to the time spent teaching them stuff. M.S. programs are better deals for students, in many ways, but PhD programs are better deals for advisors.

Tuff Cookie said...

Kim, you're right all around. I was being a little bitter, but I'm sure the people they accepted definitely deserved the spots and will fit in well with the program. I am a bit miffed about not having received any official correspondence from the department, however. It shouldn't be too hard to write and send a one-page letter saying "Thank you for applying, but we didn't offer you a spot because of X, Y and Z."

And I'm realizing the disadvantage I may be putting myself to with the decision to apply as an MS. It does make more sense for an advisor to accept PhD students over MS students, but I can't help but think that some of those PhDs are being rushed into something that they aren't really ready for just so they can work at their institution of choice. (Still, only my opinion there - I could be wrong.)

I actually declined to switch my application to a PhD at one of my schools, and they were thankfully still happy to accept me, but it may be that that decision has hurt me with some of the other schools.

Silver Fox said...

Tuff, I hate mood swings, too. I'm wondering if you are one of the few in our geosphere (and in the group of other science blogs?) that are between undergrad and grad school? The comparison with other people who have this or that (jobs or schools or professorships) could possibly seem a little much, sometimes. I think it's fair to say that we are all rooting for you. And it's also very good that you've been accepted to at least one school (maybe two?).

When I was applying, my backup school was one I knew I could get into but didn't want to go to, because it was on the east coast, and I wanted to be in the west. The school I really wanted to go to didn't accept me (I think they also preferred straight-to-PhD students, though that was kind of new back then). Thankfully, when I decided to go to a school I didn't know much about (not the backup), it turned out to be a good choice for reasons I couldn't even forsee.

Also, being happy for other people can be an acquired skill.

So, hang in there - you're obviously very smart and also very determined (or tough?).

Ron Schott said...

It'd be nice if grad schools sent you a letter saying "Thank you for applying, but we didn't offer you a spot because of X, Y and Z", but I wouldn't expect any specifics about X, Y, and Z. It's been my experience, especially in applying for jobs, that the employer/grad school is usually loathe to explain their reasoning, usually for legal reasons (they don't want to be sued in case you disagree with their reasoning). It's a shame, too, because most folks are not litigious and would like to know how to improve themselves for the next application. Unfortunately, it's the rare institution that offers this information in light the potential for legal action.

Tuff Cookie said...

Fox, thanks for the support. I am indeed in between undergrad and grad school, working. (Which, in retrospect, was a good choice; I'd have gone insane trying to do all this and my thesis at the same time.)

On final count, I have three choices, all attractive in various ways; once I'm finished with visits I'm sure I'll be able to pick a good one. And if it doesn't work out like I want...well, that's one advantage to an MS - only two years!

Ron - I'm actually not expecting much in the way of X, Y and Z beyond "we had more great applicants than we could accept". What I'm more concerned with is that they send me a letter at all. I've had emails from specific people at the schools that rejected me, but it seems like professional courtesy for the department to send it on paper as well. It is sad that that's becoming rare, though.

The Lost Geologist said...

Over here in Germany it has become frequent not to sent anything if you haven't been accepted. A year ago I applied to a few Internships and also special courses at various universities. In total 20 applications - only 1 bothered to email me that I was not accepted. The rest never answered.

I surely can understand your mood! Today I went to university to finalise my papers for my diploma. According to our rules and "check-list" I have all required courses and exams. I was informed that the rules were changed (without informing the students) and that I may study half a year longer because of a single, small exam that has been added. I will lose 1 year. By the time I could write the exam it's too late to start field work for my diploma (master) thesis. The rainy seasons is approaching on the site by then.

If they would have informed students at the start of the semester...

Maria said...

I can't help but think that some of those PhDs are being rushed into something that they aren't really ready for just so they can work at their institution of choice.

*raises hand*

I regret not doing an MS first. Even if it narrows your choice of schools initially, you can always reapply to those places if/when you're a PhD student.

Anyway - Internet hugs to you.