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Advice for graduate schools, pretty please

drewMuzikdrewMuzik Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
So I am applying to grad school for MS in computer engineering...
I have a list of 6 including,
top - {UCSC, UCI, and UC Davis}
middle - {Cal Poly SLO, UCR}
bottom - {SDSU}
I'm looking for more safety schools, avoiding SJSU for costs / other reasons, but here's a little of my background;
B.S. in Computer engineering from SJSU
GPA 3.44
GRE - 320 (quant - 164 / verbal - 156)
A couple good LORs and maybe a couple mediocre (not sure as I ended with B+ in those)
No research / internships though - I was having too much fun after getting better from nerve surgery on my hand. But since graduating I've been tutoring
I can provide SOP / history to anyone willing to give feedback or help, I just worry about how admissions will look at my academics & background. I had a nerve injury in wrist as freshman in highschool, started clawing by senior year. So I had surgery in JC to free it up but it took me 4 years to get caught up from high school and recuperate from surgery. So I'm very hesitant about my aspirations. Of course my essays discuss this but I'm still not sure if admissions will see this as a pitfall or strength (I hate to think the former but its not really for me to judge).
If anyone could give some feedback, negative or otherwise it'd be so much appreciated. I just don't know where else to turn for any advice.
Anyway, thank you so much for your time in reading this.

Replies to: Advice for graduate schools, pretty please

  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 28,098 Senior Member
    Good questions for the grad school forum. Hope the moderators move your post there.

    Where do your own professors advise that you apply? Usually they have very good senses of where students will be admitted and where they will do well. Run your list by them.

    Usually your personal statement for grad admission should be about our academic and career goals. Have you specifically been advised to write about your recovery from hand surgery? If not, eliminate that information.

    No research or internships yet, is anything stopping you from doing that now? Check at your university's career center and check with your professors. Those could be useful gigs worth fitting in around the paid tutoring.
  • drewMuzikdrewMuzik Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    Thanks you so much for the feedback.
    I actually tried to move the post over to grad school forum but I can't delete it.

    Anyway, I've been hesitant to ask my professors about which schools they advise - I'm worried they will recommend SJSU, but I can't keep going there. I know one of my professors thinks highly of me - but she's on sabbatical and I don't want to keep bugging her. But I have been meaning to reach out to some of them for an update on the application process, apps to UCR and SLO were just sent out so I can ask them then.

    You're correct though in that I don't talk about my hand surgery in the SOP, just the personal history - thanks for clearing that up.

    But I have major anxiety around SJSU now, as if my test / social anxieties weren't enough, I just can't talk to all of my professors. One of them downright scares me, to the point I can't even say hello in person. It's not their fault but it is what it is. So I panic really bad going around the school now, not to mention the entire city. But I will try to figure out how to get in contact with them. At this point however I'm worried that finding anything will be too late to put on my resume for applications.

    Thank you SO much again for taking your time to help, it means a lot to me.
  • xraymancsxraymancs Forum Champion Graduate School Posts: 4,529 Forum Champion
    edited October 10
    @drewMuzik - Welcome to the Forum! It is very unfortunate that you feel intimidated by the faculty. You will need to be able to communicated more effectively with faculty once you get into a graduate program so it may be worth your while to start practicing now. I think that if you ask professors and just state up front that you want to try another university, they will understand and answer accordingly. Since you are interested in a Masters, then it is possible that your lack of research will not be disqualifying. The range of programs you have listed seems reasonable to me and if you think that SDSU is a safety, there is no reason to find another one. After all, it looks like you want to stay in California and presumably you are OK with attending any one of the schools you have listed.

    You mention that you have been tutoring after graduation. have you considered working for a while in the software field and then going back for a Masters with the work experience under your belt? That could mitigate the lack of research.
  • drewMuzikdrewMuzik Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    Thank you so much @xraymancs it's nice to be here. I know I shouldn't be intimidated by faculty but this is the first I've ever experienced it. I've always communicated well with most of my professors, it just happens to be one of them.
    I have terrible social and test anxiety, something he/she got me to pull a panic attack from during an exam. I never felt so isolated in my life - and they just ignored me shaking / tearing / holding my bad arm trying to write. In the end I still pulled ahead of the average with a B+. But it might be the reason I'm so intimidated by them.

    As far as finding work experience goes I've been trying, and I did manage to bomb a couple of interviews. I'm just the worst at interviewing - crippling anxiety. I've never blanked out before when someone asks me "tell me about yourself".
    But I will keep trying, I start another tutoring program in a couple weeks - I love helping students out (academics helps ease my mind / anxiety), so this will make 3 tutoring positions that'll take up a lot of my time. One of the areas is in coding - HTML/CSS, not C++ which doesn't appear to demand as much tutoring as java for high school kids.

    Anyway, I really appreciate all the feedback and do take everything to heart. It's very helpful.
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 28,098 Senior Member
    Before applying to grad school, give yourself time to work on the social and test anxiety you feel. You will need to have powerful strategies in place, perhaps coupled with an effective medical treatment if that works well for you, in order to cope with the stress and craziness of grad school.

    Right now you like the tutoring. Focus some of your energy on that. Perhaps, dare I suggest, teaching is the calling that you should investigate.
  • drewMuzikdrewMuzik Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    Thanks @happymomof1 but I've spent enough of my life learning to cope with my anxieties - I saw a psychologist during adolescence for many years. He taught me great coping strategies and that medicine will just mask my problems (IMO), but my pursuit to grad school is better the sooner it happens. Knowledge fades without practice. As much as I like tutoring, I like learning even more. Especially with a good professor.

    Not to mention that grad school is my ticket out of San Jose, I despise living here more and more as the days go by. Don't get me wrong - here exist some of the most AMAZING people I will EVER meet in my life. But they don't outweigh the problems: homelessness, housing costs, squalor, drugs, obesity, sloppy roads.

    Overall, I want to see what limits lie in my learning. I was always that "straight A" student kids pointed at during middle school. My friends in high school talked about going to Harvard, Davis, Stanford so I feel like I'd let a lot of people down by not going for it (if I haven't already). Everything changed when I damaged my writing hand, nicked my nerve and it really changed me. I'm just learning to cope with it and the subsequent problems from my surgery, IV drip got stuck in a nerve plexus under my collarbone.

    But thank you oh so much for your thoughts. Your family must be very lucky to have you.
  • happymomof1happymomof1 Registered User Posts: 28,098 Senior Member
    I had a couple of thoughts about your situation last night. First, wherever you do end up for grad school, pay a visit to the disability services office. Since your dominant hand has the problem, you should be able to request extended time on written exams and possibly get other accommodations for written projects. In a workplace, you also should be eligible for certain accommodations undere ADA.

    Also, find out if your university career center offers practice interviews. The state job service office probably offers those as well. Once you get a notion of the questions that are likely to be asked, you can prepare a set of go-to answers for the most common ones.

    Lastly, even though some professors will want to keep a favored student around for a bit longer, most will not advise continuing at the same university. Students need to see a lot of different approaches, and work with different people, in order to develop their own knowledge and skills. If you are still concerned, when you speak with your profs you can open the discussion with, "Other than SJSU, which is such a great place and has you on the staff, where can you recommend that I look? Where do students with my profile usually get in?"

    Wishing you all the best!
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