Another Thread about Chance Me

<p>Hello everyone,</p>

<p>This is my first thread after high school. Just got my GRE score, completely bombed the writing section. Looking for some advise. Thanks.</p>

<p>My background:
Undergraduate School Rank between 10-20 in Engineering in U.S.
International Student.
GPA: 3.9X.
Major: Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering.
GRE: Quan 800/ Verbal 730 / Writing 3.5 (Arrrr.... I think I get a 2 on Issue and a 5 on Argument) Issue asked me to discuss something about politics, which is like a foreign language to me. </p>

<p>Well, 0 paper and 0 research (unless counting design courses). I am doing three majors, so I am extremely busy taking classes every semester. I am very interested in Robotics and I found all three majors to be useful, so that is why I am doing all three.</p>

<p>I am looking to apply to top Engineering schools like Stanford, MIT. I know I have very little chance, but I still want to give it me best shot. </p>

<p>A few questions:
1. Is it easier/better to apply for Master Degree rather than direct phd? (Since I have 0 paper, and I can try graduate school for 2 years before deciding to get a phd) But schools like MIT does not take non-phd applicant.</p>

<ol>
<li><p>Does green card holder have a better chance than international student?</p></li>
<li><p>I have 1 more semester before my applications, do you have any suggestions as to what I should do be improve my application? (I have planning to take 4 design courses next semester, but I can make adjustment if needed)</p></li>
<li><p>I know robotics require people from different departments. Should I apply to different departments of the same school?</p></li>
</ol>

<p>Thank you all.</p>

<p>Additional questions:</p>

<ol>
<li><p>If I do not need funding, would that increase my chance? (Although it is a stupid thing to do)</p></li>
<li><p>Should I retake GRE to improve writing score? Or Even just the writing section to get at least a 4?</p></li>
</ol>

<ol>
<li><p>In your case, probably given the 0 research experience.</p></li>
<li><p>Yes for PhD programs because certain funding sources are only for US residents. Master's programs I'm not sure.</p></li>
<li><p>Not much can change at this point.</p></li>
<li><p>If the schools allow it, sure. For example, you can apply for EECS and MechE at MIT, but not at Stanford or Berkeley.</p></li>
<li><p>If you received an external fellowship, that will help you get accepted. There's not really a place to say that you "don't need funding." They usually won't accept you into a PhD program without giving you funding, and master's programs are usually unfunded.</p></li>
<li><p>No, don't worry about it. Spend your time on something else.</p></li>
</ol>

<p>Having done 0 research, are you sure you want to spend the next 6 years doing research for your PhD? You shouldn't have a problem getting into a top master's program, but without research experience it'll be difficult to get into a PhD program.</p>

<p>Thanks for your great answers. I definitely want to go to graduate school because I feel I have not learnt enough and I want to go much deeper. I am wondering based on my background, should I even be bothered to apply to top engineering school? I don't know the average background for students who get accepts. Does doing 3 majors give me any advantage?</p>

<p>Bump. Does anyone have more advise?</p>

<p>Having done three majors won't give you an advantage. When you apply to graduate school, they care mostly about the preparation for the particular field. </p>

<p>Your GPA and GRE scores are impressive. Do you know any of your professors well -- beyond just getting good grades in their courses? Are you doing an honors thesis or senior project next year? If not, you should try to remedy both during the upcoming semester/year. The first will give you strong letters of recommendation, and the second will begin your research career. The lack of papers is not an issue; the lack of research is.</p>

<p>You say that you want to go to graduate school because you want to go much deeper in your field. Learning course material is only one component of becoming an expert. I highly recommend that instead of applying to graduate school directly out of undergraduate that you work in the field for a year, especially since you have a green card, to gain that necessary research and hands-on knowledge. You could probably get into a top ranked PhD program with your grades, GRE scores, preparation, and some research experience. You could do a research-based master's degree, but unless you continue on to the PhD in the same university, you may have to take another two years of courses before starting your dissertation. Essentially, you'll be adding two years to your education instead of working for one. And what if you discover that you don't like research?</p>

<p>Adcoms will know that you're an intelligent student. They won't know whether you can apply your knowledge to the more creative area of independent research.</p>

<p>Thanks for your great advise. I am doing 3 senior design projects and 1 independent research. I am wondering if that is too late? Since it equates to only 0.5 years of research experience and I do not even have a grade that these professors can talk about in LOR before the deadline of application?</p>

<p>Also, I would prefer to apply for master program instead of the FULL PHD program to get a taste of what its like before doing it. Do you suggest I apply master or phd? Do I stand a chance even with master program from Stanford or similar? </p>

<p>Should I apply for master program at home school as a safety or get a job?</p>

<p>Given your 3.9x GPA for THREE majors :) :)
and 90%+ GRE :) :)</p>

<p>and..your 0 research :( :(</p>

<p>It's easier to go Master's degree compared to PhD.
Because PhD is basically heavy research starting from your first year, and research a separate skill - quite different from class-taking - that develops over time. But if you've never done research then at best, adcoms don't know how good you will be at research (thinking process on solving the unknown, including your attitude, patience towards doing the same thing over until it is successful), at worst, you're at disadvantage compared to others who has couple years of research skill honed since their undergrad years.</p>

<p>Some comparisons:
My friend, similar GPA (I think he has 3.95, but he was from only one major) from top 5 ME or EE (I forgot but either of those two), similar GRE, ALSO international student, AND also 0 research was rejected at stanford PhD, accepted at Master at Stanford (applied to including MIT Caltech, but rejected)</p>

<p>My other friend with similar GPA, 800 Q 550 V GRE (550), also international student but 1 year of research (no pub), same school, major in biochem got in Caltech PhD biochem, rejected at Harvard and MIT (I forgot about Stanford, but I think Caltech was the only one that accepted him for PhD, maybe Stanford also rejected him/accept him Master)</p>

<p>You definitely stand a chance for Master's Stanford given that my first friend was immediately accepted for Master. From Master you can continue for PhD no prob, downside is just the funding that's scarce for Master's program.</p>

<p>But who knows you might get lucky with PhD so apply wide but ONLY to >> schools that you WILL attend if you're accepted << (i.e. even though it's "safeties", you are WILLING to attend if you're accepted) e.g:
- Your home school
- MIT
- Stanford
- Caltech
- Berkeley
- etc</p>

<p>Thanks, vitiatethis, some great info and advise. I think for Stanford, if you apply for phd but got rejected, they will consider you for master program. </p>

<p>I have been taking a lot of classes because of 3 majors, 50% more on average than my peers. Course time conflict with 3 majors is a big problem, so I tried and have almost finished all required courses after Junior (now) before I can spend any time on research, which is my plan for Senior year. Now, it looks like a bad plan for applying to graduate school with 0 research for the first 3 years of college.</p>

<p>As for research, I am doing 3 senior design projects and 1 independent research. I am wondering if that is too late? Since it equates to only 0.5 years of research experience and I do not even have a grade that these professors can talk about in LOR before the deadline of application?</p>

<p>Hmm maybe you COULD try applying now saying that you have been doing research 0.5 years then going to do research for another 0.5 year including summer on this certain professor for independent research (I believe that senior design project MAY equate research but I need verification on this, and independent research is definitely research). You might be able to stand a chance since you have 0.5 years of research, which is similar to my other friend, the one that has 1+ year research, actually had 8 months of research at the time she was applying.</p>