biology graduate school application questions (when to apply, who to ask for recs)

<p>Biology grad school questions (cancer bio/genetics field)</p>

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<li><p>Does applying earlier than the deadline matter? If the deadline is Dec 15 does it matter if the application is in Oct 15 vs Nov 15 vs Dec 15?</p></li>
<li><p>Do letters recommendations have to be from "academic" professors? Is it better if they are? I graduated undergrad. 4 years ago. I since worked in a hospital as a research tech and have a good relationship with the lab head PhD (2 middle-author publications). I have also worked in the biotech industry and am considering having a scientist (has a PhD) write me a letter (does it matter if he is a manager? It is a biotech company so not academically focused, more molecular product development focused. I would get a 3rd letter from my thesis research adviser from undergrad. It's been 4 years, but I did work in that lab for 2.5 years. My other option is dropping the biotech scientist reference for a professor from undergrad- although I didn't keep in touch with professors I simply took a class with.</p></li>
<li><p>Will the biotech experience be a negative at all? It is related to my field and it did involve experiment design, data analysis, some reading of literature etc. Should I focus more on the other experiences in my application?</p></li>
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<li><p>Depends on the program. Some have rolling admissions, some have an early date and a final date, some don't look at any application until the deadline. I think applying by the early date helped me in some cases (saved me $100 in one case as well). If nothing else, it may give you more options for your interview weekend. Get started early, finish the application with the earliest deadline way ahead of time. It will help you realize how much time you need to set aside to work on this kind of thing.</p></li>
<li><p>What is the position of the 'lab head'? I don't know about the specifics here, but a letter coming from a professor is going to have a lot more weight than one from "has a PhD". Having said that, the biotech reference represents an important part of your experience and your application. Don't swap it for a professor you took a lecture class with.</p></li>
<li><p>You have biotech experience on top of academic experience. It won't be viewed in a negative light whatsoever. You may want to focus more on the academic experience, and how they relate to your intended future direction.</p></li>
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