I am currently pursuing PhD in CS from the U.K. I have been seriously considering taking 3-4 months off from my PhD to study philosophy and psychology. Since PhD programme in the U.K is only 3 years, I find it hard to study these subjects along with doing my research. There have been several instances that have made me felt that I lack deeper thinking of concepts, and I very much would like to do have a framework to think about the world around me. Thus, I had been thinking to take a gap and read some books on it or take some courses at my university. If I do that, I will need to be off from my scholarship for that period of time. Are there such grants for science PhDs to read philosophy/pscyhology for 3-4 months?

Though NSF results aren’t out yet for this year, this question’s been wracking my brain since I’m heavily considering taking a gap year before grad school. I also haven’t been able to find this particular question asked/answered anywhere online and I feel like there are surely others that might find themselves in this same situation, so I’m asking here.

Basically, I completed my NSF application in the fall with confidence, and then around a month later found out that my subject GRE scores were abysmal. Coupled with a fairly “low” GPA, I ended up not getting into any grad schools except my least-ranked backup school and a waitlist to another backup. I’ve talked over with my advisor and we agreed that taking a year off to reapply would be good for me. For one, I can retake the exam and possibly get into a wider range of schools, which means more opportunities to choose from. A second consideration is that part of the reason I didn’t do well in school, which I only realized recently, is that I had been ignoring my mental health for years (I didn’t believe “mental health” was a real thing, oops) and taking a gap year would help me put a year’s worth of space between being thrown into grad classes while I heal. I’ve also already got plans for the year in place–I would be doing full-time research work for both my advisor and as part of a program I was accepted to. I feel like this is the healthiest, best route for me and is the one I’m most comfortable with.

However, there’s still a chance I could win the NSF (which is exceedingly rare and a crapshoot for anyone, I know, but anyone who doesn’t withdraw is technically still in the running!), which means I would have to go to grad school next year to accept the award. They removed the option to defer years ago unless you’re active in the military or have a medical issue (I assume this means hospitalization, not going through something like CBT). Because it’s such a competitive fellowship, I always had the notion that it would be just plain “stupid” to turn it down (unless, of course, you got some sort of better award). However, because of the reasons I stated in the paragraph above, I’m definitely less comfortable with this path.

In this scenario, which should take priority? Accepting a competitive fellowship at a backup school I’m unsure about, or taking a year off to reapply and have more options (especially at top choice, selective institutions), albeit without the NSF or possibly any sort of external fellowship? Has anyone gone through either route and regretted it? Also, how does listing a declined award (NOT in the context of winning other awards and having to choose only one) look on a CV? For context, I’m interested in attempting a career as tenured faculty in academia (which is also exceedingly unlikely, I know).

Though NSF results aren’t out yet for this year, this question’s been wracking my brain since I’m heavily considering taking a gap year before grad school. I also haven’t been able to find this particular question asked/answered anywhere online and I feel like there are surely others that might find themselves in this same situation, so I’m asking here.

Basically, I completed my NSF application in the fall with confidence, and then around a month later found out that my subject GRE scores were abysmal. Coupled with a fairly “low” GPA, I ended up not getting into any grad schools except my least-ranked backup school and a waitlist to another backup. I’ve talked over with my advisor and we agreed that taking a year off to reapply would be good for me. For one, I can retake the exam and possibly get into a wider range of schools, which means more opportunities to choose from. A second consideration is that part of the reason I didn’t do well in school, which I only realized recently, is that I had been ignoring my mental health for years (I didn’t believe “mental health” was a real thing, oops) and taking a gap year would help me put a year’s worth of space between being thrown into grad classes while I heal. I’ve also already got plans for the year in place–I would be doing full-time research work for both my advisor and as part of a program I was accepted to. I feel like this is the healthiest, best route for me and is the one I’m most comfortable with.

However, there’s still a chance I could win the NSF (which is exceedingly rare and a crapshoot for anyone, I know, but anyone who doesn’t withdraw is technically still in the running!), which means I would have to go to grad school next year to accept the award. They removed the option to defer years ago unless you’re active in the military or have a medical issue (I assume this means hospitalization, not going through something like CBT). Because it’s such a competitive fellowship, I always had the notion that it would be just plain “stupid” to turn it down (unless, of course, you got some sort of better award). However, because of the reasons I stated in the paragraph above, I’m definitely less comfortable with this path.

In this scenario, which should take priority? Accepting a competitive fellowship at a backup school I’m unsure about, or taking a year off to reapply and have more options (especially at top choice, selective institutions), albeit without the NSF or possibly any sort of external fellowship? Has anyone gone through either route and regretted it? Also, how does listing a declined award (NOT in the context of winning other awards and having to choose only one) look on a CV? For context, I’m interested in attempting a career as tenured faculty in academia (which is also exceedingly unlikely, I know).

I have been away from full time study for more than a year now and I was trying to see if I could get into postgraduate studies at a masters level for a non-vocational subject.

Prior to graduating, I had some reference letters written and sealed hermetically by two teaching staff as I had some intention in studying in Japan. In the end, that did not bear any fruit and although it is not easy to get admitted to full-time studies after a blank period, I am hoping to make a few applications even if it is quite a long shot.

My questions are these:

-Would it be appropriate to use these reference letters if I want to make an application for postgraduate studies in a different country? My undergraduate studies was in the UK and I am hoping to make applications there.

-Would it be appropriate to send reference letters which is more than a year old for an application for postgraduate studies?

Admittedly, I can make a request to see if they can write a new reference letter but I would rather not, as I feel it would be too demanding if I ask them to write a reference letter for someone that had already graduated.

Thank you for sharing your insights, opinions and thoughts on this.

I am considering a Gap-year to refine my abilities in physics before applying to graduate school. I have not taken the Physics GRE, at this moment it would be a struggle to get a high grade that will get me into a top graduate school. Currently I’m looking at these options

  • Case 1: Masters program in Europe as they don’t require GRE scores, be able to specialize more in physics. Although the cost for school is significant, and I will not be able to afford tuition.
  • Case 2: Move back into parents house for a year, contact San Jose State University and ask whether I can do research in their lab, study for physics GRE, apply to schools next round.
  • Case 3: Apply to mid-tier schools, and have great difficulty teaching at a well established institution after graduate school.

My Chemistry GPA is 4.00, with a minor in math and 3 years of research experience mainly in physical chemistry with good letters of reccomendation. However, I am not sure how much this transfers towards getting into a great school without many physics courses.

Is taking the ‘gap-year’ a bad move? Would it be able to help my application or only hurt?

I have a bachelors in physics and math (graduated in may of this year), and have been struggling within myself to figure out if I would like to pursue a graduate degree in physics or engineering. During my time as an undergrad, my physics GRE scores were terrible. I had so much work and found myself trying to get good grades that I didn’t fully comprehend all of the material I was being taught; it was more of a study-and-get-the-grade kind of thing. Not that i’m bad at physics, but the grade was important at the time and I felt swamped.

So I decided to not apply to grad schools until I could get my PGRE score up. Fast forward to this summer, and my score has improved dramatically. It is now at 800 which is fairly respectable as far as I can tell. The problem is, I haven’t really done anything during that time except study for that test and I am afraid the schools I am applying to for physics will think poorly of me for this. I plan to apply to jobs and internships while waiting to hear back from these schools, however, so as not to waste away doing nothing and to get some work experience.

What should I put in my statement of purpose to improve the way those reading it view me, if anything?

Summary of question

I’ve been getting ready to apply to grad school, and now I have good reasons for not doing so. My letter writers have already uploaded their letters. Basically, it’s the last minute, and I’m changing my mind, and not applying. How do I (a) thank them, (b) tactfully tell them I’m not applying, and (c) ask that they still write me a letter next year or the following year?

Details

For some months, I have been preparing to apply to graduate school. I have readied my test scores, research experience, and mostly finished my statements. It is December 1st, and I have already submitted some applications for fellowships. Over the past three weeks, I’ve sent emails for recommendation letters, which were uploaded by my recommenders (they were written last month, and the prior month). However one thing has happened this week: I realized that I had neglected to research the PhD students recently admitted to the programs to which I have applied. After doing so, I now understand that I am woefully under-prepared for graduate school relative to last year’s cohort–even at my safety schools, which are around #50 on various popular ranking sites (I only mention rankings to demonstrate that I was not being overly arrogant in my school selection–though clearly, perhaps I was a little!).

Unfortunately, now, I have an even bigger problem: even if I got into a great grad school, I don’t think I could rise to the occasion like everyone around me would, and would probably be very demoralized by this. After much deliberation, I am considering applying next year. Over this year, I will work part-time, attempt to gain experience through personal projects (I am in computer science, and have research ideas, so this is feasible) and teach myself more advanced subjects, and then apply to work in a lab, or apply for a research-based master’s degree, in one or two years. I went to a relatively unknown school with few courses in my area of interest, so I think the time will be well spent and increase my confidence and knowledge. I don’t think I’m falling prey to imposter syndrome, because, well, the major conference publications, master’s degrees at elite universities, and impressive resumes of the PhD students at my safety schools are rather objective measures of my relative inexperience.

Here is my question: how can I tactfully notify my letter writers that I am planning on not applying, while still thanking them for their recommendation, and letting them know that I would still appreciate their letter when I apply next year or the year after that? And faculty, if you were in this position, how would you feel about the student? I really don’t want to anger my recommenders. They’re excellent, hard-working, wonderful people, and I already feel guilty that I might be letting them down.

I finished my undergraduate last spring at a top school in the U.S., majoring in physics with great grades (3.94 GPA, 4.0 in major) and about 2.5 years in a bioinformatics lab (including thesis ~15k words; no publications yet, but likely to have one within a few months, just waiting on some experimental data).

I was also awarded a scholarship to pursue fully funded graduate study at Cambridge (UK). Since September, I’ve been studying a mostly taught master’s in physics (the MASt; technically the 4th year of undergraduate at Cambridge, but don’t be mistaken, these are equivalent to graduate level courses in the U.S.), though there is a small thesis component (~5000 words). I chose this program instead of entering a Ph.D. in the U.S. to explore condensed matter, a field I am definitely interested in (alongside biophysics) but had not explored much in college. So far, I think I’m doing pretty well relative to the rest of the ~100 students in the course, though I by no means suppose myself to be a physics wunderkind…

My scholarship also affords me another year of fully funded study. My essential debate is whether to undergo an MPhil (1 year research masters amounting to around ~15k word thesis) at Cambridge or take time off back home in the states. In either case I intend to apply to enter a PhD in physics in either 2019 or 2020. By time off I don’t mean doing absolutely nothing—perhaps I would work at a national lab, or something less physics-focused like volunteering or teaching.

At any rate, my main reasons to take time off would be to get a better handle of career options outside academia before hunkering down for a PhD, as well as to relax and recharge after nearly two decades of straight schooling… I certainly felt significant burnout at the end of my undergraduate (unfortunately, I had to pursue the master’s straight out of college to be eligible for the scholarship). I suspect as the year goes on here at Cambridge I will again feel some heavy burnout. It’d also be nice to be closer to family and friends. I think this would be the healthier, and at least short term, happier decision to make.

However, I am somewhat wary of turning down a free master’s at Cambridge, which would hopefully be accompanied by a great recommendation letter from whomever is my advisor for the MPhil, that might hold some clout for PhD applications. Right now, I have at least one great rec (from my undergraduate thesis advisor), and likely another one from my MASt thesis advisor. Of course, I had solid relationships with other professors who taught me in very small lecture courses / office hours in undergrad (ones who wrote me recommendations to get the scholarship/Cambridge!).

However, given my stats (GRE general yet to be taken; physics GRE with little studying 870, pretty confident I could boost to 900+ in the spring) and prior research experience, is another degree at Cambridge going to significantly help my application to top physics PhD programs in the U.S., assuming I write a bang-up SOP, do my research on good research matches? Or, given my concerns, and that the MPhil may end up postponing my PhD start date by a year, should I not feel too crazy to pass up the opportunity? FWIW, my undergraduate advisor seems to think of me as highly competitive (not guaranteed anywhere, of course) at just about anywhere for the fields I’m interested (CM, biophysics), and he sends his students to top 5-10 schools pretty much every year, but I figured I should get some outside, less biased if less informed, opinions.

I found some almost similar questions but the answers didn’t help me much. I appreciate if you guide me.
I am 31 years old. I have applied for a PhD position (as an international student) in one of the top Australian universities and I’ll have interview (by Skype) next week. Now, there is three years gap between my Master’s and this PhD position. During this three year I applied for many universities and all of my applications failed. My both GPA are above 3.8/4.0, I don’t like to work on something related to my master project and I don’t have any article yet. I wrote it three years ago but my supervisor who is the correspond submitted it this April. Because I need her recommendation I couldn’t do anything but polite request in order to put time for its submission.
In these three years, I participated in GRE and IELTS exam which the later was expired two weeks ago, I wrote a review article which I think my supervisor won’t try to submit it ever. I tried to learn Python and R programming although I can’t say I am good at any of them, I participated in translation of a book related to my major. I am also a high school teacher for 11 years. Now, Australian universities care so much about article and research background which I don’t have. There is these three years gap and I don’t know what should I say about that. I love research but I live in a small town in a deprived area of my developing country and I didn’t have any chance to participate in any research. I also had commitment to educational office to work at my home town that’s why I didn’t leave here. (During my studies I traveled around 2000 km every week to attend the university at the capital city of my country). However, now that I think about it I at least could learn some bioinformatics tools and write an article. I mean it was my fault too.
Please, tell me how to explain my situation. I love the project and I don’t want to lose this opportunity.

I finished my undergrad (engineering) about a year ago and would like to apply to graduate school (also for engineering, probably a masters) either this year or next year. I have pretty decent grades, around 3.7 GPA, one good recommendation from a former professor, one from a former supervisor, no research experience. Currently I work in a field tangentially related to what I want to go back for. Is there anything I can/should be doing to make my application more competitive?

Some things I was considering:

  • Getting involved in Code for America. I’d like to go back for robotics or controls engineering so I thought that might help me build experience, and maybe get another good recommendation letter
  • Doing an online certificate in something STEM related, through either edX or another accredited university. I had thought this might warm me up for graduate study, and maybe I could get a recommendation from another professor if I really take it seriously
  • Working on personal/hobby engineering projects related to robotics or controls engineering

Can anyone tell me if these things will help me at all, or if there’s something else that would be helpful to do? I can’t help but feel like I blew my chance at getting into an “upper tier” school by not getting involved in more stuff as an undergraduate, and am afraid I’m not going to be able to make up for it.