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Posts Tagged ‘graduate school’

Mmmm blue.

Mmmm blue.

One topic of conversation that came up at my last graduate school open house thing was graduate admissions. We talked about what we thought got us into the University of Madison and what we expected them to look at in our application.

I had little research experience, low GRE scores but I think good letters of recommendation and a high GPA and I got it.

Another person had low GPA, low GRE scores and tons of research experience and they got in.

Another had mediocre stuff across the board and got in.

We decided that for physics graduate school there is no consistent guarantee for acceptance and that strengths can make up for weaknesses.

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Harvard, a composite of three handheld shots.

Harvard, a composite of three handheld shots.

I have decided that I am going to accept the offer to attend graduate school at the University of Washington in the Earth and Space Science department.

Now I need to do all of the paperwork and start considering housing in Seattle.

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See that snow on the ground? It appears I am not built for the cold.

See that snow on the ground? It appears I am not built for the cold.

It was cold there.

A bit of introspection while braving the chilling winds was that I do not in fact like the cold. Especially cold involving wind and me cursing heavily as I shuffle towards a warm inviting building.

The program had a lot of focus on satellite based research with a focus on the solar winds and the magnetic fields of the sun, earth and the rest. For some reason I was not fully interested in the research the same way I have been for other universities.

Aside from the University the town and local did not inspire me for photography or just general living. It was nice and all it just did not have the right feel for me. I also did not like the architecture.

Did I mention that it was cold?

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Informative graffiti.

Informative graffiti.

Well I did not expect this to happen, I have been accepted to every graduate program I applied too (I was accepted to Wisconsin’s Engineering Physics program this morning). On one hand it makes we wish I had applied to harder programs or some of the more prestigious ones, on the other hand I didn’t apply to those because I did not want to go to them (say Berkeley or Stanford).

I guess I will use my long plane flight home from Wisconsin to decide which University to go to for graduate school.

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A continuation of the unloved bicycles of UCSB.

A continuation of the unloved bicycles of UCSB.

I find it funny that once I finished sending in my graduate schools I received a deluge of e-mails and paper mail advertising graduate programs. For the most part they were for medical school or medical research, it is understandable since I would not have heard of these programs had they not sent my promotional material.

Yesterday I received an e-mail letting my know that it is not too late to apply to a graduate program at a university.

This was while I was filling out the response form for Montana State University.

Oddly enough I cannot send off my decline of their offer until I know who I am accepting. Once I finish my visits over spring break I get to fill out all of those forms.

A bit anti-climatic in a way.

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Another sunset photo.

Another sunset photo.

I received an acceptance from the Montana State University physics department in the mail today.

It is odd, when I first started the application process I did not put too much consideration to location if the program worked for me; likewise if I liked the location I did not look as hard at the program. For Montana State I ignore the location and found the program to be really good. For the University of British Columbia I figured that I could find something in the department.

Now after going to the University of Washington that has a good department and location I am quite quickly dropping schools from consideration. Wisconsin is the big competition and that all depends on the visit. The University of New Hampshire looks really good but recently I have been trying to organize a day trip across New Hampshire and I find the lack of travel options to be discouraging and in a way negatively effecting my outlook for the University. Even though this is in no way related to the University.

When I lived in Scotland the physical distance was not much of a problem since I only went home once, now I realize that distance is a prime factor. A shorter distance or the presence of easy flights to California has now become a big part of my decision. I want to be able to return to California for holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas without all day flights or horrendous layovers. And I can’t judge this aspect of a school until I actually fly in and travel to it on public transportation.

I still have not heard the full on official responses from British Columbia or Montana State (I have acceptances from the department only) nor have I heard anything from the Engineering Physics department of Wisconsin. Fortunately this won’t effect me too much.

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University of Washington and the Cascades from a camera phone.

University of Washington and the Cascades from a camera phone.

Yesterday I came back from visiting the Earth and Space Science department at the University of Washington.

I think that Seattle is where I want to go for graduate school. I still need to visit Wisconsin and New Hampshire but I think that Seattle is it.

While I was there I kept seeing photographic opportunities, either landscape, cityscapes, panoramas, HDR, urban street shots and a lot more possibilities. Sadly I did not bring any of my camera equipment because I figured that I would not have enough time, and I was right.

Instead I attempted to use the camera on my Sony Ericsson w580i and I must say I greatly missed my Nikon.

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The roof of the San Francisco Academy of Science.

The roof of the San Francisco Academy of Science.

Today I was accepted into the Physics and Astronomy department at the University of British Columbia. This is not an official acceptance yet as the graduate school itself has to also accept me into the program. It is nice in a way to hear back at this stage, it means that in the near or semi-near future I will get a definite yes or no from the school (I am in the same state with New Hampshire).

Unlike the other programs I applied to this one is a Masters program in Canada. I would have applied to the doctoral program but I could not, instead one transfers into the program from within the masters program. I really don’t know how I feel about this method of doing things, on one side if it turns out that I really dislike the school or simply research in general I can stop easily at a Masters and move on. Or I could continue onwards.

Once I hear back from the graduate school officially I will see if they have a day to visit or at least more information about the process. I am hesitant about the UBC for two main reasons: the lack of communication (sent by mail instead of e-mail and in general) and I don’t know if they have enough research that I am interested in at the school.

Reading the acceptance the year pay was listed at $20,000, normal for a program. Except it is probably in Canadian dollars. I then checked craigslist for a quick view of the cost of living and housing was on par with Seattle in terms of the numbers being shown and they were also probably in Canadian, so it will be a comparable to the other schools in pay.

Just waiting now to get more information, in the meantime I have next weekend scheduled for the University of Washington open day.

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So many choices.

So many choices.

I just received an e-mail from the Univiersity of Wisconsin Madison, I have been accepted to the Physics department. No official details yet as it seems that the graduate school determines all of those while the department selects the students.

No word yet from the Engineering Physics department.

For the application to the Physics department I did not actually contact any professors ahead of time. I e-mailed a few in the Engineering Physics department but never actually got around to contacting those in physics. On the application there was even a space that asked me to list those I had contacted and I left it blank. Furthermore I just sort of resent the personal statement I wrote for the Engineering Physics over to Physics, though to be fair a majority of it is the same.

Goes to show that contacting professors may not have a positive effect, or that those I did contact are in both departments.

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The temperature dropped to the year low of 32 F during the night, I am glad winter is over.

The temperature dropped to the year low of 32 F during the night, I am glad winter is over.

I received an e-mail from the University of New Hampshire physics department this morning: I have been accepted to the PhD program.

That puts me at two for two, or a one hundred percent acceptance rate so far. With more then one acceptance I really need to start figuring out a good way to evenly compare the programs and locales to help decide on the graduate school that fits me best. While I think that there are some basics that can be compared like pay, location, health benefits and all of that, what will probably decide it for me will be the trip out to the schools.

The science and the pay are important things to consider, however I will be living at this location for at least five years so the location will become a heavy consideration. Same with experiencing the airports, the local public transit and photographic potential within walking distance. Weather too might factor into it.

Luckily both schools so far are willing to fly me out for either open days or visiting. Unlike studying abroad it is not so easy to decide on a location without ever being there. Visiting in February/March will also give me a taste of Winter, something that I have only partially experienced once.

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