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graduate school

stacia friedman-hill stacia at chaos.ucdavis.edu
Thu Jun 8 16:12:12 EST 1995


I'm a third-year neurobiology graduate student. The following is
my opinion; other biologists may differ.

1) If you can find an old-fashioned typewriter, you might want to use
it to fill in all the boxes, but I wouldn't worry too much about
hand-writing information in some of the boxes. However, don't handwrite
your statement of purpose. Even if you have to attach a separate sheet
of paper, the reviewers will find it easier to read a printed copy.

2) Aside from grades and GRE scores, there are two things that 
are especially important for grad school applications. The first
thing is your letters of recommendation. Make sure that the people
who write these for you know you well enough to describe you in
detail. It's not enough for them to say "She took my course and
got a good grade." This information is already on your transcript.
Instead, you need someone who can say "I supervised her research project
and she showed great originality and a strong analytical mind, as
demonstrated by ...."  The second thing that is important is:RESEARCH.
If you have any experience working in a lab, make sure you describe
this in your personal statement. Be specific about what you did
in the lab.  More importantly, you MUST describe your future research
interests in your application. You should identify specific researchers
at MIT with whom you are interested in working. Read their papers and
find out what they are currently working on. (Also ask the
graduate program if they have a "facebook" that describes the 
professors' research interests) Most graduate programs in biology
are oriented toward training students to pursue research careers
and operate as apprentice programs. You could have straight A's
and 800's on your GREs, but if your interests don't match those of
the labs in the program, then you will probably not be accepted.
It's o.k. if you are not completely decided on your future plans: You
can mention two or three possible labs that you would be interested
in joining. It's also o.k. to call or email some of the professors
in the program. Tell them that you are interested in applying to MIT
and that you would like to chat with them about the projects they
are working on and whether or not they will be needing additional
students in their lab.

Hope this helps. Good Luck,


rapienmk at hiram.edu wrote:
> Hello!  I have a few questions regarding applications to graduate school that 
> I'm hoping someone can help me with.  The first one almost seems a bit trivial 
> to me, yet it may be extremely important.  Many applications that I have 
> received say that they may be printed neatly or typed.  Personally, I prefer 
> to print.  My writing is nice, and my word processor doesn't deal well typing 
> applications (generally the margins on the application are too far apart), not 
> to mention the fact that it takes me forever to make sure everything is lined 
> up properly.  Does it really make a difference to the graduate schools?  Would 
> my chances of getting in be greater if I typed the applications?  The school 
> that I am really focused on right now is MIT -- I am interested in their joint 
> program with Woods Hole in biological oceanography.
> Another question:  when I tell people that I am interested in MIT, they feel 
> it necessary to inform me how difficult it is to be accepted into their 
> programs.  Can anyone out there tell me what I can do to increase my chances 
> of being accepted?  I am a dedicated biologist and somehow it seems that 
> applications never leave room to prove it.  Any advice would be greatly 
> appreciated.  I read this newsgroup pretty regularly, but to insure that I 
> recieve your replies, please send them to my e-mail address.  Thank you!
>                                                                 Mary

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