Applying to Graduate School

Applying to Graduate School

October 10, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


I decided to enter a PhD program because I
had taken a class at Columbia with a professor that I really liked in sociology. I really
enjoyed the class and I started to think about the world differently and to see different
aspects of the world and I wanted to pursue that and kind of see where it would take me.
So a PhD program seemed like the best option. I missed doing science and I wanted to position
myself for a career in which I could both conduct research and teach. The first thing
I had to do was take the GRE. So I spent about a month or so studying for that and then I
just took it. Beyond that I had to have three letters of recommendation. Research experience
definitely helped. Not just for myself but all the other students who got admitted in
the same year, they had to have some research experience. They were exposed to what it was
like to be a researcher. Being international, I think there are a lot of things available
to American students that arent available to international students. So I was worried
that maybe they would want me to come be a part of the school, but they wouldn’t be able
to offer me a good enough financial package. In the end it worked out because I got a Chancellor’s
Fellowship, which covers me for the whole of my first year. I think the school is really
supportive in terms of helping you find funding. A lot of PhD programs are fully funded so
that means I’m working in the department as a TA, but that also means that I don’t pay
for tuition and also they’re paying for me to go to school. My best advice is to just
apply for lots of different sources of funding whether its grants, fellowships, research
assistantships, teaching positions and to think of funding graduate school as sort of
a portfolio approach. I spent a lot of time both reflecting on what I though I needed,
because even in the UC system there are big differences between the campuses and the schools,
they feel different. You should research the schools and specifically research the professors
you want to work with, because really at this level its all about working with specific
people in the field you want to work in and making the most of those connections. The
most important thing for me was choosing an advisor that I thought would fit with my personality
and my needs and I think thats something important to consider, because its a close relationship
and you want to choose someone you think will be a good mentor for you.