Journey to the East - My GradSchool Hunting Quest (3)

Journey to the East - My GradSchool Hunting Quest (3)

This will be all about post-submit and considering options after getting offers.

These will essentially be a complete series of the challenges I encountered and how I managed to solve the problems. While everyone has a different path, and you probably cannot reproduce my results since we are very different humans, these are just for your information.

Hopefully, my journey can help someone land a better grad school, leading to a brighter career. If that is the case, my time would be well worth it.


Monitor E-Mails

I cannot stress enough how important it is, make sure to monitor your mail box daily, especially your junk mail. All kinds of information are mailed to you, and among them, some are too important to neglect.

For example, I accidentally sent USC a paper copy of my transcript (instead of an electronic one), USC sent me an email asking me to re-submit, but the email ended deep in my junk mail.

Also, one of my professor did not submit a recommendation letter to UCSB, and UCSB also sent an email to me saying my application is incomplete. That, also, ended up in the junk mail.

Fortunately, when I found out I already had better offers, so it did not cause a big problem. But it is still a stupid mistake and should be avoided.

Unsubscribe Advertisement E-Mails

Universities and programs will start sending you advertisement emails after you apply. When applied to a lot of schools, the amount of unnecessary e-mails I started to receive grew exponentially.

Since now the junk mail also becomes an important thing to check, it is better to unsubscribe any email from universities that are promotional.

After all, now that I look at some of the emails I received, they are really useless. (Sorry admission people)

Track the status of recommendation letter

I made a Google Sheets spreadsheet to track the recommendation letter status from my various professors.

In the spreadsheet, I have a master sheet for myself that documents the status of all the recommendation letter status and their due date.

I also made a separate tab for each professor and update the information in the tab as school update me with recommendation letter received. This helped me and my professors, since very likely, they also needed to write a couple letters to other schools for other people and things can mess up really quick.

Make sure to follow up

I am unsure how important to follow up (or if following up even matters), but it is never a bad idea to just shoot a quick email to admissions of your dream school every a couple weeks or so.

I bombarded the admission of Cornell Tech with emails, roughly once per two weeks, and I think they got enough of me and let me in.

Some possible reasons can be:

  • Hi, I just want to follow up with my application, and double check if there is anything I need to do.
  • Hi, I recently accomplished this, I am sending to you in case you need more materials for evaluating my portfolio.
  • Hi, just want to tell you how important this application is for me and how much I love your school and program.

Again, doing so does not take a lot of effort, but I think by doing such a simple thing I am already doing better than a lot of people, and I encourage you to do so as well.

Negotiate Scholarship

When I started to receive offer and get scholarship from schools, I thought shooting another email to negotiate for a higher amount can never hurt, and it yielded great results.

This simple email actually resulted in Cornell Tech giving me $10,000 extra in my fellowship. Another friend of mine got an additional $5,000 from Cornell Medicine, so it is surely worth it.

I usually write the e-mail in several paragraphs, in the following paragraph:

  • Explain my excitement of receiving the offer, and thank admission for acknowledging my academic accomplishments.
  • Describe how the school and program is my dream since I was small, after inspiration by someone from the school.
  • Explain financial difficulty, but show strong interest in attending the program.
  • Provide additional material and accomplishments that is not in the initial application to support a fellowship raise.

This really works!!!

Last Words

I hope this is helpful. These posts are essentially some takeaways I had from my grad school applications.

Let me know if you got into your dream school and I will be delighted!

Journey to the East - My GradSchool Hunting Quest (3)
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Journey to the East - My GradSchool Hunting Quest (3)