I just got another rejection for a PhD position - I've lost exact count, but nearing the 40 rejections mark. I think I might do something to celebrate when I get to 50.
Just a quick question...around how many phd positions did you guys apply for and how many got rejected? Just trying to get a feel for what's normal - though I certainly don't want this many to feel normal.
Applied for 2, got 2 interviews, got 1.
I think it's the luck of the draw sometimes because I don't think I was a particularly stand-out candidate. I think I was just enthusiastic and determined in the interview and that's what they liked.
Thanks for the replies everyone!
Satchi, if you know from people in the same situation, has it gotten harder nowadays than when you were applying to get a position? Come to think of it, not many of my friends/colleagues have landed one easily either. It does get very depressing, but I'm trying my best to think positive.
JanineG, well, I guess my 40 isn't too unusual then. Yes, let's not talk about the job rejections. It seems impossible to land one these days. Best of luck with Leicester and NTU!
TreeofLife, yea, you're right - seems to be exactly like the lottery really. Any tips of how to show enthusiasm in a cover letter? Haven't reached an interview stage anywhere yet.
Fled, its a good idea. I haven't really applied by the rankings. That's not much of a priority for me, so the places I've applied are high and low - anything that might have something close to what I'm doing. I anyway doubt I would get into a highly ranked uni, so sometimes I don't even bother often. I'm just looking for something decent.
Chickpea, I have asked for feedback a few times after the rejection, but I've never received a reply. Most of the rejections come in from HR who have never replied about feedback. Occasionally, the contact prof sends the rejection. I've asked them too, but without much luck - once the reply was simply that there was a better suited candidate. So much for feedback. Is it common to get a reply for feedback? I have written two formal and one informal proposals and sent them in inquiry emails. The feedback for them is "very interesting/brilliant!/good idea/great idea". But when I send my CV/application, things go quiet - I have really no idea why. I've changed my CV around 3 times (now doing it a 4th time) to try and make it better. Just don't know what to do :-(
Thanks for all the encouragement people - really do need it!
Are you matching yourself adequately to the departmen and their research aims/theoretical perspectives used by them. You really have to tailor your application very carefully each time. Even down to the university ethos, how do you fit with that etc. Are you meeting the basic academic requirements? Is there anything you need to do academic wise to improve your application. For example some ask for at least merit at Masters but often they don't want any old Masters degree, they want one with substantial research modules like an MSc in research methods (but they don't tell you this beforehand!). Before making a formal application are you contacting prospective supervisors to see if they are interested in you? This is usual practice before a formal application in some areas eg humanities and social sciences. Good luck.
I received at least 50 rejections between 2011-2013 before finally landing one in May last year. I made a bulk of applications to UK, EU, USA and Australian universities. I was luck to have former professors who never got tired of writing references for me and kept on encouraging me to continue applying. Being a non-EU applicant, my options for funded opportunities in UK universities were quite slim because of the competitive nature of fewer slots available to international (Non-EU) students.
I was shortlisted and interviewed on several occasions via Skype and phone. I figured out that I was bit apprehensive and jittery during most of the interviews and I am pretty certain that contributed to my rejections. I also got some valuable feedback from some professors who told me that despite my good academic results (Bachelor+MSc), most of which hinged on publications. I didn't have any publications, and that is a factor in my field (engineering). They were actually right, supervisors would rather pick someone who has published some papers in reputable journals over a candidate with none.
But I learnt some valuable lessons from failed interviews and rejections and that gave me the opportunity to take stock of my performances. I was more than delighted when I received an email from a UK university in May 2013 asking me to accept or reject the offer. I couldn't believe my eyes initially. That was the best day in my life.
In my view, there are several PhD opportunities in UK especially if you're a UK/EU student.
Satchi, yes, it seems it has gotten harder. I hope the right one comes around for me soon. Thanks for the well wishes!
Wowzers, one of the reasons I've been trying mostly European universities is because of the scientific tradition present there. I do try and tailor my application to each university/departments objectives as well. I do write to the potential supervisors whenever I can. Sometimes, if the application deadline is too close, I can't, so I just fire off an application - anyway, I don't expect it to get accepted. Regarding my M.Sc., I took a coursework+research degree. I hope I'm not at a disadvantage because it wasn't completely research based.
Incognito, were you able to secure some financing after admission, or were you self-funded? Hope your job hunting pays off soon.
Noctu, that is very good luck indeed!
TheEngineer - hey! I'm also an engineer :-). Did electronics for undergrad and masters. From what you say, it seems that getting around 40-50 rejections isn't unusual. I really don't know what they look for in engineering PhD admission! Its just crazy the amount that profs expect us to publish, and yes, I've heard it all hinges on publications. I do have a reasonable publication list with a number of citations also, but it hasn't helped in admission...now I'm beginning to feel that all the extra work I put in has been wasted :-(. The pressure to publish is so much, I'm still trying to publish though I'm not affiliated with a uni anymore.
Just wanted to ask if, in your or anyone's experience, the ranking of the university that you did Masters matters much? My uni's ranking isn't GREAT, but its alright. For example, the undergrad program is internationally accredited (Washington Accord), and the M.Sc. program isn't too awful either. Could it be that the uni ranking is getting in the way?
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