Applying Phd with mediocre Masters with Dissertation + conference paper

posted
30-Apr-18, 15:56
Avatar for divineflare1411
posted about 4 months ago
I just finished my last exam and i am going to expect a mediocre GPA for my masters. However, I am also working full time and as such, its really challenging for me to maintain a higher grades. However, i have a published conference paper previously and a 2:1 in my undergraduate. May I know what are my chances in admitting into fully funded phd in US or europe.
posted
01-May-18, 11:11
edited about 4 seconds later
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 3 months ago
I don't know much about US application system and I am from the UK.

I didn't get a great 2:1 and only got an okay dissertation mark (again 2:1) with no conference paper (congrats on that) and I still got a fully funded PhD. From what I have been told, is that I nailed my application essay and my interview. So it is possible.

There are academic snobs who look down on all 2:1 students but if you get to an interview make it clear that you had a full time job which prevented you fully focusing on your degree. They will most likely take that into consideration but you will need to show them something else to compensate. In most courses, you get a good grade by just regurgitating information and good exam techniques and potential supervisors know that. What they are looking for is usually someone with good basic knowledge, hard working and have a clear logical thinking (I am oversimplifying this I know). So you need to show that in your application if you want to succeed.

So yes you can get a fully funded PhD.
posted
01-May-18, 11:25
edited about 2 minutes later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 3 months ago
rewt. Given that you achieved a 2:1, I would suggest you are not well placed to give advice on what it takes to get a 1st.
You may well have got by simply by regurgitating information and developing good exam technique but you shouldn't project that onto those who achieve superb grades.

The original poster should be able to get a funded PhD position but it may take time and it may not be for the PhD position they really want. Grades are everything at this stage unless you are lucky enough to find nobody else applying.
posted
01-May-18, 12:21
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 3 months ago
pm133, I am not saying that everyone who gets good grades is just regurgitating information and I know that a lot of people of who got good grades who did work really hard and totally deserved it. I apologise that I overgeneralized and not trying to demean people who got superb grades.

But there are people who just regurgitate information and had exam technique that inflated their grades despite them being oblivious. Grades are a good indication of how you will succeed in a PhD but you can succeed in undergrad with a completely different skill set to the one required to do well as a postgraduate. The potential supervisor should know that and is looking for the right skills/attitude as well as grades.

I didn't do much regurgitation as I was that guy that barely turned up after the first year, drank like a fish and literally rocked up to exams having barely done any work. Though I finally found a topic in my final year that actually interested me, worked my ass off and managed to impress the interviewers enough to give me a chance (and there were other applicants). I am not saying it is easy to get a PhD with a 2:1 but that is possible if you show the interviewers something else.
posted
01-May-18, 13:35
edited about 18 seconds later
Avatar for divineflare1411
posted about 3 months ago
Thank you rewt. May i ask? How did you nail your application essay and interview?
posted
01-May-18, 17:33
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 3 months ago
I really followed the general advice from the internet for writing the proposal and interview.

Though I did my research and learned everything I could about the topic. I tried to understand every intricacy of the area and knew the key authors/papers. Plus I expressed my honest opinions about what I thought about all their work (in hindsight a lot of what I said was wrong) and how I could develop on their work.

In the interview, I also explained my rough plan (with gantt chart) for what I wanted to do and I have now found that my plan matched the plan proposed in the grant application. It was scary how similar the grant application was with my application proposal, considering they only advertised the title with no helpful blurb. So I knew the sub-topic quite well at the interview stage as it genuinely interested me and had similar expectations to the supervisor. Based on that the best way might be to immerse yourself in the topic when applying because you are going to have to do it anyway if you get it.

Though as pm133 did point out I am probably not the best person to give advice.
posted
03-May-18, 01:29
edited about 14 seconds later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 3 months ago
Quote From rewt:
pm133, I am not saying that everyone who gets good grades is just regurgitating information and I know that a lot of people of who got good grades who did work really hard and totally deserved it. I apologise that I overgeneralized and not trying to demean people who got superb grades.

But there are people who just regurgitate information and had exam technique that inflated their grades despite them being oblivious. Grades are a good indication of how you will succeed in a PhD but you can succeed in undergrad with a completely different skill set to the one required to do well as a postgraduate. The potential supervisor should know that and is looking for the right skills/attitude as well as grades.

I didn't do much regurgitation as I was that guy that barely turned up after the first year, drank like a fish and literally rocked up to exams having barely done any work. Though I finally found a topic in my final year that actually interested me, worked my ass off and managed to impress the interviewers enough to give me a chance (and there were other applicants). I am not saying it is easy to get a PhD with a 2:1 but that is possible if you show the interviewers something else.


There's no need to apologise. I just wanted to challenge your views on a couple of things because I think it gives potentially damaging advice to others. Actually your advice about age on another thread was more problemmatic than what you have written here.

I would be pretty confident in stating that the chances of any supervisor at any university ever choosing someone with a 2:1 over someone with a 1st would be as close to zero as to be unworthy of mention. The candidate with the 1st would have to be completely incapable of acting like a functioning human being for the duration of the interview. I am happy to hear of instances where others can show I am wrong.

People can absolutely get PhD positions with a 2:1 and I agree you need to show some other skills or abilities but most crucially you need to hope someone with a 1st doesn't also apply for that post. If that happens, your application is as good as dead unless you are physically related to the supervisor or can persuade them to take a bribe. I think it is very important that people with lower grades understand that.
posted
03-May-18, 08:13
edited about 7 seconds later
Avatar for chaotic1328
posted about 3 months ago
Not to put to fine a point on it, age discrimination does happen, maybe not in computer science, but certainly in the social sciences. I received some great feedback during the summer when I was emailing potential supervisors regarding my PhD. This senior academic from a respected university gave me some very useful information how to go about it, even though my topic wasn't outside of her expertise/interest, and so she could not supervise my thesis unless I make fundamental changes . Along with the helpful advice was the comment that in her experience (and she did say that she shouldn't really be saying this), funded places are usually for budding academics, and so younger applicants (those in their 20s and early 30s) tend to be looked upon more favourably. That is not to say that us oldies have no chance of funded places, just that with all things being equal, younger applicants do tend to get the nod.


.
posted
03-May-18, 08:17
edited about 12 seconds later
Avatar for chaotic1328
posted about 3 months ago
FFS, I was looking at some student accommodations in Leeds, and some of the student halls (note; privately run student halls, not shared rented houses where the sitting tenants express their preference about a new housemate) have a stated maximum age of 32. Is this even legal?
posted
03-May-18, 14:17
Avatar for chantedsnicker
posted about 3 months ago
Quote From pm133:

People can absolutely get PhD positions with a 2:1 and I agree you need to show some other skills or abilities but most crucially you need to hope someone with a 1st doesn't also apply for that post. If that happens, your application is as good as dead unless you are physically related to the supervisor or can persuade them to take a bribe. I think it is very important that people with lower grades understand that.


I think there's a lot more to it than what you got in your undergraduate degree. To say that I wouldn't have got my PhD if someone with a 1st had applied is, I think rather unfair.

I don't know who the other candidates were, but I do know that having spend 10+ years working (and getting a Masters part-time) before deciding to do my PhD means that I'm not the same person I was when I was when I graduated at 22 and can demonstrate a lot more of the skills necessary for a PhD than someone who has just graduated with a 1st from an equivalent university.
posted
03-May-18, 15:16
edited about 22 seconds later
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 3 months ago
Quote From pm133:

People can get PhD positions with a 2:1 and I agree you need to show some other skills or abilities but most crucially you need to hope someone with a 1st doesn't also apply for that post. If that happens, your application is as good as dead unless you are physically related to the supervisor or can persuade them to take a bribe. I think it is very important that people with lower grades understand that.


I would agree that if everything was equal bar grades the person with a first wins. And that you need to really need to show something

The point of a PhD is to become capable of doing independent research and academic grades are not the ultimatum holy grade for assessing capability to become a good researcher. You can have good grades because you work very hard, know the very well course well but do not have any initiative or scientific curiosity. You can also get good grades while having no concept of experimental design which is crucial is some science/engineering PhDs. You can get good grades but have zero passion or interest in the topic you are applying for. There are a lot of other variables that affect PhD success and assuming that grades are absolute is reckless. As the interviewers should be looking for well-rounded applicants.

I personally know two other people who did PhDs with 2:1s. Both of those people did well on their final year dissertation to the extent that they continued working in those areas. One with the same supervisor at the uni while the other somehow got a paper and got a Ph.D. off that. Despite them being pretty poor undergrads with woeful grades they got through by showing aptitude in their chosen fields. Though chemical engineering in the UK may have a different standard than other courses.

The OP has a conference paper and still got a 2:1 despite working full time. I would say he has a small chance and should at least try.
posted
03-May-18, 16:10
Avatar for divineflare1411
posted about 3 months ago
Thank you so much for all your responses. I think all the posts have good points in them. Granted, someone with a 2:1 will lose to a 1st. My masters adviser actually asked me to continue on my dissertation topic for my phd but i wanted to try something out of my home. Like rewt said, its not going to be easy with a 2:1 but im going to take a shot.
posted
03-May-18, 16:11
edited about 27 seconds later
Avatar for divineflare1411
posted about 3 months ago
Quote From chantedsnicker:
Quote From pm133:

People can absolutely get PhD positions with a 2:1 and I agree you need to show some other skills or abilities but most crucially you need to hope someone with a 1st doesn't also apply for that post. If that happens, your application is as good as dead unless you are physically related to the supervisor or can persuade them to take a bribe. I think it is very important that people with lower grades understand that.


I think there's a lot more to it than what you got in your undergraduate degree. To say that I wouldn't have got my PhD if someone with a 1st had applied is, I think rather unfair.

I don't know who the other candidates were, but I do know that having spend 10+ years working (and getting a Masters part-time) before deciding to do my PhD means that I'm not the same person I was when I was when I graduated at 22 and can demonstrate a lot more of the skills necessary for a PhD than someone who has just graduated with a 1st from an equivalent university.


What made you want to take phd after 10+ yrs?
posted
03-May-18, 16:28
Avatar for chantedsnicker
posted about 3 months ago
Quote From divineflare1411:


What made you want to take phd after 10+ yrs?


I think that's a tough question to answer briefly. I've probably been wanting to do one for 5 years or so, since finishing my masters but for different reasons the timing wasn't right. For a while I looked at doing one by publication but that wouldn't have been right for me.

Ultimately, doing one full-time, and now, came down to two reasons, mostly because I want the personal achievement of getting my PhD. Secondly, having tried to side-step my career into a slightly different field for many years and having failed, I thought this would be an opportunity to get my foot in the door.
posted
03-May-18, 23:37
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 3 months ago
Quote From chaotic1328:
Not to put to fine a point on it, age discrimination does happen, maybe not in computer science, but certainly in the social sciences. I received some great feedback during the summer when I was emailing potential supervisors regarding my PhD. This senior academic from a respected university gave me some very useful information how to go about it, even though my topic wasn't outside of her expertise/interest, and so she could not supervise my thesis unless I make fundamental changes . Along with the helpful advice was the comment that in her experience (and she did say that she shouldn't really be saying this), funded places are usually for budding academics, and so younger applicants (those in their 20s and early 30s) tend to be looked upon more favourably. That is not to say that us oldies have no chance of funded places, just that with all things being equal, younger applicants do tend to get the nod.


.


I am not saying age discrimination doesnt happen at all. I am saying it is not the problem it is made out to be.
If you get a 1st you will almost certainly avoid these sorts of problems.
In that cae it won't matter a jot what age you are.
As for that academic you mentioned, that assumes more than one person applies for her PhD position in the first place.
Most supervisors simply cannot be fussy.

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