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PhD Discussion Forum

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This Category:   PostgraduateForum.com > PhD Applications


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PhD rejections


User: Snowey - 07 February 2018 19:48

So I’m re opening a topic here.

How many rejections did it take to get your PhD? I have been applying for 6 years now and must have amounted to over 40 rejections. I have over the specifications with a 2.1 in a BSc at from King’s College London, 5 years work expirence as a researcher at kings where I’ve amounted to 8 publications and a MSc at Imperial. The struggle is real as people just want more and more from me as the years go by and I’m just not sure what I can do! I’m in no financial situation to volunteer working in another lab or pay for my own PhD in anyway. I also am sticking to Russel group unis in my applications- I don’t want to aim low as I’ve been trying so hard over the last few years. Any advice will be amazing, thank you x

User: TreeofLife - 08 February 2018 10:51

I applied for 3 PhDs. 1, reject at interview; 2, heard nothing; 3, success.

I think it depends on field. Mine isn't very competitive.

I think you need to get people to review your applications and interview techniques - I can't see why you wouldn't be getting on to a PhD on the face of it. Maybe people are worried you are too "techy" and can't switch up to the independence of a PhD? Maybe there's something in your references putting people off? Ask to see them.

User: Tudor_Queen - 08 February 2018 11:48

Have you tried broadening your options in other ways? Like maybe going for a part time one with teaching /RA work involved to part fund?

I agree with ToL - have you looked into possible problems with your application/proposal/references/interview technique? How about feedback from interviews?

User: pm133 - 08 February 2018 21:21

Quote From Snowey:
So I’m re opening a topic here.

How many rejections did it take to get your PhD? I have been applying for 6 years now and must have amounted to over 40 rejections. I have over the specifications with a 2.1 in a BSc at from King’s College London, 5 years work expirence as a researcher at kings where I’ve amounted to 8 publications and a MSc at Imperial. The struggle is real as people just want more and more from me as the years go by and I’m just not sure what I can do! I’m in no financial situation to volunteer working in another lab or pay for my own PhD in anyway. I also am sticking to Russel group unis in my applications- I don’t want to aim low as I’ve been trying so hard over the last few years. Any advice will be amazing, thank you x

I dont understand what you mean by "I dont want to aim low". The university is largely irrelevant. The research will be done by you and you alone so I dont understand your attitude here. I am particularly baffled by your comment in light of the fact that you only have a 2:1 and 6 years of failed applications behind you. Unless you are applying to non-competitive posts as described by Tol above, you are going to be well down the list. I think you need to seriously re-evaluate your approach.

To answer your question, I had no rejections at all after getting my non-Russell group masters degree. I wrote to 20 supervisors at a variety of universities, visited around 12 of the supervisors for a chat, including several at Russell Groups unis, and was offered all of them. The rest I rejected myself as not being what I was after.
There is a very unhealthy delusion amongst way too many undergrads and graduates that being at a RG uni matters. It doesnt. What matters is your education and your attitude.

User: statictraveller - 08 February 2018 21:31

If I had the chance I would go to a "low ranking university". Why? because it's not about the name - it's about you, your research and the environment that is going to help you flourish.
I don't know about Kings, but I am currently feeling suffocated at Imperial, but I can't leave because I'm half way through a PhD I genuinely enjoy but in the most toxic environment I could have ever imagined.

In regards to how many applications, I was really fussy as I refused to do a PhD in something that I knew I wasn't going to love. I can't remember clearly anymore but I think I applied to two or three - but only got 1 interview and got accepted.

User: pm133 - 08 February 2018 21:35

Quote From statictraveller:
If I had the chance I would go to a "low ranking university". Why? because it's not about the name - it's about you, your research and the environment that is going to help you flourish.
I don't know about Kings, but I am currently feeling suffocated at Imperial, but I can't leave because I'm half way through a PhD I genuinely enjoy but in the most toxic environment I could have ever imagined.

In regards to how many applications, I was really fussy as I refused to do a PhD in something that I knew I wasn't going to love. I can't remember clearly anymore but I think I applied to two or three - but only got 1 interview and got accepted.

Your last oaragraph is exactly the right approach in my opinion.
The original poster could have completed a successful PhD by now, be finishing their first postdoc and could be applying for fellowships or permanent posts as we speak. It is absolutely crazy to still be trying the same approach after all these years.

User: bongmaster5000 - 09 February 2018 10:35

I have to agree strongly with the above two posters. A focus on RG unis because you don't want to 'aim low', for me, potentially shows a pretty fundamental misunderstanding of the research environment and how PhDs work at a basic level. If this is as indicative as it sounds, I am not surprised you're having problems. Are your prospective supervisors and departments the correct fit, or are you trying to shoehorn yourself into an unsuitable research community? How are your references? What feedback have you had? It's hard to say what exactly is going on here without a bit more information, but it does sound like you need to totally scratch your existing application/proposal and start from the ground up.

PhD applications - I quickly found - are about being smart and strategic, definitely not about churning out as many applications as possible, or repeatedly banging on the door of the same institutions for years on end.

To answer your question: applied last year while finishing a masters at a non-RG university (but one that is excellent in my field). 3 applications and offers of a place, 2 research council funding interviews, 1 offer of funding, which I accepted. If it hadn't worked, I would have completely re-evaluated my approach and started again. Yes, funding is competitive and scarce, but if you have the track record and the capability it shouldn't take you that long to get in unless something is going dreadfully wrong with your applications. I'd seek some frank feedback from a referee or academic contact who's been with you throughout the process because you urgently need to find out what's going wrong before you waste any more time!




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