You’ve Submitted Your PhD Application, Now What? |
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Posted on 19 Jan '23

You’ve Submitted Your PhD Application, Now What?

You’ve officially submitted your PhD application(s), congratulations! Applications are no easy feat and can cause a lot of stress. But what are you meant to do now while you wait for a response? Well, there’s actually quite a lot you can do to help prepare for the next steps. Here are a few suggestions.

#1 Celebrate!

Here at FindAPhD we believe in celebrating any and every win. Regardless of the outcome, submitting a PhD application is a huge milestone. It shows you’re ready to take that next step in your education, so why not mark the moment with a party or a treat? Have friends around for some drinks, go out to dinner with your family or spend an evening binging your favourite TV show with snacks. Whatever makes you feel special, do it.

#2 Consider the worst

Unfortunately, the celebrating can’t last forever. So, once you’re suitably relaxed, it’s time to consider your options. Applications leave us in a precarious situation so it’s best to prepare for multiple outcomes. We recommend you start with the worst and get it out the way.

Not every PhD application is successful and that’s ok. It’s completely normal. That’s why it’s a good idea to figure out what you might do if you’re rejected from course placement and/or funding. Will you take it on the chin and work towards applying next time around? Will you find a way to self-fund your PhD if you’re offered a place with no financial support? Of course, you can always change your answers. But it’s good to consider these possibilities before they arise so the world doesn’t feel like it completely crashes around you if the worst happens. Failure is a normal part of life, so it’s worth preparing for.

#3 Consider the best

Now you’ve gone through the negative part, lets focus on the positive. What do you do if the best happens? Which PhD position do you take if you applied to multiple? Where might you live and what type of housing arrangement seems best? You won’t need to sort most things until later in the summer, such as accommodation, but it’s good to have a rough idea of the city’s cost of living. It’s also important to know when you’ll find out your application results. If your favourite project or university announces its results later than the rest, then you need to consider what you’ll do if you’re offered another position first. Will you say yes, or will you ask for some time to consider the offer?

#4 Prepare for interviews

Many universities and funders interview their candidates, but not all. However, it’s a good idea to prepare just in case. Out of my three applications, only one conducted an interview. I also only found out about the interview a week beforehand while in the midst of Masters coursework deadlines. I didn’t have enough time to prepare and, unfortunately, it showed. Start early. Even if you’re not asked for an interview, keeping up with the literature of your field won’t be a waste of time if you’re passionate about doing the PhD. Knowing more about your subject can also help when you start the course or if you have to reapply the next year.

#5 Carry on with your day-to-day

Apart from a little interview prep on the side, there’s officially nothing more you can do. It can be hard to stop stressing, but it will literally get you nowhere at this point. Don’t reread your application until you find out an interview date. You’re just asking to find mistakes and doubt your work before you’ve even heard a result. Instead, go back to your day-to-day. Distract yourself with the mundane while you wait.

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Last Updated: 19 January 2023