My PhD Dream Came True After 5 Years, 20 Countries and 25 Universities

Raghuram Sukumar Study in USA 53 Comments

> Following post was shared by Prathamesh.

I have never come across someone who was so determined to do PhD. You wouldn’t believe what Prathamesh have gone through in last 5 years to get PhD admission.

Hello HSB I would like to share my personal experience on how I got PhD admission after five years constant effort.

I believe this will help all those Happy Schools Blog followers who also have been through similar experience or will go through this to understand that perseverance will definitely give you success.
It all started five years ago when I was in third year Btech Biotech when my friend said, let try for masters in USA.

Without having the slightest idea I agreed. So we thought of joining a coaching class for GRE in delhi. They charged 18000 for 20hrs.

We assumed that joining this prestigious coaching would ensure at least 1300. And of course we were wrong. This was the first time in my life that I really worked hard. But unfortunately I could manage only 980.

I was shocked and disappointed. Although I had worked only for 2 months I assumed everything was over. While giving the test I had send my scores to Drexel university. Now I was sad when I got a application form from Drexel university to apply.

So I assumed that since they send the application so I am eligible to get admission. So immediately I gave TOEFL and got 103. Now I was happy that I will get admission. By this time I had completed my Btech.

PhD Admission – Round 1 – Application – 2008

So I applied to few more universities:

  1. University of Wyoming
  2. North Dakota state university
  3. Quinnipiac University
  4. University of Alberta,Canada.

Results – Round 1

  • For Wyoming when I contacted a prof he frankly said he was not personally interested in taking a student with gre of 980.
  • For NDSU they never replied.
  • For Alberta one prof said my academic qualification was not competitive enough. And another told my research interest did not match.
  • For Quinnipiac I got admit, but the univ was very small and they gave no funding.

So now I planned to give GRE again. Still I was not concentrating on what my interest was but I just wanted a ms or Phd with funding. The second Gre I did home study I did preparation for 3 months, and I scored 1090. Again very low. The time was feb 2009.

Round 2 – Application – Feb 2009

I contacted a consultant and paid Rs20,000 and they said I could easily get fall. I never knew that all good univs deadline is dec previous year. By the time I applied it was may(obviously too late) to

  1. New jersey Institute of Technology
  2. Florida institute of technology
  3. San Diego state university
  4. University of new haven
  5. Missouri state university

Results – Round 2

  • For New jersey Institute of Technology and University of new haven they rejected.
  • For San diego state university they did not receive my complete application.
  • For Florida institute of technology I got admission but for fall 2010.
  • For Missouri state university there was two openings in a lab, and the prof had 3 candidates. Unfortunately I was not selected.

During this time I was constantly sending emails to different prof around the world.

Round 3 – Application – 2009

On aug 15 2009. I got email from a prof in university of Winnipeg that she might take me for msc next year. So I got this ray of hope.

Now I started searching for Europe. I applied to

  1. University of Iceland
  2. University of Helsinki(Finland)
  3. University of Jyvaskyla(Finland)
  4. Utrecht university(Netherlands)
  5. University of Winnipeg(Canada)
  6. East Strasbourg university usa(my back up university)

Results – Round 3

  • For Iceland I was about to get admission but, when I prof asked my to send my research statement I added few lines of research from his personal website. I did not know that it was plagiarism but the prof told me I have committed a plagiarism so I was disqualified and they even send back my entire application packet to me. [ Big Trouble for Copying Assignment ]
  • For University of Helsinki and University of Jyvaskyla rejected my application.
  • For Utrecht I got admission but without and aid, the fees was about 17000 euros per year. So I couldn’t go.
  • For Winnipeg the prof was not responding to my email.
  • Admission at East Strasbourg university

Then suddenly I got admission from East Strasbourg university a very small university which I had applied as a back up.
So I applied for visa. During the visa interview since the university was very small with no funding and I already had lost 2 full years I couldn’t convince the VO so got my visa rejected.

After 2 Years

By now I was devastated 2 years for search, and I couldn’t get admission.

My brother who was doing phd in Korea told me he ask for vacancy in lab in his university. Here again there was a vacancy but the prof did not want an Indian(few days ago a Indian had left the lab with money) so he was not ready to trust any Indians.

I was feeling that I am the most unlucky guy in the world. They many suggested for uk. So finally I applied with for 3 univs in uk.

Round 4 – Application- UK

  • University of east London
  • University of Sussex
  • University of Essex

I got admit for sussex I joined, the date was 8 oct 2010. I was happy that I finally got something, this was a msc course for one year. This time I was more serious as compared to my ug.

I was already searching different universities for phd. I got a good masters project. The prof was very happy and he wanted to join his lab but he did not have funds.

Round 5 – Application – Europe and USA

  • I got a reply from a france Italy and LSU in usa. I applied to all three.
  • For Italy they asked for recommendation letter in hard copy one of my prof in sussex forgot to send so I lost the admission.
  • For France they never called back.
  • For lsu the prof was interested but the admission committee rejected due to low score for spring 2012. He advised me to apply for fall 2012.
  • Meanwhile I was called for interview in Vienna, Austria but I was not selected.
  • Then again I had another telephonic interview from university of Heidelberg Germany but was not selected.

Now it was feb 2012. I did not give up started applying contacting prof from as many countries as possible.

Which include, Poland, Latvia, Hungary, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Korea, Finland, Norway, UK, Belgium, France, Spain, Canada, Germany, Austria, Czech.

In many cases the prof liked my profile but they did not have funds or they were unable to take non eu nationals. But I was still sending emails.

Now I tried Israel, a prof contacted for skype interview.

He found that I did not have sufficient practical experience, so he send me a research paper and told me to discuss in next skype interview I liked the paper so it was more like a chat rather than interview and he selected me. This was the moment I was looking for.
Initially I was thinking it was a dream, I was happy at last. As luck would have it, the very next day I got acceptance from a Italian university.

And the next day I got email from LSU usa that he wants to talk to me over Skype to select.

Although the LSU had given me hope for the past few months I had to refuse the Skype interview since any way I had deiced to join Israel. And there would be many students waiting for reply from LSU.

Next day was short listed for a telephonic interview this also I refused so that other students also get chance.
Now I applied for the Israel institute, then came a shock my application rejected due to low gre score, but since my prof liked my profile he put of pressure on the committee and also to the dean to ignore GRE. In next few weeks I will leave for Israel.

Disappointment is Part of Life

The reason why I am sharing my experience in detail is there would be many students who would have faced disappointment.

My only advice is to keep trying.

Also for the PhD aspirants I would like to tell them as HSB had told you need passion to do PhD.

Many try for PhD since it is fully funded, but once you in PhD the interest the only thing that matters.

I would like to point out that getting admission Is not difficult but same way it is not easy.

When posted I in my facebook that I got may PhD offers my friends were asking which university I did not choose so that they can get it.

As far PhD is concerned it is not like first come first serve basis. But you fit in their profile.

Many have this wrong feeling that if a friend got it then they should also get it.

But they fail to take note of the different profiles the scores and the research statement.
During your search you might get frustrated but you should never give up.

I still remember I unsubscribed HSB twice due to frustration that I did not get admit in USA. Also if you really love science search by research interest and not by country.

GOOD LUCK.

 *****

Most of the Blog posts fall into one of the following category – Study in USA, Study in UK, Study in  Germany, Study in Australia.  I don’t have a right category for your determined effort. So, I have selected PhD as category.

You are definitely an inspiration and this post have to be highlights for years to come.

Comments

  1. Is this supposed to make me feel better seeing it took a freaking FIVE years to get into your desired PhD?
    I applied everyday to countless universities for 6 whole months (counting 10 universities each day) to every country I could get my hands on. Got an offer from Italy-with full funding.

    But you know what? My fucking visa was refused!
    So, no. This article does not make me feel better. It makes me angrier with the “Keep trying” bull!

  2. Congratulations Prathamesh..
    I had masters degree in computer and now I am looking forward to do Phd in my field. Currently I am in USA, so what would be the steps for me to get admission for Phd in US universities? Will you please guide me for this?

    Thnx.

    1. Author

      For PhD process, be proactive. for some with Masters, applying for PhD shouldn’t require step by step guidance. Refer to PhD article series to learn more.

  3. Looks like you were very desperate to study abroad. If you would have applied in India the 5 years you wasted you could have finished your Masters and PhD in India itself.

  4. Thanks prathamesh, finally i found someone from my field(Biotech) and having a similar sort of fate or experiences or whatever u call it!!! Even i am facing problems in deciding what i really want..,there has been a lot of talk over which country is better for our field but my primary concern is a finance, i dont want to be a burden for my parents who will be spending a major chunk of their savings, just for me,but still, my interest in the subject doesnt allow me to sit idle and waste time thinking!! I would actually get some experience as well as earnings so that i cud atleast spend it on the admission procedure, hopefully I would be able to do it!!!

  5. Dear Prathamesh
    i am very happy that you succeeded after great obstacles and failures.
    I appreciate your perseverence. You are a beacon of light to other younsters who are facing problems in attaining their goals. wish you a bright future

  6. What are the benefits to my home country if i studied at abroad? can u give some idea

  7. I never knew so many would comment on my experience I wish I could help each and every aspiring student!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  8. Hi H.S.B & Readers of H.S.B. . !!

    I am pursuing my Bachelors Degree(Finished 3rd yr) in Computer Science with a current aggregate of 72 %. My % of S.S.C & intermediate are 85.5% and 75.4%. I’m looking forward to pursue my Masters in USA after the completion of my Bachelors Degree.
    I am planning to start my Masters in Fall 2013. I kindly request you to suggest the right time to appear for the GRE and TOEFL tests so that i can get myself into TOP universities like Carnegie Mellon University, University of Texas Austin, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, UCLA, UCSD , . . etc. I also urge you to tell me if i am very ambitious in the university selection and if i don’t have a profile suited to those universities at all.

    Thank you for your valuable suggestions in advance. 🙂
    Karthik.

  9. Congratulations Prathamesh. You will do well and you are an inspiration to lot of students who want to go abroad.

  10. Hi Prathamesh,
    You are really great,I have never seen such a courageous person.. Congratulations…
    Am 3rd year B.Tech(Bio tech) student,i was planning to study in USA ( my master’s).Can you suggest how to prepare gre(home)…Not able to join any coaching center ..Can u please share the study materials?….please reply…By SASI.

    1. Hi Sasirekha,
      Im doing btech(biotech )as well. I have the same question ……….. I guess Barron’s is a great start.U acn further contact me through my email…………… I am as well gonna start peparing for gre …………………… Together we could fogure out something distantly though…..:)

  11. Hi Prathamesh

    OMG……I am a biotech student like u, my journey to PhD is half way like u moved 2 UK…Im now in UK doing my 2nd masters, I gave GRE but scored very less…now im planing to give another attempt and apply US, UK for PhD……u r a real hero…..I salute u 4 ur patience…….
    All d best…..

  12. Prathamesh many many congratulation to you for your future.Your devotion is just hats off. Thank you very much man.I was also just losing my hope.But after reading your blog it re energize me,Thank you brother.Keep in touch…good luck

  13. OMG!! this is passion! I only tried for an year or two after MS, and now i have lost all the hope for PhD abroad 😐
    But your post was indeed inspirational!!

  14. This is my first comment to any post on HSB. I, a regular reader of HSB since 2010, have never seen such kind of invigorating post made by any blogger. Your unremitting patience, resolute yearning, precluded by many obstacles , will work as a lighthouse of many aspirants wishing to do PhD. You have shown where there is a will, there is a way. Many many congrats to your perseverence!

  15. Thankyou sir your perseverance finally paid off and it valuable lesson for us who too are in similar conditions and circumstances
    Nepal, kathmandu

  16. Dear brothers,

    I am a mechanical engineer(2011 passout) from INDIA.I have graduated from a Anna university affiliated engineering college.Now,I am working as a Mechanical Design Engineer(R&D) in wind turbine manufacturing company.I am an aspirant to go to US.I got 1160(Quants-780 & English-380) in GRE and 6.5 in IELTS.I am having aggregate of 72% ,But i had a backlog in Heat and Mass Transfer.I am working in Design using Pro-E.And I want to improve my knowledge in CAD & CAE.Please suggest some universities which suits my profile

    1. Look at Germany which is very good in Mechanical Engineering. HSB has posted information regarding Germany.

  17. Hats off to u!!!! many wud lose hope after 1-2 rejections!!!
    Best of luck to u..!

    p.s. im gonna pply to usa….wish me all d luck! 😉

  18. Prathamesh!
    That’s inspirational.May this success become the bedrock for greater heights as you walk down the academic lane.Best wishes!

  19. Oh my GOD…….!! u have proved it (where there is a will there is a way) . Your effort paid off……….! your zeal to pursue PhD crossed all ODDS . Inspiring … Gr8 achievement ..!! congrats…..

  20. This is my most favorite article on HSB. Thanks Prathmesh and HSB. You (Prathmesh n HSB has always been) are so inspiring. Its been a lot of help psychologically !! 🙂

  21. Hey Prathamesh!! congrats yar..!!:-)

    Your perseverance has paid you, the dream you ever dreamt off..
    hats off to your efforts!!!
    best wishes for your research and thesis!!

  22. Thank you for inspiring me and go live your dreams ,finally you made it man!
    All the best for your future!

  23. Do we have to contact profs for MS also or only if we want to do Phd? Plz reply!

  24. You finally nailed it. You just gave a whole new definition to the idiom “Where there is a will, there is a way”. However tough the struggle was, it molded you into the person who can face almost every obstacle now. Even I’m a 3rd yr BTech Biotech student wishing to apply to PhD program. Thanks for thoroughly inspiring me. Best of luck for living your dream.:)

  25. Congrats !

    We have good opportunities in India as well. You could have included India among so many countries as well . It has some of the very good PhD programs.
    Also , One can think of preparing well and retake GRE if it is an obstacle.

  26. Thank you very much for this timely post. Posts like these boosts our inner strength and give us confidence. I got admitted at a university in Latvia too.

    I found the fee and living cost is cheap compared to other EU countries and USA but I would like to know its worth if I study at Latvia.

    Any information about Latvia would be very helpful !

  27. Hi Prathamesh,

    Congrats !!!!!!! Finally,your long cherished dream came true.
    Could you advice me that how I can contact the Professors in the university.
    Please advice me as soon as possible.
    Thanks a lot………

    1. Hi Kamal

      I have been struggling to get a PhD admit for the past 2 years. 1st year was outright rejects but after correcting my approach/CV/SOP I got to the waitlists of 2 unis this year but will try again next year with more research experience.

      contacting the professors s the easy part! You have to search the universities’ websites which have all the faculty listed with their research interests and then write a short email praising their work and showing how what you have done and want to do ties in with their research interests.
      The tough part going through hundreds if not thousands faculty members and short listing the ones that interest you.
      A useful alternative is to search pubmed with keywords of the kind of research that you are interested in then use the papers to track authors and their unis to contact.
      Hope it helps.

      1. Hi Akshay,

        Thanks a tonne for giving me such a useful and worthy information……….
        Can you let me know in which field you have applied for for the PhD .
        Thanks once again.

  28. hey.. Congratulations.. Great spirit!
    I am kind of in a similar situation, how did you manage to get so many recommendations since you had applied to so many places.?
    What did you do in the 2 years you were applying? Won’t the university you are going to be worried about your lost 2 years?

  29. Amazing. Congrats. Its very difficult to be so determined. U did it. .

  30. One of the best posts on HSB! I wish your hard work takes you to new heights!

  31. Prathamesh,

    Your perseverance has paid at last.All the best for your Ph.D as I am also an HSB follower and doing my Ph.D in USA 🙂

    1. Hi Gangadharan,

      As you are in USA and might be very well acquainted with the education system out there.Actually,I would like to apply in the EdD in Educational administration .I have done Masters in Education (general) but to get admission ,universities want the student should have specialisation in that particular field in which he is applying for .However I have studied the subject in the graduation but it is not specialisation since in our country there is no specialisation in MEd .How to apply ???????If you have any suggestions ,pls do let me know.
      Thanks

  32. Your story has inspired to commit myself to my goals wih more dedication. Going through the same phase, ..although my dream looks like a bit impossible but am willign to give it a try.

  33. Oh my god,,,, You must have shelled out thousands of dollars, pounds and euros as your application fee………

  34. Sounds like an advanced level of the hell I’ve been through. I was denied multiple times by many universities although I had good scores and statements. By god’s grace my struggle ended up in Round 3 with multiple admission and few tuition waivers. You got loads of patience and kudos to it.

    1. Hi Anurag, Why dont you explain bit more about your experience. It would be so beneficial for us.

  35. This is called “Fighting against all odds”! Good luck prathamesh,it is truly a great achievement.

  36. Amazing!!! Dude… u seriously will achieve something …
    All the very best…

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