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My personal quest of gathering as much information as possible on the requirements to enroll into a PhD program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill continued last Friday. I was up and early for my appointments at the Department of Computer Science considering I went to sleep really late the previous night. It was my sister’s birthday so I took her out to the movies and a late dinner. I was supposed to meet a professor and then the chair of the department but due to some slight technical problem (my sister had set up the meetings for 9:30 & 10am but told me 10 & 11am), I ended up talking to the chair first. He had a pretty impressive office and I couldn’t help but admire all the computer books that adorned the many bookshelves around the room. From the very start he told me how competitive the administration process was and all the ubber requirements needed to be considered for their PhD program. Apparently they have the second best computer graphics program in the nation and competition is fierce. We spent about 20 minutes where I was presented with layer upon layer of “possible” obstacles that would make my application “less desirable” than applications from undergrads with a Computer Science degree/background. Also, my 7-8 years of working experience don’t really count much unless I had done some research work. One way I could improve my chances would be to move to Chapel Hill at least 1 year before applying for their PhD program and take some undergrad classes to give me the necessary background I lack, but that idea is pretty much out of question when you have a small family that depends on you. In case you’re wondering what the requirements are: 90+ percentile of your general GRE scores and GPA of 3.5+. Feeling the weight of all the mentioned obstacles on my way and hating myself for not continuing my education when I had a better shot at it, I shook his hand and walked to my other appointment. To my surprise the professor was much, much upbeat then the chair (and I guess he has to be tough… he’s the chair) and the entire 30 minute meeting went really well. I mean, the obstacles are there but he sort of put a better spin on the “you can do anything you want if you work hard enough” idea… After that I decided to buy an UNC baseball hat and sit outside an on-campus coffee house just outside the bookstore for some deserved dose of caffeine and morphine, where I also had the opportunity to observe all the students running to and from their classes. I had forgotten how it felt to be in school, with the constant schedules and homeworks and different people populating every minute of your day. Nearby some girls were participating on some kind of cheering contest… The weather helped too and it felt like one of those early Spring days. Around 1:30pm I left for my last meeting of the day at the Department of Genetics. Got lost for a while driving through the huge campus thanks to my sister’s driving instincts (thanks Magellan) but managed to make there on time and in one piece. Once again the meeting was “hosted” by the chair and right away it became obvious that it would be almost that impossible for me to enroll into the program. I was told that my lack of actual lab experience for the last 8 years put me at the bottom of the list of applicants, all certainly either fresh out of undergrad school or at least with some years of hands-on experience. It wasn’t the best way to end my day and it felt as if I was annoyingly trying to find a “loop-hole” in the administration process. However, I didn’t let this spoil my spirit and took the whole experience as something that will give me even more desire to succeed! Took another 30 minutes to gather some brochures about the Nurse program they offer for my wife and headed back home. Stopped at Mama Dips for some authentic Southern ribs and fried chicken on our way and had to be helped off the car due to all the food I ate. Spent the remaining of the day slowly digesting the ribs and chicken while watching 2 foreign movies. Saturday morning after a quick shower and breakfast I was on a plane headed back home. I now have a load of brochures and catalogs to go through and will have to make some decisions fairly soon…


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