Graduate school advice
If you just are graduating or graduated from university then you may just go to graduate school without much of deep thinking. And that is quite normal. But if you like to go back to school after many years of work or absence of it, you need to think about it a bit harder.
With whom do you really want to work with? People like to take ones who know their work. Many applicants do not. I myself misunderstood the job I was interviewed. But that was not because of lack of interest. I eventually got a related job with the same group.
What topic do you really want to study?
What do you want to do with the degree after that?
What do you see yourself in five years?
Is you English good enough? English skill is not essential if you are really good at your topic, mathematics or programming. Otherwise, you can expect people will not easy on your language or research. People may not fire you but you will be put in a position that you have to withdraw yourself from program.
1. If you graduated a few years ago, people would care what you have done outside of
school. Unless you have done something close to what you are applying for, you need to
justify your past activities. Justifying is not difficult and you can just say you need
some drastic change or you grow out of past interest: stuffs you had passion with do not
excite you any more, etc.
0. Recommendation letters matter most when they came from friends and colleagues trusted.
Otherwise, the letters do not give you any edges, if your CV is not convincing.
1. Some people do not trust recommendation letters people who do not know or outside of
certain regions. Recommendations from Japan likely have less impact unless a recommender
is well known.
2. It is better to get recommendation from people who know you well. Any people who worked
with can write a letter. I’ve written two letters and the PIs who received said the
recommendation was good.
3. Many North Americans, British and Europeans write very negative recommendations. It is
not uncommon to see recommendation letters say they would not take this person or the
person needs significant effort to improve themselves.