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I have been applying to PhD programs for the past 2+ years and keep getting rejected. I have pretty good degrees that I worked hard for from good universities (not the top unis).
For the past year I’ve been doing everything I could think of to improve my CV; working for free as a research assistant at a research institute, publishing, attending seminars and conferences, etc.
I always thought that all applicants were treated equally and were judged only by their grades, personal statement and CV. However, I just got my 15th rejection letter, and the university was “kind” enough to tell me that I was rejected because I didn’t meet their entry requirements, specifically, that the universities where I did my Bsc and MSc don’t have a good enough reputation for my application to be considered.
I have been told by academics in the past that potential PhD candidates aren’t judged using this criterion. So my question is, are Phd applications one of those things where people are told that everyone has an equal opportunity while the reality is wildly different? Because I would like to know if I’m wasting my time applying and putting myself through all this stress unnecessarily.