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Showing content with the highest reputation since 06/21/2017 in Posts

  1. 9 points

    Feeling Unwelcome

    I can give you some advice as to the matter of your threatened eviction. I was a social worker for 10 years and worked at my (then) county's legal aid office. What housing is threatening you with is both illegal and prejudicial. Your daughter's diagnosed, documented psychiatric conditions may qualify her for APD benefits, if she does not receive those already. Even if she does not qualify for APD benefits, you cannot evict someone as a result of behaviors that stem from a psychiatric illness. That is a violation of the Fair Housing Act, which you can read here: https://www.justice.gov/crt/fair-housing-act-1. You can afford to lawyer up; here's how: contact your local legal aid office. Their whole existence is based on the fact that people without a lot of financial means need legal services, too. Call them, complete the intake process, attend your appointment, and they will be able to help you with this. I have to echo Eigen's remarks: end-of-year or mid-program reviews aren't designed to make you feel good. They don't have to say anything positive about you at all, although many professors or advisors do. The criticism isn't personal and isn't a sign of your being "unwelcome;" it's standard criticism given by mentors whose job it is to prepare you for a career in academia. You certainly don't have to answer this question publicly, but it sounds to me like you are under an enormous amount of stress between being a graduate student and a working mother of multiple children, including one with severe psychiatric illness. So my (rhetorical) question is, how are you? Are you receiving any treatment or support for anxiety? Perhaps it would be good to access some support in that aspect. Please send me a PM if you need any help or have any questions about accessing legal services. I'm happy to do what I can for you.
  2. 7 points

    GRE "Splitters"

    I just want to point out that people who are annoyed or bothered by questions they think have been answered elsewhere or questions they consider "stupid" are under no obligation to answer. It's easy enough to just do that than throw time and energy into some passive aggressive (or aggressive aggressive) paragraphs attacking someone for asking a question just because they didn't see it anywhere at first or didn't want to spend and hour sifting through old threads. I agree that thick skin is necessary and there will always be those who will talk down to you or act pompous, but there's really no need to spread that around and just consider such behaviors "par for the course" in academia. I personally know multiple PhDs, other academics, and historians who are plenty down to earth and humble, and I hope to emulate them as I maneuver my way through my PhD and beyond. Well anyways, my point here is just that if you don't like the question, don't respond to it. Simple as that. Because now this straightforward thread for someone nervous and excited about the application process has been hijacked by people debating the value of the question and fighting over the nature of academia.
  3. 6 points

    GRE "Splitters"

    Statements of this sort crop up too frequently on the forum. If a certain milieu has a bad rep -- here, it's the idea that academics are dismissive and prone to quick, unfair judgment -- there's no obligation to confirm the stereotype. Instead, we can emulate the kind of academic (one would hope) we all encountered at one point or another in our careers: the experienced big-shot who took the time to listen to our sloppy, naive questions and gently but firmly point us in the right direction. It's like saying: - Art gallery receptionists have the reputation for being snooty. - I have a job at as at receptionist at an at art gallery. - I shall habituate art newbies to the ways of the art world by being snooty. It is possible to strongly disagree, to critique -- even to criticize -- with indulgence (even if just in the manner of formulation). Finally, it seems to bear stating again that stellar GRE grades neither ensure you a job (which I don't think anyone on here has ever defended), nor do they have zero effect. As historians we know there's never one cause. GRE scores are less important than other factors, but they are not unimportant.
  4. 6 points

    When and how to contact POIs

    It can be really hard to sort through those posts because there are SO many responses in a thread. I think it's nice to have a thread about this all together for future applicants. Anyways, when I reached out to POIs, I erred on the side of professionalism. That means says "dear" at the start, as awkward as that feels. Here's a sort of template to go by: "Dear So and So, I am a (enter here: graduate of, undergrad/graduate student at, etc.) studying (enter major/specialization) and I am considering applying to doctoral programs this fall. My interest(s) is(are) XYZ, and after much research, I am interested in working with you if you are able to accept new graduate students in the fall of 2018. My research... (talk about your research interests, past research, research style, etc.) I have read (enter name of book/article/publication by POI) and it sparked my interest in blah blah blah. I found your argument about X especially intriguing. I am interested in a similar topic, and believe my research could benefit from your guidance. *enter anything else you want to say or any questions you have. it is good to ask at least one question, like 'how many graduate students do you usually advise at time?' or 'how many dissertations have you overseen?' or anything specific about his or her advising style* Thank you for for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you. Sincerely yours (or all the best, or something similar), (your full name)" Hope that helps! I wrote like that to all POIs and got a response from every single one, from state schools to Harvard.
  5. 5 points

    2018 Applicants

    Happy news here today folks! Woke up to an acceptance e-mail from one of my schools! I'm shocked they got back to me so quickly, my second letter of recommendation just got sent yesterday, but I must have been "under review" until it came in. It's my #2 program so I'm really stoked!!! I'm not sure if I should e-mail the adviser and let her know I'm waiting on the others or not, she sent me an e-mail about scheduling everything and acceptance (but nothing about funding... so I also want to ask about that.)
  6. 5 points
    When I applied to MSc programs, my partner and I were not married and we had similar concerns as you. Later, when applying to PhD programs, my partner and I were married and we still had similar concerns. The second time, they were even bigger concerns because we were moving from Canada to the US, so work authorization for my spouse was also a tricky thing to get. In the end, it did all work out though. Here's what we did for both rounds of applications in terms of choosing a location that would work for both of us. My spouse has a generally flexible line of work (non-academic) and any small town (~100,000 people or so) would have options, but of course, the bigger the city, the larger the pool of applicants. The only job-related constraints would be language (some places in Canada require French) and immigration policies (for places outside of Canada). Instead of just job opportunities, we were also considering our personal preferences on where we would like to live too! We started by determining what our own goals are (career and otherwise), for ourselves and for each other. We discussed short term and long term wishes and how we wanted to balance them. And we talked about what our major concerns were about grad school and the academic career path. Ultimately, we came up with a plan that ensured that both of us were happy. Although I was the one going to grad school, we viewed this as something we were doing together for the good of our family. So, I only applied to schools in locations that were good for both of us. Logistically, the way we did it was for each of us to compile our own lists of places we would like to go to. Then, we looked at each other's lists and we each had veto power (e.g. I might veto places that didn't have research that fit me or I wouldn't enjoy the city and my spouse might veto places that didn't suit their interests). The places that were on both our lists went to the top. We kept an open mind at this stage---neither of us vetoed places that might not sound great initially, but we would at least visit and see what it's like. As for long term goals, both of our main desires were to set us both up so that we can both have careers in a specific geographical region (close to our families). We know that was where we would want our children to grow up. Our main concern was that the academic job market is brutal and most academics seem to have to move to wherever the jobs were. In addition, while some people we know got TT jobs right after graduation, and a few after 1 postdoc, the norm is 2 or 3 postdocs before a TT job. The nightmare scenario we wanted to avoid was that we would go on the TT job hunt, choose a less-than-ideal postdoc thinking that it would set us up for a good job later, but then go on another postdoc and another etc... In short, while we had long term big picture goals in mind, we also didn't want to spend our 20s and 30s only living for the future and not being able to enjoy the present. We came up with a strategy to avoid our worst fears. First, we both decided that while academia would be a great career path for me, we are not going to have the "TT job or bust" mindset. Next, we decided that every position I take from then on (at the PhD application stage) would have to be a top-tier type position, or something that really sets us up very well for moving back to our geographical area. So, this meant that when applying to PhD programs, I only applied to top schools with the plan that if I only got into second-tier schools, it would make the odds of a TT job in our geographical region of choice very slim and the two of us would be better off if we followed a different career path. When applying to postdocs, I followed the same idea. The second strategy was to choose a program that would allow me to develop useful non-academia job skills. Ultimately, we would both be happier in our geographical region and outside of academia than in academia but outside of our region of choice. In addition to programs that would allow me to develop useful skills, I generally favoured places that would have good brand name recognition for employers outside of academia. This second preference played a larger role in the "choosing which offer to accept" stage rather than the application stage, since nothing is sure when you're just applying. Finally, the last strategy to combat our fears/worries was to make a commitment to ourselves. We decided that 10 years from the start of my PhD program (we'd be in our mid-30s), we will be in our geographical region of choice, no matter what. This was to alleviate the worries of chasing postdocs/TT jobs indefinitely and that we would be not living in the present enough. Although it was always true, making this commitment was a reminder to ourselves that we can just quit academia any time. For most grad students, we are achievement-seeking personalities and "quitting" might be hard to do. This promise to ourselves was a reminder that we can leave if we want to. So with these ideas, we both agreed on 8 places to apply to. My spouse visited grad programs whenever possible. I made it clear to all the grad programs that this was a decision that both of us were making together. Many places directly reached out to my spouse to recruit her as well as me, which was very appreciated. After the applications decisions were made, my spouse and I ranked the offers. Our top three choices were the same, but most importantly, the top choice was the same for both of us. So that was how we decided. If you want an update on where we are on our plans, we are now 5 years past the start of my PhD (i.e. halfway through our 10 year plan). I just graduated from my PhD last month and I have just started a postdoc this week. I ended up with a fellowship postdoc position in our geographic region of choice! Our hopes are that we will never have to move away again. However, we're still open to it if there's a really good (but temporary) opportunity for a second postdoc, but only if the opportunity provides increased chances for a permanent academic job in our current area and that increase is worth the move away from our families. If not, and if there turns out to be no more academic opportunities in our area, we'll find non-academic jobs and stay where we are Good luck with your decision making process. If you want to discuss more personal issues, feel free to send me a PM. I can also provide more details via PM if that helps someone in a similar situation.
  7. 5 points

    GRE "Splitters"

    I don't think you get it. This isn't law school admissions (where you got "splitter" from). The connection in your head - high GRE leads to acceptance to top grad school leads to TT job - is so tenuous as to be essentially void. Nobody is poring over your GRE score trying to decide if your GPA and URM status make up for the damage you're going to do to their USNews ranking. They look that you've tested over a certain threshold and if you have, they forget about it. For the humanities, the math portion doesn't matter except in cases where funding is awarded by the graduate school conditional on GPA/GRE minima. Your acceptance to better schools is entirely contingent on your writing sample and references.
  8. 5 points

    Fall 2018 Applicants

    I'm at Rutgers, and I find my experience to be very similar to what @TMP describes. Our teaching loads are very low, as are our cohort sizes; everything on @telkanuru's (extremely accurate) list of "what makes a good program" is available to me here. It really is program by program. It's true that in academia you ignore prestige at your peril. But it is equally perilous to tunnel your vision such that you focus only on names, brands, and proximity to the Ivies. Day in and day out, what will make or break your graduate experience is not whether other people think your program is fancy and prestigious, or whether you think your program is fancy and prestigious. It's whether or not you're at a place where you feel you're doing your best work (and where doing your best work will result in an outcome you want post-PhD). That's what keeps you coming into the grad office each day and that's how you finish the program. It's possible to do your best work in the Ivies. It is also possible to do your best work outside of them. You truly cannot know the answer unless you apply widely and see where you get in. So much of the information that will ultimately influence your decision — teaching/fellowship ratio, placement, cohort size, summer funding, personality of your advisor — you won't get until you hear back from schools anyways. Since you haven't, the prestige discussion is a bit of a red herring, and it's too easy to get wrapped up in it when it's still pretty hypothetical. Apply to places where 1) you would be willing to go if you got in, 2) where there is five years of some kind of funding for all students, and 3) the work that the faculty does excites you and is a good fit for you. Consider things like ranking and prestige, but within reason; don't discount a public university just for the sake of it being public, or apply to a university that is obviously not a good fit just because it's an Ivy. Then, when you have applied and heard back and you have concrete numbers and figures to look at, you can go back and think about things like placement, summer funding, cohort size, teaching load, etc.
  9. 5 points


    My quantitative scores were terrible, I got into one ivy and four other good schools--at one school visit a younger assistant professor was like "hah your quantitative scores were pretty bad but not as bad as mine", so that's how much they mattered (Telkanuru is right about the funding thing for some state schools though)
  10. 5 points

    High Functioning Sociopath

    What even is this thread? OP are you looking for advice? A second opinion on your diagnosis (I don't believe that's allowed on the forums or ethical)? Trying to figure out the end game of the post.
  11. 5 points

    2nd thoughts about PhD acceptance

    Wow. Ok so I have a few thoughts here, hopefully I can express them in an organized fashion. First your fiance........ I understand deciding against buying an overpriced house especially when it is unclear how long the market will be stable, but telling you that commuting over an hour to school while living apart is "totally doable" is not a generous offer. You don't need to discuss all the details of your relationship, but if you 2 are open to living together prior to the wedding then it seems odd that he wouldn't be interested in renting a place with you that reduces the commute burden (potentially for both of you). If he's willing to help you with expenses then it seems like living together is an easier way to do that especially if you're getting married next year. Commuting to school........ I commuted over an hour for my unfunded Master's program and it worked out well. I was able to keep my job and health benefits while adjusting my work schedule so that I could time my drive so I didn't sit in traffic. However, all of those hours on the road were still lost and the extra wear on my car lead to increased maintenance costs. Now that I'm in a PhD program I realized immediately that a commute that far would not work with all of the skills and training I wanted to gain. There are students in my program who live 30+ minutes away (by freeway) and the hassle is evident on their faces. Sometimes traffic and/or parking is horrendous so they're late. Sometimes they have to drive to campus for only their lab meeting that ends after 15 minutes or for one client who no shows. Or something gets left at home or on campus and another trip has to be made. Other times they have to be in the lab late or see clients late and if their day has already been 10+ hours long a lengthy drive on top of that sucks and could be dangerous. If their car breaks down and there's no public transit where they live then they're screwed. You don't have to live in walking distance of campus, but it is advantageous to be within 10-15 minutes on city streets or have the option of taking public transit quickly. This is precisely my situation now and its fabulous. I have more time for studying, seeing clients on or offsite, and lab work. I don't have to get up very early if I don't want to and even after long days on campus I don't get home so late that I'm too tired to do anything else. Living at home....... I too am an older student and the best decision I made was spending a little bit more to live all by myself in a bigger place. This way I have a whole room that is an office with plenty of room to brainstorm, cartwheel, or lay on the floor and vent Mindy Lahiri style. If your parents are familiar with the life of a grad student and a dedicated quiet space can be created for you then that might be different. But if that isn't an option and their place is too far then do not do this to yourself. If you and your fiance find a way to live together I highly suggest making sure the place can accommodate your having a dedicated office. Being able to shut the door on all your school stuff will give you a sense of separation when you take breaks and allow you to immerse yourself in a task while he's home doing something else. Sticking with your chosen program....... Ultimately this is going to be your call. I think your current advisors make a good point that it is very difficult to get into any program with some funding, especially a neuropsych program. If the faculty you'll have access to are well known in their field and their former students have gone on to successful careers then that is definitely something to keep in mind. You say the funding package isn't great, but is doable. You don't have to provide details, but really think about what that means. Does doable mean only with your fiance's help? If so that's a big risk if something were to happen with your relationship or his financial situation. Does doable mean with a few student loans? If you're still eligible for the federal ones then this isn't a terrible option in my opinion. If doable means sacrificing your health or safety in some way then its not worth it. Also think about how challenging application cycles are. You got into a program for this season, but if you reapply next year that doesn't mean you will. Programs able to take (and fund) students change, advisors may seek a different fit, other applicants may stand out more than you, and my understanding is professors talk and may find it odd that you rejected a perfectly good offer. Or you might get several offers and still be unhappy with the funding. So maybe a good way to look at it is if you reject your current offer and reapply next year, will you be willing to reapply the following year if for some reason you don't get in or find your funded offers lacking?
  12. 4 points
    Looks like they're sick of receiving personal statements that mostly talk about how their grandmother inspired them to go to grad school and how hard it was to get Bs while partying every night, so they're trying to hand-hold you through what an SOP is supposed to be.
  13. 4 points

    GRE "Splitters"

    @miami421 A quick recap of the importance of different parts of the graduate application in most of the humanities, and also anthropology. Numbers left blank are to provide a sense of scale. 1. SOP - key elements are: how it expresses your research interests, whether you are persuasive about your ability to carry out the research project you propose or one somewhat like it, and whether you demonstrate good fit with the school 2. Writing sample 3. 4. 5. LORs 6. 7. GPA 8. 9. GRE You could include "fit" as a separate item in the top three if you want, but the scale itself is an approximate thing I threw together in ten minutes. The level you set at "decent" is, unfortunately, optimistic. Fellow forum-members: do even Harvard and Princeton place 50% of their students in TT-positions within 5 years (in history)? I don't know this myself, but that part of your post, although well-meant, is probably a significant part of what made me and possibly some other people on here extra cranky. Why? Because it reminded us of how placement records, even at our own school (even if it's a really good one!), are d e p r e s s i n g. I only wish most of the top 50 universities had a 50% TT placement rate!
  14. 4 points

    2018 Applicants

    @punctilious Can I ask what parts of this program research your husband is planning to do? I get that literature students switch fields and topics a lot more often than anthropologists do, so it can make sense to go to a program with generally "good Americanists" for a master's degree (or possibly for a PhD if you want to focus on teaching? I'm not sure, I'm in a different field) but it doesn't sound like that's your husband's situation. It sounds like he really likes literary scholarship, it isn't something he's just okay about while he gets to his dream of teaching college students. And that he would be particularly interested in going to a prestigious PhD. (Although that might sound snobby—your instinct might be to go "oh no no, he's really interested in doing what he loves, not being at some fancy elite institution"—it's wise, actually. Getting a PhD is tough! It's a lot easier if they pay you reasonably and support you doing research. It will also likely make facing the job market, which is very bad, somewhat less horrible.) Is that right? If I understood that correctly, you may be running out the limits on what you can do for him. It sounds like your spreadsheets are very detailed, and I bet they will be great help for the two of you! I suspect that he is going to need to do the next step, however, on his own—and it's the most important step. Finding a research "fit" is something that nobody but the applicant can do for them, so he should start researching the professors he wants to work with pretty soon. The POIs you've picked out might be a great place for him to start reading, but he can't stop there. Prestigious PhDs, especially, require specifically-written applications, with more details rather than less. Harvard gets a lot of applications that say it's great because it's Harvard! Maybe they say the funding is good! They have a lot of faculty who focus on the Victorian era! (Or whatever.) That's not very convincing, if you read hundreds of similar applications: the Ivies know they're fancy. If you say instead that you're interested in this project this professor is working on, and that project that other professor did, the professors on the admissions committee will most likely find that much more persuasive. So if your husband is interested in a research-focused PhD, he needs to sit down and read all of the faculty profiles in all the departments he is interested in. He'll need to pick out the ones that catch his eye. A really strong graduate school application in either of our fields isn't just based on matching faculty by time and region, but on thematic connections. So this strong application wouldn't say something like, I want to work on the American post-war and you have a lot of faculty who do great work on that period. It would rather say something like: I am interested in working on ambivalent constructions of masculinity in post-war novels that focus on the American marriage, and although this part may change I'm currently focused on the works of John Updike. The SOP would then not be as simple as: I am interested in working with faculty X, Y, and Z, because they all work on American literature after WWII. Rather, this fictional applicant might say: I am interested in working with faculty X because they are an Updike scholar (although X herself studies space and the environment as they appear in the books, not gender or marriage); I also look forward to taking Y's class on marriage in literature (where Y herself studies Shakespeare); finally I look forward to working with Z who studies gender theory (even though Z himself applies that theory to the works of Samuel Delaney). After your husband finishes reading about all the English faculty at each college, he should also look at the professors who work in some of the other departments that might have scholars whose work he would like. Interdisciplinary work is big these days, and only getting bigger, so really he should look at way more departments at each college than just the English literature department. This can be a quick overview where he only reads the research statements of the faculty who catch his eye, but he should absolutely look at the website listing the faculty of, say, the department of American Studies at Yale before he applies there. Does he like film? Look at the film studies department at each college. Or feminist studies, or science and technology studies (which is a broader field than it might sound like). Of course he shouldn't push connections if they feel forced, but it's a good research exercise to do anyway. Although my fictional example in the previous paragraph includes only faculty who could be in English, maybe Z is actually in the department of American culture or in African American studies. Poking around other interesting departments would then reveal that new resource for your husband to draw upon, one that he might have missed by just looking in English. For example, when I applied, I read or skimmed the departmental webpages for all the anthropology faculty in all the departments I was considering, and then I looked at all the history faculty who studied the same region where I work, skimmed the entire relevant area studies department, and sometimes looked at the departments of sociology or film studies. Personally, I found doing all that reading kind of fun, since people study such interesting things. Good luck to you both.
  15. 4 points

    GRE "Splitters"

    You should probably get used to that if you want to go into academia.
  16. 4 points
    I'm sorry but I do have to disagree here. Not all PHD programs are fully-funded. Some programs only fund 30-50 percent of their students. Some programs may not fund the first year. Others might require you to pay more mandatory fees while others may not require you to pay any fees at all.
  17. 4 points


    Your stats are enough to avoid having your application binned immediately at any institution. But if I were you, I would disabuse myself of the notion that a PhD app is like a BA or MA one. Stats have very little relevance beyond a hurdle you have to clear, and the rankings of programs are mostly bullshit.
  18. 4 points

    Feeling Unwelcome

    I want to thank those who have responded. As far as the comments re: first year review: I understand that a review is a place to critique, hopefully constructively (mine was not constructive) your performance. I am in a very small cohort, and I have asked those in my cohort about their reviews, and they were either more even handed, definitely more constructive, or, in one case, completely glowing. Trust me, I am not trying to play the victim, and I do not want to feel this way, but I cannot help but feel that maybe this is a bad fit, and the department feels that way as well. As a result, I have begun reaching out to other programs to gauge their interest. I really appreciate the advice on housing and legal issues. I felt the approach taken by University Housing was wrong when I was faced with it, and they tried to play it off as they do not have to follow state rules regarding evictions, etc. I have countered in email after doing some more research into Federal rules, and hopefully they will back off a bit. Orphic, thank you for asking about how I am doing (although, I am actually a working father). The service provider that was working with my child has offered us family and individual therapy, and we are getting that organized as well.
  19. 4 points

    Pre-MPP work experience

    I recommend working for longer than a year or two before applying not because the work experience will impress an admissions committee, but rather because it helps you pick a career. You may have an idea of what'd you like to focus on in an MPP program, but actually working in a field—in terms of the actual work, quality of life, security, and so on—is very different from studying it. You grad school experience will be much more rewarding and secure if you can really focus on an area you have prior experience in, which lets you not only focus your studies but also network more successfully.
  20. 4 points
    You seem to be doing a lot of things out of a sense of obligation to some shadowy unnamed force. I don't think that working at a place for less than 2 years reflects badly on you (unless it's a pattern, and at a later point in your career), I don't think that having worked at 3 places means you need to get a master's, and I can't even fathom why you'd think that working at 4 places versus 3 will reflect badly on you. You should critically analyze the source from which you are getting this bs.
  21. 4 points

    Over-educated and Unhappy

    Do you know this illustrated guide to a PhD? http://matt.might.net/articles/phd-school-in-pictures/ I like it a lot because it makes an important point: A PhD is about specializing in something very specific and very narrow. You seem to have a different trajectory that's more geared toward breadth than depth. That's perfectly fine, nothing wrong with that (no cynicism here!), but it's just not what a PhD is about. The field you've chosen is also one that requires a good deal of practical work before you're a strong candidate. So I think for now @ZeChocMoose offers you very good advice: get some more practical experience (along with some counseling, I think). Be more flexible in where you live, especially keeping in mind that what you save in transportation costs you may be spending away on rent (the DC area is expensive!). I think you should only apply for a PhD from a place where you're focused and motivated, not drifting into it. I also think you should only be applying if you can accept that it might then be the last stop on this particular train, and you'll have to get off at the end of the PhD road if you can't find work in your profession -- a quite possible eventuality. A PhD makes you eligible for certain jobs, but it makes you overqualified for quite a few others, and it's also time taken away from working and gaining other experience. All of those factors should go into making the decision. Whatever it is, I think this coming cycle should be a time where you look for more practical experience and a stable job, not a time where you should be applying for grad school.
  22. 3 points
    I'm in anthropology, not sociology, but the five profiles (students between second and sixth years, but nobody on the market) I just checked in my department each have less than 20 words in them. For example, Berkeley is a little more terse than my department, but look here: http://anthropology.berkeley.edu/graduate/current-graduate-students. My department breaks those down into separate webpages, but nobody has full sentences about their research. They just list themes and areas of interest, at the "Cultural anthropology. China. Rural. Kinship." level of abstraction. My page doesn't even appear in the first page of google search results for my name, either; I can only find it efficiently by going to the actual department's webpage. What are the profiles of other students in your prospective department like, especially of the students in their coursework years? Is the norm to be way more detailed and emphatic than in anthropology? I ask because I don't understand the source of your resistance to having a webpage at all. I don't want to push you into doing something you don't want to—and I don't read your posts as suggesting there's a safety issue—but it sounds like your resistance is coming from a misunderstanding of something about academia. Specifically, you don't need to be committed to your dissertation project yet: people expect (and even value) evolution. As far as specifics go, I think it would be pretty normal to have the entire contents of your page be your name and the words "Sociology of gender," since it's sounded elsewhere like you're committed to that interest. If your department runs towards wordy profiles and you want to emulate their style while leaving room for change, you could just drop the word "currently" a lot: "I am currently working on sociology of gender. At the moment I am exploring issues of gender and race. My interests right now also include immigration and sexuality." It sounds like that might be too much for you right now, so maybe you can save that strategy for later. Personally, I would advise you to list between one and three interests or fields, like "sociology of gender," in your profile, but I don't feel strongly about it. If it feels right to you not to list any interests just yet, I think you should feel completely free to create a profile with your name and nothing else. If there's no safety issue, take confidence in yourself! List yourself publicly as a student in your department; you are smart and you deserve to own it. I think not having a profile at all might feed your impostor syndrome too much, but I think it should be normal to have a blank-except-for-your-name profile for the first couple years and fill it in later. (I am not "diagnosing" "impostor syndrome" from your posts, but rather working under the assumption that this is a condition shared by literally every graduate student.) These things aren't about your final identity as a scholar, after all. It's about what you're doing now. One way somebody might use a profile that says "Name. Sociology of gender," for example, is a visiting graduate student who's living in town this semester to be with their partner emails you and asks about whether the sociology department is having any talks on gender right now. That's a good person to know! Your interests as they mature three years from now don't help that person this semester: they'll be gone by then. Even if your interests have completely changed three years from now, you might have an interesting conversation this year, and interesting conversations are worth something. Perhaps something might help is to use the word "mature" or "progress" more often. You not being sure of your exact project just yet is a sign of your intellectual openness or your curiosity; it's a virtue. If you want to change your research after your first year, it's not true that "it won't look good at all." If your project or interests change, that's not a sign of your inability to stick with it, or something. It's not only normal, it's a sign that you're learning, that your work is maturing, that you're making intellectual progress. Of course this isn't a magic bullet, but it sounds like you have a lot of negative self-talk going on in your head about your work right now. It might help you to have a positive (and, let me emphasize, true) way of thinking about these things on hand, too.
  23. 3 points

    Life Reeked with Joy

    I can't stop laughing http://archive.wilsonquarterly.com/essays/history-past-life-reeked-joy totally worth a look, fellow historians!
  24. 3 points

    Fall 2018 Applicants

    In my experience, the advisors who push you intellectually are those whose students aren't cookie cutters of themselves. It follows that tailoring your application to fit the exact interests of the advisors you're considering might not be the best idea if your goal is to break new ground in the field. If you applied with any of the topics you listed above, a social/cultural historian of France who studies the period you're interested in (give or take a few decades) will be able to advise you. No one expects that the project you propose in your application will end up being your dissertation topic (though that does happen sometimes). One of the highest compliments I heard a graduate student give about my advisor is that she explicitly seeks out students whose interests "ven diagram" with her own. When I spoke with her, she echoed the sentiment: "I want my students to teach me something. It's boring otherwise." A very high bar to clear, indeed! But personally I'd rather try to get up to that bar than spend my graduate career as a disciple.
  25. 3 points

    Condensing WS vs Giving page numbers to read

    Condense it. I rewrote my 150-page thesis into 25. The point is not the effort, it's the evidence that shows you can do historical analysis and present it in a convincing, relatively professional manner (intro/analysis/conclusion clearly stated, well-articulated paragraphs, well presented source(s) and their analysis, etc). Here less is more. If they say 35 pages, do not submit 50. Just don't.
  26. 3 points

    Starting PhD...in 30s?

    I did exactly this, started my PhD in my mid-30s as a single childless woman in a cohort where most other students are about a decade younger. What helped me the most was going in knowing that my cohort or even my department wouldn't meet all of my social needs. I do sometimes socialize with my cohort because they are nice people and can actually be fun, but after spending so many hours with them each week I really don't desire to hang with them all the time outside of that. I figured being at a large public university I'd be able to connect with grad students in other departments that might be older, so I gave that a whirl. Unfortunately most of the people I came across were still either much younger or just living a completely different life being married with kids. I then chose to take my social life completely off campus and am happy I did. I signed up for every things to do in this city list I could find, picked up all the free local papers, volunteered, and joined meetup groups to force myself to attend a few things each week whether I felt like it or not. I did things I knew I like, tried things I'd never heard of, and gave things I previously felt hohum about another shot. I wouldn't say I have close friends yet and that's ok. But I do have people that when I see them out I can hang with them and it isn't weird or we can and do text each other to exchange invites. The best part is most of the people I've met are not in school so I'm not constantly sucked into school stuff. After having been in the working world I definitely appreciate the variety in my social life and don't want to feel like I can't ever get a break from school. I also head out of town during school breaks to visit family and friends I haven't seen awhile because there is nothing like being surrounded by people who know you well. As for dating, this too I've taken completely off campus because I just don't want that kind of drama in what I consider my workplace. Depending on the type of person (LGBT, other race/ethnicity, specific religion, etc) you wish to date there may be limited choices based on the region of the world your program is in. Also if you wish to date someone your age or older they may have assumptions about grad students that make dating harder such as you must have bad finances, you'll struggle to get a job when you graduate, your degree will take 10 years, you lack direction or something is wrong with you if you're this old and doing this, you don't have time to date, etc. I personally just mention the general industry I'm in until it seems like I may want to get to know a guy better, then he can have more specific details. Otherwise its just like dating when you work full time. Sometimes its fun and other times it really sucks lol.
  27. 3 points

    2018 Applicants

    That's a great way to put it, @klader If you need a peer-ear to bounce ideas off, feel free to holler my way! Congrats, @Keri - that's fantastic news!
  28. 3 points
    I've never seen arbitration of busted friendships go well. Despite the best intentions of the person who is trying to engineer the reconciliation in other people - they usually get sucked into the conflict. I'd use the natural break to go out and find other friends. You don't need to form a new group of BFFs, just folk from your research group/department/campus who you get along well with and do some social stuff together (lunches, coffee etc). It'll make you feel less dependent on this group of individuals. When you all get back on campus start off with low-key social events (lunch on campus rather than a party in someone's apartment). In case something goes wrong it is easier for people to leave, and you won't be stuck for too long in an awkward situation.
  29. 3 points
    Actually, this sounds exactly like a SOP description to me...just in different words. When you really parse what they're asking for, it's the same as what pretty much every program is asking for: why are you interested in what you're interested in, what you plan to do in the future etc. I don't want to be too cavalier about it, since it's your top choice program, but my gut tells me that you'll be fine using your standard SOP format with a few minor tweaks as necessary. I suspect they make a distinction between what they're calling it and a "personal statement," because the latter can sometimes tend toward biographical life story etc. (such as in some programs that ask for both a "personal statement" and a "statement of purpose."). So they want an SOP, not a personal statement (ignoring for the moment the many programs that consider the two documents one and the same... )
  30. 3 points

    Dealing with Self-Doubt

    You're not struggling with self-doubt but with a toxic situation. Some people in your program has systematically worked to destroy your self worth and that isn't right. I too would advise you to seek a therapist to help you handle the emotional fall-out of this situation and help you strengthen your ability to deal with horrible people. Also, can you find any allies outside of your department? Maybe you don't need to tell them about what's going on, but you can build a circle of peers with no affiliation to your field to give you some breathing space.
  31. 3 points

    Programs strong in Marxist study?

    @Mason.Jennings Nancy Fraser is there, who alone makes it worth a while to study theory there in my opinion. They have historically been a critical theory program. Deva Woodly who does Theory + American is really strong up and coming young scholar, I heard her speak several times. Ross Poole teaches Marx there as well (as does Fraser, and a lot of other faculty members incorporate him into their syllabi and their work). Rafi Youatt does some interesting stuff on posthumanism. So people-wise, they are really good. But in the interest of full disclosure, New School is also known for having terrible funding packages. So honestly, unless you have really good savings and are willing to burn through them, I wouldn't recommend going there. CUNY Grad Center might be a better alternative, funding wise, as they have fellowships which are decent (for NY even Columbia's funding sucks, and funding for all PhD programs sucks in general, but that's another matter). CUNY Grad Center has some amazing people, also few top Marx & critical theory people. Corey Robin is arguably the best-known young Marxist in theory, currently writing a book on the political theory of capitalism. Susan Buck-Morss, one of the most famous Frankfurt School theory scholars (together with Benhabib) is also there, from Cornell where she raised an entire generation of critical theorists. Jack Jacobs teaches Marx regularly. Also some other folks, in theory and outside, who'd be very happy to accommodate your research interests. Some other big names that might not be as close to your research interest but are there: Uday Mehta, Carol Gould, and Alyson Cole. Btw, biggest New York city universities (plus Princeton and Rutgers in Jersey, and Stony Brook upstate) have this thing called Inter-University Doctoral Consortium, which is a great. It allows you to take classes at other schools. So going to CUNY Grad for example still doesn't preclude you from studying with Nancy Fraser. That being said, I do think it is important to put a big caveat in front of all this for prospective grads: tenure-track jobs are indeed disappearing and academia is a very precarious endeavor. I'm not one of those people who thinks TT jobs are the only reason you should pursue a PhD, but it is a reality that many people are. So be aware of that. However, when people tell you to "go study Marx elsewhere" and then mention disciplines like Anthropology, Cultural Studies, Comp Lit, or whatever - they aren't really solving anything because: 1) Tenure track jobs are perhaps even harder to come by in these disciplines. It is just the current state of academia, especially humanities (and humanities-like fields such as poli theory). 2) There are broadly two ways of studying & using Marxian theory in poli theory today: history of poli thought (exegesis) or contemporary theory (critical theory of some sort that builds on Marx, but others as well). If you choose the former, then getting a placement will be equally hard as if you were studying Hobbes, or Locke, or Mill, or whomever from the cannon. Also, you will have to connect it with recent literature, other thinkers, find an innovative reading/approach to it, and show its pertinence for current issues. This is no small task. If you choose the latter, there is a bunch of critical theorists (of all stripes and colors) in the US academia (top 10 and below) which you can study with. My overall point being - studying Marx in poli theory today is perfectly fine. The problem is not with Marx as a figure, the problem is in poli theory & similar fields, that are in precarious position with this neoliberalization of higher education. 3) This brings me to my last point here. The issue I have with people telling you not to study Marx "because you won't find a job" is that it most often serves as a tool to homogenize the discipline (or/and they simply don't know much about theory scholarship and scholars, as is the case in this thread, in my opinion). Not everyone wants to do liberal normative political theory that is 'the mainstream' (btw, there are people who approach Marxi and Marxist theory in a normative poli theory tradition as well, which only shows the wealth of approaches to Marx today). People have different aspirations and interests. And once you show people who say that that there are a lot of people working on these 'Other' topics as well, they quickly revert to: "well you won't find a job in theory anyway". So just be mindful that the entire discussion above about Marx (in this case) in political theory today is not really the problem of Marx per say, as you can study him with a lot of scholars in all sort of "top 10" or below programs, but with political theory itself (& academia overall today). If you're ok with that, and accept the risks, rock on buddy - join the struggle
  32. 3 points

    GRE "Splitters"

    Just fair warning, and I learned this the hard way this past year, but you should probably get used to that on here. Just my experience, FWIW. Don't take it personally. It will probably get much, much worse in the 2018 thread as time passes lol.
  33. 3 points

    How the heck do I write a personal statement?

    Is this a personal statement (which usually asks students to discuss their life experience, diversity, etc) or a statement of purpose? Assuming it is the latter, it may be helpful to think of the SOP as a cover letter for a job. No fluff about your childhood dreams, your burning desire to study literature, or a cutesy hook. Instead, be straightforward and professional because SOPs, like cover letters, are formulaic by nature. They start with a declaration of intent that succinctly describes your research and keywords, moves into your literary training and notable accomplishments, explains why your past experience undergirds your present research interests, and aligns your future goals with the strengths of the program under question. The ability to write a compelling narrative account of your research program and scholarly development is an important skill you'll use again and again in grant applications, self-evaluation portfolios, and of course, on the job market. It is the "highlight reel" that, like a good cover letter, convinces the reader they want to know more about the applicant and actually spend the time to peruse the writing sample. Hope this helps. (Note: there may be more flexibility in terms of MA program SOPs - this advice is geared toward PhD program admissions.)
  34. 3 points

    GRE "Splitters"

    I attend a public R1 institution, got 168 V but only 152 Q, and was accepted. At my school, I don't think there are any humanities-wide graduate fellowships for people with high overall GRE scores - everyone I know who got a special fellowship on top of the normal package got it thanks to special status (i.e. first generation college student, ethnic minority) or special history of community service/activism. I was told by the history dept. admissions officer that as long as you didn't totally bomb quant, they didn't really care how well you did on it, all that mattered was high verbal.
  35. 3 points

    Fall 2018 Applicants

    I know next to zilch about Chinese history, but I do know something about Chicago, having applied there last year. Chicago does not have a waitlist, so if you are unable to convince your POI that you will come if you are admitted, your chances of being admitted drop. When my POI asked me if Chicago was my top choice, I said, "one of my top choices." Later – after I'd been offered a funded masters instead of the PhD – she told me that the admissions committee didn't want to take the risk of admitting me, as they believed I had a good chance of accepting an offer from another program.
  36. 3 points

    Fall 2018 Applicants

    Actually, I am at Ohio State and I should correct some of your information, @telkanuru and give @VAZ an opportunity to consider. Our teaching load is actually lower than most of our peer programs. Teaching one's own course is optional but one gets paid the same as a TA in the same stage of the program. Students who claimed that they "had"/"were required" to teach their own courses are making victims of themselves. They tend to be those who just want to teach after finishing (not go to a research institution but to teach 4 courses/semester). They also prefer not to be working for a professor as a TA (i.e. they don't really want to be told how to teach but just try for themselves). In any event, the department chair recently instituted maximum of 2 semesters of Instructor of Record to help students focus on their dissertations and finish (students can get more if there's a real need for a particular course but that's not even guaranteed). That stipulation has worked to move people along in the past year. It is true that you do not need to teach so much in graduate school. Your job is to prove yourself as a scholar first and that means researching and publishing (and applying for monies). Also, undergrad demand has fallen (due to external economic pressures, it's not news) so a TA can be grading anywhere between 35 and 70 students. So if one gets luck with a small grading load, it's not all that bad. Most of our professors are very reasonable "bosses" and are mindful of students' need to complete coursework and dissertation. Finally, about the placement record. Our program does better with teaching institutions because of our strength in teaching. Also certain fields perform much better than others (European, African American, Asian, and Ottoman do the best) because of variable opportunities existing in those fields (top-notch professors, multiple funding opportunities). It is possible to get a job at a research institution if you can package your PhD program around research like peers at Michigan if you focus on being a TA and applying for tons of research grants/fellowships. Because of the department's longstanding connections to DC, we also place our graduates in the that area with comfortably salaries. Our placement rate is excellent because of the diverse paths that our graduates have taken. For academic jobs, it's honestly no better than most programs (roughly 50% overall). I should also point out that we have very generous summer funding which one applies for each year. Without a car, our living stipend is quite reasonable for Columbus. I'm happy to discuss details via PM.
  37. 3 points


    My unsolicited advice for people applying in comparative: Definitely apply to a couple boutique programs (top 20 programs preferably, but perhaps top 30ish as well, that are strong in your area/interests) but definitely target the top 10 departments. As long as you have good area training coming in and are competitive against top applicants, a top 10 department with potentially less of a fit is more ideal than a really good fit at a lower ranked department. You do not need a large number of people working closely on your area and/or interests to make it work. You never know what will happen, might as well try to bat for the fences. So for the OP, apply to some places like Indiana and Wisconsin, but you should really be shooting for places like Stanford, Michigan, Yale, and Columbia if you are competitive enough to have a shot there.
  38. 3 points

    Writing a new writing sample

    Everything written so far is fantastic advice - I just want drop a quick line in case my experiences can further help you, @lit_nerd. I'm assuming you're applying to both PhDs and MAs (if I'm wrong, I apologize) - as others here have noted, the PhDs are going to want to see a dialogue between the two, but (from my lived experience) MA programs are less concerned with seeing a nuanced and rich dialogue between a powerful SOP and WS than with seeing two (perhaps not totally connected) pieces of writing that are strong and interesting and demonstrative of your growth potential. Case in point, I submitted for my 1st round of apps a WS on Joyce and psychoanalysis (weird paper) and a SOP that was vague everywhere except in its dogged love for the unfashionable field of literary trauma studies (even weirder than the WS), and I was accepted to two MA programs. While my materials didn't speak to one another in any sort of direct way and weren't strong enough to get me into a PhD, they did get me a step closer. And there's nothing wrong with taking the MA as time to continue growing - I'm so, so, so glad I did, and I can recommend a fully-funded MA program to look at (if you're interested.) I believe, too, that someone here (I'm sorry I can't recall who said this) suggested that if you REALLY love this WS you're submitting, you shape you SOP around it. I think that is a idea well-worth considering. If you know you can write intelligently and easily on a certain topic, it's sort of pragmatic to "pick" that topic to spend 5-7 years working on. I am not suggesting, of course, that you pick a topic that's not actually what you love. I'm more trying to say that, as a PhD, you'll be able to work with all the professors in the department (probably), freely apply to whatever conferences catch your eye, and shape your studies in a way that works for you. Thus, provided you speak a little toward your multiple areas of interest, you can perhaps make the bridge between these two areas during your studies (as opposed to within your application materials) - however, I'm not a PhD, so others here will know more about exactly how much wiggle room you'll have upon arrival. Finally, I think somewhere on here the question of submitting multiple papers appeared - my only advice for that is, if you do it, alert your LWs and make sure they know what paper is going where. One of my previous LWs spoke about my WS in her recommendation and I'm guessing other profs do that, too. It'd be super awkward to have a LOR bragging about Paper A when you submitted Paper B (I'm sure you've already thought this out, but I had to say it.) Finally, finally - there is a safety to sticking with a paper that someone else has seen (perhaps multiple times) - you might have more room to get more nuance, simply because you've been able to step away and come back more than you would with a brand new sample.
  39. 3 points
    I wouldn't dismiss concerns about departmental rigor as mere undergrad complaining. When it comes to grad school acceptance, unless the person whose advice you are soliciting has the power to accept or deny your application to a program, what they can give you is just an opinion, and some opinions are certainly more informed than others. It's fair to assume that a professor at a top PhD-granting program knows the profile of a typical admitted student and can give you an accurate assessment, even if you're not applying to their program specifically; the further you get from "top PhD-granting program", the less that assumption holds. Professors at top SLACs may have excellent standing in the discipline and may regularly send their undergrads to these coveted programs, but they don't have recent first-hand experience of admitting PhD students. They don't know what the competition is like. At the majority of US institutions, which may send an undergrad to a top PhD once every decade, if at all, professors have even less experience. You can't expect them to cogently reason from a sample of one. This is not to say that OP shouldn't apply to the T20 (they should if they want an academic job). That's to say that it is possible that OP's professors *don't* know how competitive they are. As for the thesis, that is another valid concern. Few schools have enough strong faculty to supervise the great variety of dissertation topics that students come up with. That is, a professor can monitor that the research is done properly, the argument is cogent, and similar technical things, but if they're not a subject matter expert, they're not going to know whether you raised questions that are compelling in the context of the literature, not least because they can't evaluate if you surveyed the literature properly. The only thing I wouldn't worry about is discussion-heavy classes and OP's (implied) disdain for those of their classmates that they perceive as not having done enough work. Lower and intermediate level classes may have a heavy lecture component, but upper-level stuff (seminars) is almost always done in a discussion format, at all schools I am familiar with, because its major goal is to teach you to do your own research and construct your own arguments (the difference, I assume, being that, at stronger programs, the goal is to assess your ability to do research and construct arguments, as you will have been doing that in your lower-level classes already), and because it's assumed that you're mature enough to have more control over your learning. This is the crucial part. The reality is, you can scrape by in any major, at any school. If you're content doing the minimum to stay afloat, you shouldn't be going to grad school. If you feel that you haven't been challenged, find ways to challenge yourself. Try to get someone who is an expert in your specific area to take a look at your diss (it's a longshot, sure...). They'll be able to tell you if it's good work content-wise.
  40. 3 points

    Mid-Tier Social Psychology PhD Programs

    Hey there! I know this isn't necessarily related, but I just wanted to reach out. I'm about to be a second year master's student at Villanova, and given your interests, I would say definitely submit an application there. We have not one, but two social psychology faculty members who are very personable and look at romantic relationships. Furthermore, they do a lot of work online (such as dating profile work) so it could be feasible to look at online interactions as well. While your GPA is a bit low for most Ph.Ds, work in a master's program will show you have what it takes academically while giving you additional research experience to set you apart from the competition. Best of luck!
  41. 3 points

    2018 Applicants

    I'm not sure why I'm about to offer advice for applying because I felt anxious and stressed the entire time; however, I hope it makes a few of you feel better about where you are in your application processes. I am the epitome of a type-A personality, and I thought I was nearly prepared to submit my applications by the beginning of August. I couldn't have been more wrong. I finalized my SOP in October and my writing sample (a paper that I had written for a graduate course my first semester) wasn't complete until maybe a day before submitting my first application on December 1. My dear, dear advisor and I tore my paper apart for almost two months. In fact, I think I went through approximately seven rounds of thorough edits and avfew in between. Basically, don't be too hard on yourselves about where you are with your applications because you probably should go through many rounds of revisions. These things often take more time than we expect. I gave myself a lenient date to complete everything in October, and I still wasn't done until a month later. Woe is life. Best of luck to you all! I'm sending good vibes your ways.
  42. 3 points

    Over-educated and Unhappy

    I don't doubt that you're capable of doing PhD-level work, but from your writing it doesn't sound like a PhD is a good career move for you right now. I think you are much too focused on the joy that a doctoral program will bring you, and I doubt that any program could measure up. Grad school doesn't generate instant happiness, and neither does a job as a university professor. I think it's important to be realistic and realize that getting such a job is incredibly difficult. For someone who's been drifting and has done three masters degrees, I think it's a concern. I didn't read anything in your post that convinced me that you should actually do a PhD. You don't sound focused on a particular field or question; instead, you're attracted to a mystical perfect job post-PhD that doesn't exist. It's important to realize that a PhD is a long and difficult road, and that the majority of people who go into it will not get a job as a professor. Don't go into it only to get that outcome, because it's just not realistic. I think instead it might be a good idea to do two things. One is get help improving your mental health. The other is try to think about career goals, broadening your sights beyond academia.
  43. 3 points
    Okay, I'll voice the possibly less popular opinion. Your responsibility is to yourself. You don't have to stay with him and you are not responsible for getting him better or for educating him. You need to take care of yourself. If you do decide you want to try and stay, I think it's of utmost importance to get support from others. Can you involve his family? friends? do you have a support system around you to take care of you, if you need it? If he wasn't always like this, something must have triggered this, and maybe you can help him through it. Whatever it is, though, you shouldn't do it alone, and you shouldn't let him take it out on you. This sounds like a situation that requires professional help. I know that posting here was probably already hard enough, so maybe the next step is for you to find counseling on your own, maybe through your school, before you think about talking to him. Figure out your resources and support network, then come up with a plan to confront him. I hope that there is no fear of physical violence, but if there is, let me repeat again: your responsibility is to yourself first. Make sure that you are safe, and take care of yourself, both physically and mentally. If that means you need to leave him, I think that's totally understandable and no one from the outside can judge. And if you choose to stay and try and fix it, again I hope that no one will judge and that you can find the help you need.
  44. 3 points

    How to narrow field of interest?

    Serious question: if you don't know what kind of history you're interested in studying, why are you applying to grad school to study history? Sounds to me like it might be useful to take some time off, have some other experiences outside school, and apply to grad school when you have a clearer sense of what you want to do.
  45. 2 points
    Not within cohort, but my department had similar events play out to both of those. And other related drama. Some fist fights. One person leaving the country after a love triangle that resulted in (presumably) death threats from a gang in the home country. Throw a bunch of people in their early to mid twenties together for way too much time in way too much proximity, and everyone is more aware of issues in each others lives. It doesn't mean more drama happens in grad school, the news just spreads more quickly. In several of the incidents I mentioned, it put me on the spot between two friends. One fight in particular, I was quite close to both of the people involved. Same with several breakups. Other friends were in similar positions. What I found got most of us through it was the realization that the entire program couldn't fall apart due to these divisions. So people not involved could still get together, and still talk. There were also times to have frank conversations- i.e., sit down and talk to some combination of A, B and C and tell them they need to grow up. They can't make everyone else miserable. Sometimes we have to be around people we don't like, sometimes we have to tone down how we act to make it more tolerable for other people. Heck, I've even gone so far as to tell people that I'm not choosing sides, but that I'm happy to alternate which person I invite to things to minimize friction But one key to me is how the rest of you act. You say the cohort had 10 people- that means there are 5 of you that are not directly involved in either set of drama. That's still a good group, if you can keep it together.
  46. 2 points
    Murtaza Talpur

    World Bank Scholarship Applicants - 2017

    Hi everyone. Anyone received good news from JJWBGSP. its too much waiting now...
  47. 2 points

    Choice of Specialization

    Just to help ease your fears a bit more - my undergraduate concentration was Pre-1800s & African-American Literature (strange combination, but I made it work somehow), and I've completely pivoted to Comic Studies at this point. Change happens and that's perfectly OK~
  48. 2 points

    Upcoming Semester

    Everyone else has given good advice so far. just to add to it, I'd say break up the Holocaust into categories which might interest you and i'll give you some questions to maybe help get your thinking. This is how i did it before i took comps last year: 1: The Evolution of the Holocaust: How have the terms and approaches that historians use to understand the Holocaust changed over time? How did the Holocaust evolve from discrimination to persecution to state-sponsored genocide? What was the relationship between Hitler to the governmental bureaucracy and its bearing on the evolution of the Holocaust? This category is still pretty big, but like everyone said, read, read, and read. I'd highly recommend Saul Friedlander Nazi Germany and the Jews: The Years of Persecution, 1933–1939 and The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945 which are both phenomenally detailed for being surveys. 2. Motivations/ Complicity for the Holocaust: Who were the executioners? What motivated them to undertake such radical actions and how were they able to carry out these atrocities? In this category you can take sides in the historiographical debates. The intentionalists like Gerlach and Goldhagen (who's pretty controversial, but essential to read in my opinion). The functionalists like Browning and Schleunes. Definitely read the Willing Executioners/ Ordinary Men debate which is available on the USHMM website. Ian Kershaw's "working towards the Führer" thesis is very convincing as well, he takes the best of both sides and i'd highly recommend reading Hitler, the Germans, and the Final Solution, it's a big book as well, but he broke it into 4 parts, if you just read the 1st part that would be very beneficial for you. As for complicity, Jan Gross, Patrick Debois, and Tim Snyder all have great arguments in their books. For example, one quote that really stuck out to me from Gross' Neighbors was something like: "One day in the summer of 1941 half of the population of the small Eastern European town of Jedwabne, Poland murdered the other half" 3. The Holocaust in the East: How do the experiences in the East change our understanding of the Holocaust? Which assumptions about the Holocaust are challenged by the experiences in the East? Jan Gross, Patrick Debois, and Tim Snyder are all great candidates for this section too. I know when i started out being interested in Germany and the Holocaust, i really didn't know anything about the Holocaust in the East, Father Patrick Debois called in The Holocaust by Bullets. Another fascinating quote to ponder in his book is something like "More than 1.5 million Jews had already been murdered before the gas chambers at Auschwitz were even conceived of". You can use this to think about the Einsatzgruppen death squads, local collaborators (think the Ukrainian police at Babi Yar -- in 2 days some 33,000 Jews were murdered mostly by local police groups, not by the SS). Gender and the Holocaust: How does a gendered perspective add to our understanding of the Holocaust? How did Nazi persecution (both for victims and perpetrators) differ between women and men? In this category you could think about Marion Kaplan's Between Dignity and Despair, Claudia Koonz Mothers in the Fatherland, and a great new one i just picked up in Wendy Lower Hitler's Furies. Some more questions to help get you thinking (these are really similar to the comps questions that i wrote about last April): 1) How do we understand the conditions that were present in Germany which allowed for the rise of Nazism in 1933? Which of these conditions were most significant? How did antisemitism in Germany evolve into persecution and eventually lead to genocide? Daniel Goldhagen suggests deep-rooted “eliminationist antisemitism” inculcated ordinary Germans with a primal hatred for the Jewish people — Is innate bloodlust a satisfactory answer to why the Holocaust occurred? Or is obedience to authority, conformity, and peer pressure the reason for the atrocities as Christopher Browning proposes? 2) How do the differing perspectives presented in the historiography help define the Holocaust? Was the Holocaust a predetermined master plan of Hitler’s as intentionalists argue or did the initiative come from below with German bureaucrats as funcionalists argue; Or is Ian Kershaw’s argument of “working towards the Führer” the best way to understand why the Holocaust occurred because it includes the best attributes and circumvents the weaknesses of both intentionalist and functionalist arguments? Was the German Sonderweg a prerequisite for the Holocaust? How does the involvement of Poles, Ukrainians, and other non-Germans in the East complicate the Sonderweg thesis? How does the study of gender change or alter our understanding of the Holocaust? 3) How do recent revelations about the implementation of the Holocaust in Eastern Europe change our understanding of the Holocaust? In particular, how does this new historiography change our assumptions about, for example, the relationship between World War II to the Holocaust, the motivations of killers, and the breadth of complicity? Is it possible to reconcile these findings with earlier ones about Nazi Germany? If i was just rambling, i apologize, but i love discussing the Holocaust and i really hope this helps you in some way. I know you need to narrow down your idea, and i think a good way to do that would be to break the Holocaust into categories like this. Good luck!
  49. 2 points

    Leading Discussions as a New TA

    1) you've got to get comfortable with silence. at a certain point the students will speak up because they find the silence awkward, even if they don't have very much to say; other students have plenty to say but they need time to formulate their thoughts first. when you pose a question to the students, count backwards from 10/15/30 in your head, depending on how much time you think they need. usually someone will say something before you hit zero. a lot of folks get nervous and just start blabbing to fill the time, or they answer their own discussion questions before the students have a chance to try them out. 2) you also can't control whether or not students do the reading. if you get to class and discover that no one's done the reading, honestly there's nothing wrong with just giving them 15 minutes to do the reading right then — I'm pretty up front with my students, like, "if you didn't do the reading, tell me so we can do it now, and have a shorter but more valuable discussion," etc. I'd just give them the 15 minutes of reading time over shuffling through some zombie-fied discussion over a text no one read. but the main reason why students don't do the reading is that they are busy and pressed for time, and if they think they can get away without doing the reading, then they won't. they have a million demands on their time, and they're going to prioritize what has to get done to get by. so while you can't control what the students do in their spare time, what you can do is make doing the reading a worthwhile exercise. I don't like graded pop quizzes because they seem rather punitive, but I do sometimes ask students to jot down their thoughts at the beginning of class, or come to class with a discussion question prepared. you can then have them turn it in for a check/check plus/check minus grade, where the students can feel like their contributions are being noted but they're not being punished, either. again I like to be up front: our discussions will be less painful and more valuable to you if you at least make an attempt at the reading. my personal ninja trick is to very obviously take attendance and take notes during discussion — makes the students feel like I'm noticing their contributions and "counting" their participation, even though I never calculate participation grades by tallying up "well, you spoke up 2 times on Monday and 3 times on Tuesday." 3) students will hassle you about grades. this is a known fact. where we usually grade starting at 0 and assign points upwards, students look at their grades as starting at 100 and losing points downwards. you give a student an 85 because you think it's a B paper; the student thinks that they lost 15 points and what they will want you to do is account for every single one. they'll do this on dumb assignments, too. I had a student send me 4 paragraphs of vitriol because he got an 8/10 on a reading response paper. don't get pulled into this. do NOT let them put you on the defensive. they'll try to corner you after class; firmly re-direct them to office hours. they'll ask stuff like "but why did I lose 10 points for this"; turn the question around and ask them why they think they could have lost 10 points or what they could have included. if you look at the grade and think that you maybe made a mistake in grading and they deserve more points (it happens) NEVER change the grade on the spot. tell them that you'll consider it and consult with the professor in charge. depending on the professor you may actually want to consult with the professor in charge! the first professor I TA'ed for gave me this advice, and it's exactly right.
  50. 2 points

    Leading Discussions as a New TA

    Hi! I've just finished my first semester as a TA and I've learned quite a lot (mainly that's because I screwed up a lot...but we won't talk about that! ) Something that was especially difficult for me was getting the kids to do all the reading. I'd prepare discussion questions, arrive for section and have about 12 kids staring at me for 50 minutes. A few contributed often, but it was far from the majority. Two things really helped me with this. First, I would often pose questions to the section as a whole, then break them up into groups of three or four to discuss them amongst each other for about 10-15 minutes, then have everyone come together and go over what they talked about. This was something that was done in one of my seminars and I really liked it. Also towards the end of the semester, I started assigning groups a different paper to read and it was their job to present it to the section and create questions for discussion. The students really liked this because, while their reading load was lessened (albeit temporarily) for the week, it forced them to actively engage with the article more than they would have otherwise. Finally, I did this exercise I found online where the students had to create pictoral metaphors about one of the papers they read as a way to remember the main points of the article. They also seemed to really like that. Best of luck!