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About VMcJ

  • Rank

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Location
  • Application Season
    2017 Fall
  • Program
    Political Science (Comparative, LatAm)

Recent Profile Visitors

1,187 profile views
  1. Congratulations! To where are you going? I've been excited/anxious for some time now. Work keeps me kind of occupied, but I catch myself thinking about next August at least once every hour.
  2. I received my rejection last Friday.
  3. Hello, everyone. I'm going to OSU next autumn! Bumping this thread to ask how things are in Columbus by now. No major changes, I guess? Is it possible to find affordable and safe housing or there will be some compromising? (I've been looking into rentals and the vicinity of Indianola Ave seems to be dangerous but cheaper -- while Clintonville and Grandview are nice but tend to be above my price range) And affordable places to eat, are there any or am I stuck with fast-food and cooking at home? (OSU's meal plans are definitely not attractive and restaurants do not seem to be an everyday solution)
  4. Well, for international applicants like myself it is usually easy -- we tend to study our own regions. But I'd think more in terms of research issues instead of regions if I was American.
  5. Today I decided for OSU. I hope this means somebody can get good news from the other programs that accepted me. Still have to hear definitively from Notre Dame, but to assume rejection at this point is better.
  6. I really hope to get gigs like those, but I really don't know how hard it will be to get them. You have to pursue them very actively, I think, and to find them may be more time consuming then effectively doing them, am I right?
  7. @polyscinoob, your graph is very interesting as we can see clearly four tiers: Top 6, Top 20, Top 50, and everyone else, give or take a few. Or "those with more fives than fours", "those with more fours than threes" and so forth.
  8. Here are the US News Rankings in 1995, 2001, 2005, 2009 and 2013 for Political Science (p.13) for Top 20 and some other programs. ( http://web.mit.edu/ir/rankings/USNews_Grad_Rankings_1994-2016.pdf ) As you can notice, in two decades: - Harvard was always 1st; - Princeton worked its way to the Top 3, while Columbia did it to the Top 10 and NYU to the Top 15; - Chicago, as @Comparativist noted, dropped from Top 5 and now is Top 15; - MIT and Duke are very stable in their places as "Top-10-but-too-close-to-15"; - Wisconsin, Rochester and Minnesota have been falling for a while.
  9. Another Brazilian here, and my results are almost identical to @TheWalkingGrad's: eight rejections last cycle, five offers this time around. I'll try to answer point by point, but keep in mind I mostly agree with TheWalkingGrad's assessment and I'm trying to add to what s/he said. 1) It is more difficult, certainly, but not impossible. I studied at USP, but my undergrad was Language Studies and my Master's was Literary Theory, so it was a little more difficult than if I had a social sciences profile. My undergrad GPA was not stellar also. Strong letters of recommendation and focusing on my little, although significant, research experience in the field were vital to overcome this. Two of my recommenders studied in the US, and it certainly helped. 2) Age may be a problem, but you need to frame it as a bonus. For example, you're not likely to take a long time graduating and you are certainly more responsible than the average undergrad. 3) Again, you need to frame your experience as a bonus as well. If it involved research in any way, present it in that light. You need to make the admissions committee sure that you're going to enter the program knowing what is expected from PoliSci research and how to get there. 4) My first approach was in Political Theory and it wasn't a very good one. No wonder I got rejections. Additionally, it is difficult as hell to place theorists. To present your qualitative work is fine, but you need to show you're ready to take all quants and to eventually conduct quantitative research when/if needed. One way to do it is by having a strong GRE Q, another is to have quantitative research experience. I did both and it paid off well (at least two of my offers are from schools that relied on my potential quant skills when selecting me). I don't know about a MA or a MPP; it could be a good strategy for your career. I did not consider it, but I realize some people may get more from it than me. You should definitely consider, provided there's funding for it. On applying only to the tops: it was my thought as well the first time, and I tried some this cycle as well, without success. But I genuinely think the majority of Top 50 schools have more to offer in almost every way than the best in Brazil. And I heard similar thoughts from faculty on several of those best Brazilian programs. To be fair, I wouldn't trade any of my offers with USP (although, full disclosure, I failed to get into USP last year as well. Yeah, 2016 was not a good year for me). It is a very good program, but the center of PoliSci is the United States and the training (especially quantitative) is without comparison. So I think you should reconsider some schools between Top11 and Top50, especially if they have a history in selecting Brazilians and Latin Americans (something all my five offers have in common and most of my other tries have as well).
  10. I think it only makes a real difference if you're comparing Top10s. E.g. Stanford is better than Yale overall but inferior in PT. And speaking of Notre Dame, I'd like to wrap things up with them and Maryland, but apparently I'll need to write to get that.
  11. I'd be more skeptic even about a MPP or MPA. For political activism, especially in a non-developed country, the best to do is to get a law degree and do lots of community work. It will pay off way better than building a fancy theory on how the State functions, for example.
  12. I still have to hear of my rejections from Notre Dame and Maryland, and would like to hear within this week. Nothing like being 100% sure.
  13. PROFILE: Type of Undergrad Institution: A relatively well-known international university Major(s)/Minor(s): Language Studies/Literature Undergrad GPA: 3.2 [our grading method is very different and it does not translate well] Type of Grad: Master’s Degree in Literary Theory at the same undergrad institution Grad GPA: 4.0 GRE: V162, Q168, AW4.5 Any Special Courses: Some PoliSci graduate courses, but as a non-enrolled student Letters of Recommendation: three professors in the same undergrad institution, all PoliSci and tenured, one relatively well-known Research Experience: research assistantship (publicly funded) to one of my recommenders since last August Teaching Experience: none Subfield/Research Interests: Comparative Politics; federalism in Latin America, political economy and institutions Other: made my writing sample specifically for applications (a literature review on my research topic with ideas for future investigations) RESULTS: Acceptances($$ or no $$): Ohio State ($$), UT-Austin ($$), Texas A&M ($$), Rice ($$) and Pittsburgh ($$) Waitlists: Rejections: Michigan, Duke, UCSD, UNC, Rochester, Penn, Vanderbilt Pending: Notre Dame, Maryland (assuming rejections) Going to: Still didn’t 100% decide, will update this when it is settled LESSONS LEARNED: Where do I start? First, this cycle was a big win. I expected to get into 1-3 schools, but got into five and all of them funded. Second, after last cycle when I was rejected by eight programs, this was a make-it-or-break-it cycle, and I am glad everything worked out for me. I already talked elsewhere about vital changes in my profile (http://forum.thegradcafe.com/topic/83588-welcome-to-the-2016-17-cycle/?do=findComment&comment=1058439407) I think I can stress some points that I thought were important for my successes and failures, avoiding to repeat what already has been said on this thread: 1. FIT: you definitely should not try at random. Never, never take prestige as a sign of fit. I would love to go to many places that have little to nothing to do with what I intend to research, and I find myself very flexible between theoretical and methodological approaches. However, on applications you absolutely NEED to provide good signals. And nothing signals better than making the right pitch to the right professors. This will get you out of trouble with your best shots and help in making a breakthrough to your long shots. One thing you need to understand is fit can have many forms (regions of interest, methods, topics, etc.), and you should not stick to only one when deciding which schools you are going to send an application. Try to think of fit as both a way to narrow your options and to potentially expand your research horizons. 2. WHOLE PROFILE: as you can see above, I was not originally from social sciences and my grades in undergrad are not stellar. Knowing this, I made all that I could to signal how I am or will be able to conduct research at the highest level possible. I RA’d in a PoliSci project connected to my research, tailor-made my writing sample, made a point about how my background was connected to research on politics, etc. The trick here is to convey all your strengths in a way your weaknesses are perceived as minor giving the whole of your profile. It was not enough for Top 10 in my case, and I think my undergrad GPA was critical on that. But I still got a number of very good choices and probably could have got more with some more luck. 3. PROGRAMS’ RESEARCH: do lots of research on your potential programs. Lots of it. Bury yourself on it. I did not do this sufficiently, and this is probably the reason I got some hurtful rejections and was for a while incapable of deciding to which universities I should apply. You need to be able to envision yourself as part of that team and how you plan to take advantage of everything those programs have to offer. That way you will know exactly what to ask when you get an admission, but more importantly, you will know if that program is right for you BEFORE you apply. This elevates your chances of success ten-fold. One of the programs that rejected me appeared to be a great choice beforehand, but now I see I was a fool for even applying, and that was AFTER a good deal of research. On the other hand, one of the programs that accepted me clearly understood what I was intending if I were to be accepted, otherwise they would not have offered me anything (I know this is true for every one of them, but some fits are more obvious than others, as I am sure you know). 4. THIS FORUM: GradCafe is great for some things, but is useless for a number of them as well. It is good to have advice from strangers and to talk daily about issues that most people in your life simply do not get at all. Being able to count on that cannot be underrated in any way, especially during times of great stress. That being said, this forum is great in advice on how to handle the process of applying, but it is not its purpose to guide it academically, per se. It is odd, although it is expected, that in almost two years visiting and posting I almost never saw discussions on PoliSci topics here. We are mostly occupied with applying and waiting and evaluating offers, etc., and there is little to no debate here about the discipline and its investigational issues. Let me stress again that this is expected and I would not be comfortable debating my research issues here. But it is important that anyone who reads this understand that your application is about your academic credentials to conduct research on Political Science. We can say that you should improve your GRE scores or that you should get a way to RA, but in the end, we cannot provide really good advice on how you present you and your research as a would-be PoliSci scholar. Therefore, you should ALWAYS consult with closer-to-you people, particularly your recommenders. That is valid for almost every aspect of your applications, and remember to do that constantly. SOP: Let me put it this way: I remodeled my basic SoP after sending it to UCSD. My first version was worse, I think, but it got me into Ohio and Austin. There is some noise on the whole process, and you can never be sure. My basic SoP followed the format of other ones cited here, and I would be happy to provide you a highly redacted version of it if contacted, but I do not think it will be that much help. Feel free to PM me if you think you need advice, especially if you are Brazilian (I may be able to help more in this case).
  14. @_Dreamer_, you should check the Canadian PhD Programs thread, there might be more information there:
  15. 1. Yes. You should try and get your verbal score to the 160s. You're going to be exempt from the TOEFL, so you can dedicate more energy to it. My first simulated test got me at 156 on both parts. Eventually, I got V162 Q168 at my first attempt, but only because I studied considerably for a couple of months. Verbal questions are usually a pain in the ass, but you shouldn't let that drag you. And make sure your Analytical Writing is not awful (4.0 minimum). 2. I'll let other people suggest programs, as I am not familiar with that particular literature. But you should, if you didn't already, consider also your subfield. From what you said it could be Comparative, or IR with a behavioral dent, etc. Sometimes your best fit is where your probable future theoretical approaches are, not particular subjects or topics. That being said, take a look at the Comparative and IR faculty in the Top 20 programs to get an idea. 3. You should be fine. My file is worse at some counts (really lower GPA from an international university) and I got three Top 30 offers. If you do everything very well, particularly SoPs and get around your GRE problem, you should get into the right Top 20 programs and maybe even Top 10.