Welcome to the GradCafe

Hello!  Welcome to The GradCafe Forums.You're welcome to look around the forums and view posts.  However, like most online communities you must register before you can create your own posts.  This is a simple, free process that requires minimal information. Benefits of membership:

  • Participate in discussions
  • Subscribe to topics and forums to get automatic updates
  • Search forums
  • Removes some advertisements (including this one!)

Bumblebea

Members
  • Content count

    79
  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won

    4

Bumblebea last won the day on December 14 2016

Bumblebea had the most liked content!

About Bumblebea

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Application Season
    Not Applicable
  • Program
    Visiting Assistant Professor
  1. As someone not only on the other side of the process but also on the other side of a degree, I want to say that grad school was absolutely the most rewarding thing I've ever done in my life. I loved getting my PhD. And the farther along I got in my degree, the more I actually enjoyed grad school. (Most people who gripe talk about really enjoying coursework and hating their dissertation--I was the exact opposite.) Grad school is definitely not for everyone, but I also got annoyed by people who were constant Debbie Downers about the entire thing. For me it was really worth it, no regrets. Even though I haven't gotten a TT job yet, I still don't regret it. Seriously just ignore those people.
  2. I agree with this. The rankings are, in part, a reflection of a hierarchical system that already exists. I don't think anyone on a hiring committee actually consults them before making decisions. I don't think any professional in the field worth his or her salt really gives them much thought or takes them seriously. However, the rankings are also a self-perpetuating truism and they become a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. Berkeley remains the best because everyone assumes that Berkeley is the best. Is it really "the best"? In some things, probably. In other things, absolutely not. My bigger problem with the rankings, though, is the fact that they continue to be published year after year, and they rely on extremely sloppy methodology. They come from a survey distributed to DGSs and department chairs, and only 14% of those surveyed actually respond. I'm guessing that few of us would pick a hospital to have an experimental lifesaving treatment on the basis of rankings where only 14% of those surveyed responded. No--we'd go ask other professionals and seek out additional information. For English grad school, the stakes obviously aren't as high ... but IMO, it's absolutely irresponsible and maybe unethical that USNWR continues to recycle this lousy survey year after year after year and pretend that it represents anything other than a small number of people bothering to respond. And the rankings do matter, to some extent. Even though most professors and academics probably don't take them seriously, they're still out there. They determine which programs people apply to in greater numbers, and larger applicant pools translate into more competitive cohorts. Today's grad students are tomorrow's professors. I was a grad hopeful almost 10 years ago, and many of the people with whom I went through the process are now professors in a position to admit grad students or participate in a hiring process. Many of these people ten years ago believed that one's professional life would be forever determined by where one got into grad school. The process often "worked" for them, so they were eager to internalize those successes and attribute them to hard work and ability. I'm guessing--well, actually I know--that many of them still hold fast to the belief that programs are self-sorting and that certain jobs are appropriate only for people who went to certain schools. These beliefs don't go away simply because you become more educated. They tend to solidify and manifest in things like confirmation bias. So, I disagree that the rankings are democratizing. I think they're a natural thing--we all want to know where we fall in the hierarchy. But I also think that designing a much more comprehensive ranking system wouldn't be that difficult. Would it still suffer from problems of confirmation bias and perceived prestige? Of course. But it also might get at the nitty-gritty differences between programs in a way that would be more material than speculative. And the fact that no one has pursued this kind of survey is interesting indeed (to me, at least). I believe that there are a lot of people out there who still benefit from the status quo and don't really want a more democratic leveling of graduate programs.
  3. Not very. They're seven years old (I can't emphasize how much has changed on the job market since 2010) and the data were compiled even earlier than 2010, so they're probably more like 10 or 12 years old. And I can't really remember this very well, but I believe that when they came out there were a lot of questions surrounding their methodology. Like, it's not clear how job placements were even factored into their ranking system.
  4. That's not what anyone said, though. But it's always good advice to be respectful and polite in these situations, especially if you're dealing with administrative assistants and people who have many other things to do on any given day besides answer emails.
  5. You can definitely email them to ask when you will know. I wouldn't recommend emailing them to know "the answer." They probably aren't equipped to give you the answer right now, and asking them straight out for the answer might come across as pushy or demanding. I will say that MA acceptances tend to be later than PhD acceptances, so it's not necessarily weird to have heard nothing by mid-March. In an email, you might want to just say that you're currently weighing offers to other programs (I personally wouldn't mention where) and would like to know an approximate date when you can expect to get an answer from their program. Just short and polite like that.
  6. I wouldn't put too much stock in it, for all the reasons we've just enumerated. And Claremont's program is inexplicably ranked in the top 50. What the hell.
  7. I don't know if I would be as cynical as this faculty member ... I have seen people produce many high-quality articles in well-regarded journals. But I do think that people like this are rare. And I also think that it's not the best move professionally because the monograph is the ultimate way to get ahead. Publishing eight journal articles is not going to get you as far ahead as publishing two articles and generating interest in your book project. And I don't mean to imply anything about the professor who said that, but I've often seen the "it's probably not quality scholarship" dig made out of envy. In my experience, the accusation is leveled by people at higher-ranked programs against people from lower-ranked programs. People from less elite programs are many times in a bind--they have to publish more just to get their name on the map, but then they're accused of publishing *too much* or giving the milk away for free or something. It exemplifies a lot about what's wrong with academia--you're told to work really hard but not look like you're working *too hard* or something. It really does. I had a really high teaching load during grad school and was finally able to write and submit an article between year four and five--when I got the summer off from teaching.
  8. I would urge you to look at the total picture regarding the graduate students. See if you can info about how many are publishing peer reviewed articles on the whole. I tell you this because every program has That Person. That Person exists in every department from Texas Tech to UC-Riverside to Buffalo to Yale to Stanford, and they're rarely representative of grad students in general. There is also good reason for "holding back" on publication, and this is something that many dissertation chairs and advisors advocate. You don't want to publish too much out of your dissertation because doing so could hurt its chances of getting published as a book. I was also told as a grad student not to publish too much before getting a TT job because everything I published before getting a job would not work toward my tenure case. Now, that advice might be out of date because there are so few TT jobs out there anyway, but that belief system is still in circulation at a lot of programs that have success placing their students. So you just want to keep that in mind. The reason the students at Top Program aren't flush with journal articles might have more to do with playing a long game than just coasting on their laurels.
  9. I'm not sure if such a thing could ever be accounted for, or if it should matter at all. Most people don't do "truly national" job searches in that most people have places where they absolutely will not live or jobs that they just won't take. And I think that most programs, regardless of ranking, have people who decide on an alternative career, or are confined to a specific location because of their family. I know people who went to the very best programs and made these decisions based on family or other interests. So I guess I feel like this would just balance out. Re: ways to assess programs: I would personally want to know how many grad students manage to have an article accepted to a peer-reviewed journal before they earn their degree. I think this is a good indicator of program quality for a few different reasons. First, it tells you something about program priorities. If grad students manage to publish, it is because they are being advised and guided well. Second, it tells you something about the time students have to pursue their research. Programs that demand more teaching oftentimes provide less time for grad students to undertake the onerous process of publishing an article. Third, it tells you that the grad students are doing research that is being recognized nationally. It's cutting edge enough, it's innovative, etc.
  10. It's really difficult to say because different institutions have different hiring criteria. It's also difficult to say because no one really KNOWS why they did or didn't get hired at a particular institution. But the general rule of thumb is that small elite LACs (or schools trying to be small elite LACs) fall harder for name recognition. They want as much Ivy on the faculty as they can possibly get because it looks good to the parents shelling out $70k a year. The professors at those institutions are also going to be less familiar with professionalization as it works in your field. In other words, you might be the sole Americanist they'll have on their faculty. And they--a collection of people representing fields as diverse as medieval or world lit--are not necessarily going to know if your dissertation is groundbreaking or your publications are innovative. They also aren't going to care if you've held X fellowship from Y library. They are going to care much more about the name at the top of your CV. Major R1 departments are going to be more discerning. That's where you'll often see someone from a lesser-known program get interviewed. HOWEVER, in this day and age, R1s are almost exclusively hiring people who already have TT jobs and books in the pipeline. This is because R1 schools want to hire someone they know they can tenure. Recently, administrations at R1 schools have taken away the tenure line entirely if the department hires someone and doesn't tenure them. So ... all things being equal, I would probably recommend going to the school with more prestige going for it. NGL, it's brutal out there and if you come from a program that's not at the top of that list, you pretty much need to kill yourself professionalizing. And regarding your particular situation: I wouldn't make decisions purely on the basis of faculty and where they are in their careers. I know too many people who go somewhere to work with a professor, only to see that professor leave for another program. Seven years is a long time. Faculty are the most unpredictable thing in this whole game. Reputation is much slower to change.
  11. I totally agree. These are the criteria that actually matter for completing your graduate study. And these things would not be *that* difficult to compile. The fact that no one has made a substantive effort to gather and collate this kind of data yet tells me that people honestly don't have the drive or the motivation to see the status quo disrupted very much. Easier to genuflect at the altar of the handful of programs that always come out on top, etc.
  12. I agree. As someone who's been on the job market multiple times, I have to say that your program's perceived worth is the major currency. But since only 14% of those surveyed actually responded, I feel like they should really be tossed out. Or that US News should really put up a neon blinking sign of disclaimer.
  13. Personally I feel the same way about Berkeley's dominance, especially over almost every subfield. (They have almost *no one* working in my specialty, yet they still somehow manage to get #1 in it every time.) I'm truly boggled by these rankings, tbh. I don't think the NRC rankings are all much more accurate. So I feel like picking a graduate school in English is like, "you're on your own, sucker; no one has a f*cking clue about any of this."
  14. @anxiousgrad, I definitely encourage you to use your anger to improve your application. (Lord knows that anger is a great motivator--it certainly worked for me.) However, I would just caution you that what you've laid out there is an extraordinarily ambitious plan. I know senior scholars on sabbaticals who can't accomplish that much in a year. I think that doing one or two of those things would probably suffice. If you feel your GRE is a weakness, then work on that. And then work on your writing sample, because that's the centerpiece of your application. There is no need to try to publish it at this point. The one good reason you might send it out for publication is that you could possibly get a reader's report that would help you revise it further, but it oftentimes takes a while to get a reader's report back. (*looks guiltily at a manuscript doc on my hard drive that I was supposed to review a month ago*) However, sometimes reader's reports can be a bit of a head trip. Like, I've known young graduate students who send things out too early and then get somewhat jerkish reports back (some readers just aren't that nice). If you're not prepared for it, it can really do a number on your self confidence. Re: conferences--I wouldn't worry about presenting at conferences. They're really not that important, and they certainly don't matter at all in the admissions process. Sometimes they can be good for networking ... but more for junior scholars and ABD grad students. I'm sure we all have a stray anecdote about Rock Star Scholar singling out Johnny Grad Hopeful at a panel and telling him to apply straightaway to Prestigious Program of Awesome Sauce ... but it rarely happens. You're more likely to discover another lost Whitman novel in the meantime. So all of that is not to discourage you--I just think that you should focus your energy on one or two things rather than lay out an ambitious plan and then feel like you haven't done enough. I also encourage you not to take a year "off" to do these (somewhat impossible) things but to apply again next year. But do give yourself the next 2 months to rest before you gear up again.
  15. First of all, I'd say that none of us here are probably equipped to answer this question. Please talk to your advisor before attempting to negotiate. Okay, having given you that disclaimer, I would say that in order to negotiate successfully you absolutely must be transparent about the offers and figures you've received at other programs. You'll probably be asked to actually show evidence of these offers. That's because your ability to negotiate depends on your having some leverage in the form of a better offer from another school. Here are some anecdotes about negotiating: -My friend got two offers; one school was within the top fifty and the other was slightly outside the top fifty. The slightly "lower ranked" program (in quotation marks because rankings are BS and these programs were about equal in quality) allowed her direct admission into the PhD program and a ridiculously high stipend. She was able to take that offer back to the slightly higher ranked program, which had admitted her only to the MA program, and get them to offer her direct PhD admission. Not sure if she was able to negotiate a higher stipend. -Another friend got accepted to a program that would have allowed her to supplement her stipend with an additional appointment in the Writing Center. She took that back to her preferred program and got them to do the same thing. -Another friend got an offer at Yale. He took that offer back to the public university where he was finishing his MA (and which had offered him admission to their PhD program) and got his home program to give him a massive stipend, time off from teaching, and several summers of funding. (I honestly though he should have just gone to Yale, but he really liked the program where he was currently attending.) -I tried to negotiate a stipend at a grad program that put me on a wait-list for funding (and that had a reputation for not guaranteeing renewable funding to grad students). I had received a generous offer from another school at about equal rank. I took that offer back to "wait-list" program and asked when I might could expect an answer about funding "wait-list" and they basically said they didn't know, didn't care, and wished me luck at the other school. So, my general and unscientific conclusion about all this (other than that I personally suck at negotiating) is that you have to have a BETTER offer elsewhere in order to negotiate successfully. BETTER can be defined in a few different ways--an offer at a program with a better reputation; an offer at a program that's giving you more money; or an offer at a program that's giving you funded summers/time away from teaching/more years of funding. You can't really do much without that leverage ... but, of course, it never hurts to try. And that's why you absolutely must talk to your advisor about how to go about this.