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About mdivgirl

  • Rank
  • Birthday 10/30/1978

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Location
    Kaohsiung, Taiwan
  • Interests
    History, religion, music, sewing, knitting, my kids, the world
  • Application Season
    2017 Fall
  • Program
    History and/or religion

Recent Profile Visitors

163 profile views
  1. On the off chance you still check this (or anyone else who knows the area), how is Murfreesboro working out for you? I am also moving to the area with three young children and trying to figure out what child-friendly, reasonably priced communities might have doable commutes. Most of what I have heard has been people living to the South, which makes sense given the location of Vanderbilt, but do you know anyone who lives to the Northeast (around Hendersonville)? It looks like there are some decent communities there with reasonable calculated commutes, but I am coming from overseas and have no idea how Googlemaps estimates relate to real travel times.
  2. This is a completely different field, but I started an M.Div. at a seminary when I was 20. I am now beginning a Ph.D. program in my late 30's. I am amazed that despite my years out of academia, I seem to be so much more able to think about high level things than I was during my master's (and I was a pretty decent student then). There are a lot of advantages brought by maturity, and I am choosing to focus on those. I haven't entered the program yet, and it may be weird knowing that some of the junior faculty is younger than I am, but the professors I will be working with are older and established and I am looking forward to learning from them all.
  3. I have spent a lot of time in Boston and minimal time in Chicago, so I am admittedly biased, but although I think University of Chicago sounds like a great school, if all else is equal I would choose New England over the Midwest. If you have family or friends you would be closer to in Chicago, that might swing it the other way, but other than that, Boston's a pretty great place to be a student -- if you can afford it. Also, it does seem like Harvard is in a much better part of town than the University of Chicago is, from what I've read.
  4. I just received word that I received an additional university-wide fellowship. I know it was something the department must have nominated me for based on previous communication. They didn't give me any indication of why I got it, but I did end up with a pretty high GRE (99% Verbal which is the relevant score for my field, 5.5 writing, and in the 70+% range for math which is high for a humanities student) so I suspect it did have something to do with it. It does seem like something easy to compare across disciples. (This is for what I guess would be considered a second tier school, if that helps.) But these things don't strike me as anything you can do anything about other than, as was mentioned earlier, initially submitting the strongest application possible.
  5. Haha. I got into my Ph.D. Program weeks ago and have been mired with all the practical details, but just late night I randomly ran out to my husband in the living room giddily rejoicing in the acceptance. It's a good feeling. Bask.
  6. My husband is British did his undergrad in history at Cambridge (and his dad got a Ph.D. when my husband was young), and he said that funding in the UK was pretty non-existent, so that would definitely be a concern. Also, the degree as far as I can is pretty much just your thesis, which makes it much shorter than a US degree (which you may see as an advantage or a disadvantage) and much more dependent on the advisor being a good fit than the departure. If you like the advisor and can swing the finances, I wouldn't worry about what department it is in. I am in almost the opposite boat. I have a strong theology background but am mostly interested in history. I got into none of my history programs last year but into a really good department of religion for historical studies. I brought up my concern with my POI who teaches in both departments but takes Ph.D. students in the department of religion, and he said that at the Ph.D. level the topic of your thesis is more important than the department you get it in. Since he is an excellent historian and it's a good fit, I am going there. I figure at the end of the day, the advisor being a good fit and being supportive of me and my research is more important than the department. Also, it might be an advantage to be able to teach both. I am guessing that when it comes to a job search a history degree might be more flexible than a more niche degree, but I don't know much about your subfield.
  7. I ended up having a hard time formulating e-mails but it ended up they were willing to chat on the phone. I found it was much easier to formulate questions when I had some sense of who I was talking to, and it probably took less time for both of us than composing detailed e-mails. The questions just came up as we went along. (Actually, one of them was nice enough to anticipate I wouldn't know what to ask and started with an introduction of himself and his research so that also made it easier.)
  8. I was in a similar position. If you can afford a Th.M., by all means, do it. I would love to have had the chance, but financially, it just would not have worked out for us. (If I hadn't gotten into a Ph.D. program this year, I might have applied to something like Notre Dame's MTS or other funded programs, but there aren't that many out there.) There are a lot of things you can do on your own, though. The POI at the school I eventually got into said that getting a high GRE score was more important for me than most to prove that I could still handle the work (Verbal and writing, mostly.) I live overseas so review classes wouldn't have helped (they would be aimed at ESL learners), but a few GRE vocab app downloads and all the review books in the local English bookstore did the trick. I was applying to history programs mostly (though the one I got into was a religion one) and my writing sample was pretty awful. You should be able to update it on your own even if you don't get to go back to school. I revisited my undergrad thesis paper, and that gave me a lot of insight into the progress in the field which I used in the updated sample. It also showed me just how much more sophisticated my analysis is now than when I was 19. I didn't have it done by the time I needed to contact those writing recommendation letters, but I had enough of it to send them a pretty polished introduction with a good thesis and a well developed outline, so I think that may have helped. (You should not have this problem -- I had some trouble ordering one of the key works I needed from overseas which delayed my work on it.) You can do a lot with a few secondhand books from Amazon and Googlebooks. (I also had access to JSTOR and some journal articles.) If you are around a university, you might be able to get access to the library for a fee. (In college I was able to buy a year's access to Princeton Seminary's library so I could work on a paper from sources in their special collection over spring break one year. I have no idea if this is something most places do or not.) Anyway, I basically ended up doing an independent study and learned a lot, and that came through when I wrote the SOP as well. It also gave me something to show my old professors. You could also do a lot of language work on your own, which is useful in itself and also in showing professors that only vaguely remember you your dedication, etc. I also listened through the whole course on Early Modern England offered by Yale on YouTube and basically fished for every lecture I could from my POI at the schools I wanted to get into and other scholars in the field. I am assuming that if you are considering a Th.M. you did not get into a Ph.D. program. I applied to three history programs last year and didn't get into any, but the University of Chicago did offer me a spot in a Master's program with a half tuition scholarship which I would have loved to accept but it wasn't financially or logistically feasible. I only incidentally mentioned this to one of the professors writing my recommendation letters at the very tail end of a last minute conversation, but she ended up being more impressed with this than I had been and I am guessing that was reflected in her recommendation, so if you have any similar offers, don't forget to mention them the next time around. Also, I ended up using a lot of my Chicago essay for my applications this year because I figured I had to have done something right in that one. And I think my work on the updated writing sample and really getting to thoroughly know the scholarship in one small area was basically me trying to do more Masters' level work even if I couldn't go to a master's program, since the Chicago master's program's big selling point was their acceptance rate into funded Ph.D. programs so I figured they wouldn't let me in if they didn't think I could be ready in a year to be accepted since it would mess with their stats. I don't know if these random thoughts are of any use and I am sure others have other things they have done, but I am basically saying that if you can manage a Th.M., by all means do it. I can't see how you can go wrong, especially if you can do one at a top tier school. But if you can't, you can still do a lot on your own if you are intentional about it. It helped me to think like I was in a Masters program even though I wasn't. A lot of a Th.M. is taking MA/M.Div. courses and just doing more work, and you already know what the masters courses entail.
  9. I applied to history programs (with one sweet Master's consolation prize) and one religion program for historical studies (which I managed to get into.) My most successful SOP's (all two of them) started with my topics, not me. I painted a portrait of a historical event or person, showing them to be interesting first and then what particularly I found interesting about them. I then went on with "my story" showing how my background equipped me to study what I had presented and then ended on some big note of why study religion/history was important in the grand scheme of things. I had the hardest time with the religion application, actually, because religion departments are hard to get a read on. I had a pretty terrible statement right up to the deadline when a former professor told me to scrap basically the whole thing and just use adapt one of my history SOP's -- making it a lot more academic and a lot less confessional/personal -- and that was the statement that ultimately succeeded. (That particular program did not require a writing sample so basically the whole application was riding on my stats and those 3-4 pages.
  10. I had two interviews (at the one school I applied to). The first was with the people in my area I would be working directly with and that was all a nice chat about my intended thesis. They ended up telling me that they didn't cover exactly the time I was going for but that no one else really did and it was a good topic so I would need to do more independent studies where they didn't offer classes but they were still really interested. I just went along with them and tried to sound like I had some idea of what I was talking about. In the second interview, I got questions about what historical methodology I was interested in (other than a person who I mentioned) and what broad areas I was interested in studying for my focus for the comp exams. The interviewers were nice, but really outside my specialty, so I did not do as well in that one. Also, if you know who is interviewing you, look up their work or any on-line videos of them giving lectures or interviews if available. I didn't have a chance to do that for everyone involved (because I was really trying to go deep in preparing to talk about my specific area), but it would have helped if I had. Be prepared to talk about the historiography (or lack thereof -- if there isn't much done from your angle, all the better) and your approach. My other tip -- my two interviews were back to back and the first definitely went better. I think it might help if you have more than one to realize that those in the second interview have not heard what you said in the first so it's OK to repeat yourself. At the same time, they might be asking really different questions so make sure you don't JUST repeat yourself. Be confident and hold your own. I have interviewed exactly once, so not sure I know much, but hope that helps.
  11. To be fair, she let me know when she agreed that she had a huge deadline of her own on December 1 and was only agreeing to do it because it was the 15th, and I know that is a pretty insane time of year anyway, so I was just grateful she agreed to do it because I have been out of school a while and there are only so many people who aren't retired and have a shot of remembering me. But last year, I had big problems with incomplete applications because of unsubmitted letters of recommendation. That former professor is now the president of a large seminary and I didn't want to disturb him, but it ended being a good thing I tracked him down because it turned out he thought they had been submitted months ago and there were problems with the submissions. It was after the deadline, but they let him just e-mail them anyway. I think by the time they hit department chair/school president, they must know the ropes and know what they can get away with. We're the newbies in panic mode.
  12. I think scoring lower as an older student might be more applicable to the skills that aren't actually that necessary for your degree. On the other hand, in your specialty area, I think age is actually an advantage, though I only have anecdotal evidence. My brother and I are both in our late 30's and both recently took the GRE. Both of us are applying to humanities programs but had a strong background in math/science, so we were both able to study GRE math enough to score in the 70%. On my part, at least, that took a lot of time commitment, since it had been more than a decade since my last math class. I think that score ended up being pretty irrelevant. I know from my POI that my verbal score was going to be crucial for proving that I was still able to handle the work this long out of school but he didn't even pay attention to me when I told him my math. On the other hand, we both managed high 90 percentile scores when it came to the Verbal section -- my brother scoring a perfect 170 and he was never a genius at standardized tests. That was the one that mattered for me, at least, and what got my POI really excited about my application because he knew he could sell it to the department. I am pretty sure that I could not have scored that well straight out of school despite being good at tests. I learned a few vocab words via some apps on my kids' iPad and did a few sample tests, but mostly it was just because I simply read better now than I did then and my brother probably does too, and we are both got at least as far as the interview stage in part because of that. So, while I think age was a disadvantage in the area that didn't really matter, it felt almost like an unfair advantage in the area that actually counted. But again, this is just my experience. It was just something I have been wondering about, too. But if you are working from a background in the UK, I can see why this would be a bigger problem. I rode the fence between the sciences and the humanities throughout college and the US system allowed me to do that. My husband is British, and he stopped taking maths a lot earlier in his schooling than I did.
  13. I asked my professor who wrote my recommendation letter if she thought the application deadline meant midnight, and she said she hoped so since that's when she was planning on submitting the letter. Sure enough, with less than an hour to the deadline I got the e-mail saying that she had turned it in -- and that was Central time so past midnight where she was in Boston. So apparently the life of a professor is just as crazy as that of a student. This is what we are signing up to! Or, at least, trying to.
  14. I love this. I am EST + 13. I have lost all distinction between day and night.
  15. Just if it helps -- I have heard from my potential advisor that Vanderbilt department of religion has an interview weekend (which will count towards the final decision) the first weekend of February and that invitations should be going out soon. I have unofficially been offered a Skype interview (because I am currently overseas) but have heard nothing officially from the school yet. I'm not sure if this counts as something to post on the results board yet, but figured there might be people trolling for any crumb of information, since it seems in this process January is a long, long month.