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About Wanumman

  • Rank

Profile Information

  • Location
    Eastern Europe
  • Application Season
    2017 Fall
  • Program
    Political Science
  1. I spent the last year trying to improve my reading habits. In 2016, I managed to read about 45-50 books fully, 3 of them with thorough notes. Goodreads has been helpful in boosting my concentration, because I have an unfortunate tendency to read about 30% of a book and then put it away indefinitely. In the past, I occasionally tried to have several 'reading tracks': 1 audiobook, 1 paper book, and 1 electronic book in English, and 1 of each in another language. In some of my plans, it got further fragmented into 'serious/non-serious', 'fiction/non-fiction', etc. However, that is simply way too much choice, so now I try (and fail) to stick to no more than 3 books at a time. I am increasingly convinced that the main point of reading is to remember what you have read, and to incorporate it into your mental life. To improve that, I have started a notebook in which I write down my thoughts on what I have read. Sadly, as with notes, it adds an extra level of difficulty to reading, and makes it even more effortful. This means that my habits tend to collapse when I am confronted with extra workload, illness, an unexpectedly long visit, etc. One thing I look forward to as a PhD student is achieving a semi-monastic life that would enable me to concentrate on reading and synthesizing what I read, because there are just too many distractions now. A less taxing approach is to watch lectures relevant to what you are reading. Anyway, I have recently finished The Honest Truth About Dishonesty by Dan Ariely and Martin Eden by Jack London, and am now reading the following: Audiobook 1: Discipline and Punish by Michel Foucault Audiobook 2: On Resisting Evil by Force by Ivan Ilyin Paper book: Internal Colonization by Alexander Etkind I like how the books balance one another. Foucault is famously allergic to discipline, while Ilyin extols it and encourages using coercion to combat vice. Anarchic individuality is desirable and life-affirming for Foucault, but is a sign of self-deception and poor self-control for Ilyin. Bourgeois morality is stale, shallow, and potentially dangerous to Foucault, while Ilyin thinks that about 'sentimentalist' left-wing morality. One can imagine how hostile the two would have been to each other. Both are alternatively sensible and infuriating, especially because of the arrogance with which they tend to ignore the more virtuous aspects of what they criticize, and with which they carelessly dismiss opposing arguments ('magistrates may say all they want...'). Etkind writes in the Foucauldian tradition, but his ironic indignation seems to be better applied, as it addresses truly glaring gaps in Russian self-perception (e.g., that somehow Russia was never a colonial empire, that southern Russia is somehow an ancient Russian land as opposed to an equivalent of the East Coast, that peasants had natural communes, etc.)
  2. IELTS is intensely annoying. Some universities are not connected to their electronic system, so you have to pay $80 per university to send their scores physically by DHL (from personal experience, national mail will likely either lose the letter or deliver it in three months). Some of the connected universities end up not receiving the electronic results at all. Moreover, I have to pester each university to connect my IELTS results to the application, and it is often unclear whether I should be addressing the individual department, the grad school, or the social sciences division of the grad school. I think I must have sent over 40 emails in connection with this whole debacle. Out of nine applications, only two (Yale and McGill) went without a hitch: 3 universities were not connected to the IELTS database at all, so I had to mail the scores 2 universities still have not connected the score to my application, so I am bombarding them with emails, which they tend to leave without reply 1 university successfully connected it after some emails - thank heavens 1 university had no connection to IELTS database according to IELTS, but I found out that it actually had it after sending some emails to the university As if that was not enough, they have a limit on how many electronic scores can be sent out. So you have to send five, then wait till the universities confirm their reception, then contact IELTS by mail to replace these universities with others. It is puzzling how hard it is to report such a tiny bit of information, and how it has to be me rather than the test center that has to do all the work. If I fail this cycle, I am definitely switching to TOEFL next time. I had zero problems with GRE.
  3. I think some people may be using this forum solely as a straightforward message board, but there is a special tool for acceptances and rejections. If you mouse over the green/red dots, you will see GRE scores and UGPA. E.g., http://www.thegradcafe.com/survey/index.php?q=Political+Science+Columbia. It might put some of your GRE worries to rest, as there are plenty of people getting into top programs with modest scores and even rather low UGPA. I shudder to think about their epic LORs and writing samples.
  4. You could try calling them. Skype isn't too expensive.
  5. Berkeley requires that you add an abstract and keywords. They say nothing about cover pages, so I presume they do not require one. A good abstract is a valuable part of any article, so your ability to write them well would be important. No idea if you need a cover page, probably not - I did not add one. I think you may want to message an admissions advisor about this; it's a legitimate question.
  6. " The page you are trying to access is not available for your account. " I suggest uploading it to Google Drive and sharing the link.
  7. Those stringent GRE requirements are depressing. I have 170 Verbal/5.5 AWA, which is astronomically high for a Russian, but 158 on Quantitative, so I should be re-taking GRE because it compromises my chances. If only I had two or three more points, like on PowerPrep. Curiously, the average Quant for students admitted to top PhD programmes is slightly below my score, yet no doubt those students with 155Q were otherwise somehow exceptional. I don't even plan to do a lot of quantitative analysis, it's not like I strive to be another Nate Silver. *long doleful sigh* And I need to translate 20+ pages of a writing sample. So, dear reader, do not feel alone in your despondency.
  8. I thought my score was hurt by first tackling fill-in questions. I figured I'd be too nervous if I postponed them till the last ten minutes, and that I'll be able to make an educated guess much faster with multiple choice. Big mistake. Spending the same amount of time on multiple choice almost guarantees the right answer, because it is much easier to see if you made an error somewhere. With fill-in, all that time might be wasted if you miscalculated something, since there is no way to check. What's more, I more or less realised all of that before taking the test, but still panicked and optimistically went for fill-ins. I will be re-taking the GRE in two months, and I will definitely go for multiple-choice first this time. I presume it doesn't matter if you are aiming for 165+, but I was expecting 161-165, and ended up with 158. If not for that tactical mistake, I probably would have reached the target.
  9. I have a somewhat similar problem. Only 158 on Quant, but my Verbal is 170, which is uncommonly high for someone of my cultural background (the average verbal is something like 148). I was wondering if receiving an extreme score such as this may be seen as substantially better than a high yet imperfect score like 166, and if it could compensate for a modest Quant. Meteora, I know that the average scores for PoliSci PhD at the University of Chicago is 164V/157Q. It's one of the top programmes. The cut-off line for Northwestern is 160V/148Q. PoliSci programmes tend to have high requirements for Verbal, but not for Quant. Obviously, a high Quant score would increase your chances, but 158Q clearly would not disqualify you the way 155V would. 155V is well below any average for PoliSci. Unfortunately, a lot of universities are obnoxiously reluctant to post any average scores or even cut-off lines. For instance, NYU says that not being in the top 10% is somehow bad, but they don't specify whether it means the total score. I doubt they expect all their PoliSci candidates to have 165Q, which would be a preposterous requirement for the field. Many other universities are even less specific.