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!)


  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

About laleph

  • Rank

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Application Season
    2017 Fall
  • Program
    History PhD (US)

Recent Profile Visitors

334 profile views
  1. Just looked at my bookshelf again and realized there's a third volume in the Historiographies series that I haven't read! It contains chapters on "enjeux et débats" in sub-subfields of French (not Frenah, heh) history -- history of the French revolution, la Grande Guerre, French communism, Vichy, etc. A related comment: unless you're independently wealthy, going into debt for a terminal masters in history doesn't make the most financial sense. Of course there are people who make it work... But it just seems like too much of a risk to take on debt without the guarantee of a job afterward. If you find yourself leaning toward France, you might want to consider getting a master's degree there. It's sooooo much cheaper than the US (about 500 euros/year at Paris 1 La Sorbonne, for example, which includes health insurance!) -- and if you get into the SAT/ACT/TOEFL/IELTS tutoring racket on the side, you can make it work without going into debt. @nhhistorynut is right that the first two years of grad school can help you explore and narrow your interests, but you don't necessarily have to get a terminal master's to do that. Different PhD programs are structured in different ways, and you could tailor your apps to those that work best for your interests. You just have to get in, then you can take a little time to explore! Many programs, for example, require two years of coursework before preparing for orals, and sometimes your topic radically changes over that time. A friend of mine went into grad school planning to study late 19th-c. US literary cultures and wound up working on translations of Haitian literature in the 19th-c. Atlantic world -- not wildly different, but different enough that her subfield label changed. In contrast, programs like Johns Hopkins require incoming students to jump into primary source research right away (in preparation for the famous "first-year paper"), and there is no (officially) required coursework. Such programs work better for people who have an idea of what they want to do going in. Read a lot of grad school handbooks to find out how the programs you're interested in are structured.
  2. I second @RageoftheMonkey's comment. The best advice I got when I was in your spot a couple years back was from a prof who said: sure you can write history papers for whatever class you're taking at the moment, ok, but that's not enough. You won't be happy or successful in grad school unless you have a reason to get up in the morning for 5+ years. It took me a few years of away-time, teaching history and geography at the high school level and pursuing other interests, for me to get there. I'm ready to go back to grad school this fall because I know (at least for now) what'll get me up in the morning. Dissertation topics always change, of course, but I'd encourage you to wait to apply till you find a knot you can't wait to untie -- then identify schools that will support you as you attempt to untie it. Edit: If you're trying to figure out which field you want to work in, reeaaaaddd a whole lot, monographs, textbooks, historiographical essays... That's how I started finding my own path back to history after undergrad. I now plan to work in US history, but like you was tempted by French history during undergrad... I still love reading about French historiography (if you read in French, check out Les courants historiques en France, and the two volumes of Historiographies directed by Christian Delacroix et al., to get a sense of current debates in Frenah history), but I know I want to start my work in US history.
  3. I did exactly what @angesradieux has suggested, and totally agree re: the MA. The reason many programs have become fully funded for accepted students is because, well, there are hardly any jobs at the end of the road. In the past, a student could justify taking on some debt, knowing there'd be a decent position at the end of it. That time is no more. One thing I wish I'd known before applying (if you're interested, I wrote about other things in a recent post in the "Lessons learned" thread) was: if you have a first-choice school, communicate that to the adcom and/or to your POIs, especially when it's a school without a waitlist. They want to admit people they know have a good chance of coming.
  4. The social and cultural history of markets and economic systems. History of capitalism seminars have been sprouting up all over the place since the Great Recession, and the trend doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Historians of empire and historians of capitalism seem to be talking to each other -- wouldn't J. A. Hobson be proud! Related to above: a renewal of intellectual history focusing on social network formation and the interaction of various institutional cultures (depending on the time period, "institutions" could refer to think tanks, learned societies, national and local governments, charitable organizations, etc.). Bump for the post on world or global history. Work on the global circulation of commodities has been a recent way in to the subject (cotton, for example).
  5. Things I Wish I'd Known Before Applying If a particular school is your top choice (or even in your top three), make it known on your application somehow, especially for schools that do not have waitlists (*cough* University of Chicago). I made that mistake, and was told later that the admissions committee feared I wouldn't come, and didn't want to take the risk of admitting me. The response you get from POIs after writing to them to express interest in their programs is indicative of the relationship you will have with them later, and can be indicative of the department's culture. I don't buy the argument: "Professors are busy and find emails from prospective students annoying." Everyone is busy and everyone finds emails annoying. Professors who care about mentoring grad students will respond, maybe not within 24 hours, but they will do it at some point. I am very happy to report that I continue to correspond with amazing people, both faculty and current students, even though I won't be attending their schools. Those are the people who will become both colleagues and (with luck!) friends. Once you're in the pool with people whose CVs resemble yours, acceptances and rejections are extremely difficult to predict. At visiting day events, I met people who were rejected where I'd been accepted and vice versa. So much of admissions comes down to department politics, which is annoyingly hard to figure out before you're in the thick of it. Which brings me to the next point... Students who are further along, feel free to correct me on this, but: I kinda wished I'd asked POIs whether their departments were accepting people in my subfield. Before I applied, I thought such a question was gauche and shouldn't be asked. But I ended up applying to one school that wasn't taking anyone in my area of interest, because the school had promised its two spots to people already enrolled in a masters program there. I didn't find this out till after I applied. Do deep Google searches on your POIs, and update those search results as the deadline nears. I had compiled a long Google doc of POIs long before applications were due, and did not update the doc much as I was writing my statements of purpose. It turns out that the main person I wanted to work with at one school was going to be moving elsewhere in the fall -- but the school of origin didn't update their website till the end of November. By that time, I had already written my statements, and ended up sending off an SoP full of specifics about that person's work, not realizing that they weren't going to be around in the fall. That's all I can think of for the moment. Hope it's of some help.
  6. Steven Hahn is moving to NYU! Given your interests, you can't go wrong. Congratulations!
  7. Now that the US deadline has passed, curious to know where everyone ended up. Which school(s) did the choice come down to?
  8. Weeks of agonizing are finally over. Finally decided on Columbia over JHU. Sigh. Congratulations to all, and happy summer!
  9. Just declined Cornell, sigh. Very difficult decision. I'm hoping at the very least it helps someone on the waitlist.
  10. This is purely anecdotal, but anyway… I've heard from friends already attending (in history and related disciplines) that the average age for entering students is around 27. (I had inquired about this more than a year ago when I began thinking about applying – I'm now 30.) It should be noted that students entering straight out of undergrad are pretty rare. According to a friend at a top program, only 2 people out of her cohort of about 20 were in that position. Like @Calgacus, I've heard that older students must make a stronger case for their potential to contribute to the discipline, given that they will graduate in their early forties. Yes, 40 isn't 70 – so you're not staring down the barrel of death from natural causes quite yet – but it does mean that you will be starting your career at the moment when your age-group peers have been publishing, teaching, and all the rest for 5-10 years already. Second, @NoirFemme's comments about familiarizing yourself with the current debates in your subfield were spot-on. Those of us who've been out for a while must prove we have a handle on those debates right out of the gate. I was lucky enough to have access to a research library as I prepared my applications, which allowed me to update my knowledge of my subfield. I honestly don't know how I would have been able to apply without that access. (This goes back to the debate about how students' socio-economic status affects their applications, but that's for another post.) The take-away, I suppose, is that 35 is not necessarily "too old," but you have a steeper hill to climb. If you know you want to go to graduate school – for all the reasons you mentioned in your SOP – then you should apply next year. As I wrestled with that question last year, I read this article, and it helped. Fingers crossed for your waitlist school.
  11. Same boat, different choices. But hello to (potential) Cornell cohort!
  12. As others have said, it isn't over until it's over – and it's almost over! If it turns out you aren't accepted this year, though, apply next year. Acceptances come down to quite a bit of luck. A good friend of mine (who was in her thirties when she applied the first time) was rejected from every school she applied to the first time round. She considered giving up, but instead spent the year refining her applications, working to pay the rent, and interning in her field (architecture). The following year, she was accepted at ALL of the top architecture programs. As @Antebellum said, if you know why you want to go to graduate school, go to graduate school – of course with your eyes wide open about job prospects, heh, but don't take the results of this cycle as indicative of the results you'll get if you apply again!
  13. According to my extremely unscientific calculations, it seems acceptances are sent out near the end of February, and rejections are sent the first week of March... So we're almost out of waiting land. I suppose the January 1st application deadline is the reason for the later response.
  14. Oy, I'm torn. I am leaning in the direction of accepting another offer, and am therefore wondering if I should keep my spot on the waitlist till Harvard rejects me on its own. I don't want to prevent anyone from getting in to his/her dream school by clogging up the waitlist -- but as you say, it's probably unlikely to be accepted that way anyway, so why not stay on? I dunnnoooooo
  15. Dunno if this means anything, but yesterday I got the official notice of my status on the supposedly "short" waitlist. Does anyone have any idea what a "short" waitlist means?