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About laleph

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

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  1. Thanks for all your responses. I think I'm going to consult an accountant the first year. It's all over my head. I've been living most of my adult life in France, where, amazingly, the tax service basically does your taxes for you. For basic reporting, you just have to click "oui" on a pre-filled-out form. Deductions take a teeny bit longer -- but even those are easy to find/understand. I completed my taxes this year in a whopping 3 minutes. Also, for all Americans' griping about taxes, I've paid less in taxes overall here than what I understand most of you pay, for roughly the same income as I'll be making as a grad student. And, ya know, I've had amazing health insurance since I got here. Long live the social safety net (and, sigh, gritting teeth re: Macron).
  2. Wow that seems crazy high. I've spoken to a couple current grad students at the school I'll be attending, and they've told me they pay around 1000 in taxes, a far cry from roughly 6000 you've been paying!
  3. Thanks for starting this thread! Very helpful. For those of you who've been through the process, could you give an approximation of what you've had to pay in federal and state taxes relative to your stipend? My stipend is a bit shy of $32k, but I'll be in New York City. I'm trying to figure out how far the stipend will get me after taxes. :-/
  4. Bump to this! Although... If you do have the time/money/energy, you might want to think about retaking the GRE to boost your verbal score. It's the percentile rank that really counts, not the score itself. A 151 on the verbal section, for example, puts you at about the 50th percentile. You'll be competing with fellow humanities folks who will have scored in the 80th percentile or above. I was in the 99th percentile for the verbal section, in the mid-50s for quant, 3.9 GPA. I was accepted to three "top-10" PhD programs (whatever you think about rankings, they do come in handy as a shorthand) and waitlisted (ultimately rejected) at another. If you're coming straight out of undergrad, there's no expectation that you will have done extensive work in the field apart from your coursework.
  5. Yeah, don't pick a topic just to get into a fancy program, or because it's trendy. You'll be dragging your feet to the archives/class/your advisor's office. Find a knot you can't wait to untie, then find a program that will support you in your effort to untie it.
  6. Columbia has a tiny masters program. NYU has some options for students wishing to pursue an MA in history. (Unfortunately, I'm having issues accessing the NYU site at the moment and can't link you.) In either case, you will be spending a LOT of money to get a degree at a big-name school without any kind of job security at the end of it. As you probably know, you won't be able to go into academia with only a masters, but maybe that's not your goal. If you want to get an MA in history, I'd suggest applying to less pricey schools or to funded masters programs. Otherwise it's just not worth it. As for the endless grades/GPA question: a good GPA and a good verbal GRE score (exactly no one cares about your math score when you're applying to history programs) will get you in the door, but they won't keep you in the room. The word on the street is that the writing sample makes or breaks an application. Columbia even says so: "We are often asked what we consider important in reviewing applications. First and foremost, we are looking for evidence of scholarly talent and achievement. Grades and GRE scores are, of course, helpful in locating such evidence, but they are not the only things we consider. What you say in your personal statement can be very important, and your writing sample is often the decisive factor in our decision."
  7. PMed you!
  8. 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 d├ębats" 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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).
  12. 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.
  13. Steven Hahn is moving to NYU! Given your interests, you can't go wrong. Congratulations!
  14. Now that the US deadline has passed, curious to know where everyone ended up. Which school(s) did the choice come down to?
  15. Weeks of agonizing are finally over. Finally decided on Columbia over JHU. Sigh. Congratulations to all, and happy summer!