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surefire last won the day on September 26 2014

surefire had the most liked content!


About surefire

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  1. Oh right! The SPT conversation! I remember that now! Congrats on your admit, lol! I was in Socio-Legal Studies at York. The bursaries don't amount to oodles of money in the MA, maybe a couple hundred bucks, but I don't think that's 'arbitrary'. It's not really enough to count on as part of your budget, but it's enough to provide opportunities that you wouldn't have otherwise (I went to some conferences in my MA thanks to some bursary money, and there's no way I would've been able to afford that otherwise). The bursaries are easy money, once you figure them out. The bursaries in my PhD have been quite a bit bigger (like, I'm eligible for one that takes care of half my tuition this year, which is several thousand dollars), so it's worth it to figure out the granting bodies and their bureaucratic process now. Anyway, good luck and let me know if I can be of further help!
  2. Hi there! I'd like to extend a pre-emptive welcome to Toronto! I did my MA at York and am currently doing my PhD at U of T, so I'm familiar with living on those funding packages! I didn't get into any debt at either (though I'm domestic, so my situation is a bit different). I've always lived with room-mates and my partner, which has cut my costs regarding rent and food quite a bit (my partner and I spend about $100-$150/week on groceries). I usually recommend that people coming from outside the city to grad studies here try to get into designated grad housing at either institution, because it totally sucks to try and secure a place if you're not already here - the vacancy rate is like, 1.5%, so competition is fierce and it's risky to rent a place sight unseen. If grad housing is a no-go, I would recommend getting acquainted with whatever social media groups you can find that are comprised of fellow grad students at your institution and put a call out there for someone to room with or to recommend a place (the grad students in my program, for example, have their own Facebook group) - it would be easier to secure a sublet or move into an empty room of a place on someone else's lease, rather than trying to secure your own. You could also join the Facebook group "Bunz Home Zone", there are lots of opportunities there. Also, I note that you're an international student, so you'll have to add a monthly UHIP cost to your budget, just FYI. I have two other pieces of advice: -First, take a good look at your offers to see if there are Teaching Assistant or Research Assistant opportunities associated with either. You get paid $20-$40/hour for those posts and they are generally designed to be about 10 hours/week (though you'll work some long weeks around 'crunch' periods like exams). This hourly wage is quite good and you'll get a lot more bang for your buck than picking up a part-time job somewhere that pays like, $12-$15 an hour (and again, as an international student, you might be restricted regarding what/how much work you take, and the RA/TA stuff is more likely to be above board). -Second, you should get familiar with the bursary/grant opportunities offered by the School of Grad Studies for each university, they offer quite a few. Also, if you DO TA at either, as I recommended above, you will be a part of the CUPE locals at either of those institutions, and the unions at both York and U of T are quite strong and offer multiple bursaries and funds, in addition to strong hourly wages and labour protections (CUPE 3902 at U of T, for example, offers a fund to international students to offset the UHIP costs). Good luck and, once again, welcome!
  3. I agree with @TakeruK. No harm in telling them, no need to reiterate what a difficult decision it was. Departments like to keep tabs on what programs they lose competitive students to and they sometimes amend recruitment efforts accordingly. You'd be doing them a solid by providing them with this info. Keep it short and sweet, thank them again for the opportunity, and fret no more!
  4. I'm not in your field either, but I did my social science MA at York and am currently doing my social science PhD at U of T. When you say you want to do your PhD 'somewhere awesome', do you have somewhere in mind? I would suggest maybe touching base with the grad secretaries in the respective departments to ask if they have any placement stats about their MA cohorts (they might not, not all departments keep track of this, in which case it might be good to ask to be put in touch with alumni for anecdotes, or to find a list of alumni on the website and Google a few to find out where they went). Try to find out where they go, and see if that aligns with where you want to go. Don't leave it to your gut, find some evidence. Here's the deal with U of T: grad departments (with some exceptions, like professional programs) are allowed by the Uni to offer funding packages for 5 years of their grad studies programs. Some decide to fund one year of the MA + 4 years of the PhD (my department does this), while some (like English) opt to fund for 5 years of the PhD. This is helpful in a sense, because time to completion rates are much longer in some departments than others. Humanities takes longer than social science which takes longer than life science departments. (Though it should be said, the time to completion for the majority of PhD programs exceeds the funding package - the English PhD program takes, on average, 7 years). After the funding package is done, people often cobble together money from funding agencies, doctoral completion awards, TA-ing, RA-ing, instructing, and some Union funds. I mention this because, if U of T is the 'somewhere awesome' you want to go for the PhD, you should know that there IS funding for the PhD (but it has limits), and if that IS where you want to go, you should find out if taking the MA at UofT puts you in a better position to get into their PhD program. Does the MA program coursework allow you to forgo PhD program coursework? That's another thing to think about (and that's the deal in my department and the one downside of doing my own MA elsewhere - I had to do MA and PhD-level stats and theory courses in my first year of the PhD because I didn't do my MA at U of T and get the coursework done in that program - if you can effectively accomplish some of your PhD requirements during the MA, then it might be worth it). So look at where people end up from the prospective programs and see what aligns with your aspirations. Unless there is a strong indication that the U of T MA bolsters your chances of going where you want to go for the PhD (like the U of T PhD program, or, if you want to go anywhere abroad, the U of T name might be worth it), I would go with York. I would personally not advise going into debt for this MA, and I'm proof that you can take an MA from York and go elsewhere (though again, I'm in different field). I really enjoyed my time doing my MA at York, there were lots of great profs and I did my own MRP there, which gave me a strong taste of grad-level research and produced a strong writing sample/proof that I was capable of research at this level for my PhD apps. That's my two cents. Good luck!
  5. Recruitment has been set for March 24th, so I imagine first-round picks will hear imminently, if they haven't already. Feel free to shoot me a PM if you get in and have questions. (you too @bbbfan). Good luck!
  6. Hi there and welcome! First, the GradCafe has a great little primer regarding asking about your 'chances'. This often boils down to fit, more than strictly numbers. I will say that that appears to be a solid average and a shaky first year or two often isn't too bad if you're displaying an 'upward trend', which it sounds like you are/did. Second, I would encourage you to read the recent Conference Board of Canada report regarding where Canadian PhDs are employed. It doesn't give a discipline-by-discipline breakdown (so, can't ascertain where sociologists specifically end up), but you can look at trends for social scientists. I would particularly encourage you to look at the section on Earning Premiums for PhDs (page 28-29). Your last question that prioritizes 'high paying jobs' (and your stated baseline for this) post-PhD alarms me a bit, because you should know that you forgo a lot of earning potential/time when you take the PhD route. A PhD is a huge endeavour that usually takes longer than your funding package allows, and it's often during prime earning years of your life, so if the marker of success for you is earning potential, you might be despondent about the reality - the return on investment can be a very long game in this context. Third, if you pursue the MA/PhD, you're going to have to frame your research interests such that you can articulate how your pursuit contributes to the scholarly conversation/community. So, I wouldn't try to 'pick' research topics for their employment potential. No matter what research topic you pick, it will likely be preoccupied with the minutia of the area and will be framed in terms of scholarly worth, not employment application (which isn't to say that these are mutually exclusive or that there aren't great debates in the applied/public sociology realms regarding what our research 'means' to the world beyond academia). It's possible to pick a research area and make solid connections through that that you can use for employment later (I know someone who studied addictions and did some work through CAMH, and now they work for them), but yeah, your actual topic is going to be framed as a scholarly contribution. What you might think about/focus on instead are the skills you'll build during the PhD and whether/how those translate to jobs that appeal to you beyond academia post-PhD: qualitative and quantitative methods training, research/presentation/teaching skills, stuff like that. I know people who leveraged strong research skills (both qual and quant) skills who now work for StatsCan or private/governmental consulting gigs or think tanks and policy development or NGO advocacy, as just a few examples. I think it's wise to consider options outside of academia, as this is in line with labour realities. But I think it would be a long haul to enter in to the PhD with the strong preference for a non-academic job - the more successful candidates I've seen have engaged in what has been called 'parallel planning', where you accrue/articulate skills and networks that you can frame/leverage for either an academic job or an alt-ac/non-ac job. All THAT being said, an MA in Canada is a stand-alone degree that typically only takes a year or two and is often funded, so I don't see the harm in applying to MA programs to get a sense of whether or not graduate studies will help you attain a job/vocation that is feasible/in-line with your priorities.
  7. No problem! Sorry for the delayed response, I was stuck in a marking frenzy for a few weeks there! Glad that some of that is helpful. Feel free to send me a PM if you'd like! I'm more of a qual versus quant sociologist, and I'm a domestic student rather than international, but I'll advise to the best of my abilities! Best of luck!
  8. Hi! I'm currently in the Soc PhD program at U of T. I don't think not having any specifically quant courses from undergrad should discourage you, nor do I really think that you'll necessarily be made to take some undergrad stats (we mandate an MA stats and a PhD stats, if you go on to the PhD program, so you get ample training at the grad level). We have taken exceptional applicants from other undergrad disciplines, provided that they displayed strong sociological thinking in their statement/letters/sample etc;. But there are a few caveats: -The MA is funded and international student tuition is a lot more than domestic, so the spots are highly competitive. I don't think another applicant would necessarily 'edge you out' if they had an undergrad stats and you didn't, but it would be that much more important that you display competence and relevant skills in your other supporting material. -If you haven't done any stats in undergrad, you might have a bad time in the MA stats course, if you get in. The methods training in the department is rigorous. This would be a problem for later, but if you do get in, you might want to think about how you can offset this. Hope that helps! Good luck!
  9. Welcome! I'm a domestic (Canadian) student. I'm not in your area but feel free to PM or something if I can be of help.
  10. *Raises hand* I've been a grad student at U of T since 2012. I gather you'll be joining our ranks in the fall? If so: congrats and lemme know if I can be of help!
  11. Yes! In total agreement! I've spoken to a lot of prospective and incoming students and it can be cringe-inducing when, for example, you tell students that the average time to completion in your program is 6+ years and they nod and say "That's nice, Imma do it in 4!". Also annoying: people that are dicks to the departmental grad secretaries/admins. Not only is this generally uncouth and unkind, it's very short-sighted - you want these people on your side, for sure. Yelling at admins because you're frustrated by institutional bureaucracy or whathaveyou = very unwise. My departmental admins are amazing people generally, but they're also great resources for info and assistance - don't make it difficult for them to be your advocate by being a dick.
  12. @timhorton I'm currently in the PhD program in Sociology at U of T. Feel free to pm me if you want to correspond! I'd echo what was said above regarding thinking about your dream job and also WHERE you want to work. I wanted to go to grad school in Canada and I want to work in Canada and that combined with my research interests led me to go with U of T. I don't work in migration but we have a huge number of faculty members and many are accomplished in that area. But it's all about 'fit', so give that primacy in your apps.
  13. I would advise you to apply as well. You don't mention if you'll be IN a department next term when you apply (i.e. whether you're an external or internal applicant), but I would reiterate TakeruK's point about maybe being REQUIRED to apply by your program. This is still the hard and fast rule in my department: You are required to apply for both OGS and SSHRC before you're eligible for internal funding - everything from your fellowship to conference reimbursement. It's also worth considering that, if you're planning to go the academic route career-wise, you're looking at a long professional life of trying to appeal to funding agencies like SSHRC, it's not the worst prospect to try and get a grip on the formula now. Finally: I remember signing up for a SSHRC-hosted "webinar" before I applied, which gave people the opportunity to ask about the measures and balances that SSHRC alludes to but doesn't specify. That might be worth looking into, check the SSHRC site for anything like that that might be forthcoming! Good luck!
  14. ^I'm holding a super SSHRC at U of T right now that I was awarded last year and can confirm the above. My internal funding has vanished, except for a wee $2500 "top-up" that I'm getting (from my department?) in May. I mean, no complaints, this is a happy problem, though that's some wonky incentivizing. I got accepted to some programs at York and one of their selling points in recruitment was that they didn't conduct claw-back. Just wanted to say a few other things quickly, but didn't want to contribute to the earlier deluge: -That was my first time getting a SSHRC. It was my third application, if you count my MA SSHRC app. Please don't be discouraged, this stuff can really be a crap shoot. -Don't get hung up on the scores. They seem to vacillate wildly from year to year and you'll just drive yourselves nuts. -Despite the "crap shoot" thing being said, I cannot overstate how helpful it was to workshop my program of study with the writing center at my institution, it really made all the difference. There is a formula to that thing; it's stifling, but worth conforming to, let someone in the know help you out with it. If any of you are at U of T, I highly recommend seeking out Dr. Jane Freeman's SSHRC/OGS app writing workshop offered through the English Language Writing Center. She offers a few sessions in September/October. People can PM me if they'd like! Congrats to all for surviving this round.
  15. Hi all! I'm actually a current PhD student at U of T, in my 3rd year. I've been in Toronto since 2010 though, as I did my MA at York. Just wanted to throw out some general advice. For moving to Toronto: - The rental vacancy rate here right now is not good, like 1.4% or something like that. Apartment hunting from another city (let alone another province/country) is not fun - and you shouldn't rent anything sight unseen! While I haven't used U of T housing services, the university is actually a pretty big landowner here in the city, so I might recommend trying to secure something through those services for your first year, then you can get familiar with the neighbourhoods and scout a rental for your future years when you're not pressed for time and unaware of the prime real estate. If you will be renting, check out the ON guide to tenant right and if you're tempted by property that isn't close to the downtown campus, for goodness sake get something near a subway line! - I love this city, but it was a slow take for me. I didn't much like the city for the first 1-2 years I was here. I know that West Coasters have a particularly hard time adjusting (they miss the mild winters and the mountains and the bike-friendly cities). But yeah, once I landed in a neighbourhood I loved and found some sub-communities (academic and otherwise) and a good city bike and a litany of favourite spots, I came to love it here. For starting at U of T: -We kind of just had a strike yes? For those not in the know, we're actually in "binding arbitration" at the moment, and this will probably go until the end of May. At that point, we'll have a new collective agreement. I would encourage all of you to keep abreast of developments on that front, peruse the CUPE website after arbitration is done to get a look at the new Agreement and get familiar with the funds and health care and the like that is offered. To be clear, if you're a grad student made to TA, you're in Unit 1. - You'll actually be in a grad student union as well. They offer you're base health care plan as well as a bunch of advocacy/governance/fun resources. I'd recommend getting familiar with them too! - Get familiar with your department guidelines and expectations. Get to know your departmental coordinator/secretary and foster a very cordial relationship with them. This will make your life easier down the road. If you have a question, do a little research to try and answer it and if you can't, ask the grad coordinators. Some questions, like about how funds are administered, might seem basic and crude, but ASK them! - Get familiar with the general U of T School of Grad Studies. Particularly, look at the general expectations that they hold grad students to AND the financial resources (it's a good idea to get acquainted with the conference funds/deadlines early) AND the resources/services offered. I would particularly recommend looking at the English Language Writing Centre (ELWS) workshops and courses offered - I would personally recommend the SSHRC workshop, if you're going to have to apply for one of those through U of T in the fall; I took that course and it made a huge difference in the outcome of my app! September is going to hit you fast and furious, and so it's best to learn about these resources now before you get the totally-normal overwhelmed mid-september feels. General: - Relax. Seriously. Take some time to relax. If you have a job, try to quit a few weeks before you start - I didn't do this and came to regret it. Take some down-time. - Talk to people in your cohort as well as established students. Talk about the classes and supervisors you're hoping for and LISTEN to senior students who advise you on these. Talk about your research interests - even if your notions feel half-baked, this is a great way to develop them. And yeah, talk to your cohort and don't be a competitive dick. You will probably need the camaraderie and goodwill of your cohort mates - I know that U of T has a bit of a rep re: competitiveness, but don't buy into that. - Start some recon on potential supervisors and the general faculty in your department. Read through some of their recent papers and take note of where ppl publish and what methods they like. This is good insight into the departmental culture. - Cultivate good habits re: sleep and gym and eating and the like. - Launch a social media presence, if you don't have one. Craft a Twitter account and start following faculty and scholarly associations. Tidy up your LinkedIn page or build your own little website to link to. Look into good self-organizing apps - I use workflowy for to-do lists and Zotero to keep my citations in shape. These are awesome tools that are easy to maintain, so START them know, and then you just have to worry about the easy upkeep! Feel free to PM me with questions. And WELCOME to U of T!