Hi! I'm new and just looked through this thread. It looks like it has been wonderful news for a lot of you; congratulations!
I'm beginning the process of looking at and applying to Germanistik PhD programs--planning to enter in Fall 2012.
Seeing as the process for this past year appears to be over, does anyone on this forum have any retrospective advice as to which programs to look at, GRE scores to shoot for, or really anything at all? It would be much appreciated!
I'm glad to hear that there are people out there already making plans to join our US-Germanistik love bunch!; I was in the same position as you (obviously) about a year ago, and I was rather fortunate to have some funds saved for travel, a badass adviser (and I went to a not-so-hot undergrad school) with some connections and who took the time to make some informal introductions to a few professors, and that some of my personal travel plans coincided with my prospective visits, so I went with my ex-boyfriend to San Francisco for a few weeks, during which time I was able to visit Berkeley and decided it was not for me -- I also visited the University of Chicago (whose offer I accepted) and Columbia when I was out visiting a good friend of mine in NYC. I did put some time and effort into the GRE exam (spent about two months studying) and received good scores, but I don't think that they are very important (in retrospect) -- a good, solid verbal score (mine was in the 700s) is a good score to shoot for and I think they could honestly give a rat's ass about your quantitative (unless it's like freakishly low....) .. and the essays are a piece of cake (though I guess they're changing them now?) Your personal statement and writing sample are very important -- and your letters of recommendation. For familiarizing yourself with programs; last year, I just made a list of all programs I was potentially interested in: Princeton, Yale, Chicago, Cornell, Stanford, Johns Hopkins and then started narrowing my list to my three top schools which ended up being the only schools I applied to. I was also accepted in all three programs, so if you're looking to uh ... save some of those application fees, I would warn against applying to a dozen or so schools: klein aber fein. Chances are that if you know a lot about the program, faculty, their overall emphasis, and think you'd fit in well (and visiting is a great occasion to really figure this one out -- you can really take the reins here!) then you'll get in. And it will help your Letter of Rec writers know what they need to emphasize about you.
That's all I have for right now. My applications were grueling month-long processes and I had all kinds of dreams (I still do! I dreamt last night that I actually should be going to the Ludwig-Maximilian Universitaet and then somehow ended up in Princeton's bookstore -- and I didn't apply to or visit Princeton -- and was a bonafide Princeton student?!?), but I am confident that I made the right choice and it's great to be done. Let me know if you need anything else from me!