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sop + ws


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13 replies to this topic

#1 celph

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Posted 05 January 2011 - 10:08 PM

So, I've been applying. Just finishing my undergrad studies. Was wondering if anybody could PM me a SOP or WS that got them in grad school. If you already had an MA and was applying for PhD, that's OK too. I need something to compare my own work against. I have no idea how good or bad my work is. My professors say it's great but I feel like it's ridiculously bad.
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Waiting: Colorado, University of Kentucky

Accepted: UGA (fund me?), University of Oregon (waitlisted for funding)

Rejected: Cornell, Princeton, Michigan, Vanderbilt

#2 celph

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 01:24 PM

Nobody? PM me!



So, I've been applying. Just finishing my undergrad studies. Was wondering if anybody could PM me a SOP or WS that got them in grad school. If you already had an MA and was applying for PhD, that's OK too. I need something to compare my own work against. I have no idea how good or bad my work is. My professors say it's great but I feel like it's ridiculously bad.


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Waiting: Colorado, University of Kentucky

Accepted: UGA (fund me?), University of Oregon (waitlisted for funding)

Rejected: Cornell, Princeton, Michigan, Vanderbilt

#3 dissata

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 12:06 AM

I don't know.

I have been scouring this forum (and the web in general) for this information. A bit hard to come by, apparently.
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#4 celph

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 04:00 AM

Seems that way.

I don't know.

I have been scouring this forum (and the web in general) for this information. A bit hard to come by, apparently.


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Waiting: Colorado, University of Kentucky

Accepted: UGA (fund me?), University of Oregon (waitlisted for funding)

Rejected: Cornell, Princeton, Michigan, Vanderbilt

#5 inafuturelife

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 04:21 AM

I don't know.

I have been scouring this forum (and the web in general) for this information. A bit hard to come by, apparently.


this is likely due to the fact that giving complete strangers these documents may lead to stolen SOPs/writing samples.
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#6 mandarin.orange

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 04:57 AM

I found both of these extremely helpful:

http://www-personal....ooreks/sop.html

http://unlikelygrad..../a-winning-sop/

Their own SOPs were for very different disciplines (I see you are in Classics), but in the first site, I think she has great advice that would apply to just about anyone writing an SOP.
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#7 celph

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 07:00 AM

HikingKate,
Thanks, that's good stuff!

I found both of these extremely helpful:

http://www-personal....ooreks/sop.html

http://unlikelygrad..../a-winning-sop/

Their own SOPs were for very different disciplines (I see you are in Classics), but in the first site, I think she has great advice that would apply to just about anyone writing an SOP.


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Waiting: Colorado, University of Kentucky

Accepted: UGA (fund me?), University of Oregon (waitlisted for funding)

Rejected: Cornell, Princeton, Michigan, Vanderbilt

#8 dissata

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 10:27 AM

this is likely due to the fact that giving complete strangers these documents may lead to stolen SOPs/writing samples.


True. I suppose I should have been more specific; I have found it difficult to find admission and acceptance statistics in general for Classics. Some info can be found here, and there are a few out-dated statistics for a couple schools, but nothing that allows one to make an educated guess on one's chance for acceptance.

The whole SoP and Writing sample process for graduate application seems very esoteric. When I have contacted schools about what length, depth, and scope my writing sample should be I am met with general and subjective guidelines such as "sufficiently in-depth" or "discuss any scholarship relevant to your field". Should my writing sample be a paper worked on during the normal course of my studies? What constitutes "relevant scholarship"? Many programs were hesitant to give me even a general page requirement. I wasn't looking for anything absolute. How hard is it to say something like, "Most successful applicants provide a writing sample around 15pp long, but, as always, there are exceptions"?

This is particularly frustrating to me since I don't wish to apply to programs where I have little or no chance of acceptance. Scraping together enough cash has been difficult enough without the added worry about whether the entire process is futile.

I understand that academic integrity is always a concern, but surely graduate schools or accepted graduate students could share what guidelines for SoP and writing samples are generally desirable.
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#9 anonacademic

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 12:20 PM

True. I suppose I should have been more specific; I have found it difficult to find admission and acceptance statistics in general for Classics. Some info can be found here, and there are a few out-dated statistics for a couple schools, but nothing that allows one to make an educated guess on one's chance for acceptance.

The whole SoP and Writing sample process for graduate application seems very esoteric. When I have contacted schools about what length, depth, and scope my writing sample should be I am met with general and subjective guidelines such as "sufficiently in-depth" or "discuss any scholarship relevant to your field". Should my writing sample be a paper worked on during the normal course of my studies? What constitutes "relevant scholarship"? Many programs were hesitant to give me even a general page requirement. I wasn't looking for anything absolute. How hard is it to say something like, "Most successful applicants provide a writing sample around 15pp long, but, as always, there are exceptions"?

This is particularly frustrating to me since I don't wish to apply to programs where I have little or no chance of acceptance. Scraping together enough cash has been difficult enough without the added worry about whether the entire process is futile.

I understand that academic integrity is always a concern, but surely graduate schools or accepted graduate students could share what guidelines for SoP and writing samples are generally desirable.


Why don't you ask other Classics friends in your department? When I sat down with my professors to make my list, we based it off of (partly) what schools had a history of accepting or denying students from our program. I already had a rough idea of my "chances" from my friends. (This isn't so much a comparison between your and their relative abilities but understand that academia is highly political & some schools will never take someone from your department, no matter how amazing they are. Conversely, other schools love people from your program & have a history of accepting many.) Ask your profs/students already through the process from your program these questions - what schools they applied to/got in to, what their SoP looked like, what they used for a WS.

If you are at a small liberal arts college where it seems your profs aren't as in touch with the larger world of research, yes, that could pose a problem. However (that was my case), their advice is much better than any you will get on an online forum.

I'm confused about your other questions, particularly what is "relevant scholarship" - isn't it simply recent, relevant (i.e. pertinent to your topic) scholarship?

Many of your other questions (such as guidelines for SoP etc) are answered & discussed at length in other humanities fora here - history seems particularly active, and I know that the literature forum has plenty on the topic. I know it's not specifically your field, and that your mileage might necessarily vary, but the answers I would give you (the answers you are trying to solicit) are already answered manifold.

EDIT: The reason why I'm not attempting to offer any more answers (or expand those I gave) is not to be a jerk, but rather to safe myself some time. There are loooong answers to your questions - but fortunately for both of us they are saved forever on these fora. I do hope that someone from your field comes by to offer their perspective, which would certainly be more helpful than mine.

Good luck.

Edited by Chumlee, 17 January 2011 - 12:42 PM.

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#10 ElCielo

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 04:26 PM

In addition to everything Chumlee said (which is all great advice), I have another resource for you: http://classicaljour...dy_classics.php

This has been linked a few times in the classics forum but its really worth checking out if you haven't yet. The FAQ page gives info on what a successful writing sample/sop in classics should look like, and the Graduate Program Survey page has tons of info about programs including what they look for in applicants and the (rough) percentage of grad students they accept each year. Hope this helps!


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#11 dissata

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 06:38 PM

If you are at a small liberal arts college where it seems your profs aren't as in touch with the larger world of research, yes, that could pose a problem. However (that was my case), their advice is much better than any you will get on an online forum.


This is true for me also. I did talk with my profs a lot. Sometimes they were very helpful, other times I wanted to bang my head against the wall.

Keep in mind that I am complaining "post application"... Many of my questions were eventually answered, it just felt as if the answers were unduly difficult to obtain.


I'm confused about your other questions, particularly what is "relevant scholarship" - isn't it simply recent, relevant (i.e. pertinent to your topic) scholarship?


This goes hand in hand with the in-depth and scope question. Does relevant refer to recent or influential? For example, I could write a paper on Aristotle's poetics using S.H. Butcher, Gerard F. Else, Francis Ferguson, Lane Cooper, or Leon Golden. All of these men are highly influential, but none are particularly recent. I could just focus on more recent articles and books, but many reference or rely on these previous academics.

Many of your other questions (such as guidelines for SoP etc) are answered & discussed at length in other humanities fora here - history seems particularly active, and I know that the literature forum has plenty on the topic. I know it's not specifically your field, and that your mileage might necessarily vary, but the answers I would give you (the answers you are trying to solicit) are already answered manifold.


You are right, it is easy to find information on writing a good SoP. I sort of lumped the SoP in with the writing sample, which I shouldn't have.


Good luck.


Thank you! I need all the luck I can get!

In addition to everything Chumlee said (which is all great advice), I have another resource for you: http://classicaljour...dy_classics.php

This has been linked a few times in the classics forum but its really worth checking out if you haven't yet. The FAQ page gives info on what a successful writing sample/sop in classics should look like, and the Graduate Program Survey page has tons of info about programs including what they look for in applicants and the (rough) percentage of grad students they accept each year. Hope this helps!



Great link. I had come across this early in my application process and it was very helpful, but for some reason I forgot about it. The survey is particularly nice (Especially as I go through my "I am doomed" phase.
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#12 Medievalmaniac

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 07:29 PM

I think it is important to keep in mind that there is no "right answer". or actual formula for success, here...myriad writing samples and statements of purpose are sent and accepted each year. There's no "tried and true" method for assuring anyone of a writing sample or SOP that will guarantee an admit - there are many potentially successful ways of approaching these tasks. In the end, it really does depend on the exigencies of who is reading what, when. It's unfortunate, because it means a lot of people don't end up getting an acceptance when they probably would do very well - but I think adcomms have a general idea of what they are after, and it's sort of a "we'll know it when we see it" mentality in many cases.

Hang in there - it's all over but the waiting at this point, and then we'll know what did and didn't work this year. :)
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#13 anonacademic

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Posted 17 January 2011 - 08:41 PM

This goes hand in hand with the in-depth and scope question. Does relevant refer to recent or influential? For example, I could write a paper on Aristotle's poetics using S.H. Butcher, Gerard F. Else, Francis Ferguson, Lane Cooper, or Leon Golden. All of these men are highly influential, but none are particularly recent. I could just focus on more recent articles and books, but many reference or rely on these previous academics.


I think it's both. If someone "wrote the book" on a certain topic/author/whatever, then you don't want to leave them out of your discussion. I deal with contemporary writers, so this isn't so much my issue, but I do face it on the theory end of things. But you also want to demonstrate that you're up to date & a part of the current conversation. (Thus the reason why many profs instill a "no work before 2000/older than 5 years" rule when assigning annotated bibliographies.)

There's a lot you can do (and has been done) on Poetics, so pick the authors that say something pertinent to your discussion. I don't know any of those you listed, so I can't offer specifics there, but probably in a seminar paper you do not need to encounter every one of them. Have a rationale for why you pick certain works and be consistent - show the depth of your understanding of their work and how it connects/complicates your own.

If you're applying with a BA, I wouldn't sweat it - I hear that the adcoms overlook this sort of thing. If you're coming in with an MA, they want to see a more sophisticated approach to the subject - and that includes the literature and how you react to it. If you turned in a writing sample that knocked your professor's socks off, then I really wouldn't worry about it! Demonstrating complex thinking and creative ideas is more important than the bibliography. (But again, as MM so rightly says, there are many differing POVs on this issue, and no adcom thinks alike - and frankly none of us know how they think period!)
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#14 celph

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Posted 19 January 2011 - 08:24 PM

Thanks for the replies!
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Waiting: Colorado, University of Kentucky

Accepted: UGA (fund me?), University of Oregon (waitlisted for funding)

Rejected: Cornell, Princeton, Michigan, Vanderbilt




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