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FaultyPowers

Anthropology Decisions 2015

100 posts in this topic

Sorry, I wasn't clear enough -- by regional fit, I don't mean the location of the school itself in the US, but its ethnographic research strengths (ie, I'm an aspiring Africanist anthropologist, and I think some of my options are definitely better than others for Africanist anthropology). Sorry for the confusion!

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Sorry, I wasn't clear enough -- by regional fit, I don't mean the location of the school itself in the US, but its ethnographic research strengths (ie, I'm an aspiring Africanist anthropologist, and I think some of my options are definitely better than others for Africanist anthropology). Sorry for the confusion!

 

Hey mmmcheese, I see Oxford is on your list of acceptances. I did a postgraduate degree there (MSc), and while I'm sure funding is a major concern, it is a good department for Africanists, as there are quite a few of them there. In any case, PM me if you want to chat about the department/university in more detail!

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Sorry, I wasn't clear enough -- by regional fit, I don't mean the location of the school itself in the US, but its ethnographic research strengths (ie, I'm an aspiring Africanist anthropologist, and I think some of my options are definitely better than others for Africanist anthropology). Sorry for the confusion!

 

I'm inclined to think that it is more crucial to be somewhere with a lot of support for your regional area of interest. Part of the hard work of anthropology seems to be gaining access to field sites and resources, and that means having support and inroads to where you want to actually conduct your research. 

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UNC is a great place to do med anthropology! I was seriously considering applying except that I was very financially strapped and not sure that their approach completely meshed with mine. are you funded there? Why Irvine over UNC?

congrats!

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Let me explain! UNC is only providing 3 years of funding to its anthro students, not five years. Current anthro students have expressed some concern with the funding situation there, and I am a bit worried. I know that people find funding for their years in the field and dissertation writing (years 4-5), but the cushion and safety of 5 years sounds nice.

That said, the UNC program sounds FANTASTIC! I didn't discuss how awesome the current students are and how collegial the department seems to be.

UC Irvine was a chance to work with a professor (Peterson) doing specific research. I study pharmaceutical sectors in developing economies and she has similar research interests.

However, Dr. Redfield at UNC is also interested in my stuff. Thanks for the info on Irvine. I knew little about it. My ranking was mostly displeasure with getting 3 years and not 5; I know that UNC is wondaful.

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Count me among those who are curious about the Irvine decision. I am particularly interested as an archaeologist I worked with in Cyprus went to UNC and told me about his choice between UNC and a top California school (I don't recall which school right now) but he said the UNC department was just so much more personable. Granted that was a few years back, but this same professor also warned me to stay away from the CA system as money problems were causing professors to look for other positions. He is a department chair at University in WA and said everytime they have an opening they get hundreds of applicants looking to leave the U of CA system. Wouldn't want to get stranded if your POI just up and left. :/

It is this aspect of application-mindset that I don't possess. I hardly considered the possibility of my POI departing for greener pastures and leaving me stranded (in Irvine, ouch).

Redfield is a professor (not associate or assistant) and I know that he is comfy there at UNC.

Any UVA issues? I've been impressed by UNC and swept off my feet by the department and I'm liking what I see (and read), but should I be concerned about the last two years of non-funding?

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Thanks so much, everyone! Someone PMed me and suggested that I could try to bring an Africanist anthropologist from my current institution onto my committee at whichever program I end up choosing. I think that's a really promising idea, because it would give me the country-specific guidance I need (there are two people at my current program working in my particular country of focus) without having to necessarily compromise on the theoretical/topical stuff. So I'm going to see which of my options would be amenable to that arrangement. Just thought I'd post that here in case anyone else is in my shoes!

 

If any current students at schools I'm considering are lurking here, please do get in touch! Like I said, I wasn't able to visit most of these programs, and I'd love to hear from people who are already there.

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Thanks so much, everyone! Someone PMed me and suggested that I could try to bring an Africanist anthropologist from my current institution onto my committee at whichever program I end up choosing. I think that's a really promising idea, because it would give me the country-specific guidance I need (there are two people at my current program working in my particular country of focus) without having to necessarily compromise on the theoretical/topical stuff. So I'm going to see which of my options would be amenable to that arrangement. Just thought I'd post that here in case anyone else is in my shoes!

 

If any current students at schools I'm considering are lurking here, please do get in touch! Like I said, I wasn't able to visit most of these programs, and I'd love to hear from people who are already there.

 

I know nothing specific about the programs you are considering but you might want to consider pulling in an Africanist from another department. Some programs want you to have someone on your committee from another discipline. 

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Count me among those who are curious about the Irvine decision.  I am particularly interested as an archaeologist I worked with in Cyprus went to UNC and told me about his choice between UNC and a top California school (I don't recall which school right now) but he said the UNC department was just so much more personable. Granted that was a few years back, but this same professor also warned me to stay away from the CA system as money problems were causing professors to look for other positions. He is a department chair at University in WA and said everytime they have an opening they get hundreds of applicants looking to leave the U of CA system. Wouldn't want to get stranded if your POI just up and left.  :/

 

I'm a bit curious about this - I'm not from the US so this may sound naive, but how come that, despite these assumed money problems, Irvine is still able to fund its' PhD students fully for at least 6 years (as opposed to other schools who will only guarantee funding for e.g. 3 years)? I mean, is the money allocated to prospective students separate to financial research opportunities given to the faculty (hence, they want to leave the U of CA system)?

From what I can see money is quite tight pretty much anywhere in academia and the job market seems to be extremely competitive across the US (and in many other countries as well).

As for being stranded if your POI left - I honestly think that can happen anywhere at any time for a variety of reasons. Personally, I made sure that there were several faculty available within my research area and while nobody can replace a great working relationship with your POI (who may be THE expert while it would take 2 or 3 different people to cover all aspects)I do think/hope that there is more that one faculty there to support you in finishing your research and achieving your goal of a PhD without too much pain.

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Wait, I thought this outside committee members thing was really common knowledge! PSA: your outside committee members are really crucial resources, especially when you are on the job market. At least where I come from, there's like a pipeline of post-docs and junior faculty positions that come from outside committee members. I already have mine lined up...definitely something to think about!

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Wait, I thought this outside committee members thing was really common knowledge! PSA: your outside committee members are really crucial resources, especially when you are on the job market. At least where I come from, there's like a pipeline of post-docs and junior faculty positions that come from outside committee members. I already have mine lined up...definitely something to think about!

 

I thought it was common knowledge too.  I checked out faculty across departments when I was working on applications.  

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I plan on formally accepting my offer at VT tomorrow!  I'm stoked to be moving on from this seemingly interminable application season - the next few months of planning my cross country move, apartment hunting, getting to know Blacksburg, etc will probably be less stressful than the past few months of anxious waiting.

 

There is one last bit of app season stuff I'm unsure about: declining offers of admission.  I have four offers to decline, and I plan on sending an email to my POI at each school (in addition to the online accept/decline button on each website).  What kind of information is typically included in one of these emails? Do I let them know where I am going and why I chose VT over their programs, or am I supposed to keep it general and along the lines of "sorry it didn't work out, hopefully we will get the chance to work together in the future/see each other at conferences/etc?"  

 

If anyone has experience with this I would appreciate some advice!  I don't want to ruffle any feathers, especially since some of these MA programs I'm turning down have associated faculty at PhD programs I'll be looking at in 2017.

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Hello Hello,

 

Has anyone heard back from Johns Hopkins yet? I'm still on the wait list..! 

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It is this aspect of application-mindset that I don't possess. I hardly considered the possibility of my POI departing for greener pastures and leaving me stranded (in Irvine, ouch).

Redfield is a professor (not associate or assistant) and I know that he is comfy there at UNC.

Any UVA issues? I've been impressed by UNC and swept off my feet by the department and I'm liking what I see (and read), but should I be concerned about the last two years of non-funding?

 

 

I can say that the only reason this is something that came up for me is I personally know TWO people this happened to.  Two isn't a lot.  But in one case, my good friend accepted a four year offer at a university to work with THE GUY that studied her topic (he had his own lab there) and he left!  Now she's there and literally nobody there knows anything about her desired topic.  It put her in a pinch.  But honestly, as long as you aren't looking for THE GUY that covers your topic, you should be able to adjust if your POI left.  

Having said that...I 100% understand the funding question.  I am literally looking at that same problem myself.  I don't have the answer.  For myself, I know I can find the funding for those last couple years...but the idea of NOT having to search for and apply for it sounds SO NICE.  Nice enough that I haven't accepted a really great three year funding offer in the event that I could get a five year offer I'm waitlisted for (and EVEN THEN I'm not sure what I would do).  If you have some epiphany in this area, let me know!

 

 

I'm a bit curious about this - I'm not from the US so this may sound naive, but how come that, despite these assumed money problems, Irvine is still able to fund its' PhD students fully for at least 6 years (as opposed to other schools who will only guarantee funding for e.g. 3 years)? I mean, is the money allocated to prospective students separate to financial research opportunities given to the faculty (hence, they want to leave the U of CA system)?

From what I can see money is quite tight pretty much anywhere in academia and the job market seems to be extremely competitive across the US (and in many other countries as well).

As for being stranded if your POI left - I honestly think that can happen anywhere at any time for a variety of reasons. Personally, I made sure that there were several faculty available within my research area and while nobody can replace a great working relationship with your POI (who may be THE expert while it would take 2 or 3 different people to cover all aspects)I do think/hope that there is more that one faculty there to support you in finishing your research and achieving your goal of a PhD without too much pain.

 

I can't speak to every school, but I know many schools have different budgets for every single aspect of their program.  So, in some cases you have strange things happen like fully funded grad students but underfunded faculty.  Things ARE tight everywhere, but it differs somewhat by state and the California system was hit especially hard.  With less money coming from their state, universities there (everywhere) have been looking at ways to fill gaps.  I know at my school this has meant there has been no new tenured positions opened for retiring professors.  The school has decided to hire adjunct professors in some cases, and in some cases, they have just asked the current faculty to teach more.  So at my school, this means tenured track professors are teaching a ridiculous course load and many of them are wildly frustrated and burning out.  

 

Don't get me wrong.  If I was offered a guaranteed fully funded six year program...I'd take it.  And I think you definitely right to look for places that have a few people you can work with just in case. 

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There is one last bit of app season stuff I'm unsure about: declining offers of admission.  I have four offers to decline, and I plan on sending an email to my POI at each school (in addition to the online accept/decline button on each website).  What kind of information is typically included in one of these emails? Do I let them know where I am going and why I chose VT over their programs, or am I supposed to keep it general and along the lines of "sorry it didn't work out, hopefully we will get the chance to work together in the future/see each other at conferences/etc?"  

 

 

 

Congrats on all these offers!!!! As for declining them - I'm not sure if this is the standard, but one of my schools specifically asked me to provide them with info on where I am going on what were the reasons for choosing the other school over them (they had like a small questionnaire as part of their accept/decline procedure) so I'd recommend you to give them as much/little detail as you are comfortable with. I'd say while them may not need to know the school you are going to they probably do appreciate knowing the general factor for choosing a different place (general as in 'even better research fit' or 'great financial support' - something like that).

But do make sure you thank your rejected schools for their time etc. - I mean, just make sure you acknowledge their awesomeness as well, in case you will collaborate with them in the future ;)

 

 

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I can't speak to every school, but I know many schools have different budgets for every single aspect of their program.  So, in some cases you have strange things happen like fully funded grad students but underfunded faculty.  Things ARE tight everywhere, but it differs somewhat by state and the California system was hit especially hard.  With less money coming from their state, universities there (everywhere) have been looking at ways to fill gaps.  I know at my school this has meant there has been no new tenured positions opened for retiring professors.  The school has decided to hire adjunct professors in some cases, and in some cases, they have just asked the current faculty to teach more.  So at my school, this means tenured track professors are teaching a ridiculous course load and many of them are wildly frustrated and burning out.  

 

Don't get me wrong.  If I was offered a guaranteed fully funded six year program...I'd take it.  And I think you definitely right to look for places that have a few people you can work with just in case. 

 

Thanks! That really helped me understand!

I have actually read a bit about the adjunct system in the US and was APPALLED... so if this is how money is allocated I completely understand why anybody would want to leave.

As I will be heading to California for my PhD I am now hoping that the faculty is treated well, not only because I wouldn't want people to leave but also, because it will have a huge affect on the the atmosphere in general and I'd like to that to be good for their and also my benefit.

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Thanks! That really helped me understand!

I have actually read a bit about the adjunct system in the US and was APPALLED... so if this is how money is allocated I completely understand why anybody would want to leave.

As I will be heading to California for my PhD I am now hoping that the faculty is treated well, not only because I wouldn't want people to leave but also, because it will have a huge affect on the the atmosphere in general and I'd like to that to be good for their and also my benefit.

 

I personally think the current system is unsustainable.  Can't see many people dedicating themselves to the PhD just to make less than minimum wage as an adjunct.  I'm sort of hoping (maybe naively) that it will straighten itself out before I finish my degree.  

Congrats on the admit!  

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Congrats on all these offers!!!! As for declining them - I'm not sure if this is the standard, but one of my schools specifically asked me to provide them with info on where I am going on what were the reasons for choosing the other school over them (they had like a small questionnaire as part of their accept/decline procedure) so I'd recommend you to give them as much/little detail as you are comfortable with. I'd say while them may not need to know the school you are going to they probably do appreciate knowing the general factor for choosing a different place (general as in 'even better research fit' or 'great financial support' - something like that).

But do make sure you thank your rejected schools for their time etc. - I mean, just make sure you acknowledge their awesomeness as well, in case you will collaborate with them in the future ;)

 

 

 

 

Thanks for the advice!  I know for sure that at least one school has a questionnaire to fill out if you decline the offer, so I'm all set there.  It's the other schools I wasn't sure about.  It sucks because they are all great fits and I'd be happy at any of these schools, but I just can't turn down VT's research opportunities, not to mention the fact that it is fully funded.  In the end I guess it's better to be the one sending out rejection emails, rather than receiving them  :P

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Thanks for the advice!  I know for sure that at least one school has a questionnaire to fill out if you decline the offer, so I'm all set there.  It's the other schools I wasn't sure about.  It sucks because they are all great fits and I'd be happy at any of these schools, but I just can't turn down VT's research opportunities, not to mention the fact that it is fully funded.  In the end I guess it's better to be the one sending out rejection emails, rather than receiving them  :P

 

Definitely! :D

And yeah, I suppose it's clear that they are all great fits cuz otherwise you'd have never applied there... honestly, just tell them what you've just told me!

 

I personally think the current system is unsustainable.  Can't see many people dedicating themselves to the PhD just to make less than minimum wage as an adjunct.  I'm sort of hoping (maybe naively) that it will straighten itself out before I finish my degree.  

Congrats on the admit!  

 

Thanks! And the same to you too! And yes, I also hope that universal academia will be able to reform itself slowly because the adjunct system (and similar ways of "saving money" in other countries) are not sustainable at all...

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 Congratulations to all of you!! :) 

 This has probably been brought up somewhere on here, but I have seen on the results page that people have been contacting the schools from where they have not heard back from. I was wondering how I would go about doing that? I applied to U of Indianapolis, and have not heard back from them, and they only have four faculty members and no graduate advisor on the website. Should I just contact the department or the faculty member that I was corresponding with? I just received an offer from U of West Florida and they don't specify the time limit on accepting the offer, just that I need to accept soon in order to find out about funding. I would really like to go to Indianapolis, but I know my chances are slim.....

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Somewhere in the 'Graduate' section of the department's website there should be either a "Contact Us" or a "For More Information about the Graduate Program" link; if not, look through the 'Faculty & Staff' section and find the contact info for the Department Secretary or the Grad Studies Coordinator. If you've established an email correspondence with a specific POI, I would suggest that you email her/him as well.

 

 Congratulations to all of you!! :)

 This has probably been brought up somewhere on here, but I have seen on the results page that people have been contacting the schools from where they have not heard back from. I was wondering how I would go about doing that? I applied to U of Indianapolis, and have not heard back from them, and they only have four faculty members and no graduate advisor on the website. Should I just contact the department or the faculty member that I was corresponding with? I just received an offer from U of West Florida and they don't specify the time limit on accepting the offer, just that I need to accept soon in order to find out about funding. I would really like to go to Indianapolis, but I know my chances are slim.....

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I've accepted UMass :)

 

I haven't actually heard what my financial offer is from my other acceptance (they're deciding tomorrow) but my partner and I sat down and crunched some numbers and realized that even if they beat the financial offer I got from UMass, which is pretty damn good for a public school, they'd have to beat it by a significant amount to make the prospect of living there better than living in Amherst. And there's a slew of other quality-of-life issues we'd have to mitigate as well.

 

Plus my mom already bought like $500 worth of UMass swag, so I think I would literally break her heart if I didn't go. 

Edited by FaultyPowers

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I've accepted UMass :)

 

I haven't actually heard what my financial offer is from my other acceptance (they're deciding tomorrow) but my partner and I sat down and crunched some numbers and realized that even if they beat the financial offer I got from UMass, which is pretty damn good for a public school, they'd have to beat it by a significant amount to make the prospect of living there better than living in Amherst. And there's a slew of other quality-of-life issues we'd have to mitigate as well.

 

Plus my mom already bought like $500 worth of UMass swag, so I think I would literally break her heart if I didn't go. 

Congrats on making a decision! 

 

I'm fairly sure that its would take something radical to shake me out of my home, but I'm not convinced that radical somethings won't happen *quite* yet. 

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I can say that the only reason this is something that came up for me is I personally know TWO people this happened to. Two isn't a lot. But in one case, my good friend accepted a four year offer at a university to work with THE GUY that studied her topic (he had his own lab there) and he left! Now she's there and literally nobody there knows anything about her desired topic. It put her in a pinch. But honestly, as long as you aren't looking for THE GUY that covers your topic, you should be able to adjust if your POI left.

Having said that...I 100% understand the funding question. I am literally looking at that same problem myself. I don't have the answer. For myself, I know I can find the funding for those last couple years...but the idea of NOT having to search for and apply for it sounds SO NICE. Nice enough that I haven't accepted a really great three year funding offer in the event that I could get a five year offer I'm waitlisted for (and EVEN THEN I'm not sure what I would do). If you have some epiphany in this area, let me know!

I can't speak to every school, but I know many schools have different budgets for every single aspect of their program. So, in some cases you have strange things happen like fully funded grad students but underfunded faculty. Things ARE tight everywhere, but it differs somewhat by state and the California system was hit especially hard. With less money coming from their state, universities there (everywhere) have been looking at ways to fill gaps. I know at my school this has meant there has been no new tenured positions opened for retiring professors. The school has decided to hire adjunct professors in some cases, and in some cases, they have just asked the current faculty to teach more. So at my school, this means tenured track professors are teaching a ridiculous course load and many of them are wildly frustrated and burning out.

Don't get me wrong. If I was offered a guaranteed fully funded six year program...I'd take it. And I think you definitely right to look for places that have a few people you can work with just in case.

Thanks for your thoughts. Its nice to know that I'm not alone and that my reasoning is sound. I'm not too worried about being unsupported by faculty, even if my POI bolts for somewhere else. I'm confident that there are other faculty members inside the department that will provide guidance and support. Honestly the money is bugging me. I don't have an answer for the funding problem either; do you go for the sure thing (5 or 6 years funding) or go for the standout department with only 3 years?

I'm still waiting on two decisions, but this isn't an easy choice. Congratulations to you, annwyn, and everyone else with acceptances and choices to make!

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