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NoirFemme

Fall 2017 applicants

1,253 posts in this topic

Great advice from everyone =) Thanks!

 

Welcome Bridget H!

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I was chatting with a POI today and got an angle on fit that, while probably obvious to many of you, was insightful to me. It is often talked about here that "fit" is a very big component of the admission process. I had been thinking in terms of "fit" with my POI and with the department in terms of if they had the resources to support my niche. The POI pointed out that while they will support my application, there was a fair chance that when the DGS sees it they would say, "Is this a good fit for us?" Even if a faculty member green lights an application, if the DGS feels that an applicant will also be admitted to a similarly ranked school with a better general fit (to the aspect of a subject) they may reject solely on the basis of the conjecture that an applicant will get in to the other school, so will decline anyway.

I just wanted to point out that if you are looking at a school in a particular range of rankings it might be wise to look at similarly ranked schools to see if--even they don't have a specific POI you really like--they generally have  robust program in your area. It would not be fun at all to get denied on the basis of an assumption that you will attend another school--even if that assumption was made regarding a place you hadn't considered/didn't apply to. This particular POI said their opinion would be to let these types of applicants in and if they don't come so be it, but that is not how all the players involved see it.

This may be common knowledge to most of you but some of it made me think a bit...so I hope it helps!

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1 hour ago, Quickmick said:

I was chatting with a POI today and got an angle on fit that, while probably obvious to many of you, was insightful to me. It is often talked about here that "fit" is a very big component of the admission process. I had been thinking in terms of "fit" with my POI and with the department in terms of if they had the resources to support my niche. The POI pointed out that while they will support my application, there was a fair chance that when the DGS sees it they would say, "Is this a good fit for us?" Even if a faculty member green lights an application, if the DGS feels that an applicant will also be admitted to a similarly ranked school with a better general fit (to the aspect of a subject) they may reject solely on the basis of the conjecture that an applicant will get in to the other school, so will decline anyway.

I just wanted to point out that if you are looking at a school in a particular range of rankings it might be wise to look at similarly ranked schools to see if--even they don't have a specific POI you really like--they generally have  robust program in your area. It would not be fun at all to get denied on the basis of an assumption that you will attend another school--even if that assumption was made regarding a place you hadn't considered/didn't apply to. This particular POI said their opinion would be to let these types of applicants in and if they don't come so be it, but that is not how all the players involved see it.

This may be common knowledge to most of you but some of it made me think a bit...so I hope it helps!

Quite true.  It has happened to me *sigh* #dontassumethatillgetinoverthere  But some programs are willing to give you a shot if they think they can pull you away.

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I posted quite some time ago in this thread, but then disappeared from this site for a while. I've narrowed down a small list of PhD programs. While I love the field of public history and I've loved my experiences, I think I will be forever restless if I did not seek a PhD. I've only just sent out a few emails to POI, but am curious if you emailed the department head (or whoever the contact is for potential students) and how that email differed from your email to the POI.

Oh, and just to add, I'm applying to American religious history programs or public history programs that have a link to American religious history. I hope everyone is doing well!

 

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1 hour ago, emhafe said:

I posted quite some time ago in this thread, but then disappeared from this site for a while. I've narrowed down a small list of PhD programs. While I love the field of public history and I've loved my experiences, I think I will be forever restless if I did not seek a PhD. I've only just sent out a few emails to POI, but am curious if you emailed the department head (or whoever the contact is for potential students) and how that email differed from your email to the POI.

Oh, and just to add, I'm applying to American religious history programs or public history programs that have a link to American religious history. I hope everyone is doing well!

 

FWIW, I decided last year to apply to seven departments, emailing 3 professors directly at schools and leaving 4 alone (functioning as a type of control group, I suppose). I had really positive responses from each of the 3 POI that I contacted, but ultimately I didn't get into any of their programs. (One did send me a handwritten note on my rejection saying that they simply didn't have funding for me this year, but they are extremely interested in my work and to keep them posted, etc.)

Instead, I was contacted by a professor whose work aligns strongly with mine and was ultimately accepted to a school where I had no previous connections. I'm not saying this is typical (or atypical) for anyone, but I wouldn't worry about it either way. In my case, contact with a POI seemed to get my application looked at a little more closely, but it certainly was far from a guarantee of admission.

If you want a solid guide to writing an email to a POI, read this: http://theprofessorisin.com/tag/how-to-write-an-email-to-a-professor/

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1 hour ago, emhafe said:

I posted quite some time ago in this thread, but then disappeared from this site for a while. I've narrowed down a small list of PhD programs. While I love the field of public history and I've loved my experiences, I think I will be forever restless if I did not seek a PhD. I've only just sent out a few emails to POI, but am curious if you emailed the department head (or whoever the contact is for potential students) and how that email differed from your email to the POI.

Oh, and just to add, I'm applying to American religious history programs or public history programs that have a link to American religious history. I hope everyone is doing well!

 

I only emailed people for three reasons:

  1. To ensure that they weren't retiring.
  2. To query a list of their peers (my interests were obscure and I had trouble locating POI).
  3. To ask if I might receive a copy of their graduate student handbook.

I found the entire formal POI query a little awkward, for everyone. Too many expectations. The above questions were informal enough that I contacted with less pressure.

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2 hours ago, Neist said:

I only emailed people for three reasons:

  1. To ensure that they weren't retiring.
  2. To query a list of their peers (my interests were obscure and I had trouble locating POI).
  3. To ask if I might receive a copy of their graduate student handbook.

I found the entire formal POI query a little awkward, for everyone. Too many expectations. The above questions were informal enough that I contacted with less pressure.

To add to this list of reasons for contacting a POI: Even if someone is not retiring, they may not be taking students during your application cycle. This doesn't seem very uncommon, so it's good to know in advance. For example, I wrote to POI at one of my top choice programs, and while she was interested in my work, she told me that she was going to be away at the archives on leave during what would be my first year, so she wasn't taking any students that year (she also emphasized the importance of having your advisor in residence for at least the first two years of your program). Thanks to this info, I saved the money and time I would've spent on that application--though I did hate taking one of my top pick programs off my list! Anyway, I think it's always reasonable (and responsible!) to not only ask whether they're into your research, but also whether they're taking students in your cycle. Good luck all!

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I was working on an application today and, while I am used to seeing the "what other schools are you applying to" question, this was the first time I was also asked to rank them in order of preference. Not quite sure how to approach this. My gut inclination is to ignore this question, or to list two or three schools that I am applying to that are sort of grouped together... what is your take on this question generally? Does the adcomm get my response? If not the whole adcomm, the DGS? I have read on the forum that some people think this is just for statistical information gathering...but to rank them? Maybe I am just being too conspiratorial...

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If you pick the wrong schools, you will forever be blacklisted from all of academia and openly mocked by beggars in the street. 

(It's for schools to understand where they rank, don't sweat it)

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19 hours ago, Quickmick said:

I was working on an application today and, while I am used to seeing the "what other schools are you applying to" question, this was the first time I was also asked to rank them in order of preference. Not quite sure how to approach this. My gut inclination is to ignore this question, or to list two or three schools that I am applying to that are sort of grouped together... what is your take on this question generally? Does the adcomm get my response? If not the whole adcomm, the DGS? I have read on the forum that some people think this is just for statistical information gathering...but to rank them? Maybe I am just being too conspiratorial...

it's a fit thing too. Most of these people are best friends or at least good colleagues; if School A knows School X, which is a perfect fit for you, is going to make you an offer, School A is unlikely to pursue you. 

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Well, here we go I sent 5 apps out today. I know there is no advantage to sending them ahead of the deadline, but by sending them out I make sure I am thinking about what is on my plate ahead of the spring defense of my MS thesis.

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Hi everyone! New member here but hopeful for fall '17 :) 

Quick question that even after lots of online searching I'm feeling a little lost. I'm interested in studying modern Europe (particularly 19th C France) and am having trouble narrowing down the list of schools I'm looking at. I have been looking mostly at the top 20 schools, but I'm worried I might be missing out on hidden gems that have better programs for what I want to study because when you search all the initial results are very recognizable names. Mind you I obviously am not opposed to the Ivies or recognizable names, I just don't want to overlook a great school. If anyone has any recommendations at schools to look at that would be great! Or just how they went about creating the list of schools that tailored to their interests. Have a good one!! 

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3 hours ago, bigbangdeux said:

Hi everyone! New member here but hopeful for fall '17 :) 

Quick question that even after lots of online searching I'm feeling a little lost. I'm interested in studying modern Europe (particularly 19th C France) and am having trouble narrowing down the list of schools I'm looking at. I have been looking mostly at the top 20 schools, but I'm worried I might be missing out on hidden gems that have better programs for what I want to study because when you search all the initial results are very recognizable names. Mind you I obviously am not opposed to the Ivies or recognizable names, I just don't want to overlook a great school. If anyone has any recommendations at schools to look at that would be great! Or just how they went about creating the list of schools that tailored to their interests. Have a good one!! 

Off the top of my head, and fairly biased towards French imperialism— Rutgers (Judith Surkis), NYU (Frederick Cooper), Wisconsin (Mary Louise Roberts), Michigan (Gabrielle Hecht), Cornell (Camille Robcis), CUNY (Gary Wilder), Stanford (JP Daughton), Minnesota (Patricia Lorcin), UT-Austin (Judith Coffin). I can't vouch for any of these historians or programs, other than my current program, but take a look at them and see what you like and what you don't-- every historian studies something slightly different, and every program is geared towards slightly different interests. It's important to nail down what about France or Europe you're interested in. Gender? Colonialism? French-American relations? Science? You need a school with a strong European contingent and at least one French historian, but beyond that thematic fit is just as/if not more important. For example, if empire is really what you dig, I wouldn't hit up Wisconsin, but I would try Rutgers or NYU. 

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On 9/7/2016 at 9:14 PM, Quickmick said:

Well, here we go I sent 5 apps out today. I know there is no advantage to sending them ahead of the deadline, but by sending them out I make sure I am thinking about what is on my plate ahead of the spring defense of my MS thesis.

 

Wow, I wish I was that prepared last year! I'm not even sure if my apps opened in September.

 

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On 9/9/2016 at 4:54 PM, bigbangdeux said:

Hi everyone! New member here but hopeful for fall '17 :) 

Quick question that even after lots of online searching I'm feeling a little lost. I'm interested in studying modern Europe (particularly 19th C France) and am having trouble narrowing down the list of schools I'm looking at. I have been looking mostly at the top 20 schools, but I'm worried I might be missing out on hidden gems that have better programs for what I want to study because when you search all the initial results are very recognizable names. Mind you I obviously am not opposed to the Ivies or recognizable names, I just don't want to overlook a great school. If anyone has any recommendations at schools to look at that would be great! Or just how they went about creating the list of schools that tailored to their interests. Have a good one!! 

If you have been so focused on top 20, then you're completely missing out on Ohio State which has some of the top French historians-- Bruno Cabanes and Alice Conklin.  We also have a early modern French historian (Elizabeth Bond).  You can't go wrong with this trio if you're interested in French cultural history.  Bond is all about 18th century and information networks (including print culture).  Conklin is one of the best, if not THE best, historian of French colonialism as she has broken new ground in French colonial history with her books on French Africa under the Third Republic with her cross-disciplinary approaches with anthropology.  Bruno Cabanes is focused on the culture of French military and France during WWI.  So if you're looking at working with a group of French scholars covering from the Enlightenment to 1945, you've got to apply to Ohio State.  Our French history graduate students have turned down Mary Louise Roberts to come to OSU to be with Alice Conklin because (A) better funding and (B) more advisor attention.  And you are pretty much guaranteed a graduate seminar or two each year with emphasis on French history.

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hi everyone. How would you start to email a POI the first time? what would you say in your email if you'd like to meet them in person? I'm veryyyyy stressed out? when should I start emailing?

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@rojano first of all, try to relax a little bit. If I wanted to meet someone, I didn't ask in the first email, but waited to see how my message was received. After that, if it looked like it was worth a trip, then I asked. What I did was have 3 dates that I knew worked for me...something like any Friday afternoon the rest of the month (or whatever) with the option of giving me dates if none of that worked. That way--if it suited them--the could just say Friday the blahblah. Seemed to make the planning easier without a lot of back and fourth regarding dates.

If you are currently in Canada, and want to get the most for your travel dollar, you might see if there is a conference you can attend that will be attended by some of your POIs. I attended one in March and got to meet and talk with some interesting people. You could attend AHA, but it falls after deadlines--but might still be before adcomms have things finalized, though it might be a little late in my estimation. In any case there is time to get things done so don't fret and good luck.

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On 9/5/2016 at 5:11 PM, nevermind said:
2 hours ago, rojano said:

hi everyone. How would you start to email a POI the first time? what would you say in your email if you'd like to meet them in person? I'm veryyyyy stressed out? when should I start emailing?

If you want a solid guide to writing an email to a POI, read this: http://theprofessorisin.com/tag/how-to-write-an-email-to-a-professor/

 

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On 9/9/2016 at 7:51 PM, gsc said:

Off the top of my head, and fairly biased towards French imperialism— Rutgers (Judith Surkis), NYU (Frederick Cooper), Wisconsin (Mary Louise Roberts), Michigan (Gabrielle Hecht), Cornell (Camille Robcis), CUNY (Gary Wilder), Stanford (JP Daughton), Minnesota (Patricia Lorcin), UT-Austin (Judith Coffin). I can't vouch for any of these historians or programs, other than my current program, but take a look at them and see what you like and what you don't-- every historian studies something slightly different, and every program is geared towards slightly different interests. It's important to nail down what about France or Europe you're interested in. Gender? Colonialism? French-American relations? Science? You need a school with a strong European contingent and at least one French historian, but beyond that thematic fit is just as/if not more important. For example, if empire is really what you dig, I wouldn't hit up Wisconsin, but I would try Rutgers or NYU. 

 

On 9/10/2016 at 4:05 PM, TMP said:

If you have been so focused on top 20, then you're completely missing out on Ohio State which has some of the top French historians-- Bruno Cabanes and Alice Conklin.  We also have a early modern French historian (Elizabeth Bond).  You can't go wrong with this trio if you're interested in French cultural history.  Bond is all about 18th century and information networks (including print culture).  Conklin is one of the best, if not THE best, historian of French colonialism as she has broken new ground in French colonial history with her books on French Africa under the Third Republic with her cross-disciplinary approaches with anthropology.  Bruno Cabanes is focused on the culture of French military and France during WWI.  So if you're looking at working with a group of French scholars covering from the Enlightenment to 1945, you've got to apply to Ohio State.  Our French history graduate students have turned down Mary Louise Roberts to come to OSU to be with Alice Conklin because (A) better funding and (B) more advisor attention.  And you are pretty much guaranteed a graduate seminar or two each year with emphasis on French history.

Thank you very much for the responses!! I really appreciate it. I definitely would have missed Ohio State, but will be looking more deeply into them now!

Another question for everyone. I didn't major in history in undergrad but double majored in Classics and modern languages and literature (French/Spanish) so definitely had a lot of overlap with history. My question pertains to the writing sample. I worked super hard on my senior thesis and put in a bunch of research into it and ended up receiving Distinction on it, and would want to use this as my writing sample; however, it's written in French. Would it be completely fine just to translate it and use that as my writing sample, because I don't really want to put on my applications that I want to study French history, but then submit my Classics thesis, which while good I'm not as proud of? Also would be really interested in talking to people who didn't major in history in undergrad and if they have experienced any problems in the application process because of this? 

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8 hours ago, bigbangdeux said:

 

 

Thank you very much for the responses!! I really appreciate it. I definitely would have missed Ohio State, but will be looking more deeply into them now!

Another question for everyone. I didn't major in history in undergrad but double majored in Classics and modern languages and literature (French/Spanish) so definitely had a lot of overlap with history. My question pertains to the writing sample. I worked super hard on my senior thesis and put in a bunch of research into it and ended up receiving Distinction on it, and would want to use this as my writing sample; however, it's written in French. Would it be completely fine just to translate it and use that as my writing sample, because I don't really want to put on my applications that I want to study French history, but then submit my Classics thesis, which while good I'm not as proud of? Also would be really interested in talking to people who didn't major in history in undergrad and if they have experienced any problems in the application process because of this? 

Ask your adviser/professors what they think.  Also, you can certainly ask your POIs (after all, they DO read French :)).

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Hi all. One of the prefessors at university of toronto had the same interests as I do. I was gonna email her to as for a personal appointment, but it seems she's on leave until December. Do you think I should still email her and mention the request for appointment or email her without mentioning this? Will she ever answer? Do I need to contact a supervisor before application or apply directly to the appartment? I was very hopeful to be able to contact her!! What should I do now?!!!

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Hello everyone! Was hoping for assistance parsing the potential interest in responses I received from POI's I have emailed, with a description of what my scholarly interests are, as well as inquiring whether they would be accepting students.

First response seems tepid " Thank you for your interest in the PhD program in XXX. I will be on leave next academic year but I'm accepting students nonetheless. Perhaps if you have specific questions I can try to answer them, but on the whole our website is quite comprehensive. As you can imagine I receive a lot of inquiries and can not meet or talk to everyone! I urge you to apply!" 

Second response seems more enthusiastic. "Your scholarly interest sounds like a good fit for what we offer in the Department of History at XXX. While I clearly overlap with your interests, there are others in the department who have scholarly interests in related fields. I am currently accepting graduate students, and would be more than willing to answer any questions you may have about our program. Do not hesitate to let me know how I may be able to help." 

The second POI was clearly more engaging and interested, and I will definitely pursue that option, but the first response seems almost entirely disinterested, but then includes the phrase "I urge you to apply!" Does anyone think it is worth pursuing the first option, or move on? Many thanks to anyone who attempts to mitigate my anxiety!

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If I only applied to programs based on the enthusiasm professors gave my unsolicited emails, I wouldn't have applied anywhere.

She sounds like she was writing an email in a hurry, and she probably does get a lot of unsolicited emails asking the same five questions, so she's trying to reduce her email inflow. The more worrisome thing is that the professor will be on leave your first year in the program, which I wouldn't recommend since you'll be without a real point person in your department when you're just starting out— but also at this stage, you haven't gotten in anywhere, so you can't be that picky. Apply anyway. 

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It can be hard to respond to emails that only have one yes/no question without seeming brusque. Like, "Yes! I'm accepting students." Okay, now what do you fill the rest of the email with? They're not going to come back praising how great your email is—that would feel icky to me, personally—so sometimes the 'filler' gets awkward. (I think the first professor noticed the awkward as they were writing and then tried to compensate with more enthusiasm at the end.) But although I think I know what causes it, getting the weird filler also annoyed me, so I always asked two questions to make it easier for potential faculty to respond in a way that helped me out: 1) Are you accepting students? 2) Given my combination of interests, where else might you suggest I apply? (I would list those interests—strengths in colonial US and gender history, for example—and/or list a couple of other obvious suspects to show you've done your homework, although be careful with the latter lest you email a POI at the University of Hawaii that the other schools you're considering are Harvard and Yale: try to good, peer-type matches within the subfield.) Then they could respond with three happy, content-filled sentences and it was easier for both of us.

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@betwixt&between As others have generally commented, I wouldn't worry too much. It sounds like your POI was simply a bit busy. :) 

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