So, it's been a while since I last updated this. The main reason for this is that there is little to no news. The adjoining reason is that what news there is likely would only lead to a pretty depressing post.
I'll keep it as light and cheerful as I can manage.
Since last we met, I've been rejected, either tacitly or directly, from an additional four programs, leaving me with two that have yet to send any information: Georgia State University and New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. I'm not holding my breath that I'll get rejected from UMass-Amherst and then accepted to NYU, but stranger things have happened. I'm hoping that GSU sends me an acceptance, but since I've already been down this road before, I'm preparing for the worst (while, naturally, hoping for the best).
In order to move forward with my life (or at the very least make a lateral move) I'm applying to teach English abroad in Japan. My SO is doing it, I want to have some semblance of independence, and I like travel. It's win-win-win.
Going back to the constantly getting rejected from PhD programs bit, I understand that the admissions committees are busy and I am but a floating speck of dust in the cosmic scheme, but why wouldn't there be some system of feedback for these things? It seems like it would be simple enough to provide some pointers on where an applicant could improve their packet. "Did not attend Ivy League school for undergrad," or "You're kidding, right?" or even "Lack of formal academic training in Communication/Media Studies makes candidate unsuitable for program." As I've mentioned before, I have a lot working against me, so I'd like to know what it is that is keeping me out of the big leagues.
This is what I get for not being much of a planner, I suppose.
I received word on Tuesday from the University of Wisconsin at Madison that my application to their Communication Arts - Media and Cultural Studies PhD was rejected. This was disappointing (I ate a pizza and watched The Flash in my darkened room after work, which I'd have done anyway, but that's not the point) but wasn't a huge surprise to me for a few reasons. The first reason was that their MCS division had been shrunk significantly in the previous years and only had about half of the spots available of the next smallest program. This is a trend in Wisconsin (and elsewhere) as higher education is being gutted (as it is nationwide). This is particular to the humanities and, to a lesser extent, the social sciences.
Now I can prattle on about neoliberalism and the commodification of education in the United States, but I'd rather talk about myself. So, additionally, I suppose I may not have been the best fit for my prospective POI, despite the interest I perceived through our email correspondence. It could have been my abysmal undergraduate GPA (3.06. Never enter college thinking you'll be a doctor when all you made were Bs and Cs in science and math in high school. As I've mentioned, I'm not much of a planner.) or the fact that my two MAs had nothing to do with communications. Whatever the reason, they didn't want me. So, now I wait for the remaining six to render their judgment.
I continue to have Rambo-esque flashbacks of last year when I got completely shut out.
To paraphrase Frank Reynolds: "Wisconsin drew first blood!"
I still haven't heard anything from any of my programs, but that's more or less to be expected. At least until the first week of February or so.
In the meantime, I shall provide for you a playlist of songs to listen to while waiting. This is best enjoyed while waiting for admissions committees to render decisions, for pizzas to arrive, for the triage nurse to call you up, or waiting for the world to change (that song will, fortunately, not be featured here).
1. Elevator Operator - Courtney Barnett (For when you're having those existential issues)
2. Waiting Room - Fugazi (I am a patient boy, I wait, I wait, I wait.)
3. Can't Get Enough of Myself - Santigold, B.C. (Want to feel good about something for once? This is the song for you while you're waiting and falling down the pit of self.)
4. MFN - Cibo Matto (For when you want some weird and awesome background music to a panic attack)
5. Gimme Love - Sleater-Kinney (Imploring admissions committees to send a placement and 4-5 years of funding your way)
6. Keine Lust - Rammstein (For those times when you just can't)
7. Hawks and Serpents - The Sword (For those times when you need to destroy everything in your path)
8. School Spirit - Kanye West (For those times you regret spending an enormous amount of money on college and have nothing to show for it)
9. Bassem Sabry - Of Montreal (For your dark and violent funk)
10. Careless Whisper - George Michael (Pro: This will chase out all the bad thoughts. Con: It will replace them with saxophones.)
11. This Could Be Us - Rae Sremmurd (For when you get rejected)
12. Dance Yrself Clean - LCD Soundsystem (For when you have nine minutes to kill and no one is around to watch you sway to the rhythm)
I've done this before. The application process, not the blogging (though I have done that too).
I'll interrupt this digression with another: I have a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Russian, a Master of Arts in Russian and Eastern European Studies and a Master of Arts in Slavic Studies. This is important to know because not only did my academic career diverge in the middle of my undergraduate years, it did it twice within the final days of my terminal graduate degrees. This could be indicative of a character flaw (mercurial, prone to boredom) that might be useful if I were more intelligent or creative. It could also be indicative of a lack of self-awareness and insufficient research before making potentially life-changing decisions. I would agree that I suffer from many of these faults. I think the nicest way I can sum it all up is that I'm not much of a planner.
I would, however, argue that I have made it this far (I have two MAs and I work at a big-box retailer. Dreams do come true!) and that I'm relatively young, so I can always go teach English abroad and conveniently lose my passport. So far that's the best escape plan I have for avoiding the massive amount of student loan debt I have.
ANYWAY. Like I said, I've done this before. I applied to about 8 Political Science doctoral programs thinking that a thesis combining Russian Studies with the study of Popular Culture would help admissions committees overlook the fact that I've taken about two Political Science classes in my life and had no one in the field writing me letters of recommendation. I don't suggest doing this. My mistake was convincing myself it was a much more interdisciplinary field than it in fact is. That, and basically not being suited in any way to attempt to enter it. Consequently, I got shut out. My advice is to talk to people in the field you're interested in before investing a lot of emotional and literal currency in a lengthy and arduous admissions process.
I've apparently set my entire life up to be mostly a long example of what not to do in almost any given situation.
But new things! Exciting things! I found out there's a whole area of study for people who are so institutionalized that they can't imagine not being in an academic setting, but also watch an enormous amount of television and like to make connections between television programs and things that aren't television programs (There really are only the two things).
This time I emailed prospective advisors in advance (!) with a description of my research and a follow-up question as to whether I'd be suited to their program. Almost every single person I emailed responded positively, and a couple who didn't pointed me in the direction of others whom I might be able to work with. Oh, I suggest doing this a few months before August (Late May-Late July). This will be after the chaos of the end of the spring semester and before the chaos of the beginning of the fall semester. Some people didn't reply at all. I still applied to that program because it's a good fit, but I'm not holding my breath.
That's that, then. I'll keep you updated with results from this season's hottest admissions process. As of yet, I have no news.