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Showing content with the highest reputation since 11/15/2017 in all areas

  1. 11 points
    Well, the first round of application deadlines has come and gone, and soon your applications will be in the hands of admissions committees at programs around the country. From the outside, the process likely seems pretty mysterious, so I thought I would give an overview of how I review PhD applications. DISCLAIMER #1: My approach does not necessarily reflect how other admissions committee members perform their reviews. DISCLAIMER #2: This description applies to PhD applications, where the goal is to identify and rank the most promising applicants; the process is different for Masters admissions, where the goal is to figure out whether applicants meet a given standard. - The process begins when we receive a list of applicants whose applications are ready to be reviewed (i.e., they are sufficiently "complete"). For each applicant, we typically have access to individual documents (transcript, letters, research statement, etc.) along with a combined PDF file that has all the relevant information. - First, I get a feel for what type of applicant this is. There are five common types: domestic students coming from undergrad, domestic students attending Masters programs, international students attending US undergrads, international students attending US masters programs, and international students attending undergrad in their home country. I'll also note the institution(s) attend(ed). This sets the expectation for what I will be looking for in the application. - Next, I'm likely to notice standardized test scores. Both are going to help me start forming my impression of your application. Basically, I'm looking for anything concerning (e.g., a low GRE quant score) or particularly impressive (a high verbal and/or analytical writing score); if they're in the "solid" range, I don't pay much attention to specific numbers or percentiles. - One of the things I pay closest attention to is the transcript. I'll start by doing a quick scan to get a rough sense of overall performance; then I'll look more carefully at the courses. I'll start by looking at how many math courses were taken, and how well the applicant did in them. If there are some lower grades on the transcript, I'm interested to see whether they're mostly in "heavier" courses (such as organic chemistry) or "lighter" ones. In evaluating the transcript, I very much keep in mind the institution attended; if I've never heard of a school (and I've heard of a lot of schools, through my experience in admissions), anything less than a near-perfect GPA is likely going to be an issue, and conversely, if an institution is known for grade deflation, a lower GPA might not be fatal. - At this point, if there is anything unusual in the transcript or the rest of the application that seems to beg for an explanation, I'll take a look at the personal statement. Otherwise, I'm unlikely to give it much more than a quick glance. - Last come the letters of recommendation. The vast, vast majority of them are quite positive, so I am looking both for subtleties in tone ("this student was great!" vs. "this student was A-MA-ZING!") and for specific distinguishing details ("this student received the highest grade in my class, by a mile" or "within 3 months of starting to work with me, this student was operating at the level of a PhD student") that add information beyond what I already got from the transcript and test scores. I pay some attention to the academic rank and seniority of the letter writer (the statement "this is the best student I've ever worked with" means more coming from a senior full professor than a second-year assistant prof), but don't recognize most of the names so am not often "impressed" by the stature of letter writers. - Now, it comes time to score the application. At our institution, we use a categorical scoring system with options ranging from "I strongly object to admitting this applicant" to "I strongly support admitting this applicant". In assigning the score, I keep in mind the total number of people we are likely to admit (which is determined by projected available funding, and discussed before admissions decisions are made), and I try to give "supportive" scores to about this number of applicants. I keep a mental note of applicants that I'd like to discuss with the full admissions committee, particularly if I suspect my score is likely to be substantially higher than my colleagues'. - The last step involves the admissions committee discussing scores and ranking applicants. Our initial ranking is based on the average score assigned by committee members, and from this we can usually identify some "obvious" admits and rejects. Then, we discuss the remaining applicants and determine our final ordering.
  2. 9 points
    Professor Plum

    Is a PhD worth it?

    A quick piece of advice I dispense a lot this time of year: Spend some time researching people who currently hold the positions you'd like to hold in five to 8 years, and see what you can learn about their career trajectories. How many hold advanced degrees? How many hold PhDs? What fields are their degrees in? How competitive are the programs? What does an entry-level position look like in the organization? How did people gain entry into the field? What else besides advanced study do they have on their CVs? A lot of this information is available online, so if you set aside a few hours each week you can learn quite a bit. If you're very serious about a particular kind of organization, there's no harm in e-mailing people who are at the 5-8 year mark asking if they have any insight to share with someone who is hoping to get a foot in the door. Not everyone will have time to respond, but people rarely respond badly to a message like Hey, I'm really impressed with the career you're putting together and would like to have one like it myself someday. Other advice: Going to graduate school simply because it seems like the next logical step is, in my experience, almost always a bad idea. Your apps are in, so you have a nice window here while you wait on replies. Use it to clarify your goals and how the degree will get you closer to them. That way you'll be better prepared with the right answer in the spring as answers come back. People who go because it seemed like the next logical thing frequently drop out, so if you can determine that a PhD is not for you (or is not for you right now) before you enroll, so much the better.
  3. 8 points

    A cautionary tale

    Hi all. As you all go about your applications, I thought I'd write with a recent cautionary tale from the other side of the table. This forum was a great help to me as I went through my grad school application process and hope that I can contribute to the knowledge here. As a relatively new faculty member I am still excited to get grad applications--I start looking at them right away. I recently looked at one that listed areas of research interest that align with what I do, but did not list faculty members of interest. I wrote the applicant to ask for elaboration. I did not sign the email other than with my signature line which specifies my full name and my degrees (including PhD). He wrote back promptly (which is good), but addressed me by my first name only (not Dr. Me) and said that he wanted to work with "Dr. Other Person" (male), because of his work (that is similar to mine). This signals to me a few things: 1.) there are possible sexism issues, 2.) the student did not really read my web page or work, 3.) there are likely respect issues. This was an otherwise fairly strong candidate that I was potentially interested in. No more. Perhaps he will still end up with Dr. Other Person, and it will be fine, but it is a small program, and it is always good to cultivate multiple mentoring relationships. Perhaps those of you who are in the stage of applying and communicating with potential mentors can learn from this.
  4. 8 points

    December 1st

    This is Oh So Not the way to decide on where to obtain your graduate education. Talk to your advisors, consider fit, funding, location, placement records of your potential schools, and go from there. Rankings on this piece of paper aren't worth the electronic ink that's spilled on them as far as graduate education is concerned.
  5. 7 points

    2018 App Crunch Time

    Hey all -- I'm in my first year of my program and I was thinking today about this time last year and my worries about my apps and my chances and all that. So I just wanted to drop a note saying to breathe. You'll be okay. Just work systematically and carefully. Focus on the sentence in front of you. You can spend a lot of emotional energy freaking out about your chances, but that actually won't help at all. The only thing that'll help is keeping yourself sane and working on the things that you can actually control. Spend time with your friends and family and know that this'll all be over soon. You can do it!!
  6. 6 points

    A cautionary tale

    Eh.... Wanting to work with senior faculty isn't always the smart move, especially when the junior faculties research much more closely aligns with your research. Most of the time the absolute best bet is to work with a recently hired assistant prof. They're going to be much more engaged in the work and their first students, and you'll graduate before they're up for tenure. And to be honest, you should show strong interest in any faculty member reaching out to you, especially one in your area of interest.
  7. 6 points
    Oh, this reminds me. For the love of all that is holy, PLEASE, do NOT re-read old drafts of submitted statements. That's one of the best way to add useless agony to your life. Put them behind you when you're done and move on. (Caveat: unless you're back to work on new drafts for a new cycle. But even then, what's done is done.) Old statements will be embarrassing to you no matter what you do. For most people, all of their old writing is like that. It shows all their flaws and inconsistencies, or so they think. But the thing is, no one else resides in your head and knows these things, and anyway -- what's done is done.
  8. 6 points
    I've seen a slew of posts to the same effect as yours and feel morally compelled to intervene and provide my thoughts, lest some people 'on the fence' be swayed by them into living a life of dissatisfaction and be perpetually troubled by the chilling question, 'what if?'. I disagree strongly with these clickbait posts which serve not to educate or edify but instead only to disillusion people. To be frank, with all due respect, your comment reeks of a flawed and closed-minded prioritisation of financial security over passion. In so doing, you overlook the very reason we are pursuing public policy/IR in the first place, as opposed to medicine or investment banking. Moreover, you neglect the fact that $60k is only a base salary and those who work hard will likely within the next decade or two reach the $100k+ mark. Your argument may resonate with some people - especially from developing low-income countries - but should definitely not serve as a ground for someone to summarily give up on their hopes and dreams, as cheesy as that sounds. Yes, you may be far more financially secure throughout your 20s and 30s if you work as an 'honest plumber' or 'lowly dockworker'. And yes, the pay after graduation for public policy and international affairs jobs is less than ideal. But if you look at the issue from the other side of the coin, you'll realise that you're effectively wasting your best 20 years on something that does not provide you with spiritual content. I don't know about you, but to me that's scary. Some people aspire to be the change they want to see. We are okay and in fact perfectly content to live in less-than-ideal situations if that permits us to effect change in a world which is so worryingly bleak. We are fortunate enough to profit from modern technologies and have access to the insights of the best thinkers in the world. Without detracting from the indispensability of plumbers and dockworkers in society, we are blessed with such vast opportunities that it is our imperative to make use of them to make the world a better place. As such, we are not so much concerned with financial security as we are with a desire to be able to say with conviction when we are old and grey and full of sleep that 'I have lived my life to its fullest'. It is doing what we love, not what makes us feel secure, that drives us. I can say with certainty that I would be far happier helping create a reliable source of clean water for Nepalese communities or empowering Pakistani women, than I would be working as a dockworker for 20 years with countless hours of tough physical labour. By the time you reach 40, you may have a husband/wife and children to care for and simply cannot afford to go to school and work overseas in developing countries. You may develop back pains or cancer or Parkinson's which inhibits you from doing what you want. Life catches up to you fast, dude. Although you purport to have an ostensibly good understanding of finances, you fail to evince any understanding or appreciation of life itself. Notwithstanding, the rosy picture that I paint is inevitably subject to some caveats. Some people, after graduating from these top schools, do indeed struggle to find jobs. They might be forced to work in the private sector in order to repay their debts, or might be stuck in a boring desk job. They might be forced to live in a crammed apartment with cold water showers and noisy roommates. Expectation and reality are, after all, dichotomous constructs. However, the majority do go on to do something meaningful and impactful. It is a risk, but it is necessarily a risk that the ambitious must take. No one ever made a difference by being the same. So I think the message we should take from this post is not the disillusionment and unabashed bias of the writer, but rather the disjointed message to proceed with caution before taking on a $100k debt. This is a huge sum, and should not be hastily dismissed. But if you work at least 5-8 years in a good job beforehand then it's definitely repayable if you get a decent job afterwards. Where I live, it's not uncommon to live an hour away from the city centre in order to save thousands of dollars in rent. Be fiscally responsible, but don't be overly protective like the writer. The human mind is notoriously fickle, so please think carefully before making a decision. Read books. Talk with people in the field. Know that the life of a policy maker is not all sunshine and rainbows. It's bloody hard work. But most importantly, know that this is really what you want to do. And if it truly is, then you will make the most of the opportunity and will unfailingly do what you set out to achieve. Those with the greatest histories and motivations are the ones who invariably climb up the ladder and end up the highest irrespective of their background, as Kofi Annan and Malala demonstrate. And the world needs exactly these people in the current times of turbulence.
  9. 6 points
    My first reaction was: Yikes. I am sad to hear about cases like this. My second reaction was: Is this website/article the only report of this case or has it been reported elsewhere and details corroborated by another source? After the initial reaction, I went to see if I could find instances of this reported elsewhere, but did not find anything. I would be concerned that the author of this article has some personal vendetta against this person and is digging up pretty obscure details of their past. (I'm not sure if you, @Ibn Al-Haytham, is also the author of this article, or if you're just linking to it). Summary: I don't think this is a big deal at all and I think the author of this article is presenting minor mistakes as motivated wrongdoing without any substantial evidence. Please see below for a fact check of the article. Since this post is now super long, I'm presenting my main summarized thoughts up here. In the linked article, the author brings up a concern of CV fabrication and coverup by universities. However, the case in question is hardly clear evidence of this happening. Based on my fact-check below, there is only one instance where there could have been a deliberate attempt to claim credit for something the professor did not do, although there are plenty of benign explanations that also fit. This seems much more like a case of sloppy CV record keeping and making mistakes one really shouldn't make. And although I agree with the linked article's author that integrity is extremely important and once someone does something academically unethical, their other actions do become suspect. However, one clearly cannot group all questionable acts together. Even if the prof in question did knowingly leave the one incorrect item in their CV in an attempt to boost it, this is a very minor offense that does not lead me to question everything else the professor did. In addition, I do not think such small differences gave the prof in question any real unfair advantage. Overall, I think the linked article contains a lot of speculation, especially about the prof in question's motives, which the author cannot know. It also presents minor issues as major ones with little argument to back that up and arbitrarily decides on the worst possible outcome when facts are unknown (without acknowledging other explanations). Altogether, it seems like an irresponsible article to have published. ---- Here's what I did to fact-check the article ---- It was a long article but the two main problems the author pointed out with the CV is 1) the person in question put some conference abstracts under conference proceedings in the CV and 2) the person in question claimed authorship of 2 articles they did not author. For #1. I don't think there is any wrongdoing here at all. Looking at the archived CV, under "peer-reviewed conference proceedings", the professor makes it clear that there are two types of things being listed, "Talk presented at ..." and "In Proceedings....". To me, this clearly shows that the ones with only "Talk presented at..." are not published proceedings. It's legitimate to call them peer-reviewed because conferences use peer review to select which abstracts are going to be scheduled as talks. In the article, the author uses their own definition of Proceedings and cites Wikipedia, but these are certainly not the only (nor the only acceptable) definition. For #2. I decided to do my own digging since I could not find details corroborated by any other source. The article's author objects to two publications: A. Davidenko, N., Beaumont, J., Davidenko, J.M., and Jalife, J. (1997). Spatio-temporal evolution of spiral wave activity. Biophys. J. 72:2 A370, June 1997. B. Beaumont, J., Davidenko, N., Davidenko, J.M., and Jalife, J. (1995). A model study of changes in excitability of ventricular muscle cells with repetitive stimulation. Inhibition, facilitation, and hysteresis. Am. J. Physiol. 268; 37:H1-H14, 1995. I started with Publication A. Unlike the article's author, I was able to easily find this publication within 5 minutes of searching. Here's what I did. I went to the journal's website. I searched back issues to look for Volume 72, Issue 2. It turns out that there was a meeting and the abstracts of presentations were published in the Biophys J. As a special issue, probably (normal in my field too). With the page number being "A370", it was just a matter of searching through the long list of PDFs organized by session to determine which one A370 belonged to. I found it on Page 22 of this file: http://www.cell.com/biophysj/pdf/S0006-3495(97)78745-9.pdf The main problem with this line in the CV was that the published issue of Biophys J. is February 1997 but the CV says June 1997. Benign typo, or perhaps misunderstanding of dates. I have a conference presentation from 2013 that was accepted for publication as proceedings but did not appear in print until 2014 (appeared online in 2013). The secondary problem is that despite publication in a peer-reviewed journal, at least in my field, this is not a typical peer reviewed journal article. However, this is minor issue at the level of "CV padding", not a grave ethical breach that would cause me to doubt everything about this person. It is far less serious than the original claim that the person in question simply fabricated the manuscript. In any case, nothing to ring alarm bells about at all. Publication B is a little more tricky. I was not able to find the publication as cited by the person in question. It may not exist or I might just not be familiar enough with this field's journals (I notice that the American Journal of Physiology has many subdivisions). The author of the article claims that Publication B as cited is a misrepresentation of another article with a similar title but a different author list. I noticed that Publication B, as cited, quotes page numbers H1-H14. Volume 268 doesn't have page H1-H14 and it doesn't even have Issue 32, as far as I know. This makes me suspect a typo. Also, while it's possible to be the first 14 pages, sometimes drafts/proofs are numbered from page 1 (or A1 or H1 or whatever). Perhaps the person in question, in 1995, when they are at an early stage of their career (an undergrad) simply did not know that the page numbers on a draft manuscript did not actually represent the final published page numbers and they just continued to copy and paste the same CV line for decades. I also know from experience that sometimes as manuscripts and projects evolve, author lists change. Maybe the person in question was removed from the author list but didn't know it. Or maybe there is another article out there and this was just a typo. Note that these page numbers and the author list appear very similar to a 1998 publication also on the CV (see: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9649363). Maybe the 1995 project that the person in question contributed to was split into two works, one published in 1995 and the other part (where the author got moved to) was published in 1998. Sometimes this happens in my field because the project hit some snags or the lead author had to prioritize other things. So maybe at one point, the person in question was a co-author on the 1995 work but then failed to remove the listing from the CV after the project evolved. Again, this is careless behaviour and disappointing to see in another academic. But at this time, the person in question was a undergraduate student and I know I made lots of dumb mistakes like that. This person should have corrected their CV once they knew better but I don't know all the details, so I can't really judge. That said, I can't rule out malicious intent like the article linked here suggested, but that's certainly not the only plausible explanation. I don't think it is a good idea for the article's author to only present the worst possible scenario and then conjure up some motivations that are not backed up in any way. It's fine to point out that the prof in question should have known better but it's a little far fetched to make the other claims. And I think it's downright irresponsible to present the worst possible case as the only scenario without even considering other explanations.
  10. 5 points

    The Positivity Thread

    After the venting thread, stress, and other forms of despair I've seen at this forum - let's share something positive that happened to you today. I'll start. My mum bought me Ben & Jerry's ^^,
  11. 5 points
    Does anyone else read accepted student bios and feel really unaccomplished? I was just reading the bios for Northwestern students and this one student had even competed in the olympics. Like at that point I just wanted to give up loll
  12. 5 points
    My understanding of the issue is not just that the task is "distasteful" but that the student is trolling the TA / the class. It's one thing for a student to be writing an argument you may disagree with but is doing so in good faith but another thing to deal with problematic and vitriolic papers. If the TA does not feel comfortable approaching the student alone about their paper, it is perfectly within their rights and the correct thing to do to call for support. Ultimately, a grad student has very little leverage over an undergrad student and it's not fair for a student to have to deal with a "troll" just to earn their tuition waiver/stipend. Just like any worker has the right to refuse unsafe work and to be in a workplace free of harassment, going to the instructor is the right first step if the TA feels an encounter with the student could go badly. Note that the original advice was not just to "hand off" the task. Instead, it was to go to the instructor and let them deal with it as they see fit. This may include them saying "yeah, I'll take it from here" or it might include them working with you to figure out the best solution. Going to the instructor for help is not a sign of weakness or shirking your TA duties. Instead, it's exactly what a TA should do if they encounter a problem they don't know how to deal with: talk to your superior.
  13. 5 points

    Intolerant student in feminist class

    Yep, happens all the time. I teach a lot of fiction and non-fiction writing by women and African-Americans, and I teach at a predominantly white institution, so I occasionally run across very hostile racist/sexist students. More frequently, I run across students who are just not all that acquainted with minority perspectives, and they feel that by being made to study women's and African-American literature, they are being denied "real literature" or being force-fed an "agenda." Naturally, many students now feel empowered to voice these sentiments (and uglier ones) since last year's election. In any case, I've found it helpful to really structure class and writing assignments very, very carefully. When it comes to material that might be dicey for them, I don't ask open questions in class, and I don't ask them if they agree with this writer or that writer on the topic of sexism or racism. First, I make clear that we need to meet the authors where they're at in terms of their experiences, and that we take seriously their writing about racism/sexism without trying to impose our own experiences. (In other words, I tend to view derailing comments like "so-and-so is just imagining racism where it doesn't exist because he's paranoid" or "As a white person I'm the victim of reverse racism," or "but white people have it hard these days because of affirmative action, and black people have it really easy," as off topic and irrelevant to the discussion at hand, and I steer students away from them.) I also ask them to focus more on techniques the writer is using; their tools of persuasion; their blending of personal experience with academic prose, etc. etc. I occasionally ask my own students to write their own narratives, and to pattern their narratives after the essays we've read by minority authors. I find that when we take the focus off "do you agree racism/sexism exists or that so-and-so is just making all this racism stuff up?" and put it on what and how the author is actually writing, we have more productive and focused discussions. Now, I teach literature and composition classes rather than women's studies or feminist theory, so my approach may not be relevant to what you're teaching. But in terms of writing, I also urge you to structure assignments very carefully. Again, in my own class, I ask very specific questions and guide them to doing a really detailed analysis. Or I have them use one essay as a lens for thinking about the other. And then I lay out very specific criteria for how I'm going to grade the piece. Honestly, this heads off most problems. But you are still going to have students who sit down at their computers and write their own anti-feminist or alt-right screeds. And these essays can be troubling to read. But you just read them and grade them as impartially as possible according to the criteria you've established. These students generally fail themselves. When they do this kind of editorializing, they're usually so far off the mark that it's easy to fail them on technicalities or shoddy argumentation alone. Last year, a student of mine chose to write a paper about a Derek Walcott poem. The assignment asked for a researched, thesis-driven explication. What he gave me was an eight-page anti-immigrant and racist rant that quoted Breitbart, among other things. Well, that was an easy call--he hadn't done what the assignment asked for (nor the proper research), so F. Racism, sexism, heterosexism, and xenophobia are such illogical and intellectually bankrupt belief systems that they fail all on their own. Still sucks to read that stuff, though.
  14. 5 points

    What would you have done?

    So this is not someone who you've ever met in person or talk to, she threw a fit before because you didn't boost her socials, and now she's out of the blue saying she has a problem with your success. Don't respond. This could be a tactic to get a sympathy boost (I'm sorry you aren't happy. Here, let me help you become more successful) or it could be an attempt to start drama or simply an attempt to bring you down. In all of these scenarios, she is not your friend and is trying to use or manipulate you. There is the offchance that she honestly views the relationship as closer than you do. If you don't want a close relationship with them, I'd also not respond. It sounds mean, but ultimately you need to put your own mental health and business first. Being more successful than another person, unless you are outright stealing customers or something from them, is not harmful to that person. They need to put on their grown-up pants and learn how to deal or confide in someone who can help them get over it (aka a family member, friend, or professional, but not you or random professional people they follow on the internet).
  15. 5 points
    Moderator note: It seems that this conversation has run its course. It is perhaps best to put this thread to rest at this point.
  16. 5 points
    Friend, you seem to be very confused about who we are and what this board is about. First off, no one here is required to comply with any demands in order to engage in a conversation with any other poster ("first find this article, then provide that link, then we'll talk", which you seem to continuously use as a canned reply). Second, this is not a trial. We are not defense attorneys. We don't even know the person you've chosen to pick on. What we are is people with some experience, and we are sharing alternative ways of interpreting facts (and perceived facts) that you have presented. Just like you are entitled to your opinion that everyone has the worst intentions at heart without providing any proof, we are entitled to present alternative possible ways things could have happened. This here is key: you just admitted that you have absolutely no standing, and you don't intend to follow up on any of your libelous claims. You've instead assumed the role of Defender of Academia. No one appointed you, and it seems to me that the people you claim to be fighting for aren't happy with what you're doing. Think about that. To conclude, you appear to be nothing more than a keyboard warrior, and one who is trying to get others to do their work for them, at that. We've continuously replied to your made-up scenarios, and you've continuously replied with the same unaware response. It seems to me like we're just all wasting our time.
  17. 4 points


    It took all my willpower not to drop an H-bomb. Also, everyone has a Fulbright these days; us good scholars get Mellon grants. But seriously, I didn't quite see that. I see an enthusiastic intellectual who thinks they have it more figured than they actually do, which is pretty much the definition of an undergraduate. This is kind of the other half of the phenomenon @TMP described, though. If professors are disinclined to re-teach writing, they are even more hesitant to challenge trite ideas proposed by an enthusiastic student out of fear of crushing them. Thankfully (???) my undergraduate advisers were a bit more brutal. When I turned in a 20-page seminar paper which was written like the paragraphs given above, my professor told me that he "would usually not recommend someone with this level of writing ability continue on to graduate education." He knew, of course, that I'm a stubborn asshole and that this would simply make me work twice as hard to prove him wrong. It also came with 4,000 words of commentary and suggestions on a 5,000 word paper. To drive the point home, this is the problem with the paragraphs given above. However, I wouldn't put intent (i.e. "to cover up") behind it - I'm a big believer in a close relationship between form and understanding. That is, the confusion exhibited by the sample paragraphs are not hiding an absence of insight. Rather the "musings" are being confused with insight. Again, I want to reiterate that, while my comments are harsh, I don't think the OP is a "bad writer," because, as Adventure Time tells us, "being shitty at something is the first step to being kinda good at something," and I think that they're a typical writer for where they are in their academic life. And OP is certainly brave to put their writing up for comment on a public forum populated with jerks like myself - a bravery which, when coupled with a receptive attitude towards the feedback they receive, will certainly pay good dividends.
  18. 4 points

    Fall 2018 Cycle

    Just found out that I got into Cornell!! This is my first acceptance, and I think I'm still in shock.
  19. 4 points
    Good to hear that tuition waiver taxes may not happen. But I hope US grad students who oppose other parts of this tax bill continue fighting against it! I won't comment further since most of the other changes aren't on topic for this thread (although things like repealing individual mandate may make insurance unaffordable for students on modest stipends) and I'm not a US voter so it's not my business anyways. Just a general statement that I hope people don't fall into a trap of being "placated" if only one (or a few) of many concerns are addressed. Otherwise, it would be quite easy for lawmakers to throw in attacks on certain types of voters (e.g. students) then take them out as a fake "compromise" in order to get their other agenda passed.
  20. 4 points


    Yes but you will need to learn to love being concise because fellowship applications, journal articles and book publishers very, very often have word limits. A standard book review will run anywhere between 500-1000 words and somehow you have to pack the entire book within that limit. Your dissertation also *should* not be more than 300 pages of text (or roughly 100,000 words). Accepting this reality early on while do you well on the very long run. While it is fine to read Russian novels (I'm in middle of Tolstoy's War and Peace at the moment) and let some of the author's writing influence you in terms of creativity, you need to remain aware of your limitations when you actually sit down to write whatever damn thing you have to write for your profession as a historian.
  21. 4 points


    One of my major teaching goals with my undergrads was to get them to work on their writing. Not all appreciated it when they realized that I gave a damn (I had one who complained that his midterm exam grade was unfair: "I thought this was supposed to be a history course where we learn facts, not writing!" The prof rebuked on my behalf ). I told them to write their papers, not just for me and the professor, but also for their proud grandparents (they giggled). In my department, we are about being accessible as writers and we don't think there has been enough writing instruction at any level, college or high school. In your case, I've re-written the first paragraph to show what "trimming the fat" means and clear, straightforward writing for history looks like (Cutting from 196 words to 69, which would give you so much more room for analysis and substential evidence down the way). This is exactly what professors mean by being "concise"/"succinct". FWIW--and not to slam your adviser-- times have changed since your adviser went to that PhD program. The PhD program and its faculty may have changed their approaches to training PhDs to make sure that their writing is marketable, not just to the academy but also to the general public. Through me, my undergrad adviser has learned a lot what's changed and stayed the same since she finished and she really appreciated all the changes and thought they're for the better. Of course, you should translate the documents according to the original language but, as my German professor reminded me as he worked with me, say what the original means in idiomatic English. Don't adhere too closely to the original as in translating word-for-word. My $.02.
  22. 4 points
    European Lumpi

    Fall 2018 Applicants

    Haha good to know I'm not the only one. I'm applying to Harvard, Cornell, Columbia, Duke, and Indiana, but I'm also throwing in a few B-School apps at places that allow for very sociological work. Yeah, I'm trying to juggle my master's and all these apps at once right now and that is getting quite crazy as well. Ha that doesn't sound too relaxing either, but I'm envious nonetheless Also: Wow this forum is starting to come alive. I was quite surprised by how little traffic there was on here until recently haha
  23. 4 points

    Hertie School of Governance 2018

    Can we all talk more on here because seeing other people dying from the suspense is giving me warm, fuzzy feelings in my stomach where it would otherwise be churning because of this ordeal
  24. 4 points
    You've posed several questions, and I don't have answers for all of them. One thing I will suggest, from my own experience taking a break from academics, is to be able to give a convincing, academically-relevant explanation for your time away from school. Every year away results in more distance from potential letter writers (with whom you claim to have had little memorable interaction as it is), allows your writing sample to gather dust, and gives you more explaining to do in your statements. A PhD application is about telling a story. Be able to tell a continuous one. You've given lots of essentially numeric info regarding your profile. While grades and scores matter, realize that PhD and MA admissions are a qualitative assessment of your individual aptitude for philosophy. Give 300% more energy to your writing sample than to any other part of the application. None of the things you've mentioned as weaknesses in your profile are concerns so serious as to outweigh excellent writing. With such overall high numbers, you could be accepted into any top MA provided you write well and think carefully about which departments fit your interests. These two factors, quality writing and specific fitness for a department, will make or break even the world's most perfect undergraduate student. Also, I will note perfunctorily what anyone on this forum will tell you: don't pay for an MA.
  25. 4 points

    Hertie School of Governance 2018

    I've called and spoken to the University and they have informed me we should hear back by the end of the week or next week.
  26. 4 points
    The best way to put out a fire is to starve it of oxygen. If there's a student trolling for attention (which it certainly sounds like this one is)...minimise the attention you give them. It sounds like the only reason this student has joined the Feminist class is to be edgy and controversial - not because they need the course/grades or want to learn about the subject. Deal with them the way you'd deal with a student who is dominating the discussions. "Thank you for your contribution, is there anybody else who would like a chance to speak?" As a TA don't get side-tracked into arguing with this student, and don't let the other students get side-tracked into arguing with them to the point where the class is derailed. Don't act like you're shocked or upset by what they say - thank them politely for offering their opinions and move on. It's possible this student doesn't believe what they are saying anyway...but if they are, you aren't going to "save" them through force of argument. Follow what others have said about grading their papers or dealing with hate speech. But understand what they're really after...and don't give it to them.
  27. 4 points
    Moderator note: chiming in to preemptively suggest that some comments are best ignored rather than replied to.
  28. 4 points

    Threatening my letter of recommendation

    Pointing out inconsistencies in a post isn't "victim blaming," it is pointing out inconsistencies in a post. IMO, you are trying to have it both ways. You want readers to think that you're squared away and you want readers to think you're a victim of an undergraduate "bullying" you. You (again) point to your experience in government, your intimate knowledge of the dynamics in your department, and yet express continued surprise that the "individual responsible for the undergraduate program" sided with an undergraduate over a graduate student. My reading of your posts is that you attempted to throw your weight around in the department and tell professors how things should be done, things went differently than you anticipated, you took umbrage, and now you're here. My reading is that you've been told to drink a cup of STFU and to stay in your lane. My reading is that undergraduate tuition and fees are important to members of your department and they're willing to put up with behavior that you don't like. The way you have been told appears unprofessional, maybe actionable IRT your school's policy because of the violation of your request for confidence. Then again, I wonder about what information you're choosing not to disclose. However, going from there to allegations that your careers are being threatened does not make sense to me. A professor has the discretion to write or not as he or she sees fit. One is not entitled to glowing letters of recommendation. IRT your intent of asking "qualified individuals," you got good guidance--don't ask the acting chair for a letter of recommendation, you don't need it-. And then you argued with the posters who provided it. Since you asked in your OP, here are some suggestions. If you're going to present a biased account and selective of your experiences to strangers, don't take offense when strangers ask questions or point out inconsistencies. If you're going to use a phrase like "step up" multiple times, then maybe think twice before painting yourself as a "victim." Avoid the temptation of telling your bosses how to do their jobs unless you're absolutely certain your guidance is going to be well-received. You said it yourself, the department is aware of this UG's behavior. By you pointing it out in an email to your professors, you called them out for at least the second time this term. (I am still not sure why you sent an email to multiple professors before talking personally to at least one of them, especially given your work "in government.") Keep in mind always that money talks, even in the Ivory Tower. Don't allow yourself to be trolled by undergraduates' email or posts on social media.
  29. 4 points

    Fall 2018 Applicants

    I'll add to what @Sigaba and @Assotto said, I'd wade carefully. This may work at a place like NYU and Princeton where students are on full fellowships with no work obligations as Rutgers and others have. I looked into this briefly for the Midwest version and I learned that my funding wasn't really allow me to take classes for a semester elsewhere. You'll have to do research on the financial aspects of doing this. Unless you are dead, dead serious about going elsewhere for a semester/year to study with another department/professor during your coursework years when you should be building foundational relationships with your department's faculty for committees, I'd advise against pursuing it.
  30. 4 points
    This feels dangerously close to feeding trolls, but in the interest of others reading: I bet you'd be the kind of math teacher who gives a student 0 on a problem that has a simple arithmetic error that's carried across multiple lines of calculation because LOOK there are mistakes ALL OVER. I would be inclined to mark the error and deduct some symbolic point but then grade the rest of the problem taking this error into account and if the result is correct *given this mistaken early calculation* then the student will get most of the points, maybe even all of them. We say MAYBE because we don't actually know what happened. You don't either, nor does the author of the blog post, but you seem determined to interpret everything only one way, whichever is the most nefarious and ill-intentioned one. But most of us can easily imagine making an error or two as an undergrad or even a grad student and ending up with something inaccurate or even plain wrong on our CVs. And since the way we update our CVs is by adding new stuff, not re-vetting old stuff, it's not at all shocking that something that was on a CV in the 90s would be carried over to later ones. It's also not a stretch to see how it'd end up on an NIH CV, which is presumably simply constructed based on the person's professional CV (that's how I'd do it..). So yeah, we're not saying that there were no errors made, but we are willing to calibrate our outrage-meter to the size of the error and its timing. Undergrads do all kinds of stupid things. If all someone with a vendetta can find is a couple of questionable decisions from two decades ago, I'd feel pretty encouraged that there's basically nothing to see here.
  31. 4 points

    Fall 2018 Applicants

    This would be a good time for those of you who are lurking to register and to post how things are going this application season. Sure, there's plenty of information to be gained "for free," but why not share what you know? Have you received especially information from professors and graduate students at your current school? Have you received information that is at odds with the recommendations provided here? How have your attempts to establish rapport with potential POIs worked and not worked? Have you been welcomed warmly as a prospective graduate student? Have you been given mixed messages? Have you been ignored? What is your "to do" list and schedule for the rest of the current term? How are you balancing your current responsibilities with your applications? But most of all, how do you define yourself as an aspiring graduate student in history? What are your fields, areas, and intervals? What direction do you see the profession going in the next ten, twenty, forty years?
  32. 3 points

    Hertie School of Governance 2018

    Heh got an acceptance email but I’m still on eval on the website.
  33. 3 points
    Hey all - Agree that this forum has been very quiet this year. I can only speak for my peer group here in D.C., but many of the policy-minded or former Obama politicals are strongly leaning MBA, rather than MPP. There's a real pressing sense of ROI for the degree and with our current administration, it seems like Tech Companies are the new hot place to work. I think the reticence is due to a larger trend that's starting to emerge: Applications to Foreign Service are down 50%, Latest Tax Bill directly targets grad students and ivy league foundations, and Aside from Business Schools and select engineering, admission to professional schools (Law school esp) is down significantly as the economy is doing well Honestly, I think this means good fortune for our applications to competitive programs and scholarships, but I think the lack of crowding should make us pause, if only for a moment, to think about why we're taking the offers.
  34. 3 points

    Prepping for the 2018 cycle!

    Don't try to be broad, try to show you're flexible. If you don't give specifics, professors may not think you can propose an actually feasible project to tackle an aspect of your broad questions. The advice you received not to seem like you are committed to one, and exactly one, project, and are uninterested in considering any other ways to investigate these issues is correct. The solution is not, however, to say "I'm interested in the rise of social inequality in the North American woodlands" and then stop. You have to continue. Say, here's one way I imagine taking it! That shows you actually have the skills to visualize all the steps you need to complete a dissertation. Maybe you can say two or three kinds of data or two or three kinds of sites that might speak to your work. There's a middle ground between over-rigid commitment to a narrow project and a hand-wavey breadth of interest that doesn't give committees a sense of how you work as a thinker. (I'm interested in 'the rise of social inequality in the woodlands civilizations', too, but I've never been on a dig or analyzed any archaeological data, so you shouldn't admit me to an archaeology program based on my ability to state a broad archaeological theme that interests me!) Can I direct your attention to these two threads? Of the recent discussions in this subforum, I think these both had good discussion about how to balance this issue.
  35. 3 points
    Brown has a pretty strong early modern department, including Tim Harris and Hal Cook. I think the UMiami prof kind of put their finger on the concerns I would have over your application list - it's not that you necessarily have too many schools, it's that the schools you have mostly have fairly shitty placement records. Here's a productive exercise: go to the academic jobs wiki page and check out postings for English reformations history over the past few years. Then go to those school's pages and see who got the job, and where did they get their degree. That should get you a decent sense of the prestige networks in your subfield.
  36. 3 points
    Just got an interview at Northwestern University - IBiS- Interdisciplinary Biological Sciences! They were super nice - did it over the phone good luck to everyone as we continue to wait to hear back from where we applied to
  37. 3 points
    Got an interview invite for Washington University's DBBS program just now! (Molecular Genetics and Genomics)
  38. 3 points
    You're fine. Honestly, I think it's rare for the majority of Master's students to have publications. A MA is only 1 year long -- that's not a lot of time to get something published, or even in the process of being published. And very few people conduct original research in their BA/BSc. If you have five things in the works, you're way ahead of the game. Unless I'm totally off base, PhD admissions are really just looking for solid research experience, with some knowledge dissemination on the side - that you've conducted (mostly) independent research, wrote SOMETHING on it that was accepted by your university standards, and presented it at a conference or two. A few technical or internal reports never hurt, or TA/teaching experience. Just speak knowledgeably about your research in your SoP.
  39. 3 points

    A cautionary tale

    You should always have senior mentors, but I generally encourage my students to choose a junior faculty for a committee chair if they have the option. You can have *bad* mentors that are junior or senior, but when you're picking a committee chair or primary advisor, my experience biases towards the better experience with the junior. Taking this point by point: No junior faculty member at an R1 has no experience as a mentor. You don't get to that position if you don't. Generally, getting tenure at most schools will involve successfully graduating students. For senior faculty, they don't really care if you finish or not- it's incredibly important that you finish successfully for a junior faculty member. It's unlikely that a junior faculty member is going to move, but my statement qualified "new" assistant professors- the first likely move would be at tenure, by which you'll likely be either graduated or OK to stay on your own at the old institution. New professors don't necessarily have smaller networks- and they have a lot more sway with the networks they do have, imo. Older faculty can, if they socialize well, keep extensive networks- but they can also fall into the rut of just associating with the same old group while new faculty are aggressively and broadly networking. No faculty member, old or new, is going to have a poor grasp of the broader field. Similarly, you aren't going to get a faculty position at an R1 without a strong track record for (or potential for) publishing. Newer faculty are much more dependent on getting work out, which is why they're good to work with. Senior faculty can pick and choose what they want to work on, and can afford to take years perfecting a single work- new faculty can't. Anyway, you seem to have an interesting view that in no way matches my experience with reality- you also seem quite arrogant in your assumptions of junior faculty, most of whom are exceptionally successful in their field or they wouldn't be there. There's a reason many senior faculty say they would not be competitive for the positions they're currently hiring among new faculty. As said, overall fit with the mentor is the most important property, but taking out obvious red flags (interpersonal issues, major funding problems) and aligning research areas (both are fields you want to work with), I think the better bet is usually going to be the junior faculty member. It might be a bit of a higher risk/reward proposition, but down the road being one of the first graduates of a well-known faculty member will continue to serve you very well as you progress through your career, much more so than being one of many graduates they've had over the years. And the negatives of that position balance out by finding experienced senior faculty members to act as mentors- they can provide the insight and experience a young committee chair may lack. Most of us give advice based on our personal experiences- we don't do multiple PhDs to be able to comment on parallel experiences with different areas. But in the programs I've been in, this has held true- as with the career trajectory of myself and my colleagues, so it's advice I continue to give to my students. Regardless, as mentioned, fit is the primary factor- choosing a senior person who's a worse fit for your research interests over a junior person who's a better fit (as is the case in the instances discussed in this thread) just because the person is senior isn't a great idea.
  40. 3 points

    A cautionary tale

    On the plus side, I view this as "the system working". I drill into my students heads the importance of soft skills and being decent human beings, and it's nice to see confirmation that it actually matters.
  41. 3 points

    Prepping for the 2018 cycle!

    For sure - good luck @Archaeodan! Final letter writer just submitted - all applications are complete! Now the real worry begins....
  42. 3 points
    I'm very confused about the whole coffee and date discussion. Why would you not simply ask to schedule a "normal" meeting with these people, gender aside, in their office during normal business hours while you're in town? For what it's worth, if you're doing several of these meetings back to back because there are several people you'd like to meet, and they know it, someone might ask you if you'd like a coffee. If you say yes, they'll take you to a nearby coffee stand and splurge for two drip coffees. You'll probably talk on the way there/back and waiting in line. Maybe even sitting down for a few minutes. There won't be anything romantic about it.
  43. 3 points

    Does prestige matter?

    C stands for Cal (Berkeley), not Columbia.
  44. 3 points
    Best suggestion: make an appointment with the REB office at your institution and talk it over with them. They will usually have office hours when you can walk in, or it might be better to schedule an appointment ahead of time. I think there's a question about the nature of the data you'll collect and whether it could potentially harm anyone (for comparison, in my field we actually have a habit of thanking language consultants who we've worked with by name; but depending on what you ask, you may need to take more precautions). If there is anything potentially harmful, then the question is whether a person can be identified by their institutional affiliation and the answers they provide. If so, then you might need to omit the institution name (and ask yourself if, in that case, they are no longer identifiable), or some other identifying information.
  45. 3 points
    Hey y'all, Good luck! I have an MA from a top program, applied to PhDs, got an offer but declined it to leave Philosophy. Feel free to PM me if you wanna talk about admissions, MA programs or the job market.
  46. 3 points

    Is my advisor sexist?

    At my school, there are some support groups and resources on campus to help you navigate these conversations. For example, my PhD school's diversity center has lots of events to connect women to share experiences about these exact issues. Talking to others who have felt the same thing could help and you could learn other strategies too. Another resource at my school is the Graduate Office. One of the Graduate Deans' main job is to advocate for graduate students to the faculty at my school. Going there can also help with some strategies to bring this up with faculty. If the Dean has a good relationship with the prof in question, they might have some backchannel way of bringing this up without naming you (although, in almost all cases, it will be very obvious who brought up the complaint). I think these channels are better at modifying the faculty as a whole, not individual cases. One thing that my school's Title IX office started doing was to implement "implicit bias training" or "unconscious bias training" at the department or even the lab group level. We were trying to get people thinking about these topics just as much as they would think about other important lab issues, such as safety. So, just as most lab groups have a safety refresher every year, we try to start having unconscious bias training every year too. It's done in a discreet way. We try to get profs who are already allies on board first and get them to invite the TItle IX office to come and give a talk during a group meeting, which helps reduce the stigma that if the Title IX office is coming then you're in trouble. At least at my school, their goal is to educate as well as enforce/investigate. Then, if someone is in a group where something problematic is going on, someone can invite the Title IX office for a targeted "refresher" training. No mention of any specific instances within that group, just general training that hopefully makes people think. Many women reported that this greatly helped their work conditions and no one thought of them as the "complainer". Usually, the Title IX office is invited either by allies within (e.g. male grad students suggesting it), or the Title IX office might invite itself (good if the prof doesn't think of themselves as a problem but does some problematic actions) or from above: Dept Chair requiring all groups to do it. Finally, one other strategy is to discuss these issues with your male colleagues, if you feel comfortable with it and feel that they would be helpful. It sounds like some of them already spoke up when they noticed you were left out of the acknowledgements. Maybe they don't notice all the other things. But once they do, they might help amplify your voice/contributions in other ways too. If you don't like this angle, you definitely don't have to do it. But I just wanted to provide an example of action where it's on everyone to ensure an equitable working environment, not just the person being discriminated against!
  47. 3 points

    Fall 2018 Applicants

    Fair points. I agree that if you frame it as "the IUDC will let me take classes with Professor X at School Y," you will just raise the question of well, why aren't you just applying to school Y to work with professor X? No school wants to feel that you're using them as a discount version of another school. But I think writing "School Z is part of a broad intellectual community, as evidenced by its partnerships with schools X and Q. Being able to learn from and participate in this community will add to my research on subject M/ my growth as a scholar/ etc" is fairly innocuous. In my experience, inter-doctoral programs have always been held up as positive selling points — "come to our institution and you'll have access to 5x more scholars!"
  48. 3 points

    Love, Academia and Success

    That is a pretty darned random post... hard to follow (but you are right, I can pick out the misogyny and racism in it). I'm not sure how this help the original poster. I don't think it does...
  49. 3 points
    As far as upholding academic standards, nobody is arguing that he shouldn't fix the CV. He should fix it. He should be thorough about fixing it, including as much public notice as you want. After he's fixed it, if you argue that he needs to face consequences to show this kind of error isn't "tolerated," sure, that's fine, we can add consequences. Let's brainstorm: what kinds of consequences might be fair and proportionate to an offense of this magnitude? a small fine? mandatory training? assignment to less desirable committees? Any of those would seem appropriate for small errors about his undergraduate (!) research. You keep asking questions of us, but I have a couple questions for you: Has anyone ever cited the articles you object to? If you find many citations, my understanding of how serious this misstep is goes from about 2 to about 4.* If you just haven't been clear, and these were in fact field-defining articles or even in that general tier of importance, you should have led with that. If these articles he was taking credit for became that influential, that would be where this misrepresentation could shoot up to an 8 or 9. I doubt that level of influence is even possible with these articles, however, because, as you keep pointing out, there are no full PDFs for people to read. *On my scale, '7' would be about the level of a firing offense; '10' is reserved for things that might involve jail time. Let's say you convince us and we all say "YES! He should be fired!", like you seem to want. You've identified us as "less mature" academics; we're early career, and we don't know anything. Sure, fine, we're immature and have bad judgment. So why are you appealing to us? What do you think we can do about it? Are you trying to convince us to write a letter-writing campaign to this department, or...? As to your post on the previous page, obviously this man has standing to request that his students not plagiarize. If I got a speeding ticket ten years ago and now I'm teaching my teenage daughter to drive, do I have the "moral basis" to tell her that she should obey traffic laws, too?
  50. 3 points

    2018 Applicants

    @WildeThing, while I think it's totally bizarre for your letter writer to pull that on you, and your letter writers seem a bit tactless, I think there is something to be said for casting a wide net. Every single grad school offers a very low chance of acceptance. Even a so-called "safety" school is only likely to admit 5-15 students out of hundreds of applicants. Within this group, your list is dominated by the most exclusive of the exclusive. While you may well have a very good fit at those institutions, I would encourage anyone to consider that people are doing big work with brilliant scholars at any number of institutions who may not be household names, as most of the schools you list are, and people also get jobs out of those institutions. Casting a wide net is also very advantageous because your application could be positively brilliant, but if the two profs on the adcom who happen to get it don't feel like they need another grad student in your subfield, then you're not going anywhere. The profs you think you have a great fit with might not be on the adcom, might be on sabbatical, etc., and so you're then depending on another member of the committee to think, "Oh, they'd be a good fit for [x]". This is really, I think, the most important aspect of admissions, and it's one over which you have no control, and is incredibly capricious. It underscores the importance of going far and wide. I was once told that one particular professor in my department fought very hard for my application. If that professor wasn't on the committee, I'd likely be somewhere else! I say this as a person whose first list looked very very much like yours and was shut out, and the feeling was absolutely devastating. In my second round of applications, I opened my mind to other possibilities, and I ended up at a school that isn't an ivy (or ivy equivalent), but is top notch in my subfield and has a good record of placement, even if its name doesn't impress my aunts and uncles when I'm home for Christmas.