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JLRC

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  1. Upvote
    JLRC got a reaction from lilting in Article discouraging humanities PhD   
    While I'm not normally keen on defending Schuman, Katie Roiphe is about atypical a case as anyone. Her mother is Anne Roiphe and Katie grew up with a great deal of privilege. She is on a tenure line at NYU after getting her PhD from Princeton. Katie has made a name and money for herself by writing a book that blames date rape victims for their rapes. She doesn't really have the ethos for the kind of argument she is making.
  2. Like
    JLRC reacted to sea382 in 2020 Application Thread for Communications Program   
    Well, I just logged into my Ohio State applicant account (even though I know it's way too early to see a decision) and was shocked to see that my status had changed to "decision" and I've been admitted! It seems super bizarre to me though, and I was curious if anyone else is seeing the same thing. I haven't received any word from them (through email, phone, etc.) regarding the decision, and the application was only due last Sunday (12/1). Seems too good to be true and kinda freaking out that it's a mistake lol. Anyone have any similar reports? 
  3. Like
    JLRC reacted to beyondaboundary in Communication/Media Studies Ph.D Fall 2014--Apps, Decisions, and Waiting...   
    Just thought I'd shake this thread awake. Defended the dissertation yesterday. PhD done and dusted. Hope you are all well.
  4. Upvote
    JLRC got a reaction from E-P in About NCA, ICA student membership   
    I would advise not paying for it until/unless you are going to their annual conferences. The conference registration discount for members is much larger than the membership fee, so joining basically lowers the cost of attendance at the conferences. There's not much benefit to continuing to give them your money in years that you aren't attending the conferences, though. If your department is paying for it, of course, then there's no harm in being a member and a few small benefits.
  5. Upvote
    JLRC got a reaction from odyssey in Help ranking programs by competitiveness   
    As for rankings, here's another: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2B25MzQ1IcJNTc3YWNRV3dGRGc/view?usp=sharing
    And just to give you insight into the program I know best, Ohio State, it's certainly a place where a quantitative political communication-oriented person can feel at home. We recruit outside communication quite a bit, so coming from sociology is no sweat. I graduated from a non-quantitative political science undergrad and got in. More of my cohort studied something other than communication prior to coming to OSU than did communication.
    We also have at least one faculty member who specializes in political discussion and deliberation and one other who focuses on online political communication. There are of course others whose research is related. With that said, it's quantitative or bust here...so if you just "lean" and want to do other methodological approaches, those other approaches may be less supported. I do have a focus group study in the publication pipeline, though, so it's not unheard of to do non-quant work.
  6. Upvote
    JLRC got a reaction from DBear in Help ranking programs by competitiveness   
    From what I know and a little bit of education guessing, I'd rank these programs by difficulty of admission like this:
    -Penn Annenberg Communication
    [big gap]
    The following are all fairly similar and not put in any particular order, but all very selective:

    -Cornell Communication
    -Michigan Ann Arbor Communication Studies
    -University of Washington Communication
    -Ohio State Communication
    -Wisconsin Madison Mass Communications
     
    My impression is that Penn State is less selective than the above, but it is not uncommon for PSU admits to visit us at Ohio State and I know on at least a couple occasions they went to PSU.
    -Penn State Communication
     
    And then these two programs are not super selective, but not bad programs either. I agree with above poster to be wary of Illinois budget problems. I don't know what's up with Kansas's college funding, but I do know they can't pay their elementary school teachers.
    -Kansas Communication
    -University of Illinois Chicago Communication
  7. Upvote
    JLRC got a reaction from Duna in how much does program prestige matter?   
    Communication is a highly heterogeneous field for the social sciences; enough so that many self-described "communication" programs might take issue with the claim that they are social scientists (instead affiliating with the humanities). This makes some aspects of cross-program comparisons difficult.
    For instance, my program often ranks at or near the top of lists of programs with the most-cited faculty members. On one hand, that's because it's a great program! On the other, there are other great programs that won't rank or anywhere near mine by that sort of metric. Why? Well, my program is strongly rooted in the quantitative empirical tradition, mostly inheriting its approach from social psychology (just one of several important intellectual forebears of our field). This way of doing things lends itself to a large number of publications. Other subfields are more focused on publishing book-length manuscripts or using methods that preclude anyone publishing 5-15 papers each year in reputable outlets.
    Unlike some other fields for which outlets like US News and World Report has an influential ranking, there are no "official" program rankings in communication that many in the field would ever bother to look at. That means there is probably considerable disagreement about which programs are best and it is something particularly vulnerable to the subfield of the beholder. Still, I would assert that there's a boost that goes along with program prestige. It is one thing among several that will get your application a second look.
    But of course program prestige is confounded with many other things. The more prestigious programs tend to support their students better in terms of stipends, health benefits, and so on, so all else being equal they could be preferred by an applicant on those grounds. Further, due to their prestige they are better able to choose from the best applicants (who like anyone else must be developed into scholars), so they get a head start in that way as well. These programs also tend to have more research resources, which enables their faculty to maintain their own standing in the field and also allows graduate students to become involved in and perhaps lead influential research that simply couldn't be done in places without the means. Again, that is somewhat subfield-specific; a rhetorician probably doesn't need eye-tracking equipment or a big budget for representative surveys. Last, when hitting the job market grad students from these programs have recommendations from influential faculty members who will be known to and respected by hiring committees.
    So all of the above mostly comes independent of good training, which can be provided by people who aren't "famous" in their field or endowed with all the resources to publish high-impact research. Some of this then depends on your career goals. Many of the benefits of being in a prestigious program are useful only to those hoping to stay within academia. Becoming a competent professional doesn't require some of those things.
    Communication is a bit more egalitarian than some other fields, due in part to its youth as a field and its healthy job market, but it's still relatively rare to see graduates "move up" in terms of prestige when comparing their PhD-issuing institution and their hiring institution. Some of this may be due to pure prestige, some may be due to those other factors I outlined which just happen to co-occur with program prestige.
    My advice is to focus on job placement. A program that can't furnish detailed job placement information about all of its graduates should be viewed with suspicion. And when they give you that job placement information, look at it. Think about the median job placement in the program. Does that sound good to you? You should also poke around about retention and time to degree. If a program meticulously pushes out students who are unlikely to get a job, it may give false confidence about your own prospects. And if you are going to wait 10 years to get your PhD, the opportunity cost might be too much.
  8. Upvote
    JLRC got a reaction from DBear in how much does program prestige matter?   
    Communication is a highly heterogeneous field for the social sciences; enough so that many self-described "communication" programs might take issue with the claim that they are social scientists (instead affiliating with the humanities). This makes some aspects of cross-program comparisons difficult.
    For instance, my program often ranks at or near the top of lists of programs with the most-cited faculty members. On one hand, that's because it's a great program! On the other, there are other great programs that won't rank or anywhere near mine by that sort of metric. Why? Well, my program is strongly rooted in the quantitative empirical tradition, mostly inheriting its approach from social psychology (just one of several important intellectual forebears of our field). This way of doing things lends itself to a large number of publications. Other subfields are more focused on publishing book-length manuscripts or using methods that preclude anyone publishing 5-15 papers each year in reputable outlets.
    Unlike some other fields for which outlets like US News and World Report has an influential ranking, there are no "official" program rankings in communication that many in the field would ever bother to look at. That means there is probably considerable disagreement about which programs are best and it is something particularly vulnerable to the subfield of the beholder. Still, I would assert that there's a boost that goes along with program prestige. It is one thing among several that will get your application a second look.
    But of course program prestige is confounded with many other things. The more prestigious programs tend to support their students better in terms of stipends, health benefits, and so on, so all else being equal they could be preferred by an applicant on those grounds. Further, due to their prestige they are better able to choose from the best applicants (who like anyone else must be developed into scholars), so they get a head start in that way as well. These programs also tend to have more research resources, which enables their faculty to maintain their own standing in the field and also allows graduate students to become involved in and perhaps lead influential research that simply couldn't be done in places without the means. Again, that is somewhat subfield-specific; a rhetorician probably doesn't need eye-tracking equipment or a big budget for representative surveys. Last, when hitting the job market grad students from these programs have recommendations from influential faculty members who will be known to and respected by hiring committees.
    So all of the above mostly comes independent of good training, which can be provided by people who aren't "famous" in their field or endowed with all the resources to publish high-impact research. Some of this then depends on your career goals. Many of the benefits of being in a prestigious program are useful only to those hoping to stay within academia. Becoming a competent professional doesn't require some of those things.
    Communication is a bit more egalitarian than some other fields, due in part to its youth as a field and its healthy job market, but it's still relatively rare to see graduates "move up" in terms of prestige when comparing their PhD-issuing institution and their hiring institution. Some of this may be due to pure prestige, some may be due to those other factors I outlined which just happen to co-occur with program prestige.
    My advice is to focus on job placement. A program that can't furnish detailed job placement information about all of its graduates should be viewed with suspicion. And when they give you that job placement information, look at it. Think about the median job placement in the program. Does that sound good to you? You should also poke around about retention and time to degree. If a program meticulously pushes out students who are unlikely to get a job, it may give false confidence about your own prospects. And if you are going to wait 10 years to get your PhD, the opportunity cost might be too much.
  9. Upvote
    JLRC got a reaction from DBear in Applying to a Communication Studies Ph.D. program   
    I'll play.
    FIRST - You as an applicant
    1. What did you study in undergrad? Master's (if applicable)? B.A. in Political Science with minors and substantial coursework in Film Studies/Literature. We did not have a Communication program at my school.
    2. What were your grades like in undergrad? Master's? I had a GPA in 3.7x range (sorry, can't remember where it was after the last semester's grades!). This was at a selective SLAC.
    3. What are your research interests? Political communication, mass communication
    4. What teaching experience did you have before applying? None
    5. What about research experience? I did an Honors thesis as part of my undergraduate degree (~75 page research thesis) and had presented at some undergraduate-specific conferences, but otherwise nothing substantial.
    6. What about miscellaneous experience (unrelated to Comm/corporate/private/etc)? I interned and freelanced at a local TV station.
    7. How old are you (or, what is your age group)? I was 22 at the time.

    SECOND - Deciding to pursue a Ph.D.
    1. What made you decide to pursue a Ph.D. in Communication? I have an academic's personality, I like geeking out, I like to have an excuse to think about these things non-stop. I admired my advisors in undergrad.
    2. Did you contact faculty at the programs you were interested in? What did you say? How often did you communicate with these people (POIs)? I reached out to several POIs, not that I ever got the feeling that it was terribly useful. Best thing I got from it for the most part was confirming that these people would be around and advising students. I would email them and briefly describe my research interests and ask if I sounded like a fit and if they would be advising students in the upcoming year. I think I had a maximum of 2 replies with any of them, but for the most part just an initial email, a response from POI, and a thank you/acknowledgment from me.
    3. Did you visit or contact graduate students? How did thaaaat go? No, unless you mean the official visit days.
    4. How did you decide who to ask for letters of rec? Were they all professors or did you get letters from outside of academia? I chose the academics who knew me best. At the time I was doing this, I was still planning to be a Film Studies major (my college decided not to accept the proposed concentration in the English department, so I ultimately just double-minored), so one recommender was my longtime Film Studies advisor (she was a Prof in English). Another recommender was my Political Science advisor, who also chaired my Honors thesis committee (she was Prof in Political Science). The third person I asked was a Prof in Spanish, something unrelated to my undergrad program and research interests but who knew me well due to my extensive coursework with her.
    THIRD - Actually applying
    1. How did you look for programs? Fairly exhaustive searching of so-called "communication" or "media studies" programs throughout. I also made a point to find out more about where the people whose work I was reading were located, which was a big factor in solidifying some of my choices.
    2. How did you decide where to apply? I had a good sense of my fit at the programs at which I applied. I didn't put too many constraints on geographic location; I'm from a small town in the Midwest so there's not much that scares me...other than I may not have considered living in Florida, even if there were a program that interested me there...I can't handle those little lizards running around. Anyway, I focused on programs with good records of job placement, where there were faculty I admired, and funding was possible if I were to be admitted.
    3. What was your biggest priority in a program? Full funding was a necessary requirement before anything else. After that, a mixture of fit and my perceived likelihood of job placement afterwards. I also had a fiance applying to programs in a different discipline who I hoped would get into some/any of the same places.
    4. How many schools did you initially set out to apply to, and how many did you actually apply to? I didn't ever have a defined number, but I had letters, etc. sent to 9 schools. I ultimately did not apply to the 9th school because it was a funded MA-only program that I would only consider if I got in nowhere else (with funding). I got into a PhD program with funding before the deadline came for that MA-only program.
    5. What were your GRE scores like (either specifics or vaguely)? How many times did you take it? Did you feel good about your scores? I took the GRE once and had V: 161, Q: 161, Writing: 5.0. I was confident that the scores didn't matter much. I knew they were fine, but I was sufficiently frustrated in the preparation for the test I actually sought help and ultimately (though after the test) found out that I had an undiagnosed learning disability. In that sense, I may have benefited from the GRE more than most!
    6. How did you frame your experience/interests/fit in your statement of purpose? Did you focus on something more heavily than other stuff (like faculty or experience)? I cringe a little bit at the SOP now, but mainly for stylistic reasons. I was very verbose. But otherwise, I did a nice job in retrospect at starting off with an anecdote about an early academic experience and then moving into a clear narrative of my (fairly limited) experience and tying it all together as if it all was inevitably leading me to the application at hand. The nice thing about the narrative approach is that it allowed me to sell myself without it feeling too much like a sales pitch. It played up my lack of experience in some ways, but if I was applying now it would be a way to bring up my more substantial accomplishments without coming off like I'm arrogant; after all, it's just a part of my story, right?
    7. Did you feel good about your applications? Why or why not? I'm an optimist and felt like things would work out. Each individual application stressed me, but overall I figured I'd end up someplace that I would be happy with.
    8. If you knew then what you knew now, what advice would you give yourself? Don't work so close to deadlines if you value your happiness.

    FOURTH - GETTING IN (OR NOT) - feel free to update/answer later 
    1. How many programs did you get into (and which, if you don't mind sharing)? I was admitted to University of Illinois (Dept. of Comm., Urbana-Champaign), Ohio State, Wisconsin-Madison (Mass Comm.), Syracuse (MA program which is more separate from the PhD program than many other schools), and Colorado-Boulder.
    2. How many were you waitlisted for? Did you make it off the waitlist? None.
    3. How many were you rejected from? I was rejected from Penn-Annenberg, Northwestern, and University of Washington.
    4. Did you get into your top program? Did you expect to get in? Penn-Annenberg was my top choice and I did not get in. My hopes were not high as it is almost certainly the most competitive program in our discipline and, well, I wasn't even from the discipline.
    5. Did you receive funding? I had initial fellowship offers at Ohio State and Illinois with guaranteed TA/RA funding in the years after fellowship. It was/is clear in both cases that I would not have to go into debt to go to those schools. Funding was unsettled but unlikely at Syracuse, largely covered at Colorado but with more uncertainty than I would have liked, and things at Wisconsin-Madison were still in flux by the time I told them I'd made a decision.
    6. Once you've made your decision...how did you decide which school to attend? The visits were important, but ultimately the choice was very clear. While I was assured at Illinois that the transition from MA to PhD was seamless, I was accepted directly into the PhD program at Ohio State. The funding was more generous and fellowship longer at OSU. I was uncomfortable with the quantitative-empirical focus of OSU compared to the generalist program at UIllinois and Illinois's visit weekend was fabulous and I instantly grew attached to the people and campus there. But those aforementioned things about OSU *and* the fact my fiance got in at OSU made it a no-brainer that I would be headed to Columbus.
    7. If you didn't get admitted to a program, will you apply again? N/A
    8. What do you want to do with your Ph.D.? I plan to seek academic (professorial) positions.
    FINALLY
    1. In retrospect...what was the best part of the application process? I don't really know since it takes so much effort, perhaps more than should be needed. Getting good news and having the luxury of having multiple "right" choices was nice—it's good to feel wanted, you know?
    2. What was the worst? The immense effort, as mentioned, is a bummer and taxing. It was also heartbreaking to say no to my second choice school and while I'm as happy as can be at my new place, I still think about what could have been though that probably would be the case no matter which choice I made.
    3. What advice do you have for future applicants? Don't waste your time with programs that don't have excellent track records of job placement. Don't assume that a lack of formal qualifications is important...I had no MA, no coursework in Comm., no publications, no scientific training, just a demonstrated interest in the field and a track record of success with tough academic work, albeit in another area. I was able to state a compelling case for why I should be a communication researcher that really played up my sparse record and that was apparently enough to overcome the fact that many others may have had publications, more specialized/relevant training, and so on. And if my qualifications were even more bare, I'd still shoot for top programs again because you can only get one PhD and you want to finish it with a chance to get the kind of job you want, which in my case is a research-focused academic one and not surprisingly the kind for which there is most competition.
  10. Upvote
    JLRC got a reaction from yield in Help me understand the US tax and insurance system   
    There are two ways your income can be taxed in the US, more or less:
     
    1. "Payroll taxes" - these are taken out of each paycheck and add up to 6% of your paychecks. One part goes to Medicare, insurance for seniors, and the other part goes to Social Security, which is fixed income for seniors.
     
    You will not pay payroll taxes on your stipend under most circumstances. This is a good thing for the most part, other than that you won't be eligible to receive Social Security if you naturalize and retire here without eventually paying payroll taxes. If you work in the USA, you'll begin paying into those and you'll have nothing to worry about.
     
    2. You have the standard income tax. This is something you'll file after the end of the calendar year with the federal government (the so-called "Internal Revenue Service" or IRS). Some of your benefits will be taxable. What you won't include in your taxable income is tuition waivers or other portions of your stipend used for tuition. Certain other costs can be exempted from taxes, most notably things like textbooks -- the rule here is that it must be required of all students in the course. So books, computers, etc. you might buy for general research will not be exempted. 
     
    Generally speaking, anything you spend on personal expenses, which includes your housing, will be taxable income. So if you have a $15K stipend and the rest of your costs are covered, then $15K is your taxable income. In the USA, it is customary for your employer to withhold a certain portion of your paychecks for the purpose of covering your income tax commitment. This is sometimes done for graduate stipends, but not always -- it usually is not if you have a fellowship rather than teaching or research assistantship. The amount withheld will be based on the assumed amount of taxes you'll owe at the end of the year. In this case, it may be the case that when you file your taxes, you'll be getting some of that back since more was withheld than was needed. If your school isn't withholding for you, you will have to make arrangements to budget that portion of your income -- you may pay on a quarterly basis.
     
    Further, you could be subject to state income taxes. Not all states have an income tax and there is a great deal of variability in how this is done. There is some chance that even if your state has an income tax, your income won't be high enough to be eligible. 
     
    There are more variables based on your resident status and your home country. You may be a "nonresident alien" or a "resident alien," the latter of which will have what is known as a green card. Determining residency status for an international graduate student is bafflingly difficult to me as it is filled with exceptions and this and that. The fundamental taxation difference is that resident aliens are taxed on American income as well as any foreign income while nonresident aliens are taxed only on American income. I'm guessing you'll eventually become a resident alien, but that is not clear to me since there are exceptions for students. You can see some scenarios here: http://www.irs.gov/Individuals/International-Taxpayers/Alien-Residency-Examples
     
    Germany (if that's where you live) and many other countries have tax treaties with the USA with provisions for students. These vary so much that it is difficult for me to tell how that will affect you. It may mean that you simply pay taxes to your home country instead. This partially depends on whether you intend to become a permanent resident of the USA or leave as soon as you are finished studying.
     
    Other insurance:
     
    You will need medical insurance. This is a benefit you should receive from your school, though not all will offer it. As you weigh your options, make sure to find out the degree of medical insurance they will offer. Either fully provided it free of cost to you or an 85% subsidy (you pay 15% of premiums) are the most common. These are usually good plans in that they cover nearly everything and are more cost effective since the risk is spread across the entire working portion of the university. 
     
    When you receive medical care, you'll incur any costs not covered by the insurance. Certain services like doctor visits are usually paid for by what is called a "co-pay," which is a small flat fee you pay for each visit. The insurance company covers the rest of the cost. Depending on the insurance plan and type of doctor, these can be $5-$100. Under our new healthcare law, several types of preventative doctor visits must be provided free of cost: alcohol abuse counseling, aspirin for people of a certain age, blood pressure screening, cholesterol screening, colorectal cancer screen above age 50, depression screening, diabetes screening if blood pressure is high, diet counseling if you are thought to have risk of obesity-induced disease, HIV screening, immunizations, obesity screening and counseling, sexually transmitted disease testing, and interventions for quitting tobacco use.
     
    The costs for procedures and how you are expected to participate can vary. You start with what is called a deductible. You pay almost all costs (other than certain flat charges like the doctor visit co-payment and free preventative services) until you reach the deductible amount. So if you have a $500 deductible and you have a mole removed for $1000, you know you will have to pay at least $500 of it. After you have met your deductible, the amount of coverage provided by insurance varies. Generally speaking, insurance plans will cover 90%, 80%, or 70% of costs at this point. So-called "catastrophic plans" will cover even less. A new part of the law requires for money you pay for drugs to count against the deductible, since this was not the case before. Drug costs vary by drug, but generally speaking a plan will have several tiers -- preferred generics, nonpreferred generics, preferred name-brands, nonpreferred name-brands, and uncovered. Preferred generics (drugs that are old enough that they are no longer patented by the original pharmaceutical company) will often be free or just $5 or $10. The costs on others can vary widely.
     
    Another provision of our new law is a yearly maximum out of pocket costs, which sets a limit of how much you have to pay for all medical costs other than the monthly premiums and co-payments. This is set at roughly 10% of your income. If this is the case for your plan, if you pay $1500 - say, $500 from deductible and the other $1000 on prescription drugs and other procedures that your insurance helped cover - then the insurance must cover 100% of costs from there forward. All of this resets at year's end. It is meant to prevent you from losing all of your money due to an ongoing problem. There is no maximum amount for the insurance to cover -- a new part of the law. This means there is no limit to how much the insurance company may have to spend on your healthcare (in the past, companies would cut you off after a predetermined amount, at which point you were no different than somebody without insurance). Foreign nationals are eligible for insurance and if it isn't provided by the school, you are allowed to buy it along with federal assistance as a student. 
     
    Other insurance to consider:
     
    Dental insurance may be useful and is usually inexpensive. $20/month would give you a great dental plan that would make trips to the dentist less expensive and guard you against costly procedures. Some of these plans hardly do anything to help save you money while others can be great if you have something come up.
     
    Vision insurance is the least common of health-related insurance and probably isn't necessary for a graduate student unless you have particular needs or it is provided by your school (dental and vision are not the standard for graduate student compensation). Seeing an eye doctor can be expensive, but not prohibitively so under most circumstances. A cheap doctor visit may be $100-$150 if you need contacts and the contacts will probably cost you $100-$200 per year if you do not have vision insurance.
     
    If you own a home, you'll need homeowner's insurance. I doubt you'll own one. If you rent, that is the landlord's problem.
     
    If you wish to drive, you must have car insurance. You will lose your right to drive if you do not have car insurance. The prices and coverage can vary widely, but each state will have a minimum of liability coverage. Without much of an American driving record, I am guessing that you will assessed as a fairly high risk and will pay more than the average person your age.
  11. Upvote
    JLRC reacted to cannedheat in Communication/Media Studies Ph.D Fall 2016--Apps, Decisions, and Waiting...   
    Duna, I'm aware.  The attempt to publish at this point is strategic, I do not expect to be accepted for publication. I want to show on my applications that I am thinking about these things and plan to pursue publishing as I move forward as an academic. The point to to show a publication pending review.
    I don't really want to retake the GREs, I have it scheduled for 10/10/15, but I think I can still cancel and get my money back.
  12. Upvote
    JLRC reacted to compscian in Can I transfer to another PhD program after 1st semester?   
    Thanks guys. I have decided to stick with my original choice of school B. Spoke to a few students there, and it turns out that students of one POI (the one who got his PhD from A) go to school A as visiting students quite regularly. More than half of his PhD students have spent at least one semester there. I guess I will do something like that, or take his letter and attend school A for postdoc. Thanks for all your inputs
  13. Upvote
    JLRC reacted to fuzzylogician in Can I transfer to another PhD program after 1st semester?   
    Only school A can answer this question. There is no way we can know. I still don't think you should switch, but if you are serious about this, contact them immediately and ask. HOWEVER, only do this if you are absolutely sure you will accept their offer if it's still standing. Don't ask and then decline their offer a second time, because that will not leave a good impression and will make transferring or taking a postdoc there difficult. Also keep in mind that doing this might burn bridges with school B, so if you do end up accepting school A's offer you need to be careful about how you let school B know.
  14. Upvote
    JLRC reacted to rising_star in Can I transfer to another PhD program after 1st semester?   
    compscian, stop worrying about what everyone else thinks you should have done. They are not you. They don't have to live with your decision or move to School A where you already believe you'll be unhappy. Go to School B and give it a chance. Stop second guessing yourself. It's easy to do, especially in the summer when you don't have anything else to do, but you really need to just stop worrying about it. Get excited about moving to School B, figure out where you'll live, what nearby activities you can get involved in, etc. 
  15. Upvote
    JLRC got a reaction from greenmt in The Graduate School Ponzi Scheme   
    I do wonder how much the outlook would change if something as simple (and somewhat unpredictable) as a run of election wins by Ds happened. We had two big things happen that hammered the academic job market - the 2008/9 recession and, on the back of that, a tidal wave of funding cuts to public universities. While the worst of the economic problems are over in the US, there is still a great deal of belt-tightening sentiment out there. Politics will dictate academic hiring just as much as economic trends - not that those two things are wholly independent.
     
    There are, of course, other things that make simple predictions more difficult. Some foresee a college bubble of sorts due to the costs and massive debts; what effects would a "burst" have? Maybe schools would cut back on the enormous administration budgets, but I suspect they might rather cut programs and/or instructor salaries. Another issue with the sagging job markets is that it takes more than just a good year to fix the problem. If PhD production is going up, we have already built in the need for the job market (in # of jobs) to increase each year. The bigger problem is that, by and large, the people that lose on the job market don't typically just go away. Every year where there is a gap between job seekers and job winners, the pool of job seekers for the following year gets even bigger. Some will finally give up the search, but my guess is that the most realistic chance for a relatively quick improvement for the job market is a reduction in PhDs. And I think many being painted as pessimists here would see that as a good thing - the institution that lets people entertain this dream while simultaneously preventing it from being realistic can just as quickly bring stability to the market...but, of course, do they have incentive to do that?
  16. Upvote
    JLRC reacted to lifealive in The Graduate School Ponzi Scheme   
    Personally, I don't regret having gotten my PhD. I think I would have regretted more NOT getting a PhD. And that's really what you have to weigh here. Would your life really be better without your PhD? Would you honestly have made more headway during the last seven or eight years without one? Because I honestly believe that if I had decided to not get my PhD, I'd always have wondered "what if?" And even if things had flourished in my professional life, I'm sure I would have always secretly regretted not getting my doctorate. But that's just my personality. I'm the sort of person who just has to know.
     
    Okay, what the hell, I guess I'll share my sob story in the interest of full disclosure. I went to an average program (ranked somewhere between #25 to #39). I have a ton of teaching experience, presented at all the national conferences, publications (one major). Because I went to such a lackluster program, I never really expected much for myself in terms of landing a sought-after TT job. I knew it was possible--other people at my program certainly did so, but I never really thought that things like that would happen for me. Moreover, most of the jobs that people landed were in the hinterlands--rural North Dakota, for instance, with 4/4 teaching loads. The *best* graduates landed those jobs. I was always on the fence as to whether I would take a position like that or try to do something else.
     
    I went on the job market my first year as I finished my dissertation, and it was pretty disappointing. I didn't get any interviews. I didn't even get any requests for more materials. Then, suddenly, something came together for me, and it was a huge surprise. I interviewed for and landed a postdoc. A major national dream postdoc with a fancy name and no teaching responsibilities. I'd applied for it on a whim, thinking I didn't have a chance in hell. Anyway, when that happened, I began to actually think, hey, maybe I can do this. Maybe I can actually go on to become a professor. My advisor told me that the postdoc was a golden ticket that would put me squarely at the top of the list for a great TT job, and that there was no way I couldn't have like seven interviews at MLA. Everyone actually told me this--other postdocs and people who had recently landed TT jobs.
     
    I didn't have one interview at MLA. I had two phone interviews and no campus visits. I think my advisor was more distressed than I was. I was just like, of course this is happening. I do honestly think it's time to pull up stakes and move on. My advisor--and a few other people--have told me to do the job market again, and that this was just an extraordinarily bad year, and that there's no way someone "with my talent" could not someday get a job. But every year is worse than the last, and I'm guessing that next year will continue on with the downward trend.
     
    The university system really doesn't want us. They're dismantling English departments as we speak. And unfortunately, I don't think that any kind of organizing or advocating will turn that around. The demand just isn't there right now for English professors. English enrollments are falling because people don't want their kids to major in English, and no one sees the usefulness of a liberal arts degree anymore. Other people here have advocated "talking about" or "raising awareness" about these problems, but we've been talking about them for a while. Unfortunately, we live in a very cruel world where capitalism has been allowed to carry the day. People here have accused me of being a neo-liberal; really, I'm a realist. It doesn't matter whether or not you believe that free markets are right; free markets, tragically enough, have been allowed to take their course. The basic fact of the matter is that there is no demand for what we do because no one perceives the English degree as having value. And yes, this is all a confidence/perception problem, but it's a perception problem that runs deep. We can't force people to think that English departments are necessary and English degrees are important. That might not happen ever; if it does, it'll happen because something external to us changes in the market. That's just the way it goes anymore. We used to regulate our markets, but we don't anymore. Our society used to set aside taxes to support English and liberal arts, regardless of market value, because it believed that a well-rounded education was a right. It just doesn't do that anymore.
     
    Despite all that, I can't say I regret getting my PhD. I also don't think it's my place to tell anyone what to do with their lives. Getting a PhD certainly wasn't a terrible thing for me, even though my job searches were completely unsuccessful. I learned more than I ever imagined I would, and I published (a lifelong dream), and I wrote a dissertation that other people think is really good. But really, I don't think that anyone here has the right to tell anyone that getting a PhD in English will shatter their lives and destroy their dreams. That's making a huge assumption about how other people handle setbacks or how they value their education. Some people here might be coming from a much different perspective. Some people here might have spent the aughties pulling sand out of their ass in Afghanistan, so getting a PhD and launching an unsuccessful job search might seem pretty minor in comparison.
     
    Personally, I'm trying to look at my failure on the job market as something of an opportunity. As I detach from the idea of being a professor, I've started to think about doing the things and taking the big risks that I'd always thought about but didn't have time for. I've also sought out career counseling. I'm trying to meet with ex-PhDs who can give me some advice for how to market myself for other careers. In a weird way, it's also kind of freeing. I've been thinking of all the things I DON'T have to do anymore--because there are always things about our jobs we're not wild about. I think, "Oh God, I don't have to live in North Dakota if I don't want to." At the end of my academic job search, I realized I was applying for jobs that I never in the world thought I'd ever apply for--5/5 load in the middle of hot nowhere like six hours from a medium-sized city and all for the pleasure of $29,000 a year--and I realized that this was the definition of insanity. The problem with this entire profession is that we have all indeed become slaves to this kind of market, thinking of ourselves as not having any choice in the matter, and as a result, our expectations are completely off-kilter. This leads universities to take advantage of us in terrible ways. To break this cycle, we really do just have to walk away from it.
     
    Did the job market shatter my world? Kind of. It has been extremely disappointing. You do invest yourself in a vision of living an academic life. Worse things have happened to me, though. In the long run, not getting my dream job is a set-back but not a tragedy. The post-doc was what got my hopes up, not really the PhD in general. I am irritated about my program, though--it has a terrible placement record but still manages to recruit 15-18 new PhD students a year. I think it should really come with a warning label.
  17. Upvote
    JLRC reacted to rising_star in The Graduate School Ponzi Scheme   
    As someone that has gone on the job market, I'll just say that 80 jobs is a low number to apply for, especially for people in English. It can be an agonizing process because applying for jobs basically becomes a full-time job and then you hear nothing back for months on end, except when you check the wiki and learn that others have advanced to phone/Skype interviews or that they're being invited to campus. It really can be soul-crushing, especially given the sheer volume of work that goes into it. There's basically nothing else in grad school that prepares you for it, nor does having been un(der)employed before grad school because sending in 80 standard job apps is a lot less work than 80 academic ones which may require your teaching philosophy, teaching evals, research statement, statement about how you work with diverse populations, plus a 2-3 pg cover letter, each of which must be tailored to the specific institution. I thought I was prepared for lots of rejection and waiting when I went on the market but, having done it, I can say without a doubt that I was not. Others who have actually been on the market may agree with me. 
  18. Upvote
    JLRC reacted to empress-marmot in The Graduate School Ponzi Scheme   
    VirtualMessage, if you are still here, I am really sorry about your job search. On one campus visit, I learned the PhD students had applied to 80 jobs apiece. By the time I go on the job market, I imagine I will have to apply to way over 100--and definitely apply outside academia as well.   You are a fantastic person for making it through a PhD program, for publishing several articles, for believing in teaching and research. I agree that sometimes academia is pretentious and self-aggrandizing. I also agree that everyone should know the risks and what they're willing to give. But most of us have found that teaching and research make us better people, and that being a better person is worth the downsides. Most of us have been told "just don't go," too.    Some people on the GradCafe have been accepted to fantastic schools, and no one should start their career with a cloud of doom thundering overhead. Instead of posting once, why don't you stay here? We need more people to give us smart talk and advice from the other side of a PhD. 
  19. Upvote
    JLRC reacted to grad_wannabe in Communication/Media Studies Ph.D Fall 2015--Apps, Decisions, and Waiting...   
    you GUYS. YOU GUYS YOU GUYS. 
     
    i got into Columbia. 
     
    holy moly what the heck is going on what
     
    [and thanks so much for the congratulations! you guys have been my rock these past few insanity-instilling months. a rare and precious resource of friendship, you all are.]
  20. Upvote
    JLRC got a reaction from autumn in NCA released an updated profile of doctorate degrees   
    The link in the OP has a bad character at the end. Try this one and it should work.
  21. Upvote
    JLRC reacted to Swagato in What does it take to get into a top-tier program?   
    The general trend has always been that undergraduate institution used to matter tremendously, because you'd go on to a PhD directly from there. Over the past...10? 15? years this has gradually changed somewhat, as it is now increasingly common to earn an MA elsewhere before finally beginning the PhD. So, now, it works two ways (generally): 1) Top undergraduate, top MA, top PhD program; 2) Not-a-top-undergraduate, top MA, top PhD program. There are numerous examples of the latter among recent faculty at prestigious departments. In short, today where you do your MA is crucially important, if you're going to do it before applying to PhD programs. 
     
    Certain people tend to cluster at top departments--Ivy or not--because those departments can offer greater resources, greater opportunities, greater visibility, etc. 
  22. Upvote
    JLRC reacted to poliscar in What does it take to get into a top-tier program?   
    I'm surprised that no one has mentioned languages yet. Applying for PhD programs without reading knowledge of at least one foreign language puts you at a huge disadvantage. 
  23. Upvote
    JLRC reacted to scuttlebutt in What does it take to get into a top-tier program?   
    I have a parent who is on adcomm and hiring committees all the time. She sees applicants with outstanding CVs and SOPs/letters of intent from a range of applicants: Oxford to Ivy to Big Name State to regional. 
     
    She says the Oxfords, Princetons, Yales, etc. always catch her eye, but then she interviews them, and they're clearly not the best candidate for one glaring reason: they're so unaware of their privilege that it's gross and off-putting.
     
    Her good friend and colleague, with a degree from an Ivy and socioeconomic background that reflects the primary demographic of Ivies, often says the same.
     
    Additionally, I had an hour long conversation with a DGS from a top-tier school recently, and our conversation mainly consisted of him warning against the lure of Ivies and public Ivies because they're not environments that encourage innovation or change in the humanities---in terms of disciplinary practices/standards and the demographics they educate. 
     
    I know these are mere anecdotal observations, but my point is that the door swings both ways. Supposed "prestige" doesn't always work in your favor.  
  24. Upvote
    JLRC reacted to scuttlebutt in What does it take to get into a top-tier program?   
    Fit and your future project(s), which are gauged through SOP, WS, and LORs, are by far the most important.
     
    In terms of BA/MA prestige, not so much. Idiots and savants reside in boths Ivys and regional universities. Adcomms know this. They also recognize that a number of issues, including class, region, and race might have limited one's ability to attend a "prestigious" program. And if they don't, if they're so blind to their privilege that they cannot recognize this, then why would one even want to attend the program?
  25. Upvote
    JLRC got a reaction from The Pedanticist in Worried about tenure-track jobs?   
    A couple more links...
     
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jason-schmitt/communication-studies-ris_b_6025038.html
    http://www.natcom.org/uploadedFiles/More_Scholarly_Resources/2013%20Jobs%20Update%20Report%20Final.pdf
     
    One interesting stat, to me - there were more BA degrees awarded in Comm. than English, which is traditionally one of the single most popular disciplines outside of the hard sciences. While there are just as many, if not more, students interested in communication, there are half as many faculty members in communication than English. The jobs will keep coming.
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