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jrockford27 last won the day on January 4

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About jrockford27

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  1. My father was not full of great life advice, but he had a few useful things he used to say frequently. One of them was, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." That is, don't let go of what you've actually got for the outside chance you could get more of the same thing. Admissions decisions can be very capricious. Those who are enjoying an embarrassment of acceptances this year may be doing so because there happened to be a lot of programs looking for talented folks in their subfield this year. Those shut out may be shut out because people in their subfields happen to just not be on the adcoms this year. It is a very risky assumption to assume that you'll do better next year because these kinds of admissions criteria/variables can change wildly year over year.
  2. Too Early for 2019 Apps?

    I got shut out my first year applying. I took a couple of months to dust myself off, then I took a hard look at my school list and my applications. I consulted with my recommenders and other mentors (it did take me a couple more months before I had the nerve to face them, and they were totally sympathetic, so don't wait as long as I did!) I would say the two most important changes I made were the schools I applied to (I looked harder to find a better fit) and I substantially revamped my personal statement with the help of my recommenders. The schools I was accepted to and waitlisted at my second time around were schools that weren't even on my radar the first time, because honestly, I didn't have a very firm grasp on who I was as a scholar the first time. If you're staring at a shut out, I understand 100% what it feels like, I felt totally dead inside. But if it's something you really want to do, you just need to wait that feeling out a little bit, and try again. Academia is mostly rejection punctuated by minor triumphs here and there.
  3. 2018 venting thread

    If it makes those dealing with partner issues feel better, I've seen quite a few examples in my program of people making it work, and coming to perfectly reasonable compromises. Often times these compromises can make life more difficult for one or both partners, but they make it work nevertheless. One of my committee members and his partner lived apart for 10 years before they were finally able to land jobs at the same university - indeed, they had to live apart for a long time so that they could develop their careers so that they could eventually achieve that particular dream. He told me that it was a wonderful thing for their relationship that they were both willing to accept the distance for a little while in order to be able to spend the rest of their lives together. They're in their 40s, they've both got tenure at the same place, and in 40 years when they retire that 10 years will probably seem like a blip. Your life is a very very long time. This is a very very tough business to be in if you're going to have a romantic life, it strains relationships. If your partners aren't academics, they need to be able to understand and accept that, and you should be very honest with them about it. You aren't going to have a lot of say in where you get to go for your first job out of school (even less than your say in where you go to grad school!), or if you remain geographically rooted, that will potentially bring its own struggles.
  4. Post-Acceptance, Pre-Visit

    Rule of thumb, address them as Dr. until they tell you not to (they should do this very quickly unless they're way into titles).
  5. I don't have any advice other than if you are, for example, assigned to read a 250 page theory book in a week (not a terribly outlandish reading assignment for a grad seminar) that it's unlikely you're going to be able to actually read and usefully retain all 250 pages. So do a little bit of reflection, take a look at the table of contents, read the intro and then ask yourself 1) which portions sound like they're most relevant to the seminar; 2) which portions sound most relevant to my own research interests. Read those portions carefully, and skim the rest, marking pages that seem worth coming back to. That doesn't mean skipping them, it just means gliding over them a bit more easily, taking only sparse notes. While you might feel like a slacker at first, you're really not, your brain is a pretty impressive hard drive. I've been writing papers years after a seminar when it crosses my mind, "hey, didn't I read something about that in that section I skimmed from...?" I don't know, some faculty may think this is utter heresy, but this thread is about self-care and it's one strategy I developed.
  6. 2018 Acceptances

    Wow, that's a truly impressive acceptance! All of the MCM folks I've met have been impressive, interesting people. Congratulations. Who are your PoI's there?
  7. Yeah, my dog ate the covers off of two library books, set me back $50 in repair fees. He will eat virtually anything, and so the first few months he required pretty perpetual vigilance, which likely colors my experience of dog ownership as a grad student!
  8. Maybe I was too strong in my dog advice. Mine has been sleeping peacefully all morning while I've been avoiding looking at my advisor's notes on my chapters.
  9. My partner and I adopted a dog two years ago, and while we love him and don't regret him, I think we would both definitely be further along in our dissertations if we didn't have him! Dogs don't care that you're just hitting your stride, or that you've only written 300 words in a whole day of work, they demand validation. However, if you have a dog sized hole in your heart and you simply wont make it without one, it would be terribly hypocritical for me to stop you! The first few weeks you will get zero done, and you wont sleep much, it will get better, but you'll never be able to work as much or as consistently as you are accustomed to (though in light of my previous post, maybe that isn't such a bad thing).
  10. Media/Film studies applications

    Sounds like Pitt dodged a bullet. I'm sure with their stellar credentials they'll go on to terrorize some other program.
  11. I guess I was thinking more about dissertation/comps phase, but I think we can say a similar thing about coursework with the caveat that in my experience the labor involved in the coursework phase of grad school is a bit less demanding and so it's possible to put in more hours. I mean, I find myself to be a pretty slow reader (I can read about 20 pages of academic carefully, with some notes, in about one hour). For me, effective skimming was an important skill to develop in grad school (I was at a meeting the other day where several full time faculty discussed the importance of skimming for grad students). If someone finds that they are working 10-12 hours a day on their coursework, reading everything with a magnifying glass, and still living their best life, then more power to you. My anecdotal evidence suggests that this is not the case for most grad students (including myself). On top of my snailspace with regard to careful reading, I would also say that there is a definite cap on what I retain and if I had to guess it probably tops out at about 3 hours, and then I need a break to do something else (there have been studies that show diminishing returns for intellectual exercise after about this amount of time). So I'll switch to writing, or grading, or schedule my day around a talk. All I'm trying to say is that a great self care tip for grad school is to not get enveloped in pissing contests (with other academics, or with your sibling who does some other kind of work with a completely different set of demands) about how many hours a week you need to work, and don't get intimidated by grad students who claim fantastically long and productive workdays, because evidence suggests that short, intense periods of intellectual work are much more productive than long, grinding days. I highly recommend the book "Deep Work" by Cal Newport, it completely changed my approach to my studies, and confirmed through evidence a lot of things I'd believed for a long time, and made me feel better about my habits of mind. I think the "look how exhausted I am, isn't being a grad student cah-razy, here's an instagram picture of all of the books on my desk, can't believe I'm gonna read those #crushingit" really traps us in the postmodern "Love what you do" ethos that makes us easier to exploit (and we're already really easy to exploit). I think if most grad students saw people in any other profession working overtime hours for minimum wage with very little promise for substantial upward financial mobility, and then bragging about it and aestheticizing it, they would decry it as exploitation and false consciousness (they'd write a 30 page paper citing Althusser, Rancière, and Derrida), but when grad students do it it's apparently just "the academic life." After five years of PhD study, I'm pretty sure this is the most important self care advice I can give. Also, drink plenty of water, take walks, beware of credit cards, learn to cook/bake, and don't get a dog..
  12. 2018 Acceptances

    I know several people who have come through the NC State English dept.'s MA program and they speak very highly of it, albeit, these are students in their Film Studies concentration. I've never heard them report anything negative about how it was to live on the stipend (though I never asked). For what its worth , among film studies folks, that English MA program is very well regarded.
  13. The most important thing is also perhaps the hardest to gauge: that is, do you have the sense that the program's grad students are well treated, and that they feel supported by the program. I think you should really ask this of a variety of grads in the program if you have the opportunity to meet them. You can have a first class funding offer, but if the grad students tell you that they feel like the faculty aren't invested in them and their success, that should be a major, major red flag. You might also be able to sense this, as I've written elsewhere, in the quality of the program's recruitment. Do they go out of their way to actually, y'know, recruit you, or do they treat you like an afterthought. Do not be afraid to ask these questions. You'll probably find that grads will give you honest answers, and if the answers aren't 100% honest, you might still be able to read between the lines. As many of you already well know, most grad students will not pass up an opportunity to lament a terrible situation. Remember, this is 5-10 years of your life (depending on the program, you should also DEFINITELY ask about average "time to degree") that you will never get back. You may take an offer at that school whose name will really impress the folks back home but find that the actual experience of that place isn't so great.
  14. While this thread has focused primarily on exercise and nutrition, which are important, don't forget that self-care includes hobbies, socializing with friends, and plain old enjoying things that aren't work. For example, this academic year I started a new ritual where each morning I wake up, make myself some coffee, and spend the first hour of my day reading something that has zero to do with my work. I feel like this improves my morale substantially, and gets my brain "spun up" to think about important things. I wish it hadn't taken me until I was 33 years old to realize that mornings aren't just for rolling out of bed, stuffing food in my mouth and rushing into work. Make time for things that aren't work or exercise! You'll probably meet people in grad school who brag about 60 hour work weeks and wear their exhaustion like a badge of honor. It is so ridiculously unnecessary, and these people are probably vastly overstating their workload, or have an exceptionally broad definition of what constitutes academic work. While we all inevitably find ourselves putting in a few 10-12 hour days at crunch time, if you're working smart you do not need to be doing that on a weekly basis.
  15. You MUST be from Minnesota. I'm also a grad of "The U" and I was totally shut out my first round of applications. I spent a couple of months floating around Northeast doing a lot of karaoke, and then got back to business. Ended up someplace I really like. As an aside, one of my letter writers was J.B. Shank from the history department, and one of my favorite classes was Daily Life in Early Modern Europe with Carla Philips, also in that dept. Should have done a history minor heh.