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jrockford27 last won the day on July 12 2018

jrockford27 had the most liked content!

About jrockford27

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  1. I can think of no reason to mention it. If nothing else, it's a waste of valuable SOP space that could be better spent on something else. Programs understand people apply multiple times. Also: adcoms often rotate membership each year, they also reject hundreds of applications, so if you're worried that they'll remember they rejected you I wouldn't.
  2. It's very positive. We have this going on in my program now with a few different subfields. It often means that the program is trying to create programmatic emphases that showcase particular faculty. It might also just mean that a particular faculty member has spent a few seasons on the adcom. As a sort of lone wolf in my program in terms of interests as my work doesn't overlap substantially with anyone else's, it can feel a bit isolating. I'm a bit envious of people who can form clusters and share reading lists and things. I mean, everyone is still my friend and all, but when you share a subfield you can share more professionally and intellectually. Also, you're so early on and your project is so protean that by the time you defend your prospectus you might be in a totally different subfield.
  3. I have a couple of colleagues who did the MAPH. I've never really pried (they aren't close friends), but on the surface they seem very proud of the experience. Personally, I wouldn't touch it with a 20 foot pole. I was accepted to it with the same partial scholarship you've been offered. Imagine my shock when I went to a prospective student weekend at a program that accepted me and met a half a dozen other students who had all been accepted to MAPH. A close friend of mine did an unfunded masters at Columbia. She seems ambivalent about it when she talks about it. My wife did a partially funded humanities masters (one year of TAship in a two year program) at a well-known school because she had to geographically limit her list of programs at the time. She looks fondly of her time there, but the debt causes her no small degree of anxiety and resentment, and I don't think she would do it again if she had a second crack. I know several colleagues who did funded MAs at lesser known schools and they all have nothing but great things to say about their funded MA programs.
  4. Dr. [Lastname] until they indicate otherwise, or the relationship has been ongoing long enough that it's obviously weird to keep saying Dr.
  5. All fair points. I was thinking less about the stipend and more about the availability of research grants and fellowships. Maybe I'm wrong about that and it's a case of the grass being greener. My program--well outside the top 10 but well-regarded in my subfield--has very good internal fellowships, but my observation is that like Uncle Gary, committees that grant outside funding seem to favor the brand name schools. That's totally anecdotal though. Despite my anecdata and observation, I still think people should apply to a wide variety of schools because financial support isn't the most important thing. I just had a bit of scotch so I'll add that I always kind of give the side-eye to signatures on this forum that include only ivies + chicago/stanford/duke. I know there are some particularly acerbic posters in the humanities-gradcafe community who do not share my sentiment, but by this point I've been around this game enough time (time that has included sitting on search committees) to know that you can still get the brass ring without going to a top 10 school. Unlike Uncle Gary and some outside funding committees, people in the field know how arbitrary all of its processes are. So go get it @impasta, take that ruined choir, make it sing.
  6. Most of the admissions process was totally out of your control. I've said in many other threads that the most important aspect of the process is who is on the committee, and what the current makeup of the graduate student body is like in the program in terms of interests. Many people on this board get accepted by Top 10 schools and get rejected by schools in the 30s and 40s. Most people applying to grad school are great candidates, and the process is very capricious. You'll learn as you become a more experienced scholar that the ranking of one's program does not necessarily correlate to the quality of their work, the originality of their scholarship, or the breadth of their wisdom. A degree from a Top 10 is also no guarantee of a tenure track job and indeed, the lack of teaching experience one receives in many of those programs can actually be a disadvantage when applying to certain types of jobs. The only thing that the ranking of one's school can really predict is how much financial support they'll receive, and how bowled over their Uncle Gary will be when he gets the news they were accepted. Be happy you made it, you're still in the game, still in the chase for the brass ring. There are many who aren't. This is a long hard slog that will be filled with disappointments and devastating lows. Savor the highs, there wont be many.
  7. I'll share an anecdote. One of my campus visits was actually a "visitation weekend" where they invited all admitted students (and waitlist students too, I think) at the same time. It wasn't until I got there that I was told that if I'd wanted to meet with specific faculty that I should have arranged it ahead of time. Long story short, I barely met with any faculty at all, and none in my subfield. Also, I didn't go to that school. All of this is to say that it can't hurt to send a BRIEF e-mail to a professor that you think it's really important that you talk to in order to make sure they're on your itinerary.
  8. Teaching and flexibility. Research and writing are stressful.
  9. I celebrated my acceptance to my first program by drinking an entire bottle of cabernet. Unfortunately, that was actually how I was already passing the days anxiously waiting for acceptances.
  10. If you weren't good enough to be there you wouldn't be there. Or do you think that the people on the committees of elite English departments lack reading comprehension skills? You didn't get in because they believed you were a fully finished scholar, if you were, you wouldn't need to be in a PhD program. You got in because they believed you had the potential to become a fully finished scholar.
  11. I did not have an MA, but I was a non-traditional undergrad (I got my BA when I was 27) and didn't start my PhD until I was 29. I would say that my age is more likely to have something to do with my opinion than the degree I had. Depending on how the market shakes out for my wife and I, I'll finish at age 35 or 36, which didn't seem old at the time I started, but certainly does now! I can't imagine an MA having made much difference in my opinion though. Even if you have an MA you still need to somehow convince yourself that spending 5-7 years of your life (or even longer) doing exceptionally difficult work for very little pay with bleak career prospects on the other side is somehow a good idea. In most programs my perception is that an MA will shave maybe a year off that at best, in some programs it wont shave off any time at all. I imagine there are a number of different ways to convince yourself of this that don't actually involve creating beautiful illusions for yourself, but if you're capable of manifesting them you're a stronger soul than I was going in. That said, I never want to be the person who says, "don't go to grad school, it sucks... but it was good enough for me." There's a lot to like about doing a PhD. If it strikes you that you should do it, go ahead and give it a go! But I think the low pay, grueling work, lack of consistent affirmation, and uncertain prospects get to everyone eventually (unless, perhaps, one is independently wealthy or else doesn't have to deal with financial anxieties). There is a certain amount of depression and anxiety that become endemic to the experience of PhD work, and the worst part is that some people wear this fatigue like a badge of honor, like "oh, I drink eight cups of coffee a day" or "look at me, I clocked 60 hours of work last week!" and joke about these things, some of the most problematic aspects of the whole academic apparatus! My first two or three years, people used to tell visiting prospective students: "Don't listen to jrockford, he never complains about anything or anyone." Seriously, my colleagues used to make fun of me for being so upbeat! I don't think they'd say that now! This is why I say "find a therapist early, before there are even any problems." It's not a joke, I'm deadly serious. All this, and I still can't say enough about how supportive, responsive, and helpful my committee and my program are. I can only imagine how bad it is for the many grad students out there for whom this isn't true. This system absolutely sucks, and it's probably going to get worse before it gets better.
  12. So I'm in the home stretch of my sixth year so I'm now pretty much a greybeard by this board's standards, so take this as hoary wisdom or as the ramblings of a cranky old man. Has your PhD so far been what you expected it to be? Yes and no. Yes in the sense that I feel like I'm experiencing the freedom to pursue intellectual ideas and really living the sort of life I imagined it would be, with the kind of flexibility of life and freedom of mind I expected. No in the sense that I didn't expect that the stress and pressure to make something out of that life would break me multiple times. Also "no" in the sense that I didn't expect that service would take up so much of my time. What are you impressions of your program? My impression of my program is very positive. I think it is a program that is very supportive, with administration and faculty who are exceptionally invested in my success. My relationship with my colleagues is collegial at worst, there is little competition and little drama (at least that I'm involved in/aware of). Has anything about your program surprised you? This is a bit repetitive of the first answer, but what surprised me most was the expectation of service in my department (on committees, attending and planning events, etc.). In my program it is very frowned upon to retreat from department life. I think ultimately this is a good thing that has improved my life and been mostly rewarding. How are you feeling in general about your experience? I would certainly do it again, but as I wind down my first year on the job market I know there are things I would do differently. Going in I had the pollyanna idea that many share: "Well, I know the job prospects are bleak but if I don't get a job the worst that's happened is that I've spent 5-7 years living the life of the mind and doing interesting intellectual work." That's a load of horse shit for so many reasons. I probably can't convince any of you prospective applicants of this so you'll just have to venture in and find out for yourself. The experience of doing a PhD is so emotionally taxing that by the end of your 5-7 years you'll have a hard time feeling like anything other than a TT job for your reward is a failure. While you probably already have heard (and will hear over and over again) that the market is bad, the experience of it is actually the one thing about grad school that is actually way worse than people say it is. Nevertheless, stories and thinkpieces abound about post PhD careers beyond the tenure track, an idea I'll certainly embrace after another failed search or two if it comes to that. Have you found your research interests changing? Definitely! Yet I can still trace a lineage, however distant, back to my SOP. I think my SOP is like a distant great uncle once removed of my dissertation, or something like that. Are there any hardships you've faced that you want to share? I came into grad school with depression and anxiety issues and grad school, beginning with the application process, amplified them by orders of magnitude. Seek therapy early. Find a therapist whose office is near campus and who treats a lot of academics. You may find that not all therapists really "get" the lifestyle. If your school has good health insurance, I'd recommend seeing a therapist even before things get bad, because they will get bad. How about any successes you'd like to celebrate? Thanks to being collegial and a good department citizen, I basically had a publication opportunity that is only a little bit outside my core interest area fall directly into my lap. Show good will and engagement and (most) others will show it back to you.
  13. I was shutout my first time. That seems a million years ago now, but I'm in a program that is pretty open about its processes and here are my best thoughts: 1. Really think carefully about the list of schools you applied to. I know for a fact that I was blinded by wanting to go to a place that was a household name, and that I was convinced that the only way to land a TT job was to go to a "Top 10" school. The school I'm at now was not even on my radar the first time I applied. My experience actually being in grad school now for six years is that both of these ideas are odious and wrong. I'm in a program well out of the top 10 but we are well regarded in my subfield and two people from my subfield just landed TT jobs. I truly think who your adviser is matters much more than the school you go to. 2. I really don't think that what you do in the meantime matters in the sense that there's no way you're going to get anything worthwhile into publication before the next cycle starts (unless you've got something going already). I continued working my job. I don't think having publications going in really matters that much for a grad school applicant. The only things that really matter are whether your SOP and writing sample get in front of an adcom who are interested in the kind of work you're doing. I think the best thing you can do is try to become more conversant in your field/subfield by reading important (especially recent) articles/books by scholars whose work interests you, which should result in a stronger SOP. 3. Get members of your committee to look at your SOP and--if they really like you--your writing sample. [Edit: Sorry, not your committees, your recommenders. I'm too deep in 'job market mode' I guess]. 4. Your SOP doesn't need to articulate a dissertation (literally zero people write their diss on what they put in their SOP), it needs to align you with a specific set of scholarly concerns that identify you as a serious scholar who is engaged with the field. What scholars influence your work? What are the specific theoretical questions and concerns that drive you? Even if you don't "do theory" you should still be able to articulate that sort of intellectual scaffolding that holds up your critical lens. If you can't, then devote the next few months to building it. 5. Understand that the most important aspect of the admissions process is the one over which you have the least control: the composition of the adcom and of a program's current crop of graduate students. You can have a dynamite application with a publication, a 4.0 GPA cum laude, and a degree from Harvard, but if the adcoms at the schools you applied to aren't feeling your SOP, or they already have several students in your subfield, you're getting shutout. You may have done everything right this year, and being shutout is not necessarily a reflection of the quality of your application. As Captain Picard once said, "It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness, that is life."
  14. I will verify as a person who was accepted to Buffalo many years ago and attended their recruiting event that they have a very juicy "Presidential Fellowship" that they award a couple of weeks in advance of all of the regular admittees. Indeed, during my visit I roomed with that lucky recipient. If I recall correctly, it's on the order of $30k/yr in a city with a relatively low cost of living, so bully for whoever got it!
  15. I found it sad but paradoxically liberating. The sensation of having no obligations to be anywhere or to do anything the first few weeks was sublimely wonderful and terrifying. I'm not likely to ever experience anything like it again. You wont be by yourself for long, as you'll soon be absorbed into your cohort/department.
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