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About alexanderhamilton

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  • Application Season
    2013 Fall

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  1. Ugh yeah, that's gross. At my institution there was a lot of that attitude, but as I went on I think there was more of a split between the pragmatists and the ones who'd consider themselves a failure if they didn't get a TT job. I knew a woman who, from her first year, made very clear that she wanted to work at a non-profit; and another who, like you, had a goal of teaching at community college. I think some of the old guard profs definitely didn't know what to make of that, but I made sure to surround myself with advisors and friends who valued other paths and motivations, too.
  2. If you ever want to know more about breaking into the startup world, send me a message! Same for anyone else.
  3. While writing my dissertation I got a job offer to work at an edtech startup. I defended a week after starting and have been there almost a year now. The amount of control I have over my own work, the advancement opportunities, and value and trust that others put in me has been extremely refreshing coming from academia. Not to mention it pays at least 2x better than I could hope to make in the nonprofit sector or adjuncting, and I get unlimited vacation and can work remotely. It’s cool to see non-academic organizations and companies valuing the skills we have (most of which the world considers “soft”), which is something I despaired of in the months leading to my job offer.
  4. I was in a cohort of two (only one other person) for Comp Lit. The next year there was an unusually large cohort of seven, and the year after only one. Smaller cohorts can be good because you’re fighting fewer people for funding, but it can get lonely.
  5. Northwestern is definitely fully funded for at least 5 years. They have recently been cracking down on granting funding beyond the fifth year, however. For the first 5 years, though, you can expect a minimum of $30,500, full tuition remission, and excellent health insurance without a premium. In Evanston/Chicago, this is enough to live quite comfortably. I was actually able to buy a home off of savings from the graduate stipend.
  6. The title speaks for itself. Has anyone heard of a dissertation consisting of two longer chapters (and an introduction and conclusion, of course)? Or is three still the minimum? This is a question more of organization than length.
  7. Most humanities PhD start out with the intention of going into academia, but from my anecdotal experience, around 30% drop out entirely, and an additional 20% decide out of either pragmatism or conviction that they should begin pursuing other job leads. I have heard of PhDs going into higher education administration (at R1 universities, you supposedly need a PhD to get anywhere in administration, but the clincher is they don't care what it's in), non-profit work, or high school teaching (whether at private or public school). Some end up at community colleges. I've even seen evidence that management consulting companies such as BCG and McKinsey are actively recruiting humanities PhDs. That being said, it's safe to say that very few people enter a program with this in mind. For a lot of grad students, though, it makes more sense to finish the degree since they're so far along already and find a way to argue that the skills they have acquired are transferrable to other fields. (I also should be clear: as far as I know, the three-article-dissertation does not require said articles to be published, but rather allows one to write three related essays that don't necessarily build on each other.)
  8. Hi everyone, I know this forum tends to cater more towards prospective students, but I have a question for those already in the thick of things. With the job market as lean as it is, more and more humanities PhDs are leaving academia for "alt-ac" positions or switching gears entirely. So my question is: does anyone have stories of successful "accommodations" to the traditional dissertation project (for those who do not intend to enter the academic job market) in order to just graduate and move on? For example, I know two people (at different top institutions) who have gotten approval to write three articles and an intro instead of a monograph. I also know someone in a national literature PhD doing a translation project in lieu of a dissertation. Any stories on shortest dissertations successfully defended? I once got one of my committee members to utter the magical words "90 pages" in response to "how long does a dissertation have to be if I have no intention of continuing in academia?", but I haven't followed up on that and was curious about others' experiences.
  9. Doll Tearsheet, You can certainly apply with a B.A. in English. I hardly know anyone in Comp Lit who has a degree in Comp Lit, and some have come from very different fields, like law. If your background is in a national literature or philosophy, you shouldn't have any trouble. As for language competency, each school will have its own measure, so follow those. For example, Stanford requires the OPI, while others may require an interview in the target languages (I had one Skype interview in three languages!) or a simple transcript review.
  10. Hi jshaarawi, You've already gotten some great responses, but I'll chime in, too. GRE: Very low GRE scores can make you look weaker compared to someone with similar credentials but a higher score, but they certainly aren't everything. In terms of funding, a low score can be a problem for some public universities that rely on federal funding, but I don't think that applies to private schools. (Conversely, a good score can help you attain funding at public institutions; I was awarded a prestigious fellowship at one school, and I'm sure my GRE score helped.) I also know that Northwestern Comp Lit doesn't require the GRE, so that could be a good option if you're nervous. (And besides, it sounds like a good fit for what you're studying.) Contact: I second what the others said - only contact professors if you genuinely want to start a conversation! I e-mailed a couple professors at each school when I was applying, and in retrospect, that was a bad idea. Although most were very nice, I know now how busy they are, and it wasn't respectful of their time. That being said, if you have specific questions for them and/or are particularly invested in their work, it can be a good idea! Publishing: I know plenty of advanced grad students who have never even submitted an article for publication, much less had one appear in print. It can certainly help you, but don't let your lack of publications give you a moment's pause. Good luck!
  11. Thanks for the opinions. Due to the unique nature of my field (Comp Lit), I would only be looking for jobs in the joint area. I would love to teach intro courses in said area. Maybe I should also mention that while I want to be successful and would like to teach on the university level, I am not necessarily looking to be placed at a R1 institution. My main goal is to teach and live a comfortable life.
  12. Hi everyone! I was lucky enough to get multiple acceptances this year for a literature Ph.D., and I'm having a difficult time making my final choice. I would appreciate any insight that you might have. School A (top 20) is located in Chicago, offers a solid funding package (5 years), and has the best job placement rate of the three. Some of their recent grads are now in TT positions at Yale, Reed, Oregon, etc. Unfortunately I am unable to visit, as I only found out I got in a few days ago, so I can't comment on the campus. I've talked to several professors, who are very nice and seem excited to work with me. However, their program is very theory- and philosophy-oriented. While I know a background in theory is necessary, I am more interested in social/historical readings of literature. The department is small. School B (top 20) is located in a big city, offers a solid funding package (6 years), and doesn't have very good job placement. However, I could do a joint Ph.D. there with a department that does have a great reputation and good job placement. Their department is known for approaching the field from a social/historical perspective, and there are several professors I really clicked with and could see as advisors. Furthermore, the coursework is very interesting. I like the area the university is located in and instantly felt "at home" in the environment. Drawback is that one of the two programs I would be doing there, while housed in a very prestigious university, has only a mediocre reputation. Also, cost of living is extremely low and I would be able to save each month. School C (top 40) is located in a big city that everyone loves. The university is huge (40,000+ students) with lots of faculty in pretty much every area you can think of. Funding is substantially less than the other schools, though I could make ends meet on the stipend. Although there are probably several profs I could work with, there is one who is doing exactly the work I want to do and with whom I had a great personal connection. She also works on an obscure subfield that I would love to include (only 2-3 universities in the country do what she does). School C's reputation in the field is better than B though not as good as A. My fear would be a lack of "community" feel at such a large university. I realize this is a lot to process, but any thoughts would be appreciated!
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