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rhetoricus aesalon

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rhetoricus aesalon last won the day on October 10 2015

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  1. I am looking at the general rankings, not English graduate program rankings. Job search committees are routinely made up of faculty outside a candidate's area of specialization and, often, with at least one member outside the department. Departments will want to hire someone with specialization they do not have in order to round out program and university expertise. This means a graduate program's prestige can be less important to a university's overall prestige when on the academic job market.
  2. The irony here is that both schools you've listed are top programs. Yours, Washington University, is in fact listed as a top 20 by USNews. So I'm not really sure why you're trying to convince early career graduate students that you've somehow beat the odds with your modest graduate education when in fact you've benefitted from the prestige of your program as much as anyone.
  3. I can't speak to SMU specifically because I do not have a relationship to that school, but these events in general are meant to recruit admitted students into making the final push to enroll. In other words, this is now your opportunity to interview the school to make sure it is a good fit before you agree to whatever offer they have made to you by the universal April 15 deadline. It will also be a chance to meet other students who will be in your cohort and get a better sense of what your life would be like while at the institution and living in that area. You will most likely meet professors whose interests align with yours, and you might even sit in on a graduate course to get a feel for how they are run. You will likely get a group tour of the department building and campus, and you will most likely eat meals with current graduate students and have the chance to candidly speak to them about their experiences in the program. In other words, this visit is intended to be fun, build community, and convey to you that attending the program would be worth the half-decade plus you will be devoted to it. So enjoy it. But also, use it to your advantage. The program has made a commitment to you, but you have not yet made a commitment to the program. There are very few moments you will have power over your circumstances in academia, and this is one--however small it may be. Gather intel about how students support themselves over the summer, if they work other jobs and where those are, where they live, if they are comfortable, where your children (if you have any) will be going to school or daycare, where your partner (should you have one) work, etc. The school will do everything it can to put on its best face for you, and they will do what they can to get you to make the decision to enroll. Use the opportunity to be kind, open, and honest about what you need to be successful, and see if in the absolute best of times (because you truly will never have the university on the hook like this again) if they are able to give you that. They might not be able to do much, but even knowing how they communicate that to you will be very telling about what life will be like over the coming years.
  4. Do you mean that you would be naming an affiliated faculty member? As in, faculty that have a formal relationship (such as a joint appointment) to French and comparative literature? If so, then there is no risk with naming this person because they are faculty in comp lit as much as they are in French.
  5. Remember that you are not drafting a contract when you write your SOP. Naming a POI in no way means that you will actually work with that person. Listing faculty that you want to work with in a SOP is one way to convey your fit within a department and not much else. Trying to read into who might be moving, or not getting tenure, or retiring is usually information that you will not be privy to. Just list the faculty who work in similar circles as you want to; otherwise, they might be curious as to why you didn’t list them and if you really know much about the academic community you want to engage with.
  6. As the first person who has responded to your post who has actually been on the market, let me say: No, it is not that bad. It is worse. Far worse. If you don’t want to believe your professors, then do your research and read the many, many people who were not as lucky as them and are suffering now because of their choice “to take a chance and see.” There is literally so much of it that it forms a genre: quit lit.
  7. Great advice in this thread, and I'll just add that if you haven't already done so, talk to your professors at your current institution about this and ask them about how to fund it. Ask the chair in the department you are majoring in if the department has money to support your trip. Ask your college dean if they have money for undergraduate research travel, even if the deadline for their grants has passed. Your acceptance to this conference also makes them look good, and they might be able to help you out. Also want to echo what has already been hinted at. This conference will look good in the short term for grad school applications, but 5-8 years from now it will not matter. Don't go into debt for this conference. But most importantly: Celebrate! This is a big achievement, very worthy of your excitement. You may already know this, but your work was almost certainly judged anonymously -- it was reviewed for acceptance alongside graduate and faculty member work without your name or status as an undergraduate attached. And it was accepted! Congratulations!
  8. I wouldn’t actively go seeking letters from former profs of the school you’re applying to, but if it just so happens that they were that doesn’t seem like cause for concern. I’m assuming this person worked with graduate students and left on good terms? If not, I still don’t think anyone would hold this LOR against you, but it really wouldn’t be all that helpful to you either.
  9. Most adcomms LOATHE the GRE. If the program hasn't already abolished it as a requirement, then they would likely be delighted to have a well-qualified candidate with low to mediocre scores (not saying yours are) to use as proof that the college should get rid of it in application considerations. GREs continue to be less important, and more of an embarrassment, to schools that still use them in admission decisions. See: this recent study demonstrating STEM students who score in the lowest quartile either (for men) outperform or (for women) show no difference from their counterparts in the highest quartile when measuring rate of degree completion. Do not waste your time, money, or energy giving the GRE one additional thought.
  10. What if I told you this is exactly what happens, again and again and again, on the market? I’m not here to fight or agree or disagree, because I genuinely value the mission of Gradcafe in grad students supporting grad students. But I have to say I see very little of my and my cohort’s market experience represented in what you’ve written here.
  11. Thank you so much for saying this. I completely agree. But going back to OP's question, going to a higher-ranked school will still offer the best change of getting this job than not. What I meant by my post is that top-ranked program graduates are the most likely to be in a position to make this choice.
  12. A lot of truth in that post, @MetaphysicalDrama. Ranking schools is yet another tool of academic white supremacy, and we need more people to share their experiences so future scholars are better prepared than we were. I'm a little wary of the story we tell ourselves about the candidate who botches a teaching college interview, though. That one circulates a lot. What we might see as someone (usually a woman) making "inappropriate" demands of the institution may be someone negotiating an offer comparable to another they already have.
  13. Stats about where students end up tell only part of the story. I think it is far less likely that top programs don't train their students to be good teachers than it is students from top programs get multiple offers and turn down those from teaching schools because they pay significantly less for substantially more teaching. In a profession where your research is the most important thing to mobility, it takes a lot to accept $15k less a year to teach two or three times as many classes.
  14. @Lowe, you may also consider when you reach that point in your graduate career, you can ask a top professor doing similar work outside your institution to be an external reader on your dissertation committee. This will make your materials stronger on the job market because you will have a letter from someone -- in the words of Karen Kelsky (AKA The Professor Is In) -- who is not paid and obligated to be your adviser, giving search committees a more unbiased evaluation of your accomplishments. Having external letters also shows you are building a reputation outside your institution. But as someone who is just now wrapping up their first year on the market and has landed a good job coming out of a top program in my field, I think it's incorrect to say rank isn't one of the more important factors when landing a first-round interview. I believe fit -- which unfortunately is something you cannot really know or control very much on the market from year to year -- is the most important, but I truly believe rank is also high on this list. I have seen students in high-ranking programs with no publications get offers after successful on-campus interviews. And I have seen students from lower-ranking institutions with multiple peer-reviewed publications receive few if any first-round interviews. Of course it is impossible to know why exactly, but over and over I have heard faculty say some version of, "Coming from X program, you are just going to get more interviews than people in Y program. That's just a fact."
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