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Everything posted by TheGnome

  1. It happens. If you have other offers from roughly comparable or higher ranked schools, you should try it. Worst case scenario is that they will say no. There is no shame in accepting the offer if they say no, and no shame in rejecting it if they say yes. As long as you do what you do in good faith, you need to pursue what is best for you. Grad Directors know that, and since they also want to get the best students they can, they will help you if it is in their power. In a sense, negotiating is actually mutually beneficial. You just need to remember that it might just not be possible for the DGS to make adjustments on the offer, so don't take it personal if negotiating gets you nowhere.
  2. My vote would be yes, FWIW. A stats minor (and/or math courses) with good grades and a high GRE Q score should substantially improve your chances. If you pair them with a polished SoP (which signals that you have a good idea of what you are getting into) you would be competitive anywhere. These things probably matter more if you intend to pursue your PhD with a quantitative empirical bent, but they should help your chances whatever it is that you want to do.
  3. The only publications that really matter are the ones in peer-reviewed political science journals that people have heard about. It is extremely rare to see this in an applicant file (though you might try your chance with BFB to get an actually informed answer). I'd say even the majority of ABDs on the job market doesn't have that. If you are one of the few who has a *real* publication, that is great. If you don't, I wouldn't worry about it at all. Also good luck to this year's hopefuls. It will be over before you know it
  4. A good, polished SoP that shows a clear understanding of what you are getting into will go a long, long way to make up for the lack of polisci background. Obviously first you have to understand what you are getting into, before showing them that you do. Perusing the recent literature on your topic will help. By literature I mean actual polisci articles published in major peer-reviewed academic journals. An engineering degree (or two) can actually be an important asset. I would say, get the SOP done and don't worry about the rest. You will be a competitive applicant everywhere you apply.
  5. According to the USNews rankings: 4 of the top 10, 8 of the top 20, and 13 of the top 25 political science PhD programs are public schools. Public-private distinction is a false one for the quality of post-graduate education.
  6. I would say, take it easy. Everything you need to know will be explained to you once you start and you will do just fine. For every question you list up there, you can easily get answers here that would suggest entirely different experiences. Honestly I thought what my answers to those questions would be and what kind inferences you would draw from them, but I couldn't arrive at anything useful. If you are really really curious, I would e-mail the senior theory grad students at A&M. It is likely that even their experiences will differ completely based on to who or to what tasks they are assigned, but you can at least get a much more relevant picture from them than you will ever get here.
  7. I would say: It is not inappropriate, but it is also not necessary at all. People who contacted faculty members and got good results tend to say that it helped, and those who contacted them and didn't get good results tend to say it doesn't help. I personally don't think it is something you should worry about. Unless you really do have a question, or have something meaningful to say, the e-mail exchanges (if you got a reply that is) do not amount to anything. a brief post by Penelope on this topic, a faculty member who writes in this forum.
  8. Declined offers from Indiana, Notre Dame, and Michigan State
  9. I would absolutely do that. Since you won't have much time to do your due diligence when you get out of the waitlist (fingers crossed), no reason why you shouldn't do it now. If you don't get out of the waitlist, fine, you can go with your current option. If you do, you will be able to make a more careful decision by visiting.
  10. I don't want to get into this argument. All the ethics talk is scary. However, I do want to emphasize for the future applicants reading these pages who are thinking of transferring (and who may be stressing out): It is OK. It is common. Faculty members at your institution and at the schools you will apply encounter this kind of stuff all the time. I am just a lowly grad student who is about to become -yet again- a lowly grad student, so my perspective is obviously limited. Still, if you have concerns and want to talk about it, feel free to PM me now or in the future. I would be happy to offer my two cents.
  11. I am transferring. I saw nothing but encouragement from my professors. They supported me and seemed to be happy that I am moving to a place that will be better for me and my research interests. YMMV, of course, but I don't think I am too far off from the mean to be an outlier. It is a delicate situation that should be handled with care, no doubt. However, it is far from being uncommon.
  12. I think this should be memorized by every prospective student. Thanks for the link! I went ahead and checked their data from ICPSR. I am sure it will be of interest to many people, since the graphs only contain so much information. Here is the link http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/icpsrweb/ICPSR/studies/34697 I think in US people usually mean APSR, AJPS and JOP when they talk about top 3 in political science in general. I am certainly not the authority on this, and the journals you list are definitely great outlets, but I believe things get a bit more blurry after APSR, AJPS and IO for IR. ISQ is surely great, has high visibility, and I am sure many consider it to be among the previous group. I just think that the previous three is more uncontroversial. World Politics, it seems to me, became a more comparative politics-ish journal rather than an IR-ish journal in the recent past. Depending on their bent, many people may prefer Journal of Conflict Resolution over International Security. JOP, while considered one of the top 3 generalist journals in the discipline, lags behind IO for IR. Then there are other stuff like British Journal of Political Science, Quarterly Journal of Political Science, European Journal of International Relations etc. Anyway, I wasn't aiming to throw random comments on journals. My point is, in the US, for IR, much of it depends on the context when singling out individual journals for "top-ness" after APSR, AJPS and IO.
  13. 1) a)Think about what kind of jobs you would be aiming for. What kind of jobs would make you happy? I am sure CUNY PhDs get jobs, there are schools lower ranked than CUNY and their students get jobs as well. It is not a walk in the park though, not at all. More students fail to place than those who do. Job market is tough for everyone for all jobs, and it gets tougher as you move away from the top of the list. But people do find stuff. Go and check if those jobs are the kind of jobs that would be in line with your expectations, and decide based on that. b ) Transferring is tough. There is a lot of headache involved. However, people do it, so can you. If you decide to go (based on your assessment of 1-a), I would suggest you to keep an open mind. See if you like the program, if the people and the resources would allow you to do what you want to do. See if there is any other reason for transferring, apart from going to a higher ranked place (not that you necessarily need one). Then decide if you want to transfer or not. Do what is best for yourself. 2) Yes, but with some caveats. I would prefer deferring to someone who knows more about what they are saying to comment on those. Generally though think of it this way. There are three (very broad) bands: below CUNY, CUNY-level, and above CUNY. If you go to CUNY, your and your colleagues' target will be the first band. If you perform really, really well, you may be able to grab something from the second band. If you are exceptional you may get to the third band. I would say though, think hard about going to a school where the only outcome you will be happy to settle with requires you to be an outlier. Obviously take everything I said with a grain of salt, and ask these questions to people with more experience - to your professors, especially the younger ones. Edited because of this:
  14. I often get too excited about the stuff I am reading at the moment. Heart rate rises, I smile a lot, I want to talk about it with everyone (luckily, I have a very patient SO). Unfortunately, however, the more time it passes since I first read something, the less exciting it becomes for me. When I first read Imagined Communities it was the coolest thing. Now I don't feel the appeal whatsoever. No offense intended, of course - I am just revealing my absolute lack of wit and tact. Right now, I am reading Wagner's War and the State (tip o' the hat to coach), and I genuinely think this one is surely one of the best out there. Who knows what I'll think next week.
  15. It is March already folks. Let's give some of the love back to GradCafe by posting on the Let's do it for our future friends and colleagues before the current group starts leaving this forum for good. I am sure most of you benefited from the earlier versions of that thread while preparing your application. I know I did. Let's go and fill those pages.
  16. PROFILE: Type of Undergrad Institution: Non-US, likely not very recognized. Major(s)/Minor(s): International Relations Undergrad GPA: 3.4 Type of Grad I: Top international affairs school (US), area studies MA Grad GPA: 3.6 Type of Grad II: Unranked political science PhD (US) Grad GPA: 4.0 GRE: 163V / 170Q / 5.0AW Any Special Courses: 1 micro, 1 qualitative methods, 3 statistics courses. Also a couple of other PhD level substantive courses unrelated to my research interests Letters of Recommendation: All political scientists, but none of them are in my field. Also no big names. They know me quite well though, so I think they at least had some stuff to write about. Research Experience: Multiple semesters of RA experience, few conference presentations. Teaching Experience: TA for two grad methods courses. Subfield/Research Interests: IR, formal/quant conflict. RESULTS: Acceptances($$ or no $$): UIUC, Iowa, Pitt, Michigan State, Indiana, Notre Dame (all $$) Waitlists: N/A Rejections: Princeton, Stanford, Michigan, Chicago, UCSD, Wisconsin, Rochester, Ohio State, Vanderbilt Pending: N/A Going to: ??? LESSONS LEARNED: Unlike many of the good people of this forum, my case is not really a brilliant success story. However, I think I did fine and feel like I can comment on a thing or two. So here is my two cents. Usual caveats concerning grains of salt, of course, apply. - Don't lose sight of the other important things in life. It is not the end of the world if you don't get in. You may try again and do better, or end up deciding not to go for it again. It is really not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, but it can be very difficult to remember during this process. - Improve every part of your application to the extent that you can. This may sound cliché, but it isn't. Pay attention to every single component of your application. Study for the GRE and get good scores. If you can't hack it the first time, take it again (if you have the money/time). Re-read your SOP many times, ask for feedback, read it again. Prepare a polished writing sample, get feedback, read, write, rinse, repeat. If you can think of a way to improve your application, do it. If you stick with it and put in the effort. you will feel a lot better at the end, regardless of the outcome. - Yes, fit matters. If you clearly do not fit well, you will likely not get in, and if you fit very well, that can make up for some of the weaknesses in your application. Therefore it is always a good idea to do your homework and assess your fit (substantive, methodological, regional, whatever) with the department. It will also help you better customize your SOP. However it is very important to emphasize that your understanding of fit can be often dramatically different from the adcom members' understanding of fit when they review your file. Not much you can do about it. Try to remember that. - I didn't contact any professors and I don't think that hurt me. I am not saying you shouldn't do it, but I don't think it is necessary. I am also skeptical if doing so is useful at all unless you have something truly interesting to say or have some other specific purpose in mind. - I think an obligatory signal that an applicant has to send is that s/he understands what political science is about. I suspect failing to do so is why an important chunk of good, smart, talented folks, including some of our friends here, fail to get acceptances. My suggestion would be to actually sit down and read some of the contemporary political science research that appear in leading journals in your area of interest (APSR, AJPS, JOP, IO, WP, JCR, CPS, APR, whatever). I underline the word contemporary again - things change. - Speaking of signals, here is my rudimentary list of major signals that an applicant should send and the relevant components of the application that convey those signals: (i) I am hardworking (GPA, less so - SOP / Letters) (ii) I am smart and capable (GRE, GPA, SOP, less so - Writing Sample / Letters) (iii) I understand what political science is about and can ask interesting questions (SOP, less so - Writing Sample) (iv) My research interests fit with those of your faculty (SOP). You can add more, merge some of them, change the matched components etc. but -I think- a hard to dispute theme is that SOP is the component to bring them all and in the darkness bind them. - There are established regularities in this process, however remember that those regularities are also regularly violated. Yes, if you have very low GRE scores, chances are you won't get into Harvard. I mean, don't bet on it, but maybe you can, if you think you have other considerable strengths that can make up for your weaknesses. Yes, ceteris paribus, someone who got into Princeton is more likely to get into UIUC, but maybe she won't. Similarly, someone who is rejected by UC-Davis, on average, has probably a lower chance of getting into Stanford - but you never know. Prepare yourself according to the regularities, but do not lose hope until the last minute because the regularities are regularly violated. - Think long and hard about getting a PhD. It is a tough road to follow. Think about it: Approximately one third to a half of today's winners - those who got into great schools - will end up not finishing their PhDs. They will drop out and move on to pursue other adventures. An important portion of those who do finish will do something that is unrelated or somewhat related to their research outside of the academia. Among those who remain within the discipline, many will struggle to find tenure track jobs. In many cases these people will spend years adjuncting, on post-docs, and on visiting positions before settling down on a tenure track job. Furthermore there is the pedigree bias, gender/race imbalances, getting rejections repeatedly from everywhere etc. Bottom line - academia is great, we all love research, but spend some time to think through your goals. Ask around. Do not barge in. SOP: I decided to not post my SOP publicly here, but would be more than happy to share and/or discuss it in detail through PM. A few words on my SOP: - I spent one short paragraph tying my background to my research interests and one paragraph connecting my existing methods training to the training I want to receive at the X institution. Other than that, it is all about past, current, and future research. Past and current research is mentioned to the extent that it adds to the discussion on future research. - I did not have a story, a childhood memory, or other such stuff. I am not saying it can't or doesn't help, I decided to play it safer. - I did not have a fit paragraph at the end, I mentioned POIs and their research while talking about my interests throughout the SOP. I tried to mention some of the works produced by my POIs in every version of my SOP. Tried to say something other than "it is a great article/book" that would indicate that I read their work(s). Oh and I actually did read or skim them. Again, my aim in this was to primarily connect their research with my research interests, hence to demonstrate fit, not just to list the titles of their own articles back to them. - Did not address my weaknesses in the SOP. I didn't want to draw attention to them there. - It was about 2 pages, single spaced. I did not pay attention to any word limit.
  17. I think the open access one has limited data. If you are affiliated with a university / living close to a university or a good public library, you can benefit from their institutional subscription to the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Database (the one in this link - http://www.proquest.com/en-US/catalogs/databases/detail/pqdt.shtml). You can just go to your library website and access the database through there.
  18. Hey congrats on Yale steedyue! Sorry I just caught up with the news. You had your significant other there right? What a brilliant turn of events! I am happy for you guys. I am sure you will be the beacon of hope for every couple out there struggling to make it work in this process. May you guys be the proof that sometimes things do work out, and it is indeed worth a try
  19. Department placement figures are obviously very very important and useful, but they are still a proxy to get at the job market success of an X person with similar attributes to future you. That is what we all want to learn, right? This is why we often want to learn about the subfield placements as well as the overall placement records. We naturally think that -say- the IR placement record would be more relevant for us if our subfield is IR. One way to diminish some of this uncertainty is to check the placement records of your POIs or people with whom you think you are likely to work. Such data is seldom available through departments, so you kind of have to ask the person herself about her students. I want to suggest another way: ProQuest has a dissertations and theses database. I don't know if the database includes all dissertations completed in the US, but I think it is fairly close (if not exhaustive) for the past 10-ish years for most of the top-50 or so institutions. The search engine allows you to search dissertations by adviser. Now this kind of data doesn't go too far back, but I would argue that the most important part is the post-2007 period anyway. Moreover, for the past 5 years or so, many records on dissertations also include committee members (so not just chairs), which is extra useful. Using this tool, you can compile a list of all the students who completed their dissertations under the POI(s) that you want to work with. Then, you can simply google these people, check their CVs and see where they initially placed at. It is not terribly hard to get at, if a bit time consuming. A second step can be that if some of these people who were advised by your POIs have dissertations that are sort of in the same research area as your interests, you can just e-mail these people and ask about their experiences and suggestions. They may not reply or provide useful advice, but then again, maybe they will. I found this to be a useful method, hope it helps you too.
  20. I claimed one earlier and I am neither an American nor an Americanist (IR subfield). I am currently living in the US though. Since the DGS seems to be calling people, it is quite plausible that those living abroad may get the news through different means. Hang in there Miroslav.
  21. So between the Yale and the Harvard ones this may not sound very exciting but I just got into Indiana University. With this, I only have one school left that I am waiting to hear the official news from - though I know that it will be a rejection. So my cycle is basically over. Thanks GradCafe folks for making this process a lot more bearable. This is, of course, not a farewell. I will be around.
  22. I changed my research interests completely. Though as I said earlier, my previous cycle was two years ago, not last year. Also, it was not a strategic decision, I am just interested in a different set of questions now. So naturally my SOP was completely different from the previous one. Come to think of it, not sure if it can be a strategic decision - unless your previous topic was really (but really) a fringe topic that you know nobody in the discipline cares about.
  23. This funding story about GRE and international status seems to be more related to certain state schools (e.g. Berkeley, OSU, UVA, UCSD). I don't think any of the schools the OP lists should have any problem funding any student (Georgetown being the exception). CamCanadian, we have been told repeatedly that the kind of things you mentioned (work experience etc) only rarely play an important role in the admissions process. Publications, on the other hand, can go a long way to cover the weaknesses IF by publication you mean academic peer-reviewed journals that people in the admissions committee had heard about. There have been many instances where people got into one or two of such schools and got rejected from other similarly ranked ones. So yes, one can get rejected by Stanford and Princeton and still get into -say- Yale. If you still have outstanding applications, anything can happen. Postpone the pain until you know you are out.
  24. Deferring may not be possible at all, and if it is, the caveats mentioned above sounds reasonable. You may well not get into any of the top schools the next time around too. Also contact with professors will not bring you the desired results. Another thing to think about is that you are still you whichever program you attend. I won't say "go ahead and work hard, you can do it," I don't know you. Maybe you can, maybe not, you will be the judge of that. If you can, the info is that good TT placements is not a rarity at Top 20 - 25 programs, those who work hard get them. If you can't, being at a Top 20-25 program will hurt you more than being at a Top 5-10, no doubt, but in both cases you will probably be better off outside of academia. My $.02
  25. I hear the song of the fat lady now. Says no Stanford for you. Not very pleasant. I think this pretty much ends my cycle. I am waiting to hear from 3 more places - though none of them would really change much in terms of how I weigh my options. I will post my profile on the profiles/results thread once I get the official word from the remaining schools, and I strongly suggest everyone to do the same.
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