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klader last won the day on June 9 2018

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  • Application Season
    2018 Fall
  • Program
    Composition and Rhetoric

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  1. In my experience, not really. I didn't reach out to anyone for my MA and it was fine; I reached out to a few for my PhD and it was fine, too. I've found that reaching out to profs is more necessary in the sciences, where your funding is usually tied to a prof's research & a grant they may have to support their lab. In English, your funding is usually from the department and you usually teach or work in a writing center (or a combo of both). I'm sure it wouldn't hurt if you sent a quick "I'm applying and I'm really interested in x that you do" or to ask a question about something, but I wouldn't expect it to necessarily give you a distinct advantage. Someone may remember your name from it and may be on the committee, or they may not be.
  2. Hang in there! First few weeks are scary. My program had a really intense TA training that met every day for several hours, so I was completely drained during & after it. What I will say is that after finishing the intense training, everything felt easier. I had classes only a couple times a week and could spread out my reading; I taught only a couple times a week and had some space to leave an assignment description alone for a few days and think about how I wanted to write it. Once you get into an established routine during the regular semester, things will start to feel "normal." But it is absolutely overwhelming at first. I'm sure your cohort feels similarly, too, so I'd recommend reaching out to them, as you are all going through this together. Best of luck!
  3. Yes, all good things to take into consideration! For sure. I just thought I'd chime in for future applicants who may stumble upon this thread. I think a really good thing to do is ask current students in programs you are considering about how long people have taken to graduate, and what the culture is like, as well placement rate as such.
  4. Just want to chime in here and say that this seems very discipline-specific (if we're to recognizing that Composition and Rhetoric is a discipline distinct from literature/general English studies). I know a lot of people in my comp/rhet program and other comp/rhet programs who finish in 4 or 5 years, with most taking a fifth year due to extensive person-based research. And I know scholars in the field who also finished in 4. I was told by my advisor, actually, that she's confident I can finish in 4 (and go on the job market my 4th year) if I stay focused and get a significant chuck of stuff written the end of my third year/the summer before my fourth year. That's what some friends of mine at other programs are doing, too-- writing, writing, writing this summer after they collected data last year, and are going on the job market in the fall. I think this varies a lot on the culture of the program, and the types of projects people do, and so on. ETA: I know three people from my program finished their PhDs in 4 years in the past 5 years and won major national dissertation awards, so they finished and finished it extremely well. Of course not EVERYONE can do this, I know, and certainly not everyone in my program can crank it out in 4 years and win awards, but if it's part of the culture, then it really does change your mindset about what you can accomplish and when you can finish.
  5. Also, I want to add that after you start your Master's and explore your interests, you may not want to apply to a certain school, because your interests may change, there may a prof you really want to work with somewhere else, etc. So, visiting now may not be as helpful. Just anecdotally, when I started my MA, I was like "YES I want to apply to schools x, y, and z next time" but then I found "My Thing" the fall of my second year that completely rocked my world. This Thing is different than my Previous Thing, so my list of schools changed significantly. I ended up staying where I did my MA because the profs there were doing My Thing in a way no one else in any other program is, but I wouldn't have been so keen to stay if I hadn't found this particular thing. So, if you want to get a head start visiting, maybe think about next summer, but for now, maybe ease up on the research and just focus on finding (or solidifying) Your Thing(s) that will become extremely important when you apply to programs but, perhaps more importantly, when you choose one.
  6. Oh, what that means (from my reading and understanding of the program) is that most graduate students teach but some do administrative assistantships ("nearly all are awarded teaching assistantships" and "other assistantships are available"; not as clear as they could be). Truly, all of us have funding-- some of us just do different things to receive that funding (I have an administrative assistantship in a writing center, for example, which is paid for by the College of Arts of Sciences, I think). They will never NOT fund someone they admit. But I see how it could be read that only "nearly all" get funding in general! They may purposely have some vague language in there, but I can assure you that if you are admitted, you are funded. They admit people based on how many TA lines the College gives them.
  7. Not at all! That's understandable. I've, er, definitely done the opposite of this, ahaha, and only went the day I presented and spent the rest of the conference sightseeing and visiting friends who lived in the area. So, don't feel bad
  8. Also, it really can help if you can get a letter from someone who does work in your desired speciality, and whose name the adcom might know. I won't go as far to say that having famous letter writers is the be all, end all, but I've certainly got "ah, I see you've worked with Famous Prof! They spoke so highly of you in their letter" type comments on campus visits. Again, might just be smalltalk since these profs all know each other, but it certainly couldn't have hurt during the admissions process, and I don't know if a 3rd or 4th year PhD candidate can have that same appeal. Because, depending on your speciality, you never know who went to grad school with who or who worked together or what have you!
  9. Miami University in Ohio funds all admitted students in their programs (barring low-resident MFA students). But all full-time, resident graduate students on the Oxford campus are admitted with an assistantship (and sometimes a fellowship, if the graduate school grants them one). If the website doesn't say this, then I will contact our webmaster and let them know, because this is one of our selling points, I'd say, because we fund all admitted MA, resident MFA, and PhD students. And we have various funding sources (teaching, assistant director of composition, assistant director of one of our writing centers, assistant director for our WAC programs, this year assistant director to Ohio Writing Project, etc). And I'm not at Purdue but was admitted there, and I know that at least all comp/rhet students are admitted with funding. They only admit those they can fund.
  10. My comp/rhet grad program actually admitted a couple people with MFAs into our PhD program (MAs are required). The people did have experience teaching comp and had research interests and experiences that were relevant (like working at a writing center). However, from the bits and pieces I heard, this doesn't tend to be "the norm." It's a sort of case-by-case basis, for at least in my program, students will be thrown right in and faculty want to be sure they can keep up/won't have too hard of a time. So, it really does help to have some previous experience in the field. But, again, experience can demonstrate itself in numerous ways. As you consider applying, think about what you want to do, why comp/rhet, why specific schools' programs, and what you can offer the field with your experiences. Fit is truly everything, and if you can compelling demonstrate that, then that'll really help.
  11. Ah, to address the number of apps, do make sure you truly and sincerely think you're a good fit there and that you'd actually want to attend!! I only applied to 6 (on the low side, from what I've gleaned), but I applied to schools I saw viable futures at. When I asked one of my grad professors about it, they told me to just apply wherever I thought I'd like to go. And one of my undergrad professors replied with "EEEEEK what if you get into all of them and you apply to 10 schools and then have to visit 10 schools!" That's another point, too, to think about: visiting if/when you get accepted. I suppose one doesn't HAVE to visit before they select a school (sometimes it's not possible, given the way wait lists work), but I think it's really important. A couple of visits I went on made me scream NOOOO in a way I don't know I would have gotten via email and phone chats alone, and others made me feel instantly at home. And that can be very toiling, to visit multiple PhD programs, especially if you're currently a student, traveling to conferences during that time, etc. I got so behind and had to push my thesis defense back a month because I somehow hadn't accounted for how much energy the PhD cycle would take from me. The emotional (and physical) drain was real. Just something else to consider!
  12. Hey there! Re: GRE, I feel like this really depends by school, but I'll share my experience (even though I'm in comp/rhet and this might vary): scored like 150 on BOTH Q and V, along with a 5 on writing. Yiiiikes. Took it only one time the fall of my senior year of college before I applied to MA programs. I was 5/6 that cycle, with 4 funded offers. When I applied to PhD programs for Fall 2018, I didn't retake the GRE. I had agonized about it, but instead of studying that summer to take a standardized test, I worked on my SoP, researched programs, and drafted an article I eventually got published (and that I could put on my CV come December for apps). In the end, I got into all 6 PhD programs I applied to (4 pretty established programs, two less so) and also had 3 fellowship offers. I say this not to brag but to share that it IS possible to have application success with low GRE scores. At least in my experience with the 6 schools I applied to, my writing sample and SoP and letters of rec outweighed my scores. And my scores did not get me thrown out of the running. I was a good fit, and they recognized that. A friend of mine in literature had a similar experience. She didn't retake her GRE and also got into several programs and had fellowship offers. With that being said, though, if you can spare the time and money to retake it and if that'll help make you feel better, go ahead! I was dreading the retake, so I decided to forego it and just work on the rest of my materials. You have to do what's best for you. Good luck!
  13. Yes! I totally agree that people should generally resist and avoid adjuncting, as it's become a huge problem and is exploitative. We had a guest lecture talk to one of my classes about this very issue last year, and he said that the only way he thinks we can change the adjunct situation is if people flat-out refuse to do them, because then universities will be faced with a crisis and may have to consider offering more secure positions (perhaps that's an optimistic view; in my pessimistic view, I'm sure they'd find some other way to exploit labor). But, I digress... Discussions of adjuncting aside, I do think it's valuable to get more teaching experience not necessarily for the PhD application, but for also for job applications. If you have a few years of teaching under your belt before you start your PhD, then you have some solid experience, CV lines, and student evals. Then, when you get to the PhD, you can maybe branch out and do more administrative assistantships, research assistantships, etc. And be on fellowship and not have to worry as much about not gaining teaching experience. Part of me wishes I had taken a year or two (like some of my colleagues did) to teach for a while and gain more experience that way. I do a lot of administrative work now, and I fear I'll go on the market without enough teaching experience, as admin work at my university lightens your teaching load. Anyway, my advice is to teach (in a good situation/setup) if you want/if it's feasible for you, but perhaps don't view it as much as "getting into a PhD program" but gaining skills and experiences that can help you throughout your academic career. Best of luck!
  14. Another interesting thought I just came to: conferences, as my professors have told me, are really valuable after you leave coursework, because it serves as a way for you to a) most practically get feedback on your dissertation/book manuscript or what have you, but also b) learn new stuff in a way that's harder after you stop taking courses. My profs say that going to conferences is the closest they get to just learning and studying new things, so that's always cool. And, it's a great way to meet up with people from your previous programs, see alumni of your program (if there are reunion parties), or hang with people you met in different contexts. And, it's cool to unwind a bit! I like to treat conferences as mini-vacays and explore whatever city I'm in. ETA: my phone auto-corrected "previous programs" to "precious programs" and I almost kept it because that it great, hahaha
  15. Exactly this! The mentors in my program told me to choose a PhD program based on faculty who are interested in my work and who can offer some expertise, though not necessarily know every single thing about it. For example, if you're in comp/rhet and you want to study writing program administration, it's good to have faculty in your program who have knowledge, experience, scholarship, etc. in that general area. They may not be experts in the exact WPA area you study (maybe they work on first-year writing administration and you want to focus on capstone courses or something), but they should be knowledgeable and helpful enough to guide your research. No one in my program does *exactly* what I want to do, but they do similar things that help me do my things, and that's perfect for me. Just enough guidance that I need to move forward. And they knew that when they admitted me from the way I wrote about it in my SoP.
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