Old Bill

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Everything posted by Old Bill

  1. This is mostly correct, but I would add that it also depends on what field you're in. Some programs don't care much about what language you use to fulfill the requirement, so long as you can go ahead and fulfill it. But there are many subfields wherein certain languages are seen to have far more value. I'll be taking an intensive Latin course to fulfill my req, even though I'm an early modernist, and Latin will probably only have a moderate impact on what I study. I could brush up on my undergraduate Spanish to fulfill the req if I really wanted to, but my advisor is strongly suggesting I take Latin. In other words, sometimes it's not so simple as just fulfilling a req, but rather doing it in a certain way. Unfortunately, it's very much a case-by-case basis, depending on what you already know, what your probable field is, and what the program things you should do.
  2. You're going to have to be more specific. Way, way, WAY more specific.
  3. Sounds like you should get a second set of eyes on it. Once you read a document too many times, you lose all perspective and can't see the forest through the trees. Having others look over it, or just taking a few days away from it yourself, will ideally help you to regain perspective. Also, completely for what it's worth, pretty much everyone thinks their WS and/or SOP looks like a disaster at some point. Sometimes that's legitimate, but usually it's just our INTJ/INFJ/INwhatever selves making life difficult for us. P.S. Given the subject title, I'm highly disappointed that you didn't work in a reference to bunnies.
  4. Actually, this sounds exactly like a SOP description to me...just in different words. When you really parse what they're asking for, it's the same as what pretty much every program is asking for: why are you interested in what you're interested in, what you plan to do in the future etc. I don't want to be too cavalier about it, since it's your top choice program, but my gut tells me that you'll be fine using your standard SOP format with a few minor tweaks as necessary. I suspect they make a distinction between what they're calling it and a "personal statement," because the latter can sometimes tend toward biographical life story etc. (such as in some programs that ask for both a "personal statement" and a "statement of purpose."). So they want an SOP, not a personal statement (ignoring for the moment the many programs that consider the two documents one and the same... )
  5. 2018 Applicants

    ^ What a fantastic post.
  6. I started a topic about this situation back in my first application cycle (when I was still married). You might find some useful tidbits there. In general, it's a difficult subject, but not uncommon. It usually requires significant compromise on either your part or the SO's...and often both. In a very indirect way, my continuation down the academic path was a factor in my (very amicable) divorce. I don't say that to scare you -- just to emphasize that it's good that you're thinking of this now, because it is indeed a major consideration.
  7. 2018 Applicants

    It should be... The verbal is the only one that really matters (perhaps the AW to a lesser extent), and 163 is over 90th percentile, which some see as the benchmark. That being said, some of the schools you mentioned he'll be applying to might expect higher (whether they state it or not). A solid-but-not-exemplary GRE is likely not going to be a deal-breaker if everything else is strong, but higher is always better. I personally wouldn't retake the GRE with a 163, but if your hubby has the time and money, and thinks he has a solid shot at bumping it up, it can't hurt.
  8. Fellow OSUer and long-time GCer @Ramus and I had this exact same conversation over coffee yesterday: we're both extremely grateful to have gone through an M.A. program first. In his case, it was a choice between an M.A. at a strong program and a Ph.D. at a lesser (but still decent) program, and in my case it was my best and only option (heh), which initially felt like a consolation prize since I had only applied to Ph.D. programs, but proved to be an enormous boon. Simply put, the M.A. is a bridge: you get the grad school experience (rigorous courses, high workload, deeper scholarship etc.), without the long-term expectations. Most of what you do in an M.A. is coursework, sometimes with a lengthy thesis, and sometimes with a shorter Capstone project. In other words, the program is more contained and compact. For me, having the M.A. experience taught me how to do good research -- real, honest-to-goodness academic research that delved into contemporary scholarship. This just didn't happen at the undergraduate level, and had I jumped straight from B.A. to Ph.D. (as I had intended), I'm sure I would have eventually found my footing and made out alright...but the learning curve, combined with the weight of expectations would have made the transition far more challenging. And I say this as a "non-traditional" student with a lot of work and life experience under his belt (read: I'm good at adapting to new situations). All of this is to say that while a large number of wonderful people (I'm thinking here of the "ghosts of GC past") have excelled when making the jump from B.A. to Ph.D., my own experience, combined with the experience of several others I have talked about it with, suggests that getting the M.A. first will generally strengthen you and make you a better scholar.
  9. 2018 Applicants

    I'm loath to counter what a professor has said...especially when different perspectives in this process can be equally valid! But that being said, I've been told by professors that you apply for the people...and that advice has seemed to bear fruit for a lot of folks. But it's certainly a question worth pondering at length. I will just say that when it comes to writing the SOP, it's generally expected that you highlight two or three faculty members you'd like to work with. To do so, you really have to figure out why those people would want to work with you and vice versa. It's usually pretty obvious when one is just name-dropping in a SOP, and when there are obvious and natural connections. Well, I recognize the cost factors etc., seeing as how the average application is $100, when you factor in the cost of sending GRE scores etc. But by that same token, when you're dealing with 5% acceptance rates, there's really a "more is better" element to the process, provided you're a competitive applicant (which it sounds like your husband is). Some great applicants get into six or seven programs out of twelve applications. But some also get into just one...and some (alas) don't get into any. We had one person here in the last cycle who applied to eight programs and got into seven of them. But we also had a few who applied to more than ten, and were shutout. Basically, there are no guarantees, no matter how strong of a candidate you are, so if you can afford to play the odds a bit by applying to more programs, it likely increases your chances (again, provided the application is otherwise competitive).
  10. 2018 Applicants

    So, your husband's "stats" are great, of course, especially when you present them the way you do. Based on how it looks, he should be a strong candidate. The problem, however, is that, believe it or not, most applicants are going to have lists that look quite similar. It's very important to not think of this as a quantitative process -- in some respects it is (more on that later), but after going through two cycles myself, and being an active GCer for three, it has become abundantly clear that "fit" trumps all...and "fit" is both difficult to define, and works both ways. If your husband's specific research interests (i.e. more specific than postmodern/contemporary American lit) don't mesh well with the faculty members he has highlighted at his chosen programs, the best academic "stats" in the world will likely not garner him admission. This is why the statement of purpose (SOP) and the writing sample (WS) are so important: the "stats" will get him through any unofficial cutoffs (e.g. GPA, GRE etc.), but when the field committee of contemporary Americanists are distributed the dozens of otherwise worthy applications in their area, they're going to be looking for compelling research and an interesting approach in the WS, and demonstration of significant potential in an intriguing direction in the SOP. All admissions committees (adcoms) work differently, but this methodology seems to be a common denominator. I had a bit of success in this last cycle, getting into (and accepting the offer) at one of my top choice programs, based on how a few faculty members (and the program as a whole) meshed with my interests. My SOP and WS worked together -- the former talked about how I can continue the research evidenced in the latter, and how the same approach can be applied to other works (in my case it was theories of editions in early modern books of poetry). A month or so ago I had a lengthy conversation with my advisor at my new program, discussing a paper I was considering submitting for publication, based on what two professors at my prior institution had recommended. My new advisor thought the paper was good in many ways, albeit not necessarily publishable, since it was doing two or three different things (he suggested that publishable articles usually have one core idea that is sustained); a key comment he made at the outset of our conversation, however, spoke volumes to me about the admissions process...even though the process wasn't mentioned specifically. He asked how the paper came to be written, and why I chose the methodologies I did. Once I told him that it was for a book history class, but that I was encouraged by the professor to take the paper in a different direction than a purely book history approach, he brought up my research intentions as were stated in my SOP, and mentioned that he hoped to see work that was more like what I had proposed. It's not hard to read something significant between the lines: he was clearly on the adcom, and he was clearly compelled by my stated interests when he first read my SOP and WS. There is little doubt in my mind that he had a hand in choosing me because he was compelled by the work I had done and the work I said I wanted to do (as opposed to the kind of work on display in the paper I sought to publish). This is but one lengthy, personal example, but I truly think it shows how most "stats" are secondary to clear and compelling interests stated in the two main written documents. That's a rather narrow and exclusive list. My biggest question would be whether or not there are three or more faculty members at each institution doing the kind of work your husband really wants to do. Does he fit with them? Will they fit with him? Which leads me to... Geographical considerations are important, of course...especially when you have a significant other or family obligations. And if you have to be tethered to one geographical area, the Northeast is probably the best when considering grad schools. That being said...just remember that most graduate programs in English receive upwards of 200 applications (some potentially triple that number). And despite all of what I mentioned above about the primacy of SOP / WS and fit, and that admissions generally isn't a qualitative process, from another perspective it most assuredly is. If a program accepts, say, fifteen applicants, with an expected cohort of eight or nine, the percentage of admitted students is well below 10%...and potentially below 5%. Countless factors could make an otherwise "perfect fit" applicant miss the cut -- perhaps a program accepted three contemporary Americanists last year, and they don't want to oversaturate that area group. Perhaps two of the faculty members listed in the SOP as POIs (professors of interest) are on sabbatical, or their research interests have changed. Any number of intangible factors can knock an excellent candidate out of the running. As a result, spreading your net wider (both in terms of geography and number of programs) increases your chances on a very basic quantitative level. Anyhow, these are my admittedly long-winded thoughts on you and your husband's situation. Hopefully this makes sense and is at least somewhat helpful!
  11. Choice of Specialization

    Off-topic to this thread, but I loved Paternal Tyranny! I took a fantastic undergraduate course at William and Mary titled The Lives of Women in Renaissance Italy, and it featured Tarabotti, Franco, Strozzi etc. The professor was an adjunct, and she moved on after that semester, but let me know if you are still at all interested in further developing that topic, and I'll see if I can track down her information!
  12. I agree completely with @rising_star. Your experience sounds quite typical. One thing you have to keep in mind is that as an undergraduate, many of your classmates will be stopping at the B.A., many of them will just be taking literature / theory courses to fulfill requirements, many will be taking courses because they work with their schedule, and many will only be in college because they feel they have to be. In other words, there's always going to be a blend of interested and disinterested folks (and subcategories of both). Grad school is typically a bit better in this regard...though you'll still have people in your classes for different reasons (i.e. there's still req-fulfilling in the mix). As for the tenor of classes, some professors like to hold court and spend most of a session imparting their own considerable knowledge...but most prefer to foster a lot of class discussion. There was one professor I took twice who would have us read five or six texts for a class, then when the class session started, would just begin by saying "So what did you think about [text]?" He'd interject from time to time, but the emphasis was clearly on class discussion. This worked very well in the first course I took with him, but not so well in the second. But getting back to your original post, I felt prepared for grad school after my undergraduate education, but there was also a learning curve...which was to be expected. Learning how to consistently write graduate-level papers and do graduate-level research takes a bit of getting used to...and it's hard to get that experience outside of grad school itself.
  13. Ten is ridiculously low, and I'm guessing they expect to receive sections of longer papers...unless they're one of those programs that tacitly prefers applicants with B.A.s, in which case more applicants will have recent work of that shorter length. But if the program is otherwise a good fit for you, then sending a selection of a longer paper probably makes the most sense. "About 15 pages" probably means 14-16, but I would hesitate to go much longer. 12-16 is more practical, I think. This is why 17-18 pages (technically 18.5, though I use a slightly larger font than Times New Roman) seemed like a good number to me; first of all, it felt like the right length for my WS in general (I'd expanded it from a 12-page paper), and second of all, I could justify that length for programs that wanted 20 pages, and could cut it down a bit (but not too much) for those that wanted 15 or fewer (of which there was just one that I applied to). As usual, there are many variables involved, so this might not work for everyone. I think the key is that it's your "best" writing, in light of the interests you propose in your SOP. For what it's worth, I always find it easier to add material than cut, though I got a lot better at the latter over the course of my M.A. -- one of those subtle skills you pick up along the way in graduate work. I just used one, though I did give a lot of thought to using two...mainly because my initial plan was to use a different sample which would have positioned me in a slightly different subfield (still early modern poetry and drama, but a different perspective/methodology). Of the three professors I vetted (all of my letter-writers, incidentally), only one thought that I should use the paper I had initially planned on using...and fortunately, my advisor encouraged me to revise a paper I had written for her a year prior -- a paper I loved, on a topic I loved, but one that only received an A-, which made me think both the paper itself and the topic it explored weren't quite up to snuff. I'm immensely grateful that my advisor brought up that paper (with an amusingly cavalier "oh, I give most student papers A-minuses" when I mentioned it), because the revision process proved rewarding in its own right, and obviously bore fruit in terms of Ph.D. acceptances. Personal digression aside, what I'm trying to get at in a roundabout way is that your sample should generally match the overall focus as expressed in your SOP. If you have a couple of different potential interests, and have found program matches for both, then by all means -- draft different SOPs and WSs that best fit each program. It's more work, and you will need to make sure your LOR writers know what you are doing (lest they write to program X about your impressive work on topic Y), but I've heard second-hand that it has worked for some.
  14. I'm not necessarily disagreeing with anyone's advice here, but I've had a few professors caution me that it's far safer to go under the page limit than over. In other words, you can submit a 20-page paper to a program asking for 20-25 pages, but NOT to a program that asks for 10-15 (there aren't many of those...but there are some). Some programs ask for 15-20. I opted to submit an 18-page paper to every program, just to strike the happy medium for all.
  15. 2018 Applicants

    Here's some encouragement: Last year, I was certain that my WS would be a seminar paper I wrote in the spring. All throughout late spring and summer, I compiled my program list with this paper (and specific academic focus) in mind. I wanted to have everything but my SOP finished by the time the fall semester started, because I knew I would be very busy with two courses, two GAships, and teaching a section of 101 for the first time. Early September rolled around, and I sent my supposed WS to my three LOR-writers. One of them liked it (the one I initially wrote it for in the first place), one of them was very lukewarm about it, and one of them said "based on this paper, I can't write you a great letter." Needless to say, I was quite distraught. Fortunately, one of my letter-writers said "why don't you use the paper you wrote for my class?"...a class I had taken a year earlier, and a paper I had only received an A- on. It was indeed a paper I was very happy about, on a subject I was keenly interested in...but the A- had made me think it just wasn't pursuing further.* But when I told her as much, she replied "Oh, I give most students an A-"...and suddenly I realized I could resurrect this much-loved paper on a much-loved sub-field. The problem, of course, is that I had to put it through many, many rounds of revision...in September. And October. And November. All while I had the aforementioned obligations on my plate, not to mention having to write a SOP from scratch, and having to revisit all of my program selections with my new focus in mind. All of it got done, of course, and while it was certainly more of a stressful semester than it should have been, everything turned out just fine. All of this is just to say that so long as you are fully committed to making sure everything gets done by the end of November, things will get done. While it's always a great idea to have some things ready by the beginning of June, it's also not essential. My very minor advice would be to simply be thinking about applications regularly. You don't necessarily have to do anything application-related -- just be thinking about all of the aspects, what will eventually need to get done etc. And when you find yourself idly surfing the net, make a point of taking five or ten minutes to simply go to a program's website, and click on course listings, guidelines, faculty members etc. You might be surprised at how helpful just a few minutes a day can be for getting a sense of a program. *For those of you who are reading and don't already know this, grad school grading is a bit different from undergraduate grading. In very, very general terms, an A is an A, but a graduate A- is like an undergrad B/B+, a graduate B/B+ is like a C/C+, and a graduate B- or anything under is tantamount to a D or worse.
  16. I second this (or third it, or hundred it, or thousand it etc.). As I mentioned in the thread that ExD cited, the GRE scores are important (mainly the verbal on the GRE general), but you probably don't need to achieve much better than the 90th percentile to be competitive. I personally struggle with standardized tests like the GRE because I have a hard time filtering out possible answers from the purportedly "best" answers...but having a 90th percentile verbal didn't seem to hurt me in either round of applications. Speaking to the broader point of your thread, however, there really doesn't seem to be one "biggest factor" in acceptance. Conventional wisdom around here (based on experience, first- and second-hand observations, and just plain common sense) suggests that the WS and the SOP are the one-two punch of important factors...though some programs may have invisible GPA and GRE score cutoffs. That being said, even though most successful applicants in the past have undergraduate GPAs higher than 3.7, GRE verbals higher than 90th percentile etc., there are too many exceptions to make it a rule. Ultimately, you want to have every single element of your application as strong as it can be, but you absolutely have to have a strong WS and SOP. I've said it several times elsewhere on this forum (including in the above-cited thread), but both my SOP and WS went through several rounds of revision, based on the feedback of several professors and other grad students. It was a "good" paper to start with, but I whittled, honed, cut, added, showed people, whittled, honed, cut, added some more (etc. etc.) until everyone said "yes, that's very good"...either out of sincerity or exasperation! But it worked for me, and that revise-rinse-repeat process seems to have worked for most successful applicants who have come through here, so perhaps there's something to be said for conventional GC wisdom.
  17. 2018 Applicants

    Sure, fire away.
  18. 2018 Applicants

    "Fit" is one of those difficult things to determine, yet is pretty much essential to the application process. You've got your era narrowed down, which is an important first step, and have an idea about specific subfields, which is important as well. One general bit of advice I have at this stage is to think about academic articles you have read that seem to mesh well with your interests, then find out where the authors of those articles are working...and if they're still doing the same type of work. If they are, then that's great...but you still need to look at what the rest of the scholars in the program are doing as well. If there are a couple of others who seem to be in the ballpark of your interests, then that program may be a good fit. There are still other subtle factors as well, however. Things like location, stipend, general program stature (I don't necessarily mean "rankings" here), competitive vs. cooperative environment etc. are all a part of "fit." Once you've got a few programs that are in the ballpark of "fit," then it might be a good time to reach out to current grad students in your general field, and potentially a professor or two -- for the latter, just a brief, polite email mentioning your interests and asking whether or not the kind of work you'd like to do would be supported in that program would suffice. For an email to a grad student, you might want to ask about what the location is like, how students interact with each other, whether the stipend is truly livable in that location etc. "Fit" tends to come into sharper focus the further along you get in the application process. It's alright to start out with a list of twenty or so programs. Once you've got your Writing Sample sussed out, and have started drafting your Statements of Purpose, and have simply gone through program websites over and over again, some programs will start to appeal to you more than others -- you'll start to "feel" them a bit more. I personally had a large spreadsheet for each program; the headers were as follows: School, Location, App Fee, USN Rank, App Deadline, Lang. Req., Application Reqs., GRE Subject (Y/N), Funding, What Appeals to Me, What Doesn't Appeal to Me, Specific POIs, Overall Interest. In other words, I made a point of being very organized, and whittled things down as I gathered more information and honed in on the things that specifically appealed to me. There are many x-factors that are hard to take into account, of course, which is why I always recommend applying to at least ten programs (ideally a few more). In my case, I learned after the fact that two of my POIs at my top choice program are retiring next year...meaning that it probably wouldn't have been as good of a fit after all. There are so many variables that applying to more programs is just prudent, in my opinion. Anyhow, these are just a few thoughts on that eternally amorphous notion of "fit" -- you'll never find a definitive answer to what constitutes "fit," and yet it is a legitimate (and perhaps even the most important) factor in applications...
  19. 2018 Applicants

    It is very, very uncommon (almost unheard of) for an undergraduate to have a single notable publication on his/her C.V. It is also very uncommon (but slightly less so) for an undergraduate to have any kind of conference presentation on his/her C.V. There is certainly no expectation that you should have anything like this, despite the C.V. requirement...so don't worry about it one bit!
  20. Hello and welcome! This isn't a bad question -- not at all -- but it's also a nearly impossible one to answer definitively for a variety of reasons. I can imagine writing a 1000+ word response (because I have a lot of thoughts on this topic), but I'll try to keep it brief. First of all, you simply have to separate "odds of admission" and "employment further down the road" into two distinct categories. The academic landscape is constantly shifting, as is the job market. For the past few years, there has been a marked academic trend among applicants and in departments toward rhet-comp -- it currently seems to be the fastest growing, and most job-friendly field. But that's at the moment. Remember that a Ph.D. is going to take roughly five years minimum to complete, which means that an applicant right now is trying to forecast what the job market is going to look like in six or seven years. I personally think that's somewhere between a vain improbability and an outright impossibility. My gut feeling is that the job market for rhet-comp is going to be oversaturated within the next five years, simply because the advice-du-jour for the last few has been that it is the most employable field...which has prompted legions of new rhet-comp applicants (and acceptances). But how big can rhet-comp actually get in an otherwise shrinking discipline? I use rhet-comp as an example, just because it is the most distinct of the sub-disciplines within English. Secondly, remember that (as I just mentioned) a Ph.D. program usually takes at least five years to complete. That's the same amount of time as your junior and senior high school years. It's long. While there is certainly some wiggle room in terms of era / field / genre once you get into a program, most of those years will be spent studying something fairly specific within a specific era or field...and because you have specialized, that's how you will be labeled when you go on the job market (i.e. 20th century Americanist, British Romanticist, Medievalist etc.). Moreover, you'll likely be tethered to that era / field / genre for the first several years that you are gainfully employed as a professor (in the slightly improbable event that that even happens). This leads to the all-important question of whether trying to choose a currently uncrowded field that will also be a future uncrowded field makes any sense from a personal interest standpoint. Again, things aren't quite as rigid as I'm making them out to be...but the core idea is correct. Third, there are many reasons for why certain fields of study are "crowded" and "uncrowded." Take Restoration Drama, for instance. It's not at all a crowded field. If you happen to enjoy Etherege, Dryden, Congreve and others, you probably wouldn't have a lot of company in the application pool...but by that same token, there simply aren't many Restoration Drama scholars period, which means that you'd invariably need to narrow your list of programs considerably when you're applying, and if you're taking a long-term employability approach, you have to consider why there are so few working scholars in that field / era...and whether you have a decent shot at nabbing one of those few jobs when those scholars retire. There are many more aspects I could detail (in my head, I have at least five other points...), but what it boils down to is that you should try to work on what interests you the most, with a slight bit of attention to what is available both now and in the future. I'm a Shakespearean myself (for the most part), and while there might be some "overcrowding" in terms of applicants interested in Shakespeare and his contemporaries, there are very few programs that don't have at least one or two Shakespearean scholars on faculty...and usually many more. A few eras / fields such as early modern drama (i.e. Shakespeare and co.) and 20th century British and American literature aren't going to go away anytime soon, nor are they likely to shrink any faster than the discipline in general. But that invariably means that they will be eras / fields with larger draws than others on the applicant end. I hope this is at least somewhat helpful. It's a complicated industry, in a lot of ways, which means that there are very few easy answers to broad questions like this one...even if those questions certainly deserve to be asked!
  21. · A few weeks ago, I was asked to talk to first-year M.A. students about the Ph.D. application process. I prepared a list of what I figure to be key elements, and I figure it might be useful to many on GC who are preparing to go down this path as well. I'm quite certain that some of these points are purely subjective and open to discussion / debate, but having gone through the process a couple of times now, these items ring true based on my experiences and observations. ---------------- Others have surely told you about the state of the industry, so I’m just going to assume that you already know the “there are no jobs” spiel. · Others have also surely told you about how relatively difficult it is to get into a Ph.D. program—I have yet to hear of a program that admits over 10% of applicants. o Because of this, if you are committed to applying to Ph.D. programs, I strongly recommend considering applying to at least ten. Even though merit is a critical part of determining who gets in, there is a very real element of “luck of the draw” which pure numbers will help to mitigate. · With that in mind, NOW is a good time to get started on your program research · Your first consideration when entering the process should be to determine what era you would like to study, and ideally a general sense of methodologies you want to employ. These elements will be reflected in the two most important components of your application: the Statement of Purpose (or SoP), and your Writing Sample (WS). · Some basics: o The SoP and WS should ideally work together o When thinking about potential areas of study, avoid proposing transatlantic or transhistorical concepts: admissions committees are still very much set up by period, and your application should be easily sorted into a field group (i.e. you’re clearly a Romanticist, or you’re clearly a 20th century Americanist). o GRE scores, GPA, and other elements are important, but remember that the things you can control the most at this stage are the WS and SoP. o Given the importance of these two documents, you will want to get as many eyes on them as possible as soon as possible. § My SoP and WS were read and commented on by at least five professors and several fellow students, and ultimately went through at least six rounds of revision each—several of them top-to-bottom revisions. · There are multiple factors to consider when looking at programs. Some of the most important include: o Are there multiple professors actively working in your chosen field § I personally used a “rule of three”—if a program had three professors with significant research overlap with my interests, I would consider it. § By “active” I mean that you should be able to find publication credits from within the past five years—they need to be in touch with current scholarship. o What level of financial support do they offer—not just the annual funding, but whether they fund in summer, and how many years of funding are guaranteed o What courses have they offered in the past? What courses are they offering in the fall? o What is the teaching load like, and how do they prepare you for that load? o So-called rankings matter to a certain extent, but remember that those rankings are almost completely arbitrary. USNews rankings are helpful as a list of all programs offering Ph.D.s in English…and a very, very general sense of the strong programs vs. the less strong. But FIT with your interests trumps all. § (E.g. the Strode program at U of A is highly regarded, even though U of A itself is somewhat less so) o Location and cost of living. A 20k stipend will get you a lot further in Lincoln, Nebraska than in New York. And elements like small town vs. large city, cold vs. warm climate etc. are all perfectly valid factors when looking at programs. You’ll have to live in this place for 4-6 years, after all! · A few quick and random tips: o It can be helpful to contact professors ahead of time to determine research fit etc., but it can also be quite valuable to contact current grad students to get a sense of the program and the environment. o Remember that an important part of professionalization in a Ph.D. program is publication. More than anything, this means that before you go down the road toward application, give some serious thought to whether or not your writing and research inclinations have that kind of potential. And whether or not that’s something you really want to deal with at all. o Also remember that teaching is a huge part of your job, and always will be. If you don’t enjoy teaching (or the prospect of teaching), you’d better really love the other components of your position, because there’s not going to be any getting away from it for many, many years. o It might go without saying, but be very courteous in all of your communications with professors and other graduate students. And that courtesy should be sincere! o Consider the total cost of applications: application fees average about $75, sending GRE scores is $27 (more if you need the subject test), and if you have multiple transcripts, that can tack on another $10. In other words, each application will likely be upward of $100. Given that I recommend applying to at least ten programs, you’re looking at a commitment of over $1000. There ARE fee waivers you can find, however. o Forums like GradCafe are a good way to socialize with fellow applicants, and commiserate with people in the same situation. Just remember to take all advice you see on those forums with a grain of salt. o Finally, there are NO SAFETY SCHOOLS. Just to reiterate, rankings are arbitrary, and almost every program gets ten times as many applicants as they can admit (let alone fund). As a result, you want to look at the best overall fit for you.
  22. I simply wouldn't do this. It's possible that some DH programs might be amenable to the idea, but from all we know about how admissions committees are structured, it seems that there's a bit of an assembly line element to the first round -- applications are usually sorted into packets (possibly virtual or physical) and distributed to members of field groups for review, then they reconvene for further vetting etc. When almost all programs stipulate on their application pages that they want documents of a certain length, that's what they're expecting, and what they're equipped to deal with. I'm sure they'd make exceptions for certain legitimate disabilities etc., but unless you're applying specifically to a media studies program, or if there's some English Ph.D. program I don't know about that has flexible application guidelines, trying to put something like this through as a "writing sample" just doesn't seem prudent. Projects like this one are often looked upon quite favorably once you're in a graduate program, but as a means to get in the door, I think it's way too risky in an already high-risk process. In other words, while there might be some rare exceptions, the probable answer to your question "how do different Ph.D. programs deal with this type of submission" is an unfortunate "they don't."
  23. Twiddle your thumbs Binge-watch a show on Netflix / AmazonPrime / Hulu Check GradCafe once an hour Do distance searches on GoogleMaps between your current residence and each of your desired programs Find out when your desired programs' Admitted Students days are and check flight or drive options Get super invested in a video game (online or otherwise) Re-read the Harry Potter series (because of course we've all read it at least once) Take up knitting Take up jogging Take up mud wrestling Get a massage Buy a crossword or sudoku book and immerse yourself in words or numbers Make mix CDs or playlists, and really think about how songs can go together Buy a cheap musical instrument and teach yourself to play Spend quality time with a dog, whether it's a friend's, a neighbor's, a family member's, or your own Do the above with a cat and pretend it's reciprocal Make lists of favorites - favorite books, movies, TV shows, songs, albums, potato chips - and share them with friends Create spreadsheet inventories of your books and other media Do a serious top-to-bottom cleaning of your room / apartment / home Go to a local coffee shop for an hour a day and imagine yourself as someone from a different walk of life each time ... By no means an exhaustive list, and mostly tongue-in-cheek...but feel free to add to it!