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unræd last won the day on December 6 2016

unræd had the most liked content!

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About unræd

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  • Location
    Bay Area
  • Interests
    Early English literature, philology, manuscript studies
  • Application Season
    Already Attending
  • Program
    PhD in English and Medieval Studies

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  1. Quick note on Berkeley! People who come in with MAs are definitely in the clear minority among Cal's students, but it does vary wildly year to year (or at least has in my time here, admitted four cohorts ago). In the cohort that just finished their first year, for example, only one student has an MA (there are more if you count MFAs); in next year's admitted cohort, though, 5 of the 11 students do. I'd say the average number hovers closer to three-ish, so anywhere from a third to a quarter of the cohort. I wouldn't not apply simply because you have an MA!
  2. Sure, and from the lit perspective (which is what op's applying for), I do know people (relatively few, at a range of programs) who've finished in five, and even in four (and placed into TT jobs at Ivies, so it's not like they were bad projects). But it's still not at all normal for the field, even as it's becoming more and more common as universities try to push people out faster and faster. Even if you do finish in five, though, the job market being what it is -- and again, this is a (slight) difference between lit and rhetcomp -- means that going to a program and not worrying about funding past a fifth year because you're sure you'll finish your dissertation in time is extremely risky. Even if your dissertation is done when your funding runs out, you'll still need a job, which is -- again, I'm talking lit -- precious hard to come by.
  3. Yale's fully funded -- the year I applied (this is a while ago, now; I'll be starting my fourth year -- not at Yale -- in the fall) they offered us guaranteed six-year packages, and from what I've heard they've only sweetened the pot since then. Your qualifier of "seems funded in practice but funding for dissertating years is not guaranteed" deserves some comment, though, as a criterion for determining if a school is "fully funded," and what "fully funded" even really means. Even programs that guarantee 5 or 6 years of "full" funding (meaning full tuition waiver and livable stipend/wage) aren't, in a certain sense, fully funded, especially given the job market. Very, very few graduate students will really complete a (good) dissertation in five years, and even if they do, it won't be completed in time to go on the market in their fifth year with a completed diss in hand; very few will have jobs after having gone on the market in their sixth year. You will almost certainly need funding (or employment) of some sort beyond a fifth year, and probably beyond a sixth. Programs have all sorts of ways of supporting their students in that period between when the dissertation is nearing completion and when the candidate either succeeds on the academic job market or does something else -- either through teaching, competitive fellowships, institution-specific postdocs for once you've graduated, or delaying filing the dissertation itself. Also: many programs will have institutional clocks that determine funding timeframes; few departments will give you money in your thirteenth year of dissertating (it does happen). That range of possibilities is what language like "not guaranteed" is designed to capture. In short: your professors are absolutely right to tell you not to even consider programs without five or six years of guaranteed funding, and you shouldn't think that language about funding for dissertation years not being guaranteed necessarily means that a given program doesn't have that guaranteed five or six years of funding. But most importantly (and I cannot stress this enough): when looking at programs, especially after the acceptance stage, ask the graduate advisor, the administrator in charge of placement, and (most especially) current advanced students about time to completion, normative time, and support for students beyond the last year of their guaranteed funding.
  4. For a situation like this, where it is not clear if “shortlisted” means that concrete offers of admission have been extended to some and you are high on a waitlist, or if they will be making offers of acceptance outright in the near future and you’re high on that list, the best course of action is really to ask the DGS directly.
  5. I interviewed for (and was then accepted to) the Medieval Institute three years ago, and my Skype interview felt very odd at the time -- not because of anything on the interviewing committee's part (they were delightful), but because I ended up not having anything to say in answer to one general question (my last of the interview) beyond a rambling half-answer that kept circling back (and back, and back -- it was like watching a discursive car crash in very, very slow motion, and from the driver's sear) to Augustine and erections, so. So, really, I'm sure you presented yourself just fine!
  6. A lot has been said so far about fitness and eating, and that's obviously super important! A thing I do that I find helpful in that vein is subscribe to an ugly/surplus produce service that drops off a cheap-but-massive box of fruits and vegetables at my apartment every two weeks, which means that even if I don't manage to go to the store or do a stellar job meal planning I have stuff to eat in the house that isn't crap. Let me also, though, stress a different aspect of self-care: the importance of having other things in your life besides graduate school. Passion is great, and of course you need to be passionate about what you study to survive the rigors and stresses of a PhD program. But the single best thing you can do for your mental and physical health in graduate school is to have things about which you care deeply, things that feed you intellectually and personally and spiritually and, yes, professionally, that aren't your graduate studies. Remember: the vast majority of those on this board admitted to graduate school will not get academic jobs. I'm not using that fact to argue that people shouldn't pursue graduate study in English, but that fact does make it especially important not to wrap your whole life, your whole identity and sense of self, up with your PhD, the acquiring of which will likely be your last experience in academia. When I hear people -- this is usually applicants who are not yet in PhD programs -- say that they can't imagine doing anything else with their lives other than the academic study of literature, I cringe. No one part of anyone's life should be that all-consuming, of course, but it's especially true for something that is as capable as a PhD is of expanding to fill all your available time, of exhausting all your available energy, and of wrapping itself up with your sense of self-worth, accomplishment, and personal identity. Have a hobby you're passionate about. Have friends who aren't academics. Write things that aren't papers. Read books for pleasure. Take joy in teaching. Play an instrument, work out, cook, garden, ride a bike. Have things that ground you and make you a whole person besides what you do on campus. Have other things in your life you care about, other ways you can measure what it will have meant for these years of your life to have been "successful," that aren't tied to graduate school and academic success themselves.
  7. It is a dual MA/PhD program at OSU, but precisely because it’s a dual program and there’s no separate terminal MA, it’s often spoken of as (and the results portal treats it as, if I recall correctly?) just the PhD program. That said, many programs (but not OSU!) don’t grant Masters on the way to the PhD, even for students entering with BAs. Assuming you’re talking standard lit teaching jobs, there is no difference on the market — insert boilerplate warning here about absolutely no one getting a job no matter how many degrees they have — between going on it w/ just a PhD vs. an MA and a PhD in the same subject: the PhD is a terminal degree that assumes the competencies of the other. There are more wrinkles if you’re talking about UK PhDs (or other programs that deemphasize teaching, which is not OSU) or certain kinds of institutions that might like people w/ only MAs for other reasons, but broadly speaking, anyone who would hire an MA/PhD would also hire a PhD. But you can always shoot the DGS an email to clarify!
  8. It will, actually, if you choose the right field within English. (MEDI-ÆVAL 4 LYFE)
  9. Oh man oh man — people out here don’t even know what hotdish is, much less do they understand it. I constantly go around feeling a certain benevolent pity tinged with sadness.
  10. It really is, and the U of M is a lovely school with a great department. I’m a Minnesotan who only left the state at 28 for a brief sojourn in Ohio before moving out to California, and while there is certainly a lot to love about living in Berkeley, there are a ton of things from Minnesota (including winter!) that I still miss.
  11. Being admitted to a program is just the first step on the Imposter Syndrome journey!
  12. I also did my undergrad at OSU (and still maintain close connections with the department, although obviously there are other actual OSU grad students on the board who should be first ports of call, and my info’s now three years out of date), and am happy to answer questions about the University and Columbus!
  13. Congrats to all the admits! I wouldn’t necessarily assume that if you haven’t received an OSU acceptance you’re out of the running — their admissions process is strongly defined by period groups/committees, and some periods will often admit students (without having waitlisted them) in an ongoing process throughout the next few months as their lists become more settled, etc.
  14. A good friend of mine here at Cal got in — both to here and to a range of other schools (Yale, Penn, Columbia, etc) — with no less than five (at least; I don’t remember the actual tally) typos in their SOP. Which is to say: it really, really doesn’t matter! Still, though: don’t reread your materials. That way madness lies!
  15. Let me provide a slightly different perspective on the exam. It's been a few years since I took it -- I'm in the third year of my PhD -- so my information could very well be out of date, but I did well (99th percentile) on the exam at the time. FreakyFoucault is right: dipping in and out of the Norton is a lovely experience and to be heartily recommended for one's own personal pleasure, and if you're reading this almost a full year in advance of submitting your PhD applications, then sure, feel free! And it's certainly tempting to want to pour a lot of effort into the exam, since it's one area of the application that, unlike other materials, receives not only a clear evaluation -- you get a score! -- but one that also shows you where you are relative to other applicants -- you get a percentile! But I would strongly, strongly urge moderation (bordering even on considered apathy, past a certain point) in studying for the exam, for a few reasons. The first is because it is not actually a test of your knowledge of English literature. It's a test of something that's sort of, but not quite, like that knowledge, a test of general litteratus-ness. The knowledge looked for is cursory and impressionistic. Even when the test was heavier on IDs, the best way to study for the exam wasn't to grok the entirety of English literary production since Cædmon; the level of detail you need is what will get you through a moderately highbrow cocktail party where people are discussing a book you haven't read, not that which will get you through your qualifying exams. (Although... ) Now that the test has shifted away from IDs, it's even more the case that reading massive amounts of primary texts will do you less and less good. I specialized hard as an undergrad -- of the fourteen or so English classes I took, I think roughly four were on non-medieval topics. I didn't start studying for the exam until the summer before I applied, and so considering much of that fall was caught up with classes and other portions of the application, I only studied for the equivalent of a few months rather than the better part of the year. I too bought all the Nortons to prep for the GRE, but never cracked the last volume of the British, or any of the American ones, really, for lack of time. (They made great gifts!) In the end, even though there were only a couple medieval questions on the test (and the only Old English question asked for the definition of wergild!), it wasn't an issue. Again, you should definitely read some selected, major texts in the Norton to fill in broad gaps in your knowledge (and let me be absolutely pellucid: you really should!), but realize that plot summaries and the headnotes will do you almost as much good with both the identification and comprehension questions of the exam as reading and taking notes on massive swaths of the literature itself. In terms of comprehension questions specifically, it's true that what you need is ostensibly not the sort of fact-based knowledge from days of yore. But that sort of cocktail-party knowledge is, I think, underrated as comprehension-question prep, and that's why I think (some) of the criticism of the Princeton Review guide is misplaced. For example, let's say you see a prose passage describing someone who's obsessed with botany, and you remember reading the summary of novel one of whose characters is obsessed with botany, and also that the novel was a gentle satire. That's just the sort of thing that can give you a quicker sense of what sorts of interpretive maneuvers the question writers will be expecting you to make in terms of tone, etc etc etc. The second reason not to stress out about or over-prepare for the exam is because, past a certain point, effort that you put into it would be almost infinitely better spent on your other materials. If your score is low then sure, do what you can to make it better, or if it's not what you would like and you've got all the other parts of your app squared away, then sure, spend some time studying. But if, say, your score is just unideal, and you're sort of okay with it anyway, and you'd rather take the time to focus on other things, then just move on. I know people in very competitive programs who got abysmal subject scores, and I've talked to plenty of professors who are upfront about the fact that while yes, it may be required (often simply as a way to weed out unserious applicants), it's far and away the least important part of the application. Because it's a test it's the easiest part of the application (along with "fit") to fetishize, but ultimately, it is just a test. Like any other exam (and just think: it's the second-to-last test you'll ever take!), there will be things on it that you know, and things on it that you don't know, no matter how much you study. There will be questions you only get right because you happened to read something the night before (it certainly happened to me!); and questions you get wrong but would have gotten right if you'd just put in that extra hour. I realize it's easy to sit here on the other side and wave my hand and say "Oh, don't worry about the test, there are so many more important things," but don't worry: there are so many more important things. I have two more concrete pieces of advice, both of which stem from the fact that I lied earlier when I said the exam was a test of general literary-like knowledge. It is, of course, not even that: like all tests, it's a test of your test-taking ability. If you can eliminate even one of the choices as a possible answer to a question (usually relatively easy since they often throw in one wackadoodle answer), leaving only four or fewer possible answers, it is mathematically absolutely to your advantage to guess, even at random, and you should do so aggressively rather than leave questions blank. Also, while (as mentioned above) the Princeton Review book gets a lot of (somewhat deserved) flak since the test's format has moved on, people tend to discount what is actually the most helpful section of the book: the discussions of the answers, right and wrong, to the practice test in the back. Aside from being a goldmine of little nuggets of info that may appear on the test (I only got my Tender Buttons points because of it!), it also provides a useful snapshot into how questions work, and the best ways for eliminating and selecting answers when you may be unsure.
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