serenade

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  1. GRE Study Options - how to pick one?

    I never used Kaplan, but I remember hearing it wasn't very accurate. I used the Princeton Review book, which I found to be good and it prepared me well for the test. I think I took some Magoosh practice tests online, which were also good. If you have access to a GRE tutor that you can meet with in person, that might be worth a shot (so long as it isn't cost prohibitive) if for nothing else, studying with another person can often break up the monotony of GRE studying! Do you know your scores yet? Do you think retaking it is a definite thing? Wishing you the best.
  2. Thanks again, guys. TMP, if only I had taken AP Euro! (maybe I wouldn't be in this predicament). I only took APUSH But I'm sure I can find old Euro exams and DBQ's - good idea! I know that it's done now, but part of me feels somewhat resentful toward my committee for allowing me to get to the oral portion of the exam in the first place. They each passed me on my written exams, but then failed me at the oral. As I think I mentioned somewhere, my advisor told me my written answers for him were weak, but he thought maybe I could make up for them at the oral. After talking to my dept chair, however, the chair said the committee should have failed me at the writtens when they realized my answers were weak, let me retake them, and THEN proceeded to the oral when they knew I was ready (assuming improvement between first and second time). I know it doesn't help anything to dwell on the past and I need to focus my mental energy on studying for the next round. But I kind of feel that my committee set me up for failure. And that feeling of resentment makes it tough to push forward.
  3. 2018 AHA Program Released

    Lolololol. This is great. Because who doesn't think "women's dating advice" when they think "AHA." I also love that the author's bio says she brings "relatable experiences" to datingadvice.com. Because what's more relatable than dating at the AHA? (as for the fact that "romantic" encounters probably do take place there...I plan to continue naively believing that they don't)
  4. retaking comp exams

    Ah, yes, I remember an older grad student in my dept giving me this during my first semester (but admittedly, I never made use of it). It is sitting on my desk under a pile of papers. Definitely will pull it for this next go round! Thanks.
  5. Thanks, guys! You're all so helpful. After having a meeting with my advisor today, I figured a few things out: It looks unlikely that I'll be allowed to retake my written exams anyway, so the focus is just on the oral now. My advisor pointed out that this is somewhat to my disadvantage because I won't have any heads up as to what they could ask (follow up on written answers; asking the other questions that I didn't choose to answer in the written exams etc). But in other ways, it will be nice to not have to worry about written exams. TMP, I like your idea about sharing revisions with the committee to show them that you've made improvement, albeit it in a more informal way. My advisor was supportive of the January exam date. I agree, Sigaba, it will be miserable to have it hanging over my head over Christmas break, but given the (temporary) financial stability it would provide if I fail the retake, I think it will be worth it in the long run. If I failed, I could then spend January - May looking for jobs while still having an income. The Grad School only stipulates that the retake must occur by the end of the semester following the one in which the student fails the first time, so this looks doable per regulations. As to meeting with my committee, I apparently woefully misunderstood my advisor's email. He explained to me that he meant none of my committee was available for what he calls "extra" meetings, but he said that as far as he's concerned, he and I could meet just as frequently as we always did. He said he envisioned us meeting every 2-3 weeks (which is somewhat more frequent than our norm!) So basically, he was trying to say that he couldn't meet with me more than normal (why he didn't just say that, I have no idea). And he said I could meet with my other members as much as they were willing, but not to expect "extra" meetings with them either. I'm still not really sure where the fine line is between a "regular" meeting and an "extra" meeting since it's not like we have a schedule of every time we're going to meet in a given semester, but I trust that he will tell me if I'm asking for a quantity of meetings that exceeds what he thinks is appropriate in line with what he said today. (Of course, in his mind, it's my fault for misinterpreting his email - not his for not being more clear -- but alas, that's just part of learning to get along with people, I suppose). Regarding seeing a counselor: yes, I actually started going to one on campus in July shortly after I returned from a research trip abroad and it's been SO great. And yes, she holds a PhD so is able to offer a level of empathy about comps (and grad school more generally). When I failed exams, it was nice to already have established a relationship with someone for about six weeks prior who already knew how much stress and work went into my preparing and how much anxiety I was already having about them, rather than beginning the counseling process then and having to get acquainted with someone. I actually scheduled a meeting with my counselor for the afternoon after I took my oral that morning just in case things didn't go well, and it turned out to be much needed! TMP, wow, this gives me hope to learn that you failed but eventually made it and were able to stay in your program. Same with me from what my advisor told me - my writtens weren't great but he hoped I'd redeem myself during orals. Didn't happen. And yep, synthesis and organization are my major problems, I learned. And my committee has said similar things about their doubts about my ability to teach this material to undergrads. Yes, definitely a wake up call. Interesting to hear that your dissertation proposal was what saved you. I am taking my advisor's grad seminar this semester and he agreed today to let my written paper for that class be a draft of my proposal. So maybe if he's on the fence at my oral retake, a good proposal might tip the balance in my favor? (On the other hand, a bad one could do the opposite, I suppose). TMP, did you find writing and passing the proposal/prospectus as difficult as exams? I keep thinking, "If I can just get through exams, I can do the rest" but maybe the proposal is actually harder? Anyway, thanks everyone!
  6. retaking comp exams

    Ah, yes, good idea, Sigaba. My primary field is Early Modern Europe (1500-1648) with secondary fields in High and Late Middle Ages (1000-1500) as well as Anglo-American Transatlantic History (1558-1763). And thanks for the pdf from the AHA!
  7. retaking comp exams

    Hi Everyone, I started this thread in the "coursework, advising, and exams" section but per another poster's suggestion, am moving it over to the history forum. Tl; dr: I passed the written portion of comps but failed the oral. My committee is letting me retake exams, but I have questions regarding which portion to retake; when to retake them; and how much contact with my committee is the norm - the details of which are included in my most recent post in the thread. Any advice is welcome. Thanks.
  8. Thanks, everyone. The meeting with #3 went well. No comps-type questions asked. We just talked about what went wrong and what he was looking for instead. He said yes to letting me retake them though he also told me that on a scale of 1 to 10, he predicts my likelihood of passing to be between a 3 and a 4 (yikes). I got an email from my advisor the following day saying that the committee has approved my request to retake exams. Anyway, a few questions I'd like input on: 1) Each of my three comm members passed me on my written exams but failed me on the oral. So when talking to my department head, he said he's not sure if I will be retaking both written and oral components or just the oral. On the one hand, I would like the chance to redo written exams (based on new questions) in order to clear up any doubt in my committee members' minds that I have gained skills in organization/analysis/synthesis. On the other hand, however, my dept head pointed out that it would be bad if, upon taking them a second time, I failed the written exams and never got to the orals. My dept head advised me to take the "pass" I already have on the written exams and go forward with just the oral since the committee can't renege the pass they already gave me and that was officially recorded. He said he's not even sure if the Grad School will let me retake a portion of the exam that I already passed so it may be a moot point. But he also said if I really wanted to retake writtens, he could ask on my behalf. Does anyone have any thoughts on which might be better - the chance to show you've gained skills by doing new written exams or conversely, not risking the chance of not passing again and proceeding with just an oral exam? 2) If I take the exams again this semester (late November/December) and fail again, my stipend ends in December, meaning I will have no income in January. I don't know whether I should spend the rest of the semester looking for jobs (in case things don't work out) on top of studying for comps. Each minute spent on job searches lessens the amount of time studying for exams so part of me thinks it's best to devote all of my time to studying and worry about looking for a job when the time comes (between my parents and savings, I could probably get by temporarily while I searched). But I also wonder if it would be foolish to not look for jobs since passing exams is not certain. The other option my dept head tentatively suggested was to push the retake to January, at which point if I failed, my stipend would last until May, though he isn't certain on the time frame for retaking exams and he wondered if the Grad School might see this as an attempt to game the system to keep getting a stipend (which, admittedly, it is!). Any thoughts on whether to devote 100% to studying or to look for jobs on top of studying? 3) Finally, I'm unclear on how much contact with committee members is appropriate before I retake them. Originally, my advisor told me that while he couldn't meet with me every week (which I never asked for), we could meet "a few" times before I retake exams to go over the material. Members #2 and #3 said we could meet once before I retook them. Then in the email that I got from my advisor saying that the committee is letting me retake exams, he said that I would not have the opportunity to meet with any of my committee members (including himself) before the retake. This struck me as odd both because each of them had agreed to meet at least once if not "a few" times and also because it seems to not make sense to refuse a student help when they most need it (i.e. after having failed exams and trying again). I understand that grad school in general, and exams more specifically are not meant to be "hand holding" or "spoon feeding" but does it strike anyone else odd to refuse to meet with a student at all in at least three months time? Or is this normal?
  9. Hi everyone, I know I'm not the first to post about getting kicked out of grad school. I've read some of those threads. But since my situation was a bit different than the ones I found, I decided to start my own. But apologies if this is repetitive from older "getting kicked out" posts. Comps in my program are based on three written exams (three different examiners) and one oral one (all three examiners together). After taking the written ones, my three committee members advanced me to the oral stage. All three examiners failed me at the oral though (I got the sense they were evaluating me holistically and wanted to present a unified decision rather than "she passed my field"/"she didn't pass mine" etc). Going into the exams, I was under the impression that I had two chances. So I did my best on the first round (studying 18 hours a day leading up to exams), but in the back of my mind I always thought that if for some reason I did poorly, I could always use it as a learning experience to retake them in three months. I left the exam room that day after they told me the results bummed out, but under the impression that I would just work harder and learn how to improve to pass them the next time. When I met with my advisor two days later, however, I learned that we were not all on the same page. He told me the committee thinks I should leave the program. I asked him if retaking was a possibility and after talking through it a bit, he agreed, contingent upon the two other members saying yes. I spoke to one the next day who also agreed to let me retake. My advisor then sent me an email saying the committee decided that I need to talk to the third member, after which they will re-confer and my advisor will tell me a decision on whether I can retake them. So two out of three have said yes, but I also know that this third member can be pretty harsh and unforgiving. So I'm preparing myself for the worst. When I talked with both my advisor and second member, they each told me how my answers fell short and what was missing (in short, I was providing lots of information with little synthesis/analysis etc). When we had those conversations, it felt like a light bulb went off for me and I finally understood what I was doing wrong. And I also realized that it's something that I think I can improve in 3 months. With one of the examiners, we even hammered out a general approach to getting back on track. So my plan when talking to member # 3 is to tell him that I think I've identified my weaknesses, understand how to improve, and tell him that I'd like to talk about ways to make the most of the next three months of studying. I finally feel that I understand the expectations for the first time. Also, #3 was abroad all last year so we didn't have much contact, only two meetings of which were in person (one of which the week before exams days after he returned from abroad). #2 was also not on campus and had a personal health problem in his family, so contact was sparse there too. So I'm hoping to say that I'd like to try exams again now that #2's life is more stable and I can contact him more often, and #3 is back on campus. So anyway, a couple of more specific points 1) Any advice on what else to say to #3 to convince him that giving me a second chance isn't a waste of time? 2) Is it worth telling my advisor that although I did my best on exams the first time, I wasn't aware of the stakes and this whole issue of being kicked out has taken me by complete surprise? 3) I know it is a risk for any dept to re-admit a student once they've been kicked out and shown that they weren't able to handle the program. But does this ever happen? I've heard of people transferring to other programs. But if a student takes time off, shows that they've improved in the areas they were lacking, is it possible to convince an admissions committee in the same dept from which you were kicked out that you're worth the risk? I have no clue what I would do with the rest of my life if I'm kicked out, particularly so suddenly with little warning. I'm still in shock that all of this is happening. It's my worst nightmare coming to life.
  10. Thanks, everyone. You guys are so supportive. AP, I think you're right. These are two different issues (though they often seem to conflate in my mind). On the learning how to improve front: I've initiated several conversations with my advisor about what gives him doubt about me progressing through the program, and I think I've learned where my weaknesses are and how to take small steps to improve. Still incredibly difficult and stressful, but not entirely opaque, so that's good. However, what's more upsetting for me is that I feel like my advisor is indifferent when he says he doesn't know if I'll stay in or not. The fact that it doesn't seem hard for him at all really gets to me. On the one hand (and the most important hand), he is my advisor and has to be able to say these things dispassionately. I get that. But on the other, it's hard to see that someone with whom I've cultivated a close relationship over the past two years seems completely indifferent to whether I stick around or not. Herein the dilemma of understanding the advising relationship as both professional and personal. The personal side can sometimes sting. What is everyone's opinions about talking about this with him? I have a fairly close relationship with him (there are other professors who I would never dream of discussing something so personal with). At my last meeting with him, I briefly discussed how it can be hard for me not to take it as a personal reflection of myself when i feel like I'm underperforming. He was sympathetic (but then we got cut short because it was time for his next appointment). But I've thought about brining up the issue specifically of having a difficult time not taking his own assessment of me personally. Do you think that would be a good idea? Fwiw, I've also been seeing a university counselor to discuss these types of issues and I also told my advisor that and that I'm not attempting to confuse talking with him as the same thing as talking to a trained counselor but that for certain issues (like why I feel like I'm failing academically), it was helpful to talk to him as well in the role of advisor.
  11. sexual harassment?

    Oh my goodness, I am so sorry for you, OP. That is a horrible thing to experience. It's most certainly sexual harassment and you have every right to be upset and expect others to take the situation seriously. It's something no one should have to deal with, especially within academia. But sadly it is so common. Your advisor's reaction is absolutely terrible. I can hardly think of a worse way to respond. It sounds even worse coming from a fellow woman as one would expect a female supervisor of all people to understand. Not that this is in any way an excuse, but I do wonder how old she is and whether she comes from a generation where this type of behavior was so common among women in academia that it almost seems like a rite of passage to her, hence the "suck it up" comment. Even if so, this is a mindset that most definitely needs to change within academia. There is no excuse for anyone treating a victim of sexual harassment that way. As to talking to others at your university, I would recommend definitely doing so. Sexual harassment/assault is such an underreported crime for this very reason - victims who are afraid to speak up after one person tries to silence them/tell them they're overreacting. That's another thing that needs to change within academia (and society in general) and while the burden is on those who are in authority to change the way they respond to sexual harassment/assault, part of the change can come from victims who choose to report their experiences. Also I'd say that while your advisor's reaction was awful, don't assume that everyone else in authority will have the same reaction. At a lot (all?) of universities, there is a Title IX coordinator/campus police person to talk to about these issues specifically. So that's perhaps the first resource to consult. After that you may or may not need to talk to higher ups in your department. But if you do, it can be frightening, but also know that they might be completely sympathetic, and just because they're male doesn't necessarily mean that they won't respond more professionally than your advisor did. So I'd start with the people at your university specifically designated to handle these issues and if that's a no go for whatever reason, I'd seriously consider working up the courage to talk to authorities in your department. And not that my situation is anywhere near as serious as yours or comparable, but just to say that I empathize with you, sexual harassment/assault is indeed terrible. I was sexually assaulted (inappropriate touching) by a stranger at a bus stop while in a foreign city on a research trip earlier this summer. I happened to have a meeting with my advisor (male) scheduled four days later and I told him what happened and that I had filed a sexual assault report with the city police. When I said 'sexual assault' my advisor immediately assumed the worst (rape). (Side note: while I don't blame my advisor at all for assuming this and it's definitely better than not being believed, I do think it's a reflection of the way that society conditions people to define sexual assault as only rape but nothing else - another problem but I digress). After a briefly awkward moment spent clearing up that misconception, he was so relieved to learn that it wasn't the worst case scenario that his unintentionally dramatic exclamation of relief made both of us laugh in spite of the initial tension of the conversation. He was so sympathetic and understanding and even followed up with me about how I was doing with it at our next meeting (for those who read my post from like two days ago, he really is a great person...I make him sound worse than he is). Anyway, this post is not about me, but I say that just to say that sometimes you might be surprised at how sympathetic people can be, even if they're male. Not that this offers legal help, but do consider visiting your university's counseling center if you need support. There are so many emotions that one experiences after this and you shouldn't have to go through them alone. Take care.
  12. Hi all, (Before beginning, I should say that I understand the following: Academia is a world of criticism, it's part of the lifestyle, and one won't last long in their career if they can't take criticism. I really do understand that and have generally learned to handle criticism, but lately I've been having a particular problem that I'm trying to work through). My relationship with my advisor is both professional and personal. By personal, all I mean is that I feel like he cares about me as a human being - not just as a scholar, is a mentor, and that we sometimes talk about things that don't just involve academics. But that's what makes receiving criticism so difficult, I think. Especially when that criticism is about whether or not he thinks I will pass my comp exams and dissertation proposal and continue on in the program. He has told me that he feels unsure about my ability to pass both of those things, and that he honestly doesn't know if I am someone who will continue to completion or be forced to leave this semester. I understand that he is just being honest and doing his job. I wouldn't expect any less, of course. But it is really difficult when someone you respect so much and who you have some type of relationship with as a person tells you those things (or any criticism, really). When I hear him say things like, "I really don't know if you'll progress through the program" what my brain hears is "I'm not really excited about the thought of you being around for several more years." That can be devastating. It's hard for me not to interpret things personally (though I understand this is a problem). While I do think every advising relationship should be primarily a professional one, at the same time I also don't think the answer is to avoid any personal interaction in order for students not to take criticism personally, since there is so much to be gained from the interpersonal relationships that can develop between advisor and advisee. But I guess I'm wondering if other people have this problem and how they've taken steps to deal with it?
  13. What do you do while proctoring an exam?

    I totally forgot that I ever started this thread. But this is great - definitely adopting your strategy from now on
  14. RA vs TA choice

    On the surface, I say take the RA for all of the reasons you mentioned. I'd ask to clarify what the expected work hour load is for the RA (mine was 20 per week), but as long as it's not unreasonable, definitely take the RA. Maybe the other person wanted to gain teaching experience and so turned it down? You can always teach/TA later, but for the first year, this sounds like a good deal.
  15. Comps - how did you do it

    Thanks, guys. You've made me feel much better and given me some perspective here.