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About lady_coffee

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    English Ph.D.

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  1. I got a phone call this weekend from a professor on the adcomm offering admission to the PhD-track program. They're admitting seven students with the goal of having a cohort of four or five. Shocked, thrilled, and a host of other things, too!
  2. Every English lit program I've encountered asks for both a writing sample and a statement of purpose. Also, while your statement of purposes tells them what you want to do, your writing sample is the piece by which they actually judge your ability to do it -- that is to say, it is what demonstrates your scholarly potential. And I think we can all agree that if they don't see strong potential in the writing sample, they aren't going to give two beans about what you're interested in and who you want to work with.
  3. I agree that camaraderie is the great benefit of TGC, but I wouldn't discount the value of some threads on the lit boards. I had an unsuccessful first round and found TGC soon after, and some threads -- particularly on the SOP -- have been great resources/wake up calls. While yes, any advice on these boards is anecdotal, so too is the advice we receive from our advisors, whether those people are professors, current grad students, former grad students, etc. So I think your caution -- while certainly to be taken into account here -- also must be taken into account elsewhere. Our advisors are not gods, and they are certainly not always right. Some of us went to liberal arts schools and our professors, while fantastic, have been out of the grad school admissions game for years -- and that makes a difference in the sort of advice they give, no matter where they got their PhD. I received some truly "off" advice from brilliant advisors re: the SOP, advice I discarded this round largely due to the general consensus from friends currently in/recently out of grad school and, yes, the current grad students students here on TGC. Ultimately, we need to be critical of the advice we're being given, no matter the source. Our advisors have a leg up on TGC -- they know us, have actually read our work, etc. And yes, a lot of stuff on TGC is genuinely out of left field. But for establishing a general consensus on general aspects of the English admissions process, let's not write these boards off just yet. But -- that's just my .02. Take with salt. (edited for clarity)
  4. This is just what I needed to hear -- thank you for the straight-up answer and for the encouragement, as well.
  5. Congrats! I hope to be joining you shortly. :-)
  6. I am having a bit of a dilemma, the sort that may well be the product of overthinking something, so -- bear with me. As I finalize the statements of purpose and submit applications, I've been questioning the necessity/importance/[fill in right word here] of the ever-elusive "fit" paragraph. I have poured over the SOP threads here and have solicited the advice of friends currently in/recently out of English grad programs. There's no "magic" answer, but I'm faced with a few questions that I'm having trouble teasing out. First, I want to clarify that, as a second-round applicant, I was relatively ruthless this time around in selecting programs. I can't remember who said it, but someone here commented that the "fit" paragraph should virtually write itself. As it stands, I've taken the tack of gesturing (either specifically or generally) to faculty and special collections throughout the statement rather than plunking it all into one paragraph. But those sentences are few -- 2-4 sentences per statement. While the gestures I make are solid, they aren't overly detailed, let alone hundreds of words long. So, I get a bit nervous. There's a tension between the applicant's knowledge of "fit" and, of course, whether the adcomm thinks it's a fit -- and they're the ones who are actually in a position to determine such. I had one advisor (a recent product of a top 10 program) out and out tell me "They're the best. They know they're the best. You don't need to say it" -- "it" being how the program would develop my thinking in x, y, and z, a sentence I thought helped demonstrate my knowledge of the program but that my advisor considered obvious, given the research interests I'd articulated. I know every school is different, every adcomm is different, and it's near impossible to gauge how they'll react to the fit paragraph or what they want out of it. But I find myself increasingly falling on the side of "less is more." That is, let my research interests and writing sample speak for themselves. I've done my research and I'm not applying to a program I couldn't see myself at -- so, is it important to spend a considerable amount of time (and space) telling the adcomm things they will readily glean from the rest of the application? I might be overthinking it, but I'm curious to get your take on it. (And I'm particularly interested in the methods/thoughts of those who are currently attending.) EDIT: I apologize if this topic is covered elsewhere. I've gone over the threads, and while this issue comes up occasionally, I haven't found a place where it was substantively addressed.
  7. Very generally -- British Romanticism UNC U Chicago UW-Madison Illinois--Urbana-Champaign Harvard Brandeis WashU Tufts
  8. FWIW, I only put my name, the page number, and the "writing sample" designation in the header. My question here is in regard to a specific program that explicitly says they want all the other stuff -- which if unasked for may well be considered unnecessary at other schools
  9. I'm having a similar problem. My SOP is pretty much around 500 words, under a page single spaced. However, I have an app due in a few weeks for a program that wants 1000 words (don't we all have that "one" school? ). When you've condensed and cut and a well constructed statement has emerged, the prospect of adding details is decidedly unpleasant. So, I empathize. Edited for clarity
  10. Indeed it is. Might I inquire as to how they contacted you/what sort of process you went through with the admissions offer? No worries if you're not comfortable sharing the info.
  11. ~nods~ Yep. It's a brand spanking new sample post-undergrad and my citations are consistent, so I'm not worried there. I just really despise title pages. But it seems like that's the only option, really. And it's not like they're terribly difficult - I'm just being petulant. :-) It does strike me as odd that some schools want every bit of contact information on every bit of writing. Perhaps so that if they're in my neck of the woods they can drop by and ask me a few clarifying questions in person? EDIT: Oh, ~headdesk~ -- that was to someone else. Goodness sakes. Meant to reply to the quote above. Perhaps I need more coffee?
  12. So -- some schools require you to add your address, phone number, email, etc. in addition to your name and the typical info that goes on a sample. Adding all this information has pushed my sample half-way onto the 21st page, and this is a school with one of those hardlining 15-20 page limits. Now, I imagine a committee member could look at all the info that's added and see how yes, the paper is only 20 pages, but all that extra info pushes it down. However, I don't want to risk someone giving it a cursory glance and being annoyed that I'm over 20. All that information looks ridiculous (and clunky) in a header/footer, so the only other solution I can see is using a title page, which is less than ideal. At this point, I'm probably splitting hairs, and I know that this is a silly, mostly common sense question -- but I wanted to see what other folks had elected to do.
  13. Do you mean the University of Chicago? While the grad school says they must receive materials by Wednesday, the English department webpage specifies that they only want materials to be ~postmarked~ by Wednesday. There's still hope!
  14. We all know of people who scored horribly on this exam who still received offers from top-notch programs. (My stats professor's voice comes to mind -- "Correlation does not affect causation!") And ~gestures above~ there are a number of excellent programs who explicitly reject any validity this test claims to have re: measuring applicants' ability. Seriously -- do not fret. I scored sub-600 last year and yes, it's frustrating, and yes, you feel like it's time and money down the drain, but take heart. In the end, it's just a hoop to jump through, and if you have worked the bejeezus out of your writing sample and SOP, you are in a good position. What I took away from my (unsuccessful) application round last year was, it's all in the writing -- hence why I threw my energy into strengthening the WS and SOP rather than trying to improve my subject test score. I know that others have taken the approach that they want to improve as many aspects of their application as they can -- ultimately you're the only person who can weigh whether or not this is the best strategy for you, and for you first-time test takers, I sincerely hope that this ~is~ the only round you have to go through. Once again, at the risk of sounding like a broken record: it's all in the writing. Last note -- congratulations to those of you who did well! That is no small accomplishment, and a good score certainly doesn't hurt! P.S. I had a wonderful conversation with the director of graduate studies in a dept. that gave me a more personalized rejection ~chuckle~ and his suggestions focused entirely on the writing components. This was a school that required the subject test, and it was never mentioned as a way I could improve my application. This is just one case, but based on the discussions in this forum, his advice seems representative.
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