Duns Eith

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Duns Eith last won the day on December 25 2016

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  1. A New Sophomore Seeks Advice!

    A few things: 1. You may be really good at philosophy, but sorry to be the bearer of bad news (I hope that this gets upvotes, not downvotes) -- the field is flooded with excellent philosophers, and you really should seriously consider a different career plan. Think about it long, and meditate on how difficult it is to get a job -- any job, not just tenure, but even adjunct. You might be early enough in the field that this is the first time someone warns you. I am not saying this to scare you, but there are literally not enough jobs for most people who enter a PhD. Hundreds of applications per position, for every position. That means, the great likelihood is that a significant portion of those who complete the PhD will not even get the job. They will have done that work only to go into something else, not because they want to but economically they are forced to. This isn't an issue just for "low ranked" programs, but even the top tier. People who get a PhD at University of Michigan (one of the best in the world) had recently applied to 50-60 jobs a year, never yet to get a tenure-track job. The problem has been compounding, because as the number of jobs is not increasing much, the number of PhD conferrals increases quickly. 2. It is not too early to consider which programs you could get into. Ask your academic advisors (philosophy professors), especially someone who recently attained tenure, what kinds of programs you should consider and what your chances are. I would recommend you check Philosophical Gourmet Report's specialized rankings for programs in your area (focus more on which schools are listed, more than just their ranking). Remember to keep track of the philosophers whom you've been studying too -- whose work resonates with you? Where are they teaching? (Some teach at programs that are not on PGR) Even if you don't start filling out the applications, you will want a good list of schools you are considering. You will want to apply to no less than 6 schools, but I recommend applying to at least 12. Many people here will encourage shooting for as much as you can afford (some as high as 20-25 schools); application fees in the US range from $50-125 (40-105 euro), not including GRE transcripts ($25 per school), and official transcripts from your university. Some places have application fee waivers. A good estimate is $100 per school, so $1500 for 15 schools (80 euro each, or 1250 euro for 15 schools). 3. If you get encouragement from your professors and have investigated where you want to study, I encourage you to devote the summer prior to your senior (final) year in college to the application process. You'll want to start thinking about writing samples (your program may have a senior seminar which is oriented around this), taking the GRE or other standardized testing required by the schools (not all require GRE), and asking your professors about writing letters of recommendation. This will be extensive process. Treat it like a summer job, where you are putting in 15-25 hr a week for a few months. So, feel free to postpone some of the actual work until the summer, but feel free to gather info now!
  2. MA program rankings?

    Set some reasonable goals for where you want to study for a PhD, then look at the funded MA programs' placement records. If, say, you want to go to UC Santa Barbara because of [professor x and y] then prioritize the programs that have actually placed there. Hard work, I know. Also, I would give this website some weight as well, even though Leiter doesn't like the competition: I would pay attention to what the data means, and give the interpretations weight commensurate with the reliability of the method that the author makes explicit.
  3. GPA and GRE

    Let's also not take the GRE more seriously than the programs themselves. It doesn't hurt to take a note on a spreadsheet for every program whether they give the GRE weight, and if so in what way (and how much). Ask grad admissions directors.
  4. Advice for Applying: MA or PhD?

    I have the same questions as they do, but otherwise would agree with them. You are wise to think your odds are long in the first place. I got into a PhD program after an MA in theology and an MA in philosophy; I was glad to have the MA in philosophy, personally. I guess it all depends on where you're applying. As long as the PhD programs aren't top 20 PGR, then I would recommend the ratio of PhD:MA be something like 2:1. If you can afford more schools, do it.
  5. How do you all defend your scholarly path to the public?

    Thanks @maxhgns, for a sensible reply for the OP's initial three statements. We need not be defensive when they simply don't understand the profession, let alone for those who simply frame things only in personal or public utility and practical benefit. (Small talk + ignorance) = opportunity for you to share some information about your life and what you value. This is what they are actually going for when they ask these questions. [edit] You may be the only philosopher they ever meet outside of a silly TV show or movie trope. By getting defensive to an inquiry only solidifies that you yourself likely have nothing to offer the public and little to offer relationally. Condescension or dismissiveness only shows that you can't handle such a basic question that most of their peers can.
  6. 2018 Philosophy Applicants, Assemble!

    If you want an insider perspective on WMU, I'm happy to field any questions via PM. Just graduated this April, starting a PhD program this Fall.
  7. Venting Thread

    Idiomatic expression of "unacceptable!" Perhaps Turkish? I dunno.
  8. Venting Thread

    Unless B has shown significant evidence contrary, they are mentally ill.
  9. 2018 Philosophy Applicants, Assemble!

    Thankful for the bold. What a muddle-headed approach to expanding and proliferating your research, let alone hiring.
  10. Acceptance Thread

    I have seen the results page and I have two friends who each got offers in the last week or so. This seems crazy late to me.
  11. MA after 10 year hiatus?

    MA sounds like the best idea, but whether you go for an MA or go for a PhD, you're gonna need letter writers. How difficult will it be to obtain at this point? I take it those GRE scores are recent? Those are great scores.
  12. 2018 Philosophy Applicants, Assemble!

    That makes far more sense. And no, you don't sound like a snowflake. Whatever that means (I hate the term being thrown around), you're just being sensitive to the fact that your livelihood is in some political jeopardy in a relevant way. It'd be nice not to have that be a factor, even though on a federal level there are some concerns. Grad school is hard on any relationships, as it takes so much time, effort, and energy, and it has a way of creeping into other things. There is the pressure of I could do more! constantly. So, it is probably easiest when you're single-but-well-connected. It's gotta be difficult to start something new while in grad school, but I bet it depends on a ton of factors you can't change easily: how well you're paid, what the work load is, whether you're extremely fast reader and learner, whether you can handle stress well. I.e., situation and temperament.
  13. Go big or go home?

    I think this is a helpful way of thinking about it. I think of a similar concern about getting into an MA program without funding. If you can't get funding into a grad school, then there are really only two routes: you just aren't a competitive quality and should tap out, or the odds were against you this time around. So apply again, or get out. Don't take an unfunded offer. It bodes your chances getting a philosophy job are extremely slim. This gets back to something I've been wondering: when should we discourage each other from continuing in philosophy? It seems like every time I see an applicant who earnestly wants a philosophy PhD but lacks the chops and I suggest that they try a plan B, I get down-voted or people post in direct conflict with me (along with a long pep-talk). There are some people who, even if they don't fit the "go big or go home" mentality, they just simply aren't competitive for even an MA program. Don't get me wrong, I think all some people need is encouragement, but for some of them I feel obliged (especially if they literally title the thread asking "do I have a chance") to tell them to invest themselves elsewhere.
  14. 2018 Philosophy Applicants, Assemble!

    When I applied my wife and I made a radius of 8 hr drive one of our limitations, due to family (our fathers are of questionable health, our mothers really want to be close enough to visit grand kids if they happen -- which is likely) and general appeal of climate. But it did help make the list shorter! Huh. I'm surprised. What difference does this make, practically? It isn't like any major city is red, and should someone have difference of opinion what damage or threat is that to you?
  15. Go big or go home?

    Hate to be a downer, but this is quite true. It might be wiser to cut losses. The general advice is "If you can do something else, do that." There are plenty of less competitive, yet high paying, jobs out there. If, say, you can work in IT, become a business consultant, or do data-analysis, you're gonna be in much better shape from a risk-cost-benefit analysis. For some people, they would not be wise to cut losses: they have been given every encouragement to pursue philosophy, they are doing excellent work (far better than peers), and they have no other skill-set that is marketable. Depends on what you're counting for "jobs." A university "research" job? Extremely rare and competitive. A university teaching job? Quite a few out there, perhaps fewer openings than there are top-10 graduates. A college job? There's a lot. By far, they are adjunct or visiting associate professor jobs, but they do indeed exist. It is hard to live off the last category, though, as you may need to work at 2-4 colleges, without benefits, and still have no job security. There is no such thing as a "safety school"... but realistically, the odds are better at lower ranked (or unranked) schools. If your goal is to get in somewhere, then definitely apply to those. But if you don't want to get in just anywhere, then you shouldn't apply to those lower schools. I know a lot of people who take that mentality. I think it's dumb, and only perpetuates the disparity. I mean, it makes sense from a vantage of "I simply can't be happy unless I get a tenure job at a university, so I gotta"; but even then, there are so many factors that go into employability, to the extent that being in a top-10 (or even top-20) cannot corner the market on all the factors. I care more that I get to do philosophy. I care more that I get to teach. In order to make up for the lack of prestige where I will be attending (and I guess I was going to take this route anyway), I am gearing everything I can toward making myself competitive as a teacher. Developing a growing list of courses of which I have been instructor of record (4 different courses now) -- syllabus, course schedule, exams, etc. Creating materials that can be reworked and repurposed across classes -- lecture notes, examples, handouts, etc. (literally, just focusing on presentation of material intensely) Creating a data-set of my evaluations -- scores on several metrics, written feedback Developing good relationships with the chair, administrative assistant, and DGS -- getting letter writers for my dossier Networking at conferences, sending my CV to local schools, etc. -- getting my name out there and always checking for availability even when no job offer is posted Other professional things that matter Conferencing papers, giving talks, etc. Getting feedback so I can get published in a journal All this can be done without a PhD, but with PhD in-hand, many of these things (if developed properly) can outshine someone at Princeton or Harvard. Depending on the school's needs, they may want someone who has demonstrated excellence in teaching time and time again, so as to reduce risk and raise confidence in long-term benefit to the university. Some top-rank schools don't even have their grad students teach during their entire program. This is indicative of a few things. When your professors were hired, there were fewer PhD programs and fewer grad students. This raises the probability that they were accepted at those fewer, longer established programs. Given that they were hired in the 70s, 80s, 90s, and early 2000's, such hires are a sort of snapshot of the way the university (used to) hire(s). This also indicates that prestige does matter. More often than not, the top schools crank out better qualified professors than "lower" schools. There are exceptions, but this can't be ignored. A lot of it is tied to the details of the hiring process... Human resource directors in general, and universities deans in particular, want to pay as little as they possibly can for the highest qualified, most stable candidate they can afford. For academia, it is a buyer's market: they can have their pick among 50 excellent applicants and turn down another hundred great applicants. But, again, they can choose a candidate who came from a great school but didn't have any teaching experience (or very little), or they can choose someone with a ton of experience but a lesser known but recognizable school (e.g., Purdue, Mizzou, etc.). Likely, they will choose the candidate who has both qualities. But sometimes that doesn't describe the best candidate. Sometimes, though, a chair will pass over a candidate who is likely to take a job elsewhere on short notice (not stick around) because they are "overqualified". (I wouldn't stress this too much though; it is the exception) Advice: Find the faculty you want to study under by looking at the specialty rankings for different fields. Look at their CV's. See what they have been writing on, and where they went to school. Put their name down as a person of interest. Then simply look at the placement record of the school with that faculty. That is, forget that the school has a PGR ranking. Compare the placement records along the lines of four categories: tenure-track (or tenure), post-doc or VAP, or adjunct (lecturer), and then left-academia or unknown status. Compare the stats for each of the programs you are taking seriously. I think PGR should only be a proxy for this very metric, and it isn't an excellent one. You can go to an unranked school with a better placement record than some mid-ranked schools. In other words, climb up the PGR ladder in the specialty areas, then after you've isolated enough programs to take seriously, kick away the PGR ladder and evaluate the schools yourself.