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silenus_thescribe

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silenus_thescribe last won the day on May 10

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About silenus_thescribe

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    English (PhD)

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  1. It does not. It has two MFAs, both of which are great: the New Writer's Project (housed in the English department) and the prestigious Michener Center MFA (housed within the university, with some English department crossover). The latter is extremely competitive but lucrative; if you get it, it's three years of no-teaching funding at 30k/year.
  2. Hey all -- current UT Austin PhD candidate writing, to say that if you have any questions about UT's program vis-a-vis your interests, feel free to PM me! Happy to answer questions about the department and program as a whole.
  3. So yes, I don't know the full lived and affective experience of what it's like to be an adjunct, or to complete a PhD. (Though I have published and done lots of other things that come with the PhD experience.) But I do know that the odds of getting tenure-track or even just solidly permanent employment in my field are not great, and I have no rosy vision about that. Nor, and I'm going to keep stressing this, does anyone else I know who is currently getting an English PhD. Your picture of the post-PhD life doesn't "threaten" me or anyone on this forum; we know that those possibilities are quite likely. I have never once read your comments (or the comments of others who have expressed similar things to you) and thought, "Damn, I didn't think that could be a possibility for me." My point is: this forum is designed for people to come and talk about their experiences applying to graduate school, getting into grad school, etc. I am willing to wager that most people already know the grimness of the job market. The fact that they've then chosen to apply to PhD programs doesn't mean they've stuck their head in the sand about the picture you describe; it just means that they've chosen to take the calculated risk and pursue something that's important to them. The logic of what you're saying in your post seems to be, "If you're applying to English PhDs, you're necessarily ignorant of how bad things are." That's not true in the slightest. As I said, it's not like the choice is between total uncertainty and doom on the PhD track and job security anywhere else we go. If the profession truly slides into the ocean by the time I complete my PhD and I'm forced to get work elsewhere, it will suck but I will live with that. And, crucially, I won't regret having earned a degree that's really important to me, nor will I regret getting to do work that's important to me. I stand with you in calling out departments who present graduates with an overly rosy picture of what getting a job will be like. It's important that we as grad students, and those like you who have earned a PhD, to hold departments accountable to an accurate representation of placement. But I also think that even in the face of a contracting discipline that getting a PhD is still worth it for many people, including myself, and I don't have to put my head in the sand to feel that way.
  4. I would agree with this, if the purpose of wordstew's comments was simply to point out the inaccuracy of Rutgers' placement rate. As I said, that information is important, and we should be holding departments accountable for placement stats. The main thing with which I was taking issue is the second half of wordstew's post, the "this is the profession you want to enter" part, which to me smacks of the nihilism to which I refer. Moving away from the troll-y stuff and toward Rutgers' actual placement rate: looking at their website, I would say that 10 percent is certainly too low in describing their placement, but I also think wordstew is right to say that 87 percent is a gross exaggeration. Unless Rutgers provides *detailed* job placement -- that is, name of PhD recipient, what year they earned their PhD, and then all subsequent placement(s) -- it is indeed irresponsible to make it seem as if getting a PhD at Rutgers will just shy of almost certainly land you a prof job. I'm going to be entering the job market phase of my PhD here in the next few years, and as I've been thinking about things I've looked at placement pages of numerous PhD programs. Generally speaking, I'd say that most programs are actually not great about accurately advertising placement rates. Typically, you see one of the following things: "Our graduates have gotten jobs at": This is one of the worst, if not the worst way to list placement. This will simply be a list of universities where PhDs at that uni will "have gotten jobs," typically with no delineation of what type (e.g. TT, VAP, lecturership, etc). Only good placements: It's also quite common to see graduate schools only list people who have gotten jobs of some type. While if specific enough this can tell you some things, it also masks the problem of ratios, for this doesn't give you the full picture of all PhD recipients. I saw this on Emory's page recently; I could see several excellent placements, but I have no sense of how many PhDs they're turning out vs. how many jobs are acquired. Listing placements solely by year: This is where I give Rutgers some credence in how they present their 87 percent statistic. That number, it seems, is based on a "three year job market" period, meaning that it's not "87 percent get jobs right away," but rather that "87 percent within the now-standard 3 year job search will get jobs." It's better to be honest about that up front, as Rutgers is, because too often I see programs simply list job placements earned within a given academic year. But that doesn't tell us if those placements come from people who were on the market for years or only one year, which is a relevant factor in figuring out a uni's placement rate. And these are not even to mention the surprising amount of schools I saw which made no effort to present even just their best-case placement rates! I'd love to hear what y'all think, but to me a complete placement picture should look something like this: have placements broken down by academic year, but then in each year list name, year of PhD earned, and, if relevant, jobs earned prior to listed placement. I also think area of specialty should be listed, so that it's clear where a department is most successful at turning out scholars.
  5. If I may. I say what I'm about to say while still recognizing that there is truth in your comments. The discipline is not what it once was. There is a vast disparity between how many people get PhDs and how many academic jobs are available for those PhDs. Tenure is being gutted at universities across the country. It is, indeed, not the best time historically to get an English PhD (not to mention other types of PhDs). It is also good to point out when departments exaggerate placement statistics, as it well seems Rutgers may have done here. It is concerning that Rutgers' placement page just lists "jobs gotten", without specifying who got those jobs and when they received their PhDs. (And, even if there is some truth to the 87 percent figure, it's worth noting that Rutgers qualifies that by saying, "In assessing our success, we exclude data from the most recent three years, since the job search has evolved nationally into a two- or three-year process, often requiring jobseekers to hold temporary positions before moving into tenure-track jobs (during this transitional period, Rutgers continues to offer support to our students, financial and otherwise)." That is to say: it takes awhile to get to that 87 percent, if it truly happens.) With that said. I've been in graduate school for four years now, and *never once* have I met a graduate student in my department or elsewhere who is either deluded or ignorant about the job market. The "holy shit what is happening to the profession" panel has been a staple of just about every significant conference I've ever been to, and they're quite well attended by current graduate students. Professionalization courses, including ones which tailor to non-tenure track jobs, are starting to crop up in grad programs across the country. All this to say: I think it's safe to assume that most people applying for PhDs in 2019 know that things are not great, academic job-wise. I do not know a single person who has ever thought that a published article(s), good letters, and a smile will get them a TT job the minute they turn their dissertation in. Why do I say this? During my application season on Grad Cafe and, it seems, somewhat persistently since, there are a certain crop of "grad school nihilists" who come on here and insert themselves in conversations being had by people who, in the face of crappy odds, are working hard to chase a grad school dream. Many if not most of them are already struggIing with the high difficulty of just getting into a funded PhD program at all, with all the resultant anxieties that come with that. I don't want to suppose right off the bat that you're necessarily one of these people, but your post does remind me of that kind of unqualified negativity I've seen on these forums. To be fair, some of these more nihilistic posts come from people who, not unreasonably, have had their hopes charred after a successful time in grad school, only to find slim to no pickings job-wise. I'd be bitter in that situation too, and it's a reality for which I'm going to have to prepare -- and, in fact, something for which essentially all of my colleagues have prepared. But the brutal reality of the job market is known by people who are signing up for PhDs, so coming onto Grad Cafe to tell people that they're foolish for chasing a "dying profession" doesn't really help things, and at worst it can needlessly stoke the anxieties of prospective applicants who, again, already know how bad things are getting, and continue to get. Because the other thing is -- and in the face of job market nihilism I always find myself asking this: what's the alternative? Precarity and oversaturation are hitting all different markets right now in the US. Sure, your odds of making a living wage are better if you'd started off being a computer programmer, but even now those programs at universities are getting overcrowded. It's not like the dichotomy is, "Either you risk everything on the chance of a tenure-track job, or you go for something more stable in a non-academic environment." Plenty of people with seemingly "stable" jobs get downsized, and whole industries right now are facing similar circumstances to the academy. The other career I was interested in prior to committing to grad school -- web publishing -- suffers an "independent contractor" disease even worse than the adjuncting crisis in the academy; I tried working there to see if I prefer it, and I made the calculated choice -- factoring the very risks you talk about -- to go to graduate school. So, taking your comments charitably, I would suggest that in a forum like this one -- whose directive is connecting people who have already made the decision to apply to grad school -- defeatist comments are at best pointless and at worst needlessly destructive. We know what we're getting ourselves into.
  6. To any of y'all who choose UT Austin: DM me if you'd like info on moving/finding neighborhoods, etc. I can also forward your info to department listservs to see if any current grad students are looking for roommates.
  7. Not to be too negative, because obviously these people mean well, but there's nothing like talking to someone who knows nothing about how lit/rhet/comp academia works, and fielding questions like, "Oh, so you're getting your PhD in X city! Will you try to get a job in X city when you leave?"
  8. If these people don't know much about academia -- particularly the intricacies and nuances of graduate programs and their rankings, which differ from the prestige of schools in general, the kind of prestige that the average layperson perceives -- then you can take most of what they recommend with a grain of salt. We're talking about humanities degrees here, which means going into substantial debt should be avoided at all costs. The NYU MA is unfunded, and an easy way to get into six-figure debt during a time in your life where you won't be making much money to pay off the principal.
  9. Kendall says it perfectly here. I don't know that I'd say that MA prestige doesn't matter at all, but I am skeptical that it matters enough that you should look more favorably upon Wake over Duquesne. I mean, it says something that there's no US News and World Report or similar ranking index for MA programs. The thing to remember about MAs is that not everyone goes into them to then get a PhD; plenty of folks go in because they want some professionalization experience that undergrad couldn't give them, or because going back for an MA might mean getting more likely pay raises down the line if they teach at a place where MAs are rewarded in that fashion. Because not all MA students end up going for the PhD, the question is: how do you make yourself competitive with other students who are coming out of MAs and going into PhD programs? To me, the things that will make you a stronger candidate if you want to get into PhD programs are the things above and beyond the "credential" numbers (e.g. GPA): teaching experience, potentially conference or even publication experience, and strong letters of rec from faculty who have seen you do graduate-level work. Those things are more likely to happen at a place where you not only have tuition relief but also are getting paid to do work that will make you a more appealing applicant for PhD programs, which is the kind of stuff that comes with an assistanship. To me, there's no choice here, especially if you do want to go on to the PhD after the fact: in one place, you're getting what is undeniably a good education (a friend of mine did her Comm MA at Wake), but you're either going to have to work outside of school or go into debt, which will decrease the time you have to spend building the CV components which will make you a strong PhD applicant. In the other, you don't have to worry much about finances (though I don't know what living is like in Pittsburgh), and you'll get the chance not only at advanced study but also employment at a university. Barring any better offer, Duquesne seems to me the clear winner.
  10. Ramus illustrates an important principle I was thankfully told early on in my application season: when it comes to grad school: programs, not universities as a whole, have reputations. There are plenty of top-tier schools which, depending on your discipline/area of specialty, wouldn't scream "prestige."
  11. I went to a SLAC and got two BAs, one in English, the other in philosophy. I debated the merits of getting PhDs in either subject, and ultimately chose English because (a) it was my first disciplinary love, (b) the job market for philosophy is substantially worse -- yes, that is possible, and (c) I knew that whatever my research was, it would ultimately involve English and philosophy. By and large, the English programs I got into (and the one I'm currently at) not only make it easy but actively encourage that kind of interdisciplinary work, whereas it's harder to do so in philosophy departments, particularly if they're analytic as most American unis are. In short: you aren't nuts. But you'll need a clear rationale as to why you feel your philosophy education equips you for an English PhD, especially if you want to continue your MA work into a lit dissertation. My committee is letting me write a somewhat heterodox diss that involves a lot of philosophy, but in my prospectus I made the links to literary scholarship clear, as I did in my writing sample.
  12. Actually y'all, I spoke a bit too soon about one thing in my last post... it looks like they have updated placement info on the site. I think some of the folks that have been listed actually haven't defended yet (things might have changed up schedule-wise), and there are some jobs that the listed folks have gotten quite recently, been but otherwise that is the most recent stuff.
  13. @tacocat211, @millw, @gloriagilbert: Hey all, current UT PhD student here. I'm not sure why the department hasn't updated the placement information yet, but hopefully that should happen soon. While all the standard qualifiers apply to the following statement (e.g. "the job market is tough, etc"), here it goes: We have had several straight-to-TT placements in recent years, or at least TT after one year of completion. Generally speaking, UT fares better on the small-to-mid size universities, especially liberal arts schools, but if you're in the Rhet/Comp track you're likely to do extremely well, as UT is in the top three of that category and is generally well regarded, with lots of big names in that department. I would say that attrition is relatively common pre-MA; at least one person per year since I've been here has left after getting their MA, commonly due to losing interest in academia/not wanting to slog through the job market. Some have dropped out pre-diss defense but it is uncommon. My own feeling is that people who are fully committed to the job market typically end up coming out pretty well in lit (my field), with virtually almost perfect placement in the Rhet/Comp field (fewer of those students are accepted each year; it's something like 12-15 lit, 4-5 in Rhet Comp per cohort). I work in modern and contemporary dramatic literature, which is not a super robust field in literary studies on the comparative (in my experience looking for PhD programs back during my application season, when a department listed "drama" as a speciality of its faculty, it was typically a 60-90 percent Shakespearean subset of the professoriate), so I might have a harder time on the job market than some other fields, but overall I don't have anything above the typical sense of dread about the job market. UT is still a well regarded school with a large, respected faculty; it's a great place to study. If y'all have any more questions specific to your field and interests, feel free to PM me. I can be more helpful if I know specifics about what you're working in.
  14. Unfortunately I don't! I've taken some classes with American studies folks, but I don't know much about the structure of that program and its admissions. Sorry I can't be of more help.
  15. Congrats to all y'all UT Austin admits! If you have any questions about the program, feel free to shoot me a PM; being here for grad school is definitely one of the best decisions I've ever made!
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