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mithrandir8

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mithrandir8 last won the day on March 13

mithrandir8 had the most liked content!

About mithrandir8

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    Caffeinated

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  • Location
    Seattle
  • Application Season
    2019 Fall
  • Program
    Philosophy PhD

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  1. mithrandir8

    Preparations for the Fall

    Do folks who are fortunate enough to have been admitted have any plans for preparing? I'm trying to figure out what stuff I'm going to try to learn and refresh myself on, and what logistical/life skills things I'm going to try to work on to prepare. The other forums have some advice but I've run across a few too many "buy a nice labcoat" posts there not to suspect that aspiring philosophers might have some unique insights.
  2. mithrandir8

    Entering Academic Philosophy with a Non-Phi Major

    To echo this point, I think things are starting to get even worse for the humanities even at places that should be committed to them. I've heard that Duquesne is going to ax its classics department, for example: https://twitter.com/ariellecohen/status/1118984345577054209?s=03
  3. mithrandir8

    Final Outcomes

    Got the email that NYU isn't taking from their waitlist this year and sent my acceptance to Pitt!
  4. mithrandir8

    Declining Offers/Withdrawing Applications Thread

    This is a good point of how the departments have something to do with this too. I mean Stanford only released, what, two weeks ago? Late decisions and visits must put a lot of pressure on people and encourage some delays.
  5. mithrandir8

    Another 'too old' thread... Apologies

    I think it's awesome to want to get back into philosophy! I think it'll be important for you to really focus on why you want to pursue grad school and why you might not want to pursue it, especially given the emotional attachments you're likely to have to your options. Here's my limited view of your situation: Good reason(s) to try to go: You want to experience graduate study in philosophy I think this may be basically the only really good reason to apply to grad school. As your posts above suggested, however, this can be a weighty consideration. There are things you just want to study, learn, and write about in an intense way that can't be replicated by treating philosophy as a hobby. This is the reason that has motivated me to pursue a graduate career and I will happily defend its weightiness! Bad reason(s) to try to go: You want to get a job in professional philosophy This is just not a good reason to go to grad school anymore. While we can all aim to get one of these coveted positions, as my undergrad adviser once said, "only go to grad school if you would still go if you knew ahead of time that you would have to do something else if you graduate." It seems like you're up for that, but it should be noted. It's what you've always planned on or imagined doing I tend to think this is just not a good form for a reason in general. Independent of other considerations, such as reasons that following the plan is a good idea, one's planning to do X is just not a reason to do X. I do think this is a pretty prominent psychological tendency however, so it's something to look out for. Just because past you thought you'd be in grad school by now doesn't mean present you should go. You experience regret about past events that prevented you from going to grad school or nostalgia for your younger aspirations This is a really relatable emotion, and I frequently find myself thinking that I can somehow undo or make up for past decisions if I do something different now. But once you spell out that that's why you want to do something, it isn't hard to see that that's not really a rational way to make life choices. Good reason(s) not to try to go: Grad school would expose you to unacceptable risks Grad school can produce horrible career outcomes, life outcomes, etc. as people often discuss on this forum. While this is true for all applicants, a person's risk profile often does change with age. With respect to this decision, for example, a younger person might be able to begin a second career and still save substantially for a retirement if his or her philosophy plans go belly up. This might be substantially harder for an older person, who may also face a different set of options for an alternative career. This consideration will vary depending on what your options will be if everything goes wrong, of course. If you're really confident you could resume your old career after a decade (give or take) doing philosophy, then maybe that assuages the worries to some degree. Bad reason(s) not to try to go: You worry that you won't fit in/your age will make it harder to network This isn't a formally bad reason, I just don't think it's very likely to be a problem. A lot of people in graduate programs are older, at least by the end of their programs (I'll be 32 if I graduate in 6 years) so it's not like professors always deal with students in their twenties. I think your fellow students and professors will be happy to hear what you have to say and engage with you without problems. And even if there was some friction, I'm not sure that would be a decisive reason not to study what you want to study. You worry that you won't be seen as a serious candidate I'm not sure why this would be a reason not to try. If you're willing to risk the years of opportunity cost that go along with graduate study (along with everything else), why not risk a few hundred bucks to see if some programs might be interested? If this was a point about job market competitiveness, I would refer you to the point above about why wanting to get a philosophy job isn't a good enough reason to try to go to graduate school. You are anxious/embarrassed etc. about being a nontraditional applicant I'm not sure if this is something that you're feeling, but it's another very relatable emotion that might be involved in a choice like this. I get nervous going to shoot some basketball at the park because I'm bad and the part of my brain that enables me to survive as a social animal gives me a talking to about deviating from norms in public. This is, of course, a great strategy for never playing any basketball, and I have to resist this impulse if I want to grow and enjoy my hobby. I feel the same way about your kind of choice. It might feel like grad school is somehow "not for you" because your path was a little different, but that's not a feeling that's really tracking anything important about the situation. If it's what you really love, do it, even if it feels weird. How you balance these things will have to be up to you, but I think those are the reasons I would be weighing in your position.
  6. mithrandir8

    Declining Offers/Withdrawing Applications Thread

    Same for anyone planning to decline NYU!
  7. mithrandir8

    Teaching in Philosophy - strategies

    I don't have any direct comment, but I wanted to link the philosopher's cocoon blog, which is a cool blog about early profession issues that writes a lot about teaching and getting hired at teaching schools.
  8. mithrandir8

    Dear 2020 applicants...

    I actually think that we should have a very low view of how much we know about the admissions process. Moreover, we have reason to be very skeptical about the value of this kind of forum advice as to how to improve application chances. While certain baseline information, such as the information in Eric Schwitzgebel's guide, is valuable, I doubt that all that much more can reliably be said about how to do well in the process. To begin with, our ability to infer from application results is very limited. For example, if I understand the posts above, @Marcus_Aurelius and @crunderdunder took roughly contrasting approaches to the preparation of their writing samples. Marcus spent a long time writing and rewriting a paper on a single topic that they chose based on how they wanted to fit into the current literature (to be accessible, current, etc.). This was also my approach. Crunder spent the majority of their time exploring a topic area, with much less time dedicated to drafting. Both completely crushed the process, making mockeries of us mere mortals, for whom rejections blotted out the sun and withered plants in their shade. Do I have any reason to think that I would have performed more like Crunder if I had adopted their method? I can't see that I do. It's just as possible that I would have been making things worse by working in a way less natural to me. More generally, the few things we can say with confidence—that, ceteris paribus, it is better to have higher grades, higher GREs, a better writing sample, a more prestigious undergrad, etc.—do not produce helpful advice. When I struck out the first time I applied, it wasn't because I wasn't trying to get the best grades, the most prominent letter writers etc. Even considering the question of how these different factors relate to each other, we don't know much. It seems pretty likely that the writing sample is the most important feature, as @brookspn argued. But was their strategy of spending very little time on the personal statements the way to go? I strongly suspect personal statements were important to my application (though I don't really know!). And are there always tradeoffs? I worked on my writing sample until it was basically as good as I thought I could make it and then set to work on my personal statements. If people do find themselves facing hard tradeoffs, I certainly can't see any basis for advising them when the marginal unit of work on one factor stops being as valuable as the marginal unit of work on another. If you're looking for practically salient advice, you want information that affects one of your choices. But beyond various platitudes, I don't think there's very much that qualifies. For instance, the first time I applied, I think my writing sample held me back. But the way I selected my writing sample was by picking the paper that I had spent the most time on, had the most feedback on, and that was the most skillful work I had done so far. I can't say with any confidence that those are bad ways to choose a paper, even if I know now that paper was bad. I'm not sure I've actually learned anything about the application process itself since, even if I've gotten better at assessing philosophy papers. This time, I wrote a better paper, and I did try to pick a topic that I thought was more likely to appeal to more people. But basically my strategy for picking papers didn't change that much; I was just better at writing them because of the intervening years of work. Lastly, I think the results themselves speak to a great degree of idiosyncrasy. Before hearing back, I had all kinds of reasonable theories about how my application would be received. I thought that maybe I would do better with programs which had people I had cited in the sample and who were working on the exact topic I wrote on --- Not the case. I thought that maybe I would do better with programs to which I had the most obvious appeal --- Even though I really really really like Pitt, I had no way of knowing that Pitt would like me. I thought that maybe I would do better with programs which were lower on the PGR and worse with programs higher on the PGR --- Not close. I can't see anything unique about that the three places I wasn't rejected from share. My best guess is basically randomness. In terms of getting in, all I can recommend for 2020 applicants is to work really hard on doing good philosophy that shows your philosophical skills and to get lots of advice from professors who can help guide your judgment on that. Beyond that, even if the process isn't a "lottery," it might as well be, because we simply don't have that much concrete practical information about how to really get ahead. What I think you can do to help yourself with the application process is prepare yourself emotionally. Hopefully that's something this thread can explore a bit, even if folks disagree with me about the rest.
  9. mithrandir8

    Waitlists

    I will accept at Pitt if I don't get accepted off of NYU's waitlist.
  10. mithrandir8

    Waitlists

    Just withdrew from Berkeley's waitlist. It's an amazing program, but I felt like I had to just weigh all the considerations I could and make a decision rather than dragging things out any further. Hope it helps someone. Edit: Sorry, I realized this is in the wrong thread!
  11. mithrandir8

    Choosing between MA offers

    I don't really know all that much about the underlying data, but given that the placement data isn't particularly reliable for the reasons discussed above, I would be highly tempted just to pick the place where I thought I would have the best fit and do the best work. By trying to control for the impact that just the school has on placement, you might be neglecting the possibility that what makes the difference between a student at either place having a really good shot at getting into a good school is how well they were able to work with the folks there on developing a good writing sample.
  12. mithrandir8

    Final Outcomes

    Thought it might be nice to have a thread for people to say how their seasons have summed up and if they've decided to go anywhere now that the season is in the home stretch.
  13. mithrandir8

    Waitlists

    Waitlisted at NYU. Email says "I will let you know as soon as I can if I have any indication of how likely it is that we will be able to offer you a place. It is only fair to admit that the chances are not very high, but in recent years we have several times been able to take a student off the waitlist." I was not at all expecting this and it seems extravagant to hope to get off the waitlist. Nevertheless, if anyone gets a wild hair and decides to decline, you have a chance to make me very happy. I will understand if this does not affect your decision greatly.
  14. mithrandir8

    Rejections

    We're all rooting for you DoodleBob!
  15. mithrandir8

    Acceptances

    Same, absolutely over the moon. Cannot believe it.
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