Jump to content


  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


bpilgrim89 last won the day on February 10

bpilgrim89 had the most liked content!

About bpilgrim89

  • Rank
    Espresso Shot

Profile Information

  • Application Season
    Already Attending
  • Program
    English Literature

Recent Profile Visitors

1,777 profile views
  1. I would also check out this thread which has a lot of good tangible actions you can take if you decide to reapply:
  2. If you want to apply to the same programs in the next cycle, I would recommend a *serious* revamp of your application. Not just a new SOP and writing sample, but reevaluate your other materials. Make sure your letter-writers are truly enthusiastic about your application. (What did your letter-writers say about your cycle? Were they surprised or ambivalent?) Review your transcript(s) and GRE scores. (Any room for improvement there?) With just a one-year gap, you have to document real growth in order to show the adcoms that you are a scholar who is on an upward trajectory even without the institutional support of a PhD program. Because, as WildeThing noted, they may very well compare your new application to your old one. Anecdote (so, grain of salt!): I applied twice – some to the same programs – and I ultimately was accepted by/now attend a program that previously rejected me. I was told explicitly by professors that they compared/contrasted with my second application. Again, I have no idea if that's true across the board, but it was true for me! I also second WildeThing's other points. Pros and cons to contacting faculty. No idea bout admission coaches. As a first step in reapplying, I would suggest asking your letter-writers to help do a post-mortem of your application. Ask what they thought were the weakest links in your application, e.g. what information was missing from your SOP, what arguments you either overstated or elided in your writing sample, etc.
  3. No idea! As a general rule, always follow the program's instructions, but I do not know what the graduate program manager's role is in admissions. If you still want to send follow-up updates, I guess I would send it to the program manager? Hopefully your advisors have more insight here than I do!
  4. 1. That's what it sounds like to me. So, be honest, including mentioning how many programs you have yet to hear from. 2. Mention it to the DGS because, ultimately, that is who you would want to talk to.
  5. Also, re: visit weekends, if the department will fund your travel, GO. If they do not, it is up to you whether this is feasible. At the time of my application cycle, my wages were well below the poverty line, and since the department did not offer funding to waitlisted students, it was not financially feasible for me to attend. So, even if you cannot afford to go to the visit weekend, you can still get off of a waitlist.
  6. I also want to assert that yes, you can do literally none of the things I did and still get off of a waitlist. No adcom is expecting you to do anything except wait on the list. In fact, I would hazard that most applicants do not do any of these things. My suggestions are geared for those who are on the waitlist for THE program of their choice, and they want options to follow up on what is a nebulous application status.
  7. I think these are all things you should do, especially if your advisor is encouraging it. Requesting to be put in contact with current graduate students is something all applicants should do anyway, even before getting waitlisted! Just make sure you maintain the same level of enthusiasm/professionalism with the graduate students in case the DGS asks them what they think about you. I am less certain how to reach out to a POI post-waitlisting. I would ask your advisor for potential things to say. If it were me, I would probably mention that you're waitlisted, that you love their work and that it intersects with your own research in X, Y, and Z ways, and that you would like to speak with them about their work and the department in general. Emails take a long time to write, so offer them the opportunity to speak over the phone or to send them more specific questions via email.
  8. I also reached out to a POI at the university I was waitlisted, but I was unsure whether I considered that a universal recommendation. (I had met my POI for coffee before I submitted my application, so that didn't feel awkward to me.) Glad you feel comfortable doing it! If others feel like that is not overstepping, go for it! Or, if you are unsure, ask your letter writers!
  9. Hello! This is the Ghost of Waitlists Past! As someone who was waitlisted and ultimately admitted, I wanted to share a few reflections from my experience. Being waitlisted is the worst. Your application cycle has been dragged out even further. You feel a weird mix of joy and defeat. My inner saboteur kept telling me, "I was good, but not good enough." At the end of the day, you may not get admitted despite all this added anxiety. These steps, though, made me feel like I had done everything I could do. 1. If you want to be on the waitlist, re-affirm your interest. I do not just mean replying to the DGS's waitlist email saying, "Yes! Keep me on it!" (Though you should do that ASAP.) A week or two later, I also sent a formal letter to the DGS, i.e. 2 short paragraphs in an email with a Dear XXX and Sincerely XXX, re-affirming that the program was one of my top choices. Keep it concise and do not repeat anything from your SOP. This might only be one short paragraph. However, here are a few other things you might want to mention: 1a. If this program is your first choice, say it. When I submitted my PhD applications, I was fairly confident this program was my first choice, but after having a few more months to reflect, I was now certain. In my letter, I said that and stated that I could confirm my attendance if admitted before the April 15th national deadline. This is a big commitment, so only say this if you are going to commit to that. When April 15th barrels down on the adcom, they want to offer admission to students on the waitlist that will accept their offer. Some adcoms will have a ranked list of waitlisted students, and this gesture may not do much. However, if your program's adcom does not have a ranked list, this may help. 1b. Tell them about any admissions you have received. Some DGSs will ask for this, but either way, be sure to mention which programs admitted you! This makes you a more attractive candidate, and if those acceptances are from impressive programs, it could spur them to review your file to see what they might have missed. Plus, it also alerts them that you will need to know before April 15th since you have an offer on the table. 1c. Any updates to your CV since you applied? After submitting my application, I had a few CV additions. I had a paper accepted for a conference, I was awarded a competitive grant, and I had another line of employment to add. I included those in my letter since those, like admissions to other programs, could spur some review of my application. Even if you do not have updates like that, you can still tell them about other things. Still in school and finished your fall semester with a 4.0? Tell them. Was that conference paper or publication listed as "forthcoming" on your last CV now given/published? Tell them. Did you finish a project at your job that seems relevant to the program? Tell them. The point here is not to brag, but to affirm that you are a hardworking candidate that could bring something special to the cohort. 2. Ask the DGS what the waitlist procedure is. Some will tell you up front and in detail how they select students and how frequently they will update you about your progress. Some will be more opaque. Either way, you have the right to ask questions like, "How does the committee select students for admission from the waitlist?" and "Are waitlisted students able to visit the department, either at the open house or individually?" 3. After you send the letter of interest, keep in contact with the DGS, but do not overwhelm them. This is where it is hard to be prescriptive. You will have to judge what is too much or too little contact. My suggestion is to err on the side of too little contact since you do not want to overstep. I would especially refrain from asking for updates. Instead, restrict yourself to major CV additions, i.e. other admissions, publications, professional conference presentations, or awards. I received my waitlist notice in late February/early March, and after I sent my letter of interest, I sent a total of two other emails: the first informing the DGS about two awards I had won, and the second – two weeks before that big April 15th deadline – asking for an update/re-affirming my interest. 4. Update your LOR writers about your waitlist status. You should be keeping them in the loop about your application cycle anyway, but if not, tell them about your waitlist status. When I told them, one of my letter writers was very generous and offered to write to a faculty member on my behalf. Not everyone is going to have that reaction, nor should you ask it or even expect it. (I didn't!) However, informing them gives them the opportunity to take more action if they can. You can also ask them if there are any steps they think you should take. During the application cycle, I ran the suggestions in this list by my letter writers, and they approved of them, giving me more confidence to do them. 5. If you have been admitted to other programs, evaluate those offers. Go ahead and start narrowing down any admittances you have. For now, treat the waitlist as an admittance. As you evaluate your options, you might decide the waitlisted program is not your first choice. If, however, you feel like the waitlisted program is your first choice, then hold on to it and decide which of your current offers is your first choice. Once you have selected your top admitted program, decline your other offers. Then inform the DGS at the top admitted program that you have been waitlisted at another, especially if you plan to wait until the April 15th deadline. When contacting the DGS, I affirmed that I was impressed by their program and would be excited to attend, but that I was waitlisted for a program that was a better fit for me and intended to wait. The DGS appreciated my transparency and that she could prepare for potentially notifying people on their waitlist. Remember, you are not the only one on a waitlist! 6. Be patient. The hardest thing to do on this list! In order to offer admission to students on the waitlist, the program has to wait for enough admitted students to decline their offers. Programs often admit more students than they expect to take, so even if one or two students decline their offers, the program may already have a fully realized cohort. Programs usually see major movement in late March/early April when students admitted to multiple programs have attended their open houses and have reflected on their experiences. Then, the DGS will begin sending out other acceptances. You could receive an offer of admission before then! You could also receive your acceptance after April 15th. I did not receive my acceptance until the day before the April 15th deadline. In the moment, it was nerve-wracking. However, because I had not officially accepted another offer, things went more smoothly for me and the two DGSs. If push comes to shove on April 15th and you still have not heard from the waitlisted program, you have to make a choice. It is your choice, but if you are seeking advice, I would strongly recommend taking the admission you already have. You truly do not know if you will be admitted until you get an official letter. 7. In short, always be passionate, courteous, and brief. Each email you send matters and reflects what it would be like to work with you. Now that I am on the other side, I know at least one reason I was admitted was because I was determined and respectful. Proofread everything you send. Keep your emails short. Sound enthusiastic and professional. Good luck, my fellow waitlist survivors!
  10. My cohort has 11 students (including myself), but my other admit cohort, CUNY, had 18!
  11. I wouldn't mention emeritus faculty members. While it is conceivable that they could want to work with a promising graduate student, it is more likely they will not be open to taking on a new student. Re: mentioning faculty members at all in your SOPs, I have heard both sides of this debate, and I think both have compelling arguments. That being said, I mentioned faculty members in each of my SOPs and my application cycle turned out great. It's risky to mention faculty members, but if you truly know their work, i.e. you've read it and have read reviews of it, then go ahead. I think the danger is to simply list potential professors because they are in the same large field as you, like gender studies or 19th-century American literature. Instead, you need to tailor such statements to demonstrate how faculty's research speaks to your own intervention. Answering a question like "How/why is their perspective on gender in 19th-century America unique and necessary to your own work?" would be a compelling faculty mention, not just a superficial name-drop.
  12. Agree with Kilos, especially about the "uninhabitated space in the void of academia." As you dig deeper and deeper into the fields that you enjoy, you'll inevitably start to see gaps where you wish there were more scholarship, but there isn't. That's where you as a burgeoning doctoral student come in: your job is to fill those gaps. If I tried to study every single thing that I find interesting, I would go insane because I'm interested in just about everything! Instead, I focus on what hasn't been said or what is still underdeveloped. For your SoP and WS, you're trying to name that gap and how you would attempt to fill it. Have two areas not been in dialogue with another? Has an area neglected certain authors or approaches to their texts? As jrockford27 noted, your dissertation is not going to completely upend a field or subfield, but you need to find a way to contribute to it. And don't forget – if you're planning to go into academia, you have a whole lifetime for your research interests to shift and modify. Just because you're focusing on one research interest now doesn't mean you can't explore adjacent ones later. For the purposes of getting into graduate school, you choose one niche where you feel like something is missing from the discourse and that you wouldn't mind exploring for at least five or six years.
  13. I would second Georgetown. While they don't offer funding to everyone, the full-funding packages they do offer come in lots of shapes and sizes. Depending on what kind of work you'd like to do, their packages center your experience around TAing, editing for a journal, doing digital humanities work, or poetics and activism. Plus, if you're interested in going onto PhDs, we also have a great track record of admissions. This year, we have folks going to Berkeley, Penn, Princeton, Harvard, Michigan, Rutgers, and CUNY, and we got offers from Yale, Johns Hopkins, Stanford, and Duke. It's been an extraordinary year, so I have no idea if that will keep up. However, we do tend to have someone go to one or two of these schools every year!
  14. Yes to all of this. You should also ask people in your field what would be good conferences to target. Most field groups have a large conference that they hold every year where the acceptance rate for papers is lower, but these groups will also list their regional branches that may have more relaxed conferences where it is easier to present. For example, if you were studying the eighteenth century, I would recommend looking at ASECS, CSECS, or BSECS (American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, Canadian..., British..., etc.) Presenting a paper at mega-conferences, e.g. MLA, is perhaps not as useful when you're trying to strengthen your work, so focus on conferences that are more geared towards your field.
  15. I want to second that if you're getting your MA, conference participation is more important than if you were applying with just a BA. Presenting at conferences is a pretty low-stakes but high-return investment in showing a doctoral program that you are serious about your work and that you have enough intellectual clarity to be able to share it with others. Scholarship is not meant to be written in isolation; you have to present your ideas and have them vetted. Plus, it only makes your work stronger!
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.