archimon

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  1. I'd certainly be interested to hear if you receive funding! Seems like funded MA programs are difficult to come by. Anyway, my impressions has been that my modern Mandarin is actually not good enough yet, and certainly not good enough for a Ph.D. program to take me with funding. You're quite right to point out that Classical Chinese is the most obvious deficiency I face at the moment, but I would actually be working on classical and modern Chinese simultaneously in Taiwan, so that doesn't really seem to be a reason to go for an MA first. Edit: I've actually never taken the HSK, but I'd guess probably between HSK 4 and 5.
  2. How Best to Pursue a Ph.D. in Chinese History

    What is the likelihood of getting funding for a MA were I to go to ICLP and apply to Ph.D. and MA programs simultaneously? It seems a lot to do to substantially work with untranslated sources after only a few further months of training -my Classical Chinese isn't awful, but it's not really there yet, and it'll need more than just one quarter of classes to get there. I do have leads on some potential sources that speak to my topic, but I wouldn't fundamentally change the arguments of my thesis, I think, but flesh them out somewhat with these sources. Would that be sufficient? I'm hesitant to spend money on ICLP with the hopes of boosting my application, only to be left with no funded options for the year after - a paid MA is basically out of the question for me. How many of the students you know in the program had theses incorporating sources in the way that you describe? How many already had completed MAs before applying? I want to have a decent sense of how much of a chance I have/how much of a crapshoot this may end up being before committing financially to anything. I understand this whole endeavor entails some degree of risk, but I may pursue something else now and cut my losses if I have a very good chance of being left with no path forward in the next application cycle that doesn't include spending money. Taking a year off to reapply might be feasible, but it's certainly not something I'm certain I can take, or that I'm certain would be helpful.
  3. How Best to Pursue a Ph.D. in Chinese History

    Thanks - this is extremely helpful, and largely confirms the conclusions I had come to before writing the post. It’s great to have a second opinion. I’ve sent emails to a number of professors that I’ve worked with at Rutgers asking for their two cents as well. As to my thesis, I’d like your help understanding my position. I am, indeed, writing it using primary sources from the period, but the sources I am using have been translated into English by earlier scholars. My central source is the 袁氏世範 (Mr. Yuan’s Precepts for Social Life), written by the S. Sòng official Yuán Cǎi 袁采, which was translated by Patricia Ebrey back in the 80’s. I’m also using the 清明集 (The Enlightened Judgements). In addition to these sources, I’ve taken quotes here and there from my secondary sources, and so, while I’m nowhere close to using as many primary/Chinese sources as I’d like, what I’m doing is certainly more than just a review of literature. While I’m currently relying on translations, if it would help, I see no reason why I couldn’t simply retranslate the sections I’ve chosen to quote once my classical Chinese has improved a bit. Currently, one of my recommenders is actually a linguist, but I've worked with him on a research project that he is working on (a translation of an academic book written in modern Chinese with Classical Chinese quotations scattered throughout), studied abroad under his tutelage my freshman year, and took a semester of Classical Chinese with him. My second reader isn't even tenured, so, currently, only one of my recommenders (my primary advisor, Sukhee Lee - you may know him/know of him, as he graduated from the program you're attending a few years back) will be familiar with my thesis/writing sample.
  4. Hi guys! I’m currently finishing up undergrad at Rutgers U. in New Brunswick, having majored in East Asian Languages and Area Studies (Chinese focus) and History. I am currently working on my senior thesis, which will be done in the next few months. I hope that this is adequate research experience for at least an MA, though my ultimate goal is a Ph.D in Premodern (especially Song-Yuan) Chinese history, which I would plan to use to get a job as a professor. As far as language skills are concerned, I’ve taken Chinese for 3 of the 4 years of my undergraduate program, skipping the last year (i.e., this year) because I spent the summer of 2016 studying Chinese at ICLP in Taiwan and had, essentially, progressed to a point where my university language courses, which aren’t particularly rigorous (they only meet twice per week at the upper levels - three times per week during the first two years), were no longer of much use. Still, with no background in Japanese, and Chinese that, when I studied at ICLP, had only reached the level of students that had studied there for a full year (they offer an entire year after that before their classes cap out), I’m worried that weak language skills might seriously hurt my application. From having spoken with students that took the additional year, the training in Classical and Modern Chinese that they received was a serious boon, and has allowed them to read primary documents with reasonable ease of effort. There a few paths forward that I am currently considering. First: JET Program I’ve applied to and passed the first stage of the JET program admissions process, meaning that I will need to pass an interview next month to be selected and sent to Japan, where I would work as an assistant English teacher in a Japanese school (or schools). I had been considering JET because it would give me significant experience living abroad, give me applicable work experience teaching (which might be useful if I’m called upon to work as a TA, and could be valuable as training for teaching after leaving graduate school in any case), and allow me to avoid hemorrhaging money for a year while I take a break from school. My fear is that taking a year or more to do JET will allow my Chinese skills to regress to a point where I will need to retake a quarter worth of Chinese classes at ICLP or an equivalent program, in addition to the entire year of additional coursework later on if I were to get my Chinese skills to the point that they need to be for primary research. I might gain some knowledge of Japanese along the way, as well, though this isn’t really a primary consideration - I doubt I’ll learn a truly significant amount. (Perhaps I’m wrong) Second: Return to ICLP Alternately, I had been considering returning to ICLP in order to complete the additional year of language training now, before I would enroll in graduate school. I would not need to take on debt to do this, though adding a fifth quarter if I were to regress while, say, doing JET, I might need to borrow a few thousand dollars. (I would apply to MA/Ph.D. programs in the fall, while in Taiwan) I believe that this might strengthen my application, as it would require less funding from any graduate program I would enroll in for language study (I would already need, if I understand correctly, to learn Japanese in graduate school in order to work with Japanese secondary sources, which would obviously take time and cost money), and I would not need to spend a year or more away working on foundational language skills for my area of interest, premodern Chinese History. If my assumption that my current language skills are inadequate to gain me admission to a good Ph.D. program directly from undergrad is correct, this seems like it might be a good way to address this defect. On the other hand, many people pursue terminal MAs, some of which have funding, before going on to a Ph.D. My question is: Would trying to get into a terminal MA program while doing JET for a year be a good path for me? Can a terminal MA sufficiently address the deficiencies in my language skills to be considered for a top Ph.D. program? Are there other deficiencies that I should be seriously concerned about with my application? Essentially, I’m hoping that some of you can give me some guidance as to what my current chances of getting into a top-20 Ph.D. program would be on the basis of the information given in this this post. (I don’t have GRE scores yet - still need to take them) Is it worth it to spend money improving my Chinese skills in Taiwan for a year? Would it be better to do JET while applying to graduate school, with the hope of improving my language skills for free while in graduate school? (Sorry if there are any spelling or grammar mistakes - I didn’t proofread this very thoroughly)
  5. (I hope you guys don't mind my posting this here!) Hi guys! I’m currently finishing up undergrad at Rutgers U. in New Brunswick, having majored in East Asian Languages and Area Studies (Chinese focus) and History. I am currently working on my senior thesis, which will be done in the next few months. I hope that this is adequate research experience for at least an MA, though my ultimate goal is a Ph.D in Premodern (especially Song-Yuan) Chinese history, which I would plan to use to get a job as a professor. As far as language skills are concerned, I’ve taken Chinese for 3 of the 4 years of my undergraduate program, skipping the last year (i.e., this year) because I spent the summer of 2016 studying Chinese at ICLP in Taiwan and had, essentially, progressed to a point where my university language courses, which aren’t particularly rigorous (they only meet twice per week at the upper levels - three times per week during the first two years), were no longer of much use. Still, with no background in Japanese, and Chinese that, when I studied at ICLP, had only reached the level of students that had studied there for a full year (they offer an entire year after that before their classes cap out), I’m worried that weak language skills might seriously hurt my application. From having spoken with students that took the additional year, the training in Classical and Modern Chinese that they received was a serious boon, and has allowed them to read primary documents with reasonable ease of effort. There a few paths forward that I am currently considering. First: JET Program I’ve applied to and passed the first stage of the JET program admissions process, meaning that I will need to pass an interview next month to be selected and sent to Japan, where I would work as an assistant English teacher in a Japanese school (or schools). I had been considering JET because it would give me significant experience living abroad, give me applicable work experience teaching (which might be useful if I’m called upon to work as a TA, and could be valuable as training for teaching after leaving graduate school in any case), and allow me to avoid hemorrhaging money for a year while I take a break from school. My fear is that taking a year or more to do JET will allow my Chinese skills to regress to a point where I will need to retake a quarter worth of Chinese classes at ICLP or an equivalent program, in addition to the entire year of additional coursework later on if I were to get my Chinese skills to the point that they need to be for primary research. I might gain some knowledge of Japanese along the way, as well, though this isn’t really a primary consideration - I doubt I’ll learn a truly significant amount. (Perhaps I’m wrong) Second: Return to ICLP Alternately, I had been considering returning to ICLP in order to complete the additional year of language training now, before I would enroll in graduate school. I would not need to take on debt to do this, though adding a fifth quarter if I were to regress while, say, doing JET, I might need to borrow a few thousand dollars. (I would apply to MA/Ph.D. programs in the fall, while in Taiwan) I believe that this might strengthen my application, as it would require less funding from any graduate program I would enroll in for language study (I would already need, if I understand correctly, to learn Japanese in graduate school in order to work with Japanese secondary sources, which would obviously take time and cost money), and I would not need to spend a year or more away working on foundational language skills for my area of interest, premodern Chinese History. If my assumption that my current language skills are inadequate to gain me admission to a good Ph.D. program directly from undergrad is correct, this seems like it might be a good way to address this defect. On the other hand, many people pursue terminal MAs, some of which have funding, before going on to a Ph.D. My question is: Would trying to get into a terminal MA program while doing JET for a year be a good path for me? Can a terminal MA sufficiently address the deficiencies in my language skills to be considered for a top Ph.D. program? Are there other deficiencies that I should be seriously concerned about with my application? Essentially, I’m hoping that some of you can give me some guidance as to what my current chances of getting into a top-20 Ph.D. program would be on the basis of the information given in this this post. (I don’t have GRE scores yet - still need to take them) Is it worth it to spend money improving my Chinese skills in Taiwan for a year? Would it be better to do JET while applying to graduate school, with the hope of improving my language skills for free while in graduate school? (Sorry if there are any spelling or grammar mistakes - I didn’t proofread this very thoroughly)
  6. Critical Language Scholarship 2016

    Sorry - I just realized that I didn't respond to your question! No, I've never applied to CLS before, but hopefully some others can chime in with their experiences.
  7. Critical Language Scholarship 2016

    I'm currently still an undergrad - I'll finish my Junior year before the start of the program. My interests are nicely related to my language - I'm looking to pursue a Ph.D. in premodern Chinese history, so reading secondary research and, to a lesser extent, doing primary research each require Mandarin. You can actually check the list of alumni to see what prior applicants studied and which university they attend[ed] if you're curious - there seems to be a healthy mix of STEM and Humanities/Social Sciences, with a bit of a bias towards the latter two, at least for Chinese. Your research interests sound spot on though, and prior experience certainly can't hurt. Edit: Here's the link to the alumni page - just enter a search term such as language, university, subject of interest, etc. http://www.clscholarship.org/alumni
  8. Critical Language Scholarship 2016

    I agree, many of the questions did require somewhat abstract answers, but I think I made a fairly successful effort to provide concrete evidence for the abstract points I made - such as relating a story from my previous stay in China when responding to how I respond to different cultural environments. I imagine that good abstract AND concrete arguments, combined with a solid career track that demands the language you're applying for together make for a strong application, though I still worry slightly that my response to the question regarding the uniqueness of my background failed to really make a case for any true uniqueness. I kind of just flipped the question on its head and said that, at least as far as religious, ethnic, and socioeconomic background go, I'm fairly ordinary, but that that's a good thing! Can't have America without the white middle class. I tried to argue that I was intellectually open-minded and more than prepared to encounter new people and situations as well, so hopefully that will make for a solid attempt.
  9. Critical Language Scholarship 2016

    Best of luck to everyone that's applying - looks like they've extended the app deadline due to a technical glitch, just until tomorrow evening. To those who've applied unsuccessfully before: What do you think held your app back during previous attempts?
  10. Critical Language Scholarship 2016

    Thank you so much for taking the time to type all of this out! I'm really glad you thought the program was worth it! Special thanks for the answer to question 3 - I'm glad to hear that most followed the pledge and that you feel you improved substantially during the time you were there. I'm also right on the edge as far as the amount of class time required to apply for advanced, so this is all quite encouraging! Now all I have to do is get in!
  11. Critical Language Scholarship 2016

    Hey! I am going to be submitting my application for Advanced Chinese within the next few hours, and was wondering if you might answer a few questions - 1) What was the composition in terms of Undergrad/Grad of the group you were with? Did you have any trouble getting along with fellow students? Also, did most students keep the language pledge? Was there a great deal of variance in language ability at the outset? 2) Do you have any idea which essay is the most important, or what image most people tried to affect in their application essays? I don't want to sound like I'm trying to game the system or anything, but I'm interested in revising my essays to ensure my application is as strong as it can be! Feel free to ignore this question if you feel answering it might be an ethical violation. 3) What was the program like in your experience? How helpful was it as far as improving your Chinese is concerned? What did an average day look like for you and your classmates? I appreciate any feedback you can offer - thanks!