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Posts posted by Warelin

  1. 14 hours ago, thecat00 said:

     It just so happens that a lot of the top ranked places could support my interests well.

    I think it's also important to realize that your definition of "fit" is likely to differ from any college's definition of fit. Schools in the top 20 often have a bigger faculty which makes it easier to fit as if anyone can fit in. However, numbers alone does not mean that the school has strengths within that particular area or are even interested in growing that particular field. It's possible that the department as a whole is leaning towards building a different area of strength.

    I'd encourage you to think about not only the strengths of the schools but about the culture as a whole. Are most graduate students living with roommates? Is there public transportation available? How far do graduate students live from the university? Is the area rural or urban? If it's a college town, are you comfortable with the summers being silent? You're committing 5+ years to living wherever you wind up. Is the stipend enough to not have to take on additional loans? Are you comfortable with the teaching requirements? Are there external or internal opportunities for growth? Studies have shown that depression is a very common reason why people drop out of Ph.D. program.

    I think it's also important to mention that there are a number of very fine universities outside the top 20 that might have better placements than those in the USNew's top 20. I think it's also important to remember that the top 20 might have an easier time placing its graduates in R1 Universities, but that doesn't mean that it's impossible to teach at an R1 school if you don't graduate from a R1 school. I know of several people who have gotten tenure-track positions at "elite" schools including Columbia who did not graduate from a top 20 program, but rather a school ranked somewhere between 30-50. I also know that they took advantage of what the school offered and took any opportunities presented to them even if they didn't always succeed in winning every competition. Ultimately, I think schools (both admissions-wise and jobs-wise) are looking for applicants that fit their culture and fill in whatever area they're interested in.

    14 hours ago, Rootbound said:

    . The rankings are somewhat useless as a measure of the department's quality, they really only indicate its "prestige."

    I think the USNews does a better job of measuring a college's 'prestige' for undergraduates because they consider a wide-range of factors. However, the criteria they use for programs at the graduate level are incredibly different.  More information can be found here: https://www.usnews.com/education/best-graduate-schools/articles/social-sciences-and-humanities-schools-methodology

    "The questionnaires asked respondents to rate the academic quality of the programs at other institutions on a 5-point scale: outstanding (5), strong (4), good (3), adequate (2) or marginal (1). Individuals who were unfamiliar with a particular school's programs were asked to select "don't know."

    Scores for each school were determined by computing a trimmed mean – eliminating the two highest and two lowest responses – of the ratings of all respondents who rated that school; average scores were then sorted in descending order.

    These are the number of schools with doctoral programs surveyed in fall 2016: economics (138); English (155); history (151); political science (120); psychology (255); and sociology (118). And these were the response rates: economics (23 percent), English (14 percent), history (15 percent), political science (24 percent), psychology (14 percent) and sociology (33 percent)."

    14 percent of English programs determined the rankings of 155 programs. What do you think the odds are that all 14 programs are paying attention to every school? What do you think the odds are of the 14 percent paying attention to placement rates, student happiness and all opportunities being provided to students are at the 155 programs?


  2. 46 minutes ago, ArcaMajora said:

    Admittedly, this is a gray area and I've had conflicting advice from my letter writers in this regard. One saw mentioning the specific names of faculty as being a touch too presumptuous, while another letter writer encouraged me to contact faculty while applying and mention them in my SoP. I did not contact faculty but I did mention faculty by name when I wrote my statement. When I sent these drafts to all my letter writers, I wasn't pinged for mentioning faculty by name (which I did for all applications).

    I'd like to add on to this. I was accepted at schools where I mentioned certain faculty by name. I was also accepted at schools where I did not mention any faculty by names. In one of the schools I was accepted to, I only mentioned one faculty. They're currently at a different school.

    So I don't think there is a correct or wrong way of writing your SOP when it comes to the inclusion or exclusion of names.

  3. 4 hours ago, Indecisive Poet said:

     @Warelin– you sent me a few programs like this in a PM a while back. Any chance you could weigh in?

    I think this is tricky because departments can change a lot within a few short years. I'm a strong advocate of reviewing schools that you think might be a good match. Sometimes, there are trends that you can gather from the current students. Sometimes, it's stated right on their page.

    From Illinois' website:
    "Most of our Ph.D. students have received their M.A.'s at Illinois."

    The wording here implies that most of their students only had a BA prior to attending Illinois. However, this does not mean it's impossible to be accepted with a current MA. I had an MA when I applied to Illinois but I ended up choosing to go somewhere else that I felt was a stronger fit for my interests.

    From UIC's website:
    "No; the Department of English considers direct admission to the PhD program from an undergraduate track for those who are interested. Most of our admitted PhD candidates, however, hold an MA."

    I didn't apply to UIC but I think it's important to know that two universities within the same system can have very different stances on what they prefer in their students. I think it's also important to remember that even checking all the checkboxes does not guarantee admission.

    I think it's also important to think carefully about what information schools present.

    From UIC's English department FAQ:
    "Annually, there are an average of 300 applicants to the PhD program and 175 to the MA program. The acceptance rate is slightly above three percent."

    In this case, it's important to remember that UIC has 3 different tracks in English which attract very different candidates. In some schools, these programs might even be located in different departments. The concentrations are English Studies, Program for Writers (Creative Writing) and English Education.'

    By comparison, there are over 150 PHD programs, but far fewer Creative Writing programs. As such, a lot of Creative Writing programs receive more applications. I think USC mentions somewhere on their website that 2/3rds of their students in the English department are people in their Creative Writing Department.

    I think it's also important to think about how far funding can get you in a city. Nobody is going to be rich from grad school stipends. However, you are committing to spend 5-6 years in a program. It might be beneficial to see how far that stipend can get you in the city. Do most grad students live alone or is living with a roommate necessary to survive? How far do students live from the university? Is there public transportation or is a car necessary to live there? Is it pet-friendly if you have pet(s)? Some might argue that you should worry about this later, but I think this is important to making sure that you can have your best chances of having a productive time there.

    If anyone would like to talk, I am more than happy to share what I've gathered from my research via PM.


  4. On 8/31/2019 at 1:05 PM, blackstrap said:

    I'd like to focus on 20th century existential lit and theory. I plan to apply to a few in the top 10, a few 10-20, then maybe a safety or two. I need to do more research on specific professors at specific schools, but am aware of the importance of attending a highly rated program in my field. I am okay with a pay cut. I did my MFA alongside the Ph.D. folks at the University of Utah, so I have some idea about doctoral research. I'm still researching the career options of the English Ph.D.

    I think it's important to realize that there are no safeties in English. There have been many applicants in the past who have been rejected from every school they applied to except Berkeley. There have been multiple people with perfect scores that have shut out from their season. There have also been people who have managed to get an acceptance at many schools they applied to despite not having great test scores. None of this was dependent on a school's ranking because ranking does not equal number of applicants nor does it signify strength in a specific area.

    The ranking of a school is really only important if your end goal is to maximize your chances of doing research at a R1 School. Most jobs are not at R1 schools.

    There are many jobs that would welcome the skills that can be obtained through an English PHD outside of academia, but a Ph.D. isn't required for the great majority of them.

  5. Do you know what your field of interest is? Do you know which schools you'd like to apply to? Do you have an understanding of the different strengths that some programs have? Are you prepared for a paycut? Do you understand how doctoral research differs from undergraduate research? What are you hoping to get out of a PHD program? Would you be okay if you can't achieve your goal post-PhD?

  6. On 8/20/2019 at 3:01 PM, Indecisive Poet said:

    Urg. Venting here. I am trying to narrow down my list and the more I research and re-research, the more it becomes clear that there is a group of programs all in the top ten that are all perfect fits for my interests. Outside of the top ten? Eh, there are a few that I could make work, but it's a stretch (i.e. there are people working in my period, which can be said of every university, but there is no overlap at all in interest or methodology). This is really frustrating because I do not want to apply to this many uber-competitive programs.

    I think it is important to remember that your definition of 'fit' is likely very different from a department's definition of fit. Professors do not want to produce mirror images of themselves. They're interested in finding new ways to examine various types of studies.

  7. On 8/16/2019 at 5:39 PM, Supernova43 said:

    If I posted something in one section but think it might actually be better in another, can I move it? Or is this something a moderator must do? Alternatively, should I just begin a new post in the new section and have it both places? Thank you. 

    It's preferred that you don't start a new thread on the same topic. If after your original post you feel your post would fit better elsewhere, feel free to message either myself or another moderator and we'll be happy to move it to another section for you! Alternatively (for faster service), report the topic, explain that you'd like to move it, and the next available moderator will take a look at it to see if it warrants moving. 😃

  8. 10 hours ago, Hasspurple said:

    I'm referring to schools in the T20 of rankings lists and some outside.

    Small note here: English program rankings as rated by USNews do not apply to Rhetoric and Composition Rankings. Additionally, some programs are more rhetoric-heavy while others are more composition-heavy. Some might even lean towards being more digital humanities focused, but such programs can also be found in Literature programs. There are also some Rhet-Comp programs that are more literature-focused.


    10 hours ago, Hasspurple said:

    Are students in Rhetoric/Composition tracks of some of these programs funded in the same manner and extent as their Literature counterparts?

    In most cases, the funding would be the same for programs that offer both a Literature and a Rhetoric/Composition track.  Responsibilities for obtaining the funding might be different for the two tracks though.

  9. 2 hours ago, law_prospective said:

    WashU and Princeton are the only programs, among those with faculty doing similar work, that would offer me funding without requiring TAing. Perhaps they are compensating for their perceived riskiness through funding. I do wonder how long they'll continue to offer such great funding. 

    Fun fact: Roger Baldwin, a co-founder of the ACLU, originally taught the first Sociology course that WashU had to offer.

    As for WashU's funding, it's likely that their funding will continue at their rates for a very long time.  WashU is a top-tier college that has a history of increasing their stipends each year to adjust for cost of living increases. They also have one of the largest college endowments.

    I think placements are a bit harder to calculate because a lot of the market depends on who you know through conferences and other events, who your professors may know, your dissertation topic, whether it fits what other programs are looking for, your interviews, and so on.

    Due to it being a (now) new program, it might be worthwhile to ask potential WUSTL advisers where their (undergrad) students have gone for Graduate School. While your options post graduation will likely be different due to having a different set of options, it'll give you a sense on what schools/type of schools might be the most familiar with Washington University in St. Louis.

  10. 4 hours ago, CrystalPS said:

    Update: You were right! I only emailed 1 school, but it actually worked and they were very kind to my plight. Now I'm eager to apply there. 

    I’m glad it worked out for you. I think most schools are willing to work with you if there are barriers to completing certain parts of your application. Most are genuinely interested in their applicants. Best of luck with your applications! If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me a PM.  

  11. 2 hours ago, CrystalPS said:

    I decided to ditch the GRE altogether since I can't do it in the country I live in, and to do it would not only mean paying the GRE fee, but also traveling to another country, buying test prep materials etc.; it would be a mounting cost.

    This might be a worthwhile conversation to bring up to schools you're interested in but that currently have the GRE as a requirement. I imagine that a few would waive the requirement if the GRE isn't available in your country.

  12. I’d also consider expanding your search outside English. I think your interests could easily fit within either American Culture or Women, Gender and Sexuality programs. I’m not saying that being placed in English is impossible though because it is but options might not be as plentiful as considering other fields.

    English has a tendency to be able to classify interests based on time periods. Young Adult Fiction is harder to classify because of this. Other fields may have a different way that they classify applicants.  

  13. On 7/15/2019 at 10:12 PM, smithclarkson01 said:

    I would be interested in doing blogs about apk's and all, is it still available ?

    Are you referring to Android Package Kits? If so, it doesn't really fit into what we're looking for.

  14. 2 hours ago, Narrative Nancy said:

    So have Vanderbilt and Pittsburgh! And I think it's now optional at Boston University 

    GRE subject is now optional at WashU.

    Johns Hopkins will accept official subject scores post-acceptance.


    ^ List of schools in bio/biomedical grad programs that don't require the GRE. Brandeis, Buffalo, Boston University, Carnegie Mellon, Colorado, Cornell, Davis, Duke, Emory, Harvard, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Princeton,  Rutgers, Virginia, WUSTL, and Yale are all the list.

    Given past trends, I wouldn't be surprised if the schools listed above stop making the GRE a requirement soon.

  15. 14 hours ago, WildeThing said:

    Having a PhD from Harvard looks better than one from Florida State, generally. The academic job market in our field is rough and research suggests that graduates from programs in a lower tier very rarely find jobs in higher tiers. The more prestigious the program you get into, the more options you ostensibly have in the future... For instance, Florida State is not usually considered as prestigious as Harvard but if you're interested in working on Samuel Beckett they might be a better choice because some very respected scholars work there whereas Harvard does not have a dedicated Beckettian (to my knowledge).

    I'd like to elaborate a bit more on @WildeThing's post here.

    I think there are a few things to consider here. There isn't a single degree that could guarantee you that you'd be considered equally at all schools. Some teaching-focused schools are hesitant to hire ivy-league grads because they're concerned that the individual might leave them when a research-focused position opens up. They're also concerned that ivy-league grads and other top10/top20 schools may not have enough teaching experience or may not want to be in an environment that focuses on teaching. A school in the top 20 may not rank as highly in certain disciplines. Notre Dame, Rochester, and George Washington University are known widely for their early modern program. WUSTL is very strong in (Post)Modernism, Drama Studies (modern), Gender and Sexuality Studies and is expanding in Transatlantic and Transnational. Tufts has traditionally been strong in Gender Theory. Pittsburgh has a really strong Film concentration in English. Rice is strong in Gender and Sexuality, Medical Humanities, Postcolonial and Ecocritism.  None of these are top 20 programs, but have built a strong concentration in the listed that likely rival schools that are considered to be in the top 20.  However, if the goal is to teach at a R1 school, it is much easier to accomplish from a top 20 program. But there are also post-docs that might help you accomplish your goal. I've had friends who have gotten a degree from ivy leagues schools who still had to complete postdocs before landing in a TT position. I have friends who have graduated from schools ranked in the 30s who have landed tenure track jobs at ivy-league schools.

    It might also be important to note that the majority of schools that are hiring are not R1 schools but rather teaching-focused institutions. These institutions are more likely to care about your teaching ability and record, but it's important to not disregard original research.

    I'm not sure more options is necessarily correct here, but I think there is a difference in the types of positions that are most readily available to you upon graduation based upon the connections you have access to. Lastly, I also want to note that a school accepts you because they believe in you. Sometimes, even the brightest students fail due to unforeseen circumstances or not feeling supported enough. An acceptance from any school doesn't mean anything if you can't graduate from it.

  16. 13 hours ago, WildeThing said:

    My department has added 3 new courses in the vicinity of my area but I have been told by another grad student that I am unlikely to be allowed to audit an additional course. Still no idea what to do.

    How rare are classes that are within the vicinity of your area? How rare are your required courses?

  17. 4 minutes ago, Puggy said:

     I was trying to make a point about the amount i've read about specific debates (some debates I've read more than 10-20 books and dozens of articles).

    I think you'll find that graduate admissions functions very differently from undergraduate admissions. I think that you'll also find that most people attempting to apply for a PHD program are fairly well-read within the specific areas they're interested in. I think most would also admit that they also wouldn't place themselves among the top ten percentile within that specific field. That is to say, that should you get accepted into a program, you'll likely find that most people have read dozens of books and articles within their field and it's likely that your coursework may see you reading a dozen books a semester and a couple of dozen articles per class. It sounds like you've started a good habit by reading now because grad school will expect no less. It's encouraging that your professors are encouraging you but it's also important to note that your potential graduate professors might be more strict because the objectives are different.


    3 hours ago, Puggy said:

    What percent chance would I have of getting into a semi decent MA and then getting into a top 50 PhD program if I get straight As from here until the end of graduate school?  

    There isn't anyway that anybody would be able to answer this for you. It would depend on your writing sample, SOP, letters of recommendation, your academic fit within the university as well as who else applied that year.

  18. 1 hour ago, Puggy said:

    But dont you have to be top in your program to get into a good school?

    No. There are a lot of factors which determine one's acceptance or rejection into a program. If it was based on just x grades, only the top 20 or so students from the top 10 schools would be considered for grad school.

    A good working knowledge is good to have. However, I doubt very few full professors would go to say that have the "top 0.1% knowledge of specific debates" within their specific subfields.  The brightest professors I know are still reading and digesting new information on a daily basis. Stating that you're in the top 0.1 percent implies that you don't need a PHD. It sounds as if you believe you're more than ready to contribute scholarly articles right now and become a leading scholar.  A PHD is meant to help those who have a good fit with their program achieve this goal but it sounds to me that you wouldn't benefit from going through a PHD.

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