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About unanachronism

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  • Application Season
    2018 Fall
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  1. I'm in a different field in the humanities (art history), but I thought I might have some thoughts to add to this conversation and I lurk on your guys' forum because you have good conversations and art history isn't as active. I applied 2 years ago straight out of undergrad to a mix of PhDs and MAs (probably 8 schools? don't remember exactly). I received 2 funded PhD offers at top 15-20 schools, and 2 funded terminal MA offers from top 5 programs for my field. While I felt really good about 1 of the PhD options, my heart was telling me that I could do better, and the consensus of my professors and LOR writers that I spoke to was that I could do better with more preparation. They also said that they were accepting more students with MAs to the PhD program at my undergrad than those without. Though I was antsy to start my PhD right away, I took an MA offer at an exceptional program. The past two years have been sort of a "finishing school" (I often say that as a joke, but its also a compliment to my program I think.) I feel so much more professional as an academic/student now. I have been held to a high standard, and exposed much more to the "culture" of academia. I've presented at two conferences, watched dozens more professors give highly polished public lectures, I've had another rigorous methodology course, I've been asked to try to publish a paper. I have had the chance to take language courses which have bolstered my ability to do original research. I've had much more of an insight into the world of my field and also, in my first year, was able to watch the 2nd year students in my program apply to PhD programs (and jobs) and see how they fared in the process. This fall, I was much more strategic than I had been in my first round of applications. I knew more what I wanted, and I only applied to schools I would definitely attend if admitted (no safeties). I did more research into fit, I knew how to play the game better, I showed off my language skills in my writing sample and showed how I had developed my research abilities. My SOP was more conversant with tangible questions within the field. When I look back at my SOPs from my first application round, I cringe at how unprepared they sound. You might be in a better place than I was then, but I didn't spend as much time as I should have on my applications the first time, didn't know how to play the game, etc. Also, it doesn't hurt that my MA GPA is better than my undergrad GPA. I applied to 8 schools this time. I have gotten in to only 2/8 (waiting on 1 more, rejected at 5). I'm not at all beat up about it, firstly, because I only applied to some of the very best schools, and secondly, because I got into two programs that are an excellent fit for me. I realize that the two schools I have gotten into (both top-10 programs, one tippy-top-3) are the ones that my application materials and preparation best spoke to. I have a good connection with my POIs and other faculty, and I think I can see precisely why my writing sample/SOP worked at these two schools and not the others. Just trying to be honest and sorry if it sounds arrogant, I'm mildly surprised I didn't get into at least one more school, but hey, it goes to show you how much of a crapshoot things are, and that even coming from a really good MA, nothing is a guarantee. A friend of mine who also turned down PhD offers to do a funded MA has similarly gotten into only 2 places for the PhD, including one that they had already gotten into the first time. But I don't think they would say the MA was a waste— they have completely changed their research direction, are working in a different region/period now, and have gotten so much more training and clarified their project, so the school (and new POI) is a better option for them that it was two years ago. I would just say that nothing is a given. I could easily have had worse luck this year, perhaps due to circumstances outside my control (internal politics at the departments I applied to, etc), perhaps due to consistent issues with my application, and not gotten in to either of the programs I did. There are people in my MA who have not had success in applying to PhD programs this year. For me, when I made the decision to come here 2 years ago, how I thought about it was this: what would end up being best for me not 5 years down the line, but 10 or 15? Where did I think I needed to go to set myself for the best long-term future? I know much better what I want now, feel more mature as a student, and have gotten to experience and learn so much that I think will enhance my future success, regardless of whether I had gotten into PhDs this year. I am lucky to be at a place that is a terminal MA (no PhD students), where there is good funding and resources, and where they have prioritized preparing us for the next step in our careers, whether they be academic or alt-ac type things or "industry." If you have an opportunity that won't put you into debt, where you can make connections with professors that well be good mentors to you, where you can get field-specific training that will bolster your research (languages, archives, paleography, idk), and where you can be involved in a vibrant intellectual community, I think it could be a good move to do an MA. But do so with the knowledge that things are crazy and it's no guarantee of a 1000% better outcome next time, but rather that you are making an investment in your future potential, and that the time won't have been wasted if the MA is a good program for your growth and interests. Best of luck and sorry for the long ramble, it was just an interesting topic for me to reflect on my trajectory, and of course, I don't know your specific circumstances so always take random internet stranger thoughts with a grain of salt.
  2. Fall 2018

    I would say just dress slightly nicer than you would for like, the first meeting of a class you care about. I personally wouldn't wear jeans but black pants would be fine I would think. Good blouse or a nice sweater over shirt, modest dress, no crazy short skirts or something. If you were meeting for a more specific interview with a professor, maybe throw on a casual blazer / lightly dressy coat. I'm no expert but when I interviewed/went to a prospective student weekend while I was waitlisted and still trying to impress, I think I wore just-over-the-knee skirts, sleeveless collared button downs, etc. As long as its clean and not overly tight, obviously casual, etc. I think you'll know if you've gone wrong somehow.
  3. Medieval Art Historians?

    I'm a medievalist, currently finishing my MA and in the midst of waiting to hear back from PhDs. The schools rosehip mentioned are at the top of the list certainly, there's also Johns Hopkins (Christopher Lakey, Nino Zchomelidse), Columbia (Stephen Murray, Avinoam Shalem), and Berkeley (Beate Fricke). NYU has Robert Maxwell... Princeton has a younger western medievalist, Beatrice Kitzinger, and Charlie Barber in Byzantine. Those are just the places off the top of my head. What precise kind of approach are you taking to the art? You might find someone who is a good fit "methodologically" if not the precise person for your exact period/place.
  4. Fall 2018

    Yeah thanks for the info! I'm not super worried, I know its still early days and I already have one acceptance so my soul isn't quite dying of anticipation like it was before. It'll be over sooner than we know it, and nothing's gonna change the outcome now anyway. Also who trolls a website like this?? Pure cruelty... Good luck in your applications! May all of our waits be swift and pleasant
  5. Fall 2018

    I'm fine with the Harvard implied rejection but holding out hope for Chicago... results are really weird this year tho. Seems like one or two people hearing early and unofficially and then silence for a few days... gah!
  6. 2018 Admissions, decisions, interviews, and the like

    I'm also confused about Harvard... I know someone else who got in to the PhD program in Art History, to which I also applied, and she just got a phonecall from her POI. So maybe certain POIs are just lazy and leaving it for the official announcement. Or we are all just rejected! Typical Harvard, thinking they're better than us
  7. Fall 2018 Applicants

    So nervous about the start of a new week! More emails, portal checking, keeping my phone ringer on, answering phone calls from telemarketers because maybe it's from a school, wondering when some church lady phone-a-thon from South Carolina calls me to ask if I need prayers if I should say yes... good luck to all and don't drive yourself too crazy.
  8. Fall 2018 Applicants

    Thanks a bunch! Yeah at 5:01pm its gonna be lit... but probably because any celebratory drinks are going to hit me extra hard on only a few hours of sleep. Good luck on your end! Yay! A future friend, perhaps. My mom actually lives in Annapolis so it will be a nice trip to relax a bit with her as well. You're studying early modern? The two best periods of history I applied to work with Spiegel, and Spiegel's who I got. I'm very excited since she seems so cool. Was a little worried too since she is quite old.
  9. Fall 2018 Applicants

    Hey, semi-lurker here. I'm actually currently in an art history MA and was/am attempting to make the disciplinary leap over to a history department. I was just admitted to Hopkins this morning, studying western medieval. Very excited!!! Was also surprised by the high stipend and very flattered by the warm welcomes from several grad students and my POI. Looking forward to the visiting days in March. It really took a load off stress-wise, but also is a terrible distraction bc my MA thesis is due in 13 hours. Let's just say there are, uh, miles to go before I sleep....
  10. I made a pact the last time I applied (for MA) that whenever my friend who was also applying and I had both gotten into a program, we would buy a bottle of real champagne and drink it. That happened, twas excellent... now here I am, a year and a half later, now hoping to fulfill that promise again shortly with another fellow applicant pal. I recommend!
  11. Fall 2018

    I'm in an art history MA right now and a classmate of mine and I who both applied for PhDs are skeptical of the Harvard admit (we both applied there)... but maybe they heard something from a POI unofficially, who knows. As for Yale, I applied to a different department in the humanities and had an interview on Tuesday, and they told me this morning that I would hear within two weeks, but perhaps unofficially sooner than that. So I'd imagine it's similar for art history?
  12. Medieval Applicants (2018)

    CUNY I think is the "best" intensive summer language situation from what I've heard. It's very pricey though. They do have some financial aid, mainly geared at specific types of student ie. art historians, etc. I have two friends who have done Paideia in Rome and it's really fun, but also kinda a bizarre system that is viewed with some skepticism. Both friends have excellent Latin and really enjoyed the program. I haven't heard of any "recommended" online programs. I would caution away from the (in person) course I did in the summer 4 years ago at King's College London. Maybe it was just me, but it was too fast-paced to absorb anything. Perhaps if you already know Latin grammar, you would get more out of it, but spending hours a day translating Plautus with a dictionary didn't really give me a lasting grasp on the language. When I started again at the intro level in a college classroom, I was largely at square one.
  13. Medieval Applicants (2018)

    What, I'm supposed to be responsible and not procrastinate? Nooooooo thanks again! Alright back to Hugh of St Victor
  14. Medieval Applicants (2018)

    Thanks a bunch L13! Great points. Especially re: questions for them, I never know what to ask... mainly because at this point obviously I have spent a lot of time scouring their website, and also talking with a prof who received their PhD from the program, who wrote one of my letters of rec. I'm not sure how to strike the balance between useful questions that make me seem invested in them vs. those that make it seem like I haven't done my research, haha. But I will give the website another once-over and see if there are any things that stand out to me that I still want to know. It's unclear to me who is interviewing me. I received an email from the DGS (not my POI) that the admissions committee is "very interested" in my application and that this is an "informal phone call" to talk further. soooo... the whole admissions committee? just the DGS? We'll see! I've just been roleplaying little conversations in my head and trying to feel confident in why I am a good fit for this particular program. It is a horrendous distraction from my MA thesis, which is due Friday.
  15. Medieval Applicants (2018)

    Hey fellow medievalists. I have an interview at Yale for the PhD in Medieval Studies coming up this week. Very nervous, very excited. Anyone got any pointers? Congrats on the acceptances/interview Frank! A good start to the season