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WildeThing

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WildeThing last won the day on March 9 2022

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  • Application Season
    2019 Fall
  • Program
    PhD in English (Literature)

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  1. I agree with Old Bill, under the assumption that you are hoping to use the thesis for your WS. The WS is one of your key documents so if you don't have a paper you can use, a thesis would be a good way to accomplish that (assuming you'd have it finalized and feedback-ed by the application deadline). However, if you're taking grad classes, you might already have a WS you can use (and seminar papers fit the length better, so it will be easier to cut them down and polish them). If you do have a strong seminar paper I would actually recommend doing comps. Comps were both the hardest and most rewarding experience for me in the PhD. They're a great opportunity to read the things you've been meaning to read, think you have to read, or should read for breadth/specialization. My dissertation idea came from this process and has nothing to do with the things I applied to do. By its very nature, if you read across your field (and adjacent fields) you will discover a lot of interesting things and you will be better versed to make research claims about it. While I was successful on the grad application trail, I think that had I had this type of experience and knowledge when I applied I would have been even more successful. Note that this will depend on what the structure of comps are. Are you forced to pick from an assigned list? Do you have freedom to choose what you want? In my case, I had a lot of freedom to pick what I wanted to read, but people who did lists in other fields faced some limitations. This is especially a good opportunity to read some theory and new scholarship in your field, if the structure allows for it. Again, this would be most useful if you can do the comps before you apply so you can use this knowledge. So, ultimately, I would think about whether you feel comfortable with your WS and how dates work out, and then think about how either route would help you compose your other documents (breadth could help with your SoP, but a thesis could also help (and a thesis MIGHT get you a stronger letter of recommendation, depending on your advisor experience)), and finally you could think about what you think would help you most as a PhD student. All of this is based on the assumption that you are applying to PhDs. If you might be leaving academia with the MA, the considerations will be different (not sure if this would even matter).
  2. I'm really sorry about your rejections, being shut out is really rough. I would strongly advise against going into debt for any graduate program, especially when it's not a prerequisite for entry for your next stage. While many PhD admits have MAs, there are also many that don't (not sure what the actual breakdown is). Having an MA would not necessarily make you more competitive, but it does put a burden on you to make a decent living once you're hopefully out of the PhD and while the market might change dramatically by then, right now that is not a guarantee, as many of the jobs currently offered (which do not cover the labor pool) are equivalent to graduate stipends, which are generally around minimum wage. Your best bet is to take a beat to reassess and try to think what, out of the things you have control over, might have hindered your chances and then attempt to address that in the next round (and you might want to look into things like the Institute for the Recruitment of Teachers for support in the next cycle). What MAs are good for, assuming you make good use of them, is a. demonstrating an ability to do graduate-level work, b. developing a more sophisticated understanding of the field, c. giving you opportunities to develop and execute on ideas, and d. offer you an extended pool of faculty and colleagues who can support you (I'm sure there are other things, but I think these are the main ones). None of these things are necessary, and some of them are things you can do on your own. While having a wider network of support is hard to replicate outside of an institution, if you're able to, you can spend this time reading and developing your ideas, and the WS you submit would override any graduate experience anyway. The best thing you can do is polish your SoP and WS over the coming year. If you were considering funded MAs my answer would be different, but given the prerequisites for grad admissions and the realities of job market on the other side, we are currently debating whether graduate programs themselves are worth it, so unfunded ones are definitely not.
  3. I would not listen to this advice. Once you’re in there is no difference between being a direct admit or an off-the-waitlist person. There’s a lot of reasons why you might be waitlisted one place and accepted another and it’s not necessarily a matter of fit. Do not take yourself off a waitlist unless you are sure you would not take their offer anyway. To the original question, you can and should email them to say that you are still interested but that you have another offer and ask if they can give you any more information (e.g. is the waitlist ranked or by area? where do you stand on it? are they waiting on many responses or have most people accepted already? do they expect to hear back or respond to you by a certain date (e.g. after visit days), etc.). None of these answers will actually help you get in (nor will having another offer) but at least you’ll have some info. If you have a strong sense that you might take the waitlist offer if it is made, I would just hold on until the deadline (and follow up with the waitlist). The other school knows this is a thing and will respect it. There is still more than a month to go and often waitlist movement happens at the very end.
  4. I don't know about the acceptances rates for funded MAs but I imagine that the entry bar is a bit lower than for funded PhDs. But yes, it will probably help you to apply to places with faculty and resources that coincide with your interests. You can reach out to them but it's certainly not required.
  5. I'm sorry to say that there aren't any programs with high acceptance rates. Maybe some are higher than others, but I'm not sure there's data and anyway, it wouldn't make for a great strategy. Any funded PhD program is bound to receive hundreds of applicants so it's really going to be a matter of finding the programs with the best fit. I was accepted by a school that rejected me the first time. The general logic is to limit the schools you reapply to because if they rejected you once it is likelier than not that they will again. Nevertheless I reapplied to a few and one did accept me. I did not retake any exams, my WS was the same, and my transcripts were basically the same. I don't remember exactly how the LoRs were similar or not but I think at least 2 repeated. Ultimately, the only thing I changed, but changed significantly, was the SoP. I was still basically proposing to work in the same field (20th c. African American) but the first time my project was, though defined, constructed in a way that didn't make me very legible (I was combining postcolonial criticism, existential philosophy, and critical race theory while referring to early century African American lit, across French and English). My second SoP focused on a more cohesive group of authors and proposed a specific topic that was easier to pin down within the discipline. I dunno if that is helpful; for me the ilegibility of my scholarship and the difficulty of classifying it was the main thing my LoRs and I interpreted as the reason I had no success, so - given that I had a different interest I was also interested in pursuing - I just abandoned the first project entirely. Unless that's your same situation, my experience is unlikely to be helpful. My advice would be be as self-critical as you can and talk to your advisors to really pin down why you didn't get accepted (the numbers game and luck will of course be relevant, but they're unhelpful because you cannot do anything to improve them). To the degree that you can change your SoP and address those things while still being true to your interests, I would make those changes. Of course, there's always the chance that you were a borderline acceptance and making changes might push you away from acceptance, so take this with a pinch of salt.
  6. I think maybe you should consider your own advice (and also read the OP's post). They asked about studying at two different universities, not a dual degree. While this is technically possible, as an international student there are many loopholes one would have to jump through (here's just an example from one institution), which can make this practically unfeasible (if it is actually feasible, UMich for instance, would require part-time enrollment in both programs, which can be a tremendous roadblock for many administrative reasons). I feel like sometimes domestic students aren't fully aware of the limitations of being an international student; contrary to what another poster has said, visa status IS the foremost concern for an international student, and dismissing these concerns for incoming students can produce a lot of headaches later on (I cannot begin to describe how much bullshit you can go through as an international student doing basic things like just receiving your stipend, accepting your offer-letter employment, etc.). Of course, if you can get into a dual program then most of the concerns go out of the window because the structure is in place; but, again, this is not what OP, who was already in a PhD program, was discussing and thus is not relevant (for them, but certainly helpful for future readers).
  7. I think you're fine, we've all done work in multiple fields and reasonably have interests beyond the artificially-delimitated fields we ultimately work/market ourselves in, so committees are aware of this. You can make connections between them if you think it will help your cause but otherwise you can just talk about the work you want to do.
  8. I'm not familiar with UChicago but as others have said here in the past, the prestige of their other departments does not necessarily (and many have argued it in fact does not at all) translate to the MAPH program. The main thing I did want to say is to not be fooled by offers of partial scholarships. 1.5k is just a small percentage of what you'll be paying, so ultimately it's just like a store offering you a tiny discount (if you buy this $3000 couch we'll waive delivery). It sounds like a ploy more than anything else (consider that even NYU's maligned cash-grab MA offers "awards" up to 60% of tuition, but of course, you're still paying 40% which translates to thousands and thousands of dollars).
  9. This seems like a school-specific policy so your best bet is to look through the graduate school, department, or registrar websites about grading policies. Assuming S/U means Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory, my first instinct is that this is a COVID-based policy that allows students to take a course for transcript credit but without being graded (so anything between a C - A+ would be the same), since my school has the same policy, and it was just meant to give students flexibility given our current situation.
  10. No, I think you should reach out ASAP. All initial decisions should be made by now (though there were posts here recently about Penn State abhorrently doing rolling admissions).
  11. Congratulations! It's always so great to see people succeed after persevering through multiple cycles!
  12. Oh wow I had no idea any program had such high acceptance rates, even if temporarily.
  13. That does seem insanely high, especially given the numbers this cycle and how popular a school they've been in previous cycle. Perhaps they typoed and meant to say 2%? That would suggest a pool of over 250 which is closer to the numbers from other schools. The cynical perspective might see the 20%, if not an error, to be a ploy to suggest that it's worth applying to the school; but this would be cruel, disingenuous, and would clash with what you've said about their letter. Of course, if it is simply the truth then holy shit, why is no one applying to UI-Champaign?
  14. I would ask UCDavis if you'd be able to be long-distance/online once you finished coursework. If so (and you'd need to get this in writing) you could do your coursework, get to know the faculty, etc. while your partner is deployed, do one year of separation (in which you might be able to progressively relocate to NY so it's not so jarring for the kids), and then relocate to NY and do everything long-distance. Of course, the negative here is that you and the kids would have to relocate twice in a short amount of time. If not, while there are no guarantees you'd get another offer in a new cycle (especially if you're limiting yourself to the NY area), I might relocate to NY. I did 2 years of separation from then-girlfriend now-wife while I did my MA and it was awful. I know some people do fine, and it was indeed fine, it was just noticeably worse than spending time together (I know of multiple couples who did a full PhD in different countries). But, the complicating factor here are the kids and I imagine it would be very difficult to basically raise your kids as faux-single parents for such a long time. I just don't think the PhD is worth it (especially given all the pre-existing negatives of the PhD). Note that I am assuming here that the question is whether YOU should give up on UCDavis rather than whether it's a question of you doing it or your husband giving up on the job. You could have a whole debate on who should do what but that's a personal issue and not something anyone can (or should) comment on. (Also I am assuming your partner has the job, your post suggested they might still be in the process of it).
  15. I agree that rankings are meaningless, but I didn't say ranking, I said prestige (or at least, perceived prestige) and that is meaningful. I've said this many times (and I know not everyone agrees on this), but coming from a known quantity institution plays a big role in your image and perceived risk for committees. Doing graduate-level work at a respected program, and having the LoRs and SoP to show that, will carry some weight, especially for those who do not have the privilege of coming from well-known programs. I agree with these notions in the abstract, but they are abstracts. I see no reason to assume any letter writer is being discounted because they keep recommending people energetically but yes, if such a person exists, they letter might be perceived as less valuable. And while, again, in theory professor might be too busy to connect with students, in the specific context OP is asking about my claim is that this is not a fear. I'm not saying all profs are always available, but that a prof being available to you does not depend on your status as MA/PhD. Of course, perhaps an MA student here will have a different perspective but many of my MA classmates have formed deeper bonds with professors than I have and, based on my experience, there is no difference between MA students and PhD students at this stage (other than what I noted above). But yes, funding is the single most important factor and I would think long and hard before committing to an unfunded program, no matter which one it is.
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