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About sethbwa

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    Political Science

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  1. sethbwa

    2017-2018 Application Cycle

    Depends what you mean by worrying... If you mean, "should I make an aggressive effort to remind them?," then definitely. If you mean, "are my odds of admission endangered?," then probably not, though it may vary by institution. My experience in enrollment (at a SLAC and a R1) was that, so long as everything was submitted by the time committee convenes, then we didn't care. I highly doubt they're evaluating apps the Friday before Christmas. But depts sometimes set hard, internal deadlines, so you can't be too careful... get that letter in!
  2. sethbwa

    Am I doomed?

    LORs are an opportunity for your colleagues to advocate for you. Worst case, you only have two instead of three, and are at a slight disadvantage. (I.e., nothing that would sink you.) But I really wouldn't worry. They know you can't keep up with everyone for ten years. A professional rec might even be somewhat appropriate in your case. I've only worked in undergrad admissions, but my experience there leads me to believe that the wisdom against professional recs is because most business-world letters are pretty boilerplate. Graduate school is a professional undertaking. If your boss can cite examples of your adaptability, work ethic, self-direction, etc., I'm sure the committee will receive it favorably. (Again, worst case, they ignore it.)
  3. sethbwa

    Does prestige matter?

    Hate to feed to the rankings juggernaut, but just look at the USNWR lists for national universities and national liberal arts colleges. If your school is on the first page, great, you're at a slight advantage. Next couple pages, your school is fine. Not on the list, or way down? Maybe a slight disadvantage, but what can you do about it? In most cases it's a marginal factor.
  4. sethbwa

    Should I believe doomsayers?

    Thanks, @encyclopediabrown. I think I read carefree's post with the proportionality they intended. The odds of leaving a program or not working in academia aren't too concerning to me. Even though they aren't efficient life paths, none of those sub-optimal results would make me feel like a failure (more than temporarily! ). I'll be happy that I took a shot at something I wanted. Either I'll have learned it wasn't for me, or I won't have gotten a job, in which case research/consulting isn't a bad way to make a living. This thread has definitely moved my sights up the USNWR rankings. Carefree's points about the professional effects are most persuasive. Relatedly, while I initially held up job placement out of Temple as a positive example, I'm beginning to see how working at a two-year or a teaching college isn't an ideal result. It's not that the work wouldn't be meaningful. (My role model is a community college prof.) It's simply that if I bust my ass on research for 5+ years, I'll want to be able to continue and use it in my job. Working at a two-year college would be a wonderful consolation prize, but it's not the goal. To me, at least, its value-added over teaching high school wouldn't be worth the extra investment. Judging by what you know of my profile (in the first post), would you advise me to shoot for some top 10 programs? I have trouble believing I'd be competitive, because to this point, my life has not been oriented toward earning a Ph.D. But I can make a credible case for my earnestness, and my academics are certainly up to snuff.
  5. sethbwa

    Should I believe doomsayers?

    Thanks, @dagnabbit. That's the piece of insight I was missing. I could take or leave R1 cachet, but I certainly want to minimize the odds of entering my thirties unemployed and stir-crazy.
  6. sethbwa

    Should I believe doomsayers?

    Comparativist, would your assessment significantly differ from EncyclopediaBrown's? I want to make sure we're not saying the same thing in different tones. Attrition rate is the piece I was most ignorant about. You're both right: it's not a pretty picture. What exists online corroborates your points. Informal sharing puts it around 50%, and some old data puts the ten-year (!) grad rate at only 44%, and seemingly half of that in the standard five. To me, that's the scariest part, though. You're right that the job market is bad compared to other industries. (I see that only one-third get TT directly out of grad school.) But again, if you look at Temple and Binghamton's lists -- just as examples -- they include both their TT and non-TT grads. Most seem to be TT. Maybe these programs punch above their weight in terms of placement. Also, many of the placements are at teaching colleges, which I know some see as sub-optimal. (I'd be fine with it.) I wonder if the anxiety around getting TT paints a worse picture about employment than actually exists. Ultimately, as you said, it'll be a matter of personal assessment. I'm quite confident I could get into / succeed at a strong program. When the time comes, I'll evaluate my options professionally. Some people identify as "servants of knowledge and the academy." There must be an upside to feeling so intimate, but I see the professoriat simply as an interesting and noble occupation (like law or public service). How much meaning will I get out of teaching and researching? What will I put up with to do it? Is there sufficient optionality if it doesn't work out?
  7. sethbwa

    Should I believe doomsayers?

    "25 cents per day, plus expenses - No case too small." Thanks for the reply. If what you're saying is true -- I don't doubt you! -- it sounds like I have been overestimating the graduation rate a bit. But again, I look at the placement pages for mid-tier programs, and fail to see the doom-and-gloom. (I included Temple and Binghamton because they have more comprehensive listings, but have checked out several sites.) In any event, I fully see your point about keeping your options open. Subconsciously, that's probably why I've taken so long. Even if it harms my admission chances, I want to be comfortable in the corporate and research worlds. A PhD isn't the "efficient" path to a non-academic career, but it certainly adds some interesting options. (I'll seriously have to weigh my preference for Poli Sci against the marketability of Econ or Business, though.)
  8. Having poked around this forum and grad student blogs, I've encountered a fair deal of doomsaying. They say not to attend a PhD program (in Poli Sci, at least) unless you can attend one of the top 10-20 programs in the country. (Ex: https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/04/16/the-cult-of-the-phd/?utm_term=.1b7ae4a36329) Now, I've read other opinions on the matter (not least of which, Chris Blattman's expansive article), but nobody has offered a direct refutation of the doomsayers. It's enough to make a prospective student worried. My academics are solid (3.74 at a top liberal arts college, and 169/166 on the GRE), but I've spent some time "finding my way" and earning cash in the few years since. While I'm confident I can put together a good application, I know the top several programs are out of reach. That really seems okay, though. Looking at mid- and lower-ranked programs, I have trouble pinpointing the hysteria. Everyone seems fine out of Penn State (USNWR #33), most earning tenure-track, with a few post-docs at reputable schools. Further down the ladder, SUNY Binghamton (#51) grads are gainfully employed, with a few at two-year colleges, and Temple (#65) lists a couple adjuncts, but just as many have rather enviable positions, and the majority seem to do just fine. Can someone tell me if there's a fire, and where? I know the money is bad (even profs are hardly rolling in it), that you ought to be geographically flexible, and that failing to earn tenure has the potential to be devastating. What else? Is the attrition rate or five-year grad rate worse than I'm envisioning? Luckily, I have time to explore my interests more. I'm currently on a full-ride to an MBA program at a top-50 university. I'll make the most of the experience, and do something cool (or lucrative) directly afterward. But I know I eventually want to collaborate on research and be in the college classroom. I've always thought it would be in Poli Sci, but if the discipline is just too tough, I'm smart and curious enough to study something else.
  9. Thank you so much for your feedback. It is very helpful. Two follow-ups: First, you suggested I focus on teaching opportunities. That's encouraging to me. Though I'm eager to contribute to political science, I'm probably more driven by a desire to teach undergrads, and am a little anxious about having to "fake it" in a publish-or-perish type program. Surely, some programs have more teaching than others. Are there any that actively embrace such a balance? And how central can I make my desire to teach in the application process? Second, you mentioned that programming knowledge is useful. Of what sort? I have some very rudimentary data science skills that, separately from grad school, I loosely plan to develop more. Would that be a good idea?
  10. I am two years out of undergrad, and for a confluence of reasons, I've become very interested in joining the professoriat. Thing is, I really don't know where to start, so your feedback would be incredibly helpful. (FYI, I'd be for fall 2018, so I have a year to prepare.) My goals are fairly modest. I'm attracted to the teacher-scholar model, and would prefer to work at a small state college -- nothing fancy -- where I can still do some research. However, I do want funding for my graduate years, and decent placement for when I get out. As such, I'm focusing my search on the US News 30-60 range. I'm based in Philadelphia, so Penn, Penn State, and Rutgers are all obvious options. Here's my profile . . . Undergrad: Top-10 liberal arts college. 3.74 GPA, thesis, departmental honors. I took a light course load senior year, as I was running for public office. GRE: 162 / 162 Letters: Quite average. My professors remember me as smart, but I stood out more for my civic engagement than for anything academic. (Of course, I'd show them that I'm serious about this when reaching out.) What do you think? Assuming I study up and write a good statement, are schools in this range attainable? Am I selling myself short? Or do I have work to do?

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