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About AnUglyBoringNerd

  • Rank
    Double Shot

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  • Location
    New York
  • Application Season
    Already Attending
  • Program
    East Asian History

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  1. AnUglyBoringNerd

    Advice for Fall 2020 Applicants

    Mhm...I don't know about this. I feel what happens is that if the committee/professors at that specific school don't see us as a perfect match, we get rejected. This surely is more or less subjective, but does not necessarily mean that those professors are wrong. After all, it's more about what they think of us, not what we think of them. This might be sub-field specific, but my POIs from Harvard and Columbia both mentioned that they reviewed all the applications to my sub-field carefully. So, I no longer think the decision making in my sub-field is that random and arbitrary. Also, at least one of my POIs mentioned (figuratively) that someone whose style matches that of Harvard may not match the style of Columbia. So, I second historygeek, 5 is about right. After all, it's about getting in the program you want to get into, and then get a job after you are out of it....it's not really about getting into any school. And like what others have said for so many times, it's rather unlikely that there could be as many as 10 elite programs given our supposed-to-be flexible but somewhat refined research interests. *elite= good funding and resources + good placement records + good advising + many other factors Yes. I wouldn't worry about this "lack of connections".
  2. AnUglyBoringNerd

    Fall 2019 Applicants

    Totally with you on this! I wrote an email to my Harvard POI (I was rejected from Harvard), who very kindly replied with further advice on how to improve my profile. Then the second time I applied to PhD programs, I got in. (although I didn't apply to Harvard this time also based on that POI's advice) The field is really really small, and in my sub-field all established historians seem to know each other. And I actually met with two of my POIs last semester when they came to give talks at my current school, both are from programs that rejected me. In my experience, our relationships with any of our POIs won't end just because we are rejected from their programs.
  3. AnUglyBoringNerd

    Noticing a change in my research interests-- what should I do?

    I just love @gsc's advice, so this is not in anyway a counterargument but just another possibility, and obviously I can only speak from my own experience, so please do read this with a grain of salt. The first time I applied to PhD programs, I mainly applied to Political Science programs, and I was rejected everywhere, even by the school I am currently attending. The only offer I got is a two-year MA offer in Political Science without any word on funding. My supervisor suggested that I take the offer and use it as an opportunity to adjust to American academia and to access resources that would make me readier for the next round of PhD application, but I just didn't feel it. (it's not mainly about funding, though, bc I would have other sources of scholarship; it was more of an issue of opportunity cost in general) Instead, I reapplied, this time to PhD programs in history only, and got in half of the programs I applied to... Now I think about it, my supervisor was probably more stressed out and upset by the unhappy news than I was. And I am now very very happy in my current program. Of course, the change you have in mind is a lot less drastic than changing the discipline, but should this feeling about change follows you around....well, I definitely second gsc's wonderful comments regarding the self-doubt part, but this doesn't mean any decision you make while you are self-doubting is a bad decision. I certainly made the decision of changing discipline while I was stressed out, in a lot of pain, and self-doubting, but I knew Political Science wouldn't work for me, and applying to PhD programs in PolSci was more of a result of path dependence than that of self-reflection. I have only been in my program for a bit over an semester, but like @gsc described, the "on the edge" feeling is a daily experience. That being said, I also feel that I can and should be able to feel fulfilled and make rational decisions while I also self-doubt and feel stressed. In short, it's totally normal and legit to think about changing fields even if you are feeling stressed, some supervisors would even encourage you to rethink what you want to do once you are in the program. When I asked my supervisor what they expected me to do for my first year, they said they simply wanted me to explore and experience as many different things as I can and see what could excite me the most. Also, it's not over until you hear from every program, and it's not over even after you hear from every program. Fingers crossed that you hear good news soon!
  4. AnUglyBoringNerd

    Fall 2019 Applicants

    I was just talking with my supervisor, and they said all History Department acceptance letters are out and they are out all at once. > < Also, this year there is only one acceptance in the field of Japanese history.
  5. AnUglyBoringNerd

    Fall 2019 Applicants

    I applied to the History - East Asia program (joint program between the History department and EALAC) through EALAC, and I was notified by one of my POIs (who's coordinating the joint program last year) via a Skype call disguised as a third interview (they made an appointment with me via email to say they would like to talk a bit more, so...) before I got the notification to check the portal. Maybe the process is different for those who have a non-East Asia focus, but awwww I am soooo excited and I'm gonna ask my supervisor about it on Thursday! Congrats to those who already got Columbia acceptance!
  6. AnUglyBoringNerd


    Re: the search function, it helps if you limit your search within the history forum and pair "interview" with other key words, e.g. “asked" (yeah, I know, sounds silly, but imagine in a scenario where people could have said "at my interview, I was asked this and that question"), "prepare", "project", etc.) Here is the result if you search "interview” AND "asked" only within the History forum: https://forum.thegradcafe.com/search/?&amp;q="interview" "asked" &amp;type=forums_topic&amp;nodes=38&amp;search_and_or=and&amp;sortby=relevancy Honestly, what I learned from my three interviews (with UPenn, UCSB, and Columbia) is, the most difficult question (in my case) is a seemingly mundane one: "tell us about you/how do you see yourself [as an aspiring historian]". The relatively easier one is the standard "tell us more about your project". Good luck with the interview!
  7. AnUglyBoringNerd

    Fall 2019 Applicants

    Re: Columbia stipend, it's supposed to increase by 3% every year, so the (GSAS) graduate stipend for 2019-2020 is a nine-month stipend of $30,232 plus the summer support of $3,884 for 2020 - just got an email from GSAS about this update two days ago. (tuition, insurance, and most of the fees are covered ofc). Also, there are a number of internal summer travel/research fellowships every year to support overseas archival research/language training on top of the nine-month stipend and the summer support. I second OHSP and paisleytree, living in NYC isn't a financial nightmare if you keep an eye on how you spend and budgeting, and being good at cooking never hurts. I'm also an international student~
  8. AnUglyBoringNerd

    EALC / EALAC / EAS 2019

    Winter break hasn't ended so I imagine some professors are not back yet and the applications could still be with the department administration. The application form of Harvard used to have a section specifically devoted to language in great detail (at least that was the case when I applied in 2016), maybe this year they forgot to add this section and now are trying to collect that info.
  9. AnUglyBoringNerd

    Fall 2019 Applicants

    Mhm...I think things might start to change from this year (I'm not completely sure, but I had a conversation with my supervisor about interviews a few months ago). If it's the History-East Asia program, then those on the shortlist would probably be interviewed (there wouldn't be many people on the shortlist anyway). I was interviewed before offered admission last year. :) Maybe it's different for those in non-East Asia fields, but it never hurts to get prepared. :) I was also interviewed by the history departments of UCSB and UPenn.
  10. AnUglyBoringNerd

    EALC / EALAC / EAS 2019

    @Naito Happy New Year to you too! Glad to hear that you are enjoying Harvard! And @civitas, don't worry about the average GPA thing, many non-US universities use a different grading policy, in which case it's normal to leave the average GPA blank. And your GPA looks alright to me. (I personally don't think anyone would get admitted to humanities programs bc they have high GPAs or rejected for less than stellar GPAs, what's way more important is the SOP and the writing sample)
  11. AnUglyBoringNerd

    Fall 2019 Applicants

    I am not very sure about this "tiebreaker“ thing... In my humble opinion, whether or not you have money shouldn't be considered by the committees in their decision making regarding admission to the program, which should be solely based on their judgement of the applicants' academic capacity and potential... At Columbia, if you come with external fellowships you'd have the "top-off" and "extend" options, and there is a document explaining the complexity of the fellowship policies out there; but coming without any external fellowships (to my understanding) should in no way make you less likely admitted than other applicants, although having won a prestigious fellowship won't hurt.
  12. AnUglyBoringNerd

    2019 -U of T MA Statement of Interest 500 word limit

    When I was applying to their PhD program, I also rewrote mine to meet U of T's requirement of no more than 500 words. (the original version is around 1000 words) Expressing oneself in a concise and informative way is also a skill, and going over the 500 words so obviously may leave the committee an impression that you lack that skill. If other applicants can work it out, so can you! If "bringing it down" is too difficult, think about restructuring the content, prioritizing the most important information, or even rewriting it. [I just realized my response might be too late to be useful to OP, but anyways...]
  13. AnUglyBoringNerd

    EALC / EALAC / EAS 2019

    Aww definitely! My wonderland and gingerbread house it is! So glad to hear that you are doing great!
  14. AnUglyBoringNerd

    Questions on GRE and SOP

    Fellow East Asian and former applicant to History PhD programs here. No need to retake GRE unless a program specifically say your score must be over a threshold. (Honestly, GRE is the least important part in your application, and speaking for myself mine score wasn't any better than yours, and I still got in my top choice) Also, being a non-native English speaker eventually isn't the biggest challenge you'd encounter when you write the SOP. I highly recommend that you go over the relevant threads, e.g. Fall 2017/2018/2019 Applicants, and check out the advice offered by advanced PhD students. This is, in my own experience, so not true - I did my first round of application while I was studying in South Korea (being non-South Korean). If you may, please consider to examine the information on programs' websites, ask your professors for advice, and do some search online (e.g. this forum is a fantastic source). Also, I'd caution against applying to any PhD programs that don't have a decent placement records, though the US News ranking isn't really accurate.

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