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  1. For what it's worth: Washington University in St. Louis (WashU) is ranked #6 for Best Medical Schools in Research. It shares that ranking with Columbia, Mayo Clinic School of Medicine, UCLA, and UCSF. They have 470 people enrolled in their program. Baylor is ranked #22 for Best Medical Schools in Research. They have 758 people enrolled in their program. A smaller program might allow for more personalized attention. WashU ranks #31 for Best Medical Schools in Primary Care. It shares this ranking with Columbia and Vanderbilt. Baylor ranks #4 for Primary Care. According to US NEWS: The faculty-student ratio at Washington University in St. Louis is 4.8:1. The School of Medicine has 2,238 full-time faculty on staff. (By comparison, Baylor has 2,648 full-time faculty on staff but also has larger medical cohorts. USNews doesn't mention anything else about Baylor) Students at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis can tailor their medical education to suit their interests in a variety of ways. Students can take electives as early as their first year, get involved in research projects, and earn an additional master’s degree with a fifth year of study. First year students will either pass or fail a class, but will not be assigned grades. For the remaining three years, M.D. students are graded on an honors/high pass/pass/fail scale. Outside of the classroom, students can get hands-on experience in affiliated hospitals, including the highly ranked St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Students can partake in summer or yearlong research opportunities, though it is not a requirement. About three-quarters of students find time outside of class to participate in various organizations, from the Ballroom Dance Club to the Wilderness Medicine Interest Group. Each March, students can unwind at MedBall, a formal dinner and dance. Students can live in a dormitory, Olin Residence Hall, on the school’s campus in the Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis, Mo. All full-time students can get around St. Louis for free on the city’s public transportation systems, MetroLink and MetroBus.
  2. The University of Washington is very different from Washington University. UW is in Seattle. WashU is in St. Louis. Both WashU and Johns Hopkins offer top notch educations. I don't think you could go wrong with either.
  3. I'm not as well-versed with Boston College and Northeastern but UChicago has a tendency to accept most people into their MAPH program as long as they don't have a Master's degree in a related field. An offer of 75 percent or more from UChicago during the first year might be an indicator that UChicago is strongly interested though. Otherwise, I think it's important to remember that MAPH runs separately from individual departments and that might impact individual interactions. It's also important to remember that even if it's a one year program, most people will likely not apply until year 2 because otherwise they'd have the possibility of sacrificing their letters since they'd have to ask for letters before many would even have their first graded assignment back. Chicago is a great school but I think it's important to realize that the "prestige" of the university does not extend to its MA programs. I think an MA is great depending on how one approaches it. There's a lot that an MA can help you do and accomplish and it provides a chance for one to develop their interests more. However, I think it's also important to realize that some universities will also compare you to other applicants with an MA. This could mean that they expect you to have conferences, be more current on your research interests or something else. If you're struggling to pay bills or worried how you'll pay them in the future, you might not be able to produce your best work. Sometimes, a break can provide you with with the energy you need to be motivated by your research again.
  4. Feel free to ask any further questions here or PM me.
  5. I think this greatly depends on the institution and their relationship with their union. A union can be a great thing but it can also make for a draining experience if it has a strained relationship with the department. I have had several friends who have had to withhold teaching several times because they needed to strike because future tuition waivers were threatened to no longer be part of the package deal. This impacts all grad students at all levels as well as undergraduates being taught by graduate students. It might also be worthwhile to see how much the union fee is at any university and what each union has achieved in recent year. Some unions are more successful than others and I don't think all unions are necessarily better than a lack of union. Another important consideration might be how much teaching you're required to do during a semester. In an ideal world, you'll at least have a fellowship during one of your dissertation years. However, there might be some schools that might require you to teach during your dissertation years. Teaching a course per semester might be doable. However, I think most people would find it incredibly hard to teach 2 classes per semester while also balancing trying to write a dissertation. Good teaching is incredibly rewarding but requires proper time to do well. I graduated from a university which was a wealthy private school with an enormous endowments.The Grad School has been a huge advocate in making sure our rights were protected. We were (and still are) allowed to take additional work from other universities but it was made clear that the University itself would not be allowed to give us additional work without additional pay. There are many things that the Grad Student Council did that had a huge positive impact. Our stipend has always been among the better stipends and we've always had our stipends increase. In recent years, there has been an "independent organization of student workers" that is currently a "minority union". They currently cannot collectively bargain because they don't have the majority of student worker support. I think part of it is because students recognize that the University and Grad Student Council is treating them well and there has been no history of stipends being threatened or pay being decreased. However, I also think that the independent organization has managed to do a lot of good including: -$15 per hour minimum wage for an estimated 1,200 full-time campus workers, both contracted and directly employed (including janitors, clerical workers, and food service workers), beginning July 1st, 2021. -Raising of the statewide minimum wage to $12/hour by 2023 (Proposition B), as a part of the Raise Up Missouri coalition, November 2018; -Defeated Congress’ attempt to tax waived tuition as income for graduate student workers, in partnership with many unions across the US, Winter 2017 -Summer pay for graduate workers across the College of Arts & Sciences, announced and enacted Summer 2018 (Prior to this, we were always given it in my department but it was not guaranteed funding) -Enacted a platform of good government state laws (Amendment 1), such as anti-gerrymandering at the state legislature, a ban on gifts from lobbyists to legislators and a reduction of campaign contributions, strengthening public record law, as a part of the Clean Missouri coalition, November 2018; -Defeated a statewide anti-union right-to-work law (Proposition A) which financially attacks unions through divide-and-conquer tactics, as a part of the We Are Missouri coalition, August 2018.
  6. Congratulations! I've had several friends who graduated from WashU's MSW program and they speak highly of it. I made it through St. Louis without driving. And I saw transportation options improve greatly from when I started and when I ended. Washington University provides all of its students with a Metro Transit Pass. The Metro Transit Pass allows you to ride the buses and light rail in St. Louis. The light rail map can be found here: https://www.metrostlouis.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/MK180468redblueline_update_CORTEX.jpg The Skinker stop drops you off right by campus as does the University City-Big Bend stop. Popular neighborhoods that grad students decide to live in (that also offer easy public transportation options) include: Central West End Skinker/DeBaliviere The Loop/University City Clayton-Tamm* Hi-Pointe* *Clayton-Tamm and Hi-Pointe along with a few other neighborhoods also make up what's known as Dogtown. I think these two neighborhoods are the most bike-friendly and are the closest to the University if one were inclined to walk or bike. There are a lot of great local restaurants in Clayton-Tamm including Nora's which was named one of 33 best sandwich shops in the country by Thrillist. I lived in different neighborhoods throughout my time in St. Louis and I never felt like I had a need for a car. It might've made certain aspects easier but I think having access to the buses and light rail made a huge difference in my experience. The transportation is significantly better than people tend to give it credit for. Buses run approximately every 30 minutes on the weekdays and the rail runs every 6-10 minutes depending on the time of the day.
  7. @Bumblebea: I think you're misinterpreting the intent behind what I'm saying and I realize that my word choice may have been a bit sloppy. As such, I'd like to apologize for that. What I listed above isn't what I believe got me the position or areas in which I believe others didn't do as good of a job at. However, I think it's important to realize that biases do exist even as we try our best to avoid them. I'm aware that people can do all the "right" things and still not get a job offer. However, I think it's important to realize that there are a lot of invisible factors that applicants have no control over. School A might might be biased towards accepting students from a "top 20" school whereas School B might prefer students outside the "top 20". Neither will do one any good if neither is hiring. Both might be untrue but not if we continue to tell applicants that they'd only be qualified to teach "XYZ" College. I was originally discouraged from applying to my current institution from professors from other colleges for a variety of reasons. And I realize that I was fortunate. But I also wonder how many applicants in the job market got locked out because they were told they're not good enough. I wonder how often we end up killing careers before they even get started when we tell people on these boards that it's "top 20 or bust". Too often, I think we do this without stopping to consider what the applicant's goal is. Do they want to stay in a specific area for personal reasons? Do they want to teach at a liberal arts college? Do they want to teach at a private high school? Do they want to teach at a community college? All of these might have a different way of increasing your chances for a spot. Different colleges might have more resources to help you achieve those tasks and a top 20 may or may not always have the support you're looking for in order to achieve your goal. I think it's important to note here that what might be considered a "gaffe" in one hiring committee might be considered an asset at another. At some schools, college pedigree might matter, but I have a feeling this number will decrease as time goes by. I think more students are being made aware of alt-career choices. I think more students are pursuing these options even before the dissertation stage. Some of these decisions are made by choice as students realize that they're not passionate about teaching. My main concern here is how many applicants are discouraged to feel this way though. We often judge success by how many applicants a school is able to place a student within a "top school" but we don't often stop to consider the size of the cohort, how the school has grown (or shrunk) in resources over the year, student happiness, their living conditions" etc. And I think a lot of this pressures students into going someplace they might not be happy. I think a lot of this only forces students into applying to "top schools" even if they might vibe better with faculty in a different university. I think this continues to allow the "top 20" universities remain at the top. I think it sends applicants a message that they'll only be successful if they go to a specific college but I'm not sure if this is true. We often don't have a full understanding of placements or the changes they've made to increase placements records. But I also think that we need to stop this. There are different systems that individual schools might use to determine what schools they consider to be in the top including local reputation but we won't ever know a university's full reasoning behind whether or not they choose a certain applicant a job offer. Some of these are things that are controllable to some extent; some are not.
  8. I think this is the key; there are no safe programs. I think there are a lot of factors that come into play.And I'd like to make mention here that I'm not aiming this at you. Some factors might matter to some, and not matter to others: Is the University hiring in your subfield? Do you fit the culture of the university? Are they looking for a "diverse" hire? Can you afford the cost of being on the job market? Are you published in journals they care about or respect? Have you completed a postdoc? Do you have book publications? Have you won any grants? Are they looking to balance gender within the department? Was it a real academic job search or did they already have someone in mind? Do your politics and theirs get along? Were you qualified for the academic position? Were they qualified to run the search? Were you "over" qualified? Did you make an interviewing mistake? Can you make someone care about why your research matters? Are you more than a narrow specialist? Have you taught a wide range of classes that they're interested in? Are your letters strong enough? Do they like your pedagogical style? There are thousands of reasons why someone isn't hired and I think it's important to realize that biases exist even when we don't want them to. There are a lot of things we can't control but I think being happy with one's work is the most important thing we can do to try to assure our success.
  9. The job market is bad and some universities are adding new job requirements for applicants to be considered. However, I'd like to push back that there aren't even 20 programs you can graduate from to find TT work. I graduated from a program in English that has never been considered (to my best knowledge) a top 20 program by the USNews. I went into a field that wasn't "popular" at the time. I ended up finding full-time employment at what most would consider a "dream" university at all levels for their education. My experience, publications and getting to know professors helped me land my position despite the bad job market. At the graduate level, the USNews doesn't consider placement as part of their ranking criteria. Nor does it consider financial well-being, student happiness, publications, teaching experiences or student outcomes. However, the university I graduated from does have a stronger placement record than some schools in the top 20 but it's always been a smaller program.
  10. I lived in St. Louis for six years. I never experienced racism or homophobia. I imagine a lot of it might depend on where you live but I think sticking close to the city will eliminate a lot of that fear. I think you'd be at a higher chance of experiencing racism if you were living 30 minutes or more from St. Louis. I think you'd be safe as long as you were somewhere that was served by either the Metro Buses or MetroLink: https://www.metrostlouis.org/ Another reason I'd advise living close to a bus stop or the Metro is because a lot of the local universities provide a discounted or free metro bus. WashU provides free semester and summer passes. Public Transportation has improved tremendously since when I first started and it isn't perfect but I think it's a better system than most cities of a comparable size. There are some areas it could reach but the areas that are further from it have lobbied against it because they enjoy lighter-foot traffic. I have found most people to be respectful as long as you're respectful to them.
  11. Best of luck on your decision! Please let me know if I can out in answering any questions. (Also, I'm not sure if you visited last weekend, but I heard current graduate students say that they really enjoyed meeting potential cohort members.)
  12. I think there are a few questions to ask here: 1. Are the opportunities to teach upper division courses guaranteed and are they in an area you're interested in? 2. Do you think you can balance coursework with teaching while also adjusting to a new location? The coursework period is a time where you can get substantial feedback on papers. That feedback and relationship buiding might not be possible if you're balancing too many things. 3. Are you required to teach during your dissertation year? 4. Have you taught before? 5. What's the time-to-completion for both programs? It's possible that this might differ from their years of guaranteed funding. 6. Are there additional opportunities outside of the department? Are there graduate certificates that interest you at either school? Sometimes, these may build up additional teaching opportunities and greater chances for networking.
  13. I applaud UC/CSU if that's the case without any strings. However, I've spoken with many universities during my tenure-track and there is often a lot of red-tape around promotions. UC/CSU might increase pay for their lecturers if they obtain a PHD but the only way to be secure is through a tenured position. It's also likely that the any pay increase will be negated through the actual cost of an online PHD program as most are unfunded. ODU lists the cost of attendance at $595 per credit hour and requires 48 credit hours. This means the program will cost $28,650 if there are no additional increases to tuition price. There's also a requirement to attend two summer doctoral institutes to satisfy the residency requirement. There are very few places that will let you sign a contract for under a year; so you'll also have to think about how much rent will cost there (and whether you'll need to pay additional rent where you currently live while you're doing the summer doctoral institute). It's also very possible that you'll have to give up something or take a loan to afford those costs. If a university decides to fire you (and you're not tenured), they're free to do so and now you'd also be out of 28k+. You'll also likely be paying a substantial portion for your healthcare as an instructor. Since a lot of grants are reserved for tenured faculty, you'd also be spending a fair portion on getting to conferences. Due to not being able to form deeper relationships with professors, it's also unlikely that you'd be able to have the support that would be beneficial for publishing or for getting stronger letter of recommendations for a tenured position. It's hard enough to do these things with support; I can't imagine doing them without a strong support system. Academia can be a lonely place so not having a cohort of people can also make things even harder. Don't attack someone because you don't like what they say.
  14. Which is why placement records are a better indicator than USNews rankings: https://english.wustl.edu/phd-careers Universities with bigger pockets are often able to provide certain resources that attract more faculty and provide its students the resources that cash-strapped universities may not always be able to provide. I think the USNews is a good place to start and would caution going beyond the top 50 with very few exceptions. However, I don't think all universities ranked in the 20s or 30s are equal. Some might be better than top 20 schools based on individual subfields. I think it's important to remember that the top 20 can shift a lot depending on which 13 or so percent of those surveyed respond. I'd advise against entering a program that is in the top 20 if there are stronger programs outside the top 20 which might have a better success in placing students inside one's field. If someone can't complete a program due to feeling unsupported, it won't matter where they've been accepted. I agree with you that neither Ball State nor Miami have placement rates which indicate a good chance of succeeding academic job market in Literature. However, I think their placement rate allows others to see their record.
  15. As a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis, I never had to work an additional job in order to afford rent, food or utilities. I found the stipend to be enough to afford monthly costs while also being able to spend money hanging out with my cohort and enjoying many things St. Louis has to offer. One of the nicest things about St. Louis is that many of its attractions are free and many of the free things are located near Forest Park which is near the university.
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