kretschmar

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About kretschmar

  • Rank
    Caffeinated

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  • Location
    Kaisersaschern
  • Application Season
    2018 Fall
  • Program
    Philosophy
  1. 2018 Acceptance/Rejection Thread

    Happy for you!
  2. 2018 Acceptance/Rejection Thread

    Update: accepted at UC Santa Cruz's PhD program. (This is the school that bumped me from the MA pool to the PhD)
  3. 2018 Acceptance/Rejection Thread

    In at Miami Ohio! So I have a future after all...
  4. Some Thoughts on the GRE

    Rationally-justified distaste for the GRE has guided this discussion. I fully agree with the two main critiques: that the GRE is poor tool for philosophy admissions (though I maintain that it still has legitimate academic relevance), and that its monopolistic price-gouging are reflective of structural problems in admissions and in higher education generally. We can all pine for a government-administered, European-style national graduation exam in the U.S., which would entail all kinds of other, desirable adjustments to our wildly unequal public education system. But in the (possibly eternal) meantime, there will remain demand in graduate admissions for a standardized measure, which I maintain is a legitimate counterbalance to disparities in grading and rigor at undergraduate institutions. In other words, it is something we, as applicants, should want. Just in case there is anyone reading this thread, now or in the future, who has not yet taken the GRE, I want to caution against a potentially costly contempt for the exam. So long as the GRE is required for philosophy admissions, respected schools will be awash in top-scoring applicants, who also have excellent profiles, grades, etc. In other words, they are as smart as you in every way, and they have top scores. Some people have pointed out how applicants with perfect scores are frequently rejected, suggesting that this confirms that the GRE is trivial in admissions. While these instances certainly show that the GRE cannot get you accepted, they do not indicate that GRE's were ignored, nor that ten other candidates weren't eliminated using the GRE. The bottom line is that you cannot afford to neglect any component of your application. This is especially true if you envision yourself at a school within a country mile of the top of the field. There are so many factors beyond your control when you apply to grad school, but the good news is, the GRE is not one of them. The high-end courses and tutoring @soproperlybasic mentioned, which no doubt can help your score, boil down to structured study time and months-long game plans. It is not necessary to pay for the courses, nor do they provide secret silver bullets for the exam. Exam tutors will tell you that the way to improve any standardized score is to simply practice the test, hour after hour, until you can take it in your sleep. Again, this is not to champion the test, nor to suggest you should spend time on it that would detract from your writing sample, statements, etc. Just don't do yourself the disservice of sending out fabulous applications and then appending a mediocre score. Even if you take the view that the GRE is entirely arbitrary and unjust, your self-interest should motivate you to ace it anyway.
  5. Some Thoughts on the GRE

    I think @Xia1's analysis is correct. The GRE is a rough measure of overall academic aptitude, and the majority of the philosophy profession would likely agree that it is of limited use, considering philosophy's internally high academic standards. Its minor weight in admissions reflects this attitude. However, it is still an academically meaningful measure. The resentment toward the GRE (which I certainly shared while studying for it!) rests on an assumption that only those skills directly involved in success as a philosopher should be considered in admissions. But in reality, all sorts of barely relevant factors can affect one's chances of admission. This is simply what happens when you ratchet up the competitiveness of any process: more and more insignificant factors begin to gain weight. Consider that an undergraduate GPA, understood to be one of the three most important factors in grad admissions, contains within it an enormous amount of 'irrelevant' coursework, e.g. one's entire freshman year. Yet considering overall GPA for graduate admissions is entirely reasonable. Neither the GRE nor one's freshman coursework speaks directly to one's capacity as a philosopher, but both speak to one's general capacities and aptitudes as a student. Should these be all important? No. Should they carry the same weight as upper-level philosophy coursework? No. But they are still academically relevant, and in an ultra-competitive process, committees are justified in considering them. I think this is @Xia1's point in saying there is merit in striving to be a good applicant, not just a good philosopher. Very few people – though they are out there – score above a 335 without significant study. One of several things a committee learns about an applicant when they see a near-perfect score is this: s/he is willing and ready to do concentrated study of uninteresting material, merely to ace an arbitrary measure and be a better applicant to their program. This characteristic is actually highly relevant to success in academics. The GRE is far from the last time graduate students are required to expend energy jumping though seemingly irrelevant hoops. For this reason alone, success in the quantitative section is fair game for discriminating between applicants. It is a separate , worthwhile question whether the GRE ought to continue being required. I suspect that in ten years, it will not. The winds are against it, and against standardized measures generally. But without it, there is no sense of general aptitude, and as a result, the influence of grade inflation (and the disparities therein) could increase, as GPA would have no comparative measure alongside it to counterbalance it. This, it seems to me, could have the further consequence of heightening the already powerful preference for students from elite institutions, where GPA can be trusted as a rigorous measure. I happen to think a standardized measure is a good idea. A philosophy subject test seems a preferable measure, actually. I certainly would have preferred studying Copleston to GRE math. Lastly, I agree with others that the writing section is at least as relevant to philosophy as the quantitative one. Producing and evaluating clear arguments seems more worth consideration than mastering ETS's devious mental math tricks. I suspect the AW is ignored merely because it was introduced later. Admissions committees, which care very little for the GRE to start with, have little incentive to add another, non-composite number to their already tortured calculations.
  6. 2018 Acceptance/Rejection Thread

    Why did I apply only to programs with later response dates? Seeing all of you hearing back, I wish I had applied to an early program, entirely at random, just so I could hear something before the 15th...
  7. Do Adcoms 'assign' incoming students to faculty members?

    @Glasperlenspieler @maxhgns @dgswaim Thank you for continuing to return to this forum and providing such useful information, with some distance from the application process. I have benefited often from your feedback to questions like these!
  8. Philosopher Musician Hangout

    We did this. (Recording is not us.) I did a new translation of the Maeterlinck text for it, too. My wife/collaborator studies artsong; right now we're working on her thesis recital, which will focus on translation.
  9. 2018 Acceptance/Rejection Thread

    Phone call from out-of-state number. Adrenaline spike. Multi-level marketer.
  10. Philosopher Musician Hangout

    Pianist. I work as a studio musician with classical singers. What do you do?
  11. 2018 Acceptance/Rejection Thread

    *here you go*
  12. Questions!

    With the same caveat others have given, that I am a current applicant myself – 2) I would advise against the year off for the writing sample, unless you have other reasons for taking a break. I left academics for a period, and found that the lost momentum was costly. It is perhaps counter-intuitive, but the structured context of school, however demanding, actually facilitates the application process. This is especially true if you can take independent study credit for your sample. Applying at large, distant from my institution and while working an irrelevant job, felt lonely and required great discipline. On the other hand, if you have any uncertainty about your graduate school direction, your intellectual self-concept, etc., time off can be golden. For instance, I would not be pursuing philosophy had I proceeded directly to graduate school in 2015. 4) You could reference your independent studies directly in your statement of purpose. Especially if those studies influenced your proposed research direction, you should explain that. 5) If you know you only want to go to a top-20, then do not apply to any "safety" PhD's below them. Instead, as you suggested and others have said, only apply to PhD's you want to attend, and make an MA your back-up route. The last thing you want is to be wedded to your own discontent for 5-9 years. 10) A faculty member at a top-15 program advised me to include on my CV activity that was not strictly philosophical, but that I considered relevant to my intellectual project. My statement of purpose expressed highly interdisciplinary interests; I thought it relevant to bolster my profile as "interdisciplinary/non-trad applicant" by detailing some of my work in music, languages, and literature on the CV. Was this a good idea? Jury's out. No doubt some faculties – with whom, as far as I am concerned, there would be no value in working – are too narrow to consider a student's wider interests as relevant to philosophical inquiry. (This, of course, reflects the exceedingly insular quality of certain quarters in American philosophy.) If it's that direction you're headed, then I imagine you should not only leave "extra" items off your CV, but avoid such activities themselves!
  13. 2018 Acceptance/Rejection Thread

    Congrats. Your ambiguity is at least as anxiety-inducing as specificity... but I understand!
  14. 2018 Philosophy Applicants, Assemble!

    TTU was on my list until the final cut. I admit that it was a decision with overtones of regional snobbery. The program itself was attractive.
  15. 2018 Acceptance/Rejection Thread

    Welcome, and admirable work applying to such a monstrous number of programs! I, too, am emotionally attached to my long-shot choice, God help me. I keep telling myself I should forget I've applied there at all. No luck with that strategy. .