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About tahinist

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  1. @hj2012: Thank you for recommending those programs - I am going to look into them and see how their faculty's research aligns with my interests. Hopefully there is a match. As for my writing sample - you are right, 10-15 pages is within the range for most MA programs I am looking at, but unfortunately I do not have any other papers of higher relevance that I could revise for this purpose (I have scoured my hard-drive for more relevant material, to no avail.) I think my best bet is to revise the aforementioned essay as I do not think it is realistic for me to write one from scratch at this point, considering all of the other outstanding application items I have yet to get to once this skatepark project ends (Oct 20). Hopefully I can convey my Arabic skills and familiarity with the region through my resume and SOP - I would hope that the seven years that I lived in the region would speak for themselves, not to mention my participation in an Arabic debate tournament. @hats: I am truly affected by your encouragement, I am all the more convinced of this pursuit and its attainability thanks to your response. I agree that I need to give my research interests more thought - I am not quite there yet but I believe that it will only have to do with the Ottoman Empire peripherally where it concerns the Arab/Muslim world's negotiation of liberal and conservative ideologies in the 19th and 20th century with a focus on the Levant (does that sound better?) My goal of learning modern Turkish is more out of personal interest, but I am sure it will prove useful to my studies nonetheless. I have no communication skills in Turkish at the moment, and to your suggestion that I register in Turkish language courses, I plan to do something like that after I have submitted my applications and relocated to Istanbul. I totally see how a well-defined research interest can really tighten up my application and dispel any liability in my unconventional background - thanks for that advice. I will be certain to compare the questions I come up with with those already posed by former/current MES students. Do you have any thoughts on how a moderately off-topic writing sample will be viewed considering my background? Does the same principle (re: research interest) apply, where the critical approach and style matter more than the topic itself? I appreciate your thoughtful responses. Forgive me for the delayed response as I haven't had much laptop access during the construction phase of this project!
  2. Greetings, Long-time lurker, first-time poster. I figured it might be worthwhile to get a reality check from some of my peers on here, as you all would know better than many of the real-world people I know about the MES world and what their admissions processes look like. I could really use some perspective and context about this matter, so some feedback would be greatly appreciated. I am in an unconventional situation where: a) I am adamant about transitioning into academia/the humanities to study the Middle East with a focus on the intellectual history of the Levant and Ottoman Empire. b ) I have a B.Sc. in Business Administration from a top 50 public school in New England, where I double concentrated in Finance and Production Operations Management, and double minored in Statistics and English (GPA 3.20). c) my work experience in the four years since graduation has been at a tech start-up that has no relation to my academic interests. d) I do not have a thesis or any worthy research papers to provide as writing samples, (although I do have some critical analyses from somewhat pertinent (i.e. post-colonial studies) classes that I could tidy up and submit instead). On the other hand, these are the merits and motivations that compel me to pursue education in MES: 1) I quit my job a few months ago to focus on making this transition and explore my academic interests. That has involved me traveling throughout Turkey and the Arab world, as well as studying a lot of pertinent academic and literary texts on my own (Said, Massad, Ahmed, Soueif, Saleh, Hafiz, Darwish, etc). 2) I speak (and write/read, to a lesser extent) Arabic fluently, having lived in Jordan during my high school years (although US born, I am of Palestinian origin). I am currently in Palestine volunteering on a construction project, but my intention in the next few months is to relocate to Turkey (after finishing up with grad school apps) to learn and experience the Turkish language/society. 3) The more I study, the more interested I become in understanding the world through the intellectual lens of the Arab world, as reflected and informed by its cultural artifacts, society, and intellectual history. 4) I have long been interested in (and intermittently engaged) in the politics and affairs of the Arab world (ex: I founded and led a Students for Justice in Palestine coalition on my campus, attended the international Arabic debate tournament in Qatar on behalf of my university.) 5) I am privileged in the exposure and access I have been afforded in the Middle East over my lifetime: I have spent extended periods of time getting to know many villages/communities throughout Palestine, I know Amman and its society extremely well, and I have lived in two different emirates in the UAE. I have read literature from all over the Middle East. 6) I am in a fortunate situation where I do not need to go into debt to pay off a terminal MA 7) I have somewhat compensatory LORs in that they come from my more academic literature/humanities professors, and not from my quantitative/Business professors So, considering all of the above, what I need help figuring out is: 1. Considering my irrelevant academic and professional background, not to mention relatively low GPA, do I even stand a chance at getting into a reputable program in the US? From my research it appears that most academic (as opposed to security/intelligence)-focused programs are housed at the nation's most elite institutions, and thus I am looking to apply to the following programs (Columbia MESAAS, Harvard CMES, NYU, Princeton, UChicago) - Am I missing any programs, particularly ones with easier admissions? Are British universities (SOAS, Oxbridge, King's) more merciful in that regard? 2. Is there anything in particular about my profile that I should emphasize in my SOP - anything I already have that grad school admins love to see? - The way I see it, I am lacking in GPA (taking the GRE next month) and academic background (save for my English minor), but I do have the language skills and the regional experience in addition to a strong personal interest in the academics of it all (enough to be making a deliberate career pivot, as I am). After all, this is a passion-driven endeavor I am undertaking. Are any of these points particularly valuable? 3. Is a college essay entitled "The conflict of Afro-Islamic Spirituality and Western Modernity as depicted in “Ambiguous Adventure” going to cut it as a writing sample? Considering I do not have a mentor/professor to advise on the process, would it still be better if I wrote something more pertinent/up-to-date from scratch? - Frankly, I just do not have many papers from my undergraduate that are in excess of 10-15 pages, let alone ones that are of material relevance to the programs I am applying to. My hope was to edit this paper thoroughly and use it in lieu of a research paper or thesis. 4. Can my unconventional background as a Business major and tech industry member be regarded as a positive? If not, are there any obvious ways in which I could spin it as such? - I worry that I was incorrect in my early assumption that my background is not a serious hinderance to my prospects, and that it might in fact help me stand out as a truly interested/invested candidate. Is that baseless? Looking at this forum and the MES/poli sci undergrads wielding 3.8+ GPAs, three languages, and highly relevant experience... I begin to doubt the value of my earnestness to these grad admission boards. Thank you, thank you, thank you for reading all of this. I look forward to getting some guidance from any fellow hopefuls or admittees - any context/perspective will help me evaluate how to best allocate and apply my efforts. Your responses are greatly appreciated!
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