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FreakyFoucault

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FreakyFoucault last won the day on June 30

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About FreakyFoucault

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    Macchiato

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    Man
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    he, his, him
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    Paris, France
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    DAMN!
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    Already Attending
  • Program
    English PhD

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  1. Wow, that's incredible! I hope this becomes a major nail in what is unfortunately a very large coffin! #proud
  2. Will be in Paris till September -- if you need me, go to the nearest boulangerie

  3. @klader's advice about visiting is spot-on. My second visit totally blew me away, so much so, in fact, that my decision to accept their offer was nearly effortless ... almost even fatalistic! So, at least in my case, visiting made all the difference! Even if you can't afford much time, however, an impromptu day trip (which, by the way, one school organized for me on their dime -- ask if they can chip in!) will give you the chance to learn from your own two eyes (and ears). You intuit much more in person about a campus's way of life and a program's flow than you can by researching on the Internet (not that that route isn't informative, of course). In short, do try to make a visit happen! And don't be afraid to ask schools for financial assistance!
  4. FreakyFoucault

    To re-take the GRE or not

    Hi, @topsailpsych! I'm coming from the English lit. forum, so my advice may very well be completely irrelevant. I'd hope psychology programs would have extra reason to be skeptical about dubious standardized tests like the GRE, but, hey, maybe they love it. I don't know. Regardless, my application experience might help you decide whether to spend more time and money on a second pass. I applied last cycle to 16 mostly top-ranked PhD programs, and got accepted to 3 of them. My GRE scores were fairly high: 167V/163Q/6.0A / 730 (97%) LGRE. According to ETS's chart (https://www.ets.org/s/gre/pdf/gre_guide_table4.pdf), among English majors, I scored higher than about 90% on the Verbal, 95% on the Quant, 93% on the AW, and 97% on the literature subject test. These percentages aren't exact since the chart provides only ranges, but you get my point. In absolute terms, to illustrate, only about 46 test-takers, out of roughly 1500, beat me on the subject test. Yet, I was still rejected by 80% of the schools on my list! In my case, at least, big GRE numbers didn't seem do me any magical favors across the board. If you're applying to top programs, high scores are simply not enough to seal the deal. In fact, we've had more than a few applicants on the English forum get accepted to fantastic programs with much lower scores than mine. One in particular scored only a few points higher than you did on the Verbal section and nonetheless got into Harvard. Granted, I've heard echoes here and there that lower-ranked programs like to admit students with higher GRE scores so they can move up in the rankings, but I haven't seen much convincing evidence to support that. I wrote this in a recent answer, but I think it applies here too: In the end, a school is much more likely to accept somebody they want (for fit, personality, style, etc.) over somebody they don't want who happens to have "better" GRE scores. That calculus might sound self-evident, but it should really give you pause before you stress out too much about these silly tests. To use a hyperbolic example, if you scored 130/130/1.0, then, by all means, you should retake it. With your scores, however, I'd focus instead on researching particular schools that need your subspecialty and crafting a red-hot SoP and WS that leave schools no choice but to accept you. You are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much more than the sum of your test scores, both as a person and as an applicant. And remember, the university has to live with you for six years (if you're going for a PhD), which, I think, matters a lot. Thus, submitting an SoP that displays intelligence, curiosity, resolve, modesty, and kindness will go infinitely farther in gauging your sufferability than the percent of applicants you beat on a test nobody truly cares about. I totally understand how being shoehorned into "objective" GRE percentiles almost feels like getting branded. If you have the time, money, and resolve to score higher, retaking the test might not be a bad idea. But be aware that it's also possible to do worse the second time around. It's much less likely, on the other hand, that spending more time on the other aspects of your applications (as others have suggested) will hurt you in any way. Unless you start hacking up your materials, additional proofreading is almost always beneficial. Just don't get trapped in the idea that high GRE scores will lead you to salvation. Mine seem not to have impressed anybody at the 13 schools from which I was rejected! At any rate, good luck! I'll be hoping to hear good news from you at the end of the cycle!
  5. I completely agree with both of the above sentiments. All of our suggestions here bear a tacit YMMV caveat. If OP determines in their cost-benefit analysis that applying to five programs makes the most sense, then five is the magic number! Alternatively, if they want to hedge their bets and apply to 15, then 15 is the magic number! Here's the catch: I was initially hesitant to remark that "you're accepted to 0% of the programs to which you don't apply" because such a trivialism ignores the significant opportunity cost (time and money) involved in adding more schools to the list. I was lucky enough to be able to pay the $2300 it took to get myself into grad school. In an alternate universe, however, I might've applied only to the 3 universities that accepted me and saved a bunch of money doing so. If that had been the case, I'd likely be the proud owner of a preowned Honda Rebel 300 -- I'd be unstoppable!!! But, on the other hand, I also might've applied only to the 13 schools that ended up rejecting me, which would've cost a lot and left me with nothing. Both situations are possible, the former certainly so: @Kilos, and many others here, have succeeded despite (or, perhaps, because of) applying to only a handful of programs. Nonetheless, others here apply to many and receive only a few acceptances ... or none. It's a numbers game, but with research and good luck you can do well for yourself without breaking the bank. Kilos is also right to mention application fatigue. Because I got a job after graduating, I was able to prepare my applications deliberately over the course of a year and a half. I did a little grad-school work here and there (sometimes at my office) with ample breaks and largely avoided burning out. Unfortunately, not all applicants have time on their side. If you do, however, I'd start researching and writing (and getting the tests out of the way) as soon as possible. Avoid procrastinating, though, because time truly does evaporate after you leave school. You have to be vigilant to avoid the fate of Samuel Johnson's Idler: “[Mr. Sober] draws oils and waters [from his chemical furnace], and essences and spirits, which he knows to be of no use; sits and counts the drops as they come from his retort, and forgets that, whilst a drop is falling, a moment flies away.” Just be mindful of your options, OP. Hindsight, for those of us who are starting programs in 2018, is 20-20. Foresight, of course, isn't. Do what makes sense for you. The right course will become evident in time.
  6. FreakyFoucault

    research experience

    Welcome, @Rebecca Chueng! I can't speak for British schools, but American universities tend not to expect research experience from English-literature applicants who hold only an undergraduate degree. If you have an MA, on the other hand, it's likely that departments will want to see that you've begun to flesh out a unique research idea, or at least an insightful expansion to some pre-existing work. Most MA applicants here seem to include parts of their thesis in their writing sample, especially if they hope to build off the same topic during the PhD. Correct me if I'm wrong, but from the way you worded your post, it appears that you do not in fact have a Master's degree. In that case, I wouldn't worry about lacking research credentials. Graduate degrees, particularly in the humanities, aim to teach students how to do proper research in the first place; they don't expect recent undergrads to matriculate with PhD-level research skills. Otherwise, what would be the point of pursuing an advanced degree? So, in sum, don't sweat it! I too was in your shoes (applied with an undergrad degree sans research experience) and was still accepted to several R1 institutions. If I can do it, you can as well! Instead, I'd work hard to ensure that you've got a stellar SoP and writing sample. I think you might be given some leeway in terms of your skill in written (and spoken) English since you're an international candidate, but if departments catch too many whiffs of poor mechanics, they'll probably be reluctant to accept you. I'd make sure, therefore, to pass along your SoP and WS to as many advanced (or, preferably, native) English speakers as you can. The more eyes, the better! Good luck!
  7. Welcome, @CatBowl! I wanted to echo the many good suggestions here and, in particular, add my 2¢ about the number of applications you plan to submit. I, like @Warelin, applied to 16 schools. The cost of app fees, GRE, and GRE prep came out to ~ $2300. I had a job then, but it was about a month's pay (actually two month's after my student-loan bills), so the cost was not one I bore lightly. To put this amount in perspective, I was accepted to 3 out of 16 universities -- a 19% success rate -- even with having >95% GRE percentiles, SoPs that I fine tuned for about six months, letters from profs whom I knew very well (I just spoke at one of their retirement parties), and an essay that I proofread so often that I could likely recite it today by memory. Yet, I still received rejection letters from 13 schools! My point is that luck and unseen variables still play a large role in this crazy process. All things being equal, I would've been shut out had I not applied to those three schools that took a chance on me. But let's return to my investment for a moment. $2300 is a lot of money. If you're accepted to just one school, however, the potential ROI is astounding. Tuition waiver included, my program will be investing around $500,000 in me over six years. I know math isn't loved by many here (me included), but the return-on-investment yield is jaw-dropping: ROI = (Gain from Investment - Cost of Investment) / Cost of Investment ROI = (500k - 2.3k) / 2.3k = 216.4% I agree with @Kilos that spending several thousand dollars on applications is absurd. But it's also absurd how little control you actually have over schools' decisions. We like to think that checking all the right boxes gives us a decent shot at acceptance. Who knows, maybe it does. But after reflecting on my time in the gauntlet, I've begun to severely doubt the extent to which we are the "masters of our fate." Granted, every year it seems that there's one superstar here that gets accepted to nearly all the programs they apply to. Most of us, though, seem to get into a few, at best. So, if you're steadfast in your commitment to going to grad school, and can afford to apply to 14 or more programs, I'd hedge your bets on the potential staggering ROI of >200%. I don't mean to be a Debby Downer, and I certainly wouldn't argue that hard work doesn't pay off. But, trivialism aside, you're accepted to 0% of the schools you don't apply to, and 0% is lower than even the smallest non-zero percentage of acceptance to a top-5 reach school.* Which brings me to the GRE. I used to think that scoring in the stratosphere was necessary (but still not sufficient) for acceptance. Recently, however, I've been rethinking both the "necessary" and "sufficient" conditions. My own stats bear out the degree of score insufficiency: 167V/163Q/6.0A / 730 (97%) LGRE. According to ETS's chart (https://www.ets.org/s/gre/pdf/gre_guide_table4.pdf), of English majors, I scored higher than about 90% on the Verbal, 95% on the Quant, 93% on the AW, and 97% on the Literature subject test. These numbers aren't exact since the chart provides only ranges, but you get my point. To wit: only about 46 test-takers, out of roughly 1500, beat me on the subject test. Yet, I was rejected by 80% of the schools on my list! In my case, at least, high numbers didn't seem do me any magical favors across the board. On the other hand, another frequent poster here (whom I won't call out by name) scored lower than I did in all categories and will nonetheless be spending the next five or six years in Cambridge at Harvard, which, coincidentally, sent me a very nice rejection letter a few months ago. In the end, a school will likely accept somebody they want (for fit, personality, style, etc.) over somebody they don't want who happens to have "better" GRE scores. That calculus might sound self-evident, but it should really give you pause before you stress out too much about these silly tests. To use a hyperbolic example, if you scored 130/130/1.0, then, by all means, you should retake it. If in the more likely event you scored at or higher than 160V/145Q/5.0A, I'd focus instead on researching particular schools that need your subspecialty** and crafting a red-hot SoP and glowing WS that leave schools no choice but to accept you. You are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO*** much more than the sum of your test scores, both as a person and as an applicant. And remember, the university has to live with you for six years, which, I think, matters a lot. Thus, submitting an SoP that displays intelligence, curiosity, resolve, modesty, and kindness will go infinitely farther in gauging your sufferability than the percent of English majors you beat on a test nobody truly cares about. I wish you good luck, and may the admissions odds ever be in your favor! Also, if Stanford crops up on your list, feel free to PM me if you want to learn more about their program (which, by the way, is killing it in 19th-c. and post-war American lit!). * although the notion of reach schools may be irrelevant when most cohorts comprise ~10 spots. ** this isn't necessarily synonymous with "fit." If I could change one thing about my app cycle, I would've emailed profs and dept. assistants about which subspecialties they need. I have no idea whether they'd even respond, let alone divulge info like that, but it could go a long way toward helping cull your list. At the end of the day, a program that has met its quota on 19th-c. Americanists is almost sure to reject another aspiring Whitmanist, irrespective of astronomical scores or BAMF SoP. Also, "fit" isn't easy -- or sometimes even possible -- to gauge. I thought I'd fit in real well at UVA since two of their Victorianists are researching the exact topic of my WS. But, alas, no dice there. So beware of reading too much into that vague qualification. *** the Internet doesn't have enough bandwidth to support the infinite Os that ought to follow the S in that word.
  8. Seconded! Everyone here is fantastic, and I thank you all for helping me through the last five (!) months! Being alone in this would've been less than great. And I truly hope to meet some of you at conferences in the future! First round's on me!
  9. Woooo! You made my day, @Crow T. Robot!
  10. My preparation currently consists of reading Les mots et les choses and watching old Pauly Shore videos. Gonna be totally tubular brah. And congrats on Clemson, @Wabbajack!!!
  11. Very happy to report that I signed my soul over to Stanford last week! Now to learn how to surf...
  12. "Unpredictable" is exactly apropos. My last acceptance was 25 days ago! Since then, I've gotten 13 rejections, which comes out to almost .5 per day. So February has been, at different times, one of the most joyous yet also consistently disappointing months of my life! It's been strange, to say the least, and I still haven't finished processing all the thoughts and emotions. But now comes the time for visits, and I'm happy as a clam! Be careful with the Yalies, though. I hear they fight dirty.
  13. Rejected at Harvard! I suppose I'll never get the satisfaction of pummeling a Yalie. Oh well. 3 acceptances and 13 rejections is the final tally! It's been a wild ride, folks, but I'm glad to have gone through it with you all!
  14. FreakyFoucault

    2018 Acceptances

    Look at you go! Congrats!!!
  15. FreakyFoucault

    2018 Acceptances

    Super late congrats, @automatic! Killin' it all day, 'er day!!!
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