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  1. I’d say go for it—if I was cold emailed I’d be happy to respond (especially if the prospective applicant worked in my sub field). There’s definitely a difference, as others have said, between an applicant and an admitted student. The responses you’ll get from grad students will be a bit different. And, echoing everyone else—you’ll get the most helpful insights on the campus visit, where grad students can be more frank about their experiences.
  2. Second this--you can keep the first few sentences but authors, works, etc, in the footnotes. You can fit far more in that space, it looks better, and if you're feeling plucky you can concisely editorialize on the scholarship in the footnote itself.
  3. I agree this is true to an extent, and there are plenty of exceptions. Princeton, for example, has admitted a number of students with only BA's from state schools in recent years. I was just offered admission to Princeton and I only have a BA from a large state school. It really goes to show that fit, luck, and the written components (SOP and writing sample) can outweigh any kind of apparent prestige your undergrad or masters institution might lack. Obviously Ivies and other top schools provide institutional benefits that others can't (well-known faculty, prestige networks, all undergrads write theses, etc) but there's hope for state school students if the pieces fall into place. I certainly applied to Ivies assuming it was futile but found that fit and connections play a huge role!
  4. Princeton admit here! My field is the 19th century American West. The email from my POI said the official letter should reach me this week, but I'm unsure if all letters will go out simultaneously or really what their plan is. Best of luck to everyone!
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