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About pilisopa

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  1. Hi. Curious what you ended up doing. I'm considering a polisci PhD and wonder what impact my public political views will have on any future application (though my background is more varied as I've gone across the spectrum from liberal to, more recently, rather conservative beliefs).
  2. I'm having a hard time understanding how doctorate degrees work in Europe. There are "research" and "taught" degrees (these seem most common in the UK) but most seem to emphasize independent study. However, am I understanding correctly that some expect students to actually live there? Are there any that don't? I.e. can I carry on doctoral research independently without actually living at/near the university where I'm registered at any European universities?
  3. pilisopa

    Applications 2019

    Seems like we've had similar experiences except I didn't spend nearly as much time on my writing sample. The more I think about it, the more I'm worried that that was really hurt me this year. Thanks for the encouragement to keep looking. I think if I apply again, I'll need to reflect a lot more on what it is I want to do, what I need to do, and who can help me get there. To be sure, I'm not saying this to elicit pity or because I'm trying to put others down, it's just what I've observed. Sure, there are people who study less popular themes but is anybody really going to argue that it's easier getting into a top program (after which you will have an easier time getting a good teaching position at a top university) studying gender issues in China versus, say, Yugoslav nationalism? "Do the questions sound urgent, relevant..." sounds like another way of saying popular. I didn't mean to offend you by mentioning the trends but any read of this forum as well as the AHA's and other statistical data will leave no doubt that these trends are an important component when applying to schools. Yes, these others issues you mention are absolutely important but only in the context of what you're proposing to study which, in turn, must, it seems to me, conform to the trends. I'm not blaming anyone, I'm just trying to get a proper and realistic understanding of how this process works. If I try to apply again, I will surely take this advice to heart. Thank you. No. Actually, my goal was to study the nationalistic movement of an imperial subject people while comparing it to the nationalistic movement of the subjugating people and studying the similarities and differences - it was going to be a comparative study. I shifted it to doing a comparison of the transnational nature of two subject peoples within the empire and, in reality, this fit better with my interests than my original SOP. I am fluent in one of the languages without any background in the other and studying the empire's main language. So it wouldn't matter if I changed my SOP and had a different and stronger writing sample? Also had the same suspicion about the letters and I think you're right about that.
  4. pilisopa

    Applications 2019

    My focus has been on my SOP because that's what seemed like was giving me the most trouble. In fact, one professor not in my program but whom I'd reached out to in a previous admissions cycle as a potential POI gave me, relative to the others, the most useful advice and that was primarily about the language I'd used in previous years. Therefore, the advice and guidance I got, I incorporated primarily into my SOP although I tried to apply the advice to my (new) writing sample which was an excerpt from the thesis I just started writing for the MA I'm currently in but since I've gotten very little feedback on my writing sample/thesis, I can't say if it's up to par and whether that was my Achilles heel this year.
  5. pilisopa

    Applications 2019

    I've really been trying to get answer by talking to POIs and even professors in history departments who wouldn't advise me but who could possibly offer insight. It's been very difficult getting useful feedback. Best thing I got this year was that the language I was previously using in my SOPs was outdated and made it apparent I wasn't current on scholarship trends and I updated that considerably. Also the SOP itself changed considerably to shift from a national to transnational study (still within the scope of my interests, though). But after being in my current MA program, I get the feeling my topic, however refined and well composed, doesn't stand a chance if it doesn't incorporate popular themes like East or South Asia, gender issues, etc. Nothing wrong with those but is my candidacy hopeless if I don't include these things?
  6. Thanks for your advice and support, @ashiepoo72! I've become progressively more methodical over the years. This past year I was definitely as methodical as I've ever been although, to be sure, there were a few programs I applied to that were more aspirational than a good fit and I recognize that. However, a few programs were strong fits in the sense that there were POIs who'd said that they would be ready to work with me although even here, there were some missing parts and I worry that in trying to cast a wider net, I may be shooting myself in the foot (i.e. I was led to believe that my field of interest is too narrow and outdated because it focused on one nation's experience with nationalism so I broadened it by turning it into a comparative, transnational study). It's hard for me to tell if this was the right move because finding people to give me cold, hard feedback has been rare. Nevertheless, thank you for your advice!
  7. pilisopa

    Applications 2019

    Just wanted to thank you all for the advice provided in this thread. I took the MA plunge last year after a couple unsuccessful application cycles. I am trying to complete my MA in one year and I applied again this year and, thus far, all of my applications have been unsuccessful again. Wondering what the problem is. From what I've gathered, it could be me, my proposal, that my thesis is incomplete, that I haven't published anything, or that my LORs aren't strong enough (even though I was hoping this year, with fresh professors writing them, they'd be better). Fact is, I don't know and I'm at a loss and even though I'm considering applying again, I'm having a hard time justifying doing so without knowing exactly what I need to improve or change at this point.
  8. Thanks for the support. I do feel that my application will be stronger if I apply again but I'll have to muster the energy to go through another cycle. Re: the POIs, I've always been wary of how to deal with them. They seem like such a fickle bunch, leading us to apply to programs where we may have no hope of being admitted while offering little feedback on potential or past applications. I think you may be referring to a post I made on another board and that was for a person close to me, not for me in particular. In any case, I myself am very committed to studying history although I'm not sure how I would prove that to you. Thanks for the advice. The learning curve is real! I have learned SO much since that first couple years when I was WAY in over my head. Each year my applications have gotten better but this year I thought I had a real shot given the significant change in my profile (the new MA from an Ivy, language study) but alas, it seems it wasn't meant to be. At this point I'm definitely considering options outside the academy but I have been so devoted to the idea of pursuing a PhD that I want to realize it. I'm also wondering whether I should be considering programs outside history, possibly comparative literature, where I could also make my proposal work. But then I wonder whether switching at this point would essentially be starting over somewhere else. So we're of the same mind! Thinking heavily in this direction. Thank you for the advice and the encouragement.
  9. Thank you for your thoughtful response. I appreciate you taking the time to share your story. Honestly, the reason I've put myself through this cycle after cycle is because I've done a lot of painstaking reflection and I have repeatedly concluded that a PhD is the right path for me given what I want to do. This year, somewhat unlike past years, I developed relationships with two professors who helped me immensely with my SOP in updating the language so that it was in line with expectations. In the past, I received advice from some professors but it was more haphazard and (and I hate to say this) outdated. My concern is that it's been several years that I've been doing this but I'm also thinking that this is only the first year I had a really strong application and whether I would be making a mistake pulling the plug now only because I have the baggage of the very weak applications the first few years, especially as my profile has changed significantly (second Master's, new thesis, new SOP). I'm worried if I pulled the plug I'd be wasting an opportunity having only submitted one strong application (knowing that many admitted PhDs submit applications over several cycles) but on the flipside I am exhausted after so many cycles of rejections and keep asking myself if I actually have a chance or if I'm just fooling myself into thinking that I do. On the point about POIs: I was wondering, actually, if I have to more actively maintain a relationship with my POI(s) so that my name is constantly in their minds.
  10. As another admissions season comes and slowly fades away, bringing with it many rejections, I wanted to get an idea of how many times people in this forum applied until they were accepted. I'm also curious to know what you did, if anything, to improve your applications that you believe (or know) got you admitted. A bit of background: currently getting a second Master's, this time at an Ivy, to improve my application to my top programs. Fluent in one language and studying a second currently. Fourth year applying but the first three years were just hoping against hope because application was ill-suited to the top programs (too many years out of school, first Master's thesis nothing to do with proposed topic, weak language skills). Thought this year chances were much better but was evidently mistaken, even though a few programs expressed sincere interest. Not sure where to go from here since this was first year with viable application.
  11. Thank you. It seems on their FAQ that they are more interested in candidates who are looking to advance their careers in their field rather than change careers, like me.
  12. I'm in my mid-30s and looking to change my career. I have two degrees, my undergrad from a top 20 school and my graduate degree from a top 5 (Ivy), both in political science/international relations. Although I worked at a large oil & gas firm after undergrad in a mostly quantitative role (~1 yr.), I worked in politics directly before and after grad school, on a presidential campaign and as the director of a small advocacy nonprofit, respectively (~2 yrs.). I then started my own PR firm and consulted nonprofits and philanthropists on several projects (~4 yrs.) before moving into a full-time communications role at a university at the director level in a developing country (~1.5 yrs.). Through all this, I realized that my real strength and passion is strategy but also that I want to return to the private sector. It seems to me that the best way of transitioning into a fulfilling career in strategic management, preferably at a top consulting firm, is an MBA (I have been trying to apply to jobs in private sector management but it's been a tough sell given my background). So, I'm considering an MBA/EMBA and am seeking advice on what you think the best path forward would be for someone with my background. There seem to be benefits to both but I have my concerns. MBA Age: I'm almost ten years older than the average age of an MBA student, at least in top programs. I don't care about this so much within the program but it is a concern as it pertains to my getting a job upon graduation where I hear there is a bias toward younger hires. Opportunity cost: though I'm concerned about taking two years off to study, I'm willing to bite the bullet if it means a larger payoff in the end. However, given issue #1, I'm concerned I will not be employable and will have wasted two years. EMBA My experience: although I have several years of experience and would probably qualify for an EMBA, I wonder if I would be overshooting by going into a program with senior management coming from Fortune 100 companies. Transition: my research indicates that an EMBA is mostly for people looking to advance their careers but I'm trying to take on a new path and in a new sector of the economy (private) and I'm concerned about the EMBA's ability to help me in this regard. So, I'm hoping people with similar experiences or those who can offer valuable insight will offer their thoughts about which option, MBA or EMBA, is better or if they think there is yet another, better option. In this vein I'm also curious to know about your thoughts on doing a PT/evening or online MBA. Thanks in advance.
  13. I don't yet have a PhD but that is the goal in a few years. However, my plan is to live outside the United States upon graduating and in a country where academia exists but isn't on the same level as what you find in the western world. However, I would like to continue doing research and publishing. Is this at all possible? What are some non-traditional pathways for PhD grads who want to continue research and writing but can't/don't want to teach or do a post-doc?
  14. Does anyone know when Chicago sends out responses for second round applicants to the MAPH? Is it all at once or are admissions rolling?
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