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lurkingfaculty last won the day on March 13 2018

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  1. P.S. I should have said: I didn't mean to discourage you from applying to PhD programs. You should! The most important thing for most places is the writing sample, and it can outshine less than stellar grades/letters. But just statistically your numbers don't look ideal, so I'd definitely suggest more MA programs too.
  2. Simon Fraser and UW-Milwaukee (both MA programs) both have excellent metaphysicians. I'd do research on which places have funding and apply to more MA programs. It's unlikely you'll get into any PhD program worth attending given your situation, but you sound like you'd be a good candidate for MA programs.
  3. No, it's not. A couple of things that can affect it: first, location! I used to teach in a department in a desirable east coast city with lots of other universities. My department was very low ranked. We got way, way more applications than we do in my current department (in a less desirable area and much better ranked, but not super elite). Second, coverage/breadth vs. specialization. Some programs are very very strong in a few things, but don't have a lot of breadth. I strongly suspect (though neither of the places I've worked are like this, so I'm not sure) that they get fewer applications than similarly ranked programs that have a lot of coverage of different areas--especially when they are strong in areas that fewer people tend to specialize in as undergraduates. But, I don't think that's necessarily what explains getting rejected from lower ranked depts and accepted by higher ranked depts; they are concerned about fit, diversity of areas of interest, etc. And also, the most important element of your application--the writing sample--is something about which subjective assessments by admissions committees are going to disagree quite a bit in most cases.
  4. (PS I should say I'm in North America so I don't know if things are different in the places in Europe that you are applying.)
  5. For what it's worth, I'm a faculty member at a PhD program that is very strong in Ancient, and we wouldn't care whether you had formally taken the courses or not. However, we have a joint program in classics and philosophy that students can apply for once they are already in our PhD program (so you can demonstrate proficiency once you are here by passing an exam). I think for some PhD programs you need to be able to get into such a joint program right off the bat if you're going to get into it at all, and classics programs might care more about whether you had actually formally taken the courses. (I'm not sure about this! Just guessing.) My guess is that for almost any MA program it is fine to not have formally taken the courses.
  6. I would just email the director of admissions directly and tell them that you have a different offer that you will definitely accept. (There is probably a way to do this online in some of the systems, but I would say even if you do that still email the director of admissions, since they might not notice that you've done it in the system, etc.--at least in our system we still have access to withdrawn applications and they look just like regular ones.) In addition to the reasons given above, this helps admissions committees A LOT! If you withdraw your application, then we can offer the spot we might have offered to you directly to the person who would be first on the waitlist, instead of waitlisting them. (Or, if we were on the fence about you, we can stop worrying about you altogether and just move on.)
  7. Fyi I'm just representing one (ranked) program but we generally don't look at grades until after we've holistically evaluated the person's writing sample, statement, letters, etc. Occasionally then when we look at grades and there is a big problem (e.g. nothing above a B+ in any philosophy course, a poor grade in logic or math for someone who wants to do formal work, a really really low overall GPA) someone just gets immediately counted out. But normally once we've looked at everything else unless there is a huge red flag in your grades you're already basically in the yes, no, or the maybe pile. That being said, without looking at grades at first, it is rare that someone with a GPA below, say, 3.3-3.4 (unless they were e.g. taking a lot of very hard math/science courses) ends up in the yes or maybe pile. But it does happen. A 3.7 would certainly not even raise an eyebrow in my department at all unless the philosophy grades were bad. Even then it is the sample and the letters that matter more. We also don't look at GREs though our university requires that we ask for them.
  8. Hi. I can tell you from experience on multiple different admissions committees that schools definitely engage in this practice. And, in my case, admissions committees in the same department, but made up of different faculty, make different decisions about whether to engage in this practice. (So, at least in my department, there is no policy about it, the admissions committee is made up of a rotating cast of 3-5 people, and whether we use the strategy "admit the best people and hope for the best" or "try to guess at who we have a decent chance of actually getting and admit them" is basically dependent on what those 3-5 people think.) As a practical matter, this is part of where good fit with the research interests of the faculty can help you if your file is strong (perhaps weirdly, it is also why being a less good fit can help you if your file is weaker). If you have a fantastic file and aren't a great fit for the department, you're likely going to get rejected because we don't want to take the chance on you given that you are going to get into places that are better fits for you. If you have a fantastic file and are a great fit, you're more likely to get accepted even with the worry that you'll go elsewhere, because we have more to offer you and there is more of a chance you will come (if, say, you got into our program and a higher ranked one that was a worse fit for you).
  9. Hi, I just wanted to say that I was only admitted to one PhD program (though I applied to far fewer than you did, but I also think that PhD admissions were less competitive when I was doing them), and recently received tenure at an R1, Phd-granting department. Don't worry! No one remembers or cares who did what and while sometimes getting in everywhere tracks later success, that's also often not the case. (If anything, you just should consider yourself as having better practice at the constant rejection that you will receive from now on, from journals, jobs, etc.)
  10. Yes, what machineghost said! A one-line email thanking them for writing to you or whatever would be fine. Later, if you actually do have a question or want to talk to the person, you can get in touch.
  11. Another thing to note is that academia, for better or for worse (I think for worse) is, just like most things in life, extremely power-imbalanced: unfortunately, you guys have pragmatic reasons to do certain things (show your best face to faculty) that faculty have less of a reason to do with you. I'm not defending that the fact that this is true (which I think it is) also somehow makes it right. But I think in this case it doesn't really matter: we should all (faculty, grad students, prospective grad students) just try to be more kind, compassionate, respectful, and professional.
  12. I think it's very important that departments and directors of admissions be polite, kind, respectful, and thoughtful in how they communicate. I agree that they are not always, and I think that sucks. I would say the same thing to them. One thing to note, though, is that there are some asymmetries in the process: for one, we get hundreds of applications that we have to deal with (I don't think this excuses the above, it's just a thing to note). Second, we often are not permitted to contact rejected applicants until the process goes through the admissions office, and the admissions people often use software and systems that we have no control over. So I'd be hesitant to immediately hold a grudge against a department or faculty rather than the fact that bloated university administrations tend to use crappy systems. Take care.
  13. Hi, I'm just posting to suggest that it is somewhat important to reply (preferably politely) to emails that you receive from department faculty, directors of admissions, etc., particularly when they attempt to contact you multiple times. (The failure of response rate is so high that I am certain this is not some sort of problem with emails going to spam, etc.) First, it's just better to be kind and respectful and polite, and if someone emails you, you should respond. Second, a more pragmatic argument: If you're beginning a PhD or MA in philosophy, you are entering an academic community in which it is important to be professional and respectful and polite at all times. Suppose you don't want to come to my PhD program, or you aren't sure what you are doing yet. It's a better idea to professionally, kindly respond, thanking the person for the offer and letting them know where you stand (e.g. "I haven't made up my mind" or "I am waiting to hear about potential other offers but am very excited about this one", or whatever). Many of us have pretty good memories. Someday we might be hiring in your area, or (especially if we are faculty who are taking the time to write to you because you work in the same area as us) might be refereeing your work, or might be talking to you at conferences. Many of the subfields of philosophy are actually quite small. I can't tell you how many people never respond (at all) to offers, emails, etc., (and if you aren't ever responding to the offer, you are screwing your fellow students over, as we then have to wait until April 16th to make someone an offer in your place). Sincerely, a frustrated faculty member.
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