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  1. Upvote
    Procopius reacted to TMP in Don't Do a PhD in History   
    Being honest has been there but PhD programs, like @NoirFemmepointed out, haven't been designed to help PhD students develop credible skills.  Working as a grader barely does anything than being assigned as a Graduate Administrative Assistant planning for a big conference at the end of the semester or managing an academic journal.  The anxiety that graduate students have is with the Powers to Be being unwilling to share their graduate labor with the community that would gladly take smart, capable people as interns. My program has decided to circumvent that by simply offering a 3-credit "course" to allow grad students have time to do that instead of taking another readings course. 
    I have had many conversations with a particular colleague whose program did not train her to be more cutting-edge like transnational or global history and she's been struggling.  She went directly to PhD from undergrad and has been working to build up administrative skills -- on the side (and her advisers aren't too happy, from what she says). Should she have had to pick up extra jobs to make up for what her top-15 graduate program did not deliver?  Nope.
    However, what this pandemic HAS done is make absolutely clear that PhD programs will not be able to place their PhD students at the same rate as they did before.  There are jobs but the crash is real and the lines available are being driven by economics and social demands.  For example, East Asian and Middle Eastern history positions have been relatively plentiful -- until this year.  The new "hot" commodity is African-American/African/Black diaspora history and these fields now combine to about 30 positions or so.  Every other field-- Modern Europe, Latin America, etc. have been relatively flat though they plummeted this year. South Asia and History of STEM are rising. The US History field is, what I have seen, largely defined by current student demands and race and ethnicity have been emphasized. Therefore, graduate students choosing fields need to understand that the market will change and be prepared to accept the market for what it is when they're ready to apply. 
    I do agree with @NoirFemme's final point about those who are 100% committed to being professor should be the last ones to apply because what are those people doing to do if they don't get jobs as a professor upon graduating from a PhD program? They are not being open-minded enough and being flexible with the reality.  At the same time, @Sigabais right about commitment to the historian's craft. To be successful academically -- and I mean with a solid CV -- one does need to be committed to research and writing an excellent dissertation that can be converted to a publishable book without significant distractions to slow down the progress (and costing the university/department more $).  Unless you're an amazing multi-tasker and at time management to be able to take up side activities to build up your resume, do work for a few years before entering the PhD so you can, perhaps, easily transition back to the "working world" with those skills and more.
  2. Upvote
    Procopius reacted to NoirFemme in Don't Do a PhD in History   
    Coming out of lurk mode to give my two cents: this topic was my specialty--a conversation I fought tooth and nail to have at my university--until I circumstances placed me in a position to realize that the bureaucracy of doctoral programs is not equipped to help PhD students navigate this new reality. As another poster astutely mentioned: the guaranteed salary and health insurance for 5-6 years is a convincing argument for riding out the storm in the doctoral program, but you are also stunting your career growth.
    You can get certificates in DH or archives out the wazoo, or do an internship for a few months--but if you aren't building any credible, progressive skills for a resume, you are merely treading water. Also, since many doctoral students come fresh out of undergraduate or 1-2 years after undergrad, they are emerging from a PhD program at 29/30 without any real world work experience. The private, govt, and academic sectors are hammered by the pandemic. Who is going to make it past the application stage: a 30 year old PhD with no job experience or a 30 year old with direct job experience (bc remember, most people applying for specific jobs went to school to major in that field)?
    But again, doctoral programs are not built to address this. Your coursework, your writing assignments, your dissertation, your conference presentations, your TA assignments, and so on are geared towards preparing you for a TT job. You aren't supposed to get a job. Graduate fellowships geared towards some type of vocational training (e.g. editorial assistant at a university press) are few and far between. Your advisors' only assistance is to bring in alums or other PhD "alt acs" to discuss their experiences--they cannot and often will not help you be legible inside and outside of the academy.
    It is, IMO, the height of conceit to say you're pursuing the PhD to research and write and read for 5-6 years. The only people who say that are those who have a tiny kernel of belief that they'll be the one to beat the odds and get the TT job at the end of the journey. 
    I don't think you shouldn't go for the PhD--my opinion right now is that those whose first dream is to be a professor need to be the last people applying to PhD programs. 
  3. Upvote
    Procopius reacted to AP in Don't Do a PhD in History   
    This is an important thread and one of the most insightful ones I've read in years here. 
    I'll second @Sigaba's comment of not wanting to opine on people's professional goals. I think those fluctuate a lot, and this forum is only a slice of the history community. 
    I want to be clear about something. There are no jobs. This is not grim or sad, it's the reality and the hand we are dealt with. In my field, there are two. I could go into the weeds of how this is ridiculous as higher education costs continue to increase, but we won't solve here. 
    If you want to do a PhD in history, then accept that you will not probably get a TT job. Further, if you want to do a PhD in history, do not attend a program that is only geared towards the academy.
    More programs now are expanding their objectives and preparing students to other careers. We could discuss if that should be the aim of a doctorate, but for argument's sake, let's say it can be done. This is what @TMP referred to as their grant writing skills. Programs today offer certificates in digital humanities or public history, and many graduates end up working in these fields.
    For those of you asking of professions outside the professoriate, here is where friends of mine are working: librarians at research libraries, preparatory schools (they pay as good as a TT prof!), digital scholarship coordinators, advanced education directors, writing center directors, archivist (I don't remember exactly the job, but he is working for a federal archive in programming). A friend of mine with a Theology degree went on to work for sports rep agency. I'm not saying you should do a PhD for any of these positions.
    But, alas, basically, weigh everything in, and remember the costs of doing a PhD that are not advertised in the website. 
  4. Upvote
    Procopius reacted to dr. telkanuru in Don't Do a PhD in History   
    A good dissertation makes a coherent contribution to a historiography. A great dissertation explains why those who don't have any interest in its particulars should read it. 
    That is, yes, in some ways academia is all about counting angels on pinheads, and it always has been. But whether that's all it is rests very much on your own shoulders as a writer and a communicator. 
    As unlikely as it is to get an academic job these days, it is even more unlikely if you cannot communicate to a broader audience why your work matters. If you can't think about what you do on that higher level, you will also have difficulty marketing your skills outside of academia. 
  5. Upvote
    Procopius reacted to TMP in Don't Do a PhD in History   
    I'll wade carefully here as an old-timer. 
    When I started my PhD in 2012, I was already ambivalent about being a professor or entering academia. I wanted to get my PhD and work as a historian in a very large museum, which was viable then.
    I didn't know what academia was really about. 
    I had never run a classroom.  I was told that to be a TA meant running discussion sections and grading but I had no idea that there were positions that involved only grading.  Due to declining student enrollments, my department dropped discussion sections and added more grading positions. Opportunities for teaching sessions before candidacy were quite limited. I didn't get to do it until after I passed my candidacy (partially due to fellowships in my first 2 years). I fell in love with teaching and interacting with students but stopped short at "quality over quantity" approach, unlike so many graduate students who focused on "more classes I teach, the better my CV will look for teaching jobs!"
    Throughout my time, I was truly bogged down by heavy coursework load (due to fellowship requirements), research (including writing funding applications and trip and budget planning), conference papers, a journal article, and mental health issues that nearly took over my life. I simply had no time to develop and hone skills that employers valued such as computer programming, organizing and executing events and conferences, etc., etc. However, I did immensely improve my written and oral communication with the incredible support of professors, mentors, and colleagues. I did get to travel the world (literally) which I would have not been able to do until... maybe retirement, much thanks to the fund-raising that I did.  I never imagined that I would have an overall satisfactory experience compared to many horror stories that I had heard.
    The pandemic hit when I was interviewing for postdocs. When the campus shut down and hiring freeze went into effect everywhere, I realized that there would be no second wave of postdocs and visiting assistant professor positions that came between March-May. I took advantage of one semester of funding that remaining to postpone my dissertation defense.  I realized that a December graduation meant that I wouldn't be able to secure an academic job to start in January. I started getting used to the idea that I would have to apply for non-academic jobs in this situation and I gradually became OK with that because I've been there before. 
    Now, i am applying for a combination of academic and non-academic jobs to see what will bite. When it comes to non-academic jobs, my topic or historical content knowledge does not matter and it is important to separate myself from those and focus on the skills that I have to bring to those jobs. The PhD is simply another degree on your resume, nothing more, but you will have a section under "Work/Grant-Writing/Teachingetc. Experience" which you can tout the skills you have used to complete the degree.
    Do I regret going for my PhD? Nope. I was so hungry for an opportunity to dive deep and become an expert in specific historical fields. I went through a MA program (2008-2010) and studied a new language abroad for several months (2010-2011) just to be sure that the PhD was what I wanted, even though I decided in 2006. The key to survival, I think for me, was knowing that I had prior work experience and was developing valuable skills (especially fund-raising if you're great at it) which to highlight while applying for non-academic jobs. And perhaps the comfort of knowing that I may never need to work to become fluent in all of my reading languages again.
    And I'm a risk-adverse person. Really know yourself before you apply. Are you the type of person who can complete a big job which you've devoted hours and hours and breathed your life and walk away within weeks?  Do you have the grit and resiliency to overcome obstacles that come your way? The PhD journey is much more suited to street-smart people than book-smart people. If you're the latter type, go for the MA which is less intense in the way of non-coursework stuff.
  6. Upvote
    Procopius reacted to Lascaux in Don't Do a PhD in History   
    Years ago I frequented Gradcafe while applying for a PhD in history. Not all of the advice I received here was good, but much of it was. Partly as a result of that advice, I was admitted to a good PhD program where I had excellent mentors, made some dear friends, and learned a great deal about the craft of writing history. Everyone battles depression at some point while doing a PhD, but on the whole I remember my PhD with fondness. So hear I am with my PhD in hand, ready to pay it forward. This is the best advice I can give you: don't do a PhD in history. Don't do it.
    I know that you have heard about how bad the job market is, but "bad" is misleading. It suggests that it is highly competitive, in a slump, leaving some good people behind, or something like that. The reality is that the historical profession is dying. There are no jobs and there won't be any for a long time. By that I don't mean that there are few jobs. I mean that there are none. My field is a large one. Every big history department in America has at least one scholar in my area. And this year there is not a single job that I'm eligible to apply for. If you complete a PhD, you need to realize that there is a good chance that you'll be in the same boat. And if there are two or three jobs when you finish, you'll be competing against hundreds of other scholars desperate for work. Many of your competitors will be 5-7 years out of their own PhDs, have books with good presses, and years of teaching experience. Even if you show enormous promise, why would risk-averse departments hire you instead of someone who has been doing the job well for years?
    I attended a top-five PhD program (overall and in my field). I wrote an award-winning dissertation. I graduated with multiple good publications. I received excellent course evaluations for the courses I TA'ed and taught as instructor of record. My mentors wrote fulsome letters of recommendation. I produced polished job application materials. I did a postdoc at another top-five university. I am a friendly person who interviews well. None of those things altered the brute fact that there were no jobs. My profile isn't that of a superstar, but it is the profile of someone who did everything you're supposed to do. 
    I'm not bitter about my experience. I have an academic adjacent job that is in some ways better than a tenure-track job. I don't really regret doing a PhD, but I am keenly aware that it came at an enormous cost. If you're on this board, you've heard the rule now that you should never pay for a graduate degree in history. That's true, but the real cost of doing a PhD is time. Everyone pays for their PhD. Even if you are among the vanishingly small number of prospective historians who get a tenure-track job, it will probably take seven years of a PhD work and then several years of struggling in temporary employment. That's probably a decade of your life receiving highly specialized training for a job that doesn't really exist anymore. You will pour most of your youth into a discipline that almost certainly won't have a place for you. 
    What should you do? If you are thinking about applying for a PhD in history, don't. If you can't imagine doing something else, work on strengthening your imagination. There are lots of ways to engage in the life of the mind outside of the university. If you are in the first few years of a PhD program, I would recommend getting an M.A. and getting out. If you are close to the end of your program, it might make sense to hang on and finish. But you should write a good-enough dissertation and spend most of your time figuring out how to build a path toward a non-academic future.
    Again, I'm not angry or bitter. I had a good experience in my PhD experience and will continue to publish some. But the historical profession is dying. History enrollments have fallen more than enrollments in any other discipline. Administrators are cutting lines or even eliminating departments. It probably won't get better for a generation, if ever. 
  7. Upvote
    Procopius reacted to Sigaba in Switching Disciplines/Colonial America School Recs   
    The deployment of strategic nuclear weapons is unlikely in the next twenty years. The United States most likely foes in a general war (Russia and the PRC) do not have the technical means to degrade the American armed services' second strike capabilities with the first wave of missiles. (In a nutshell for a first strike to work, the attacker's warheads have to hit all of their targets at the same time --because the impact of the resulting EMPs is unknown-- with a circular error probable sufficient enough to ensure that the target is destroyed. This task is complicated by the assumed need to put two warheads on each target.)
    When I started graduate school, I had a professor who, incidentally, specialized in the colonial/ early national period, mockingly asked me more than once "Why would anyone study naval history?" Well, this is why.
    If your current program offers a thesis or report option, consider the benefits and challenges of taking either option relative to an option that does not require you to write tens of thousands of words long.
    Identify primary sources that have been digitized and are either publicly accessible or available through an institutional affiliation. Get a good understanding of what's available and then start thinking about how you could use those materials to write a dissertation. 
    Start figuring out if you want to explore ways to meld your expertise in anthropology into your practice of academic history. If the answer is "yes" start reading secondary works that will help you craft your intellectual identity.
    Identify, obtain, and read "state of the art" historiographical essays in your field. From this exploration, you should be able to identify a handful (or two) of must read books. There are many threads in this forum on how to read like a graduate student in history but for works that "one ignores at one's peril," you're going to want to read every word.
    Work on your language skills while also doing what you can to figure out how stringent the proficiency exams may be.
    Identify departments where your interests align with several faculty members. It's not how a department fits you, it's how you will fit into a department. Identify professors who may sit on your committees and then start reading their works. When you narrow in on preferred committee chairs, give some thought to reading everything you can get your hands on -- including theses and dissertations. There are a few threads in this forum and in others on what to look for in an advisor, horror stories of things going side ways, and recommendations. Unfortunately, the CHE fora are gone and so the valuable information in the legendary STFU thread are lost to antiquity. (The short version is, when in doubt, STFU. When you're 100% absolutely sure, STFU. Anywhere else, give STFU a try.)
    But also, given the state of the Ivory Tower, the supremacy of anti-intellectualism, and the ongoing crisis of professional academic history, it's never too soon to start sketching out alternatives. Now, I don't recommend that you let anyone know who has decision making authority know that you have such plans because true believers expect true belief out of others. But alternative plans can help you figure out how to pick an outside field and how to identify skills you can develop that are transferable to the private sector. (Hint: data analysis and visualization that cannot be replicated by AI or ASI; project management; and...HR)
  8. Upvote
    Procopius reacted to TMP in 2021 Application Thread   
    I know it sounds really discouraging.  But honestly, do you want to enter in a PhD program when departments are fighting for funds to help people finish their degrees once those people have exhausted their 4-5 year funding packages? Departments do want to be able to commit to their PhD students to the fullest extent, thus not abandoning those further along. To do that, they would prefer not to admit (w/ blessing of the Powers to Be) new students who they cannot provide the same amount of support for the next 5-8 years. They are also freaking out about graduate students who have recently passed their exams and now need to travel to archives. Those students are supposed to be able to travel to the archives but because of travel restrictions (mostly imposed by the universities), they can't go anywhere to get going on their research.  Instead, those students are using up a semester (or two!) of their guaranteed funding packages and working as TAs and doing what they can with online archives.  Essentially, they are losing out a semester or two of guaranteed funding to the pandemic and no one knows if they will be granted extensions later on to make up for that kind of loss.  Current students come first, not any considerations for next year's cohort.
  9. Upvote
    Procopius reacted to AP in 2021 Application Thread   
    Just a reminder to everyone who is applying this year.
    You had a difficult first half of 2020. We, faculty, did too. Grad students did too (many lost summer stipends, many doing international research saw their projects disappear). Staff did too. Admin, believe or not, did too. Our situations are all different, some with kids, some with visas, some with racial justice concerns, some with loneliness, some with illness. 
    This year, you are anxious about applying, but also anxious about applying in the middle of a pandemic. You have many questions for which there are no answers. We have many questions for which there are no answers. I have no idea how I will teach in the Fall. I have no idea how I can re-structure my book project so that I push going to the archive. 
    All this is to say that in the same way the pandemic is making you anxious about the unknown, it is making us worried. This might translate into people taking longer to respond to your emails as some folks are WFH with kids or caring for others, or they are simply just taking some time off. People might not have an answer for all of you questions or that answer being contingent on many variables. People might understand your concerns but might regrettably not be able to do anything about it (I really wish I could unilaterally abolish GREs). 
    In other words, be patient. While the summer is usually a good time to write to faculty because we don't have any meetings or deadlines (we are just out in the field going to archives), this summer is way different. 
    ( @coffeehum this is not to you specifically, but you made me think about how I would react if a student sent me an email this week to discuss admissions. So, thank you for the inspiration!)
  10. Upvote
    Procopius reacted to Sigaba in 2021 Application Thread   
    I just attended an online panel discussion hosted by the Chronicle of Higher Education and sponsored by Deloitte. The topic was "Sustaining the Private College Business Model in a Global Crisis". 

    The discussion was recorded and I will post a link when it becomes available.
    For me, the key take away is that COVID-19 has accelerated the time of reckoning for smaller colleges and universities. These institutions have to figure out simultaneously how to reopen campuses for in person instruction and how to make the transition towards sustainable business models.
    Overall, there is no change to my previous guidance. When developing a list of programs of interest, spend a significant amount of time doing your due diligence on  the parent institution's financial health and strategic plan.

    However, I would add that if you are considering master's programs at a smaller school, expand the scope of your due diligence to include the risks involved in attending a school that may be in severe financial stress within the next five years. Will "guaranteed" funding really be available in year two? Will POIs be able to give you the support you need when they themselves may be under profound stress about their jobs?
    I would also recommend that anyone making the decision to attend on campus classes the coming academic year take a long hard look at @TMP 's post here. 
  11. Upvote
    Procopius reacted to dr. telkanuru in 2020 application thread   
    The fact that there still exist programs like this in the year of our lord two thousand and twenty...
  12. Upvote
    Procopius got a reaction from historyofsloths in 2020 application thread   
    I was in the same exact situation as you were in in 2018. Emory was also one of my dream programs and I got waitlisted there. Other posters already answered your question, but to add on, I think I waited until the last couple of days before the deadline before moving on and what I had heard was that if only a few more people had declined their offers, I probably would have made it in. I think I was basically at the top of the waitlist, but things didn’t work out
  13. Upvote
    Procopius got a reaction from ithaca99 in 2020 application thread   
    I was in the same exact situation as you were in in 2018. Emory was also one of my dream programs and I got waitlisted there. Other posters already answered your question, but to add on, I think I waited until the last couple of days before the deadline before moving on and what I had heard was that if only a few more people had declined their offers, I probably would have made it in. I think I was basically at the top of the waitlist, but things didn’t work out
  14. Upvote
    Procopius reacted to historygeek in Thank you   
    I just wanted to take the time to thank this forum for all the advice, support, and tough love. Today, I submitted my application to get my teaching certification in the state of Pennsylvania through Drexel University. This isn’t the path that I had envisioned initially, but I think that my talents would work beautifully in a classroom setting. 
    For everyone thinking of applying to a PhD: please take the time to examine why you want to get a PhD. I wanted one because that’s what I thought I was supposed to do, and I really enjoyed teaching and the thought of teaching at the university level. A PhD isn’t for everyone and I don’t think that, at least right now, it’s for me. 
  15. Upvote
    Procopius reacted to CageFree in History Teacher Applying for Ph.D.   
    I sent specific feedback to the OP privately. However, as someone who quit teaching to get a Ph.D. (with NO plans to go back), I want to throw in my two cents regarding the broader issues being discussed.

    1. It's sadly ironic despite the horrible condition of the job market and the fact that in many states a mid-career high school teacher makes more than some professors, not to mention the abysmal training high school grads/undergrads have in the social sciences, that universities discourage Ph.D. students from going into secondary teaching, or that they would look down upon someone who wants to pursue a Ph.D. even though they want to teach at that level.

    In California, a tenured, experienced teacher with a Ph.D. can make upwards of 90K/year in some districts nearing the top of their scale. Starting salaries are in the 40s, sometimes low 50s... comparable to an entry-level tenure-track position.

    With so much talk about finding "non-academic" pathways for Ph.D.s, I think it'd be worth it to allow the opportunity to complete teaching credential coursework while pursuing a Ph.D. Let's face it... not everyone is going to end up in a tenure-track job at an R1 school. Some people are going to find academic teaching unfullfilling (my friend did). Some people may find out they like the teaching aspect more than the research aspect.

    2. I taught with a history Ph.D. and he's one of the best teachers I've ever met. He teaches advanced classes and uses his training to teach research skills. A lot of high schools today have many AP and IB courses... in IB, students are expected to prepare original research projects and advising them is similar to advising a thesis. Same skill set.

    3. This attitude that one "doesn't need a Ph.D. to teach high school" is just part of a larger issue, i.e. that teachers are not considered partners in education. Remember, those undergrads you get who have never had to write a research paper before, or take notes... the ones who can't see past their own noses during discussion section because they have never been expected to think critically... they could have used a well-trained historian for a teacher.
  16. Upvote
    Procopius reacted to TMP in History Teacher Applying for Ph.D.   
    I'll say that unless you go to a program with a strong public history track, you'll have a very difficult time fitting in. The academic culture is so strong and pervasive that you can either A) immerse yourself in it or be isolated. My adviser has two students ahead of me. One is in the A category. And the other is in the B category (knew she didn't want to go into academia) and she is completely out of everything. Unless she's TA-ing and has to show her face, people forget about her. (Fortunately, she doesn't really care and has a life outside of the university so she's okay being the B category.) I'm not kidding, unless you're willing to present in conferences, participate in workshops, discuss archival visits, writing grants, and such, you aren't going to enjoy your PhD as much as if you would be interested in those things.

    Also, without serious passion for research, you will take much longer to finish that dissertation than you think.

    I'm sorry to sound negative but it's the truth. I do have some potential ideas for careers outside of academia should the academic job market not work out for me so I can see how it would be quite difficult to fit in if you're not going to be an academic.
  17. Downvote
    Procopius reacted to Vgilante in Fall 2017 applicants   
    I have had enough of the bullying by @Telkanuru, @Sigaba, and others. They have been condescending and abusive and are doing a disservice to the applicants just trying to get advice.

    I can’t imagine that the institutions where these bullies study would in any way condone what they have been doing. I have decided to make an example of Telkanuru. Therefore, I have emailed the following people at Brown - Amy Remensnyder, Robert Self and Christina Paxson about the abuse with relevant links.

    If there is any more bullying, I will notify other institutions about the despicable behavior of their graduate students. Sigaba and the others, you have been warned.
  18. Upvote
    Procopius reacted to Sigaba in Fall 2017 applicants   
    What argument are you trying to make? What are you trying to achieve with these numerous posts? Is it your argument that you're under more stress than "typical" applicants?
    If one were to agree (for argument's sake) then the next questions might be how well are you handling that stress publicly? What does your public handling of your stress indicate about your ability to handle the additional stress of a doctoral program? Are you making the case that you could handle that additional stress independently, gracefully, and,ultimately, professionally?
    As for the "tiny bits of information," I think that you're trying to have it both ways. You make more of your private life public (and this tactic is a mistake) but when you don't get the response you want, you attempt to pull rank (as a single parent, as a potential homeowner, as a person with a graduate degree, as a person who has had health issues, as a person who has lost a beloved family member) and then you say that people don't have enough information. If you received the affirmation you clearly want, would you dismiss it by saying that it is based on "tiny bits of information"?
    Here's the deal. When graduate students are going through their qualifying exams (arguably a stressful experience), professors respond to explicit and implicit prompts for empathy with mockery and a cold grin. "Why so glum? When I took my quals, I had to walk to the department up hill ten miles both ways on a frozen road under a 110 degree sun after growing the trees and milling the paper on which I wrote my answers, in Old East Slavic, using my blood as ink and a gnawed fingernail as a quill." Or words to that effect.
    Regardless of what is said, the message is "Deal with it." (Well, in some cases, it's actually "Fuck you, deal with it.")
    "Deal with it" will be the same message professors send when you get bounced off the walls in seminar, when due dates fall in the same week, when a professor stands on your head in office hours for screwing up an essay, and when your schedule and your teaching responsibilities collide.
    What is your plan for when you're told to deal with it? Will it be similar to the one you're executing now? If so, please understand that professors will be watching and judging and, generally, doing so with a profound disinterest in the circumstances of your everyday life. (The disinterest will be especially ironic when when it comes from a social historian.)
    You, and at least one other person reading this--trainwreck of a sidebar--are misunderstanding the guidance being offered. You're not being told that you can't make it, or that you can't do it, or that you're not resilient, or that you're not worth it.
    You're being told by people further along the road that you're walking that the path gets harder and less certain. You're being told that NOW is the time to start steeling yourself for the tough sledding ahead. You're being told that airing your personal grief/anxiety/angst in a semi public place using your actual name is an exceptionally bad idea because you're seeking entry into programs run by some of the most imaginative and skilled researchers on the planet. You are being told that many of those academics view themselves as guardians of a profession under siege.
    You are being asked: are you sending a message that your up for this fight or are you sending another message?
  19. Upvote
    Procopius reacted to TMP in Fall 2017 applicants   
    Exactly.  It also may be the program's culture.  This is why it's helpful when departments list their graduate students and offer some details (i.e. photo, years graduated from prior institutions) so one can gauge the kind of graduate program the department wants to build.  Some programs are all for diversity while others stick with early 20 year olds who come up higher socioeconomic backgrounds.  My program is fairly diverse in age and socioeconomic and educational backgrounds.
    @nevermind and @SarahBethSortino
    You two, stop arguing.  Remember, you two are strangers on an Internet forum.  The more you argue, the more personal details will come on this forum and I can guarantee you that your (future) calm selves won't want to go down this road.  You need to give each other (and others) the benefit of doubt, especially for first-time applicants.
    @SarahBethSortino, I don't know what your field is but @Calgacus raised excellent points of things to consider as you move past the application process into the world of academia.  While many archives have gone digital and can be accessed from home, there is no replacement for actually being in the archives to examine the objects.  Many fellowships will not provide for dependents unless it's Fulbright-Hayes or something of that sort.  Many opportunities you will encounter tend to favor the single, childless graduate student because there's simply not enough money to go around to support a family.  This is where your support network comes into play and clearly you're doing that.  But they also need to know what's ahead so that different issues can be agreed ahead of time (i.e. does the father want the child every time you are away for more than a week at a time during summer?  What will your stipend cover? Can the boyfriend provide the family income without your stipend when you need to use your research money to fund your out-of-town trip?).  
    I can tell you, you do have a bit of a steep hill to climb but as long as your SOP and writing sample show that you are current on research and methodological trends, you are competitive as anyone who recently graduated from college in their early 20s.  There are plenty of professors who love having older graduate students because they bring in wonderful perspectives to classes.  For where you are at, you can make the PhD work for you and the kind of life circumstances you're in.  It will simply require extra patience and willingness to pitch in when needed from your support network.
  20. Upvote
    Procopius got a reaction from psstein in Which languages should I focus the most on?   
    Yes, definitely learn French and Latin. I will also say though that you should take other language courses you’re generally interested into because sometimes those languages can come in handy for the future. For example, learning Arabic may sound out of left field, but if you’re interested in it and eventually learn some Arabic, you may even be able to utilize it somehow in your research, or at the very least, have an extra skill that could make you more marketable.
  21. Upvote
    Procopius reacted to ExponentialDecay in Too Old for History Phd?   
    I've seen many of the users represented here lament the overproduction of history PhDs and the state of the history job market, not to mention shepherd hopefuls towards reconsidering their PhD ambitions, so I'm curious at the viciousness with which you receive someone who has admitted that the PhD would be a hobby. Isn't it good that they've already decided not to compete for increasingly rare TT positions with the rest of y'all? Isn't it good that they'd be taking up the chair of a young person who will spend 10 years on this "career" only to be cheated out of it by the job market?
    Why decry the myopic attitude of history departments to alt-ac opportunities and the recruitment of fruitless strivers on one hand, and engage in this self-defeatist gatekeeping on the other? Statistically,the majority of history PhDs are doing the PhD as a very long and stressful hobby until they are forced to leave academia and get a job that only uses their PhD training in a very perverted sense of "use". How are the majority of the posters on this forum different from this hobbyist? In that you don't admit to yourselves that your chance of getting TT is miniscule and that you're going to treat the PhD as a consumption good from the outset? 
    Why not admit people who see the PhD as a retirement project? Nothing says they can't produce compelling research, and they might actually be useful to the department in the form of cheap TA labor that then don't grow bitter when they can't get any practical benefits out of it. That's probably the only kind of PhD admit that in this climate could be called ethical. Sure, it's not prestigious or whatever for the department - but what's your incentive to protect bullshit exploitative academic practices? 
  22. Upvote
    Procopius reacted to daradara in Applications 2019   
    My subfield is the same as potsupotsu's (Japanese history). 
    Thank you all for the kind congratulations. Getting into Yale really means the world to me. Even though I applied to several other schools, this is the one place I truly wanted to be, and actually having it come true is a major validation for me. Like @urbanhistorynerd I am from the Detroit area and a non-traditional student. I grew up extremely impoverished, and was forced to drop out of high school due to family health and financial issues. Prior to going back to college I was working day labor jobs that paid $100 dollars a week for 70+ hours of work thanks to the horrible economy. I seriously never thought I would have a decent future, but now I am heading to Yale History. I know many others on this forum are non-traditional, I just want to say that I am very proud of you all for fighting to overcome whatever barriers were placed in front of you. And of course, to all of you, I wish nothing but success, as you all have been extremely kind and supportive to each other throughout this whole process. 
  23. Upvote
    Procopius reacted to TMP in Applications 2019   
    I'll remind everyone-- in addition to keeping focus with hobbies and work-- be sure to explore other possibilities if graduate school does not work out.  Find something  you're excited about too. Searching for jobs does take time so it doesn't hurt to start now-- you can always turn down the job later if offered. I am speaking from experience:
    2010: Graduated with my MA in hand, jobless and no PhD acceptances, sadly wondered why I got my MA at all, then spent whole summer in my parents' home looking for jobs, and finally decided to run away to Berlin to study German.
    2011: Finished German classes. Devastated with only one unfunded PhD acceptance and never got out of bed before 1 PM every single day for 6 weeks or so. Spent the summer as a camp counselor and looked for jobs.  Ended up with an internship at a museum (at least it was paid and I liked the people). My depression relapsed after 6-7 hiatus.
    2012: Before decisions came, I proactively started inquiring about jobs at my internship place and felt a bit more positive. Then I received funded PhD acceptances. I expressed gratitude to my work colleagues for being willing to discuss job possibilities while I wasn't sure what was going to happen to me and they encouraged me to take the PhD.
    Even as I applied for fellowships to support my dissertation, I had to bounce back very quickly to keep things rolling with my progress and maintain my own mental health.  As @Sigaba point out, dealing with the wait and the decisions is all part of building resiliency necessary to succeed in academia.
  24. Upvote
    Procopius reacted to ashiepoo72 in U.S. history job market   
    I don't think anyone is arguing against you, but there are lots of reasons why people don't get TT jobs. If you aren't willing to go wherever those postdocs and 1-year visiting appointments are located for the first decade or more after you get the PhD, and instead settle for an adjunct job or drop out of academia entirely, the chance you'll ever land a TT job drops exponentially. Some people decide adjuncting is the best thing for them. I had a brilliant professor who got her PhD from an elite school and she chose to adjunct because of her family circumstances. In a decent world, she'd be teaching at an R1 and training grad students. In her world, that didn't make sense.
    Obviously it IS an uphill battle, and anyone going into this should know that. Choose a program that has good placement, funds for research, etc. Make sure you network, apply for fellowships and grants, and bust your ass on the dissertation. Write something that has meaning, not just something that fills a gap. Volunteer, teach, do stuff to make your life fulfilling. Realize that the PhD is one moment in your life, and you may not (and likely won't) get all you want from it. Obviously I'm just a lowly 1st year, but I'm not going to pretend I don't know anything. I managed to get through undergrad and a MA (where I killed it, if you don't mind me bragging) as a single mom. Others may have the dream of a TT and will die without it, but most of us are practical adults who know stuff doesn't work out. I'll happily teach at a secondary school or go work at a coffee shop for the rest of my life as long as I show my daughter I tried to follow my dream, and I accomplished a huge milestone on that journey. Besides, I have a guaranteed income for 5-6 years and I get to do what I love. That's freaking sweet. Even when I worked in accounting I didn't have that security, and I certainly didn't have insurance.
    Someone has to fill the positions that open up. It may, or (statistically) won't, be us. Knowledge about how dire the situation is--great. We are all armed with the same information, the statistics, the well-meant warnings from professors and also the snarky and bitter warnings from many others. But we are all very different humans with different experiences and lives and very different reasons for doing what we're doing. I won't tell anyone not to get a PhD just because of the job market. From my own experience, I know there are so many factors involved in the decision and it is not my place to project my reasons on others.
  25. Upvote
    Procopius reacted to psstein in Applications 2019   
    Congratulations! I'm going to end up being a wet blanket, I'm afraid. My subfield often has independent departments, some of whom interview (Penn being the best known, of course). I went to X city and interviewed with this department. My interests were early modern at the time. I met with my potential advisor and he and I really hit it off. We're of similar backgrounds and bemoaned how people in this particular part of the country were different from what we were used to. He also expressed a great amount of interest in my project.
    This sort of thing happened with the other early modernist and the department chair. Two other faculty members were less interested, but they worked on more contemporary history. A very senior faculty member asked me some technical questions about the project, including my mathematical abilities. He seemed interested enough, as well.
    Over dinner, the department chair discussed funding details with me, then asked me to talk about my other offers. I willingly did so, though it was a bit strange. It was Spring Break, so I went home thinking that I'd have to choose between two excellent options with good placements. 
    A few days later, I received a rejection letter from the department head. The reason, "I wasn't experienced enough in history of science," which is, plain and simple, nonsense. Most undergraduate students have no history of science experience. I suspect the real reason was political: two or three other early modernists came to this program that year. Since this is a very small program, it would've slanted the program significantly towards early modern science.
    In short, I think you've had a promising experience, but I wouldn't read too much into it. You may set yourself up for a very significant disappointment.
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