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indecisivepoet last won the day on July 14

indecisivepoet had the most liked content!

About indecisivepoet

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    Espresso Shot

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  • Gender
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  • Interests
    Romanticism and Philosophy
  • Application Season
    2019 Fall
  • Program
    PhD English

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  1. indecisivepoet


    Thanks, @a_sort_of_fractious_angel. I am leaning toward not using it. I wonder if your approach would work for me, though -- two of my recommenders have only known me for a month and I'm hoping to give them up until December to write their letters as we get to know each other better. I'm also planning to send in all my materials pretty close to the deadlines because I was only convinced to apply this year instead of next year a couple weeks ago and will be scrambling to get things done. Maybe I can just be up front with them about the number of emails they'll get and how I want to make that easier on them, and I can ask if they'd prefer to get started on the letters now or to submit them all at once in December.
  2. indecisivepoet


    Hi all, I haven't found a post about this more recent than 2012 and am looking for updated experiences. Did anyone who applied to 10+ programs use Interfolio and have success with it? Did those of you who did not use it find that it wasn't a problem to forgo it? I dread the idea of paying for yet another part of this process and it seems much easier to follow the website's instructions and put in my letter-writers' email addresses rather than navigate a third-party service that sounds complicated and inconsistent, not to mention email each of the programs and ask if they accept it. But -- I equally dread the idea of my letter-writers receiving 13 different emails requesting uploads. One of my letter-writers is British and unfamiliar with the US application process and he has never had to support so many applications for one student before. Another one of my letter-writers suggested Interfolio to me last year when I was applying to MA programs and seemed disappointed that the programs I was applying to didn't accept it. Thoughts?
  3. indecisivepoet

    2019 Applicants

    Thanks, @WildeThing and @dangermouse! I know definitively that I wouldn't feel confident about my applications this fall and that I'd be treating it as a practice run rather than expecting to get an offer. I am also unsure of how helpful a practice run would really be for me because I've been researching programs, writing up statements that describe and re-examine my interests every couple of months (just for my own benefit) and thinking heavily about how I'll work on my papers for writing sample purposes, etc anyway. Essentially, regardless of whether I apply this fall I will still be prepping my applications for next year this whole year -- just over a very long timeline that ensures I'm spending about an hour or two a week on this rather than half of my week each week. The real benefit to applying this year, I think, would be that from my understanding, programs are open to different applicants depending on what they need from a given cycle or who's on the adcom. So theoretically, I could submit applications this year and be accepted because they happened to be open to a British Romantic/philosophy person this year, whereas next year I might be competing with Romanticists that fit better than I do and be denied even though my application is objectively stronger than this year's. So I guess what I need to ask myself is if it's worth spending my time and a few hundred dollars on this on the chance that that happens.
  4. indecisivepoet

    2019 Applicants

    Hi everyone! Perhaps not the place to post this, but: I am just starting a 1-year MA program and my plan was to finish the program and apply next fall for the 2020 cycle. However, a faculty member at my program is encouraging me to apply to 3-4 programs this fall and re-apply to 10-13 next fall if I don't get in. He thinks it would be a valuable exercise to practice applying and that there's a possibility I could get in. My problem is that while I've been compiling lots of research on programs and I know exactly what applications entail, I had planned to do everything over a 1-year timeline. So I don't have a firm list of programs, I haven't started on SoPs at all, and I don't have a WS to use (I would be rushing to finish a seminar paper I'm just starting now a month early and using this). I would have one strong LoR from an undergrad professor not in my field, one enthusiastic letter from this faculty member who is very supportive here but who I have only known for 2 weeks, and 1 letter from another faculty member here who will only have known me for a short time and whose class I hope to do well in and whom I hope to get to know but is less enthusiastic by nature (read: British). My professor is pushing hard for me to do this this fall and thinks it would be good for me but I'm worried it would be a waste because I don't know my field or interests nearly well enough to write a strong SoP (I was planning to start SoPs 11 months from now after having written a dissertation) and I don't think my WS would be strong since I'll be writing it over about a month and a half and won't have much time to research or revise. I also won't have time to read the work of faculty members at programs I'm interested in; if anything, I'll have time for a quick skim of some articles or book chapters. I very much want to listen to his advice but I don't feel it's the right choice for me and I'm worried cramming PhD application work into the next 2 months will take away from time I could be spending getting to know my field and writing strong papers for my classes. He says it wouldn't be very much work to put together applications for 3 programs. I have been given advice from professors in the past that I have ignored because I thought I knew better and I have always regretted ignoring it. Any thoughts?
  5. My strong guess is that they will look at your WS and SoP (and EFL scores?) and as long as those are at the English level they're looking for, they won't care if your institution isn't English-speaking. I've seen grad student profiles with backgrounds at universities in Asia, Turkey, Scandinavia, and other European countries. I think as long as the letter makes clear in what capacity you worked together this won't be a problem. Was this person teaching you or advising you in some way? I am studying my MA at Edinburgh! I absolutely love the city (and the country) and am thrilled to be spending a year here. My program isn't funded, which was the right decision for me based on where I was coming from with my undergrad and my interests (and I worked full time through undergrad so I'm privileged enough to be able to leave the program with savings rather than debt). The lack of funding and the structure/ethos of PhD programs here keeps me from continuing in the UK, though -- I will also definitely be applying to all US-based PhD programs next year. I'm hoping my un-funded MA isn't a mark against me to adcoms but I've seen plenty of current grad student profiles with UK MAs so I'm not too worried.
  6. Hi @lit-TARDIS - I will let Grad Cafe-ers much more seasoned than I address the majority of your queries. But I'd just like to reassure you that no program will look at where you've done your undergrad or MA and throw your application out. I've been reassured by faculty everywhere I've talked to (Rutgers included if that helps) that no one on adcoms cares where someone did their BA or their MA -- in those exact words. They will care very much about your SoP and WS, and they will also hope you've gotten a decent GPA and GRE score. Similarly, I think your LoR situation is fine. They are all tenured or tenure-track, correct? As long as the letters are good, I don't think they will care very much if they're from associate, emeritus, or full professors. FWIW, I have been looking through tons of program pages and browsing through current grad student portfolios, and many have done their undergrads at schools in the US I have never heard of and I've lived here my whole life. Your interests sound like they will be well placed in almost any department as those are all very popular areas to be studying right now. Again, I'll let others comment on this, but I would suggest drawing up books, articles, journals you enjoy or have used in your research and seeing where those scholars work, or reading through faculty pages generally to see whose specific work within cultural studies and your historical fields you think is exciting.
  7. @SocialPsych18 -- thanks for elucidating that! I'm learning that something similar is the case for many of the programs I'm looking at and that I originally mentioned in this thread: the terminology used to describe funding isn't a sneaky way of making a program sound funded when it isn't; it's just safe language for the website to use about a program that is, in practice, funded.
  8. Thanks, @renea! That's helpful to know and will be noted on my spreadsheet... Edit: I just took a look at my spreadsheet and I have $22k/year for 5 years written for FSU (based on the thread on here with funding packages). Does that sound incorrect to you? I know everyone's needs are very different, but I wouldn't have labeled $22k as a lower-end stipend so I wanted to double-check.
  9. This. Is what comes to mind right now when I imagine myself reaching out to someone at a program. Thanks for the examples, and thank you for yours as well, @victoriansimpkins. I'm working on getting over the pressure I feel to do ALL the possible things because they've worked for some other people and to instead do what feels authentic for me. I imagine in a year's time when I've done more thorough research on the programs that really interest me, I'll either have unanswered (procedural) questions I know I need to reach out to a DGS about or I'll know I have no business contacting the department -- I've, at this point, been swayed against contacting professors to let them know I'm interested in working with them. I suppose an exception might be if a program's main appeal is one "dream" professor and I want to find out if they're even planning to take on new advisees. Unlikely since I know this is not a good reason to apply to a program anyway and I feel more comfortable applying to programs with wide-ranging but thorough support.
  10. Great advice. A follow-up question: what kinds of things did you find it was helpful to reach out to DGSs about? I think I'm too early in the research process to know.
  11. indecisivepoet

    Letter writers and choosing seminars

    Thanks, @Warelin. And thanks to everyone for being so patient with all my questions lately! I've felt guilty for asking them all but I really don't have another community anything like this one where I can voice these questions and insecurities, so I was (and still am) incredibly excited when I discovered TGC. In this case, I wouldn't have known that attempting to learn a significant amount from and build a relationship with a faculty member only through office hours is really not an option. At any rate, I'm finding that I have fewer questions as I become more confident. I ended up decided to take one of the "less interesting" seminars with the professor with whom I'd really like to study. I will ask my GC if I can take his spring undergraduate seminar instead -- the more I look at the syllabus, the more I realize I will probably never see a seminar so in line with my interests again -- but I'm not hopeful about that working out, and I've now thought things through enough to be happy with taking his course in the fall and something else in the spring, and adding basic literary theory texts to my ever-growing independent reading list.
  12. indecisivepoet

    ISO Statements of Purpose

    I don't know how many departments do this, but it might be worth reaching out to the graduate administrator at your undergraduate university and asking if they have any samples on deck that they're able to share. In addition to those I asked current grad students at my undergrad to share with me, I was given copies of 3 successful statements that the department keeps around for just this purpose.
  13. @telkanuru - Thank you! Noted, and will work on this structure.
  14. indecisivepoet

    Letter writers and choosing seminars

    I think the questions I have for him come from a place of knowing I'm interested in what he's doing, but a lot of it being over my head. This is the part that gives me anxiety: knowing I have some grasp on what I want to research and some idea of what he (and others) is (are) doing but knowing that I still (no matter how much reading I do this year) have barely scratched the surface of what's going on in these areas. Sometimes I doubt that I should even pursue my interests because they're so philosophically and theoretically inclined and I've done so little work in these areas. When I think of the types of questions I'd have for someone like him, they're less beautifully articulated and thoughtful questions about the nuances of his methodology or arguments going on in his subfields, and more questions about how I can learn more about those areas, how I can feel like I have somewhat of a grasp on things, what sorts of things I should be reading, what the larger questions guiding his particular research are -- things like that. And I just don't know if it's okay for me to ask those kinds of things, and indeed how to do so without sounding like an idiot. I'm confused a little bit by the wording of your last statement: when you say "allow him to say no" -- are you referring to his potentially writing me a letter? Do you think my research interests should be a "match" with all the faculty members who write me LoRs? I don't think they will be. The way I've asked about LoRs in the past was just chit-chatting with professors about my plans for graduate school and asking for advice on applying, and they've all offered to write me a letter without me needing to ask. In the future, I'm not sure what I'll say. I tend to get overly apologetic when I ask others for favors and might end up saying something like "Do you think you might be willing to write me a strong letter of recommendation for my applications? If you have too much going on this semester or don't think that's something you would be able to take on, that's absolutely fine" -- not sure if that kind of language would be appropriate. Also -- I know in this thread I've come across as taking these potential letter-writers for granted and I should have phrased things differently. I know these people are only that -- potential letter writers. What I'm really interested in is learning from this person. But: as an undergrad I thought precisely ZERO about who I was taking my classes with and got myself into a really less than ideal situation when it came time for LoRs, and I don't want to make that mistake twice. Hope that makes sense 🙂 Thanks, @Glasperlenspieler. I guess my question now becomes: do I think I would get more out of a structured theory course or out of studying under this professor? I'll have to spend the next week or so thinking that through.
  15. indecisivepoet

    Letter writers and choosing seminars

    @Warelin - this response is wonderful. I'm now certain this isn't the route to go down, so my next line of thinking is addressed below... Also, this isn't what I wrote this thread topic for, but since your comments about office hours generally were so helpful: do you have tips on how to approach the initial office hour? I'm great with structured office hours -- i.e. making an appointment to address my paper topic or a problem I'm having -- but I tend to have anxiety around the type of visit during which I introduce myself, ask about their research, and tell them about my interests. This is especially true for those faculty members I'm not taking a class with. Should I start that off by just asking them if they can tell me about their work? @Glasperlenspieler - you bring up great points. I think they are best addressed by providing some more specific context that I didn't want to bog my initial post down with. My fall semester situation is this: there is a literary theory -- general literary theory, somewhat of a survey of several schools -- seminar that I'd love to take because my current interests have much to do with theory and it's my weak area. I didn't take a single theory course as an undergrad and while I've done a lot of learning on my own, I've been incredibly eager to take a formal, structured survey course in literary theory because I just don't feel grounded enough to do the kind of work I want to with it. I'm also concerned that applying to PhD programs without a single theory course on my transcript (especially since I'll be applying with an MA) will be a detriment to my applications, and I'm not sure how convinced they'll be by my ability to grapple with theory just because I display competency with the relevant strand of theory in my SoP or because I casually mention that I've done some of my own reading in it. Now, alternatively, this professor with whom I'm eager to work is teaching two seminars in the fall, both of which would be appealing and exciting for me if this seminar in theory weren't being offered. So it's not that I'm not interested in the seminars he's teaching in the fall; it's that it really feels to me like I NEED to take the theory seminar instead. I'm really quite torn, but it seems like I'd be putting myself at a disadvantage if I didn't. Unfortunately my program has a policy against auditing additional seminars. Similarly, it's not that this person's interests have nothing to do with mine at all. I think there is some overlap, I'd get something out of taking the class with him, and I'd be able to discuss my theoretical interests with him. But I also feel that if it were a simple choice between which professor I'd rather have a relationship with, it would absolutely be the one who is not teaching this theory seminar -- to the point that I'd really feel like I'd wasted a big opportunity if I didn't study with him. The other 2 seminars I know I am taking (they are compulsory but also exciting and useful since they are general courses within my period) are taught by faculty with the same period interest as me. However, there are several faculty members working in this period at my university and these happen to be the ones who are working on subfields and areas that don't interest me very much; there are other faculty members working in my period whose interests more closely align with mine, but they aren't teaching this fall. I think that complaining about these people being my potential letter-writers would be nit-picky and unfounded; I think having 2 LoRs from people working generally in my field -- if not in my more specific areas -- with whom I've taken classes would be perfectly fine. I guess I just feel like to not take a class with this ONE specific professor whose interests are nearly identical to mine would be a poor decision and a waste of that third letter. So that comes down to me foregoing the theory class in the fall, or: For the spring semester, there is no seminar I'm 100% gung-ho on but several that sound interesting and exciting. Unfortunately, the professor in whom I'm primarily interested is not teaching any. He's teaching an undergraduate course that is my DREAM course (again indicating to me that his work is of great interest to me), but as I mentioned above, I don't know if I can take it (I'll have to reach out to my program director again) and I don't know if it's a good idea to take an undergrad-level class even if I'm allowed to. I could also hold out on the hope that he'll be assigned as my dissertation mentor, but I think that's unlikely and risky. Writing this out has made me realize it's a question of: is it worse to not take a class with this person I'm so excited about and forego him as a potential letter writer, or to apply to PhD programs with no theory classes on my transcript and write my dissertation and SoP with no formal background in theory, when the projects I'm interested in doing will involve a good deal of it?

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