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Balleu

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Balleu last won the day on August 1 2018

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About Balleu

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    Espresso Shot

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  • Location
    Chicago, IL and its nearest neighbor north
  • Application Season
    Already Attending
  • Program
    History PhD--Atlantic World

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  1. I also remember our application thread from last year starting much earlier in the cycle. We had more questions and conversation during the process of researching programs in the summer and writing our applications in the fall. This year folks came in with applications already mostly done and it's more of a results chat. You all were more self-sufficient during applications, it seems! 😀
  2. Balleu

    Decisions

    Oh, I'd never say such a thing. All the kids here know it's Canada Goose or nothing. Sarcasm aside, thank you. That's an excellent breakdown on preparing for the weekend. Thanks! I hadn't considered it this way and this perspective has me looking forward to it a bit more.
  3. Balleu

    Decisions

    I actually feel quite nervous about our upcoming recruitment weekend for exactly this reason. Our DGS sent an email that the weekend will begin with a dinner with all first year students that we're strongly encouraged (read: absolutely expected) to attend. The idea of other people asking me for information on the department seems quite daunting; I've only just started here myself! Any advice on being a useful source for these prospective students, other than giving appropriate caveats and directing them to the people they should actually be asking?
  4. This was my situation last year. @psstein's advice is solid and was the approach I took. I also asked the DGS if wait list students can visit campus to meet with professors, tour the campus, etc. I did it on my own dime, which is not possible in many cases, but feel very lucky and glad that it was an option for me. Regardless of whether it's in person at a campus visit or via email, express to your POI how and why your work fits well with University of Zed's strengths and how you're eager to pursue your research with them.
  5. Good clarification, thanks for highlighting this question. I did take this approach, deliberately choosing not to apply at programs in areas where I wouldn't want to live and work for 5+ years. Granted, that was also a factor that pushed me to apply to programs that weren't right. If I were going through this process again, my list would look fairly different. It's always going to be a challenge to balance the many, many factors in play. Cost of living, for instance. Bigger cities offer myriad cultural and intellectual resources, major airports for easier travel, a better chance that you'll find the cultural/religious/social community that fuels you.... and rents that will make your eyeballs bleed.
  6. I applied in the Fall 2019 cycle to 5 schools and ended up with 4 rejections and 1 admit. My general background: 2 years at a SLAC/Ivy right out of high school (3 strong semesters followed by one disaster semester, withdrew with a 3.33 GPA), worked throughout my 20s, finished my BA in History during those years at an R2 state school (completed a thesis through the school's honors college, graduated with a 4.0), applied for PhD programs in my early 30s a few years after finishing the BA. My approach to the process and lessons learned: 1. Understand your research questions and why they are significant. Before you do anything else, you need a rock-solid understanding of your research questions, how you'll answer them, and why they matter. What has the existing scholarship said about your proposed topic and why do you think that historiography needs to be challenged/expanded? What methodological and theoretical approaches inform your work? This is the foundation of a successful SoP; it's the difference between passion for history and preparedness for historical work. Students in my program write an article-length research work by the end of their first year; you need to show you will arrive on campus already able to formulate and investigate historical research questions. 2. Do your research on programs and professors. Once I felt confident on point 1 above, I launched into research on programs and professors. Who are the big names in your subfield and methodology? Where do they teach? What are their former students doing now? Who are the early career historians whose work you admire and where did they train? Who else in a department aside from Dr. Big Name could be part of your training? If you are proposing interdisciplinary, transnational, or comparative work, look at other relevant departments' offerings AND make sure the History department will support that approach. I made a spreadsheet as I went, with information on the structure of the program (coursework, language requirements, when do students take comps, coursework outside of history, etc.), potential faculty mentors, and practical information (application deadline and requirements, funding package, teaching expectations, etc.). 3. Choose quality over quantity. Once you have a list of programs you're considering, start narrowing it down. All available evidence says that where you get your PhD matters much more than simply getting one. On the advice of my faculty mentors, I decided at the outset that I would either go to a top-tier school with five guaranteed years of funding or I wouldn't go at all. That meant there were many schools that never made it onto my spreadsheet. For those that did, I emailed potential advisers a version of the following: "I'm a prospective grad student planning to research X. I am contacting you because of your work on X and the department's strengths in Y. Will you be taking on new graduate students in the upcoming year?" Some never wrote back, some responded that their department wouldn't be the right fit for my work and suggested others I should explore, some wrote back enthusiastically and we spoke via email or phone as I was preparing my applications. I applied to 5 programs and in retrospect only 1 or 2 of those were actually solid choices. My rejections make perfect sense in hindsight because my work didn't fit those departments' approach, faculty strengths, etc. There were several places I didn't apply that I should have (some out of oversight, some out of stubbornness about not living in Southern California). 4. Show them you can accomplish what you say you can. Your SoP is where you tell them what you plan to do; your writing sample is where you show them that you can accomplish it. Submit original primary source research, ideally showcasing the language and methodology skills you'll use for your graduate research. I considered submitting a section of my undergraduate thesis, but decided to revise and condense the whole work into a 20 page sample. I went through paragraph by paragraph and included only the sections most crucial to my argument. Once I had it cut down to sample length, I asked faculty mentors to read it and offer feedback. 5. Behave as if you're already their colleague. You are applying for a paid apprenticeship on the path to guild membership. Do your best to show that you will be a professional, teachable, and motivated colleague. Although not focused on academia, the archives at Ask A Manager have excellent information on general professional norms in a US context. Some specifics from my process: sending thank you emails after in-person or phone meetings, asking thoughtful questions (i.e. not questions that are answered on the department's website), and being prepared to talk about my professional goals. That last point can feel especially fraught, because everyone knows the miserable state of the job market. But this is the time to talk about why you're doing this and what kind of professional academic historian you're training to be.
  7. Thank them for their time, their support thus far in a competitive application process, and you will let them know as soon as possible if your circumstances change (i.e. you accept another offer or otherwise don't wish to remain on the waitlist).
  8. Northwestern spent early January in the later stages of an Assistant Professor search process, so it may be later than last year.
  9. In my program, students entering with an MA can transfer 1 credit of coursework (of the 18 required for us). Schools will vary widely in their handling of previous coursework. Do you have a copy of the graduate handbook for the program you're considering?
  10. I'm sending well wishes to this year's applicants as you struggle through the waiting process. It's a painful stretch of time, as I remember viscerally from my experience last year. I applied to five programs, was wait-listed at one Jan. 31, got four rejections in February, made peace with striking out, and then ultimately received an offer April 12. My experience with a wait list: Write to the DGS and your intended adviser to express your thanks and confirm your continued interest. I did this once upon initially being wait-listed and once in early March after I had all of my decisions. @idoitchicagostyle suggests above to send updates as each of your other results come in; I chose to send fewer emails and try to make each one count. To each their own. Ask questions of the DGS. How is the wait list organized? Ranked, by field, another way? How do they make decisions about wait list candidates? In their experience, when are students from the wait list typically notified? Can you arrange a visit to the campus or a video visit with a grad student involved in the recruitment process? Reach out to grad students. Ask questions about the program and the area (COL, availability of housing, opportunities for your partner and children, transportation, health/dental/vision/mental health care, etc.). What will you want to want to know when you're deciding (on short notice) whether to accept an offer and relocate? Whether in person or via Skype/email, ask your intended adviser if they have any feedback should you choose to apply again. Am I targeting the right programs? Who else in your department/the institution/The Academy Writ Large would you suggest I contact? You are asking to join their department as a junior colleague. Show that you respect their time, their process, and their feedback. If anyone has questions about Northwestern, message me and I'll do my best to help.
  11. In the past, I read almost exclusively on paper, but I know that won't work for graduate school for a variety of reasons. Do other students have advice on how to successfully make that transition? How do I retrain my brain to accept and incorporate information digitally, when I have so many years of associating learning with the tactile elements of reading on paper?
  12. I appreciate all the great advice in this thread thus far. @Sigaba, would you be willing to elaborate on this? My interpretation is that reading book reviews written by the author in question will 1. familiarize you with their writing style and 2. give you an idea of which debates they are a part of, which other authors they are in conversation with, etc. But if you had other benefits in mind, I'd be interested to hear them.
  13. Hi all! Starting a History PhD at NU, moving from Oregon in August-ish. Moment I thought you all would appreciate: I'm setting up my NU email address and laughing at the idea of having an expected graduation date.
  14. Balleu

    Applications 2019

    It feels completely surreal to say this, but I have accepted an offer from Northwestern. On my way home in the wee hours of Sunday morning, I said out loud to my partner, "I have fully accepted that in two days I'll get an email from them telling me that there's no space for me this year." Two minutes later, the offer email came in (at 2 AM Chicago time--deadlines don't respect normal sleep schedules). Even after everything I've put into this process, I still spent the day yesterday in deep reflection on whether I really, truly want to take this leap. I wanted to be sure that I was accepting their offer because it's the right one, not because it's the only one. Ultimately, this was the best option all along to support the work I want to do. Best of luck to everyone who's making a decision today, or waiting on one. I still can't quite believe it, but it's real.
  15. FWIW, I had phone calls with several professors at Yale HSHM. They all emphasized the close, flexible relationship between History and HSHM.
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