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About bernardthepug

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  • Application Season
    2019 Fall
  • Program
    PhD English Literature

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  1. bernardthepug

    Looking Back

    These are the three things that come to mind for me: 1. Start Earlier: I began this process--seriously researching phd programs--around late June, which sounds like it would avail you plenty of time to get all of your materials together, but I still found myself working on things up and until deadlines. Because of that, I didn't get enough eyes (and feedback) on my SoP or WS. Additionally, with more time I would have read up on my field much more; learned about what work is being done now and has been done in the past ten years or so. To a similar end, I'd probably have read more work from my PoIs--rather than (in some instances) just a cursory glance. There certainly would have been some other benefits to having more time to work on apps. Perhaps this point is a no-brainer, but if you're scrambling in the last few months before deadlines to get your application together, then it might mean you should just wait until next cycle. Use that additional time to make your application 100x stronger. 2. Cast a Wider Net: For the most part, I only applied to top 30 or 40-type programs. I think I was somewhat blinded by good placement rates. I know now that the job market in the humanities is going to remain brutal regardless. So, as someone who cares about and enjoys learning for the sake of it, I'd have been more receptive to applying to programs much further down the ranking list. I realize now that getting paid to study/teach English for 5+ years, even if it's not a lot, is a blessing. There were faculty/programs I was very much excited about, and which aligned well with my research interests, but ultimately didn't apply to because of the overall reputation or ranking. 3. Ask Better Questions: Whenever I'd email prospective programs to learn more, I think I was too worried about offending people or coming across poorly (and then assuming the department would remember me as that guy who asked annoying questions). For instance, I was worried that my GRE score might warrant tossing my application immediately into the trash--probably a massive dramatization and not a real worry, but if I'm going to spend $80 or more on these things then I'd like to know as much as possible about my chances (i.e., is there a GRE cutoff score? it can't hurt to ask..). Perhaps some of the "better" or more blunt questions would have been better to ask current graduate students, who are generally more open about discussing the nuts and bolts of the department. They might know if the department is looking for more students with your interest, or if the department is actually moving away from that area...
  2. bernardthepug

    2019 Applicants

    Does anyone know when U of Iowa usually starts rolling out decisions?? Looking at results from previous years it seems sort of all over the place--like anywhere from mid-February to mid-March. I also might just be confused and/or going cross-eyed as try to sift through the onslaught of decisions from the Iowa Writer's Workshop/MFA.
  3. bernardthepug

    2019 Applicants

    this weirdly made the sting of rejection a bit more palatable LOL.
  4. bernardthepug

    2019 Applicants

    mine says the same--hope we get some good news soon!
  5. bernardthepug

    2019 Applicants

    This is probably a somewhat idiosyncratic question (and sorry if it's been discussed elsewhere), but how much does an endorsement from your PoI bolster your application? Does your PoIs interest in your work carry significant weight with the adcom? Or is it really just situational--varying from program to program?
  6. bernardthepug

    2019 Applicants

    Sorry if this is a bit off-topic, but I think I have a somewhat unique perspective on this whole process and coping with everything. Maybe it'll be relatable or illuminating to others. Basically, I just don't feel crazy stressed about getting an offer or not--I think I'll be at peace with whatever happens. Sure, I've been doing the background research on PhD programs, retaking the gre, and slowly working on apps since last June, but if it's not meant to be it's not meant to be. I can't imagine going through this process again (I truly commend the people that do go through it more than once). Applying to PhD programs has been such an incredible amount of work, and in a lot of ways I'm proud of myself for getting through it all, as there were definite moments when I wanted to just give up b/c I didn't think I could actually get it all done. But I've stayed motivated by reminding myself that academia is what I enjoy, what I'm good at, and what I can envision myself doing as a career. To that end, by working on these apps I've learned so much about myself--my interests, my goals, and perhaps even a sense of what my purpose is or could be in the near future. For what I could potentially lose financially with submitting applications, I feel like I gain back in what I take away personally moving forward in life. I'm an ecocrit/environmental lit person through and through, and I think i've come to realize that I can do good for environmental issues in so many different ways. If it doesn't end up being through literature, then I'm almost positive it'll be in some other way. On top of that, I'm finishing up my M.A. in the Spring, and I think that alone gives me some confidence that I will be able to find a job (which was a definite a struggle coming out of undergrad). On that point, I really do recommend completing the M.A. first, if that's your only option. The M.A. was such a great stepping stone for me to iron out my interests and spend time working on projects in the field I'm passionate about, which I'm hopeful has made me a better applicant for PhD programs now. Not to mention, the 2 years (a bit less) for the M.A. absolutely flew by and I honestly can't believe it's almost over already! At any rate, I wish there was something I could do or say to alleviate others' stress and anxiety over this process and the uncertainty it brings. But the fact that you are all here and invested so much seems indicative of the fact that you all did everything you could in this cycle, and hopefully you all feel confident that it'll work out. I'm definitely rooting for everyone's success, and I'm excited to see the positive results start rolling in.
  7. Not really sure which option you should go with, I think it's ultimately up to your gut feel, but I emailed UCSB specifically about the WS page length...an option they suggested to me was to submit a 10 page excerpt and include a bracketed part at the beginning that talks about the context of the paper and also explains what is not included in the excerpt. so basically a more informal, though still well written, abstract is what i'm planning to submit.
  8. bernardthepug

    2019 Applicants

    Hello! I've been lurking around grad cafe for a few months--finally decided to make an account and start posting so I could share in the stress and anxiety over applying to PhD English lit programs for fall 2019. I finish my M.A. in the Spring. Hoping to transition into a PhD program next fall. It's interesting seeing the people on here who finished their M.A. and then took a few years off. I'm terrified that I'd lose interest or become too lazy to go through the application process after a break from academia. Briefly I'll mention that I'm looking to focus, broadly speaking, in ecocriticism/environmental lit. It's actually super cool to see other ecocrit people here..Environmental lit seems to feel like a small branch of English studies, but perhaps it's starting to grow? I had no idea environmental lit was even an area of study when I was an undergrad. I'm still finalizing my list of programs I'll apply to--but I think i'm aiming for about 8-10. Even 8-10 feels like a lot, especially considering that I'm not planning on applying to any top 20 schools. Still hoping I can put a lot of TLC into each application. Anyway, looking forward to sharing in the joys of application season with everyone on here. Happy to mention any more specifics about my application stuff/background if people are curious. And also a pre-emptive good luck to everyone. Given the fact that we're all gathered here and putting our hearts into getting into PhD (or m.a.) programs probably means we're on the right track, and I'm confident that it'll all work out in the end for all of us :).

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