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DanaJ

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About DanaJ

  • Rank
    Espresso Shot

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Woman
  • Location
    United States
  • Interests
    Cold War America, 20th century America, political history
  • Application Season
    Already Attending
  • Program
    History PhD

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  1. Funding is really tough for an MA. HOWEVER, if you are open to state schools, many of them require an MA before the admit PhD students. I was lucky enough to have a funded MA, but it was via a partial tuition scholarship and a partial scholarship the university allowed MA students to apply for. If you want to keep applying in the future, I would look for different combinations of funding to cover the MA. On a personal note, without an MA, I would have felt incredibly unprepared for my current doctoral program. Not to mention they don't accept students without an MA, but I think that time was incredibly beneficial. I think that all comes down to the individual, but I am incredibly thankful I did the MA.
  2. I have a question regarding "teaching experience." I am currently funded with a TA position. I like to think of that as teaching experience, which I would HOPE can help me when I hit the job market and maybe help me to avoid adjunct positions. I attend an R1 school, but there are sometimes other funding opportunities available. These other opportunities generally replace the TA position. Would you recommend holding onto the TA position if another opportunity arose, or sticking with teaching? On a personal note, I LOVE being in the classroom. Even when I'm bombarded with papers or exams to grade and my own deadlines are looming, I never regret accepting a position that allows me to work in a classroom with undergraduates.
  3. I went into my program with mindset of a clean slate. New laptop, new schoolbag, blah blah blah. That said, I had an 8 year old MacBook. It was giving me a lot of issues while I was writing my MA thesis, and one day I actually had to open up the back and re-seat the RAM. Not the end of the world, and my thesis was backed up in my google drive, but still a scary moment when everything was formatted and near final submission. Consider it, if you can. PhD programs are long, tech doesn't last forever, and changing computers in the middle can be incredibly inconvenient. That said, for most historians, a MacBook is overkill. I got a little HP on Amazon for half of what I would've paid for MacBook air, and it's just fine.
  4. I did NOT receive any contact before the e-mail telling me to check the portal. It seemed like an automatically generated e-mail from the graduate school that said something along the lines of "a decision had been made regarding you application." When I logged in, there was a letter offering a conditional acceptance upon completion of my MA (I graduated with my MA May 2019 and started my PhD August of 2019). I do attend a state school. If you want to send a private message I'm open to talking about it. We are ranked slightly below many of the schools discussed on this site by the Chronicle of Higher Education, but I never see anyone on here discussing us. I'm thrilled and love my program, we just aren't common on grad cafe. Edit: for clarity.
  5. I get the impression that every program is different. I can tell you that I received e-mails last year (at least 2 if memory serves) to check the application portal for a decision. One was a rejection (which I 100% expected) and the other was actually my acceptance to my current program. I was shaking waiting for it to load, so you just never know. ALWAYS check.
  6. I agree with that statement. I think that forward thinking is beneficial in any situation. My program is working hard to emphasize finishing in a timely manner, sixth year funding is gradually becoming very limited. I was also lucky and earned my MA from a university geographically close to my current institution. The faculty know each other and communicate often. Even then, my DGS and I had a meeting and examined the content for each course to ensure that necessarily skills were developed. I also needed a language course because I do not have the knowledge to test out, so my DGS and I made the determination together to waive one course. Additionally, I would never recommend anyone do this immediately upon entering a program. I waited until Spring registration opened, after getting a feel for the department and the faculty. Waivers and/or exceptions should absolutely be considered on an individual basis. I was not the first person to be granted this exception, nor was I the only member of my cohort granted a waiver. That said, I do not think it hurts to share personal experience if it can help another student. I would not advise anyone to walk into a department and expect waivers or special treatment if they had already earned an MA, but individual situations may vary just like individual departments.
  7. Look at the graduate school requirements as well as department requirements. That may help you to determine how long it will (potentially) take you to complete the program. The program I attend promotes a 5 year PhD, and they do not take students without an MA in hand. If I were to just meet the graduate school requirements I would only need to do one year of graduate level coursework, but the department has a different requirement. Instead I am scheduled to do 2 years of coursework, even though I have my MA. Look over the two requirements, the department is often more extensive than the graduate school itself. That said, you can sometimes speak to a DGS to get certain requirements waived. For example, I took a theory course during my MA. I sat down with my DGS and we compared the syllabus from my MA institution and my current program, in which he decided to waive that requirement. In doing so, I am still required to take the 2 years of coursework, but I was permitted to take an additional research focused course rather than a seminar. That swap gives me a jump on my own research, ideally helping me to complete the program in the 5 year timeline. However, as with many programs, we have students in their 6th, 7th, even 8th years. Most programs will not have a firm timeline, but the minimum requirements vary.
  8. As we are getting into decision season, I just wanted to wish everyone who is applying good luck! Remember, a rejection is NOT the end of the world. I was heartbroken when I received my first one, but after spending some time in my current program I know that I'm exactly where I am supposed to be. Sometimes decisions are based on factors that we do not know or do not understand. Celebrate your victories, but don't take time to wallow in any failures or take anything too personally. Breathe, work on your ongoing projects, go for a run, lay around and watch netflix for an evening, do your best not to get psyched out or worry too much. I know that is easier said than done, but it is the healthy decision. Good luck, I hope the best for all of you!!!
  9. I don't necessarily disagree. Things do get lost. I have found that most historians that I have contacted have been very responsive and helpful. Things do happen, e-mails do get lost. I suppose the intention of my initial statement was to emphasize not becoming a pest. A professionally worded e-mail can go a long way, but persistent messages without a response can become irritating.
  10. Never be afraid to reach out! If I have learned anything, coming from a family in which no one has gone beyond a bachelors, if they even did that, no one will be upset with you for asking questions. I would send a single, professionally worded email. If you get a friendly response, ask! If they seem to be very busy, or not reply at all, you know that person isn't going to be particularly helpful. In my personal experience, most DGS are very happy to help prospective students. Don't continue to bother them if they are unresponsive, but more often than not, they're happy you've shown interest and taken initiative.
  11. I was kind of up front about asking for a visit, but in the most polite possible manner. In both cases, I contacted the DGS first and asked if I could come visit to see the campus and get information about the department. Once they agreed to that meeting, I emailed my POIs to let them know I would be on campus and asked if they would like to meet. Everything was very informal. In both cases the DGS bought me a coffee, we walked campus a bit, and each meeting went over an hour. One POI seemed friendly via e-mail, but when I was on campus it felt like he couldn't get me out of his office quickly enough. The other POI was happy to meet, actually offered suggestions for sources to include in my MA thesis (I did this 5 months before I completed my MA), and kept in touch to see how things were going after we met. The visits really helped me to get a feel for which program would best suit my needs, while also giving the departments a chance to get to know me a bit. Informal meetings can tell you a lot. I am attending one of those programs and, shocker, I work with the POI who took interest in me. The other program? After I was rejected, I e-mailed the DGS thanking him so much for his help (they were my first application and I had A LOT of questions). He responded very politely and sent his regrets, telling me that the POI didn't think we were a match and there was not anyone else in the department who's research interests aligned with my own well enough to be me POI. Honestly, I had that impression when I left that visit, so that particular meeting really eased the blow when I was rejected. If the DGS and other members of the department I met hadn't been so friendly and welcoming, I wouldn't even have applied after a rough meeting with the POI. Edit: The DGS at one program did tell me that I was welcome to come by the department (the one geographically close to my MA), but I had to take the initiative in pursuing that offer. It seemed like he mentioned it in passing and I circled back, but I took full advantage of the suggestion. The other program, I asked them.
  12. Can I just scream THANK YOU for this statement?? I'm in my first year of a PhD program, and comps scare me to death, but as far as being able to relate to students (hooray TA positions, funding!) and feel engaged within the department, "street smart" over "book smart" can pay off. You just eased some nerves about comps, which seem to be coming at me like a freight train. I also echo much of the discussion about relevance of interviews. I made a point to visit departments that I could (don't fund your own travel if it's not practical, I applied to one school geographically close to where I was doing my MA and one near my mother's residence). These departments did not have a formal interview process, but I felt much more confident after sitting down with the DGS and POI, asking questions in person, and letting them put a face to my application. Personal connections and the ability to speak with people are important skills!
  13. The fact that Michigan doesn't require a GRE should speak volumes to you about how little it seems to matter in today's admissions decisions. Some schools will be firm in the scores that they are looking for, but others will be more flexible. I am currently in my first year of a doctoral program and I was significantly short of their verbal requirements. I did score very high on the written portion. I also made a campus visit, kept in touch with the department, and had a strong application otherwise. As for math, don't stress it. I am really terrible (we are talking sixth percentile math), but most programs don't even request a math score. It's just there as part of the general GRE. Good luck!!
  14. I just want to say thank you for this thread, I'm having the same issue! I used the same macbook throughout my undergrad and MA. I thought macbooks lasted forever, but its been abused over the last 7 years and needs replacing, their price tag has me looking elsewhere. Following closely! I have spoken to my brothers, one is a graphic designer and one is a software administrator, they have me leaning towards some very reasonably priced Dell laptops on amazon. If that helps you at all, that's the information I'm working with!
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