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SheCyborg

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  1. Like
    SheCyborg reacted to AlphacentauriC in What we learned from this Application Season   
    I think the lesson from this season application cycle, like in the past cycles I have participated in, is that one issue/one event with your academic history does not determine your fate. Poor GPA, uncool GREs, one or four bad grades, etc do not block your academic career, if you are serious. My advice to future applicants is that, do not let people, stupid events, unfair stuff, block your path. Your dreams will come true, if you determined. Good luck. 
  2. Like
    SheCyborg reacted to hamnet in tights in What we learned from this Application Season   
    Oh, Gosh. I feel like I've learned SO many things. Here, let me make a numbered list. For any future readers, know that these things are Rhet/Comp specific, but also, specific to a very small thread of Rhet/Comp, and an applicant who is disabled, graduating with two concurrent MAs, with teaching experience, loads of conferences, and fluent in multiple languages. Happy to discuss any of those things further by PM.  
    1) Waitlists are genuinely a good thing. They felt like the end of the world at the beginning of this.
    2) If you happen to submit your MA Thesis you're still actively working on as your writing sample, your materials will improve significantly even just over the course of the term you apply. This is normal. Don't drive yourself crazy by looking back at your WS and thinking you're so bad. Yes, this is a hugely important application, but admissions committees are aware that you're a student and you're in the middle of growing and learning. 
    3) Rhet/Comp PhDs and sections of English Studies PhDs in our field often have very small cohorts. Smaller than you realize. Like, two sometimes. And that is in the ideal situation where they actually fill both spots -- they might not. So if you ever wonder 'what the heck does x person have that I don't?!?', it might be sobering to remember that it might literally be -A- spot. Some programs ARE larger, though.  
    4) Really understanding not only who you'd ideally seek to work with AND who you'd work with in their stead if they took a surprise sabbatical during a pivotal time in your studies is crucial. I'd always heard folks say, 'Don't go somewhere just to work with one person in particular,' and I didn't really take it to heart -- turns out, from experience, that's very real. 
    5) ESPECIALLY here on GradCafe: be very mindful of the differences between Rhet/Comp and Lit. This board is mostly Lit folks, which makes sense, but it also can get a bit confusing. It is completely normal (sadly) that our stipends are lower, that our cohorts are smaller, that our job market is a bit different (for better and for worse). We also don't really exist at the Ivies, whereas you'll see lit people on here ardently struggling to choose between Harvard and Yale and you might think, 'Oh my Gosh, my field doesn't even exist in those places'. That's all part of the deal. Literature is just a different ballgame, and that is okay. As you start your PhD, you'll likely learn a little bit about how Rhet/Comp emerged as a field, and a bit of the "contention" between our fields. It's friendly, but it's a thing that goes back forever. Keep it in mind, but don't take it to heart. 
    6) In the same vein as #5, don't be shocked when you see a lot of Literature folks applying to PhDs as BA-only applicants. That's a thing in a lot of fields, but generally not ours. You will find that virtually all Rhet/Comp PhDs expect you to come in with an MA, and it is not a bad thing for you to have one. In fact, it's sometimes a very good thing. 
    7) Sometimes, but not always, really good Rhet/Comp programs are in schools that you would never expect -- schools that are below the top 50, even below the top 100. That is okay. Remember: it's less about where you go, and more about who you study with and how you network. Our field is a bit unique. 
    8 ) Important: you will get a job. Almost every university and community college in North America has some form of writing program. It is a LOT easier to place a writing specialist than it is to place, for example, a Queer Shakespearean scholar. Now, granted, the first job you do get might not be TT, and you might be in the middle of nowhere... but please trust me, as an anon person on the internet, from one panicked first gen student with no safety net to another: you will get a job. 
    9) If you are on a waitlist, be prepared to be genuinely waiting down to the wire, to April 15th, or even beyond. Check the results history. Sometimes -- even not in a pandemic--people get offers a few weeks later than the 15th. 
    10) Apply to more schools than you think you'll need to. 10 sounds like a crazy number, but in retrospect, having only done 5 myself this cycle, I now wish I had just bit the bullet and applied to those other couple of 'maybes' that I didn't, that have now in retrospect become more realistic places for me to live than the places I did actually apply to.      
    And the most important: 11) So much of admission details comes down to minutia. I'm lucky to have an inside connection at a handful of the places I applied to, and I've learned that when it comes down to who is offered a place vs. ending up on a waitlist, sometimes it's genuinely stuff that the applicants have zero control over. This could be anything from how currently packed a POI's schedule is, searches going on at the school that are diverting attention from student-facing duties, whether or not a grant got renewed, or more. And that's just some of the handful of stuff on the department side. Sometimes decisions come down to things you as an applicant cannot really control, like maybe a bad GPA from literal years ago, or one candidate having more undergraduate research experience than another. In my own case, I transferred three times during undergrad and had gaps in my education to work. I started at a community college, then a regional school, then graduated from a top 20 R1. Although I probably had experiences to do research at that last stop, the reality was, my educational background and the ways I'm non-traditional meant I couldn't have those same experiences that sometimes adcoms use to make 'cut off' decisions. So, what this tells us is this: sometimes, you literally could not have done anything better or different -- it isn't you -- and that is okay.       
    Most, most important thing: You will be okay. There is a place for you. You bring something meaningful and important to the table, and worst comes to worst, you just need to try again. Keep your chin up. ❤️  
  3. Like
    SheCyborg reacted to Rani13 in 2020 Decisions   
    Annnnd I just accepted my offer from the University of Pennsylvania. This was an agonizing decision but I'm convinced that I've made the right choice. So pleased to be joining a program featuring so many brilliant and generous scholars in and beyond my field. Equally thrilled to be doing a PhD in a city that I know and love. My path to the PhD has been rough, and for a long time I did not expect to get here at all, so this feels especially sweet. 
  4. Like
    SheCyborg reacted to Warelin in 2020 Applicants   
    I rejected a school ranked in the 20s for a school in the 30s. I think the difference is terms of rankings was also around 9? I felt the school ranked in the 30s was in a better location for me, had a better stipend, had faculty I was more interested in working with and their placements looked better to me. The school ranked in the 30s seemed was very open about their placement and the cohort vibe was ambitious and collegial.
  5. Like
    SheCyborg reacted to gooniesneversaydie in 2020 Applicants   
    In my attempt to spread humor during this tumultuous time, I finally figured out how to add photos. At long last, here is Coraline (and Charli too!). May they bring a hopeful smile and a reminder that we never had actual control over anything anyway, because cats are our supreme overlords and we exist solely to do their bidding. Grad school wasn't even my idea, it was theirs.


  6. Like
    SheCyborg reacted to Rani13 in 2020 Decisions   
    Garrulous post alert in response to so many of the comments and thoughts here. What a time to be alive and contemplating the ivory tower! I've been torn between three of my offers for the last two weeks, but I've achieved some clarity of late. It's disappointing that the visits have been cancelled, but I think I have come to a (tentative) decision without them. Maybe my thought process will be helpful to some of you. Of the three (similarly ranked) schools, I eliminated one just based on location. There was nothing wrong with the location per se (in fact many people speak highly of it), it's just that it would have been a slightly more arduous move for me and ultimately the merits of the program did not outweigh the other two enough to justify the move. Down to two, both of which were tempting me enough to want to pull a James Franco so I could attend both at once (jk). Of the two programs, school 1 is very well known in my field, has an excellent placement record, has lots of young faculty doing cutting edge work, and is known to be extremely rigorous. School 2 is also very well known and prestigious. But while it has excellent faculty in my field, it isn't quite as well known for producing scholars in my field as school 1. It's also older, whiter, and somewhat more old fashioned than school 1. On the flipside, school 2 is offering me more money (in fact it is throwing money and fellowships at me). Attending it would be the more comfortable experience overall (they also require less coursework of you and leave you alone more). BUT I've decided on school 1 because I think it will make me the better scholar. It will be tougher to survive (though I'm lucky enough that it's still very well funded, so I'm definitely not making a case for anyone to choose financial hardship for the sake of excellence or whatever), I will be challenged more, and I will be more tired, but I do think that I will get better engagement overall from the scholars I want to work with. I've determined this by Skyping/calling with the professors in question at both schools and asking them how they would mentor my specific research project. I have also talked to other graduate students who are currently dissertating at both schools to learn more about the mentorship styles of both institutions. In response to what we're all wondering about (how involved will faculty actually be in your work once you've committed to attend), I am finding that some schools have clear positions vis a vis mentoring such that it's not even really a question of the style of individual professors so much as it is of the school’s overall ethos. In my case, school 1 clearly takes a very hands on approach (sometimes to the extent that it can become a problem) whereas school 2 is much more handsoff. So I'm wondering less about individual professors (though so many have reputations for being either too checked out or too invested) than departmental ethos (to which most professors ultimately subscribe). I'm probably going with school 1 because I ultimately think more engagement is better than less. I have a few friends in departments where their advisors are checked out, and they're struggling with their dissertations (and looking job market prospects). 
    All of this is to say, thinking about where my intellectual interests would be best served has helped me make this decision. I know my project will change, but I'm choosing the place that I think will hold me to a higher standard. Other (more minor) things that have helped: looking at coursework from this academic year as well as for the upcoming fall term (if it's listed) to see which school had more interesting/exciting/cutting edge offerings. There's such a wide range. Also imagining myself in these courses and trying to think about which seemed like a better fit for me. Also convenience of location and money. Even though I'm (probably) declining the school giving me more money, the difference is not all that significant given that school 1 is located in a city with a lower cost of living. Also pleasantness of location (school 1 is in a city, school 2 is near some cities but I wouldn't actually be able to live there until later). Also thinking about job placement statistics. Ok, I'll stop now.  
  7. Like
    SheCyborg reacted to ecogoth in 2020 Applicants   
    not to be too cynical, but i think the real selfish fear to be had in how this will affect academia is in how it might affect the future of teaching as a profession
    a lot of campuses have shut down and made all their classes into online classes already, and i'm guessing many more will follow amidst this hysteria. once schools realize they can effectively get away with running everything online (if things are able to run smoothly enough along), then there might be more of a push toward online education, meaning less jobs! less pay! and, reportedly, less knowledge-retention for students! obviously online education is a much more nuanced thing itself, and it can be really positive in enabling nontraditional students to access higher education - however, the move toward total online education would not be great for the plight of the adjunct (understatement of the year)
     
    and as has already been said here and elsewhere, the immunocompromised are the most likely to be seriously affected by the coronavirus. what's special about this virus is in how it can be spread so quickly without carriers ever even exhibiting symptoms (for around 14 days of incubation!). with this being the case, along with the absolute inadequacy (and moral corruption) of both our healthcare system and our social safety net in the united states, the virus is much more likely to be spread and much more likely to affect these individuals. i don't foresee the actual virus lasting long past the traditional flu season and into the summertime, but what i think and hope will be more lasting is the outrage it inspires toward these systems. im already on my soapbox, so if you all are looking for a reason to get politically involved, this it it! there couldn't be a more timely reason to join the fight for universal healthcare in the united states!
     
  8. Upvote
    SheCyborg reacted to Bumblebea in Literature PhD options   
    I did not think you were aiming this at me. After all, I do indeed have a job. But I spent a large chunk of my life trying to get one, so I'm eye-rolling at some of the statements people make that imply that the market is self-sorting and that those who didn't get a job didn't deserve one in the first place because they made some "gaffe" along the way that ensured their unhireability, just as those who got hired somehow did everything "right" and deserve their success. Such as: 
    I mean, really? Yes, of course there are hundreds of people who enter the job market every year who are published in respected journals, who win grants, who are qualified (really??? you think this comes down to who's the most qualified??), who don't make interviewing mistakes (!!! if it only came down to interviewing mistakes so that people could fix them!), who have interesting research that "matters" (always a subjective thing anyway), who aren't "narrow specialists" (my years and years of teaching at a non-Ivy League program ensured that), and who have taught a wide range of classes (lol, again, after years on the market and VAP circuit, just ... lol). 
    And as far as being "over-qualified"--I mean, sit down. Honey, we're all over-qualified these days.
    After my own years on the job market, though, I vowed never to engage in this kind of blaming. I realize just how insanely arbitrary the market is, and that anyone who has a job just got lucky. There were 200 people who could have gotten my job and were just as qualified, and they didn't. I'm not a special unicorn. I do not have a special brain. Yeah, I did a lot of "right things" along the way, and I worked hard, but so did a lot of other people. It almost didn't work out for me, and if it hadn't, it would not really have been my fault. 
    The experience was extremely humbling. What's distressing to me, though, is that successful job seekers still want to see less successful candidates as responsible for their own lack of success. That doesn't exactly fill me with optimism for the future of the discipline. 
  9. Upvote
    SheCyborg reacted to KvV in Anyone else get shut out this year?   
    Yeah, this is all good advice. I appreciate it! There are a few people that I am in my MA with who are excellent at what they do, very hardworking and insightful, yet also got shut out this round. The MLA had a discussion about the status of grad school at the beginning of the year, so perhaps programs are tightening up on their requirements in an attempt to address the dismal state of the job market. I myself am mostly worried about the level of viewpoint diversity we have in our programs. While it is wonderful that certain areas of the discipline are finally getting the attention that they deserve, I perceive a tendency for faddishness in academia which more than likely stunts the growth of the discipline. I hope that this is something that is addressed, since fads were what kept several areas (feminist and minority literature, speculative fiction, ect.) out of academia previously and these areas have made large contributions in the field. But that's just my opinion... I could be way off the mark.
  10. Like
    SheCyborg reacted to hamnet in tights in Waitlist Purgatory   
    Two waitlists here, one of which is my top choice. Loosing my mind.
  11. Like
    SheCyborg reacted to Wimsey in Waitlist Purgatory   
    Waitlists are definitely complicating my decision. I have a favorite among my acceptances, but being accepted off the waitlist at UVA or Rutgers could completely change my perspective. The uncertainty is tough.
  12. Like
    SheCyborg reacted to gooniesneversaydie in 2020 Applicants   
    We made it to March. Hopefully this torturous waiting (*cough* BU *cough*) will finally end soon. 
  13. Like
    SheCyborg reacted to 43pennsylvanian in 2020 Applicants   
    UC Santa Cruz was one of my top choices but I ended up not applying because of this reason. The housing cost is outrageous because the landlords there don't like college students, they want to appeal to Silicon Valley employees who have a six-figure salary. 
    I totally support the students there. UC Santa Cruz was having this problem for too many years and the admin did not even attempt to find a solution. Last year they even sent out an email to faculty asking if they can let students stay in their spare bedroom, since 6,000 students could not find housing. And Janet Napolitano and her team is trying to get an extra 20,000 students next year. This is BS. 
  14. Like
    SheCyborg reacted to LitScript in What is going on with the UVa waitlist?   
    This topic has been brought up in the "Campus Visits" thread, but are any of you on the waitlist at UVA considering going to Charlottesville during their campus visit? I don't know if I could even afford to go (coming from California) or when it specfically is yet (@WildeThing , maybe you could update us on this?), but I feel like it may be worth emailing the DGS and asking about it. I received one offer of admission elsewhere and think I would choose UVA over it, but if I somehow get off the waitlist on, say, April 14, I don't know if I could move somewhere for the next 5-6 years on a good feeling.
  15. Like
    SheCyborg reacted to snorkles in Between now and August   
    Play video games. Watch Netflix. Enjoy your last months of true freedom. 
  16. Like
    SheCyborg reacted to gooniesneversaydie in 2020 Applicants   
    I love this. Nothing better than a group of desperate lit students stalking a department. Then the DGS spotting us and chasing us away with a broom. I've now officially started an inner monologue as Gollum. Every time I check my email or the portal, I get angrier: "We wants it!! We wants the precious! Gives it to us! Stupid fat hobbits's!"
  17. Like
    SheCyborg reacted to WildeThing in What is going on with the UVa waitlist?   
    For simplicity, I'll use bullet points:
    Being waitlisted IS good, no matter where it is or the size of the waitlist. Waitlists are dynamic, no one person can really affect the waitlist authoritatively, not even the director of admissions. So, be patient. I understand that it's frustrating but let me say that at this point last year I had not even heard from UVa yet, and my prospects only really materialized the days before the deadline. There is nothing the admissions committee or chair can do right now other than wait to hear back from admitted students, so I wouldn't send them too many emails asking for updates. Last year I emailed in March, then again on April 1st, and then on the 12th, and the response were basically the same each time because, ultimately, if there's movement and it falls to you then it will fall to you, but they can't give you any more information because... The waitlist, I think, is not hierarchy-based. UVa, at least last year, tried to get a mix of students so technically, several students might reject the offer and it never fall to you because you're in different fields, but then again you might be the next one up if X person drops. So there's no way for anyone to give you more information. it's just very unpredictable. Even if you're the next Victorianist up and the accepted Victorianist goes somewhere else, you MIGHT get the email, but maybe that Victorianist also did digital humanities and now another digital humanist has also back out so they might prefer not to fill the Victorianist spot at all. Note that I have no idea how the decisions are actually made and this is not about any particular example but just to illustrate how a waitlist is not necessarily a list and the best thing you can do is be patient (you can request updates every once in a while, but I don't see much point in asking about movement before April rolls in). I am very much on the side that thinks that if you know you're not taking up an offer then you should notify the school ASAP, but let's remember that this is still February, some schools have not notified yet, many schools still have rejections pending, so until most of that clears up it would be unfair to expect anyone to make the call. I was definitely in your shoes, hoping UVa admits would just decide already, but people need to take their time so, again, patience is key here. Note that the UVa visits have not happened yet, I believe they are taking place next week, so I wouldn't expect much movement before mid-March, anyway. But yes, 4/10 of us in the current cohort got off the waitlist, but ultimately each applicant is a universe onto themselves, so perhaps everyone accepts their spot (or no one does, who knows?). Sorry if long but basically: be patient, breathe, you will find out sooner or later, hopefully sooner. Good luck to everyone (and as always, if you have UVa-specific questions feel free to PM)!
  18. Upvote
    SheCyborg reacted to GoldHippie in 2020 Applicants   
    Ugh. Just got rejected from Brandeis. I only have one more to go (chandler voice: BU could you B any slower?), but it's not looking good. I know everyone says it's not over until it's over, but I kind of wish I could trick my brain into thinking it's over. I'm 100% reapplying next year (and probably adding 10 extra schools) and I plan on retaking both GREs and working on my writing, but I feel a bit lost.
    I know we all feel this way, and we are all right the feel this way, but I really felt like I earned it and I deserved to get in... My heart truly goes out to anyone feeling this pain right now. I hope you know you're worthy and you deserve all of the chocolate cake money can buy.
     
  19. Like
    SheCyborg reacted to Rani13 in 2020 Applicants   
    Congrats on coming this far! As a former international student myself, I think these are really pertinent questions. I want to say there is no single, right way of doing this. I've had a fairly unconventional journey myself, and am seeing some successes with PhD applications. My BA is from the Global South and my MA is from a non-fancy US university. There are pros and cons to worrying about prestige. On the one hand, it does count for a lot, and can certainly help you get in to a well ranked PhD program. On the other hand, it really isn't everything and there are ways to overcome the lack of prestige. Re: the cons of pursuing prestige, keep in mind that MA students at the ivies often get short shrift. The programs are known to be cash cows for the university, and thereby students don't always get taken seriously by faculty. They are sometimes ignored for PhD students. This means that research suffers, recommendations suffer, and ultimately PhD applications suffer. I also have known students from ivies who are so used to getting in everywhere that they get complacent when it really matters. I also am finding (based on feedback I'm getting from professors at the schools I've been admitted to) that (at least some) schools are more appreciative of strong candidates from less elite backgrounds, because it shows that you can work hard and fight even when things are not handed to you on a platter (a quality that counts for a lot in a bleak academic job market). That said, I don't want to claim that prestige doesn't matter, it most certainly makes things a lot easier. Those of us without prestige have to work twice as hard and often for half the reward. Anyway, all of this is to say that there's no one right way to do this, and you can work with whatever you choose. 
    As to your specific dilemma, I do strongly favour funded terminal MA programs over shelling out tens of thousands of dollars for the ivies. They can be rigorous even as they are less fancy than the ivies. Worth looking into if you go the MA route. On the question of UCR, I will just say that I know an international student who began a PhD at a small, low-ranked PhD in the midwest and then re-applied to PhDs two years in. The second time around, they were accepted to several programs including a top three. They did not plan things this way, it just so happened that the program they first entered fell apart a year or so in, and they felt the need to move. But in retrospect they were able to spend two years doing coursework in a lesser known (but still substantive) PhD program before moving to a fancy one. 
    If this is too rambly and incoherent, forgive me. It's late at night and I'm procrastinating on writing my thesis 🤢.
  20. Upvote
    SheCyborg reacted to merry night wanderer in 2020 Applicants   
    FYI, I'm going to go ahead and email the Boston U DGS.
  21. Like
    SheCyborg reacted to ABottledCoke in 2020 Applicants   
    Yay!! The cycle is finally over. I've been mostly lurking, but popping in now to say that this thread has been good for managing the waiting anxiety. Good luck to all who have yet to hear back!!
     
  22. Like
    SheCyborg reacted to Rani13 in 2020 Acceptances   
    Also in at Rutgers with the *nicest* call of all time. 😭
  23. Like
    SheCyborg reacted to Rani13 in 2020 Acceptances   
    Oof I’m in at Princeton too. What is my life.
  24. Like
    SheCyborg reacted to Rani13 in 2020 Applicants   
    In at Michigan with a merit fellowship. What.
  25. Like
    SheCyborg reacted to gooniesneversaydie in 2020 Applicants   
    Can we all just collectively close our eyes and see if we can make time jump? If it could be like, Thursday, that would be super. Or March. March would be good too. 
    The continued waiting.......   madness. 
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