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About Mischief

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  • Application Season
    2020 Fall
  • Program
    Philosophy PhD

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  1. I'm doing something similar with the writing sample I used this time around. I've workshopped it for so long that I don't think there's much room left to make a noteworthy change without simply writing a follow-up paper, but it's clearly not working as a writing sample at the places I've applied to. It's on tap for one more workshop (so long as it isn't cancelled), after which I'm going to start sending it out to journals. The plan now is that I'll keep reviewing broadly successful writing samples and try to reverse engineer what's working in those. Then I'll write a chapter of my MA thesis in the style found in successful samples. Much as I am sad about being shutout, taking a year to work and have actual income is very exciting. I worked for a year between my BA and MA (mostly at or just above minimum wage) and saved a ton of money (used as a stop gap because of poor funding at my current school, and a dedicated "PhD Apps" fund). Your advice about re-evaluating one's commitment to pursuing the PhD is also well taken. This. I enrolled in a terminal MA specifically because of this fear. Sounds like you're making the right decision!
  2. Hey all, Now that I have officially been rejected from all of the programs that I applied to, I wanted to start a thread for people who are going through the same thing (both at the MA-level and the PhD-level). I'm hoping that we can use this thread for a few different things: Vent about being shutout specifically--I take it this has a special character Talk about what we're going to do for our health in light of this Raise what we hope to do next year now that we know we will not be attending a program in the Fall Talk about what we plan to do to prepare for next season (if we plan to apply again) Compile useful information from past threads on this board regarding any of the above Other stuff I haven't thought of! I don't want to gate-keep who counts as being "shutout." I will say, as a matter of opinion, that I think having a viable option for attending an MA program or PhD program (say if you applied to PhD's and also MA's as a fallback option, or if you applied to PhD programs but were only admitted to your last choice, or a non-philosophy academic option, and so on) meaningfully distinguish you from people who have no academic options. People's experiences vary, and if you think you can get something out of talking through things in this context ~whateva d00d~
  3. Interested in this question (more generally than the specific questions above) as someone (presuming to be) shutout in my first year of PhD apps, though I am applying from the second year of my MA.
  4. Good afternoon Dr. O'Keefe, A quick question that you might have an answer to. What would your admissions committee make, at first blush, of an applicant to your MA program who already held an MA in philosophy from another North American university? I have some sense that students occasionally do this when making a shift from one area of the discipline to another, and this might apply to me. Thanks for any comment!
  5. Hey Sisyphus, I absolutely recognize this feeling and feel it most days, if not a few times a day (even in my MA, where I frequently wonder when everyone will catch on that they made a huge mistake by admitting me). My undergraduate cumulative GPA was about a 3.2, and I have an F and a mix of ILL and INC marks in one year that I had health problems peak. My view of myself when I'm feeling down is basically as you describe: why would any committee pick me rather than people who have no grade lower than an A (4.0) on their transcript? How could anyone on admissions committee take a chance on me or be willing to go bat for me when I am such a fuck up! I can imagine that if you're already feeling this way, a shitty job will make you feel worse. All of this said, I hope you have taken some solace in the fact that you made the waitlist at Northwestern and that, regardless of whether you start a program in the Fall, you will take this as an indication of your viability as a candidate. It is not unreasonable to think that people with consistent and higher grades than you, and with higher Quant scores than you, were rejected, which can give you some indication that your undergraduate background + GRE scores don't determine whether you will get in somewhere (this year or next).
  6. That's really tough, I'm sorry to hear you're in this position! If it's any consolation, you'll find that there are a non-negligible number of people on this board (and in the profession) that have been shutout, done an MA, applied again, and had great success.
  7. Hi Cheesy_cheese, A few things I'd like to echo from previous comments: Your application as you've described is not noteworthy with respect to GPA and honours. As is often repeated on this board, people with higher GPAs and more distinguished awards will be rejected and people with lower GPAs and no awards will be admitted to the schools you've applied to. These are not predictors of success, though a deeply low GPA could be a defeater (a good discussion of this is found on Eric Schwitzgebel's blog The Splintered Mind, both in the body and comments--https://schwitzsplinters.blogspot.com/2019/06/applying-to-phd-programs-in-philosophy.html). What I've said with GPA and honours is similar to the received wisdom on GRE scores. To my understanding (from faculty posts on DailyNous, Leiter's blog, and Schwitzgebel's blog), GRE scores play a wide ranging role across the discipline. They may be ignored, or may be a determining factor for one or a few of the people on the admissions committee the year you've applied. You can't really know expect for the cases where the department refuses to accept scores (the best case scenario!). If you take a look through the results pages for the schools you've applied to, you'll get some sense of the scores being admitted and rejected and might notice a few trends (these trends are compiled somewhat here: https://imgur.com/a/ihoGS, but, of course, the sample on GradCafe isn't a good one). The mean admitted scores will vary, but some departments will tell you what they are if you ask. I once e-mailed UCLA about this and received the following: “Most students we admit receive verbal scores in the 90th percentile or higher, but many do have lower scores. The median score for quantitative is in the 70th percentile and the median score for writing is 5, but overall, scores in the quantitative and writing sections range very widely amongst our admitted students”--so at UCLA we're talking about V162/159/5 for the typical admitted applicant, though with a range in each figure. Some departments are different. Take NYU's website: "How important is this-or-that aspect of the application? What's the average successful GRE score? Weaker GREs or grades do not decisively exclude a candidate. Coming from a lesser-known school is not much of a handicap, if other parts of the application are strong. Letters from philosophers (or faculty in affiliated departments) are much more useful to us than any other sort of letter. Finally, the writing sample is what you have most control over. As a matter of policy, we cannot go into further details about what makes an application successful, or how to improve your application." Given you can't be sure what the faculty reviewing your application will care about, it's best to improve your application as much as you can in the places that are within your control. The GRE is a very good example of this (though, obviously, there are barriers to retaking and having success on the GRE). I would encourage you to consider retaking the GRE if it is viable for you, as your scores in both Verbal and Quant are so low as to be an outlier. You'll see a range of Quant scores depending on the school, but your Verbal score is well below the mean score for GRE test takers applying to programs in Philosophy (this includes both MA and PhD programs). That number is 159 (found here: https://www.ets.org/s/gre/pdf/gre_guide_table4.pdf). Though you have positive feedback on your writing sample, the testimonia of your letter-writers and some other members of the discipline are not good indicators of whether the sample will determine your admission to a program--no part of your application can do this, despite what people say about the importance of your writing sample. As you'll see through browsing this board, applicants' experiences vary from place to place with the same sample: you could be admitted to Yale and rejected at Virginia with the same sample and (in theory) great fit at both places. Remember that you're at least three steps removed from the decision-making process: (1) your sample is reputed to be good, whether or not it may be; (2) it may actually be strong, but not be read that way by the committee members that reviews it; (3) it may be strong and liked by the faculty that read it, but your application dies at the committee level by way of extraneous factors (e.g. the department isn't taking people with your interests at the moment). On your letter writers: it is good that your writers know you well. If you are shutout this season, you should debrief with them to consider how to improve your application in the future. As you'll see mentioned elsewhere on the board, and in this thread, the social capital of your letter writers seems to play a role in the application process. It would not be unusual to enroll in an MA program in order to meet and impress scholars whose students have frequently been admitted to the programs you're interested in attended or who are generally well-reputed in the subdisciplines you are working in. If you consult some of the research on who gets in where, you'll see that there is a positive correlation between attending high-ranked philosophy department for your undergraduate degree and being admitted to a high-ranked department for your PhD. As your preferred departments are all ranked at the very top of the field, you should be aware of how pedigree will work for or against you--this is just a (reprehensible) reality of our discipline. Briefly on your comment about one letter-writer being chair of your undergrad department: this doesn't help your case, and is more likely to work against you. Being chair of a department is honourable just insofar as one takes on a large administrative burden that typically works against one's ability to keep up with research activities, it is not something that should suggest to you that the person is better suited to impress readers of the letters they write. Instead, you should look for people who are full or distinguished professors.
  8. This is a drastic difference. Are you meant to pay your fees out of the 27 or out of the 15?
  9. I think my first post was a bit gruff, I'm sorry. On the cut-off: this would be a good thing to ask departments about. If this is the case, you are right it should be made obvious to applicants and people advising in your program should be able to talk honestly with students about needing distinction to apply to American schools On being competitive/"getting into the mix": wow, that is a significant difference in success that people ought to be talking about and be able to get some clarity on!
  10. I'm not sure which way to read you here. Do you mean (1) that the departments you've applied to do not accept a high pass as meeting a minimum cutoff (say, a minimum A-/3.7 average in graduate coursework), or that (2) having a high pass or distinction from one of the Cambridge MPhils does not guarantee admission to any of the top 20 program? If you mean the latter, one would hope this is already obvious to any applicant, regardless of their pedigree. The received wisdom is that there are no sufficient conditions for admission to graduate programs in philosophy, marks included (though there may be necessary ones, e.g. many Canadian schools expect an A- or better in graduate coursework). See, for example, the comments about GPA in the comment section here: http://dailynous.com/2016/03/24/getting-in-next-time-ought-experiment/ and elsewhere on Daily Nous, Leiter's blog, and the various guides to PhD applications in philosophy. See also various results posts for both fancy places and lower/unranked departments ranked--people with 4.0's are routinely rejected across the board, whether they have a graduate degree or not.
  11. In the second year of a two-year MA with thesis, applied this year and will apply next year if things don't work out this year.
  12. 1. I did not apply to Waterloo. 2. Sorry to play coy on this but I don't want to share specifics--part of the question is also just whether the GRE and MA numbers can be thought of as offsetting other things (i.e. whether there is a threshold at which they can do that work). My MA grades are high. On the GRE: higher than what many posters have usually called the "can only help you application" range, though I have wondered if it would be worth aiming for a 337-340 to make the point. As far as the reputation of the department goes, not one of the Tufts/TTU/Brandeis set.
  13. Real question that is going to come off as alarmist (hence, not asking in the FB group), but has been on my mind for a few years. I should also say upfront that I have heard and understand the "writing sample, writing sample, writing sample," advice--let me bracket that for a moment to discuss a specific aspect of the application that has haunted me. Question: Just how much work can an MA (thesis, great letters, high grades) do to assuage a problematic undergraduate transcript? I ask this because my undergraduate transcript is highly inconsistent all the way through (I have a health explanation for this), and I am worried that I haven't been successful in making it through the first round of cuts--if this is the case, I am thinking about how (and whether it is possible) to deal with this problem in the future. I have hopes that my MA grades and GRE scores will help treat any worries about my undergraduate record, but it may be that they don't (say, if the department is most concerned with undergraduate marks because of worries about grade inflation at the graduate level, or worries about a student being unable to win grant/fellowship funding without a consistent academic record). Even if this were not the case, one has to wonder just how far one can proceed given this kind of record when they are in a pool of applicants with straight A's not just in philosophy but in their cumulative GPA (and I take this from both Eric Schwitzgebel's blog, posts on GC, and elsewhere). If it is the case that I can't make it through to serious consideration because of my undergraduate record, what can one do to deal with that? It seems that taking more undergraduate coursework after finishing an MA would be a bit silly (and perhaps not allowed), so perhaps the only answer would be take a second MA in Philosophy in order to have more success in graduate coursework on my academic record (again, there are other aspects of the application that matter, but I am here asking just about the transcript/GPA problem).
  14. Woops! Well, I suppose I have an account on this cursed website now so I can ask if anything comes up
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