Parnassus reacted to Brisingamen in How did you find your advisor and department?
I pored over faculty lists and picked out names, looked at journals in my field and checked on who was publishing in them, tried to get hold of articles or books faculty had written, to get a feel for their work, contacted them to see if they thought there was a match between their research interests and mine, and asked the only graduate student I know who is in a program I am interested in and works in the area I am interested in (I had already shortlisted departments to apply to and it turned out he'd applied to the same places, more or less). Contact with PoIs was revelatory -- I realized all that work I'd put into the process of figuring out who I was interested in working in had been smart, because with the exception of one person, they were all very enthusiastic as they could see a match.
Now, after having sent out all my apps, I do feel there were a couple of people I entirely missed who might have been good fits. But not worrying about that too much now.
Disclaimer: I have no formal training in history and no network of seniors to consult, so apart from a couple of the big names, I didn't actually know who was active in my field until I did all of this research. I hadn't read their work as a student or anything. I had to work from the ground up. It took several months but I think it was worth it.
One PoI kindly put me in touch with two graduate students in his department, so I asked them a few questions about the PoI and the department culture. I am hoping to do this for any program that makes an offer. They were able to tell me how he relates to his students. beyond this, I don't know what else I could do to find out whether we'd be a good "match." There are lots of intangibles involved. Stuff nobody will put on their website!
Hope this helps! It's very daunting when you first get started researching programs, but you'll be fine once you get into the swing of it.
Parnassus reacted to exploregre in How many GRE words should I learn?
The answer of your question is pretty easy: it depends!!!
It varies to person to person. There is no specific limit for gre words to be learned. But you have both manhattan essential and advanced words, so that is almost 1000 words. And you have Barrons too. So you have already covered many words. Next, take a test, and check how it is working.
Besides learning words, you should also emphasize the context of the words. You should learn how these words are used, and also emphasize the words with secondary meaning( for example, row is a word which generally means horizontal line; another meaning is disagreement/quarrel . Always revise the words you learnt!
Parnassus reacted to mandarin.orange in Advice for a first year PhD student
Is there a way posts like jullietmercredi's can be featured as an article, or indexed prominently for later reference, in these fora? I agree, that was one of the most useful posts I've read in my 1+ year on Grad Cafe! Kudos for taking the time to write it!
Parnassus reacted to Cookie Monster in Advice for a first year PhD student
I was 21 when I started my master's degree, so I can relate to being the youngest person in a batch. I don't know how much use my advice may be, as a master's, rather than Ph.D. student, but I'll try anyway. First of all, congratulations on your acceptances. In my opinion, your age won't make a difference. It obviously didn't to the admissions commitees. Also, based on my experience, I don't think your social interactions with your peers would be altered at all due to your age. I imagine most people start their Ph.D. from 22-25 years of age, and it's not like you're 16 or something.
I see there have already been very thorough posts made in reply to your questions, so a lot of what I am about to say may be repetitive, but here goes.
Selecting a research topic: One suggestion is to try and choose a research topic which has reasonably wide appeal in the field that you intend to pursue your career in. You don't have to pursue a career in whatever you do your dissertation research on, but obviously it would be great when you apply for jobs if your dissertation fits with what your potential employers do. You have time to think about what you want to do after your Ph.D., whether you want to pursue academia or industry, etc., but try to give it a bit of thought.You don't want to pigeonhole yourself by working on an obscure topic which would be appreciated by only a few specialists in the field, and thus limit your job prospects. Picking a research project which would be of significant interest or importance to the field will also help in the short-term, as you'll have a wider pool of professors to choose from to comprise your dissertation committee. Don't be like me, doing a basic molecular biology thesis project despite being an engineering student, and having to scramble to find committee members from my department who have at least passing interest in what I do. Another very important thing is to select a doable project. It's easy to pick the most challenging project, thinking you have so much time to work on it, only to get inconclusive results and find yourself scrambling at the end. Even the best planned project may look great on paper, but when you actually go around to doing it, you can get all sorts of setbacks you had never foreseen. For example, stuff which had been working before can inexplicably stop working, such as genomic DNA purification kits, molecular cloning, and sequencing reactions (drawing from my own experience). You can find yourself spending a lot of time on troubleshooting simple problems for even the best thought-out projects, so don't stress yourself out by being too ambitious in your project choice. Obviously you don't want to do pedestrian, barely original research, but strike a balance. A possible approach would be to pick a high-risk, high-reward topic, but have a less glamorous, "safety net" project as backup. This is what developmental biologist Leonard Zon of Harvard advises his graduate students and post-doctoral researchers. I'm not saying don't pick an interesting project or be afraid of challenges, but be realistic as to what you can accomplish in the timeframe that you have, and have a Plan B if possible. And of course, the main thing is to choose a research topic which you have a passion for; you will likely be spending the next 4-6 years of your life working on this. If you will be doing lab work, laboratory rotations will be extremely important in this process. Three to four weeks of working in a lab will give you a sense of what life would be like working in a particular field or subfield.
Selecting an advisor: It goes without saying, but pick an advisor whom you can get along well with. Make sure it is a person you feel like you can communicate candidly with, and who will be candid with you. Again, you'll find out about the personalities and expectations of potential advisors during laboratory rotations. Some advisors expect you to be in the lab at certain times, some advisors could care less when you show up, as long as you get the work done. Some advisors are very hand-on, will provide a lot of advice and suggestions, others are more laissez-faire, and will give you a lot of autonomy. Think about whether you want a lot of flexibility in doing your project, or whether you want to be in a more structured environment. In general, established professors, who often have large labs, tend to let students sink or swim on their own; newer professors, who often have smaller labs, are probably more invested in your success or failure. On the other hand, well-established professors tend to have more resources and funding, and their recommendation will carry a bit more weight when you apply for post-doctoral positions. Also, one thing I would like to say is, don't be afraid to let your opinion be heard. Don't just agree with everything your advisor says. He or she may be the most eminent person in the field, but if you have a disagreement over how an experiment should be done, for example, make sure you voice your concerns.
Selecting a dissertation committee: I've only had experience in selecting a master's thesis committee, but I imagine it would translate to a selecting dissertation committee as well. It's important to select committee members who work well together. As in any workplace, there are people who get along well, and those that don't, so discuss your intended committee composition with your advisor before reaching out to potential committee members. I've personally not had to deal with any personality clashes with my committee members, but I would still say it's something to keep in mind. Also, try to include professors who are prominent in your field of interest. Don't think that a professor is too famous or too important to serve on your dissertation committee. I've heard that one physics Ph.D. student was hesitant to ask the eminent Richard Feynman to serve on his committee, but when he did ask, Feynman readily agreed. Apparently this was the first time someone had ever asked Feynman, because all the students were afraid to thus far. Imagine getting a job recommendation from the Feynman of your field! Having said that, make sure that your committee members are there for a valid reason; select committee members primarily based on the skills and expertise that they bring to the table. If you are doing an epigenetics study, it's far better that you pick the lesser-known expert in chromatin remodeling rather than the world-renowned leader in gold nanoparticles, to use an extreme example.
Interacting with faculty: Obviously, it is important that you should try and build strong relationships with the professors in your department. I'm sure you must have been good at that as an undergraduate, since you would have gotten strong recommendations for graduate school, so what I say may be superfluous to your requirements. I think it's more important, but at the same time easier, to interact with your professors in graduate school. In undergraduate, your main avenue for interaction is through office hours, and your grade in their class is mainly what shapes the professor's impression of you. In graduate school, you'll get to go through laboratory rotations with different professors, and the classes will be much more of the seminar variety, where you interact directly, discussing primary literature with the instructor and your classmates. In one of my graduate seminar courses,(headed by the DGS for the program), I, along with some other people, actively contributed to the class discussion throughout the semester. Others were mostly silent throughout, basically just showing up just for attendance. It didn't affect their grade, but the DGS expressed his disappointment that some people did not seem to show interest in the field that they had ostensibly chosen to pursue for their career. That's obviously not the best way to kick things off in a program you are planning to spend the next few years in. If you have strong relationships with your professors, when the time comes to pick your dissertation committee, get job recommendations, etc. it will be much easier.
Graduate work and studies: DO NOT feel that you have to give your dog away. I know plenty of Ph.D. students with dogs, and they do manage to find the time to spend with their pets. However, based on my experience, you'll have to be a bit flexible at times when it comes to your research, being prepared to work on nights or weekends if necessary. This is especially true if you'll be working in a lab. There will be periods where you need to get a lot of stuff done in a short period of time, but there will also be relative lulls, so be prepared to adjust your schedule accordingly. But you don't have to be in the lab 24/7. The most important factor is your time management. If you are organized and plan ahead, there's no reason why you can't do your research mostly in a 9-5 timespan. Some people do that, others, like me, are haphazard, and come at random times in the night to get work done. So definitely, as long as you manage time well, your life won't be swallowed up by research, and you can devote the time that you need to your dog. As far as coursework, I don't think you need to worry about it occupying an inordinate amount of time. The courses will be more advanced, but since you have been accepted into multiple Ph.D. programs, you are obviously smart enough and talented enough to handle it. The courses will be much more of the seminar-type, involving discussions of primary literature, and your exams will be testing your critical thinking more than requiring you to cough up book knowledge. You will have to do a ton of reading of journal articles for both your research and many of your courses, which of course can be done at home. It might take a bit of getting used to at first, especially since many articles are not exactly lucidly written. Unless you do absolutely atrociously in a course, you'll get A's and B's in your courses, so don't stress about grades too much. You're obviously intelligent, so as long as you put in an honest effort, you'll get your just reward; you don't have to put in superhuman time and effort to get good grades in your coursework.
Non-academic life: The following advice is not stuff which I follow myself (wish I did), but I think it is valid nonetheless. Do not let your graduate work consume your life. Yes, you will have to spend a lot of time and effort on your research and courses, but set a limit. Do not let it prevent you from having a social life, spending time with your dog, etc. If you are someone who wants to have the weekend off, manage your time wisely, as I said before. But if you do find yourself having to spend inordinate amounts of time, just stop, take a step back, and make sure you get your time off. Ph.D. is a marathon, not a sprint, so it's much more important to stay mentally fresh, both for your own sake, and the quality of work that you do. I don't have much of a social life, but that's not because I can't find the time; I'm just simply an insular person. I know Ph.D. students, and they do manage to have time to do stuff, like play intramural sports, spend time with friends, etc. Unlike in undergraduate, where you are focused on coursework, and your schedule is much more rigid, in graduate school, your time is much more flexible; you can make decisions on how to use your time, so you can structure it such that you can have a social life. Just be careful not to procrastinate, because that can come back to bite you. When it comes to friends, I suspect you will make good friends in your cohort, because it is a small group, and they will be going through many of the same experiences that you will be. You can also meet graduate students in other departments, often through mixers and events hosted by your graduate student organization. If you are into sports, you can also make new friends by meeting other people if you play your basketball, tennis, etc. at your school recreation center. And again, your age will definitely not be a problem when making friends, having a social life, etc.
This is about all I have for now, and if I think of anything else I feel is important, I'll post again. Best of luck with graduate school this fall!
Parnassus reacted to juilletmercredi in Advice for a first year PhD student
About your dog: I think that depends entirely on you and your program. I am in a social science program where the majority of my analysis and writing can be done from home, and I prefer to work from home or from a library (as opposed to my cube in the windowless cube farm). When I was taking classes I was generally there from 9-6 or so, but now that my coursework is finished I am rarely at the school itself. I go for meetings, seminars, interesting kinds of things and I do most of my work remotely. My time is verrry flexible, and if my building didn't prohibit it I would get a dog in a heartbeat. Another thing to keep in mind: a dog can be a great comfort when you're all stressed out over graduate school.
-Don't feel like you have nothing to offer just because you are younger. I was 22 when I started graduate school. You got accepted to the program for a reason, and chances are you are just as equipped as any older students are to successfully complete the program, just in a different way.
-Your older classmates may be just as terrified as you. Talk to them. You have a lot in common. You are, after all, in the same place.
-You will feel like an imposter, like you don't belong, or like you are constantly behind. Or all three. It's normal. It will pass. (Well, sort of.) People of all ages go through this.
-If you are lucky enough to get both research interest fit and personality fit perfect, congratulations! But sometimes, personality fit is more important than research interest fit as long as the research isn't too different. A great adviser is interested in your career development, likes you as a person, advocates for you, and wants to hear your ideas. Even if his or her research is quite different from yours, they may give you the autonomy to work on your own projects and just supervise you. A bad personality fit will drive you nuts, even if you love his or her research. Consider that when evaluating your adviser fit. (This will vary by field: research fit may be less important in the humanities, more important in the natural and physical sciences. Social sciences are somewhere in-between.)
-Don't be afraid to be straight up blunt with your adviser when it comes to asking about your progress. Ask if you are where you should be both academic program wise and getting-a-job-after-this-mess-wise.
-Be proactive. Advisers love when you draw up an agenda for your one-on-one meetings, come with talking points and progress to share, have concrete questions to ask, and have overall shown that you have been thoughtful and taken control of your own program. Of course, this won't immediately come easily to you, but in time you will work up to it. Every semester I type up my semester goals, and at the beginning of the year I type up annual goals. I show them to my adviser and we talk about whether they are too ambitious, or whether I need to revise them, and how I can meet them.
-Don't expect your adviser to actually know what courses you have to take to graduate. They will know about comprehensive exams and the dissertation, but a lot of professors don't really keep up with the course requirements, especially if their program is in flux. Get you a student handbook, and find out what you need to take. Map it out in a grid, and check off things when you finish them. Show this to your adviser every semester. You may have to explain how such and such class fills a requirement.
-Nobody loves you as much as you, except your mother. Keep this in mind as you take in advice from all sources, including your adviser. Your adviser is there to guide you, but that doesn't mean you have to do everything he says.
-You will have to read more than you ever did before, in less time than you ever have before, and you will be expected to retain more than you ever have before. The way that you studied in undergrad may need some tweaking. Be prepared for this.
-Corollary: you may find that your methods change with age or interests or time. I preferred to study alone in college, but in grad school, I prefer to study in groups. It keeps me on task and the socialization keeps me motivated. You may find that you shift from being a more auditory learner to a visual learner or whatever.
-You will feel behind at first. This is normal.
-At some point you will realize that your professors don't actually expect you to read everything they assign you. This, of course, will vary by program, but there will be at least one class where the reading is actually impossible to do in one week. The point is to read enough that you know the major themes and can talk intelligently about them, and then pick some of the readings to really dig into and think more deeply about.
-For most programs, don't worry so much about grades. If you stay on top of your work and do what you're supposed to, you will probably get an A. How much grades matter varies from program to program. In some programs, a B is a signal that you are not up to par, and more than a few Bs will warrant a discussion with your adviser or the DGS. My program isn't like that - A, B, it's all meaningless. My adviser doesn't even know what my grades are. But at almost all programs, a C means you need to retake the course, and two Cs means you have to convince the DGS not to kick you out.
Extracurricular activity: What's that? No, seriously:
-A lot of your time will be unstructured. You will have coursework, but most grad classes meet once a week for two hours and you may have three classes. You may have meetings with your adviser every so often and some seminars or things to catch (like we have grand rounds and colloquia that are required), but a lot of time will be unstructured. However, since you have so much more work than you had in undergrad, you actually will have less free time than you had in undergrad. This may initially cause you great anxiety. It did for me. Some people love unstructured time, though. (I don't.)
-Because of this, you'll have to be planful about your non-grad school related stuff.
-TAKE TIME OFF. DO it. It's important for your mental health. However you do it doesn't matter. Some people work it like a 9-5 job. Some people take a day off per week (me) and maybe a few hours spread across the week. Some people work half days 7 days a week. However you do it, there needs to be a time when you say "f this, I'm going to the movies."
-Find your happy place, something that keeps you the you you were when you came in. I love working out. It gives me energy and I feel good. I stay healthy. I also love reading fiction, so sometimes I just curl up with a good book, work be damned. You have to give yourself permission to not think about work, at least for a couple of hours a week. You may also discover new hobbies! (I never worked out before I came to graduate school.)
-Your work will creep into all aspects of your life, if you let it. This is why I hate unstructured time. You will feel guilty for not doing something, because in graduate school, there is ALWAYS something you can do. ALWAYS. But since there will always be more work, there's no harm in putting it aside for tomorrow, as long as you don't have a deadline.
-You may need to reach outside of your cohort for a social life. None of my close friends are in my doctoral cohort. I've met master's students in my program, master's students in other programs, and I know a few non-graduate students I hang out with, too. Go to graduate student mixers. (If your university doesn't have any, organize some, if you like planning parties.) Join a student group that doesn't take up too much time. I had a doctoral acquaintance who kinda laughed at me because I joined some student groups other than the doctoral student one, and I was usually the only doctoral student in those groups, but I met some close friends (and future job contacts) and had a good time.
-DO NOT FEEL GUILTY FOR WANTING A LIFE OUTSIDE OF GRADUATE SCHOOL. This is paramount. This is important. You are a well-rounded, complex, multifaceted human being. NEVER feel bad for this. Everybody wants some kind of life outside of work. Yes, you may loooove your field, but that doesn't mean you want to do it all day long. Some other doctoral students, and perhaps professors, may make you feel bad about this. Don't let them. Just smile and nod. Then disappear when you need to.
-This is job preparation. Remember that from Day One. Always be looking for ways to enhance your skills. Read job ads and find out what's hot in your field, what's necessary, what's in demand. For example, in my field statistics and methods are a hot commodity, and they're not a passing fad. I happen to really like statistics and methods, so I have pursued that as a concentration of mine.
-Don't be afraid to take on volunteer work and part-time gigs that will give you skills that will be useful both inside academia and out, as long as it's not against your contract. Your adviser may be against it, but he doesn't have to know as long as it doesn't interfere with your work.
-If you want to work outside of academia - if you are even *considering* the possibility - please please definitely do the above. Even if you aren't considering it, consider the possibility that you won't get a tenure-track job out the box and that you may need to support yourself doing something else for a while. You will have to prove to employers that you have developed usable, useful skills and this is one of the easiest ways to do it. But don't overdo it - get the degree done.
-For more academic related ones - always look for opportunities to present and publish. Presentations look good on your CV. Publications look better. When you write seminar papers, wonder if you can publish them with some revision. Write your seminar papers on what you maybe think you may want to do your dissertation on. Even if you look at them three years later and think "these suck," you can at least glean some useful references and pieces from them. Discuss publication with your adviser early and often, and if you have the time and desire, seek out publication options with other professors and researchers. But if you commit to a project, COMMIT. You don't want to leave a bad impression.
-If you can afford it, occasionally go to conferences even if you aren't presenting. You can network, and you can hear some interesting talks, and you may think about new directions for your own research. You can also meet people who may tell you about jobs, money, opportunities, etc.
-Always try to get someone else to pay for conference travel before you come out of pocket. Including your adviser. Do not be shy about asking if he or she can pay. If he can't, he'll just say no. Usually the department has a travel fund for students, but often it's only if you are presenting.
-If you are interested in academia, you should get some teaching experience. There are two traditional ways to do this: TAing a course, and teaching as a sole instructor. If you can help it, I wouldn't recommend doing a sole instructor position until you are finished with coursework. Teaching takes a LOT of time to do right. You should definitely TA at least one course, and probably a few different ones. But don't overdo it, if you can help it, because again, it takes a LOT of time. More than you expect at the outset. If you are in the humanities, I think sole instructor positions are very important for nabbing jobs so when you are in the exam/ABD phase, you may want to try at least one. If your own university has none, look at adjuncting for nearby colleges, including community colleges. (I would wager that the majority of natural science/physical science students, and most social science students, have never sole taught a class before they get an assistant professor job. At least, it's not that common n my field, which straddles the social and natural sciences.)
-Always look for money. Money is awesome. If you can fund yourself you can do what you want, within reason. Your university will be thrilled, your adviser will be happy, and you can put it on your CV. It's win-win-win! Don't put yourself out of the running before anyone else has a chance to. Apply even if you think you won't get it or the odds are against you (they always are), as long as you are eligible. Apply often. Apply even if it's only $500. (That's conference travel!) Money begets money. The more awards you get, the more awards you will get. They will get bigger over time. If you are in the sciences and social sciences, you should get practice writing at least one grant. You don't have to write the whole thing, but at least get in on the process so that you can see how it's done. Grant-writing is very valuable both in and outside of graduate school.
-Revise your CV every so often. Then look and decide what you want to add to it. Then go get that thing, so you can add it.
-The career office at big universities is often not just for undergrads. I was surprised to learn that my career center offers help on CV organization and the academic job search, as well as alternative/non-academic career searches for doctoral students. In fact, there are two people whose sole purpose it is to help PhD students find nonacademic careers, and they both have PhDs. This will vary by university - some universities will have very little for grad students. Find out before you write the office off.
-It's never too early to go to seminars/workshops like "the academic job search inside and out", "creating the perfect CV," "getting the job," etc. NEVER. Often the leader will share tips that are more aimed towards early graduate students, or tidbits that are kind of too late for more advanced students to take care of. This will also help you keep a pulse on what's hot in your field. It'll help you know what lines you need to add to your CV. And they're interesting.
-Decide ahead of time what you are NOT willing to sacrifice on the altar of academia. Then stick to it.
I'm serious. If you decide that you do NOT want to sacrifice your relationship, don't. If it's your geographical mobility, don't. I mean, be realistic, and realize that there will always be trade-offs. But you have to think about what's important to you for your quality of life, and realize that there is always more to you than graduate school.
-If you don't want to be a professor, do not feel guilty about this. At all. Zero. However, you will have to do things differently than most doctoral students. Your adviser will probably never have worked outside of the academy (although this may vary depending on the field) so he may or may not be able to help you. But you have a special mission to seek out the kinds of experiences that will help you find a non-academic job. Test the waters with your adviser before you tell him this. My adviser was quite amenable to it, but that's because I told him that my goal was to still do research and policy work in my field just not at a university, AND because it's quite common in my field for doctoral students to do non-academic work. If you're in a field where it's not common (or where your professors refuse to believe it's common, or it's not supposed to be common)…well, you may be a little more on your own.
-Every so often, you will need to reflect on the reasons you came to graduate school. Sometimes, just sit and think quietly. Why are you doing this to yourself? Do you love your field? Do you need this degree to do what you want to do? Usually the answer is yes and yes, and usually you'll keep on trucking. But sometimes when the chips are down you will need to reevaluate why you put yourself through this in the first place.
-To my great dismay, depression is quite common in doctoral students. Graduate work can be isolating and stressful. Luckily your health insurance usually includes counseling sessions. TAKE THEM if you need them. Do not be ashamed. You may be surprised with who else is getting them. (I found out that everyone in my cohort, including me, was getting mental health counseling at a certain point.) Exercise can help, as can taking that mental health day once a week and just chilling. Don't be surprised if you get the blues…
-…but be self-aware and able to recognize when the depression is clouding your ability to function. Doctoral programs have a 50% attrition rate, and this is rarely because that 50% is less intelligent than, less motivated than, less driven than, or less ambitious than the other 50% that stays. Often they realize that they are ridiculously unhappy in the field, or that they don't need the degree anymore, or that they'd rather focus on other things in life, or their interests have changed. All of this is okay!
-You will, at some point, be like "eff this, I'm leaving." I think almost every doctoral student has thought about dropping out and just kicking this all to the curb. You need to listen to yourself, and find out whether it is idle thought (nothing to worry about, very normal) or whether you are truly unhappy to the point that you need to leave. Counseling can help you figure this out.
-Don't be afraid to take a semester or a year off if you need to. That's what leaves of absence are for.
Lastly, and positively…
…graduate school is great! Seriously, when else will you ever have the time to study what you want for hours on end, talk to just as interested others about it, and live in an intellectual community of scholars and intellectuals? And occasionally wake up at 11 am and go to the bank at 2 pm? Sometimes you will want to pull out all of your hair but most of the time, you will feel fulfilled and wonderfully encouraged and edified. So enjoy this time!
Parnassus reacted to ---- in joint programs in Classics and Ancient History (MA)
I was in contact with one of the professors there before I started applying to schools and he told me that they do not fund any students in the ancient history MA.
You should consider all of those schools I listed in my first post. Arizona (http://classics.arizona.edu/graduate_program) and FSU (http://classics.fsu.edu/Program/Graduate-Program) are both large MA programs and fund most, if not all, of their MA students. Both of these schools have a history/civ track for the MA program. Keep in mind that you will still be able to take history/civ courses in all those other programs, too, even though the focus is on the languages. I would suggest you contact the Director of Graduate Studies at all the programs you are thinking of applying to and express your interest in the program and your desire to continue your studies in ancient history while you gain more experience with the languages (and also include this in your SOP). Ask about the possibilities of studying history in that program, etc.
As I was typing this I remembered that Washington U in St. Louis, Colorado - Boulder, and Iowa also have MA programs that are worth looking into.
Parnassus reacted to kaloskagathos in Wisconsin or Washington?
I don't know anything about either program, but this is basically the short version of how I narrowed down my options, so maybe it'll help you, too. I hope I don't come off as smug or condescending; I'm not sure how much you want decision process thoughts versus reputation of program thoughts, so I figured I'd give you what I have and you can chuck it in the bin if you want.
Funding: Don't forget to factor in how much and what kind of teaching you'll have to do (and when). Would you be able to teach your own class? If you're a Hellenist, be sure to ask what the opportunities to teach Greek are like. Also, find out what kind of funding is available for travel, conferences, or summers (even if you have guaranteed summer funding).
Resources: Also, depending on what you want to do (my own specialty is collections-driven), it may be worth considering what each university's specific resources are like. It does make a substantial difference to have on-campus access to manuscripts, papyri, or squeezes if you're into that.
Faculty: To respond to your comment about the faculty being equally strong: yes, but consider where their strengths lie. What kind of scholar would they make you? What methodologies do they favor? Also, be sure to discreetly ask their more advanced students what they are like as advisors. Do they offer constructive criticism on written work? Do they advocate for their students?
Placement: To add to Hanbran's comment, be sure to find out what the placement record for your prospective advisor(s) is.
Parnassus reacted to Usmivka in GRE question
So if double time is not helpful, what do you need? Someone to enter your answers for you? Something else? Or have you not taken any math and don't want to be tested on it (I am unclear on what a course substitution indicates in your particular circumstances, each university has its own terminology)?
If you tell ETS exactly what you need and provide doctors notes and records of medical history that corroborate this claim, they should give you whatever help you need to take the exam on an even field with other test takers. They will not exempt you from a portion of the exam, and any university you apply to would view this as an incomplete application if you left off the scores for a section. This would probably take more explaining than if you simply choose not to take a section and explain that in your SOP.
My feeling is history programs put very little stock in Q scores anyway, they will care much more about AW.