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surefire last won the day on September 26 2014

surefire had the most liked content!


About surefire

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  1. Hi there @chillipimien27! Welcome to U of T! Depends on what you mean by a 'better area'. Are you talking about convenience, given the location of your department? Or like, an area that is quiet or, alternatively, really active and vibrant? Or are you just referring to an area that is maybe affordable or where there are lots of rentals (there actually aren't lots of areas like that in Toronto these days, and it fluctuates based on whether or not you want to live alone)? Feel free to respond or PM me if you want to get more explicit with your criteria and I can maybe make some recommendations. I know grad students who can walk to U of T from their apartments in neighbourhoods like the Annex, little Italy, Koreatown, or Kensington Market. But the rental market in Toronto is nuts right now so it can be hard in general to find available/affordable spots. In my opinion, if you just want to live somewhere where you can access the university fairly easily/regularly, your best best is to try to get a place within walking distance to a subway station; I live in Roncesvalles village which isn't walking distance to U of T but I can bike there in under half an hour and subway there in under 10 minutes and it's affordable and a cute neighbourhood. Alternatively, given the location of your department, you could also find somewhere close to College Street, which has a streetcar system that is close by (but I would say getting a place near a subway station is your best bet). So when you're looking at listings, google them to make sure that they're close to a subway stop. I would also recommend, for your first apartment in the city, that you consider renting a room in an existing multi-room rental or, if you really want to live alone, consider subletting from someone else's lease. It's really hard to find an affordable apartment in Toronto right now, and it's especially hard when you're not familiar with the neighbourhoods and need to move quickly on listings so there's pressure to put up a lot of money on the spot (note that you should never rent anything sight-unseen). If you can find a listing for someone seeking a room-mate or a sublet, you can move in on an existing lease, get a feel for the city, then once you've got your bearings after a few months/your first year, you can strike out on your own or with people that you've met in your program. I would look on Facebook to see if there are any FB groups for your program, or you could ask to join Bunz Home Zone, which is a fabulous and huge FB community. Let me know if you have any specific renting criteria/priorities and I can try to tailor the advice a bit more! Good luck!
  2. FWIW, it sounds like you've got a good plan and a good sense of how to deliver on his expectations (talking to other students can be hard when you're feeling impostery but it's a smart move). I've written two comps, with 6 different committee members total, and part of the studying work is meeting with them and getting a good read on their expectations and then doing the work to deliver on them. I've had members that liked specificity, members that liked 'big picture' stuff, and one committee member who said that he thought that grad students played it too safe on comps and he'd be open to a creative/risky submission where I bash the classics (if I could support it) and had 'fun' with the material. Meeting with your committee member and strategizing is part of the work, so acknowledge yourself for putting the work in. Before I wrote my comps, a senior student in my department gave me insight on failing comps that made me feel immensely better during studying: (1) There are a number of acclaimed and accomplished scholars who failed their own comps whilst in grad school, it happens and struggling with comps doesn't make one an imposter, and (2) It's actually a pain in the ass to fail people; like, it's a lot of paperwork for committee members and a headache and a general time-sink and even the hard-ass faculty should recognize that there's little incentive to do so - if the committee says you're ready to defend and then you fail, it reflects poorly on them, so even if you put work in over the next few weeks and your committee member still doesn't think you're ready, try to see that as them doing you a solid, even if it's disappointing in the moment, and if they DO say you're ready, try to have faith in that, as they have some skin in the game on this too. Good luck!
  3. Hi everyone! Preemptive welcome to U of T! I just wanted to reach out and offer myself up as a resource; I'm in my 5th year as a PhD student at U of T and a Union steward for CUPE 3902 (the local that you would have membership in if you're doing any TA work) and I like helping out the new recruits where possible, just as kind senior grad students in my program once helped me out! Feel free to tag me in questions or PM me and I'll respond to the best of my abilities! Congrats and welcome!
  4. surefire

    Toronto, ON

    Oh right! The SPT conversation! I remember that now! Congrats on your admit, lol! I was in Socio-Legal Studies at York. The bursaries don't amount to oodles of money in the MA, maybe a couple hundred bucks, but I don't think that's 'arbitrary'. It's not really enough to count on as part of your budget, but it's enough to provide opportunities that you wouldn't have otherwise (I went to some conferences in my MA thanks to some bursary money, and there's no way I would've been able to afford that otherwise). The bursaries are easy money, once you figure them out. The bursaries in my PhD have been quite a bit bigger (like, I'm eligible for one that takes care of half my tuition this year, which is several thousand dollars), so it's worth it to figure out the granting bodies and their bureaucratic process now. Anyway, good luck and let me know if I can be of further help!
  5. surefire

    Toronto, ON

    Hi there! I'd like to extend a pre-emptive welcome to Toronto! I did my MA at York and am currently doing my PhD at U of T, so I'm familiar with living on those funding packages! I didn't get into any debt at either (though I'm domestic, so my situation is a bit different). I've always lived with room-mates and my partner, which has cut my costs regarding rent and food quite a bit (my partner and I spend about $100-$150/week on groceries). I usually recommend that people coming from outside the city to grad studies here try to get into designated grad housing at either institution, because it totally sucks to try and secure a place if you're not already here - the vacancy rate is like, 1.5%, so competition is fierce and it's risky to rent a place sight unseen. If grad housing is a no-go, I would recommend getting acquainted with whatever social media groups you can find that are comprised of fellow grad students at your institution and put a call out there for someone to room with or to recommend a place (the grad students in my program, for example, have their own Facebook group) - it would be easier to secure a sublet or move into an empty room of a place on someone else's lease, rather than trying to secure your own. You could also join the Facebook group "Bunz Home Zone", there are lots of opportunities there. Also, I note that you're an international student, so you'll have to add a monthly UHIP cost to your budget, just FYI. I have two other pieces of advice: -First, take a good look at your offers to see if there are Teaching Assistant or Research Assistant opportunities associated with either. You get paid $20-$40/hour for those posts and they are generally designed to be about 10 hours/week (though you'll work some long weeks around 'crunch' periods like exams). This hourly wage is quite good and you'll get a lot more bang for your buck than picking up a part-time job somewhere that pays like, $12-$15 an hour (and again, as an international student, you might be restricted regarding what/how much work you take, and the RA/TA stuff is more likely to be above board). -Second, you should get familiar with the bursary/grant opportunities offered by the School of Grad Studies for each university, they offer quite a few. Also, if you DO TA at either, as I recommended above, you will be a part of the CUPE locals at either of those institutions, and the unions at both York and U of T are quite strong and offer multiple bursaries and funds, in addition to strong hourly wages and labour protections (CUPE 3902 at U of T, for example, offers a fund to international students to offset the UHIP costs). Good luck and, once again, welcome!
  6. I agree with @TakeruK. No harm in telling them, no need to reiterate what a difficult decision it was. Departments like to keep tabs on what programs they lose competitive students to and they sometimes amend recruitment efforts accordingly. You'd be doing them a solid by providing them with this info. Keep it short and sweet, thank them again for the opportunity, and fret no more!
  7. I'm not in your field either, but I did my social science MA at York and am currently doing my social science PhD at U of T. When you say you want to do your PhD 'somewhere awesome', do you have somewhere in mind? I would suggest maybe touching base with the grad secretaries in the respective departments to ask if they have any placement stats about their MA cohorts (they might not, not all departments keep track of this, in which case it might be good to ask to be put in touch with alumni for anecdotes, or to find a list of alumni on the website and Google a few to find out where they went). Try to find out where they go, and see if that aligns with where you want to go. Don't leave it to your gut, find some evidence. Here's the deal with U of T: grad departments (with some exceptions, like professional programs) are allowed by the Uni to offer funding packages for 5 years of their grad studies programs. Some decide to fund one year of the MA + 4 years of the PhD (my department does this), while some (like English) opt to fund for 5 years of the PhD. This is helpful in a sense, because time to completion rates are much longer in some departments than others. Humanities takes longer than social science which takes longer than life science departments. (Though it should be said, the time to completion for the majority of PhD programs exceeds the funding package - the English PhD program takes, on average, 7 years). After the funding package is done, people often cobble together money from funding agencies, doctoral completion awards, TA-ing, RA-ing, instructing, and some Union funds. I mention this because, if U of T is the 'somewhere awesome' you want to go for the PhD, you should know that there IS funding for the PhD (but it has limits), and if that IS where you want to go, you should find out if taking the MA at UofT puts you in a better position to get into their PhD program. Does the MA program coursework allow you to forgo PhD program coursework? That's another thing to think about (and that's the deal in my department and the one downside of doing my own MA elsewhere - I had to do MA and PhD-level stats and theory courses in my first year of the PhD because I didn't do my MA at U of T and get the coursework done in that program - if you can effectively accomplish some of your PhD requirements during the MA, then it might be worth it). So look at where people end up from the prospective programs and see what aligns with your aspirations. Unless there is a strong indication that the U of T MA bolsters your chances of going where you want to go for the PhD (like the U of T PhD program, or, if you want to go anywhere abroad, the U of T name might be worth it), I would go with York. I would personally not advise going into debt for this MA, and I'm proof that you can take an MA from York and go elsewhere (though again, I'm in different field). I really enjoyed my time doing my MA at York, there were lots of great profs and I did my own MRP there, which gave me a strong taste of grad-level research and produced a strong writing sample/proof that I was capable of research at this level for my PhD apps. That's my two cents. Good luck!
  8. Recruitment has been set for March 24th, so I imagine first-round picks will hear imminently, if they haven't already. Feel free to shoot me a PM if you get in and have questions. (you too @bbbfan). Good luck!
  9. Hi there and welcome! First, the GradCafe has a great little primer regarding asking about your 'chances'. This often boils down to fit, more than strictly numbers. I will say that that appears to be a solid average and a shaky first year or two often isn't too bad if you're displaying an 'upward trend', which it sounds like you are/did. Second, I would encourage you to read the recent Conference Board of Canada report regarding where Canadian PhDs are employed. It doesn't give a discipline-by-discipline breakdown (so, can't ascertain where sociologists specifically end up), but you can look at trends for social scientists. I would particularly encourage you to look at the section on Earning Premiums for PhDs (page 28-29). Your last question that prioritizes 'high paying jobs' (and your stated baseline for this) post-PhD alarms me a bit, because you should know that you forgo a lot of earning potential/time when you take the PhD route. A PhD is a huge endeavour that usually takes longer than your funding package allows, and it's often during prime earning years of your life, so if the marker of success for you is earning potential, you might be despondent about the reality - the return on investment can be a very long game in this context. Third, if you pursue the MA/PhD, you're going to have to frame your research interests such that you can articulate how your pursuit contributes to the scholarly conversation/community. So, I wouldn't try to 'pick' research topics for their employment potential. No matter what research topic you pick, it will likely be preoccupied with the minutia of the area and will be framed in terms of scholarly worth, not employment application (which isn't to say that these are mutually exclusive or that there aren't great debates in the applied/public sociology realms regarding what our research 'means' to the world beyond academia). It's possible to pick a research area and make solid connections through that that you can use for employment later (I know someone who studied addictions and did some work through CAMH, and now they work for them), but yeah, your actual topic is going to be framed as a scholarly contribution. What you might think about/focus on instead are the skills you'll build during the PhD and whether/how those translate to jobs that appeal to you beyond academia post-PhD: qualitative and quantitative methods training, research/presentation/teaching skills, stuff like that. I know people who leveraged strong research skills (both qual and quant) skills who now work for StatsCan or private/governmental consulting gigs or think tanks and policy development or NGO advocacy, as just a few examples. I think it's wise to consider options outside of academia, as this is in line with labour realities. But I think it would be a long haul to enter in to the PhD with the strong preference for a non-academic job - the more successful candidates I've seen have engaged in what has been called 'parallel planning', where you accrue/articulate skills and networks that you can frame/leverage for either an academic job or an alt-ac/non-ac job. All THAT being said, an MA in Canada is a stand-alone degree that typically only takes a year or two and is often funded, so I don't see the harm in applying to MA programs to get a sense of whether or not graduate studies will help you attain a job/vocation that is feasible/in-line with your priorities.
  10. No problem! Sorry for the delayed response, I was stuck in a marking frenzy for a few weeks there! Glad that some of that is helpful. Feel free to send me a PM if you'd like! I'm more of a qual versus quant sociologist, and I'm a domestic student rather than international, but I'll advise to the best of my abilities! Best of luck!
  11. Hi! I'm currently in the Soc PhD program at U of T. I don't think not having any specifically quant courses from undergrad should discourage you, nor do I really think that you'll necessarily be made to take some undergrad stats (we mandate an MA stats and a PhD stats, if you go on to the PhD program, so you get ample training at the grad level). We have taken exceptional applicants from other undergrad disciplines, provided that they displayed strong sociological thinking in their statement/letters/sample etc;. But there are a few caveats: -The MA is funded and international student tuition is a lot more than domestic, so the spots are highly competitive. I don't think another applicant would necessarily 'edge you out' if they had an undergrad stats and you didn't, but it would be that much more important that you display competence and relevant skills in your other supporting material. -If you haven't done any stats in undergrad, you might have a bad time in the MA stats course, if you get in. The methods training in the department is rigorous. This would be a problem for later, but if you do get in, you might want to think about how you can offset this. Hope that helps! Good luck!
  12. Welcome! I'm a domestic (Canadian) student. I'm not in your area but feel free to PM or something if I can be of help.
  13. *Raises hand* I've been a grad student at U of T since 2012. I gather you'll be joining our ranks in the fall? If so: congrats and lemme know if I can be of help!
  14. Yes! In total agreement! I've spoken to a lot of prospective and incoming students and it can be cringe-inducing when, for example, you tell students that the average time to completion in your program is 6+ years and they nod and say "That's nice, Imma do it in 4!". Also annoying: people that are dicks to the departmental grad secretaries/admins. Not only is this generally uncouth and unkind, it's very short-sighted - you want these people on your side, for sure. Yelling at admins because you're frustrated by institutional bureaucracy or whathaveyou = very unwise. My departmental admins are amazing people generally, but they're also great resources for info and assistance - don't make it difficult for them to be your advocate by being a dick.
  15. @timhorton I'm currently in the PhD program in Sociology at U of T. Feel free to pm me if you want to correspond! I'd echo what was said above regarding thinking about your dream job and also WHERE you want to work. I wanted to go to grad school in Canada and I want to work in Canada and that combined with my research interests led me to go with U of T. I don't work in migration but we have a huge number of faculty members and many are accomplished in that area. But it's all about 'fit', so give that primacy in your apps.
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