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ProfLorax last won the day on December 2 2015

ProfLorax had the most liked content!


About ProfLorax

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    Cup o' Joe

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  • Program
    PhD in Rhetoric/Composition

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  1. I guess I'll put this here: I'm trying to spend more time with the dissertation and the kid, so I'll be spending less time here on these boards. At least, that's my goal; we've see if I actually follow through! I've been here for a while and made some friends, so PM me if you'd like to stay in touch outside of GradCafe!
  2. Best news! Many congrats. You've earned this! Do you like baseball? You'll be so close to the Cactus League!
  3. Ha! Very true. I was thinking of these binaries because my partner and I have very different jobs. He has the full-time, 9-5 government job with no breaks or end of the semester excitement. But his job has a ton of stability and benefits, which really helps when raising a kid. Academic work can be pretty repetitive, but at least the courses we teach (potentially) change each semester, and we get breaks. But my salary is minuscule, and I have no idea if I am heading toward full-time work at one uni or part-time work at three. But rising_star is right: these were my binaries based on personal observation and priorities! Your definition of stability and exciting could very well be different. TomJones: have you talked to people who work in Higher Ed Admin? Who teach English? You may consider finding some folks who you admire and see what they think about their respective gigs.
  4. Those are very different fields, so I guess the question is, what do you want to do? What do you want your life post-graduation to look like? Do you want to work a 9-5 but never bring work home, or you have some flexibility but work potentially nights or weekends? Do you want to teach classes of 15-120 students, or work one-on-one and small groups with students, faculty, and other admin? Do you want to write and create policy and navigate bureaucracy to accomplish your goals on behalf of your department and institution, or do you want to set an individualized agenda that is shaped by personal interests and the expectations of your department? Do you want stable but potentially monotonous career prospects or (terrifyingly) unstable yet potentially exciting career prospects?
  5. Hmmm. Yeah, if applying to PhD's, I think a two-year program would be best overall. That said, given the high price tag, perhaps you could go to BU and take a gap year to polish your materials. In that gap year, make and save money (because even funded PhD's don't pay all that way). That said (again!), I'm really grateful I did a two year masters: I explored different topics, got to really know the professors, served on some leadership positions in my second year, and discovered my current field in the very last semester. Here's some other questions to consider: Which program has the most exciting and relevant coursework offered in the Fall? An MA is almost completely coursework, so look to future and past course schedules and see which program excites you the most. Also, if you're interested in interdisciplinary work, which program supports those interests? Is it easier to take courses outside of the department in one program as opposed to another? How do students wrap up their degrees? An exam, a capstone, or a thesis? In terms of PhD program, there's really no difference, but you may have more interest in a program that ends with a thesis than exams (or vice versa) for personal reasons. What kind of applicable professional development activities and events does each program offer? Some MA programs offer a 1 unit course in the Fall to prep for PhD applications. Are there writing groups, grad student conferences, a grad student journal? How do current MA students feel about the program? Are they getting the attention and support they need from faculty? Are they happy there? Do they feel like they are being prepared for their next stage? My other advice: start looking for graduate assistantships NOW. I wish I had known this for my unfunded MA: there are often assistantships, in English or other departments, that offer a stipend and tuition remissions. You could be an admin assistant for the Econ Department, for example, and you won't have to pay fees. You have to apply for these positions, so they aren't a sure thing. But they offer the opportunity to graduate with little to no debt. Which is key! Because, like I said before, you won't be living large on a PhD stipend. So try to save what you can now.
  6. WT asks an important question: what do you want to do with this MA? That will steer our responses.
  7. I applied after a three year break between my MA and PhD. I emailed my letter writers very early in the process (think, March) to update them on what I was doing and ask what they thought about pursuing a PhD and if they would write me a letter. I really was on the fence at the time, so initiating a dialogue about the pros and cons of pursuing a PhD was a helpful way to get the ball rolling and remind them of who I am. Be prepared to share with them papers you wrote in their classes. Are you still local? If yes, consider going to meet your letter writers in person. Also, I am very sad your user name isn't profpoops like I initially thought. I am eight.
  8. Huh. I've never seen this as a suggestion for English PhD's. I don't think this is a common way of approaching English PhD's, so I wouldn't worry too much.
  9. This may be more radical than what you're envisioning, but these past few years, there's been the MLA Subcommittee. I think I'll be at MLA in Philly, and I'd be down to check out the subcommittee meetings.
  10. @thinkingandthinking: yeah, you interpreted my post correctly. The whole system is broken, gosh darnit, so let's change the system while making tangible improvements in our little circles. I'm out of upvotes, so you get a gif.
  11. I guess these posts don't bother me because this is what my colleagues and I discuss constantly. Three people left the program last year (not all from the same cohort, mind you) because of concerns about the state of academia. Also, yeah, I recognize that grad school may provide more stability for some people than others. And I 100% agree: I have major problems with narratives that describe people with PhD's on food stamps as inherently more tragic than people with GED's on food stamps. That said, I am concerned with these echoes of grad school being a great place because of funding and stability and such. Yes, it may provide more security than other positions and fields, but it's still super problematic. Mizzou grad students just straight up lost their health insurance last year. Yes, they got it back, but it's still just the mediocre grad student plan. At the same time, grad students at Emory and Arizona State lost dependent health care. So if you're a single parent and in grad school, then you're fucked. Many stipends are below the poverty level for the geographical area. As my friend says, we are overworked and underpaid and preparing for jobs that don't exist. Because adjunctification is real, and it's devouring the academy as we know it, hurting both adjuncts and undergrad students. In other words, things are messed up. But my plea isn't to tell folks to get out. I'd be a hypocrite to do so, and part of me still holds onto hope that we can collectively change the direction of higher education. Instead, my question is always: what are you going to do about it? Be alert to the exploitation of academic labor, and all the unpaid labor you will be asked to do in your program. Be alert so, when an opening arises, you can organize and make your program a better place for you and for future academics. Be alert because, as stipends and tenure lines decrease, these changes will hurt the most marginalized scholars and potentially dissuade them from pursuing a career in academia. But we need a diverse professoriate! We need to make sure that our grad students can feed and house themselves. And we need to situate our labor concerns with larger criticisms of exploitation and poverty: what are the hourly workers on your campus making? At UMD, hourly workers can be paid less than the state minimum wage. How can we leverage our educational privilege and our anger about the turning tide of academia to make real institutional change?
  12. Penn State! I have a friend who was admitted to their PhD program with an MA already in hand, and she was directly informed that the adcomm had to jump through a bunch of hoops to make the offer.
  13. I thought the question was an interesting one, actually. I am pursuing a PhD because, at the time, I was in a field that was still hiring (rhetoric and composition). However, the bubble seems to be about the burst. So while am I still here? Well, I love the work I'm doing. I feel like my dissertation is an important project, and I love teaching. I am working hard to put myself in a good position for the job market (publishing, presenting, etc), while acknowledging that everyone else is doing the same thing. Recently, I've started seriously talking with my partner about realistic Plan B's. I'm fortunate that I live in DC, so if the job market is a bust, I hope to get a full-time gig in policy or advocacy. I'm considering going for a summer internship or fellowship next year to make connections. So, to answer your question more succinctly, I am doing this because it's the only way I pursue my ideal career, but if that falls to hell, my research and teaching are still preparing me for other careers I would find satisfying.
  14. Hopefully this is reassuring: I'm a third year PhD, and I honestly couldn't tell you who was waitlisted and who wasn't in our program!
  15. It was so nice to meet you all! Hope you enjoyed my out-of-breath tour. Let me know if you have any lingering questions!
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