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L13

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L13 last won the day on June 14

L13 had the most liked content!

About L13

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  1. I did not propose a model for others to emulate. I said nothing about my application process; what I mentioned were my circumstances at its outset, to illustrate the point that being clueless about the state of the field can change pretty quickly (unlike being ready for grad school, which I consider a different matter). As to the criticism you and others are making, what I tried to say is that if you don’t see enough evidence that someone on the internet deseves your advice, you’re free to disregard their request for it. Preaching about the importance of due diligence is performative, not constructive.
  2. I applied out of undergrad and knew absolutely nothing about the relative strength of/stand-out names at different departments when I started the process, yet I ended up with an amazing advisor at a great department. Your level of professionalization says little about your academic preparedness or your odds of acceptance and saying things like "if you have to ask, go away" is not helpful. Obviously applicants need to do their own research, but pointing them in the right direction, or even just a direction, when they have zero idea what to look for is not going to jeopardize the fairness of the application process or cause them to be accepted on false pretenses and flunk out or whatever. OP, I'm not in your field, but I've gotten the impression Columbia, Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Stanford and Berkeley dominate job placement in the US, with Columbia being the most successful, though your specific subfield and interests should narrow that down considerably.
  3. L13

    Stipends and External Fellowships after comprehensives

    This is university-specific, but almost always the university will consider you externally funded for the duration of the award and you won't receive your usual funding package. Your funding for that semester or year will roll over and extend your financial coverage in the program. At my university, though, it's not uncommon for people with external fellowships that don't cover tuition to get tuition waivers from the university, which is something.
  4. L13

    Fall 2019 Applicants

    There's really no template for SOPs. Mine didn't have anything resembling a hook because I thought all the opening source quotes and attempts to personalize one's research that I'd seen in sample SOPs were contrived and too reminiscent of college application essays. So I submitted a pretty direct and dry description of my interests and ideas. It was well received and got me where I needed to go. Again, this is a matter of personal preference, not an objective criterion. For what it's worth, @historygeek, I've only skimmed one of your drafts, but it didn't strike me as boring or stylistically deficient in any way.
  5. L13

    Fall 2019 Applicants

    Not only is the obvious answer the right one, but in fact if you have other plans for your PhD--working at a non-profit, curating a museum, consulting, teaching at a private high school, etc.--you should keep them to yourself (unless you're applying to a public history program or something similar). Younger academics tend to be more understanding of the realities of the job market and flexible in their views of the purpose of grad school, but many older historians would see an interest in careers outside of traditional academia as a giant red flag and dismiss you as a drop-out risk.
  6. L13

    Fall 2019 Applicants

    Plus, even if your POI is genuinely willing to accept you, they may not be able to intercede on your behalf successfully. They're only one of a number of people who need to approve your application, so trying to predict its outcome based on their behaviour is going to yield imperfect results regardless of how easy they are to read.
  7. L13

    Fall 2019 Applicants

    I never contacted my advisor prior to applying to the program I'm in. I also got encouraging emails from my POIs at two programs that rejected me. I wouldn't put too much stock in it.
  8. L13

    How can I strengthen my application to Oxbridge?

    Re. British history, everyone in my department who comes in focusing exclusively on English sources is required to pass at least one foreign language exam and this will be the case at most PhD programs. I assume it’s less important at the master’s level, but you will be expected to know a foreign language at some point in the future even if it never becomes relevant to your interests (which is possible, but as @Tigla said it’s getting rarer and rarer in your field because of the greater marketability of having an international or transnational element in your work). Again, don’t stress over this now, but be realistic about the expectations of the field and pencil some language classes into your schedule if you can. The language exam I took at my school entailed reading an excerpt from a scholarly text and translating it into English with the aid of a dictionary. (I should have taken two exams, but the one in Latin was waived for me. Obviously that one would have included primary source materials.) The format may be different for other languages/at other schools, but the point is that your reading skills are the focus. Edit: I remember now that I had the same GPA cutoffs as @glycoprotein1, for the record. My GPA was slightly below 3.7, though, so as I said, they're potentially flexible.
  9. L13

    How can I strengthen my application to Oxbridge?

    No problem! IDK about RAing, sorry. I don't think ECs and credentials are that important compared to your own words and your letters of recommendation, but maybe they count for more than I know. It's good that you don't actually need a foreign language (yet), but the more languages you know in history, the better. People in this field will take you more seriously the more languages you can read, rightly or wrongly (I think rightly, personally), so IF you can fit it into your schedule, do work on your classical languages/French. You never know when you might need them. But don't prioritize this/stress over it. I submitted more or less the same application to both universities. At the time, I thought I knew what I wanted to do very well and didn't want to hedge my bets by applying to different programs. Re. specialization, different people can have vastly different takes on this, but I think it's good when you're a research professional and bad when you're a student. My undergrad history department had breadth requirements that forced me to take classes in different subfields and I regard it as one of the most beneficial features of my undergraduate education. If you get tunnel vision too early, you'll only get exposed to methodologies and theorists your favourite professors think are important--scholars tend to have personal mini-canons and I think you need exposure to as many of them as possible in order to develop as a historian--you won't know what's in and what's considered passé by the field as a whole, you may have a harder time adjusting to new trends and ideas, you'll miss out on valuable interdisciplinary work, etc. etc. etc. These are generalizations, but many historians believe in them and I do too. When I told my advisor I had been reading recent issues of the top journal in our subfield in search of inspiration for my dissertation, she told me to stop doing that and start reading the AHR. Well, first she said I shouldn't be reading any journals at all and should let my topic appear to me in a dream (paraphrasing...), but then she said you keep up with the field by reading a generalist journal. Again, other historians may disagree here, but basically, my position is that learning about many things is better than learning about one thing when you're still building a knowledge base.
  10. L13

    How can I strengthen my application to Oxbridge?

    Yes, of course checking to make sure there's an advisor likely to take you is important, but your interests should be driving the school search process, not the other way around. By purpose and fit I mean a clear and specific research proposal or at the very least specific examples of skills you're hoping to acquire as a student and classes/resources you'd make use of. In my experience, UK universities expect you to have a slightly more concrete idea of what you want to do than US schools, but this is a generalization and I may be wrong about it. Re. fit, demonstrate you're familiar with the course requirements and opportunities and would be well positioned to make use of them. At the master's level, advisor fit, as in the overlap between your interests and your advisor's, is less important. As long as you occupy the same broad category, e.g. cultural history of the early Middle Ages or women's history in early modern France, your prospective advisor should be okay with taking you on. In fact, at Cambridge you're not required to request an advisor and may not get your desired advisor if you do, which is one more argument against picking an advisor before you've picked your research interests. (I don't remember right now if that's how it works at Oxford too.) Not sure what the distinction between 'original research' and 'using primary sources well' is. You want to do both. How do you use primary sources well without doing ingenious things with them, which is what original research is? (You could be editing unedited sources that you discovered in an archive, I suppose... Are you doing that?) If by original research you mean off-the-wall speculation without a strong empirical grounding, though, avoid that. Demonstrating facility with primary sources and languages should be the primary goal of the writing sample IMO. I'm just saying these master's programs are not as selective as PhD programs in the US. (I see now that Oxford has recently merged most master's degrees in history into one program, though, and don't know what that will mean for course selectivity going forward.) The MSt in global history at Oxford is a slight exception, and the MPhil in intellectual history at Cambridge may be one too, IDK, but even a 20% acceptance rate is not that bad. Again, funding allocation is where the majority of admitted students are 'culled,' in the sense that even if they can afford to attend, they will have lost out on funding to other students; I'm sure the history faculties at Oxbridge don't see this final filter as a good thing and would like to be able to fund all students, but it is what it is. I assume I demonstrated sufficient research potential through my writing sample and SOP, which outlined the historical questions I'm interested in. I turned down the offer from Cambridge because I couldn't defer enrollment in my PhD program. Work on your language skills if applicable, take classes that will allow you to produce a 15-20-page piece in which you analyse primary sources, read secondary literature widely and let it guide your interests. Do not specialize too early.
  11. L13

    How can I strengthen my application to Oxbridge?

    1. For acceptance, no. But you do need a writing sample that shows off your research skills, meaning that you need experience writing research papers, plus if you're hoping to secure funding you'll be competing against a whole new tier of overachievers, some of whom will have prior graduate degrees and serious publications (or, failing that, degrees from Harvard, Princeton, etc., which Oxford and Cambridge love). 2. As with all research, the more you do of it and the more original it is, the better. If you can complete a major research project, do it. If not, find some other way to demonstrate research potential, e.g. by writing a seminar paper. 3. I'm not responsible for admissions at any university, let alone Oxford or Cambridge, but I would imagine your writing sample and research proposal. Pay particular attention to your research proposal when applying to UK institutions and make sure it demonstrates a clear sense of purpose (which is less necessary in US admissions) and fit. 4. UK universities usually specify GPA cutoffs for admission (3.6 for the courses I applied to if I remember correctly). Those are sometimes flexible, but make sure you're as close to meeting them as possible. Beyond that, I doubt your grades matter much. 5. Letting the faculty roster of a particular university shape your interests is a bad idea, yes. There's no guarantee the faculty members you model your work after will even be there when you apply. Source: I also wanted to get a master's degree in the UK after studying at Oxford as a visiting student in undergrad and researched the application process seriously. I was accepted to master's programmes in history at both Oxford and Cambridge and received funding from Cambridge. However, ultimately I did not matriculate, so my expertise is very limited. I can tell you this, however. Getting into a master's programme at Oxford or Cambridge is not that hard. Getting money, on the other hand, is a bloodbath.
  12. L13

    Fall 2019 Applicants

    Sample A, definitely. Stuff like prizes and funding is nice, but it doesn't really affect profs' perception of your writing sample. And how closely your sample relates to your proposed topic is not very important, if at all, at least not based on my observations. Demonstrating facility with primary sources and relevant foreign languages is FAR more impressive, especially if it comes with an original argument. Also, the fact your paper is already the length of a typical writing sample means it is already digestible as a complete piece and you don't have to cut it down from 50-100 pages while retaining the structure and clarity of the original historical argument, which is pretty difficult and time-consuming if you've never done it. Also, frankly, senior theses tend to be unfocused and to lack rhetorical impact and seminar papers are often where the best undergraduate writing is to be found, but obviously YMMV on this. (I say this as someone who wrote a senior thesis and used one of its chapters as a writing sample, so no hate.)
  13. L13

    Starting a PhD or Reapplying?

    I empathise. I have undergrad loans to pay off after my PhD too and it sucks. I am also familiar with UK university loans and the conditions for repayment. But it's really quite simple. More loans = bad, even if you have to pay them off later, they're not as exploitative as the loans you already have and it feels like you don't have loans right now. Do NOT take out loans to pay for a PhD.
  14. L13

    Starting a PhD or Reapplying?

    Do NOT take out loans. Defer your acceptance for a year and apply for external funding sources. At the same time, apply to PhD programs in the US.
  15. L13

    How strong is my application really?

    Worry less about your GPA and more about your writing sample, which is the single most important part of the application and largely determines its strength, together with the statement of purpose. The fact you've gotten encouraging responses from potential advisors bodes well for your SOP, which needs to exploit/maximize the things that make your research appealing to them. Grades in your major(s), rec letters and language skills are also important and you seem to be in a good spot there. Your ECs don't matter.
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