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About moody

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  1. Linguistics SOP

    "I understand that using personal anecdotes is Bad. But I have an unusual academic background (I have a degree in Computer Science and mathematical modelling. Since in Italy we don't have major and minor choices during our degrees, most of my linguistics courses are all "extra" with no grade attached). I really feel I should spend a paragraph to explain how I came into linguistics, how do I know i want to get a Ph.D in Linguistics, why I do think I am ready for it and how I have eventually filled the probable knowledge gap. I don't have a story such as " I always loved languages". A couple of years ago I went to a conference about "Possible and Impossible grammars" (the speaker was Andrea Moro) and I fell in love. I've studied so hard since then to get to understand if linguistics was really what I wanted to do. I feel an explanation is needed, and it is sort of academic related. Would it be a bad idea to start with it and then move to explain my research interests and actual plans for the phd?" --> You can start with this, but keep it short. You don't need to explain the whole structure of Italian universities, for instance. "What kind of style should I use? Personal? Academic? A bit of both?" --> A bit of both. You can certainly use the first person, but the focus should be on the academic. "This one could sound strange. Can I use citations (such as a mini-bibliography)? For example can I say something like: " I'm interested in the analysis of overt vs covert movement as done by X in [x]" or even " I find particularly interesting how Y[y] used data from aphasia patients to get informations about said syntactic structure memory load and processing time". Or should I drop the citations? I have this doubt because if I was writing a research project for an italian fellowship I would definitely do it in this way." --> Yes, you can definitely do this. It can be very useful in conveying that you have a concrete research agenda and are well versed in the literature.
  2. No. It doesn't matter for linguistics, because almost all stand alone masters programs are at regional schools. Just make sure that you work hard on research and form good relationships with the faculty.
  3. Getting around admission requirements?

    As a linguist, I would say that this is the best suggestion you have received, and so I am glad that you are looking into it. Our program is less selective than UCLA's but for us your GPA would still be a serious barrier to admission. Once you add a great graduate GPA on top of it, however, the undergraduate GPA becomes much less relevant; the grad GPA gives us confidence that you can handle graduate course work. Taken together with research experience, this would make a strong application. There are lots of great linguistics MA programs in the US, and many even offer some funding – this is especially true at places that don't also have Ph.D. programs. You might also consider some of the Canadian programs; funding is the norm there and many have strong fieldwork emphases. w.r.t. letters, if you don't have three letters from faculty members, that is fine, but you do need three letters in order for your application to be considered complete. Even if the department wanted to admit you, the university would probably not allow them to without a complete application. Is there someone from your fieldwork experience who is familiar with your work who could write for you? If so, this strikes me as your best bet at this stage. Best of luck!
  4. I suspect that this varies fairly significantly depending on the type of program you are applying for. Programs that fund students at least partially through T.A.-ships and other forms of teaching may have rather strict requirements. For example, the university where I teach has a fairly low (maybe 80?) TOEFL score requirement for admission, but requires a TOEFL score of at least 100 in order for a student to work as a T.A. Students who do not meet this higher score requirement upon admission are required to take additional English courses before beginning to T.A. As a result, we are quite wary about admitting students who do not have TOEFL scores of at least 100, and will consider admitting students with scores in the 95-99 range only if all other aspects of their application are outstanding. In programs where students are not funded, or where the source of funding is research assistantships or fellowships, TOEFL scores may be less important (but I cannot speak to this from personal experience).
  5. This part is crucial. I have seen visiting the department before admission go both ways. If you make a good impression, that's great and can only help you. If you seem like you are unsure or underprepared, however, it can actually backfire. You should realize that the faculty members will be assessing your potential for success in the program, every bit as much as you are assessing them. So, make sure that you are able to talk about your research interests in a detailed way and that you show interest in your POI's work. And ask questions – especially about research!
  6. Second Language Acquisition

    The linguistics department at the University of Florida has quite a number of faculty and students with a research focus in SLA.
  7. Linguistics 2013

    Really, I think that it's fine to e-mail them and ask. It's one (annoying) thing to e-mail a department multiple times asking for news, but in this case they have already made contact with you and you are just responding. Having some sense of the purpose of the event is important, so that you can be mentally prepared.
  8. Linguistics 2013

    @mq1: Why don't you e-mail them and ask? It can be difficult to interpret messages sometimes, and it is best to ask those who actually know (i.e., the people at GMU) rather than people here who would just be speculating. You could say something like: "Thank you for the invitation! I am very interested in the program, but I was wondering about the purpose of the open house and my current status. Have admission decisions been made yet or is the open house for interview / informational purposes?"
  9. Linguistics 2013

    Without asking, it's hard to know, given that some MA programs do fund their students at least partially. I would suggest writing back to them, and saying that you may be interested, but it would depend upon funding situation.
  10. Withdrawing from Interview Weekend?

    Maybe I should have been a bit more circumspect. When I said that you should not negotiate, I was referring to PhD programs that routinely fund all of their admitted students for ~5 years. If you were admitted to two Master's programs and one offered you a .5 TA and the other offered you a 1.0 TA, you might try negotiating. In a department where all grad students are funded, though, the size of the stipend is typically determined by the department in conjunction with the university. Sometimes there are opportunities to do summer RA work or something for exta money, and people might mention these things if you raise the issue of support. They would probably also mention applying for NSF and other fellowships. Really, though, there is little that can be done about your basic stipend in the general case, and I would be very careful in raising something like this. tl;dr Linguistics PhD programs must be different than law school along this dimension.
  11. Withdrawing from Interview Weekend?

    I would echo the others in strongly encouraging you to go. Even if you are 90% certain that you will not end up attending JHU, there are many very interesting people there and you should take the opportunity to talk about work and establish professional relationships. They expect you to have other options, and they will not be offended if you end up going elsewhere. Even at top programs only about 50% of the admission offers are accepted, and everyone knows that many factors feed into a decision. That said – do not try to negotiate a better package; linguistics departments typically have very little leeway with this, for all kinds of reasons. I have seen people try to negotiate in the past, and it was not well perceived. In general, top linguistics programs have standard packages that are given to everyone, and the culture of the field is such that this is interpreted as a desirable state of affairs. (To understand the approach people tend to have, it may help to think about where and when generative linguistics took off.)
  12. POI Writing LOR

    This is certainly not a problem, and it may work in your favour... it's actually not that infrequent, particularly when people are applying to do a second degree at an institution where they've previously studied. You shouldn't assume that this will mean that you will automatically be admitted - it always depends a great deal on the rest of the applicant pool, and (relevant to this case) a new professor's opinions are likely to carry less weight than a more senior faculty member's. Still, having someone at the department to advocate for your admission can only help! Best of luck!
  13. I agree with fuzzylogician (what else is new?)... For applicants with reasonable grades and GREs, the two most important components of the application package in linguistics (and I would assume at least some other programs in the social sciences / humanities) are probably the letters and the writing sample. The SOP is also important, but the writing sample gives evidence of the actual analytical skills that you already possess and is typically quite a good measure of your ability to think critically and creatively, even if it is preliminary and/or not as in depth as might be expected of a graduate student (assuming you're applying straight from UG). Edit: "Can anyone share an experience when his or her magnificent writing turned out to be more important, than average GRE? Or, when his or her average writing actually closed the door, despite the crushingly high GRE-scores? I was under the impression that in the latter case the first and only thing to blame is an unsuccesfull Personal Statement." This is routinely true in the admissions decisions of our department. We regularly admit people with at least one GRE score in the 45th-50th percentile range if they have strong writing samples. And we reject people with boring / fundamentally flawed / uninsightful writing samples even if they have GREs in the 160s... but I think that this may well be very department / field specific. That said, the best-qualified candidates typically have great GREs to accompany their strong writing samples.
  14. Admissions Interviews

    Typically departments (rather than universities) make decisions about if, when, and how to interview candidates, and linguistics departments vary in exactly what they do. Most American departments (but not all) have open houses (usually over some "visiting weekend") where all of the admitted candidates are invited to visit the department, meet with faculty and graduate students, etc. This is really the department trying to convince you that you should accept their offer of admission (they're courting you). Departments will typically pay either the full cost or the cost up to some dollar amount (maybe 400 or 500 USD), and attendance is optional. UCSD, USC, and UCLA typically do this, along with many others. Some departments have "open visiting" for admitted students. The department will typically pay, again, but they will let you choose if/when to visit (often within some particular time period). You would go to classes, meet with faculty and students, etc. This is also a "courting" kind of situation. This has traditionally been the practice at MIT and UMass, among others. Some departments will have open houses for the "shortlisted" applicants. The structure is similar to what I described above, but there is more pressure on the candidates because the department is also "interviewing" you. Stanford has done this in the past, but I don't know if they have now changed to the more typical open house format (maybe someone else knows). Various departments may contact certain students for phone interviews before making offers of admission. This is usually to get a better sense of a candidate's areas of interest, ability to talk about linguistic topics, and /or facility with English (especially for international students). Unless a department has a general practice of interviewing all students before admitting them (and I've never heard of any linguistics departments that do), you shouldn't read anything into not being contacted for an interview; many people are a admitted without any prior contact at all.
  15. I would not send them in this case; really, if they are not required, I would only send them if they were in the 90th percentile or above.