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Yet Another Panicked Profile Eval: UChicago Political Theory


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Yes, this is my first post, and yes, it's a desperate call for you all to evaluate my profile. In my defense, I lost my sanity long before I lost my shame, so I've been fighting this urge for a while. 

While I'm applying to a few schools, this evaluation pertains only to the University of Chicago (Political Science; Theory Subfield)*. I've been freaking out more and more over the past couple of weeks (as I know we all have), so I'd appreciate any insight you all could offer. 

*I'm also applying to Social Thought, but realize it's even more difficult to predict one's chances of admission to CST from data like this than it is for Poli-Sci. If you'd like to provide feedback on my CST viability, that would be awesome, but Poli-Sci admission is probably a bit easier to gauge. 

BA: Political Science at a Top-20 or 25 university, depending on year. Major GPA 3.95.

MA: University of Chicago, graduated last June (so yes, several poli-sci faculty know me well). Partial scholarship. All A's with some A minuses. 

GRE: 167V/154Q/4.5 AWA (I underscore on standardized writing tests despite being a good writer).

Awards/Conferences/Research/Misc:

- Undergraduate, university-wide analytical essay award 

- Presented at an Oxford University conference immediately after undergrad

- Half-tuition scholarship for a summer abroad program in Italy 

- M.A. thesis nominated for a department-wide thesis award (now in the final stages of review)

- M.A. work/study job proofreading a (now-deceased) philosopher's lecture transcripts from their tenure at UofC 

- As an M.A., also proofread a paper for a senior faculty member's upcoming book project

- Partial scholarship for a summer Latin intensive at UofC

- Currently a writer for a political and corporate PR firm

LoRs: All three from Chicago professors; 2 well-known in political science, one of whom advised my thesis and remains a POI for PhD study. We both write on the same subject and have a similar methodology. Writer 3 is a Classics professor whose class directly related to my field of interest and informed my thesis/ongoing work. 

Languages: Italian (fluent), French (conversational), Latin (reading), German (just beginning, but currently studying)

Faculty Fit/Research Interests: Best recognized as a Machiavelli scholar. Lately I've also been trying to merge this with liberal/immanent critique. My methods tend to involve close readings and rhetorical analyses as a means of de-constructing and re-interpreting political/theoretical paradigms. I'm interested in how political thought/rhetoric informs political behavior, and vice versa. Recently, I've also gotten into political theology quite a bit—I use the term 'theology' broadly, and as distinct from religion. And yes, I write—fairly impartially, I like to think—on Strauss. 

For Poli-Sci, one of my target faculty (the one who advised my thesis/wrote one of my letters) would seem to be an excellent research fit going forward, but he's on leave this year so I doubt he'll be sitting on the adcomm directly.

Another POI looks like an excellent fit as his work relates to my methodology, and to specific research topics that I'm newer to — but I've never taken a course from him and we haven't spoken much. He's also on leave next year, which I just found out today — so again, not sure what this means in terms of my chances. 

I mention other university faculty in my SoP with whom I've worked, and who would likely speak highly of me if contacted, but they aren't directly involved with the PoSc department. 

For CST, I have a similar issue: one POI was on leave last year, but I've communicated with him substantially (his was the article I mentioned editing above) and had several extended face-to-face meetings with him. He knows me and my work well. The application that eventually resulted in my MA admission was first directed to CST (they referred me to the MA), and this Professor emailed me during that review process to let me know how much he enjoyed reading my writing sample. A few months ago I told him how meaningful this had been, and he remarked that he didn't remember many applicants' writing samples, and that mine remained one of the few that he recalled. He also said that I came 'very close' to admission last time, BUT he also said that after reviewing my MA transcript, if he were going on my course selections alone he might consider me a better for Poli-Sci than CST. I don't imagine the fact that I'm applying to all other Poli-Sci or Government programs will help much. I address/explain this in my SoP somewhat, but am not sure how well. 

Another POI looks like a great peripheral/methodological fit, but I've never spoken with him directly.

Another POI is a largely similar case, except I have had a couple of face-to-face conversations with him. No classes, although I sat in on one while visiting Chicago ages and ages ago. I mention this class, and how cool it was, in my SoP (NB: I'm pretty sure I found a different word for 'cool' in my SoP. Pretty sure). 

Biggest Concerns: Aside from the low Quant and AWA GREs, and the couple of A minuses from the MA, I don't see any giant red flags. What worries me more is that these are two incredibly competitive programs, and I'm vying for one of very few spots among a probable cohort of Fulbright scholars, GREniuses, scholars with a whole list of peer-reviewed publications, people who are fluent in a dozen languages, etc. My concerns are mostly of the 'good enough' variety. 

This has all gone on quite long enough. Many thanks for any input people would like to offer. :) 

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You're obviously competitive. But as @Comparativist said, no one on this forum can offer a better response than to say "You're competitive--good luck." Unfortunately, a lot of perfectly qualified and competitive people get rejected each year from any halfway decent program. Good luck. 

Also, cool work on political theology and Machiavelli. I've got some interests in that direction. 

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I don't know how well any of us can really 'evaluate' admissions chances unless there is a UChicago adcom member here but the results list for chicago polisci admits includes people with truly awful GRE scores (like, someone got in with a 150v, another with a 149q).  I think AWA is basically ignored since they can read your SoP and writing sample and your LoR writers will speak to your writing...and 4.5 is low for a theorist but probably not that low for a polisci student and its not shockingly bad.  

You have very good grades which should help to off set that I would imagine.  

If your letter writers from within the department are well liked and influential I would imagine that can only have a very positive impact on your U Chicago chances.  That seems like the kind of thing that would provide a potentially decisive advantage assuming your SoP is excellent.

Edited by DreamersDay
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Thanks, all. 

@Comparativist I knowwww (exasperation directed towards myself, not you). Part of my reason for posting was that I'd started trying to convince myself that I wasn't even very competitive, and needed some sort of reality check. That said, I certainly don't expect anyone to have a crystal ball or know some sort of secret adcomm formula that I somehow missed.... I just needed/need perspective from people who were neither my worst critic (me) nor my most avid cheerleaders (parents/friends who don't really understand the PhD application process and mostly assume that if you're smart enough, you'll get in wherever you want). 

@StrengthandHonorThanks. And hey, I'd seriously love to hear more about your research. DM if you'd like. 

@DreamersDay That's what I've been trying to tell myself. Fortunately I do have awesome letter writers, and got a lot of good feedback while writing/editing the SoP, so we'll see. 

My MA year at Chicago was the best/proudest year of my life (weird, I know), and perhaps the one in which I've consciously learned the most. I've tried to do everything possible to get myself back there for PhD work, and it's been really difficult accepting that the admission decision is now pretty much out of my hands.

Also sucks that Poli-Sci and CST send out their admit letters about a week apart... 

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22 hours ago, Lilliputien said:

I am also applying to U-Chicago Political theory and CST this year. Your profile is way more competitive than mine. I'm now just hoping to get into MAPSS and apply again in two years..

Good luck! 

I wouldn't rule out any options for you at this point -- you never know how these things go! 

That said, as I wrote above, referring me to MAPH was the best thing CST could have done for me at the time (MAPH is the Humanities equivalent of MAPSS, though I wound up mostly in MAPSS-oriented courses while at UofC and many just assumed I was in MAPSS and... I don't know... never came to discussions?). It made me a much stronger candidate this cycle, and my scholarship—and trust in it—benefitted exponentially. (I never would have believed that when I first got referred to MAPH either, by the way... I was crushed not to get into CST.) 

I'll cross my fingers for you to hear good things from any of the four—Poli-Sci, CST, MAPSS, MAPH! 

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On 1/18/2018 at 2:30 PM, ArcierePrudente said:

I wouldn't rule out any options for you at this point -- you never know how these things go! 

That said, as I wrote above, referring me to MAPH was the best thing CST could have done for me at the time (MAPH is the Humanities equivalent of MAPSS, though I wound up mostly in MAPSS-oriented courses while at UofC and many just assumed I was in MAPSS and... I don't know... never came to discussions?). It made me a much stronger candidate this cycle, and my scholarship—and trust in it—benefitted exponentially. (I never would have believed that when I first got referred to MAPH either, by the way... I was crushed not to get into CST.) 

I'll cross my fingers for you to hear good things from any of the four—Poli-Sci, CST, MAPSS, MAPH! 

Thanks! 

Getting into any of these four programs would be good news to me, since UofC has always been my dream school. 

I wish you good luck too. Do share if you have good news. It is interesting that you write and think on Strauss. Although I haven't got a chance to read his works in depth, I come from a pretty Straussian school and all my recommenders are Straussian. I have a feeling that we might be applying to a few similar programs. 

 

 

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On 1/11/2018 at 11:05 AM, ArcierePrudente said:

Yes, this is my first post, and yes, it's a desperate call for you all to evaluate my profile. In my defense, I lost my sanity long before I lost my shame, so I've been fighting this urge for a while. 

While I'm applying to a few schools, this evaluation pertains only to the University of Chicago (Political Science; Theory Subfield)*. I've been freaking out more and more over the past couple of weeks (as I know we all have), so I'd appreciate any insight you all could offer. 

*I'm also applying to Social Thought, but realize it's even more difficult to predict one's chances of admission to CST from data like this than it is for Poli-Sci. If you'd like to provide feedback on my CST viability, that would be awesome, but Poli-Sci admission is probably a bit easier to gauge. 

BA: Political Science at a Top-20 or 25 university, depending on year. Major GPA 3.95.

MA: University of Chicago, graduated last June (so yes, several poli-sci faculty know me well). Partial scholarship. All A's with some A minuses. 

GRE: 167V/154Q/4.5 AWA (I underscore on standardized writing tests despite being a good writer).

Awards/Conferences/Research/Misc:

- Undergraduate, university-wide analytical essay award 

- Presented at an Oxford University conference immediately after undergrad

- Half-tuition scholarship for a summer abroad program in Italy 

- M.A. thesis nominated for a department-wide thesis award (now in the final stages of review)

- M.A. work/study job proofreading a (now-deceased) philosopher's lecture transcripts from their tenure at UofC 

- As an M.A., also proofread a paper for a senior faculty member's upcoming book project

- Partial scholarship for a summer Latin intensive at UofC

- Currently a writer for a political and corporate PR firm

LoRs: All three from Chicago professors; 2 well-known in political science, one of whom advised my thesis and remains a POI for PhD study. We both write on the same subject and have a similar methodology. Writer 3 is a Classics professor whose class directly related to my field of interest and informed my thesis/ongoing work. 

Languages: Italian (fluent), French (conversational), Latin (reading), German (just beginning, but currently studying)

Faculty Fit/Research Interests: Best recognized as a Machiavelli scholar. Lately I've also been trying to merge this with liberal/immanent critique. My methods tend to involve close readings and rhetorical analyses as a means of de-constructing and re-interpreting political/theoretical paradigms. I'm interested in how political thought/rhetoric informs political behavior, and vice versa. Recently, I've also gotten into political theology quite a bit—I use the term 'theology' broadly, and as distinct from religion. And yes, I write—fairly impartially, I like to think—on Strauss. 

For Poli-Sci, one of my target faculty (the one who advised my thesis/wrote one of my letters) would seem to be an excellent research fit going forward, but he's on leave this year so I doubt he'll be sitting on the adcomm directly.

Another POI looks like an excellent fit as his work relates to my methodology, and to specific research topics that I'm newer to — but I've never taken a course from him and we haven't spoken much. He's also on leave next year, which I just found out today — so again, not sure what this means in terms of my chances. 

I mention other university faculty in my SoP with whom I've worked, and who would likely speak highly of me if contacted, but they aren't directly involved with the PoSc department. 

For CST, I have a similar issue: one POI was on leave last year, but I've communicated with him substantially (his was the article I mentioned editing above) and had several extended face-to-face meetings with him. He knows me and my work well. The application that eventually resulted in my MA admission was first directed to CST (they referred me to the MA), and this Professor emailed me during that review process to let me know how much he enjoyed reading my writing sample. A few months ago I told him how meaningful this had been, and he remarked that he didn't remember many applicants' writing samples, and that mine remained one of the few that he recalled. He also said that I came 'very close' to admission last time, BUT he also said that after reviewing my MA transcript, if he were going on my course selections alone he might consider me a better for Poli-Sci than CST. I don't imagine the fact that I'm applying to all other Poli-Sci or Government programs will help much. I address/explain this in my SoP somewhat, but am not sure how well. 

Another POI looks like a great peripheral/methodological fit, but I've never spoken with him directly.

Another POI is a largely similar case, except I have had a couple of face-to-face conversations with him. No classes, although I sat in on one while visiting Chicago ages and ages ago. I mention this class, and how cool it was, in my SoP (NB: I'm pretty sure I found a different word for 'cool' in my SoP. Pretty sure). 

Biggest Concerns: Aside from the low Quant and AWA GREs, and the couple of A minuses from the MA, I don't see any giant red flags. What worries me more is that these are two incredibly competitive programs, and I'm vying for one of very few spots among a probable cohort of Fulbright scholars, GREniuses, scholars with a whole list of peer-reviewed publications, people who are fluent in a dozen languages, etc. My concerns are mostly of the 'good enough' variety. 

This has all gone on quite long enough. Many thanks for any input people would like to offer. :) 

I also applied to CST this year. It's great that you can have the chance to talk with the professors directly. I tried to contact some of them by email but no responses.

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