quineonthevine Posted January 29, 2018 Share Posted January 29, 2018 (edited) Hi all, I plan to apply either this coming year or the following one, depending on whether or not I have a strong writing sample by the end of this summer. I'm pretty familiar with how the application process works, I think, but I have a few questions that don't seem to have obvious answers. I might seem a bit neurotic about this stuff, but I figured I'd ask! Here's some background about me: I spent two years in community college, earning straight A's, and transferred to UC Berkeley as a third year philosophy major. I'm in my fourth semester now, and I plan to stay another semester, to graduate at the end of 2018. My Berkeley GPA is a 3.81 currently (overall college GPA is a 3.93) - I got one B+ in a literature class, and I've earned either A-'s or A's in my philosophy classes. For what it's worth, my transcript has an upward trend at Berkeley: I got mostly A-'s when I started out here, but now I'm getting mostly A's. I have two semesters left, including this one, and I hope to keep it up. My AOI's are primarily in meaning (esp. Wittgenstein, the rule-following considerations, Kripke's skepticism of meaning), epistemology, mind, and metaethics, in that order. I'm also very interested in the history of analytic philosophy. (I'm sorry if this is annoying; I just want to explain my background explicitly.) I expect my letters of recommendation to be strong - they'll all be from senior faculty, at least, and I'm pretty close with them. 1) What counts as one's Philosophy GPA, or what is typically included in one's Philosophy GPA? Our undergraduate adviser said my community college grades will basically count for nothing, and admission committees will only really care about my upper-division courses in the major. Presumably, then, my GPA in Philosophy shouldn't include grades I've earned in community college classes. Now, I've received an A in a lower-division symbolic logic class, which is in the major, and I've gotten an A in an upper-division philosophy course in the Classics department. Would those factor in? I'm using the latter class to satisfy an elective for my major, FWIW. It's the (seemingly nontrivial) difference between a 3.83 vs. a 3.87 major GPA. 2) Does it make sense to take an extra year to polish one's writing sample? Nothing I've written so far is interesting enough to develop into a writing sample. But two of my courses this semester have term papers, both in fields I'm interested in, so one of them might be able to serve as a template for my writing sample. At the very least, I'd be able to spend a solid month or two over the summer to continue to develop my sample. But I also need to worry about the GRE, and I'd like to tailor my applications as much as I can to each of the departments I'll apply to. Having an extra year would allow me to really spread out that work, and make my writing sample as strong as possible. I'd have all of 2019 up to application season to have everything done. If I were to take an extra year, I'd sit in on courses for fun, and probably just work at a restaurant. What do you all think about taking time off, in general? 3) Is it a good idea to take grad seminars for credit? I'm taking one now, and I'm really enjoying it. I was thinking of taking two next semester, but I'm worried about whether it'll impact my GPA. (I know it's not the end of the world if I don't get a great grade in one class, but still.) Does taking a bunch of grad seminars affect one's admission chances at all? 4) I've done two independent studies under different professors, but none of the details appear on my transcript (with the grad seminar I'm in currently, the same is so.) Do people usually put this sort of thing on their CV, or is there a place in the actual application to flesh out certain details of one's coursework (i.e. just the topic, name of professor, etc.)? 5) I know nobody should assume he/she will get an acceptance from a top school, but is it reasonable to apply only to top PhD programs, and them some top funded MA programs, given my record? Mainly, I'm worried about losing job prospects the further down the rankings I'm willing to go. I'm confident my writing sample and my LOR's will be strong, and I expect my GPA to either stay where it is, or improve. If I remember correctly, fewer than half of UCLA's graduates landed a permanent position within 2-6 years, which is frankly terrifying. I'm totally willing to go to a strong (funded) MA program and reapply, though. 6) To what extend does it matter how much prestige one's letter writers have? 7) It's pretty difficult to get A's at UC Berkeley, compared to, say, Stanford. Is grade deflation/inflation taken into account, generally? Or is that the sort of thing that is contingent upon who is on each particular admission committee? 8) Does it matter much at all that I come from a PGR-ranked school? 9) Do extracurriculars matter much at all? I worked as a philosophy tutor last semester, and I have some other philosophy-related extracurriculars. 10) Should one's CV include only philosophy-related stuff? ----------------- That's all I can think of for now. I'm mainly curious about the first five questions, 6-10 are more or less afterthoughts. Thanks! Edited January 29, 2018 by quineonthevine kretschmar 1 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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