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timetraveller

Hi. I'm in first year and sort of lost?

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Hi there! Although it is very premature of me to ask, I can't help but think about this every now and then so I thought I would just ask students more senior than myself to provide some insight. I've just finished my first year at Queen's University and I absolutely fell in love with philosophy in these past months. 

I thought about what I wanted to do post-graduation and I am strongly considering applying to graduate/Phd programs. My brother is currently in his second year of graduate school and I seem to really like all of the things that he is doing (though, I am aware that seeing someone do something and doing it yourself are two completely different things). 

My concern, however, is in my GPA. After doing some research it seems to be that accepting an offer from a philosophy department outside of the top 20 in the gourmet rankings is not a wise choice because it is extremely difficult to compete for teaching and research positions after. If this is true, then I am wondering if I have made my chances of being admitted to such a program exceedingly difficult due to my first year GPA. I had a myriad of extracurriculars this year and I am seriously considering dropping them next year to ensure that I do far better (which I will miss, unfortunately).

My current GPA is 3.7. I remember reading an article that claimed that philosophy programs get over hundreds of applicants, many with 4.0 or near 4.0 GPA's, each year. In that case, my GPA ain't looking too hot right now. Do I seriously need to get a 3.9-4.0 in the next three years to maintain a reasonable chance of being admitted to a "great" program?

I guess I can also ask a side question, if you don't mind. Is going to a top 20-50 program the be all end all for pursuing an academic career in philosophy? I'm not one to be particularly caught up in prestige and I always imagined being happy attending a Canadian university for graduate school. I know little about the US besides the Ivy's, NYU, Berkeley, Michigan, and Pittsburgh, but schools such as Western, McGill, Dalhouise, University of Victoria, and UofT (of course) seem to be well regarded and I'd be through the moon to be admitted to any of these schools sometime in the future. But does that seriously limit my possible career outcomes? 1) I favour Canada over the US (my family is here, and I am from Toronto), and 2) I believe I can do well and am a fairly good student, but being admitted to schools such as Harvard, Michigan, etc. for a PhD in Philosophy seems so amazingly unrealistic and unlikely that I don't even want to ingrain the thought in my mind only to be disappointed after. 

If anyone would be kind enough to help me through my confusion I'd deeply appreciate it! Thank you :)

Sincerely,

Worried Undergrad 

Edited by timetraveller

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Have  you tried looking at the CVs of the professors at schools you might want to work at someday? Try seeing where THEY went to grad school--it should give you an idea what kinds of schools can land you those kinds of positions (as well as what kinds of work/publication records).

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2 hours ago, timetraveller said:

My concern, however, is in my GPA. After doing some research it seems to be that accepting an offer from a philosophy department outside of the top 20 in the gourmet rankings is not a wise choice because it is extremely difficult to compete for teaching and research positions after. If this is true, then I am wondering if I have made my chances of being admitted to such a program exceedingly difficult due to my first year GPA. I had a myriad of extracurriculars this year and I am seriously considering dropping them next year to ensure that I do far better (which I will miss, unfortunately).

My current GPA is 3.7. I remember reading an article that claimed that philosophy programs get over hundreds of applicants, many with 4.0 or near 4.0 GPA's, each year. In that case, my GPA ain't looking too hot right now. Do I seriously need to get a 3.9-4.0 in the next three years to maintain a reasonable chance of being admitted to a "great" program?

A 3.7 is a decent GPA, and you can still get into good programs. Of course, anything you can do to make your application stronger is a good thing, but a 3.7 is not going to sink you. Furthermore, your grades for philosophy courses, particularly upper-level philosophy courses, will matter more. Here's a relevant thread:

 

2 hours ago, timetraveller said:

I guess I can also ask a side question, if you don't mind. Is going to a top 20-50 program the be all end all for pursuing an academic career in philosophy? I'm not one to be particularly caught up in prestige and I always imagined being happy attending a Canadian university for graduate school. I know little about the US besides the Ivy's, NYU, Berkeley, Michigan, and Pittsburgh, but schools such as Western, McGill, Dalhouise, University of Victoria, and UofT (of course) seem to be well regarded and I'd be through the moon to be admitted to any of these schools sometime in the future. But does that seriously limit my possible career outcomes? 1) I favour Canada over the US (my family is here, and I am from Toronto), and 2) I believe I can do well and am a fairly good student, but being admitted to schools such as Harvard, Michigan, etc. for a PhD in Philosophy seems so amazingly unrealistic and unlikely that I don't even want to ingrain the thought in my mind only to be disappointed after. 

If anyone would be kind enough to help me through my confusion I'd deeply appreciate it! Thank you :)

Sincerely,

Worried Undergrad 

These days, getting a TT job in philosophy is hard for anyone, even from a top program. Is going to a program outside the top 20 or top 50 worth it? I suppose it depends on what outcome you're looking for. There are good programs with very smart people that aren't in the top 20, or even in the top 50. I'm friends with some of those people, and they're happily doing interesting work in those programs. Job placement outcomes can vary for unranked programs as well. If you go somewhere unranked, you're probably not going to end up teaching at a ranked school, but the job market is bad enough that it's going to be hard to find a TT job no matter who you are. If you're considering a PhD in philosophy, think hard about how you'll feel if you don't/can't get a job after you finish. Take a look at job placements on department websites. That should give you a rough indicator of what the market is like.

Also, you're in your first year, so my advice is to enjoy learning, explore your interests, and see how things go for the next few years. Aim to do well, certainly, but there's no need to commit yourself to going to grad school just yet.

 

2 hours ago, Levon3 said:

Have  you tried looking at the CVs of the professors at schools you might want to work at someday? Try seeing where THEY went to grad school--it should give you an idea what kinds of schools can land you those kinds of positions (as well as what kinds of work/publication records).

Unfortunately, this isn't a great way to figure out where to go to school. Current professors started programs 5-30+ years ago, and the job market for academic philosophy has changed quite a bit. Furthermore, the strengths and composition of departments also change as people retire or leave and get replaced. You're better off looking at current rankings for departments which have people working on your areas of interest, and seeing where they've placed people in the past several years. That will give you a better idea.

Also, here's a good resource for info about applying to PhD programs in philosophy:

http://schwitzsplinters.blogspot.com/search/label/applying to grad school

 

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For what it's worth, I applied to graduate school with a 3.79 and I got into a top 20 program. My GPA for my philosophy classes was a bit higher, of course, but not dramatically so. My understanding is that the difference between a 3.8 and a 4.0 doesn't really matter much for admissions, as long as your philosophy grades are strong. The writing sample matters much more, comparatively. Focus on taking challenging courses and building relationships with your professors so that you can build your philosophical skills to produce the best writing sample possible, and don't worry too much about your grades as long as they are decently high.

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6 hours ago, timetraveller said:

Although it is very premature of me to ask, ...

My concern, however, is in my GPA.  ...

My current GPA is 3.7. ... 

Hello there first year undergrad. A 3.7 GPA on its own will not stop you from getting into a top school. It's a perfectly respectable GPA! What will truly matter are other aspects of your application: your SOP, your writing sample, your letters, and your choice of schools (=schools that are a good fit for your interests). At this point, I would encourage you to simply enjoy your studies! It's entirely premature to think about PhDs and post-PhD plans. You really don't have nearly enough experience to know what you'll want to do. In the interest of making the most of your education at the moment, you might find ways to cultivate relationships with faculty at your school, who could eventually write you strong letters of recommendation. You'll want letters that say more than just what grade you got in which class, so make en effort to participate, show up to office hours, write papers where you can, and eventually choose a thesis option, if available, or an independent study otherwise. Take the time to define some research interests. See about participating in departmental reading groups in later years. Maybe there are volunteer or paid research assistant positions you could apply for. Maybe there are undergraduate conferences you could apply for. Or maybe you could join (or create) a club in your own department and participate in organizing events. At some point (=at least in another year and a half), you might think about writing papers that could serve as a writing sample, and once you have better defined interests, you could start looking into potential schools to apply to. Keep your options open, since you may find that you change your mind in a variety of ways as your education progresses. 

As for academic jobs -- again, premature. But you should go into this with eyes wide open. The academic job market is extremely difficult, even for the best of candidates. Coming from a top school is a big help in the process; people from other institutions do get jobs, but less frequently. So, it's not a guarantee but it'll help. But again, this is a decision you can only make once you have spent some time developing your research interests. Different schools have different strengths, and you need to pick the ones that are right for you. 

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6 hours ago, Levon3 said:

Have  you tried looking at the CVs of the professors at schools you might want to work at someday? Try seeing where THEY went to grad school--it should give you an idea what kinds of schools can land you those kinds of positions (as well as what kinds of work/publication records).

Thanks a ton for replying! I didn't considered doing this. I did after and found that a lot of people went to Oxford and other UK schools, large US schools, a lot from Princeton..., but a relative few that went to Canadian schools. I'm not sure what any of this means yet (though I have an idea), but it was interesting anyways! 

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3 hours ago, hector549 said:

A 3.7 is a decent GPA, and you can still get into good programs. Of course, anything you can do to make your application stronger is a good thing, but a 3.7 is not going to sink you. Furthermore, your grades for philosophy courses, particularly upper-level philosophy courses, will matter more. Here's a relevant thread:

 

These days, getting a TT job in philosophy is hard for anyone, even from a top program. Is going to a program outside the top 20 or top 50 worth it? I suppose it depends on what outcome you're looking for. There are good programs with very smart people that aren't in the top 20, or even in the top 50. I'm friends with some of those people, and they're happily doing interesting work in those programs. Job placement outcomes can vary for unranked programs as well. If you go somewhere unranked, you're probably not going to end up teaching at a ranked school, but the job market is bad enough that it's going to be hard to find a TT job no matter who you are. If you're considering a PhD in philosophy, think hard about how you'll feel if you don't/can't get a job after you finish. Take a look at job placements on department websites. That should give you a rough indicator of what the market is like.

Also, you're in your first year, so my advice is to enjoy learning, explore your interests, and see how things go for the next few years. Aim to do well, certainly, but there's no need to commit yourself to going to grad school just yet.

 

Unfortunately, this isn't a great way to figure out where to go to school. Current professors started programs 5-30+ years ago, and the job market for academic philosophy has changed quite a bit. Furthermore, the strengths and composition of departments also change as people retire or leave and get replaced. You're better off looking at current rankings for departments which have people working on your areas of interest, and seeing where they've placed people in the past several years. That will give you a better idea.

Also, here's a good resource for info about applying to PhD programs in philosophy:

http://schwitzsplinters.blogspot.com/search/label/applying to grad school

 

Thank you for such an in depth reply. I seriously appreciate the help! I'm aware a 3.7 isn't anything horrible, I guess I'm just disappointed because I was really hoping to crack above 3.8. But you live and you learn. All of your advice about placements is being read seriously and I'll consider it in the future! I guess it really is too early to know what I want; however, I actually did not consider how content I would be completing a PhD and not finding employment after. In all honesty, I just really like 'doing' philosophy, reading books, and writing essays, so I thought graduate school would be an awesome way for me to continue to do so.

I will read over the page you've linked to get a better understanding of this whole thing. Thanks again!!! 

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1 hour ago, thanksbro said:

For what it's worth, I applied to graduate school with a 3.79 and I got into a top 20 program. My GPA for my philosophy classes was a bit higher, of course, but not dramatically so. My understanding is that the difference between a 3.8 and a 4.0 doesn't really matter much for admissions, as long as your philosophy grades are strong. The writing sample matters much more, comparatively. Focus on taking challenging courses and building relationships with your professors so that you can build your philosophical skills to produce the best writing sample possible, and don't worry too much about your grades as long as they are decently high.

Thank you for replying! I didn't know a strict philosophy GPA was a thing. In that case I will rest a bit easier tonight. In my first year introductory course I will finish with an A, and in my other introductory course in Political Philosophy I will finish with an A+ (which I am definitely most interested in, but I guess I won't really know that until later in my academic career).  I will heed your advice and be sure to produce the best writing sample that I can, when and if that time comes of course.

I guess I was wrongly under the assumption that GPA is king in admissions like it is for other graduate (or, I guess, professional) programs such as law school and medical school - for Canada at least.

Thank you for the help, it's much appreciated!

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40 minutes ago, fuzzylogician said:

Hello there first year undergrad. A 3.7 GPA on its own will not stop you from getting into a top school. It's a perfectly respectable GPA! What will truly matter are other aspects of your application: your SOP, your writing sample, your letters, and your choice of schools (=schools that are a good fit for your interests). At this point, I would encourage you to simply enjoy your studies! It's entirely premature to think about PhDs and post-PhD plans. You really don't have nearly enough experience to know what you'll want to do. In the interest of making the most of your education at the moment, you might find ways to cultivate relationships with faculty at your school, who could eventually write you strong letters of recommendation. You'll want letters that say more than just what grade you got in which class, so make en effort to participate, show up to office hours, write papers where you can, and eventually choose a thesis option, if available, or an independent study otherwise. Take the time to define some research interests. See about participating in departmental reading groups in later years. Maybe there are volunteer or paid research assistant positions you could apply for. Maybe there are undergraduate conferences you could apply for. Or maybe you could join (or create) a club in your own department and participate in organizing events. At some point (=at least in another year and a half), you might think about writing papers that could serve as a writing sample, and once you have better defined interests, you could start looking into potential schools to apply to. Keep your options open, since you may find that you change your mind in a variety of ways as your education progresses. 

As for academic jobs -- again, premature. But you should go into this with eyes wide open. The academic job market is extremely difficult, even for the best of candidates. Coming from a top school is a big help in the process; people from other institutions do get jobs, but less frequently. So, it's not a guarantee but it'll help. But again, this is a decision you can only make once you have spent some time developing your research interests. Different schools have different strengths, and you need to pick the ones that are right for you. 

Hi fuzzylogician! Thanks for taking the time to write such a lenghty reply. I am learning now that other parts of my application will greatly impact my chances of admission. This is something I genuinely didn't know before - I mean, yes, I figured other parts of my application would be important, but I thought GPA would act as a barrier because it's easy to filter hundreds of applications that way. 

Sorry for being super anxious! I'll definitely try to enjoy my undergrad as much as possible!!! (Though, I already am.) I must say, I do find it somewhat hard to form strong relationship with professors (I had this problem in high school as well) mainly because I enjoy sitting at the back of the class and learning on my own. I'm just generally a quiet individual. Participating in class and seeing professors and TA's during office hours has not been a strong suit of mine this year so I'll definitely try harder going into second year.

However, I do have one professor (and a letter of recommendation they wrote) to vouch for me so far if that is a good beginning? Next year she will be taking me on as a research assistant to help her conduct research concerning the ethical considerations of female imprisonment which should be really fun! 

I also did not consider participating in undergraduate conferences. I read on Facebook that the University of Toronto is hosting a free one next weekend so I'll be sure to attend that! I will also look into getting involved in other things such as our school's Philosophy student council and reading groups! My understanding of graduate admissions were that they were very numbers based so I didn't bother doing any of these things this year. I more so focused on other things I enjoy (Model UN, Heart and Stroke Foundation, etc). I will take everything you said into consideration and keep my eyes open next year.

Yes, I keep reading over and over how difficult the market is for recent graduates. But, as you note, I guess I can think about this later when my plans are more solidified. It's slightly hard trying to pitch wanting to pursue philosophy at the graduate level to parents who were expecting me to go to law school or become a consultant (my original plan before university was to major in Economics and Statistics). It just so happens that I really liked philosophy this year - a lot more than I was expecting - and now I think I'd be decently sad doing anything else for the sake of employability, or for any other reason. So, I'm definitely committed to philosophy at the undergraduate level at least (or so I think). 

Wow, okay. A lot to consider I guess. Thank you for all the help! I deeply appreciate it. 

Edited by timetraveller

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Having a good GPA is desirable, but (1) your GPA is fine lol, and (2) not having a less-than-perfect GPA won't disqualify you from admissions decisions. I have a GPA that's a lot lower than the sort of thing you usually see around here, and when I applied this cycle, I got waitlists at some very well-regarded PhD programmes, and was offered admission into a very well-regarded MA programme. Of course, we can speculate that if I had had a higher overall GPA, I might have gotten in, rather than be waitlisted. But I did come close, which would lead me to believe that other factors (especially your writing sample and your letters) are more important.

Also worth noting that my philosophy GPA was much better than my overall; keep in mind that the former is more important.

Also, how you want to spend your time as an undergraduate obviously depends on what kind of things you value, but in general, I'd suggest that you should take the time - especially early on - to go ahead and branch out and do things you enjoy, as well as things you're unfamiliar with/outside of your comfort zone. Don't worry about not being able to do philosophy at all later on. :)

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Honestly, I wish my undergraduate GPA was a bit lower. I had about a 3.8, which I tried really hard to get because I wanted a certain level of honors. I didn't get it anyway, so I wish I had taken those couple courses in science and art I was always eyeing, the ones I avoided because I thought I was likely to get Bs. You do want to keep your GPA in a high range, and your philosophy grades very high (although finding a few courses more challenging is fine), but focusing too much on GPA rather than learning is something some people—like me—can regret.

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Regarding your parents expecting you to go to law school-they might want to do some research on that. I think they might be surprised at what they find in terms of cost and outcomes.

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16 hours ago, Kantattheairport said:

Having a good GPA is desirable, but (1) your GPA is fine lol, and (2) not having a less-than-perfect GPA won't disqualify you from admissions decisions. I have a GPA that's a lot lower than the sort of thing you usually see around here, and when I applied this cycle, I got waitlists at some very well-regarded PhD programmes, and was offered admission into a very well-regarded MA programme. Of course, we can speculate that if I had had a higher overall GPA, I might have gotten in, rather than be waitlisted. But I did come close, which would lead me to believe that other factors (especially your writing sample and your letters) are more important.

Also worth noting that my philosophy GPA was much better than my overall; keep in mind that the former is more important.

Also, how you want to spend your time as an undergraduate obviously depends on what kind of things you value, but in general, I'd suggest that you should take the time - especially early on - to go ahead and branch out and do things you enjoy, as well as things you're unfamiliar with/outside of your comfort zone. Don't worry about not being able to do philosophy at all later on. :)

Hi! Thank you for replying! Congratulations on your offer! Like yourself, others have noted that other parts of the application are important so I will definitely heed all of your advice. 

I'll keep in mind that it's important to branch out. I'm actually taking a Gender Studies course this summer (very much unlike me) and an online Physics course next year because I'm interested in atoms and elasticity! I think I just went on a philosophy high this year and got overly excited haha.

Thank you for all the advice and have a good day! 

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14 hours ago, hats said:

Honestly, I wish my undergraduate GPA was a bit lower. I had about a 3.8, which I tried really hard to get because I wanted a certain level of honors. I didn't get it anyway, so I wish I had taken those couple courses in science and art I was always eyeing, the ones I avoided because I thought I was likely to get Bs. You do want to keep your GPA in a high range, and your philosophy grades very high (although finding a few courses more challenging is fine), but focusing too much on GPA rather than learning is something some people—like me—can regret.

Will try my best to keep this in mind! I think user 'hats' was hinting at the same point to value learning as much/more than just getting good grades. Thanks for sharing your past experiences! 

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4 hours ago, UndergradDad said:

Regarding your parents expecting you to go to law school-they might want to do some research on that. I think they might be surprised at what they find in terms of cost and outcomes.

Thanks for replying! My dad actually works as a tax lawyer and fully understands the whole shabang. But I think I'm at a point where I don't care much for a legal career either way. :)

Thanks for the help! 

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22 hours ago, timetraveller said:

Hi fuzzylogician! Thanks for taking the time to write such a lenghty reply. I am learning now that other parts of my application will greatly impact my chances of admission. This is something I genuinely didn't know before - I mean, yes, I figured other parts of my application would be important, but I thought GPA would act as a barrier because it's easy to filter hundreds of applications that way. 

Sorry for being super anxious! I'll definitely try to enjoy my undergrad as much as possible!!! (Though, I already am.) I must say, I do find it somewhat hard to form strong relationship with professors (I had this problem in high school as well) mainly because I enjoy sitting at the back of the class and learning on my own. I'm just generally a quiet individual. Participating in class and seeing professors and TA's during office hours has not been a strong suit of mine this year so I'll definitely try harder going into second year.

However, I do have one professor (and a letter of recommendation they wrote) to vouch for me so far if that is a good beginning? Next year she will be taking me on as a research assistant to help her conduct research concerning the ethical considerations of female imprisonment which should be really fun! 

I also did not consider participating in undergraduate conferences. I read on Facebook that the University of Toronto is hosting a free one next weekend so I'll be sure to attend that! I will also look into getting involved in other things such as our school's Philosophy student council and reading groups! My understanding of graduate admissions were that they were very numbers based so I didn't bother doing any of these things this year. I more so focused on other things I enjoy (Model UN, Heart and Stroke Foundation, etc). I will take everything you said into consideration and keep my eyes open next year.

Yes, I keep reading over and over how difficult the market is for recent graduates. But, as you note, I guess I can think about this later when my plans are more solidified. It's slightly hard trying to pitch wanting to pursue philosophy at the graduate level to parents who were expecting me to go to law school or become a consultant (my original plan before university was to major in Economics and Statistics). It just so happens that I really liked philosophy this year - a lot more than I was expecting - and now I think I'd be decently sad doing anything else for the sake of employability, or for any other reason. So, I'm definitely committed to philosophy at the undergraduate level at least (or so I think). 

A quick response to some of this: 

- Yes, having someone who is willing to vouch for you is good. If she'll take you on as an RA next year and you then continue to keep in touch with her in later years, that's great. Should lead to a strong letter. 

- Doing things you enjoy is exactly the thing to do at this point. Let yourself grow and follow your instincts. You can worry about how to weave your experiences into a narrative later. You also really don't need to be presenting at conferences or worrying about publications this early. But that said, networking is one of the most helpful things you can do, so if you have the chance (or, you create the chance for yourself), that'd be helpful. It'd be absolutely sensible to do this in later years; if you don't do this until your third year, you're perfectly fine. 

- Your life is yours to live, not your parents'. Do what you want, not what they do. That said, again it's important to remember how much the job market sucks. I don't think it's something students understand as well as they should. Doing a double-major in philosophy and something a bit more "practical" might not be a bad move. Economics, for example, has a lot of directions that could take you closer to philosophy, and stats are useful for a variety of fields of study. You don't needs to commit to an entire career just yet. Keep your options open. 

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On 4/28/2018 at 12:22 AM, timetraveller said:

I also did not consider participating in undergraduate conferences. I read on Facebook that the University of Toronto is hosting a free one next weekend so I'll be sure to attend that! I will also look into getting involved in other things such as our school's Philosophy student council and reading groups! My understanding of graduate admissions were that they were very numbers based so I didn't bother doing any of these things this year. I more so focused on other things I enjoy (Model UN, Heart and Stroke Foundation, etc). I will take everything you said into consideration and keep my eyes open next year.

Whatever you do, please don't stop doing the things you enjoy! If you're interested in political philosophy then Model UN is certainly relevant, especially if it's also something you like doing. Don't take on extracurriculars like the philosophy student council unless it's something you'll actually be interested in. If you can participate in reading groups, great. But, even better would be an independent or small group study for credit with a professor in your final year of undergrad. That will give you a chance to develop a closer relationship with someone and to hone in on your particular interests.

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Overall GPA, like the verbal GRE score, is only used to weed out potentially unqualified applicants. Grades in your upper division philosophy courses will be far more instructive to admissions committees. I had a 3.8x GPA, and I got into three top 10 programs. The most important components of your application are your statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, and writing sample. To make these the best they possibly can, you'll want to develop close mentoring relationships with at least two (ideally three) permanent faculty members in your philosophy department, so that they can advise you on the admissions process, write stellar letters of recommendation, and help you revise and edit your writing sample.

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You've already gotten lots of great advice, so I won't repeat it.Instead, I'll just say a few things about the job market for philosophy PhDs.

First, and most importantly, it's incredibly difficult for everyone. Even the Princeton grads struggle. It's easy for people to lose sight of that fact when they've been focused on their own misery and despair for a few months. For every job, you're competing against 650-1200 other super-qualified applicants, although it can go as low as a couple hundred for small areas of specialization. There are roughly 180-200 tenure-track jobs in the English-speaking world each year. Most of them are not in especially amazing places.

Second, if your end-goal is to work and live in Canada, you should forget about it. Of the ~200 jobs a year, about five of them are in Canada. But they're advertised for particular AOSes, so you're lucky to see a single Canadian job in your area in a year. And pretty much regardless of where it is, it will draw hundreds of applicants. The only way to play the jobs game is to be ready and willing to move to almost anywhere in the US. Being a Canadian with a fancy American PhD does seem to confer an advantage when applying for jobs in Canada; Canadian PhDs don't, although Toronto produces a lot of our professors (they R-select, basically). Your more or less ideal career trajectory, if you want to work in Canada, is to get a SSHRC postdoc somewhere (not necessarily in Canada!). SSHRC holders do seem to get Canadian jobs at a decent rate. Certainly more than other Canadians. Just bear in mind that it's also super competitive (especially because it's an interdisciplinary competition, and philosophers don't do well in those), and there are fewer awards each year.

Third, Canadian universities (Toronto included) underfund their students, especially relative to the average or median times to completion. Most Canadian programs fund properly for four years, and then you have to scramble for years five-plus. And it takes five-plus years. Canadian programs also don't confer enough teaching experience for you to be competitive on the market (you really need 3-4 solo courses under your belt), and it's incredibly difficult to get sessional experience in Canada (because of a combination of unionized sessionals [which is great, but presents big barriers to entry] and a low density of universities within a commutable radius). Of course, you have to be careful with American programs--some have you teach way too much, and that hampers your ability to finish the dissertation and publish things.

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13 hours ago, maxhgns said:

You've already gotten lots of great advice, so I won't repeat it.Instead, I'll just say a few things about the job market for philosophy PhDs.

[.......]

Hi! Thank you so much for this in-depth response, it was very informative. It really helped to put things into perspective and gave me a lot to think about! I appreciate the help.  

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On 4/29/2018 at 5:28 PM, rising_star said:

Whatever you do, please don't stop doing the things you enjoy! If you're interested in political philosophy then Model UN is certainly relevant, especially if it's also something you like doing. Don't take on extracurriculars like the philosophy student council unless it's something you'll actually be interested in. If you can participate in reading groups, great. But, even better would be an independent or small group study for credit with a professor in your final year of undergrad. That will give you a chance to develop a closer relationship with someone and to hone in on your particular interests.

Thank you for the advice! I will keep note of all that you've said! (I've made a little Microsoft Word document, ha.) The help is much appreciated. :)

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On 4/29/2018 at 9:19 PM, Spirit-Seer said:

Overall GPA, like the verbal GRE score, is only used to weed out potentially unqualified applicants. Grades in your upper division philosophy courses will be far more instructive to admissions committees. I had a 3.8x GPA, and I got into three top 10 programs. The most important components of your application are your statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, and writing sample. To make these the best they possibly can, you'll want to develop close mentoring relationships with at least two (ideally three) permanent faculty members in your philosophy department, so that they can advise you on the admissions process, write stellar letters of recommendation, and help you revise and edit your writing sample.

Thanks for responding and sharing your personal experience! (And congratulations on your acceptances.) So, my initial idea was that GPA was used to weed out applicants, but I was unsure of what range people started to get weeded out at. Your answer helps to give me a better idea so thank you! The consensus seems to be that it's crucial to develop a good relationship with profs to write letters of recommendation and help me with my writing sample (if I get that far), among other things of course. Will keep this in the back of my mind as I progress through next year!

I will try to enjoy the relationships with my profs simply because lots of them are interesting and funny people. Them (potentially) helping me with grad school applications is an awesome bonus :)

I appreciate the help!

Edited by timetraveller

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I too was the type of student who preferred to sit in the back of the classroom and teach myself the material on my own. It can be difficult to kindle meaningful relationships with professors in this case. As I began to consider graduate studies, and similarly letters of recommendation, I decided to find different ways of interacting with professors. For me, I had success with merely emailing professors with inquiries regarding coursework or projects, even when I was fairly clear on that which I sought clarity. These actions conveyed my interest in the material and my professors' expertise - this also allows them to show off a bit, if you provide them with the right opportunity. A bonus to this approach is the familiarity gained between yourself and your professor and can assuage any reluctance you might have to seeing them during office hours. 

That said, what you have listed as mediums for involvement and exploration are already great outlets and will not only expose you to faculty, but grant you a better idea of your interests and aspirations. Keep it up, and good luck!

Edited by stefan.santavicca

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On 4/30/2018 at 11:32 PM, maxhgns said:

You've already gotten lots of great advice, so I won't repeat it.Instead, I'll just say a few things about the job market for philosophy PhDs.

First, and most importantly, it's incredibly difficult for everyone. Even the Princeton grads struggle. It's easy for people to lose sight of that fact when they've been focused on their own misery and despair for a few months. For every job, you're competing against 650-1200 other super-qualified applicants, although it can go as low as a couple hundred for small areas of specialization. There are roughly 180-200 tenure-track jobs in the English-speaking world each year. Most of them are not in especially amazing places.

Second, if your end-goal is to work and live in Canada, you should forget about it. Of the ~200 jobs a year, about five of them are in Canada. But they're advertised for particular AOSes, so you're lucky to see a single Canadian job in your area in a year. And pretty much regardless of where it is, it will draw hundreds of applicants. The only way to play the jobs game is to be ready and willing to move to almost anywhere in the US. Being a Canadian with a fancy American PhD does seem to confer an advantage when applying for jobs in Canada; Canadian PhDs don't, although Toronto produces a lot of our professors (they R-select, basically). Your more or less ideal career trajectory, if you want to work in Canada, is to get a SSHRC postdoc somewhere (not necessarily in Canada!). SSHRC holders do seem to get Canadian jobs at a decent rate. Certainly more than other Canadians. Just bear in mind that it's also super competitive (especially because it's an interdisciplinary competition, and philosophers don't do well in those), and there are fewer awards each year.

Third, Canadian universities (Toronto included) underfund their students, especially relative to the average or median times to completion. Most Canadian programs fund properly for four years, and then you have to scramble for years five-plus. And it takes five-plus years. Canadian programs also don't confer enough teaching experience for you to be competitive on the market (you really need 3-4 solo courses under your belt), and it's incredibly difficult to get sessional experience in Canada (because of a combination of unionized sessionals [which is great, but presents big barriers to entry] and a low density of universities within a commutable radius). Of course, you have to be careful with American programs--some have you teach way too much, and that hampers your ability to finish the dissertation and publish things.

I second this as I also was a Canadian applicant this year.

(1) As per above, Canadian phds do not get much teaching experience. Where I did my MA , most of the PhDs students were receiving no teaching courses. (Not sure if they will end up getting one before graduation or not - surely they will). At one of my PhD offers, my funding package said that I would have one course.

(2) You pay tuition all the way through your MA and PhD programs. After the funding runs out, for both MAs and PhDs, you are still incurring tuition fees. I had one fairly substantial funding package this year, but even then, it could not compete with a 6 year funding package in the States for $25,000 a year. 

(3) If you get SSHRC, many of the programs won't guarantee TAships. Upfront, they may say you will get them, but then they might not prioritize you getting them along the way. And if you are wanting to save money for year 5 and 6, that will suck.

(4) Sadly, most new hires in Canada did their PhDs outside Canada. It's a hard choice: the programs in the States leave you with more than some can handle in teaching and researching, but it can pay off in terms of a CV. 

That said, do whatever you need to do for the love of philosophy. If you aren't trying to land a university teaching job, Canada may be for you. Also, you can still do a MA Canada, and you may need to if landing a 15 program is your goal.

Other side things, which the post above also hinted at: Canadian phds do have a lighter load overall, for example, significantly less coursework and a much lighter TA or teaching load (6-10 hours a week of TAing verses teach 2 courses a semester or working 15-20 hours a week as a TA is a pretty big differences). That made me take the offers in Canada very very seriously. Honestly, even with the terrible job market in Canada, I would have accepted the offer on these grounds alone, if it wasn't for the incurring tuition fees the 5-6 years. I don't need the pressure to have to finish in 4 years, if that is even possible. 

Edited by Neither Here Nor There

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