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Hi  ?

I am Contract Monster Slayer of Purgatory, yet you're all free to truncate my name however you wish, so long as I know you're referring to me. Anyway, this is my first day here on Grad Cafe in what I hope is my first and only year as an applicant. Then again, I've got quite the story, so I could be here a while. But hey, you tell me. Here it goes...

STORY TIME (Read on if you want more detail/Skip if you don't)

I am a former M.A. philosophy student/TA. I departed from my program without graduating for two reasons: (1) Incompatibility with the program in terms of research interests; I was essentially training myself to be a professional philosopher to the extent that I was self-directing my entire thesis. As for (2), I got caught up in some political B.S. that occurred within the department walls. Long (vague) story short, I got reprimanded for defending myself against some violations of both the student conduct code and workplace harassment policy. To paraphrase the Dept. Chair, "I brought attention to the people that said these things" during a seminar and work hours, mind you. Simply said, I didn't want any affiliation with this program anymore. In the end, I left the department with an exacerbated anxiety disorder, insomnia, and a meager 3.0 GPA. I had to leave.

POST-DEPARTURE

Unconvinced that my GPA defined my talent level, I immediately began a writing project intended for (non-graduate) academic conferences. Consequently, and please let me know if none of this means jack, I garnered acceptances to two regional conferences and one more invite (2+1= 3) via an unpublished blog post submitted to the public philosophy workshop at UNC-Chapel Hill intended for early career philosophers (if I remember correctly). Thus far, then, it would appear according to my CV that I've been active in some corner of academic philosophy since leaving my previous program. Though, it's worth mentioning that I'm not done yet, as I've expanded and submitted my project for review at an open access journal (fat chance at this point in my development, I know) and I plan on writing at least one more project for more conference presentations, though hopefully more as I have a few projects on my mind. 

ADDITIONAL (QUICK) DETAILS

I have three LOR writers: Two from my most recent undergraduate institution and one from my previous graduate institution. 

WHAT I WANT TO KNOW

Have I improved or in some way restored any chance of moving onto the Ph.D.?

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7 minutes ago, ContractMonsterSlayer said:

Hi  ?

I am Contract Monster Slayer of Purgatory, yet you're all free to truncate my name however you wish, so long as I know you're referring to me. Anyway, this is my first day here on Grad Cafe in what I hope is my first and only year as an applicant. Then again, I've got quite the story, so I could be here a while. But hey, you tell me. Here it goes...

STORY TIME (Read on if you want more detail/Skip if you don't)

I am a former M.A. philosophy student/TA. I departed from my program without graduating for two reasons: (1) Incompatibility with the program in terms of research interests; I was essentially training myself to be a professional philosopher to the extent that I was self-directing my entire thesis. As for (2), I got caught up in some political B.S. that occurred within the department walls. Long (vague) story short, I got reprimanded for defending myself against some violations of both the student conduct code and workplace harassment policy. To paraphrase the Dept. Chair, "I brought attention to the people that said these things" during a seminar and work hours, mind you. Simply said, I didn't want any affiliation with this program anymore. In the end, I left the department with an exacerbated anxiety disorder, insomnia, and a meager 3.0 GPA. I had to leave.

POST-DEPARTURE

Unconvinced that my GPA defined my talent level, I immediately began a writing project intended for (non-graduate) academic conferences. Consequently, and please let me know if none of this means jack, I garnered acceptances to two regional conferences and one more invite (2+1= 3) via an unpublished blog post submitted to the public philosophy workshop at UNC-Chapel Hill intended for early career philosophers (if I remember correctly). Thus far, then, it would appear according to my CV that I've been active in some corner of academic philosophy since leaving my previous program. Though, it's worth mentioning that I'm not done yet, as I've expanded and submitted my project for review at an open access journal (fat chance at this point in my development, I know) and I plan on writing at least one more project for more conference presentations, though hopefully more as I have a few projects on my mind. 

ADDITIONAL (QUICK) DETAILS

I have three LOR writers: Two from my most recent undergraduate institution and one from my previous graduate institution. 

WHAT I WANT TO KNOW

Have I improved or in some way restored any chance of moving onto the Ph.D.?

This Bud's for you.

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9 hours ago, ContractMonsterSlayer said:

Hi  ?

I am Contract Monster Slayer of Purgatory, yet you're all free to truncate my name however you wish, so long as I know you're referring to me. Anyway, this is my first day here on Grad Cafe in what I hope is my first and only year as an applicant. Then again, I've got quite the story, so I could be here a while. But hey, you tell me. Here it goes...

STORY TIME (Read on if you want more detail/Skip if you don't)

I am a former M.A. philosophy student/TA. I departed from my program without graduating for two reasons: (1) Incompatibility with the program in terms of research interests; I was essentially training myself to be a professional philosopher to the extent that I was self-directing my entire thesis. As for (2), I got caught up in some political B.S. that occurred within the department walls. Long (vague) story short, I got reprimanded for defending myself against some violations of both the student conduct code and workplace harassment policy. To paraphrase the Dept. Chair, "I brought attention to the people that said these things" during a seminar and work hours, mind you. Simply said, I didn't want any affiliation with this program anymore. In the end, I left the department with an exacerbated anxiety disorder, insomnia, and a meager 3.0 GPA. I had to leave.

POST-DEPARTURE

Unconvinced that my GPA defined my talent level, I immediately began a writing project intended for (non-graduate) academic conferences. Consequently, and please let me know if none of this means jack, I garnered acceptances to two regional conferences and one more invite (2+1= 3) via an unpublished blog post submitted to the public philosophy workshop at UNC-Chapel Hill intended for early career philosophers (if I remember correctly). Thus far, then, it would appear according to my CV that I've been active in some corner of academic philosophy since leaving my previous program. Though, it's worth mentioning that I'm not done yet, as I've expanded and submitted my project for review at an open access journal (fat chance at this point in my development, I know) and I plan on writing at least one more project for more conference presentations, though hopefully more as I have a few projects on my mind. 

ADDITIONAL (QUICK) DETAILS

I have three LOR writers: Two from my most recent undergraduate institution and one from my previous graduate institution. 

WHAT I WANT TO KNOW

Have I improved or in some way restored any chance of moving onto the Ph.D.?

I'm a current grad student; I haven't dealt with or known of a situation like yours, so take my advice for what it's worth. A conference or two can be nice for your CV if you're applying. Beyond that, I doubt they mean too much with respect to graduate admissions. I suppose it might show that you've been doing something, but I doubt that it would do much to address the main issues with your application.

If I were in your situation, I think, first of all, I'd probably try to get my letter-writers to address the elephants in the room--you have a low GPA and you dropped out of your graduate program. Neither of those things look good, but perhaps if your letter-writers can explain the circumstances, it might help your case.

If you want to show that you're serious about doing graduate work again, and that you can succeed in doing so, perhaps you could take a grad course or two somewhere as a non-degree student, and do well in those courses.

I don't mean to sound disheartening, but I suspect it might be hard to get into another philosophy graduate program once you've left one (with the exception of transferring). I know of a few instances of people leaving programs, but they left philosophy entirely. In any case, is there a reason you're applying to PhD programs now instead of MAs again? Perhaps you'd stand a better chance of doing an MA first, particularly with your history. The bar for entry is usually lower.

Edited by hector549

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9 hours ago, ContractMonsterSlayer said:

STORY TIME (Read on if you want more detail/Skip if you don't)

I am a former M.A. philosophy student/TA. I departed from my program without graduating for two reasons: (1) Incompatibility with the program in terms of research interests; I was essentially training myself to be a professional philosopher to the extent that I was self-directing my entire thesis. As for (2), I got caught up in some political B.S. that occurred within the department walls. Long (vague) story short, I got reprimanded for defending myself against some violations of both the student conduct code and workplace harassment policy. To paraphrase the Dept. Chair, "I brought attention to the people that said these things" during a seminar and work hours, mind you. Simply said, I didn't want any affiliation with this program anymore. In the end, I left the department with an exacerbated anxiety disorder, insomnia, and a meager 3.0 GPA. I had to leave.

WHAT I WANT TO KNOW

Have I improved or in some way restored any chance of moving onto the Ph.D.?

MOO, you have not.

Among the challenges you face is demonstrating that the lessons learned from your previous experiences in graduate school have improved significantly your decision making.The arguments that you were "self-directing [your] entire thesis" (emphasis removed) and that you were essentially a victim that "got caught up in some political B.S." (emphasis removed) and committed acts that violated the code of conduct and workplace harassment policies" suggest that you have not. 

My recommendation is that you do what you can to have an appropriately honest conversation with yourself about the choices you made as a M.A. and T.A. and how they contributed unplanned exit from graduate school. Do not go to the opposite end of the attribution spectrum. What happened isn't entirely on you any more than it's entirely upon your old program. Being able to discuss where and how you went off the rails is crucial to your development as a graduate student--as are the abilities to learn from your mistakes, and to forgive yourself and move on. 

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13 hours ago, hector549 said:

I'm a current grad student; I haven't dealt with or known of a situation like yours, so take my advice for what it's worth. A conference or two can be nice for your CV if you're applying. Beyond that, I doubt they mean too much with respect to graduate admissions. I suppose it might show that you've been doing something, but I doubt that it would do much to address the main issues with your application.

If I were in your situation, I think, first of all, I'd probably try to get my letter-writers to address the elephants in the room--you have a low GPA and you dropped out of your graduate program. Neither of those things look good, but perhaps if your letter-writers can explain the circumstances, it might help your case.

If you want to show that you're serious about doing graduate work again, and that you can succeed in doing so, perhaps you could take a grad course or two somewhere as a non-degree student, and do well in those courses.

I don't mean to sound disheartening, but I suspect it might be hard to get into another philosophy graduate program once you've left one (with the exception of transferring). I know of a few instances of people leaving programs, but they left philosophy entirely. In any case, is there a reason you're applying to PhD programs now instead of MAs again? Perhaps you'd stand a better chance of doing an MA first, particularly with your history. The bar for entry is usually lower.

3

Hi Hector, Thank you for taking the time to reply to stated concerns. I’ll answer what I understand to be the main concerns raised in your post. Firstly, yes, my LOR writers are aware of the ‘elephants in the room’. They’re aware that my graduate GPA is not poor but less than competitive. They’re also aware that a part of why I left was for a reason that was political in nature. The consensus is that between the political events, lack of compatibility with the program and thereby my having to self-direct research, the experience was doomed from the start. Yet, the consensus is also that I warrant a second chance, not simply because I want it, but because I have what it takes to develop into a contributor in the field.

As for a lateral transfer into an MA program, I would be thrilled to complete that move! The only reason I might seem narrowly focused on the Ph.D. is that two of my letter writers have expressed the belief that I’m ready for the Ph.D. One of them even suggested that I’m ready to ‘move on’ from the M.A. based on her reading of the conference project I mentioned in the original post. However, I do have an application plan (subject to change per advice) equipped with a strategy to apply to graduate programs that house funded Ph.D. and M.A. tracks based on the hope that I can express a willingness to accept an M.A. slot if I’m not offered a (financial) probationary offer in the former. Also, there’s at least one stand-alone M.A. program in the “Middle-West” (as you call it, LOL) that appeals to me and so I doubt I could pass up the opportunity to apply there.

As for as sounding “disheartening”, I cannot say it enough, I welcome the truth about where I potentially stand. I hope the words and actions expressed in my post pay testament to that. I mean the feels derived from sugarcoated analyses would only last until next April when all hope is gone if that were the case.

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16 hours ago, ContractMonsterSlayer said:

Hi Hector, Thank you for taking the time to reply to stated concerns. I’ll answer what I understand to be the main concerns raised in your post. Firstly, yes, my LOR writers are aware of the ‘elephants in the room’. They’re aware that my graduate GPA is not poor but less than competitive. They’re also aware that a part of why I left was for a reason that was political in nature. The consensus is that between the political events, lack of compatibility with the program and thereby my having to self-direct research, the experience was doomed from the start. Yet, the consensus is also that I warrant a second chance, not simply because I want it, but because I have what it takes to develop into a contributor in the field.

It's good that they're aware of it and think you're good to keep going in philosophy; I think Hector's suggestion (which I agree with) is make sure they're addressing this in their letters! :)

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Yeah...you see, this is why I came here. Yesterday, I made a preliminary list of graduate programs, the vast majority being M.A. programs. Also, I came up with a strategy this morning to draft a 'candid' statement of purpose (SOP), which I'll put on Google Docs. The purpose is to write everything I wish I could express in an SOP and have my LOR writers help me amend the draft in a less candid fashion. Basically, the exercise is to help me express things in a more-or-less implicit way, so as to be candid with admissions committees yet also within reason. What do you guys think?

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On 6/7/2018 at 11:04 AM, ContractMonsterSlayer said:

Yeah...you see, this is why I came here. Yesterday, I made a preliminary list of graduate programs, the vast majority being M.A. programs. Also, I came up with a strategy this morning to draft a 'candid' statement of purpose (SOP), which I'll put on Google Docs. The purpose is to write everything I wish I could express in an SOP and have my LOR writers help me amend the draft in a less candid fashion. Basically, the exercise is to help me express things in a more-or-less implicit way, so as to be candid with admissions committees yet also within reason. What do you guys think?

That sounds like a good strategy to me. Getting feedback from faculty on how much of your situation to discuss in your SOP sounds like a good idea.

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FWIW, I had to get a second master's degree in nearly the same discipline because the first one was just ... not good enough, and didn't prepare me for a PhD. I was able to get into a PhD program down the road, so the unusual trajectory didn't kill my chances altogether. My program issues weren't political in nature, though. 

Is the "workplace harassment" issue part of your official record? Or was it something just kept "in house"? I'm asking because workplace harassment has become a more serious issue since the #metoo movement picked up steam, and programs might be less forgiving of it than they would have been in the past. (Though I'm not implying that your offense was #metoo in nature, just wondering if you can get away with not having to explain any of that.) 

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To Hector,

Thanks again for the feedback. I do appreciate it. 

To goalie4life,

On your first point, I just have to say 'wow!', okay, so I'm not the only one with a bump in the road and less-than-traditional pathway. Good to know. Thank you for sharing. As for your second point, I'll reveal that I am a racial/ethnic minority male who experienced (I) a remark by a female fellow employee during an official meeting likening "most" men to a comedic narcissistic television character whom I had (moments before) likened to a real-life serial rapist/killer. To be honest, I was going to let this 'go'. But then, an incident occurred during a seminar in which a "comrade" of the fellow employee recalled an innocuous statement she was "subjected" to while working under someone of my particular racial/ethnic class, which the latter deemed "sexist" and the former in agreement reasoned that it was because of the offender's nation of origin. To be honest, I was numb at first. Then, after recalling the sheer arrogance of these two over a week or two of sleepless nights, I decided to confront the remarks by trying to initiate dialogue. Big mistake on my part. Intersectional, my ass ?

 

*P.S. Just curious, Goalie, what sport did you tend the goal. I played as a goalie in both soccer and hockey. I don't know about you, but I just have a penchant for thrusting my body in front of fast-moving objects ?

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White feminists (particularly the rich ones) are a problem everywhere (see Taylor Swift). I am interested in the manner of your confrontation--and what you said to them. Did you confront them in class--out of the blue? I think it's also important to know whether this conduct is a part of your permanent record. If it is, you have some explaining to do. Your case does not sound super serious, but its evaluation depends on what you did exactly that would constitute harassment. Did these people ask you to desist and you continued to push the case that lol they were being white feminists? 

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^ Tbh, I don't think these specific details are particularly important, especially for us. It's only important that CMS's letter-writers are able to assure the programmes that his performance in the MA does not represent his true (i) academic capability, and (ii) does not reflect some inability to get along with people in general. As long as the letter-writers know you (CMS) well enough (I assume they've met you as well as seen your work), they should be able to do this (especially if they're the one's recommending you get back into the grad school game).

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True, but it may be important to know whether it's part of the record or not. If it says harassment, I'd be concerned, despite what letter writers say.

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Holy hell! I was consistent in looking for updates to this post, yet I never saw anything indicating there were any. So, it's quite a surprise that these replies posted in June. Anyway, pardon my tardiness, though you guys probably lost interest at this point. I'll answer anyway.

frenchlover, it was they who had each made clear violations of the student code of conduct and workplace harassment policies. This is why I had such an awful time of it all, for it was me who was put under scrutiny. As for what *I* did in response, I simply wrote a course presentation highlighting some of what was said during the course. By relating it to the course material as well as some external though related sources/concepts, I simply glossed over how some of the attitudes expressed were antithetical to a just community (the latter being the subject of the course). Besides justifying the way in which they were privileged (so as to be so critical over less than privileged others), that was all I did. 

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UPDATE ?

I realize my general question is so overstated as to be vexing at this point, yet I think my case is interesting enough to mitigate that aspect to a somewhat minimal degree. 

I recently garnered an international conference invite. From what I was told some time ago, national and international conference presentations *are* a big deal or could help strengthen a grad school application even in spite of a less than stellar prior GPA. This was told to me by a senior faculty member. So...given the previous information and this update...how do my chances look?

Best Regards to All.

 

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