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is there a due date to pay a deposit by, or does it differ for different schools? i'm hesitant to pay a deposit when i haven't heard back from all schools yet... does anyone know more about this?

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2 hours ago, Dares said:

Nay, I can attest that this is decisively not true. I did my undergrad and master's degrees at two of the top 10 schools in the world, and was rejected from 10 out of 12 of the programs I applied to, with my acceptances being my two safety schools. A woman in my English MPhil cohort also applied to 10 schools and was rejected from all of them, and she was an excellent writer working on a pretty bracing topic. I am fairly sure the most important aspects are how good your writing sample is, how original your research is, how stellar your letters of rec are, and then maybe toward the middle of the list the prestige of your schools. But the humanities is an extremely qualitative and subjective field, and grad schools admissions are already extremely political to begin with. School prestige will only get you so far. 

I think if you really want proof of this you can take a cursory scan of some of the top programs' current graduate students. Many if not most of them come from schools you've probably never heard of or middle-of-the-road places. It comes down to how good of a candidate you've made yourself, in combination with how well you've come to understand what the humanities academy is looking for (discursively, topically, etc.).

I disagree completely. School prestige, from my experience on this board and in applying, is probably the most important factor. It is not the only factor, of course. A good candidate is a good candidate, whether they come from Yale or Unknown University, and ability and fit are extremely important. However, it is far easier to demonstrate you are a good candidate when everyone reading your application knows your school has strong academics (not to mention the potential of having LoRs from leaders in the field). After all, accepting a candidate is a risk that involves a lot of time, money, and other resources from a department. If you somehow got identical applications from Yale and UU, of course the Yale candidate would get in. In terms of proof, I have scoured every graduate student page from every college I have considered and from my experience, most candidates come from recognizable schools (though I have reassured myself that it is still worth a shot because there's always someone from a university that seems to be less prestigious than your own). The lower you go down alleged prestige list of programs, the more non-elite backgrounds you find, of course, but it is definitely easier to be a Yale graduate than a UU graduate on the admissions scene.

That doesn't mean that all the Yale applicants will get in before anyone from UU is even considered. The application still needs to be good, you still need to have good fit, and then all the other hidden factors need to be considered, too. As for your examples, they're a bit of confirmation bias and anecdotal. As I said, it is not the only factor, so there will be candidates from Yale who get shut-out and candidates from UU who sweep. Also, you have 2(!) offers, in a field where the term safety school is a misnomer (also, am I to understand from MPhil that your degree is from is UK? Because it is also arguably harder to apply as an international for the same reason: school prestige is less recognizable (and a host of other factors such as academic culture dissonance, etc.)).

I think we would all prefer a neutral playing field and dismiss school prestige because, ultimately, it is one of the things you absolutely cannot do anything about (other than go to a top MA, which many people do). There is nothing for us to be gained from this conclusion, but to deny it is to fall into the same trappings that suggest that all you need to do is work hard to be successful when we know that to be patently untrue (even if for many people it has proven to be true). This fact changes nothing though. There is a chance that you get into a top school no matter where you went to, and to do so you need to make sure everything in your app is perfect. That is the case if you're from Yale or UU. But we should recognize the fact that for some of us this is a matter of swimming against the current. When I applied last year I talked to 4 professors, all of whom went to some very good schools, including programs I applied to. They all told me the same thing: you definitely have the ability to study at the top programs but you should consider applying to some other schools just in case because no one on these adcomms knows who we are ('we' being the school, some of them were very reputable).

Honestly, if I have the time at some point I would like to test this out by compiling information on where successful applicants apply from.

 

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that doesn't make me feel too hopeful as a bantamweight state school applicant. 

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I agree that it's more complicated than not. Finishing my MA at an unknown school, I've had many talks with professors about how to overcome the "deficit" of where I went to school, and, well, that's clearly worked out for me. I also think there can be, in some situations, a connection between schools with more "prestige" and their ability to prepare students for the admissions process/PhD study. 

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3 minutes ago, Derridazcat said:

who's ready for Monday aka when more decisions are going to roll out and creep into your email inbox?

I'd like to say I'm ready but I'm not actually sure I am 

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6 minutes ago, jadeisokay said:

that doesn't make me feel too hopeful as a bantamweight state school applicant. 

As I said, the process is the same no matter where you come from, it’s just easier for some. We just need to have perspective so we can maximize our chances. Hope or no hope, the only time to give up is when all decisions have been made.

 

2 minutes ago, CaffeineCardigan said:

I agree that it's more complicated than not. Finishing my MA at an unknown school, I've had many talks with professors about how to overcome the "deficit" of where I went to school, and, well, that's clearly worked out for me. I also think there can be, in some situations, a connection between schools with more "prestige" and their ability to prepare students for the admissions process/PhD study. 

There’s also the issue of cultural capital. The higher up the rungs of ‘prestige’ you go, statistically, the likelier it is that you have more means than those below. More means translate to more opportunities to impove your CV and focus on academics. It’s a bit of vicious cycle that is not unique to academia and so there is no reason for me to think that admissions are somehow isolated from these issues, either.

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@jadeisokay Not sure if it makes you feel any better but I really did go to a very mediocre school and I like to think I haven't done so bad for this being my first attempt applying. This is the first time I've heard anyone hold the opinion that school prestige is an important factor, so while I'm not saying it's an incorrect mindset necessarily, it isn't common. 

I do agree with @WildeThing about the financial advantages, though. If I wasn't given financial help during this process, I wouldn't have been able to buy as many GRE study books, or take the GRE twice, or work part-time in order to focus on apps, or travel to conferences and interact with professors, etc... The institution as a whole is set up so barriers are more easily overcome with some extra cash in your pocket.

Edited by trytostay

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15 minutes ago, WildeThing said:

If you somehow got identical applications from Yale and UU, of course the Yale candidate would get in.

Also, you have 2(!) offers, in a field where the term safety school is a misnomer (also, am I to understand from MPhil that your degree is from is UK? Because it is also arguably harder to apply as an international for the same reason: school prestige is less recognizable (and a host of other factors such as academic culture dissonance, etc.)).

There is a chance that you get into a top school no matter where you went to, and to do so you need to make sure everything in your app is perfect.

I want to quote these things specifically because they touch on what I said at the end of my original post, that the humanities is a qualitative field and how, in my view, this makes the notions of 'identical' and 'perfect' applications fairly arbitrary. When I say that the admissions process is political that is something else, but it plays a part in the qualitative thing--i.e. a big selling point for a good candidate is that they've learned how to think, talk, and write in the appropriate manner, the way politicians or businesspeople do. Much in the same way that we talk about presidential candidates 'being presidential', I believe one of the most important factors for admitting a graduate student is his/her demonstrated ability to play to the audience that is the academy. 

Now obviously that is more likely to happen if a student attends an elite institution, because the stakes are higher and there is a great deal more investment in maintaining a certain status quo within whatever field, whether that status quo is ideological, or whatever. You asked about my MPhil; I did my master's in English at Cambridge. This is a world-renowned institution, but the Oxbridge way of doing things is something that is in my opinion highly suspect. You could see it with the strikes related to pension cuts and the scandals surrounding Priya Gopal--these incredibly prestigious institutions just know that they are so insulated from the outside world because of their name that they can get away with basically anything, and there is a lot of strategic interest on the part of faculty to engender that same understanding of cultural invincibility in students. To pick up on this in applications (i.e. in the linguistic nooks and crannies of essays, SOPs, and letters of rec) is not easy, but we are talking about highly trained people overseeing adcomms, and I'm certain they know how to spot when someone is properly conditioned. The point I'm trying to make is that I don't think this halo-effect of 'prestige' on an application is automatically endowed just by having attended a school--it must be consciously recognized and cultivated, and ultimately expressed through language and behavior. If you are not able to do that, you are less likely to make valuable contributions to an elite institution's record. I agree completely with your remark about 'hard work pays off' being basically bogus, but only because hard work is circumscribed by the privilege that precedes it; if you possess that privilege, or you've figured out a way to imitate it holistically, then your hard work becomes effective.

Look at what's happening with the Harvard lawsuits for example. The results from the court proceedings show that Harvard's admissions overseers literally think Asian people are 'too boring' to contribute to 'campus culture'. But how does one adjust their personality for a university, and how does this eventually play into this idea of a perfect application beyond what has been deemed necessary, those things that make two applications appear 'identical'? My evidence is indeed anecdotal, but when I was hanging around English phds at Berkeley (where I did my undergrad) their manners and topics of research were unmistakably influenced by some external force, some larger corporate-like culture. They saw what Harvard sees in these 'boring' applicants: they don't know how to play ball. 

(As for my acceptances, I'm not an English PhD applicant. I'm an interloper from Communication, where in my experience safety schools are more commonly acknowledged.) 

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16 minutes ago, Dares said:

I want to quote these things specifically because they touch on what I said at the end of my original post, that the humanities is a qualitative field and how, in my view, this makes the notions of 'identical' and 'perfect' applications fairly arbitrary. When I say that the admissions process is political that is something else, but it plays a part in the qualitative thing--i.e. a big selling point for a good candidate is that they've learned how to think, talk, and write in the appropriate manner, the way politicians or businesspeople do. Much in the same way that we talk about presidential candidates 'being presidential', I believe one of the most important factors for admitting a graduate student is his/her demonstrated ability to play to the audience that is the academy. 

Now obviously that is more likely to happen if a student attends an elite institution, because the stakes are higher and there is a great deal more investment in maintaining a certain status quo within whatever field, whether that status quo is ideological, or whatever. You asked about my MPhil; I did my master's in English at Cambridge. This is a world-renowned institution, but the Oxbridge way of doing things is something that is in my opinion highly suspect. You could see it with the strikes related to pension cuts and the scandals surrounding Priya Gopal--these incredibly prestigious institutions just know that they are so insulated from the outside world because of their name that they can get away with basically anything, and there is a lot of strategic interest on the part of faculty to engender that same understanding of cultural invincibility in students. To pick up on this in applications (i.e. in the linguistic nooks and crannies of essays, SOPs, and letters of rec) is not easy, but we are talking about highly trained people overseeing adcomms, and I'm certain they know how to spot when someone is properly conditioned. The point I'm trying to make is that I don't think this halo-effect of 'prestige' on an application is automatically endowed just by having attended a school--it must be consciously recognized and cultivated, and ultimately expressed through language and behavior. If you are not able to do that, you are less likely to make valuable contributions to an elite institution's record. I agree completely with your remark about 'hard work pays off' being basically bogus, but only because hard work is circumscribed by the privilege that precedes it; if you possess that privilege, or you've figured out a way to imitate it holistically, then your hard work becomes effective.

Look at what's happening with the Harvard lawsuits for example. The results from the court proceedings show that Harvard's admissions overseers literally think Asian people are 'too boring' to contribute to 'campus culture'. But how does one adjust their personality for a university, and how does this eventually play into this idea of a perfect application beyond what has been deemed necessary, those things that make two applications appear 'identical'? My evidence is indeed anecdotal, but when I was hanging around English phds at Berkeley (where I did my undergrad) their manners and topics of research were unmistakably influenced by some external force, some larger corporate-like culture. They saw what Harvard sees in these 'boring' applicants: they don't know how to play ball. 

(As for my acceptances, I'm not an English PhD applicant. I'm an interloper from Communication, where in my experience safety schools are more commonly acknowledged.) 

There is indeed no such thing as identical or perfect applications. There are so many factors that no one thing can be determinant. However, I stand by the notion that, due to an assortment of reasons such asrecognizability, risk-aversion, likelihood of privileged background, preparation, etc., coming from a name school is one of the bigger factors in admissions. Bigger does not mean 70% or even 50%, if percentages are even a thing we can conceive of with all the contextual and qualitative elements at play, but I would certainly give it as much if not more weight than SoP and WSs. This is based on my own experience of course.

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5 hours ago, Warelin said:

15 acceptances can be considered large by a number of colleges.  A few years ago, Brandeis only had 2 spots available for their cohort. There are other colleges which also regularly only send out acceptances for as many spots as they have. If a cohort is only 6 people, they won't send out a 7th acceptance into someone else rejects their offer. A lot of these colleges usually end up sending no more than 10 acceptances.

Absolutely! It just felt like such a drop to me from 20 to 15 spots but I suppose Brown cutting acceptances by 50% is far more dramatic. I know spots in Humanities PhDs were hard to get but putting it in such concrete stats is jarring (but definitely necessary). Thanks!

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1 hour ago, Derridazcat said:

who's ready for Monday aka when more decisions are going to roll out and creep into your email inbox?

I'm so ready, honestly.  I want to get the rest of these decisions out for everyone so I can maybe see some movement on waitlists!  Since I have some good news, or at least promising news, now, I'm not dreading hearing back from the rest.

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Does anyone know when U of Iowa usually starts rolling out decisions?? Looking at results from previous years it seems sort of all over the place--like anywhere from mid-February to mid-March. I also might just be confused and/or going cross-eyed as try to sift through the onslaught of decisions from the Iowa Writer's Workshop/MFA. 

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3 hours ago, rr732 said:

is there a due date to pay a deposit by, or does it differ for different schools? i'm hesitant to pay a deposit when i haven't heard back from all schools yet... does anyone know more about this?

My understanding is April 15th is the deadline. 

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8 minutes ago, sugilite said:

My understanding is April 15th is the deadline. 

@rr732 And I think this is sort of legally-binding, or a policy at least. One of my schools said, essentially, “while we legally can’t ask you to respond before April 15th, if you know you want to go here before then, please let us know.” 

Edit: did the research after writing this, and it is indeed a policy called the April 15th Resolution by the Council of Graduate Schools. Details/list of schools this includes is attached. 

CGSResolution_RevisedFeb2019.pdf

Edited by swarthmawr

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Is anybody else dreading this coming week? Yale is going to break my heart into a million tiny pieces (i came this close to blocking their emails so I wouldn't even have to confront the possibility of rejection lmao)

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Hey guys! Has anyone been waitlisted at NYU/CUNY? Do they even have waitlists?

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17 hours ago, j.alicea said:

@barshmie and @3131 I’m not sure I understand the issue with “ethnic studies.” It is widely used (Rutgers, Berkeley, Riverside, Irvine, Boulder, to name a few institutions). Also, it would perhaps be more problematic to subsume Ethnic studies into American Studies, Global studies, Latina studies, Chicana studies, Asian American studies, Afro-American studies, etc., as some have pushed for in the past. I mean ethnic isn’t a deragatory term, or at least I as an “minority ethnic person” don’t interpret it that way. But please correct me if I am wrong about this. While ethnic studies is a broad category, I kind of like it that way; it encourages interdisciplinary approaches to problems of the “assembly” of race, ethnicity, identity formation, indigeneity, etc., no?

Sorry for the late response. Also disclaimer that this is not at all my subfield so my opinion is very inexpert. But my first reaction is just that I find “ethnic literature” to be an incredibly unuseful term. “Global literature” seems helpful insofar as it indicates that literatures indigenous to places other than Britain and the United States are being considered (while historically this hasn’t been the case). But “ethnic literature” describes...what exactly? Jews, Irish and Italians are some examples of white ethnic groups in the US that all have distinct literatures and histories, but are implicitly excluded from the “ethnic literature” category. Also, using “ethnic literature” to refer to literature by what we now consider to be people of color also seems troublesome, as it implicitly excludes those literatures from preexisting categories, when I think that those literatures are already and ought to be considered a fundamental element of those subfields. (For example, if I study Mexican literature written in 20th c America, I’m fundamentally a 20th c Americanist who focuses on a particular ethnic group that exists within my subfield. This is a much better description than someone who studies “ethnic literature.”) So yeah. Tl;dr I think “ethnicity” is too historically contingent a term to be useful, erases the presence of white ethnic groups, and also kind of displaces nonwhite ethnic groups from the place they should already have in literary studies within a particular historical period. 

Edited by 3131

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57 minutes ago, eddyrynes said:

New week, same anxieties 😣😣

Good luck, everyone! I hope we all get the news that we want this week 🍀

Oh man for me the anxiety has only gotten worse. I had a dream last night that I was accepted to Penn and when I arrived on campus they handed me a mop and bucket and I was asked to clean the bathrooms... I then had the realization that they had accepted me to be... the janitor. 😭

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On the prestige and rank of a school I think it calculates in a lot. I think there was a study that was posted on here months ago, and it was just a single case study so not representative of an entire system, but the unknown schools did tend to suffer and people from them had their work questioned more. I thought about this quite a bit, because I do not know how well though of FU Berlin is in the US. I didn't know much about it until after I graduated, which doesn't mean much per se. But it's definitely not know on a Cambridge, ETH Zurich, or Tokyo leve, where everyone in the fields where they are relevant knows of these schools even in the relatively closed off in the US world.

I see it this way: You have to prove your credibility and people give you the benefit for the doubt if you're from what they see as a 'top' school and then you just have to live up to that. Whereas if you are from a state school somewhere, you have to first prove you on a level with other applicants by going above and beyond. 

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26 minutes ago, barshmie said:

Oh man for me the anxiety has only gotten worse. I had a dream last night that I was accepted to Penn and when I arrived on campus they handed me a mop and bucket and I was asked to clean the bathrooms... I then had the realization that they had accepted me to be... the janitor. 😭

Last night I dreamed that I ran into a professor from Brown who told me I was admitted. I then woke up bemoaning the fact that it was all fake and checked my email only to find ACCEPTANCES FROM BROWN AND NYU!!!! Only that was a dream, too. I got inceptioned.

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@WildeThing that is SUCH an impressively devious trap on your brain's behalf. i don't know if i admire it or not - i think my heart leaped a little just reading your description of it...

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