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Penn Relative Competitiveness


jurisdoctor
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Hi everyone, thanks for reading this -- long time lurker. 

I am an attorney in the Philadelphia area, hoping to return to academia and currently whittling down my list of programs to apply to. I have been able to find a relative treasure trove of information about most programs, and I have spoken to applicants (both accepted and rejected) at all of the programs I am interested in, save for one -- Penn. This is made doubly vexing by the fact that I'm a Penn alum. 

More troubling is the fact that I think the Penn program has the most overlap with my area of interest. 

In sum, I'm trying to sort out how competitive the Penn program is. I think it is my first choice, and the fact that it does not require GRE scores plays a secondary (but not insignificant) part in that. I don't have a tremendous amount of time to devote to bolstering my application, and I have figured that I need to choose between preparing for the GRE or getting a publication in my area of interest prior to application. Therein lies the conundum.

I would like to zero in on the Penn program, forget all the others, and focus on tailoring my application to Penn. However, I don't want to take this tack if my application is not strong enough to have a good chance at being accepted. 

So help me, TGC. Does anyone know anyone that knows anyone that was accepted (or rejected, honestly!) to Penn's program and can give me an idea as to what their application looked like?

Thanks again.

JD

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34 minutes ago, jurisdoctor said:

Hi everyone, thanks for reading this -- long time lurker. 

I am an attorney in the Philadelphia area, hoping to return to academia and currently whittling down my list of programs to apply to. I have been able to find a relative treasure trove of information about most programs, and I have spoken to applicants (both accepted and rejected) at all of the programs I am interested in, save for one -- Penn. This is made doubly vexing by the fact that I'm a Penn alum. 

More troubling is the fact that I think the Penn program has the most overlap with my area of interest. 

In sum, I'm trying to sort out how competitive the Penn program is. I think it is my first choice, and the fact that it does not require GRE scores plays a secondary (but not insignificant) part in that. I don't have a tremendous amount of time to devote to bolstering my application, and I have figured that I need to choose between preparing for the GRE or getting a publication in my area of interest prior to application. Therein lies the conundum.

I would like to zero in on the Penn program, forget all the others, and focus on tailoring my application to Penn. However, I don't want to take this tack if my application is not strong enough to have a good chance at being accepted. 

So help me, TGC. Does anyone know anyone that knows anyone that was accepted (or rejected, honestly!) to Penn's program and can give me an idea as to what their application looked like?

Thanks again.

JD

I'm a current student at Penn. This is a tough question to answer. The simplest answer is that PhD admissions in philosophy is competitive everywhere. Penn is roughly in the top 25 programs in the US (I think), so it's going to be pretty competitive, but less so than the top 10, I suppose. I was admitted off the waitlist the year I applied. There were about 110 applicants, with 5 students initially admitted, and a waiting list of 7 or so. This seems about typical. Sometimes the waitlist is bigger, sometimes a few more offers. I can try to answer more specific questions, if you want to DM me.

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55 minutes ago, jurisdoctor said:

Hi everyone, thanks for reading this -- long time lurker. 

I am an attorney in the Philadelphia area, hoping to return to academia and currently whittling down my list of programs to apply to. I have been able to find a relative treasure trove of information about most programs, and I have spoken to applicants (both accepted and rejected) at all of the programs I am interested in, save for one -- Penn. This is made doubly vexing by the fact that I'm a Penn alum. 

More troubling is the fact that I think the Penn program has the most overlap with my area of interest. 

In sum, I'm trying to sort out how competitive the Penn program is. I think it is my first choice, and the fact that it does not require GRE scores plays a secondary (but not insignificant) part in that. I don't have a tremendous amount of time to devote to bolstering my application, and I have figured that I need to choose between preparing for the GRE or getting a publication in my area of interest prior to application. Therein lies the conundum.

I would like to zero in on the Penn program, forget all the others, and focus on tailoring my application to Penn. However, I don't want to take this tack if my application is not strong enough to have a good chance at being accepted. 

So help me, TGC. Does anyone know anyone that knows anyone that was accepted (or rejected, honestly!) to Penn's program and can give me an idea as to what their application looked like?

Thanks again.

JD

I think you need to get a better understanding of what phd admissions are like in philosophy

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1 hour ago, dgswaim said:

I'm a current student at Penn. This is a tough question to answer. The simplest answer is that PhD admissions in philosophy is competitive everywhere. Penn is roughly in the top 25 programs in the US (I think), so it's going to be pretty competitive, but less so than the top 10, I suppose. I was admitted off the waitlist the year I applied. There were about 110 applicants, with 5 students initially admitted, and a waiting list of 7 or so. This seems about typical. Sometimes the waitlist is bigger, sometimes a few more offers. I can try to answer more specific questions, if you want to DM me.

Thanks, I appreciate this.

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17 hours ago, jurisdoctor said:

Hi everyone, thanks for reading this -- long time lurker. 

I am an attorney in the Philadelphia area, hoping to return to academia and currently whittling down my list of programs to apply to. I have been able to find a relative treasure trove of information about most programs, and I have spoken to applicants (both accepted and rejected) at all of the programs I am interested in, save for one -- Penn. This is made doubly vexing by the fact that I'm a Penn alum. 

More troubling is the fact that I think the Penn program has the most overlap with my area of interest. 

In sum, I'm trying to sort out how competitive the Penn program is. I think it is my first choice, and the fact that it does not require GRE scores plays a secondary (but not insignificant) part in that. I don't have a tremendous amount of time to devote to bolstering my application, and I have figured that I need to choose between preparing for the GRE or getting a publication in my area of interest prior to application. Therein lies the conundum.

I would like to zero in on the Penn program, forget all the others, and focus on tailoring my application to Penn. However, I don't want to take this tack if my application is not strong enough to have a good chance at being accepted. 

So help me, TGC. Does anyone know anyone that knows anyone that was accepted (or rejected, honestly!) to Penn's program and can give me an idea as to what their application looked like?

Thanks again.

JD

Hello! So, someone's already said that most philosophy grad programmes are competitive, and there's another thread in this forum about how no school is really a safety school. I think this is basically right, and Penn, being a pretty-regarded programme, is likely going to be quite competitive. But I also want to add that the application process isn't just competitive, it's also unpredictable: that is to say, the likelihood of your getting into a programme doesn't necessarily have a direct correlation with how competitive or highly-ranked it is. There are a bunch of other things that come into play, including your areas of interest, the way you come across in your sample and SOP, what your letter-writers say about you, and just how lucky you are on a given day. All of these things, as I understand it, can have a significant impact on whether or not admissions committees think that you're a good 'fit' for the programme. Therefore, just knowing how competitive or well-ranked Penn is in a given year will give you maybe some indication, but probably not a very complete idea of your chances of getting in!

As I see it, the upshot of this unpredictability is basically that the more places you apply to, the better your chances of getting in somewhere. So even if you have an extremely strong application, if getting into a philosophy programme is a high priority for you, it's probably best not to put all your eggs in one basket!

That said, you should of course apply only to programmes you want to go to, and it sounds like you have very good reasons for wanting to go to Penn. But if you are able at all to widen your net, I'd advise you to do so. :)

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I was accepted to Penn last admissions cycle. I made the mistake last year of not tailoring my SOP to schools I applied to, so my application was fairly generic. I sent 4 letters of recommendation, 3 from undergraduate philosophy professors and 1 from an undergraduate math professor. I sent the extra math recommendation because I am interested in rational choice and game theory. I came from a small liberal arts school. You can see my stats from the last admissions cycle in my signature. If you would like, I can DM you the writing sample I sent to Penn.

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21 hours ago, jurisdoctor said:

Hi everyone, thanks for reading this -- long time lurker. 

I am an attorney in the Philadelphia area, hoping to return to academia and currently whittling down my list of programs to apply to. I have been able to find a relative treasure trove of information about most programs, and I have spoken to applicants (both accepted and rejected) at all of the programs I am interested in, save for one -- Penn. This is made doubly vexing by the fact that I'm a Penn alum. 

More troubling is the fact that I think the Penn program has the most overlap with my area of interest. 

In sum, I'm trying to sort out how competitive the Penn program is. I think it is my first choice, and the fact that it does not require GRE scores plays a secondary (but not insignificant) part in that. I don't have a tremendous amount of time to devote to bolstering my application, and I have figured that I need to choose between preparing for the GRE or getting a publication in my area of interest prior to application. Therein lies the conundum.

I would like to zero in on the Penn program, forget all the others, and focus on tailoring my application to Penn. However, I don't want to take this tack if my application is not strong enough to have a good chance at being accepted. 

So help me, TGC. Does anyone know anyone that knows anyone that was accepted (or rejected, honestly!) to Penn's program and can give me an idea as to what their application looked like?

Thanks again.

JD

I recommend reading through Eric Schwitzgebel's series of posts on applying to graduate school in philosophy. It'll give you something of a crash course in this process:

 

http://schwitzsplintersunderblog.blogspot.com/2007/10/applying-to-phd-programs-in-philosophy.html

 

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