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I know it is not completely over, but anybody already thinking of reapplying next year? I dont know if I can go through this process again, to be honest. It was so stressful just waiting for results, especially knowing that the chances are slim. But getting a PhD and becoming a professor someday also feels like something I desperately want. I don't know. Maybe it is too early to feel hopeless.

 

Would appreciate some insights from those who are reapplying or have reapplied.

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10 minutes ago, dartdoc said:

I know it is not completely over, but anybody already thinking of reapplying next year? I dont know if I can go through this process again, to be honest. It was so stressful just waiting for results, especially knowing that the chances are slim. But getting a PhD and becoming a professor someday also feels like something I desperately want. I don't know. Maybe it is too early to feel hopeless.

 

Would appreciate some insights from those who are reapplying or have reapplied.

Do you feel like there's a lot that you can do over the next 8-10 months to make your application stronger? Maybe retaking the GRE, attending/presenting at conferences, or getting more work experience? I think reapplying definitely works in some cases, but it might be good to also look at other programs too. Don't give up on your dreams!

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6 hours ago, dartdoc said:

I know it is not completely over, but anybody already thinking of reapplying next year? I dont know if I can go through this process again, to be honest. It was so stressful just waiting for results, especially knowing that the chances are slim. But getting a PhD and becoming a professor someday also feels like something I desperately want. I don't know. Maybe it is too early to feel hopeless.

 

Would appreciate some insights from those who are reapplying or have reapplied.

Whelp, a quick glance at my signature would indicate that I am not stranger to rejections (or losing money xD). 

The best thing I can say is don't give up.  Work on your GRE scores and try to get a job in your field (or something you can relate to your field).  I am reapplying this years because I raised my subject GRE score by 100 points after studying for 10 months.  Because my field is incredibly competitive, I am also applying to Master's programs to increase my odds, by improving my application next year.  Ultimately, there is going to be a time when you might be faced with deciding whether or not to continue to pursue a career in academia.  And, honestly, that's okay too.  Just know that the idea that you'll just get into a grad school right after undergrad and you're done in 4 years, isn't the reality.  Grad school applications can be very competitive and you may have to sit out one or two cycles until you can get in.  There are a LOT of us here that are on our 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th cycle. 

If you don't get in this year, don't sweat it.  You aren't alone and it doesn't mean the end of your academic career.  Work on raising your application competitiveness and apply to more attainable schools (a lesson it took me 2 cycles to learn).  Also, consider shotgunning a few schools that have programs you're interested in.  Meaning?  Apply to 10 instead of 3.  Focus heavily on three or four and make yourself super competitive to them, and then apply to 5 or 6 schools that sound pretty good, but are really there in hopes to getting your more options.  If you don't get into the 4 you focused on, but do get into one of the rest, then great!  You now have solid choices.

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I'll be reapplying next year but it'll probably be my last cycle either way it goes; I'm in my late 30s and I can't sit around forever waiting for academia to work out.  My applications were much more competitive than last year (much better writing sample, better SoP, better LoRs due to finishing my thesis, designing and teaching an upper-division college course, and another conference presentation) but it didn't seem to make much of a difference compared to last year.  (That's my outsider's perspective, though, who even knows what happened in the committee room?  My application could have been considered 'til the last minute or laughed out of the room.)  I killed it on the verbal part of the GRE and did fairly well on the analytical writing, so there's not much room for improvement there.  I'm honestly not really sure what I can do to make myself a standout candidate for next year.

I'm honestly pretty depressed right now.  This is going to be a long year, and not one with any guarantee of a light at the end of the tunnel.   I guess I don't know what to tell you since I'm up in the air about everything myself!  Application season is fucking awful.

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22 hours ago, dartdoc said:

I know it is not completely over, but anybody already thinking of reapplying next year? I dont know if I can go through this process again, to be honest. It was so stressful just waiting for results, especially knowing that the chances are slim. But getting a PhD and becoming a professor someday also feels like something I desperately want. I don't know. Maybe it is too early to feel hopeless.

 

Would appreciate some insights from those who are reapplying or have reapplied.

Definitely feeling all of this so much right now. This whole process has been so nerve wracking and drawn out and the stress is really interfering with my ability to focus on anything. I am still waiting to hear back from one program, but at this point it looks like it is probably going to be a rejection. I know multiple post docs/ professors that did not get in their first time applying and I have great respect for them and their stories do give me hope, but this still feels very demoralizing. Especially when all of my friends who are applying this cycle are deciding between the 3+ programs they’ve been accepted to. I’ve already been working as a full-time research assistant in my field for the past two years, but am going to try to ask my PI if I can work more with data and scientific writing. I will try to raise my GRE scores a bit, but they’re already fairly high and I’m not sure how successful I can be in raising them. I would love to do a masters, but am not sure how I could afford it. And of course I would have to get into that program too. As it stands I think I will try applying one more time to less competitive programs, get some anxiety treatment, and that’s probably all my sanity can handle. Sorry, that probably isn’t very helpful, but you are definitely not alone. Best of luck!!!

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I'll most likely be reapplying next cycle as well. I've gotten all of my decisions back and so far its 3 rejections, 1 acceptance without funding, and two waitlists. Due to the fickle nature of waitlists I am not putting much stock into getting in off them. 

I am trying to look at this more as an opportunity then a failure. I am looking at all the possibilities of next cycle, and trying to use that as motivation to both finish my senior year of college, and not go down the deep dark hole of depression. 

I believe that I've identified the key aspects of my application that kinda fell flat. For me those were really most parts. My SOP did not ask a clear enough question or spend nearly enough time on my actual research interest, It also eluded to a non-academic career path, something that I've been told is a bad idea. My GRE scores (162 V, 148 Q) while not horrible, definitely did not do me any favors. I am planning on retaking it over the summer and using one of those fancy test prep services to get my grades up. My writing sample was not really on topic, it was more history while I was applying to political science programs. Thankfully I have since written a much better political science focused paper and will be using that for my writing sample. Finally I think that changing up my LOR writers will also help. This past cycle I only used two professors, and one former boss. This next time I'll just use three professors. I am hoping that all of these things will work to make me a much more competitive applicant. 

I have been able to do some proactive stuff while I've been dealing with the rejections. I've compiled a list of 11 schools that have at least two professors that I would want to work with, and I've began writing my SOP for each school. I am about 4 schools in an expect to have another two completed by the end of the week. 

A huge part of me hopes that the waitlists will prove fruitful and I won't have to repeat this awful process all over again, but then another small part is kinda excited for the possibilities of all of these other schools.  

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18 hours ago, fortsibut said:

I'll be reapplying next year but it'll probably be my last cycle either way it goes; I'm in my late 30s and I can't sit around forever waiting for academia to work out.  My applications were much more competitive than last year (much better writing sample, better SoP, better LoRs due to finishing my thesis, designing and teaching an upper-division college course, and another conference presentation) but it didn't seem to make much of a difference compared to last year.  (That's my outsider's perspective, though, who even knows what happened in the committee room?  My application could have been considered 'til the last minute or laughed out of the room.)  I killed it on the verbal part of the GRE and did fairly well on the analytical writing, so there's not much room for improvement there.  I'm honestly not really sure what I can do to make myself a standout candidate for next year.

I'm honestly pretty depressed right now.  This is going to be a long year, and not one with any guarantee of a light at the end of the tunnel.   I guess I don't know what to tell you since I'm up in the air about everything myself!  Application season is fucking awful.

I'm sending you so much love! I've had 4 generic rejections and surely another one coming for the last PhD programme I applied for; I've got a lot to improve on, but it'd still have been SO helpful to get any kind of actual feedback. I hope knowing that programmes have to pick between equally very well qualified candidates gives you some comfort. ❤️ 

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@elx@fortsibut Use this year to save up a couple thousand and apply to like 15 - 20 universities.  They may not all be your top choice, but at least you'll be able to increase your chances of getting in next year.  If both of you have the stats to compete in Ivy League, then you'll certainly fair better than I did doing that this year.

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16 minutes ago, Ternwild said:

@elx@fortsibut Use this year to save up a couple thousand and apply to like 15 - 20 universities.  They may not all be your top choice, but at least you'll be able to increase your chances of getting in next year.  If both of you have the stats to compete in Ivy League, then you'll certainly fair better than I did doing that this year.

This might work if your goal is to attend graduate school no matter what, but it's not particularly good advice if your eventual goal is to get a job after graduate school.  In history, there are probably not 15-20 universities that have the faculty and resources to support your unique interests and definitely not that many with reliable placement rates.  I think a better strategy is to sharpen your research interests, continue building relationships with prospective advisers, and keep pursuing top-tier programs that will allow your work to flourish.

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2 hours ago, e_randolph said:

keep pursuing top-tier programs

If it is their third application cycle applying to these schools and they can't do much more to improve their application, then what good would this do?  This is just more of the narrative of "be better next time," but that isn't always possible.

2 hours ago, e_randolph said:

In history, there are probably not 15-20 universities that have the faculty and resources to support your unique interests and definitely not that many with reliable placement rates.

I don't know much about history and it's exposure in universities, but saying there isn't at least 20 universities with fields of research you're interested in, seems highly unlikely.  They have an entire year to build a database of at least 20 universities that can fit their interest and have faculty with research in their field of study.  10 months is a suitable enough time to build this list and on top of that it will allow them better opportunity to write SOPs/writing samples that will allow them to best cater their previous work to match that of those universities and their faculty.  This should be their focus over the next year. 

Edited by Ternwild

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2 minutes ago, Ternwild said:

If it is their third application cycle applying to these schools and they can't do much more to improve their application, then what good would this do?  This is just more of the narrative of "be better next time," but that isn't always possible.

I don't know much about history and it's exposure in universities, but saying there isn't at least 20 universities with fields of research you're interested in, seems highly unlikely.  They have an entire year to build a database of at least 20 universities that can fit their interest and have faculty with research in their field of study.  10 months is a suitable enough time to build this list and on top of that it will allow them better opportunity to write SOPs/writing samples that will allow them to best cater their previous work to match that of those universities and their faculty.  This should be their focus over the next year. 

The point is, it's actually not worthwhile in the current market to apply to programs that won't fund or that aren't top programs. Again, the goal is not simply to get into grad school, but to get a job after the fact. Furthermore, history is a highly specific discipline.  I can absolutely find 20 universities that will allow me to study American history.  I guarantee you that I can't find that many with robust resources and more than one scholar who focuses on the cross section and time period I'm interested in working on.

As anyone who has applied to PhD programs in history knows, a major key is fit with the department.  It's impossible to argue compellingly that your work would fit perfectly with 15-20 departments unless you're over-generalizing your work or altering it wildly to fit each department.  In either case, rejection is almost assured.

You might think that what I've said "seems highly unlikely," but even if I'm not a credible source, this is a solid reflection of the advice being given by past and present history applicants in the history forum.

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I applied in 3 cycles; first round rejected, second accepted to two with funding, and this round waitlisted (it’s a long story, one I wouldn’t wish on anyone). But! Having been on the inside now, what I can tell you if you decide to reapply is yes, they look at GRE scores, so maybe retake, but it’s all about who you know and who wants to work with you. I have decent scores, have worked in my field, taught at university level for a few years, presented at conferences, and have publications, but because I didn’t network well I got in by the skin on my teeth. 

Knowing and communicating with someone on the inside who will vouch for you is absolutely key. I can’t stress this enough. Go to conferences and meet as many people you can at the programs you want. That will help you more than anything.

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I only applied to one lab, and I'm #1 on the waitlist. I'm not hopeful, since it's a top program and they only accepted 1 student this year. Basically, I'm waiting to see if that one person declines their spot :wacko:. I've been very strongly encouraged to apply again next year if it doesn't work out.

I've actually already rewritten my SOP to apply again next year – all the interviewing helped me refocus my research goals, and I thought I'd try to get it down on paper before the inspiration leaves my brain.

 

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3 hours ago, Ternwild said:

@elx@fortsibut Use this year to save up a couple thousand and apply to like 15 - 20 universities.  They may not all be your top choice, but at least you'll be able to increase your chances of getting in next year.  If both of you have the stats to compete in Ivy League, then you'll certainly fair better than I did doing that this year.

As @e_randolph explained, it's a lot different with history (from the looks of it) -- but I just wanna mention that 'save up a couple thousand' made me chuckle. Even if I got a full-time, well-paid job after graduation, saving that much would take at least a couple years.

I'm hoping to get into a top UK university for a MA, then re-apply next year. And if that doesn't work? Hmm 😕 let's cross that bridge when we come to it. . .

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7 hours ago, elx said:

I'm sending you so much love! I've had 4 generic rejections and surely another one coming for the last PhD programme I applied for; I've got a lot to improve on, but it'd still have been SO helpful to get any kind of actual feedback. I hope knowing that programmes have to pick between equally very well qualified candidates gives you some comfort. ❤️ 

Thanks so much!  I'm sorry that you've had the same bad luck this application cycle that I have so far, but I hope you get into a great MA program this year and I'll look forward to having a familiar...avatar? to commiserate with next cycle.  😃

@Ternwild:  things might be a little bit different in STEM than it is in the humanities, I feel like (and could be wrong) that you have more non-academic options with a STEM PhD than you would in history.  I'm also a little wary of going to a program that would grant me a degree but not have the prestige to get me a job.  I looked at Howard University, for example, which at one point I considered to be a pretty good fit but I wasn't sure what doors would be open to me ~six years down the road when I finished.  It's definitely something for me to think about over the course of the next year, though, and I appreciate your suggestion.

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22 hours ago, Dwar said:

I am trying to look at this more as an opportunity then a failure. I am looking at all the possibilities of next cycle, and trying to use that as motivation to both finish my senior year of college, and not go down the deep dark hole of depression. 

I believe that I've identified the key aspects of my application that kinda fell flat. For me those were really most parts. My SOP did not ask a clear enough question or spend nearly enough time on my actual research interest, It also eluded to a non-academic career path, something that I've been told is a bad idea. My GRE scores (162 V, 148 Q) while not horrible, definitely did not do me any favors. I am planning on retaking it over the summer and using one of those fancy test prep services to get my grades up. My writing sample was not really on topic, it was more history while I was applying to political science programs. Thankfully I have since written a much better political science focused paper and will be using that for my writing sample. Finally I think that changing up my LOR writers will also help. This past cycle I only used two professors, and one former boss. This next time I'll just use three professors. I am hoping that all of these things will work to make me a much more competitive applicant. 

I have been able to do some proactive stuff while I've been dealing with the rejections. I've compiled a list of 11 schools that have at least two professors that I would want to work with, and I've began writing my SOP for each school. I am about 4 schools in an expect to have another two completed by the end of the week. 

A huge part of me hopes that the waitlists will prove fruitful and I won't have to repeat this awful process all over again, but then another small part is kinda excited for the possibilities of all of these other schools.  

I resonate with a lot of this. While I am high on three waitlists, and accepted for a non-funded program, I am not putting much faith in the waitlists panning out and know that I would not be able to attend/content in the non-funded program. The first few days after the last waitlist were hard, but I have managed to turn my thinking around and have been planning my intended schools for next application cycle. There were multiple schools that I didn't know about and therefore did not apply to this year that I would be more than happy attending, especially because they are in beautiful locations and closer to family. While I would still love for an acceptance to come through, I am (almost) as excited to get the chance to apply to these new places!

When the waitlist notice first came through, I struggled with many of the "I'm not good enough for graduate school" type thoughts - it was difficult to think differently, as three separate places had waitlisted me after interviews. I even pondered avoiding the crazy low acceptance rates of clinical psychology and switching into a field with higher acceptance rates, like criminology. However, after the acceptance, I've begun to re-evaluate my thinking - I made it on to the waitlist of a school that gets over 600 applications for 9 positions. I was accepted by a school that receives over 200 applications. This was an unlucky, incredibly competitive year for me - for all of us - and reapplying next year shows the future adcomms how dedicated we are to this career path! Hopefully these words help anyone debating whether to reapply or not. I know I could have used them last week. :) 

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3 minutes ago, rainydaychai said:

Hopefully these words help anyone debating whether to reapply or not. I know I could have used them last week. :) 

Hey!

Just wanted to thank you for sharing your story. Mine is almost identical, I have also received an unfunded offer, and as you know two waitlists. I am also trying to look at it positively, i'm not saying that its easy or that i'm successful, but i'm trying! it is very heartening to know that I'm not the only one in this scenario, it makes me feel less alone. 

Also, I hope you get in off the waitlists! and if not, I hope next year is far more successful for you! 

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3 minutes ago, rainydaychai said:

There were multiple schools that I didn't know about and therefore did not apply to this year that I would be more than happy attending, especially because they are in beautiful locations and closer to family. While I would still love for an acceptance to come through, I am (almost) as excited to get the chance to apply to these new places!

I think this is a really important point for those who are on their first cycle. If I had gotten accepted to most of the programs I applied to last year (top tier for my field), I wouldn't have had the opportunity to be more open minded to the many other programs out there that I never bothered to look up. I can say with absolute certainty that the entirely new batch of programs I applied to this year have me way more excited than last year. Most may not be the same caliber as my first choices last year, but they are formidable and are actually better fits for my specific research interests in the long run. 

I don't entirely agree with the notion some people have of admittance to a top program being the only way to have a successful career afterward, even outside of STEM. You're defined by your research, not the program you come out of. Doing good work is paramount to academic success.

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5 hours ago, fortsibut said:

I feel like (and could be wrong) that you have more non-academic options with a STEM PhD than you would in history.

This is a fair assumption. 

1 hour ago, goosejuice said:

I don't entirely agree with the notion some people have of admittance to a top program being the only way to have a successful career afterward, even outside of STEM. You're defined by your research, not the program you come out of. Doing good work is paramount to academic success.

I'm gonna have to agree.  But, they are right in a sense that I am not familiar with the stresses of fields that don't translate well outside academia. 

 

Edited by Ternwild

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18 hours ago, fortsibut said:

Thanks so much!  I'm sorry that you've had the same bad luck this application cycle that I have so far, but I hope you get into a great MA program this year and I'll look forward to having a familiar...avatar? to commiserate with next cycle.  😃

I'm genuinely looking forward to already knowing someone who's been through it all before! 🥰

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Thanks for all the replies! Very encouraging in many ways.

Wish everyone a better cycle, sooner or later. 

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