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Maybe it is a bit early to start a thread for the 2020 applicants, but I've been lurking for the better part of six months and couldn't wait any longer. I'm curious about who is here for the 2019-2020 application cycle. 

A little about me: I am a 20th/21st century Americanist with concentrations in Genre Studies (speculative fiction and postwar fiction primarily), Media Studies (video games and the like), and contemporary socio-political discourse. I am currently writing my thesis on the evolution of the apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic genre during the cold war and post-9/11 eras. I am also drafting SOPs and working on my WS with little to no success. How is everyone else doing so far? Is it too soon to begin stressing out over this process?

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That would be me. My first acceptance and I’m thrilled.

just got my Michigan offer. 6 years funding. Fuck. 

IN AT YALE!!!  IM GOING TO LOSE MY MIND I DON'T KNOW WHO I AM ANYMORE 

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Sup. 

Little about me: Got a creative writing background but have been yearning for a more academic environment. I'm interested in addiction in literature, as well as psychoanalytical theory. Which era I want to specialize in I haven't totally figured out yet.  

It's not too soon to stress. I'm pretty nervous about the whole thing. 

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Greetings! I'm excited to have a thread for this and to see it grow over the coming half a year. Thanks for posting!

I think it's never too early to start thinking about PhD applications and if you're already working on your SoP and WS, you're in great shape. I'm finishing up my MA thesis, which is due mid-August, and while I've certainly had applications on my mind (pretty much all of the time, making it difficult to focus on my thesis...), I'm not planning on hitting my SoP seriously or revising my WS until August 15th, when I'm finished with my MA. I don't even have a definite list of programs yet, although I've thoroughly researched all the ones I'm interested in and hope to have things completely narrowed down and decided by the end of August.

I'm a Romanticist (British) with interests in poetry/poetics, grammar/linguistics and lit theory. My thesis is on the theory of the lyric and the forms/functions of repetition in Keats's odes, with some deconstructive stuff thrown in there. I'm nervous about how all this will translate to statements but I'm already really looking forward to working on materials.

Edited by Indecisive Poet
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@LordQuas Nice to meet you! You said creative writing, which is awesome, so are you planning on going MFA route? Or are you looking at PhD long term? I have a few peers who are wanting to do a creative writing track but aren't sure if MFA or PhD is the right direction for them.

@Indecisive Poet How has your MA been treating you? I'm wrapping up year one with an anticipated May 2019 graduation date. My MA is technically in Liberal Arts, but my concentration is in English Literature (I will have 18+ hours in English when I finish). As for programs, I've been zeroing in on a few that I really like, but I'm keeping my options open. Ideally, I'd like to apply to somewhere in the 8-10ish range, but app fees carry a pretty hefty price tag. I'm trying to be proactive in regards to application materials, but I feel like as much as I'm trying to put time in, I'm not getting a lot of results out. I'm sure it's just a process of getting started, but man is it stressful already. As for your process, are you looking at programs in a specific part of the country? What are your "make or break" qualities for the programs you're looking at? 

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@SomethingWicked Right now I'm finishing up an MA in poetry and I'm likely going to pursue a PhD in Lit. Workshop just gets so stale, ya know? As for your peers I don't even know honestly. MFAs can be a lot of fun, but don't look as good as a PhD on a CV. 

Edited by LordQuas
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@LordQuas I understand that. And not sure if it's just me, but most of the PhD Programs I have seen appear to have better funding that the MFAs too. Granted, I haven't done as much research into MFAs (since I'm NOT a creative writer) so that perspective may be limited by that somewhat. 

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Wowowowowow, I have been lurking on this forum since around 2015. Was an occasional poster when I was applying to MA programs (and some PhD programs unsuccessfully) in 2017, and now, finally, a thread has been started for the application cycle where I will be applying to PhD programs. This is so exciting! I am still narrowing down my list of programs, I have some ideas about my SOP (none of which I have written down), and as for my writing sample: I have a term paper I like, that is in my field, and that I will presenting at a regional MLA, or, who knows, I may use part of my thesis (if it is ready in time). Super excited to talk about apps with all of you! This is gonna be great (and stressful)!

Edited by Dogfish Head
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Hi all,

Received my Bachelor's in English with a concentration in Writing and Rhetoric last month.  I'll be doing my Masters in Professional Writing in one year (Sept 2019- May 2020) and I'll be applying for PhD Rhetoric programs this fall.  I had to take one grad class this spring since I'll be completing my Masters in the next (school) year.  My writing sample is pretty much the paper from that thesis class, even though I am editing and rewriting parts of it.  Haven't got started on my PS yet.  Looking at applying to 8 schools and taking the GRE at the end of the summer for the first time.

I don't wanna make a new thread, but any advice for contacting professors?  There's a professor at one school where her research directly aligns with my interests.  I have no idea if she's involved in grad school selection, but I also don't know how to go about contacting professors without being like "hey you're a professor at this amazing school and we have the same research interests ain't that cool...also I'm applying for the PhD program any thoughts?"  I really hate sounding like a buttkisser

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9 hours ago, thepeeps said:

I really hate sounding like a buttkisser

Yeah this is a tough one and something I worry about too. If I can offer any consolation, I've heard firsthand from certain professors that they don't look at it as buttkissing and they tend to appreciate it. You might want to read one of their articles and just say what you liked about it, then get into how it aligns with your work. 

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@thepeeps I definitely felt the same when I started reaching out to professors. My advice: just be genuine in your interest. Ask some thoughtful questions about their research and show interest. I've only spoken to a few POIs so far, but I did so after sending an introductory email to the DGS (or whoever the school requests you email on their website) then I went from there. I've found them to be very excited to talk with potential students thus far. So, if there's a professor you're just crazy about working with, I'd give it a shot and see how they respond.

@Dogfish Head Hey! Welcome! I've been lurking for a while myself and honestly, I couldn't wait any longer to create a thread. Which regional MLA are you presenting at? I'll be at the SCMLA this October, so It'd be cool to who else will be there.

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10 minutes ago, LordQuas said:

Tying in to this, do you guys think it's a necessity to contact professors you want to work with prior to applying?

Honestly, I wouldn't think it's necessary. Most of the schools I've emailed have said basically the same thing: If you have questions and want to speak with professors then it can be helpful in giving you a sense of the program culture. That being said, I don't think that the adcomms will necessarily be made up of professors, so they wouldn't know if you've spoken with anyone or not. I wanted to email them because there were programs that I was on the fence about. Speaking to professors helped me determine whether I would be a good fit. So ultimately it's up to you. I think it will depend on how much you already know about your programs of interest. 

Edited by SomethingWicked
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Hello! I'm so excited to start applying for PhD programs this fall! I am currently working on my WS which is a chapter for my MA thesis. Taking the GRE (again) at the end of August, and working on my SOP towards the end of summer. My plan is to have all my application materials ready to go by September. I did everything last minute for my MA applications and it was horrendous. Never doing that again. Applying to about 8-10 schools. 5 of those schools are set, but I go back and forth between 10 other ones, so we will see what the final line-up is. 

Little about me: I'm a postcolonialist, specifically Caribbean and Latin American. Currently writing my thesis on female narratives under Latin American dictatorships in the late 20th century. Also love Canadian and American settlement literature, 20th century American, and YA (when I'm not reading for school). 

To answer the question about speaking to professors: I've emailed 2 of my POI, but to ask questions about their work that I'm using for my thesis. I do not have anyone in my program that could answer some specific questions for me, so I found it useful to reach out to the authors I'm reading. I didn't mention anything about applying to their schools (unless prompted), but they might remember me when my application comes rolling in. 

Excited for the process to start! 

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Hello! I've been a lurker for a while but finally decided to create an account now that the new cycle is approaching.

I received my BA in 2018 and am going to apply to doctoral programs, with a proposed focus on British Modernism and on American fiction of the early to mid-twentieth century. I specifically want to study the works of female writers, along with questions relating to canonicity, popular culture, and the role of enjoyment in evaluating literature. I took the GRE earlier this month and am currently working on crafting a WS, studying for the subject test, and gathering ideas for my SOP.

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@CanadianEnglish @Wimsey Nice to meet you both! You both mentioned the GRE, so how has your test prep been for that? I finally caved and purchased the study book that the GRE company produces and will have that in hand this weekend (thanks Amazon). Do you have any study methods that worked well for you? I know GRE isn't everything, but having a solid score is definitely a goal.

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33 minutes ago, SomethingWicked said:

@CanadianEnglish @Wimsey Nice to meet you both! You both mentioned the GRE, so how has your test prep been for that? I finally caved and purchased the study book that the GRE company produces and will have that in hand this weekend (thanks Amazon). Do you have any study methods that worked well for you? I know GRE isn't everything, but having a solid score is definitely a goal.

I used several different study guides. For overall test prep, I really liked Magoosh. Their math tutorials were excellent, the verbal prep was solid, and they provide video explanations for almost every practice problem. They also give you a daily schedule for which tutorials to watch and how many practice questions to do.

I also used Princeton Review's self-paced course, which was on the expensive side (my family was able to help me out with paying for it). The main benefit of the PR course is the eight practice tests. Their tutorials and drills for math and verbal were also very good, though I'm not sure they were great enough to warrant the high price tag. For a cheaper option, I'd recommend getting the PR book and accessing the two free online practice tests that come with it.

For essay prep, I highly recommend the resources ETS provides. Definitely practice with the pools of prompts that ETS has on their website, and check out the ScoreItNow service, which gives you a grade for eight practice essays. I was also able to get two free PowerPrep practice tests when I registered for the test, and I found those helpful.

In terms of my study methods, I tried to do some prep every day, and I did practice tests around the time of day when I would be taking the real thing. Knowing all the question types and doing multiple practice tests really helped me feel more comfortable on test day.

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Good to see a Fall 2020 thread! :DWelcome one and all to applying to graduate school, and just from reading I can tell all of you are already making great headways into application prep. The cycle for this year is only just ending, so it'll be a while yet before we see all of the various schools switch over to processing for next cycle.

I've successfully made it through the Fall 2019 cycle even if I was convinced that my school choices and errors on my part during the cycle (horrendous GRE scores + I underestimated the time needed to really polish my WS) was the proverbial writing on the wall. The program I committed to was one I thought would genuinely not take me in and one that I was prepared to be rejected by, especially since the POI I was most interested in looked to have a full slate in terms of advising commitments and I was afraid that the larger research fit was maybe a touch too tenuous. As it turns out, there was a lot of compatibility in the faculty and classes that I wasn't aware of until I first saw the department up close and personal beyond just reading the program website, associated dissertations, and articles. Thus, I can't stress just how mysterious this process can be and how many factors are out of our control. While yes, I will concede that there are elements that make for a stellar application and there will always be the ones in every cycle that hit the jackpot, that fine line of who gets accepted/rejected/waitlisted is down to the auspices of what will make for a balanced cohort and for university/departmental needs that only the committee would be aware.

Though I won't deny, the rejections do sting and it hurts (especially since we'll never really know where we stood. Were we close? Knocked out in the first round? etc.), especially in such a crowded field both in application and in the larger job market. All of this has a way of eating you up and even with a funded offer I took, I still feel frightened if this is the right choice or not in the end. I don't say this to scare anyone, but I want you to know if you do feel this way at any point, you're not alone.

If any of you have any questions about anything, feel free to ask em here.

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3 hours ago, SomethingWicked said:

@CanadianEnglish @Wimsey Nice to meet you both! You both mentioned the GRE, so how has your test prept out  been for that? I finally caved and purchased the study book that the GRE company produces and will have that in hand this weekend (thanks Amazon). Do you have any study methods that worked well for you? I know GRE isn't everything, but having a solid score is definitely a goal.

2

I'm using Kaplan GRE prep books and they seem to be doing the trick. I took the GRE before without really studying for it and my scores were HORRENDOUS. I've taken 2 practice tests so far and my scores are already higher than my previous test. I also like notecards for the vocab, and testing myself when I'm just riding the bus or watching TV. I know that people say you shouldn't take it again and it's not a major factor in our application etc. etc. etc., but my scores are much too low for the schools that I'm applying for. Just want to be as confident as can be when submitting all my materials. 

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Hi, everyone! I'll be applying to both MA and phD programs this fall. I'm a late nineteenth century Americanist with particular interests in the overlap between American literature and continental philosophy, the relationship between Russian and American realism, and the influence of the Civil War on the development of American realism and naturalism. I've been working on adapting a paper I wrote for an upper division English course to use as my WS, but I have yet to start on my SoP. I took the GRE for the first time a few weeks ago, but I might take it again in August. A couple of my top choices still require the subject test, so I'll need to take that, as well. I'm a bit concerned that my interests might be too "comparative" to be appealing to an English department (vs. a comp lit dept). I have managed to find some scholars in English departments whose interests relate to my own, but it took some digging. These scholars are few and far between, though, so I'm not sure how that's going to affect my application.

I'm looking forward to talking to you all about this process over the next 6+ months!

Edited by karamazov
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7 hours ago, ArcaMajora said:

Good to see a Fall 2020 thread! :DWelcome one and all to applying to graduate school, and just from reading I can tell all of you are already making great headways into application prep. The cycle for this year is only just ending, so it'll be a while yet before we see all of the various schools switch over to processing for next cycle.

I've successfully made it through the Fall 2019 cycle even if I was convinced that my school choices and errors on my part during the cycle (horrendous GRE scores + I underestimated the time needed to really polish my WS) was the proverbial writing on the wall. The program I committed to was one I thought would genuinely not take me in and one that I was prepared to be rejected by, especially since the POI I was most interested in looked to have a full slate in terms of advising commitments and I was afraid that the larger research fit was maybe a touch too tenuous. As it turns out, there was a lot of compatibility in the faculty and classes that I wasn't aware of until I first saw the department up close and personal beyond just reading the program website, associated dissertations, and articles. Thus, I can't stress just how mysterious this process can be and how many factors are out of our control. While yes, I will concede that there are elements that make for a stellar application and there will always be the ones in every cycle that hit the jackpot, that fine line of who gets accepted/rejected/waitlisted is down to the auspices of what will make for a balanced cohort and for university/departmental needs that only the committee would be aware.

Though I won't deny, the rejections do sting and it hurts (especially since we'll never really know where we stood. Were we close? Knocked out in the first round? etc.), especially in such a crowded field both in application and in the larger job market. All of this has a way of eating you up and even with a funded offer I took, I still feel frightened if this is the right choice or not in the end. I don't say this to scare anyone, but I want you to know if you do feel this way at any point, you're not alone.

If any of you have any questions about anything, feel free to ask em here.

Hey there! Thanks for the advice. Honestly, even after spending the last few months trying to ease into this process, it’s so overwhelming at times. And this is just the beginning! I come from a smaller program that hasn’t had many students go on to PhD level (the interest simply isn't there), but my professors have been very encouraging. It’s just difficult to break into the process without starting to feel like a very small fish in a sizable pond. 

Thanks for the offer of support! Part of the reason I wanted to get this thread kickstarted is so that we can all vent to a group of likeminded individuals in the same boat. The process has already caused me more anxiety than I would care to admit, but hey, I’ve made some killer spreadsheets as a result. That’s gotta count for something, right?

Edited by SomethingWicked
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Hi all! I've posted once before, am glad to see this thread pop up. Guess I am doing this crazy thing after all!  I'm in my last summer term of undergrad, and am spending my time working, narrowing my list of schools, and doing research for my thesis/WS. I also am planning on taking the regular GRE in late August/early Sept (I survived the subject test in April, thank god).

I'm a Victorianist, right now most specifically interested in representations of theatre & drama in the Victorian novel, and how they relate to issues of female authority and embodiment. But, my overarching driving questions sometimes pique my interest in women artist figures more generally, representations of visual art/women as subjects of visual art in literature, women poets/poetics in the period, etc. 

Overall, overwhelmed, but feeling really excited.

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14 hours ago, SomethingWicked said:

I'll be at the SCMLA this October, so It'd be cool to who else will be there.

Ah! 2019 cycle applicant popping on to the thread to say I'll also be at SCMLA this October! What session are you presenting in? 

 

8 hours ago, ArcaMajora said:

Though I won't deny, the rejections do sting and it hurts (especially since we'll never really know where we stood. Were we close? Knocked out in the first round? etc.), especially in such a crowded field both in application and in the larger job market. All of this has a way of eating you up and even with a funded offer I took, I still feel frightened if this is the right choice or not in the end. I don't say this to scare anyone, but I want you to know if you do feel this way at any point, you're not alone.

If any of you have any questions about anything, feel free to ask em here.

Seconding this! As someone whose PhD plans went to shit, only to end up in a really great MA (which I think absolutely is the right thing for me in retrospect), I'm here for anyone who has questions! Feel free to PM me about anything. I applied to PhDs while finishing my bachelor's and working 3 part time jobs (and I do not recommend that lol), and the rejections definitely hit hard. But the bad feeling of the rejections ultimately led me to a really great place for where I'm at in my academic journey. GradCafe was an AMAZING resource for me--I found amazing SoP readers, people to commiserate with, and people who encouraged me here. Would be happy to return the favor if anyone needs or wants it!

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hi to everyone and good luck! i struck out for ph.ds but had two masters program acceptances and am happily attending university of chicago starting this fall. the application cycle honestly took a bit of the light from my eyes for a moment but in retrospect, i think i was stressing myself out more than i needed to most of the time. i'm sure most of you have figured this out but if not, for the love of all that is holy, GET FEE WAIVERS WHERE YOU CAN.  save money for the celebratory acceptance meal/cocktail/book purchase with which to treat yourself at the end. 

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On 6/28/2019 at 4:01 PM, LordQuas said:

Tying in to this, do you guys think it's a necessity to contact professors you want to work with prior to applying?

Nope. I've read a lot of posts on here from successful applicants who didn't contact any POIs and I've talked to enough equally successful people in person that I've decided not to do it. I think it makes sense and works for some, but it's not something I feel comfortable doing as I don't see any real need to contact them in my case and I think it would feel (and come across as) forced.

The only exception is that there's a POI at a program I'm planning to apply to who I emailed a couple months ago to ask for an article that my university library didn't have access to. Since looking into the program more, I've become confused about whether faculty members on different campuses of that university (of which he is one) can work with the English grad students. I plan to respond to our previous email thread to ask him how this works.

I seem to recall that Stanford's website says something about suggesting applicants contact potential supervisors in advance. And, of course, most British programs suggest this as well. But barring explicit instruction to do this on department websites, I think it's unnecessary and makes no difference in whether or not you're accepted.

Edited by Indecisive Poet
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