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Posted (edited)
On 4/8/2020 at 10:46 PM, vvolgate said:

Ah, see, I would’ve never known that was a problem people have, seeing as I’m still waiting on news so I haven’t committed anywhere... 😅

This is actually the problem. Some people are still waiting, so they can't commit, so everything gets jumbled till the very end (similar to how we write conference presentations on the plane ride there).

Made much worse by a killer virus.

Edited by Shakespeares Sister

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Posted (edited)
On 4/7/2020 at 7:40 PM, Wimsey said:

 

Thank you both for your input! I'm continuing to weigh the pros and cons for both schools, and I hope I can feel at peace with whatever decision I reach over the next few days. I have no prior teaching experience, so even though I am excited to teach and have confidence in my abilities, the lighter load at WashU appeals to me. Still, the Penn State teaching would be doable, especially with the fellowship they've offered me. I'll keep talking with people at both schools, and hopefully I'll reach a breakthrough soon.

Hey, Wimsey! I think it would be super worth it to reach out to Penn State to ask if they are able to offer you additional semesters or years off of teaching in order to match your WashU offer. In fact, I happen to know that schools with similar profiles to Penn State have historically been willing to negotiate this, especially when they can go to the dean's office or other administrative unit and say that they are trying to match a student's competing offer. At the very least, it can't hurt! 

Edited by oygevalt

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So now that I don't have to worry about waiting for news/making choices, my brain has moved on to its next fixation: possibly starting school in quarantine. I know it's too soon to know whether it'll happen and it's useless to worry, but it's tough! Anyone else dealing with this?

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1 hour ago, tinymica said:

So now that I don't have to worry about waiting for news/making choices, my brain has moved on to its next fixation: possibly starting school in quarantine. I know it's too soon to know whether it'll happen and it's useless to worry, but it's tough! Anyone else dealing with this?

I am. I had always envisioned teaching a class in person for my first semester of doctoral studies, but I may now be teaching it online... :(

I just remember that these are first-world problems. Most people do not continue their education to the doctoral level.

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3 hours ago, tinymica said:

So now that I don't have to worry about waiting for news/making choices, my brain has moved on to its next fixation: possibly starting school in quarantine. I know it's too soon to know whether it'll happen and it's useless to worry, but it's tough! Anyone else dealing with this?

ugGHHGHGggggggggggghhhhhh DO NOT WANT.

I'm trying not to think about not getting a live literature seminar in the fall and just taking this one day at a time. 

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1 hour ago, merry night wanderer said:

ugGHHGHGggggggggggghhhhhh DO NOT WANT.

I'm trying not to think about not getting a live literature seminar in the fall and just taking this one day at a time. 

Honestly for me that's so hard to imagine I'm literally starting to wonder about the possibility of deferring... 

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I feel you. I just picked out the courses I want to take (which is one of my favorite things in the world to do) and I'm so excited about the idea of being in a classroom with these people and it's just- lord. The letdown will be unimaginable. 

I think I will be okay with it if there are waves of quarantining/social distancing, as some people are proposing, but the whole semester? 

I don't know that I'd defer because, being older, I want to get a move on in my program. But under other circumstances I might do it. 

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@merry night wanderer Agreed, one day at a time! Sorry, I tend to catastrophize and worry about everything. I know it’s too early to call it, but I can’t help thinking about the worst case scenario.

I’m also really excited about being in the classroom! Partly because I don’t do well with online learning, partly because it’s really important to me to create bonds with peers and it just won’t be likely if we’re still under lockdown this fall. We can only hope that the measures we’re taking will be effective enough to keep things under control. I would feel much better about intermittent periods of staying in; I’d probably lose my mind if it were a whole term.

I don’t even know if I’d be able to defer. I don’t want to have to do that... I just know that, if I weren’t allowed to, I couldn’t take the stress of re-applying.

We have to hold on to whatever positive feelings and excitement that we can. What classes have you chosen? Tell us!

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There's a genuine possibility it won't happen, so you're not catastrophizing! We need to get used to it, but it would be heartbreaking for all the reasons you mentioned. 

If they're still open by the time I get to sign up, I'm going going to be taking a fascinating-looking course on Kafka, theory, and philosophy (by a prof who holds joint appointments in the German and philosophy depts, whose general approach to literature seems incredibly exciting to me), German Idealism (pretty much have to understand this as a Romanticist, and looking forward to flexing my philosophy muscles again!), and Jane Austen and the Novel. The last one almost makes me laugh - Jane Austen is undeniably good, but she was really shoved down my throat as a homeschooler, and I'm not naturally that drawn to realism, so she's just not my cup of tea and I never thought I'd take a course on her. But a POI is teaching it and I have never studied her or novel theory before, so it seemed like a solid choice. Tbh I always end up loving literature class if the teacher's a good one so I'm looking forward to reading her in depth and developing a better appreciation for what she has to offer.

It's so hard to choose just three. What are other people taking??

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14 hours ago, Shakespeares Sister said:

If it's online only in the fall but residence is required for funding purposes, I wonder if we can't stay OOS then?

The answer will likely depend on the school or state and how they determine residency status for in-state tuition. It likely won't be a factor for private universities but might be for public universities. Most leases are for a set period of time. As such, it might be wise to have plans to avoid having to deal with a last minute rush when options might not exist.

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23 hours ago, Shakespeares Sister said:

If it's online only in the fall but residence is required for funding purposes, I wonder if we can't stay OOS then?

I don't know if you'd be able to finagle such a thing, but if you could, say, maintain an address near your campus and stay with someone OOS, like family, I don't think anyone would bat an eye... that may or may not be my plan.

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7 hours ago, hamnet in tights said:

I don't know if you'd be able to finagle such a thing, but if you could, say, maintain an address near your campus and stay with someone OOS, like family, I don't think anyone would bat an eye... that may or may not be my plan.

Once you already have residency, I think you can get away with this and *maintain* residency, but I think you'll have to be careful about assuming you can *obtain* residency in this way. Expectations vary by state, but they'll generally want to see a lease/rental agreement, in-state voter registration, in-state driver's licence, in-state car registration (if you have a car), and sign a form declaring that, among other things, a preponderance of your belongings are in-state and it is your primary residence. For stricter states, things like having an account at a local credit union, demonstrated community activities (beyond the university), actually voting (not just being registered), and paying taxes in-state can also come into play.

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1 hour ago, Glasperlenspieler said:

Once you already have residency, I think you can get away with this and *maintain* residency, but I think you'll have to be careful about assuming you can *obtain* residency in this way. Expectations vary by state, but they'll generally want to see a lease/rental agreement, in-state voter registration, in-state driver's licence, in-state car registration (if you have a car), and sign a form declaring that, among other things, a preponderance of your belongings are in-state and it is your primary residence. For stricter states, things like having an account at a local credit union, demonstrated community activities (beyond the university), actually voting (not just being registered), and paying taxes in-state can also come into play.

Ay, dios mio! 

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Posted (edited)

Hey people,

How should one treat courses offered in an English MA? Is it ever enough to accept program A because program B's classes are not as engaging or in line with one's interests? I am worried that the courses offered at one school are not as good of a fit for me. Is it possible to do independent study for subjects not taught, or take upper-level undergrad classes? How big of an issue is this when it comes to writing a Master's thesis? There are areas I want to continue learning more about that are just not offered at one program which is otherwise more highly regarded and in much better location (less crime / poverty / more job opportunities for my partner).

Edited by Puurple

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7 minutes ago, Puurple said:

Hey people,

How should one treat courses offered in an English MA? Is it ever enough to accept program A because program B's classes are not as engaging or in line with one's interests? I am worried that the courses offered at one school are not as good of a fit for me. Is it possible to do independent study for subjects not taught, or take upper-level undergrad classes? How big of an issue is this when it comes to writing a Master's thesis? There are areas I want to continue learning more about that are just not offered at one program which is otherwise more highly regarded and in much better location (less crime / poverty / more job opportunities for my partner).

Speaking from experience, I would say to what degree a lack of area specialists will impede your success depends on your level of independence and your choice of topic. And just because there is a potential advisor whose interests overlap with yours does not ensure support; it depends on the availability of the professor and/or your ability to get their attention. (Hint: be sure you aren't overlooking other humanities departments for someone you could be simpatico with; people are doing all manner of interdisciplinary work, and an instructor in Women's Studies or Sociology might be able to provide specialized guidance.) In my case I chose an overly ambitious topic with no course offerings in my department that might have provided me with a solid grounding: not advised but I was too enamored with my topic and methodology to be deterred. So I have had to devote lots and lots of time getting up to speed independently on all sorts scholarship with which I had no prior familiarity. TDLR: It's very possible to make a go of it in a MA program that's not a wonderful fit, but there are a lot of buts, including the contacts your advisor might have if you want to move on to a PhD, but again, name recognition of who you worked with is no guarantee of anything either. 

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53 minutes ago, Puurple said:

Hey people,

How should one treat courses offered in an English MA? Is it ever enough to accept program A because program B's classes are not as engaging or in line with one's interests? I am worried that the courses offered at one school are not as good of a fit for me. Is it possible to do independent study for subjects not taught, or take upper-level undergrad classes? How big of an issue is this when it comes to writing a Master's thesis? There are areas I want to continue learning more about that are just not offered at one program which is otherwise more highly regarded and in much better location (less crime / poverty / more job opportunities for my partner).

Heya, 

I did my MA at a smaller, regional school, (a R2 state college in my hometown actually), and there is no one here that really shares my research interests. At the time I started grad school, I wasn't really aware of my field yet and had no intention of continuing onto a PhD or doing serious research. That all changed midway through, and I'm leaving highly specialized in a field that isn't offered at my school at all through a serious amount of independent research. So, it's doable, but it depends a lot on faculty, and the specifics of your department and POI. For us, for example, we absolutely cannot take undergrad courses under any circumstances, but we can take independent studies as we like and substitute our courses pretty freely if we find something we'd rather take in another department. This is certainly not the case at all schools. Questions about independent studies and undergrad courses would be great for the DGS at the school. :)  

For what it's worth, I'm very satisfied with the MA experience I've had, and I've been relatively successful applying to PhDs and getting selected within my subfocus without having a huge amount of super-specific coursework in it. I will say this, though: I think I probably had to be a lot more self-motivated than other folks who had more generalized focuses within our program. I spent a lot of time going to conferences and skyping with specialists in my field at other schools to make up for what I couldn't get where I was, for example, and I probably got into way more debt (even while fully funded) than I would have had I chosen a different program.    

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5 hours ago, hamnet in tights said:

and I probably got into way more debt (even while fully funded) than I would have had I chosen a different program.    

Forgot to add on this: when I say significant debt, I mean relative to living in your hometown with my parents. I still have way less debt than I think I would have if I'd gone, funded, to a school across the country. I can't be sure, though. When I picked the smaller, regional program close to home, there were some unexpected trade offs, like no conference or travel funding, unexpected fees ("fully funded" really was a misnomer at my school for anyone), and a very low stipend. At the same time, no regrets. I got to do my MA with a fantastic support network in a great community that I'm very familiar with, and surrounded by faculty that without exception genuinely care for and nurture students.

 

Apart from all that... welp, guys, it's the Sunday night before the 15th. I have a feeling tomorrow morning is gonna be back to intense stuff. Fingers crossed for all of us.    

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9 hours ago, Puurple said:

Hey people,

How should one treat courses offered in an English MA? Is it ever enough to accept program A because program B's classes are not as engaging or in line with one's interests? I am worried that the courses offered at one school are not as good of a fit for me. Is it possible to do independent study for subjects not taught, or take upper-level undergrad classes? How big of an issue is this when it comes to writing a Master's thesis? There are areas I want to continue learning more about that are just not offered at one program which is otherwise more highly regarded and in much better location (less crime / poverty / more job opportunities for my partner).

I'm seconding @killerbunny's point about independence. While I haven't taken any courses directly in my fields in the MA I'm currently attending, and there are no profs who are in the exact same area of interest as me, I've been able to adjust seminar papers to fit my interests in all six of my courses so far. This may just be a feature of the program I'm in (which is wonderful and supportive), but being willing to do some extra research and spend a lot of extra time reading has allowed me to still pursue my interests while receiving guidance and feedback. For example, in a course on Contemporary American Lit & US Empire, I asked my prof if I could write about whiteness and settler colonialism in horror film instead of writing about a piece of contemporary AmLit, which she was actually really excited about and supportive of! In this way, my MA has actually really expanded my breadth of knowledge, via the course readings and seminar discussions, while also allowing me to pursue my own interests and write the kinds of papers I can submit to conferences, via the final seminar paper. And actually, taking classes not in my field has actually helped me refine my research just as much as taking classes closer to my field.

For the thesis, I wouldn't underestimate profs in other departments, as @killerbunny said, and I also wouldn't underestimate faculty's secondary interests! Sometimes, you can make up for not having the ideal reader for multiple fields by having two or three readers who can cover the fields between them (e.g. someone from your theoretical specialization who doesn't primarily work in your period alongside someone from your period who doesn't primarily work in your theoretical lens). Obviously it's not totally ideal, but it can work. 

For the PhD, I would stress the fit a bit more (from what I have heard/read). But personally, I think in the MA it's slightly less of a concern, depending on what your ultimate career trajectory is.

Overall, I would say, in the context of an MA, courses in your field are definitely less important than funding, but I think it's up to you to weigh how much courses matter when compared to other factors (location, distance, assistantships, cohort size, relative prestige, etc). Hope this helps!

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Posted (edited)
On 2/10/2020 at 10:39 AM, punctilious said:

Yes, everyone should hear this loud and clear: your stipends are taxable income (not just teaching fellowships!). You have to report them as such and pay taxes on them, which is why it's a really good idea to pay quarterly estimated taxes so you don't die when you see what you owe in taxes at the end of the year.

Cost of living as absolutely an important consideration. Many top universities are in super expensive cities (especially the Bay Area, followed by New York and Boston, those are probably the worst cost of living in the US) so make sure to factor that in when making your decisions. I believe @Warelin's spreadsheet has a cost of living column.

Rehashing this conversation from a while ago. I'm trying to figure out what taxes* will look like on a fellowship during non-service years. I know that the university does not deduct taxes in those years. I was also told by a graduate student in the department that taxes do not apply for non-service fellowship years (aka there's no need to report said fellowship as income). I know there's conflicting advice on this, but wondering what the insight is on GC?

*I'm terrible at taxes/numbers.

Edited by Rani13

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1 hour ago, onerepublic96 said:

Think it’s time to start freaking out now that the first waitlist acceptance has been posted for Michigan... 😬

Were you given an indication of where you are on the list? I'm on a different list at Michigan. Fingers crossed. ❤️ 

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51 minutes ago, hamnet in tights said:

Were you given an indication of where you are on the list? I'm on a different list at Michigan. Fingers crossed. ❤️ 

When I emailed them to ask about the specifics they said their list wasn’t ranked and didn’t really give any more info as to how the decision-making process would be handled. So I’m really just at sea over here hoping so hard that just maybe I won’t get shut out this year. 

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1 hour ago, onerepublic96 said:

When I emailed them to ask about the specifics they said their list wasn’t ranked and didn’t really give any more info as to how the decision-making process would be handled. So I’m really just at sea over here hoping so hard that just maybe I won’t get shut out this year. 

❤️ I have hope for you, my friend. Have you checked the Rackham program website? A lot of programs at Michigan see a lot of admissions off their waitlist each year. :)

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14 hours ago, Rani13 said:

Rehashing this conversation from a while ago. I'm trying to figure out what taxes* will look like on a fellowship during non-service years. I know that the university does not deduct taxes in those years. I was also told by a graduate student in the department that taxes do not apply for non-service fellowship years (aka there's no need to report said fellowship as income). I know there's conflicting advice on this, but wondering what the insight is on GC?

*I'm terrible at taxes/numbers.

Quoting Personal Finance for PhDs: “I’ll clarify right up front that you do need to incorporate your fellowship income into the gross income you report on your tax return, and you almost certainly will end up paying tax on it (unless your total income is very low or you have lots of other deductions/credits).” (http://pfforphds.com/weird-tax-situations-fellowship-recipients/)

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