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At a crossroads


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I'm currently a senior graduating this semester (off-track) at a top 4 Ivy League university in sociocultural anthropology. I began as a political philosophy major and then moved into anthropology, but my interests now lie mostly at the intersection of early 20th century German ethnography and expressions of the urban/modern everyday. Pretty much all of my interests, however, have shifted throughout my college career, and because of this as well as my off-track graduation status, I wasn't able to write a thesis, although I have published one essay on urban violence and art in northern Mexico. I want to pursue a PhD, but feel as detached from anthropology and I'm considering a further degree in history, since I can align a lot of my interests there. However, I don't feel like I have the necessary background in the field to be a competitive applicant (only taken a few very disparate history courses), and my GPA here (3.6) is rather low (I had failed two courses in a semester in my sophomore year, was in the hospital most of the time and refused out of ego stuff to drop the whole semester--otherwise would have a 3.9). 

 

Because of this rather weak app, and my divergent interests since my senior year, I wanted to apply for MA programs in History, but even then I don't know if I can secure funding and would want to be in a program that's intellectually stimulating and aligned with my interests. The Cambridge MPhil is my top choice, and I secured an advisor, but it's definitely a reach. I applied to a number of fellowships for independent study, but again, all reaches. I wanted to get some advice as to how to spend these next few months (between January and September, when I will not be in school) do hone down my interests, or what to do in the case that these options work out so that I can be more competitive in my application for the next cycle. Or if I should just throw my hat in for a PhD. Thanks! 

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Welcome to the GradCafe, @valley

I recommend that you apply to at least one doctoral program (the University of Texas at Austin merits consideration) if you can write a strong statement of purpose in which you define your interests as a historian. No matter where you apply, do your best to find at least one common theme that ties your evolving interests together.

From January through September, I recommend working on your German and diving into the deep end of modern German social history. Prepare yourself for pain. The going will be painful.

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On 11/12/2019 at 4:24 PM, Sigaba said:

Welcome to the GradCafe, @valley

I recommend that you apply to at least one doctoral program (the University of Texas at Austin merits consideration) if you can write a strong statement of purpose in which you define your interests as a historian. No matter where you apply, do your best to find at least one common theme that ties your evolving interests together.

From January through September, I recommend working on your German and diving into the deep end of modern German social history. Prepare yourself for pain. The going will be painful.

Thanks for the advice. I'll look into the UT Austin program. I have seen other users on here post about being rejected because they do not have adequate background in the field. As I said before, I've only take around three history courses, and each was vastly different in scope, method, and area (Russian intellectual history in 19th c. versus Greek Hellenism and modernity, for example). Will this factor heavily disadvantage me? Or could I just really write a good SoP to compensate for it? 

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Perhaps check out Paul Steege at Villanova? He's very interested in urban life and the everyday in 20th century Germany, though in the Cold War. I'm taking his 20th Century Berlin course next semester, actually. Villanova does offer funding, typically a full tuition scholarship. 

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