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3 hours ago, zcat429 said:

Hi everyone! I'm currently still deciding between two programs for my PhD in rhet/comp, and I could use a little perspective. One of the programs has a 1:2 teaching load for the entirety of the program, and the other program doesn't have any teaching requirement for the first year. Is this something that should be weighed heavily, or is a 1:2 load manageable?

I was also just admitted from the waitlist for the program that doesn't have a teaching requirement in the first year, and because of that, I've had little interaction with the faculty and students. When I've reached out, they've been slower to respond (some haven't even responded yet and it's been four days), than the first program. Is this a significant red flag or have other people experienced slower responses from programs they are choosing to attend? I'm not sure if this is reflective of how the communication will be in the future or if this is a result of the pandemic. Regardless, that program seems more hands off, but it also has a higher stipend, there's no teaching requirement in the first year so I can pursue other opportunities/focus on coursework, etc., the stipend accounts for all of summer (program 1 only offers a small stipend for summer), and a 1:1 teaching load after the first year. I suppose the main question is this: Do all of those factors just listed outweigh the slow/impersonal communication I've experienced from program 2? I want to be supported and mentored and I know program 1 can offer that, whereas I'm just not sure yet if program 2 can. Program 1 has been nothing short of phenomenal with making me feel like a part of their community and the current grad students have been accessible and so friendly.

 

Thanks for anyone's advice! 

 

Hi! A 1:2 is pretty manageable, and somewhat common for our field. 

Additionally, I wouldn't take slower response time to mean much during this pandemic. It -could- be indicative of how much support there was in the digital transition at the school. At the same time, I would find it odd that they'd take long to respond knowing that you were admitted at such a late phase. It sounds to me based on what you've said that Program 1 might be checking more of your boxes. I personally would probably choose the program that feels friendly -- that can go a long way -- but I don't think anything you've said should automatically eliminate Program 2 from the running. Sorry this advice is all over the place!  

 

  

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Thank you so much for that input! I was leaning towards picking the program that feels friendly, as well. It's such a tough decision and want to let them know ASAP so they can move to the waitlist. Thanks again :D

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, zcat429 said:

Program 1 has been nothing short of phenomenal with making me feel like a part of their community and the current grad students have been accessible and so friendly.

How confident are you that this is indicative of daily life in the program and not a very effective recruitment effort?

 

I would say that one year free from teaching, a significantly higher stipend, and a 1:1 is subsequent years should be weighed very heavily against having to teach every year, a lower stipend, and a 1:2. It's not that other factors can't make up for that, but it would have to be a very compelling array of factors.

 

Have you talked to grad students at either program? You sort of make it sound like you've only contacted professors (who may be really working the recruitment effort at one university and be really preoccupied with pandemic related upheavals at the other). I think it's paramount that you get some grad student perspectives at bot universities, especially if you are considered the offer with worse funding.

edit: I do now see that you've talked to grad student. I would still really do some digging before accepted a a lower funded offer when the difference is that significantly lower.

Edited by Glasperlenspieler

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Posted (edited)
46 minutes ago, Glasperlenspieler said:

How confident are you that this is indicative of daily life in the program and not a very effective recruitment effort?

 

I would say that one year free from teaching, a significantly higher stipend, and a 1:1 is subsequent years should be weighed very heavily against having to teach every year, a lower stipend, and a 1:2. It's not that other factors can't make up for that, but it would have to be a very compelling array of factors.

 

Have you talked to grad students at either program? You sort of make it sound like you've only contacted professors (who may be really working the recruitment effort at one university and be really preoccupied with pandemic related upheavals at the other). I think it's paramount that you get some grad student perspectives at bot universities, especially if you are considered the offer with worse funding.

edit: I do now see that you've talked to grad student. I would still really do some digging before accepted a a lower funded offer when the difference is that significantly lower.

Thank you for your help! I have spoken with two grad students at the lower funded school and both had excellent things to say about the program. They also responded quickly and thoroughly, which made me feel like they genuinely wanted to help. I've contacted two students at the second program, but neither have responded. It's only been one full business day, so I'm giving it more time. I've also reached out to three different professors at the second program, and one has taken five days to respond now. I want to be as understanding as I can be, given the pandemic, but I also know emails are fairly quick to write. That said, the other two profs did respond, and were very nice, but I had specific questions they couldn't answer. 

 

I'm not certain this isn't just a reflection of a poor recruitment effort. But the more people I reach out to and experience delayed responses with, the more I think this is a trend and something I might encounter. It's definitely hard to agree to less money and a higher work load when I'm not sure how important a sense of community is in a PhD program. 

 

EDIT: Totally read the first sentence wrong. I definitely wonder about program 1 having a strong recruitment effort. The students made me feel like it was genuine though. 

 

Thanks again for your input! :D

Edited by zcat429

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Posted (edited)
13 hours ago, zcat429 said:

Hi everyone! I'm currently still deciding between two programs for my PhD in rhet/comp, and I could use a little perspective. One of the programs has a 1:2 teaching load for the entirety of the program, and the other program doesn't have any teaching requirement for the first year. Is this something that should be weighed heavily, or is a 1:2 load manageable?

I was also just admitted from the waitlist for the program that doesn't have a teaching requirement in the first year, and because of that, I've had little interaction with the faculty and students. When I've reached out, they've been slower to respond (some haven't even responded yet and it's been four days), than the first program. Is this a significant red flag or have other people experienced slower responses from programs they are choosing to attend? I'm not sure if this is reflective of how the communication will be in the future or if this is a result of the pandemic. Regardless, that program seems more hands off, but it also has a higher stipend, there's no teaching requirement in the first year so I can pursue other opportunities/focus on coursework, etc., the stipend accounts for all of summer (program 1 only offers a small stipend for summer), and a 1:1 teaching load after the first year. I suppose the main question is this: Do all of those factors just listed outweigh the slow/impersonal communication I've experienced from program 2? I want to be supported and mentored and I know program 1 can offer that, whereas I'm just not sure yet if program 2 can. Program 1 has been nothing short of phenomenal with making me feel like a part of their community and the current grad students have been accessible and so friendly.

 

Thanks for anyone's advice! 

 

I'd be really, really wary of turning down a program with a higher stipend and a better teaching load for one that seems friendlier at the outset – especially because we're in the middle of a pandemic that has meant that academics have very little time to devote to anything but 6,000 Zoom meetings a day and all of the troubleshooting that comes with doing online what really shouldn't be done online. I know that your experience with this friendlier program has probably made them feel like more of a known entity, but so much of this is marketing/recruiting and the fact that the other program has been less responsive really doesn't say anything substantial about that program (if you think it does, fair enough, but what does it say that this program asks its students to do more work for less money? Surely that reflects on its supportiveness and whether or not the program is welcoming, too?). Once you're at a program, living there, what will matter is what your daily life is like and how that impacts the work you will do. 6 months in or 3 years in, you probably won't remember how nice the faculty was over email when you were accepted.

Is there a significant difference in ranking between the two programs? How strong are the departments in rhet/comp? Are the faculty members you'd be working with well known in your field? Which location do you prefer? Maybe you haven't mentioned these things because they're about equal at both programs, but all of those factors, + stipend and teaching load, would weigh much more heavily on my decision than initial emails would.

That said, it sounds like you want the friendlier program to be the right choice, and there's absolutely something to be said for going with your instincts/feelings. You'll choose the program that's right for you! 🙂

Edited by Indecisive Poet

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6 minutes ago, zcat429 said:

It's only been one full business day

I've also just seen this – I would really give it much more time before you determine these people to be unresponsive!

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3 minutes ago, zcat429 said:

The students made me feel like it was genuine though. 

I certainly don't mean to imply that someone is not being genuine. I just think it's important to be careful when comparing structural features of a program (teaching load/stipend/fellowship years) with more intangible aspects (sense of community, feeling prioritized, people seeming happy, etc.). The latter are certainly important, but perception of them is also variable depending on mode of communication, the current degree of preoccupation of your correspondent, and a host of extraneous factors. 

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Just now, Indecisive Poet said:

I've also just seen this – I would really give it much more time before you determine these people to be unresponsive!

Ha, yes I definitely plan to! I was mostly talking about professors I've written that have emailed me back and told me they've seen my email and will respond, but now it's been 5 business days. Sigh. But thank you for your other response, too. It definitely has given me perspective and factors to think about. 

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Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, Indecisive Poet said:

I've also just seen this – I would really give it much more time before you determine these people to be unresponsive!

Yeah, as a current grad student, when I get emails from prospective students I'm much more inclined to wait a few days until I can provide a more substantive response than to shoot of an email as quickly as possible.

Also, if possible, I'd encourage you to Skype/zoom with professors and current students. The intangible features of a program may come across very differently in a video chat format than an email.

Edited by Glasperlenspieler

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4 minutes ago, Glasperlenspieler said:

Yeah, as a current grad student, when I get emails from prospective students I'm much more inclined to wait a few days until I can provide a more substantive response than to shoot of an email as quickly as possible.

Also, if possible, I'd encourage you to Skype/zoom with professors and current students. The intangible features of a program may come across very differently in a video chat format than an email.

That's a great suggestion. I haven't been able to visit either university in person because of the pandemic, and I'm also a first gen student who didn't have a sense of community in my other educational experiences. I think that's why I'm weighing their initial responsiveness and friendliness so heavily. I am looking for a community of teacher/scholars. This isn't to say that program 2 won't be communicative in the future or provide me with a sense of community. It just hasn't been as apparent from the start. I also don't mean for it to sound like I expect people to get back to me in one business day. That's why I said I definitely was planning to give it more time. I realize people have lives and work and many other things going on other than responding to my emails. I think after 5 days though, I feel a little forgotten about. Overall, I'm just trying to determine how important certain factors are vs others. You both made really great points about the larger stipend and 1:1 load and the fact that mode of communication and perception can play a sig role in how I'm viewing friendliness. I want to wait for program 2 people to get back to me, but I also want to free up the waitlist for other students. It's just a crucial time to get answers. Thanks again for your help, though.

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2 hours ago, zcat429 said:

 I want to wait for program 2 people to get back to me, but I also want to free up the waitlist for other students. It's just a crucial time to get answers. Thanks again for your help, though.

Wait as long as you need. It sure is nice to give a quick answer and free up the waitlist for other people, but you should do that for schools you are sure you will be turning down. Sounds like the responses you're waiting for are essential for you to decide between these 2 schools. Therefore, you shouldn't rush to make a decision when you're still waiting on more information to get the whole picture.

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1 hour ago, Cryss said:

Wait as long as you need. It sure is nice to give a quick answer and free up the waitlist for other people, but you should do that for schools you are sure you will be turning down. Sounds like the responses you're waiting for are essential for you to decide between these 2 schools. Therefore, you shouldn't rush to make a decision when you're still waiting on more information to get the whole picture.

Seconding this. It is completely normal for waitlisters to not hear back until after the 15th. Sit and meditate as long as you need. ❤️ 

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4 hours ago, zcat429 said:

That's a great suggestion. I haven't been able to visit either university in person because of the pandemic, and I'm also a first gen student who didn't have a sense of community in my other educational experiences. I think that's why I'm weighing their initial responsiveness and friendliness so heavily. I am looking for a community of teacher/scholars. This isn't to say that program 2 won't be communicative in the future or provide me with a sense of community. It just hasn't been as apparent from the start. I also don't mean for it to sound like I expect people to get back to me in one business day. That's why I said I definitely was planning to give it more time. I realize people have lives and work and many other things going on other than responding to my emails. I think after 5 days though, I feel a little forgotten about. Overall, I'm just trying to determine how important certain factors are vs others. You both made really great points about the larger stipend and 1:1 load and the fact that mode of communication and perception can play a sig role in how I'm viewing friendliness. I want to wait for program 2 people to get back to me, but I also want to free up the waitlist for other students. It's just a crucial time to get answers. Thanks again for your help, though.

Same here, and so I completely understand why that sense of community is such a huge thing for us. That kind of community also doesn't necessarily have to come directly from within the program. Have you been able to discern if there are other support systems / resources on each campus or in the community you'd be living in for first gen students, or any other affinity group you might want to join?  

I've been thinking more about the (really unhelpful) advice I gave you earlier and I'll say this: a 2:1 or a 1:2 is manageable for us and our field, but I think a lot of why our PhD Programs are set up that way is because a lot of us come from MAs where we already have two years of experience (or more) teaching a 1:1 of composition. If your background was a bit different, it might be a bit more of a shock to the system. At the same time, if the program is set up that way, it might be done so for a reason -- like maybe your expected course load in whichever term the '2' is is much lighter, or mostly independent study. You might also find that you have a really, really stellar support and development network and it doesn't matter either way. Another great question to ask is when the teacher training component takes place. Do they expect you to go into a classroom on September 5th without ever having trained? Is there a training commitment over a summer (if so, it's good to find out when so you can make sure you're in town). In the event that that training is postponed due to COVID, what's the plan? What kind of materials can you share with prior cohorts? Etc, etc. That's just some thoughts. 

Another thing to ask both schools might be what other duties students generally take part in. This is sort of tricky. Sometimes there's an expectation that even though your only duties are teaching and coursework, that you might also have 'free time' to sit on committees and do administrative work. Hopefully if you do have that happen to you it's compensated, but if you can find a sneaky way to ask this question, it's a good way of figuring out how much unpaid labor you'll be expected to do at each place and, figure out what that might look like on top of everything else. Of course, it's grad school. We do a lot of unpaid labor to begin with, but there are some places that try their best to minimize that, and unfortunately, others who will get away with whatever they can.     

So those are some follow up thoughts. Best of luck to you. And my usual first gen reminder from one to another: you have earned your seat here, you are welcome, you contribute amazing things, and you will continue to do amazing things no matter where you go. 

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On 4/8/2020 at 12:49 PM, karamazov said:

I'm heading to UNC in the fall! My decision was tough but after talking to a number of students and faculty members at my two top programs, I really believe this is the best choice for me. Super excited! 

Congratulations on your decision 🎉 and see you there this fall! Feel free to DM me--not that I know anything useful about moving to NC lol. But always happy to talk!

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Annnnd I just accepted my offer from the University of Pennsylvania. This was an agonizing decision but I'm convinced that I've made the right choice. So pleased to be joining a program featuring so many brilliant and generous scholars in and beyond my field. Equally thrilled to be doing a PhD in a city that I know and love. My path to the PhD has been rough, and for a long time I did not expect to get here at all, so this feels especially sweet. 

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On 4/8/2020 at 12:49 PM, karamazov said:

I'm heading to UNC in the fall! My decision was tough but after talking to a number of students and faculty members at my two top programs, I really believe this is the best choice for me. Super excited! 

@karamazov Congrats! I did my undergrad in comp. lit. there, so feel free to message me with questions about the area, specific professors, etc. It's a wonderful place. 

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17 hours ago, hamnet in tights said:

So those are some follow up thoughts. Best of luck to you. And my usual first gen reminder from one to another: you have earned your seat here, you are welcome, you contribute amazing things, and you will continue to do amazing things no matter where you go. 

Thank you so much for both saying this and for elaborating on your earlier advice. Those are all really great questions, and some of them I don't have the answers to and plan on asking now! :)

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Posted (edited)
On 4/9/2020 at 5:35 AM, Glasperlenspieler said:

I would say that one year free from teaching, a significantly higher stipend, and a 1:1 is subsequent years should be weighed very heavily against having to teach every year, a lower stipend, and a 1:2. It's not that other factors can't make up for that, but it would have to be a very compelling array of factors.

 

I 100% agree. The less work you do, the more time you will have to do research. With the job market, you need publications to get the jobs everyone wants.

A higher stipend also directly affects quality of life. Given the job market and how their are no jobs until the baby boomers are forced to give up their cushy admin roles bestowed to them for free because of time period and "right place right time" luck, I would choose quality of life over even ranking...

I would just go to the place you like the most and feel the most comfortable at and feel like you'd have the most fun. Since there are no jobs anyway unless you are Meghan Sparkle.

Edited by Shakespeares Sister

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I've officially accepted my offer to Tufts!

What a wild ride. I was quite petrified when I decided to decline the deferral Oregon offered me for 2020, but deep down I knew I wouldn't attempt that move for a second time after the first was such a nightmare. I think Tufts is a better fit, and I'm looking forward to having a more personal experience with my POI's and the department in general. The substantially higher stipend and lighter teaching load don't hurt either! Thank you to everyone who has endured my complaining, poor attempts at humor, and obsession with my cats over the last few months. Not being alone this time made the experience much more tolerable. For those of you who have a place to go in the fall, I wish you the best of luck! For those who will be trying again next year, don't give up if this is truly the path you want! It doesn't always work out the first time (even with offers!), but each setback provides new lessons to learn and overcome.

You know what this means? Celebratory cheesecake!

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Posted (edited)

Heading to Yale!!!!!!!!!

Was genuinely so tough to decide between Yale, Princeton and Columbia, as they were all legitimately tied as #1 in my mind and each had unique strengths for me personally, but something about New Haven just already felt like home. Whether that was just because they had their visit days and Princeton/Columbia didn't, it's a little hard to say, but at one point I just had to say to myself that counterfactuals aren't helpful in this scenario, it is what it is, and I have to go with my gut. If I'm honest I'm going to feel pretty sad about turning down Princeton/Columbia for a long time, but still feels like the right decision, if that makes any sense... 

Good luck to everyone in the next few days! Hang in there.

Edited by meghan_sparkle

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I have a lot of hard emails to write over the next few days, but I will be officially committing to Yale on Monday. It really hurts my heart to walk away from all the lovely people I met at both Northwestern and Michigan (not to mention Michigan's Rackham Merit Fellowship!), but I think deep down I've known Yale was where I most wanted to be since even before I applied. In spite of all the turmoil in the world right now, this really is a dream come true.

Best wishes to all who are making tough final decisions in the next few days!

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I've accepted NYU! In light of the pandemic, staying close to home is a big plus for me right now. And, having the ability to commute (though I'd really rather not) in light of the present day-to-day ambiguity is a versatility I couldn't say no to. 

The funny thing is that NYU was my dream choice for undergrad and they rejected me. A no isn't a no forever :)

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After much deliberation, I have decided to accept UNM's offer! Albuquerque, here we come! :) 

Best of luck to everyone else who is still considering their options, and a BIG congrats to everyone who has already made their decision!

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4 hours ago, Wimsey said:

Very happy to announce that I have accepted Washington University's offer of admission! It was an immensely tough choice, but I am thrilled to be joining such a welcoming and supportive program. :) 

Yay!!!! Let's do this! 

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