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I learned a couple of days ago that I've been rejected off of the waitlist at UVa for PhD admission. I have, however, been granted admission to their MA program (as is the case for anyone waitlisted for their PhD), and this is my only offer for this cycle. I'm tempted to write off the MA program completely for financial reasons and take another shot at PhD admissions for next year, but I'm worried I'll regret not taking the MA offer if I have similarly dreary results on the next go-around.

Is anyone in/has anyone been in a similar situation? I know UVa is a top program, and if I took the offer I would be well-positioned for PhD admission afterward (their MA students seem to have very good placement records). But ultimately I'm not sure the debt would be worth it, especially given the state of the economy that I'm graduating into. I'm also not sure what people who are not admitted to PhD programs do in between application cycles to try to improve their profiles. I know a lot of it comes down to chance and which faculty are looking for which kinds of advisees, but I'm worried my applications for the next time around wouldn't look all too different, and given that I've been nearly shut out, that would not be a good move. If anyone has any words of advice, I would be very glad to hear them!

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I've been teaching and on department committees for awhile, and the connection between university endowments and the stock market has been on my mind. I've been doing some reading here, and in a few o

Everyone ready for the moment of truth due to come sometime this week? 

So I've been thinking about this more and in my own case, I'm still undecided. But I also want to share some further ideas for anyone else who might be in a similar situation. Last night I was re

19 hours ago, TheorySchmeory said:

I learned a couple of days ago that I've been rejected off of the waitlist at UVa for PhD admission. I have, however, been granted admission to their MA program (as is the case for anyone waitlisted for their PhD), and this is my only offer for this cycle. I'm tempted to write off the MA program completely for financial reasons and take another shot at PhD admissions for next year, but I'm worried I'll regret not taking the MA offer if I have similarly dreary results on the next go-around.

Is anyone in/has anyone been in a similar situation? I know UVa is a top program, and if I took the offer I would be well-positioned for PhD admission afterward (their MA students seem to have very good placement records). But ultimately I'm not sure the debt would be worth it, especially given the state of the economy that I'm graduating into. I'm also not sure what people who are not admitted to PhD programs do in between application cycles to try to improve their profiles. I know a lot of it comes down to chance and which faculty are looking for which kinds of advisees, but I'm worried my applications for the next time around wouldn't look all too different, and given that I've been nearly shut out, that would not be a good move. If anyone has any words of advice, I would be very glad to hear them!

I'm in a similar boat - I still have a few waitlists pending but am not optimistic, so at this point it's either taking one of the partially funded MAs I was redirected to (UChicago, UVA, NYU) or going for another cycle. My shutout contingency plan has always been to forgo the MA/not to take out any debt, and just work and save $ and revise materials. I still lean that direction - taking out an additional $33-70k in debt sounds INSANE. But I don't know if the present circumstances (less funding/less spots/more applicants) will shift the admissions game to the point where an MA will be practically mandatory to get a PhD acceptance in the next few cycles. So then my thought was to apply to funded MAs and PhDs next year - but will fully funded MAs still exist next cycle? I recall reading on this forum that even this year, several that usually offer funding have cut back, and departments will only be under more financial strain -- so those offers may be hard to come by as well.

Once I have an official response from my waitlists, I'm going to reach out to my undergrad mentors and see what they think I should do. I'm honestly not sure! We're in a tough spot and unprecedented circumstances - it's definitely hard to strategize. 

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1 hour ago, grace2137 said:

But I don't know if the present circumstances (less funding/less spots/more applicants) will shift the admissions game to the point where an MA will be practically mandatory to get a PhD acceptance in the next few cycles.

For what it's worth I doubt this—there may well be fewer spots but I don't think that means MAs will be functionally mandatory. There are a good number of BA only applicants in all of my admitted cohorts, and to me they're indistinguishable from the ones with MAs, tbh. Ofc to a degree it's program specific (some already lean toward students with MAs, though not the ones I applied to, and maybe those will become even more MA-centric). What will get you into the PhD is an excellent sample and good recs, and an MA is only one way of many you can get there (I did a one-year masters, took a year out and worked after, and applied only with undergraduate materials that I revised while working in November 2019 before submitting in December. Obvs the fact of the masters on my transcript may have been a factor in my admissions, but purely in terms of materials I think it was revising my written work + having a year out to be a semi-normal adult that made the most difference.) Personally I wouldn't take on 70k of debt to do an MA thinking it will be mandatory/even more advisable than normal to get you into the PhD because COVID. Not least of all because even setting aside the question of how this crisis will affect funding/# of spots, there are almost no TT jobs at the end of the PhD (and will be even fewer in future), so you'll still have all of that debt following you while you're on the market, even best case scenario. The question of whether to risk taking on debt would be slightly different if there was actually a somewhat viable or semi-stable market at the end of all of it, but ... there just isn't, unfortunately

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6 hours ago, grace2137 said:

I still lean that direction - taking out an additional $33-70k in debt sounds INSANE.

+1

Never incur debt with this job market.

25 years ago, it would have been fine. There were jobs at the end of the tunnel.

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On 4/3/2020 at 9:40 PM, TheorySchmeory said:

I learned a couple of days ago that I've been rejected off of the waitlist at UVa for PhD admission. I have, however, been granted admission to their MA program (as is the case for anyone waitlisted for their PhD), and this is my only offer for this cycle. I'm tempted to write off the MA program completely for financial reasons and take another shot at PhD admissions for next year, but I'm worried I'll regret not taking the MA offer if I have similarly dreary results on the next go-around.

Is anyone in/has anyone been in a similar situation? I know UVa is a top program, and if I took the offer I would be well-positioned for PhD admission afterward (their MA students seem to have very good placement records). But ultimately I'm not sure the debt would be worth it, especially given the state of the economy that I'm graduating into. I'm also not sure what people who are not admitted to PhD programs do in between application cycles to try to improve their profiles. I know a lot of it comes down to chance and which faculty are looking for which kinds of advisees, but I'm worried my applications for the next time around wouldn't look all too different, and given that I've been nearly shut out, that would not be a good move. If anyone has any words of advice, I would be very glad to hear them!

I’m BA only, in at 3 programs, waitlisted at 2 (one of which is UVA though I removed myself from the list immediately) all in “top 10.” I went to a school that is not well known. Best advice that I have received while applying was to *bust your ass* perfecting materials, fleshing out who you are as a candidate, and mastering the specifics of your fit at every single program you apply to in your PoS. Unless you feel your work will get significantly better/recommendations stronger in an MA, and if you can swallow the price/time, don’t do  it. 

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3 hours ago, Shakespeares Sister said:

+1

Never incur debt with this job market.

25 years ago, it would have been fine. There were jobs at the end of the tunnel.

 

8 hours ago, meghan_sparkle said:

For what it's worth I doubt this—there may well be fewer spots but I don't think that means MAs will be functionally mandatory. There are a good number of BA only applicants in all of my admitted cohorts, and to me they're indistinguishable from the ones with MAs, tbh. Ofc to a degree it's program specific (some already lean toward students with MAs, though not the ones I applied to, and maybe those will become even more MA-centric). What will get you into the PhD is an excellent sample and good recs, and an MA is only one way of many you can get there (I did a one-year masters, took a year out and worked after, and applied only with undergraduate materials that I revised while working in November 2019 before submitting in December. Obvs the fact of the masters on my transcript may have been a factor in my admissions, but purely in terms of materials I think it was revising my written work + having a year out to be a semi-normal adult that made the most difference.) Personally I wouldn't take on 70k of debt to do an MA thinking it will be mandatory/even more advisable than normal to get you into the PhD because COVID. Not least of all because even setting aside the question of how this crisis will affect funding/# of spots, there are almost no TT jobs at the end of the PhD (and will be even fewer in future), so you'll still have all of that debt following you while you're on the market, even best case scenario. The question of whether to risk taking on debt would be slightly different if there was actually a somewhat viable or semi-stable market at the end of all of it, but ... there just isn't, unfortunately

Thank you thank you for reaffirming this! The thought that an MA would become necessary was perhaps more of an anxious thought than anything else (life is hard y'all) -- but thank you for validating my initial instinct that acquiring a bunch of debt for this right now is absolutely NOT the move. I know MAs are very helpful for some folks, but I know my biggest issue this cycle was simply not having enough time to meticulously tighten and polish my materials like I wanted to, and I can definitely find that time without an MA.

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I finally found that waitlist thread! Was waitlisted at 7 schools, accepted off the waitlist at UNC and took myself off a few others. I'm still waiting to hear from 4 programs about movement and the uncertainty is really starting to get at me. 

Happy to see other UNC admits here :)

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Friends, I'd like to float a query:

I'm #1 on the waitlist at my dream program. DGS and faculty have been very supportive and even up until two weeks ago, our most recent contact seems to affirm that they have (or had) every intention of admitting me given a typical year's amount of folks they get off the waitlist. Now after checking GradCafe, I'm losing hope. I'm seeing more and more posts about folks on waitlists being told that they're not going to take anyone off waitlists this year due to Corona-related budget concerns. I haven't heard this yet from the dream program, however, I'm worried it's a possibility. I know I'll know in the next couple of days regardless but...I'm stuck. All things given, if I don't make it off that list, do you think it would be worth re-applying vs. accepting a different offer elsewhere? Part of me feels like I'd be a fool not to take the offer I have. It's a great offer but there are a lot of reasons not to take it, too.  I also recognize that when we look at the fall out of this pandemic, application cycles could very well get worse before they get better. At the same time, I also know that I learned a lot from this application cycle, and if I were to have another year, I'd probably apply to an almost completely different set of schools. 

So, I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. Thoughts?  

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5 hours ago, hamnet in tights said:

Friends, I'd like to float a query:

I'm #1 on the waitlist at my dream program. DGS and faculty have been very supportive and even up until two weeks ago, our most recent contact seems to affirm that they have (or had) every intention of admitting me given a typical year's amount of folks they get off the waitlist. Now after checking GradCafe, I'm losing hope. I'm seeing more and more posts about folks on waitlists being told that they're not going to take anyone off waitlists this year due to Corona-related budget concerns. I haven't heard this yet from the dream program, however, I'm worried it's a possibility. I know I'll know in the next couple of days regardless but...I'm stuck. All things given, if I don't make it off that list, do you think it would be worth re-applying vs. accepting a different offer elsewhere? Part of me feels like I'd be a fool not to take the offer I have. It's a great offer but there are a lot of reasons not to take it, too.  I also recognize that when we look at the fall out of this pandemic, application cycles could very well get worse before they get better. At the same time, I also know that I learned a lot from this application cycle, and if I were to have another year, I'd probably apply to an almost completely different set of schools. 

So, I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place. Thoughts?  

My first cycle I was rejected by NYU but accepted to the MA with some additional funding to the norm. The second cycle I was rejected outright. Is it possible I was rejected outright this time because they remembered from last time so didn’t bother offering me the MA? Maybe. But is it also possible that for whatever reason they found me to be a relatively less compelling candidate than the previous year? Also maybe.

This, aside with the cases of people who rejected offers and wound up coming up empty the next year that surface every once in a while suggests that you just can’t assume that if you placed high one year you will have the same or better luck the next. What if they offer your spot to someone else in your field and they don’t need someone else the following cycle? What if that year is more competitive? 

If you went to the trouble of applying then you thought the place you got accepted to would be a fine choice. It is still a fine choice, even there’s something that looks even better. Unless you have seen some significant red flags about your prospective school, are independently wealthy, or have other career options you don’t mind pursuing for a year (or more), I’d say take the offer.

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Just posting to say that I removed myself from CU's waitlist yesterday. I had been informed that I was first on the waitlist, so I hope this helps someone else out! Best wishes to everyone still waiting to hear back. This season was a rough one.

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17 hours ago, WildeThing said:

My first cycle I was rejected by NYU but accepted to the MA with some additional funding to the norm. The second cycle I was rejected outright. Is it possible I was rejected outright this time because they remembered from last time so didn’t bother offering me the MA? Maybe. But is it also possible that for whatever reason they found me to be a relatively less compelling candidate than the previous year? Also maybe.

This, aside with the cases of people who rejected offers and wound up coming up empty the next year that surface every once in a while suggests that you just can’t assume that if you placed high one year you will have the same or better luck the next. What if they offer your spot to someone else in your field and they don’t need someone else the following cycle? What if that year is more competitive? 

If you went to the trouble of applying then you thought the place you got accepted to would be a fine choice. It is still a fine choice, even there’s something that looks even better. Unless you have seen some significant red flags about your prospective school, are independently wealthy, or have other career options you don’t mind pursuing for a year (or more), I’d say take the offer.

 

17 hours ago, killerbunny said:

 I agree with @Wildthing. Based on what I've been hearing, word to the wise is take a viable offer now and be glad you have it. 

So I've been thinking about this more and in my own case, I'm still undecided. But I also want to share some further ideas for anyone else who might be in a similar situation.

Last night I was really leaning towards accepting that offer given comments and posts here, as well as other places around the internet. And then I remembered certain details I didn't share here including the cost of living, location, other personal factors and more, and now I'm again not so certain -- not just because of the other programs I'm on waitlists for right now, but because of things I've learned about the programs I'm admitted to as a whole since applying, and other programs I did not apply for at this time, too, that I've since learned might be a better fit. As for that Reddit thread, as much as I appreciate it dearly, I question if that paradigm applies to my specific sub-field within Rhetoric/Composition. We'll no doubt be effected by all of this, too, but our outlook is a bit different than other Humanities (for better and for worse). Thinking back to offers this cycle, it's also important to remember this is a decision about where to live for the next five years, how much support you'll have (or won't) when it comes to publishing and job searching, what healthcare you'll have (or won't), and proximity (or lack of) to certain types of specialists and doctors, and more. With all of this in mind, I firmly disagree that applicants this cycle (or any) should just take any viable offer. In my own case, I'm also disabled, so I'm also weighing up options in cities and on campuses related to accessibility-related concerns and hospital proximity that other applicants might not have to, but are for me a huge difference. All things given with my own very personal set of "things," it may well be the case that I end up waiting several years reapplying to schools I know I can get around. But like, that's me, and my hyper-specific thing that does not impact a lot of people on this form. I'm not saying that's for everyone. So I'm now in a position where I may well end up applying another cycle to a very different set of schools, but not specifically because the offer I have is "a bad offer,"  but for very me-specific things, like how long of a drive it is to the hospital I need to go to every two weeks, how the insurance costs will translate for my prescriptions, choices of buildings I can live in with ease, etc. 

But, my thought is, if you don't have something like a disability to consider, and you're considering two otherwise like programs, and you're admitted at one with a slightly lower ranking but waitlisted at the other? Then, yes, a lot of the time, it probably is a good idea to take the offer -- if the offer is right for you.     

   

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19 hours ago, killerbunny said:

 I agree with @Wildthing. Based on what I've been hearing, word to the wise is take a viable offer now and be glad you have it. 

Well, that was a hell of a read.

If he's right, I feel absolutely sick for the 2021 applicants, on top of lots of general dread about the incoming recession/depression, given that 2008 was what really screwed the humanities up in a lot of ways... 

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52 minutes ago, merry night wanderer said:

Well, that was a hell of a read.

If he's right, I feel absolutely sick for the 2021 applicants, on top of lots of general dread about the incoming recession/depression, given that 2008 was what really screwed the humanities up in a lot of ways... 

I've been teaching and on department committees for awhile, and the connection between university endowments and the stock market has been on my mind. I've been doing some reading here, and in a few other places. Here's my thoughts: I don't know what the specific situation at that OP's institution is, or how financially vulnerable their department is outside of a pandemic (and some are certainly more vulnerable than others). I also don't know how long COVID will last or how long it will take the stock market to bounce back. We're all catastrophizing right now, which makes sense given the state of the world, but that does leave the possibility that all of this may be less bad than we're preparing for. That's personally what I'm crossing my fingers for. However, even worst-case scenario, I think there's some reason to hope for us as grad students... specifically, for us as grad students. I've seen first hand at a struggling university how spending is generally cut in disasters like this. Student cohorts are usually the last on the plate, even for funded students. Why? Because even funded students still spend money at their universities. They might live in the community, perhaps even on campus, with a meal plan or otherwise buying campus food, paying fees, buying books, teaching, and performing other forms of (unfortunately) cheap labor. Part time lecturers, for example, both cost more, and put less money back into the institution's ecosystem, so they're often cut first, along with university staff, etc, long before student roles get sliced. In fact, it's beneficial for programs to continue to offer spaces in their programs, as the relationship of how funding is allocated to departments is in many ways cyclical, allotted by their enrollment. So, even while there may be some minor cuts, I don't think that's going to translate across the board as there being no spots at all in 2021. Cohorts may on average be a bit smaller, but I think that what that's going to shake out to is a lot less admissions at already-struggling schools, and cohorts of about the same size at schools with wealthy donation bases with highly diversified, massive endowment portfolios. That's just my guess, and that's also kind of what tends to happen in recessions. We don't see a lot of the old, prestige-y schools on the East and West coasts turning away more students than usual, but we see the smaller, regional schools taking a real punch to the gut. The real shitshow for us will be around 2026, when we're trying to get jobs.

I hope this is helpful information for some of you folks. I notice a lot of Literature students, in particular, seem to apply almost exclusively to Top 20 schools. With this in mind, you may not feel much of a change. Another thing to always remember is that university admissions are ALWAYS a shitshow. Seldom does it ever come down to who is the most qualified, it comes down to things like "who had the most research experience in undergrad?" (when many undergrads flat out do not have research experiences offered at their universities), or things like "X Applicant is great, but they would work with Y Professor, who is presently on 11 committees and cannot oversee another one for a few years, so we're going to go to the next name on our list,". So even if you do feel shut out, or feel more shut out from one year to another, the reasons might be entirely separate from COVID or the budget.   

 

 

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4 hours ago, hamnet in tights said:

 

So I've been thinking about this more and in my own case, I'm still undecided. But I also want to share some further ideas for anyone else who might be in a similar situation.

Last night I was really leaning towards accepting that offer given comments and posts here, as well as other places around the internet. And then I remembered certain details I didn't share here including the cost of living, location, other personal factors and more, and now I'm again not so certain -- not just because of the other programs I'm on waitlists for right now, but because of things I've learned about the programs I'm admitted to as a whole since applying, and other programs I did not apply for at this time, too, that I've since learned might be a better fit. As for that Reddit thread, as much as I appreciate it dearly, I question if that paradigm applies to my specific sub-field within Rhetoric/Composition. We'll no doubt be effected by all of this, too, but our outlook is a bit different than other Humanities (for better and for worse). Thinking back to offers this cycle, it's also important to remember this is a decision about where to live for the next five years, how much support you'll have (or won't) when it comes to publishing and job searching, what healthcare you'll have (or won't), and proximity (or lack of) to certain types of specialists and doctors, and more. With all of this in mind, I firmly disagree that applicants this cycle (or any) should just take any viable offer. In my own case, I'm also disabled, so I'm also weighing up options in cities and on campuses related to accessibility-related concerns and hospital proximity that other applicants might not have to, but are for me a huge difference. All things given with my own very personal set of "things," it may well be the case that I end up waiting several years reapplying to schools I know I can get around. But like, that's me, and my hyper-specific thing that does not impact a lot of people on this form. I'm not saying that's for everyone. So I'm now in a position where I may well end up applying another cycle to a very different set of schools, but not specifically because the offer I have is "a bad offer,"  but for very me-specific things, like how long of a drive it is to the hospital I need to go to every two weeks, how the insurance costs will translate for my prescriptions, choices of buildings I can live in with ease, etc. 

But, my thought is, if you don't have something like a disability to consider, and you're considering two otherwise like programs, and you're admitted at one with a slightly lower ranking but waitlisted at the other? Then, yes, a lot of the time, it probably is a good idea to take the offer -- if the offer is right for you.     

   

I take viable to mean what works for you in your situation and comprehends all of the factors that go into choosing to enter a graduate program or not. You have to decide based on your own situation whether this offer is right for you, and no, you shouldn't disregard critical contributors to the quality of your life just to be in a program. I think in the case of this Reddit post, the professor is saying if you have a funded offer that remains a good fit in terms of both your academic interests and your individual situation, then go for it; don't bet on the next cycle just to get into a higher ranked school, because whatever happens with COVID, this process, which is already plagued by austere humanities budgets and other unknowns, will be more fraught. 

I hope you get off the waitlist for your #1 choice. Please report back if you do and let us all rejoice in some good news.

(Note the edit in the Reddit post: OP's default advice is don't get a humanities PhD at all, which I hear a lot but still, yikes. My momma did raise a fool after all.)

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3 hours ago, merry night wanderer said:

Well, that was a hell of a read.

If he's right, I feel absolutely sick for the 2021 applicants, on top of lots of general dread about the incoming recession/depression, given that 2008 was what really screwed the humanities up in a lot of ways... 

Yes, it's a major bummer. I feel like a killjoy sharing it here but I personally appreciated this insight from a Humanities DGS. The OP of the Reddit post is in philosophy; I'm guessing English might have somewhat better prospects of weathering this storm, but who knows at this point. I have a few friends who are banking on the 2021 cycle and I just told them to make sure to start now on being the most competitive applicants they can be. 

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22 minutes ago, killerbunny said:

I take viable to mean what works for you in your situation and comprehends all of the factors that go into choosing to enter a graduate program or not. You have to decide based on your own situation whether this offer is right for you, and no, you shouldn't disregard critical contributors to the quality of your life just to be in a program. I think in the case of this Reddit post, the professor is saying if you have a funded offer that remains a good fit in terms of both your academic interests and your individual situation, then go for it; don't bet on the next cycle just to get into a higher ranked school, because whatever happens with COVID, this process, which is already plagued by austere humanities budgets and other unknowns, will be more fraught. 

I hope you get off the waitlist for your #1 choice. Please report back if you do and let us all rejoice in some good news.

(Note the edit in the Reddit post: OP's default advice is don't get a humanities PhD at all, which I hear a lot but still, yikes. My momma did raise a fool after all.)

Oh absolutely -- the only reason I went into further detail was because, well, honestly, I could take that offer. Like... I could -survive- (probably). The list of deal-breakers is small and negotiable, negotiable enough that I applied there being aware of some of them. And my thought was in reading the initial Reddit thread was that I wouldn't want anyone in a similar situation to mine to feel somehow pressured to make a choice that wasn't perfect for them and risk potentially having to leave a program and start over elsewhere later on. I think it's pretty much universally agreed that starting over midway through a PhD is worse than delaying one a few years.  

 

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29 minutes ago, onerepublic96 said:

Is anyone currently on the Michigan waitlist? I'm losing my mind over here, someone pleasure reassure me that I'm not alone 😩

Which one? They’ve got 3 programs. 

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On 3/27/2020 at 12:16 AM, caffeinated applicant said:

Yeah, I've sent two people at UT Austin a combined three emails and nobody has ever gotten back to me... #solidarity

I don't have an acceptance currently, so no reason for me to really need an answer before April 15. If you haven't told them you're sitting on an acceptance, might be good to throw that out there in case it helps them understand the urgency. 

Are you also waiting for waitlist movement from UT Austin? SAME FOR ME!! I contacted them twice but no repply... Don't what to do...

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So my thought is because we're in the middle of a major holiday celebration for a minimum of two very large religions, we won't see as much movement until Monday. I'm actually kind of sickeningly crossing my fingers that we don't in case it's bad news... I don't normally really appreciate Passover as much as I should, but this year, with everything? I'm kind of digging the vibes, lol. And Happy Easter to those of you who do that. And Happy Holidays to anyone else I've missed.   

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On 4/5/2020 at 2:18 PM, hamnet in tights said:

All things given, if I don't make it off that list, do you think it would be worth re-applying vs. accepting a different offer elsewhere? Part of me feels like I'd be a fool not to take the offer I have. It's a great offer but there are a lot of reasons not to take it, too.  I also recognize that when we look at the fall out of this pandemic, application cycles could very well get worse before they get better. At the same time, I also know that I learned a lot from this application cycle, and if I were to have another year, I'd probably apply to an almost completely different set of schools. 

I would accept the offer and not wait for the next cycle, which may be the worst cycle in the history of English PhDs. We live in a time of great economic uncertainty, nonexistent job opportunities, and professors who will never retire. Programs are already limiting their incoming cohorts, meaning less spots, meaning less of a chance to get in. Next cycle could be much worse than this one.

Or that huge unemployment could mean that lots of students go to school and so some applicants adjunct in college instead of applying, which is what didn't happen this cycle because unemployment was so low. The low unemployment caused a huge spike in applicants this cycle because many adjuncts/non-TT didn't have jobs and decided for a PhD.

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