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3 minutes ago, missmarianne said:

Another note that I forgot to add: when I asked why I shouldn’t contact POIs, she said that it could give the impression that you’re not entirely sure what they do and that you’re asking them if you’d be a good fit. This makes sense; most POIs interactions are “I do this. Would you be able to work with me if I was admitted?” 
 

She said that if you feel the need to ask, the fit is likely not there.

While that is true, it can’t harm either way. As it often happens, they may not be available to work with you, or may not be taking on new students. Just ask if they are willing to advise you.

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3 minutes ago, missmarianne said:

That's very true and this is helping me realize something. My field is sort of transitioning because a lot of drama critics from a certain era--basically all the people that taught me--are retiring and departments are hiring new performance-focused scholars. I'm thinking I need to try to publish some performance-oriented work this year so I have something to talk about with those scholars instead of just hoping the drama-oriented people remain at their universities for another five years to work with me. 

Is there anyway that you can put the “old” and the “new” in conversation with one another in your writing sample? Remember, most of our work is us building from what others have already done. One of my professors said it best: a graduate-level literature paper is basically saying, “Well, everyone has already done this, but I’m doing THIS instead.” 
 

Given this, all of the “new” people have probably been inspired by and have read the people you’re referring to. They’ve probably cited those people in their essays, went to conferences that those people have spoken at, and maybe even had conversations with them. So, you’re referring to such scholarship is, truthfully, probably not a reason to fear. Instead of worrying about that, I would work on perfecting the writing sample and getting input on it from those writing your LOR.

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3 minutes ago, LtotheOG said:

While that is true, it can’t harm either way. As it often happens, they may not be available to work with you, or may not be taking on new students. Just ask if they are willing to advise you.

This was my concern, too, especially with the people planning on retiring. I think it might be a mix in my case. Like, if I've heard that someone is retiring, I can ask grad students or people that know that person, etc.

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2 hours ago, Shake829 said:

Also, in response to your last point, I think most schools who have less funding find out after the applications are in. Quite a few applications were suspended after the deadline, for example. Frustrating? Yes. But I honestly believe that departments do not find out until after the deadline. I’m sure that most programs want to be as transparent as possible, but things are murky with the pandemic. Plus, I could be wrong, so let’s hope for an anomaly year that deviates from their usual timeline!

My understanding is that most, if not all, universities budget for several years at a time, so any budget related issues being taken into account are going to stretch out for a few more years, unfortunately, and any budget related issues that they predicted with the pandemic taking place is considered more as a long-term concern, rather than a sudden unexpected catastrophe. In other words, it's highly unlikely that departments found out there would be less funding after the deadline, especially when the fiscal year at most institutions run from July 1 - June 30. 

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4 minutes ago, LtotheOG said:

While that is true, it can’t harm either way. As it often happens, they may not be available to work with you, or may not be taking on new students. Just ask if they are willing to advise you.

This is true. I was mostly referring to those who straight up ask whether or not their research interests align with the POI. If you’re confident that they do, I see no harm in asking if new students are being considered.

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3 hours ago, Shake829 said:

There is a chance that just very few acceptances were made. Rutgers is under a hiring freeze due to the pandemic, so I’d imagine they wouldn’t want to dedicate a lot of money into letting the department take a large cohort. 

some hopefully helpful info: the department is still aiming for their usual cohort size (12), but out of an abundance of caution to avoid over-admitting, they are only admitting 12 applicants. So technically there are fewer acceptances, but the cohort size is unchanged.

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10 minutes ago, vl95 said:

some hopefully helpful info: the department is still aiming for their usual cohort size (12), but out of an abundance of caution to avoid over-admitting, they are only admitting 12 applicants. So technically there are fewer acceptances, but the cohort size is unchanged.

Did you reach out to the department for this info?

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1 hour ago, missmarianne said:

1. Was I supposed to be carrying on an ongoing email exchange with these professors beyond the introductory/inquiry email and the thank you-for-replying-email? I assumed that I would be disrupting their work if I did that...

2. Did y'all* have other professors reach out to them first to make an introduction? Is that a thing that happens?

3. Did y'all know the people you were going to work with before you emailed them and, if so, how did you meet them?

chiming in! i only emailed people if i had an actual question (this cycle for the most part i asked if they knew if they were planning to admit ppl since some schools decided really late). it was helpful in one case bc a POI revealed they were planning to leave that uni and i decided not to apply.

1. i agree with your assumption/what others have said! some of the POIs i contacted offered to chat via zoom so i had some 20-min convos but nothing beyond that

2. i didn't do this but i'm aware it's a thing; if i was aware of a connection i threw it in at the beginning

3. technically yes because i applied to work with my current MA supervisor

also, there was zero correlation between my results and which schools i contacted, so i'm skeptical about how much it actually helps. who you mention in your SoP and how you articulate fit there deffo seems more relevant!

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21 minutes ago, Shake829 said:

Is there anyway that you can put the “old” and the “new” in conversation with one another in your writing sample? Remember, most of our work is us building from what others have already done. One of my professors said it best: a graduate-level literature paper is basically saying, “Well, everyone has already done this, but I’m doing THIS instead.” 
 

Given this, all of the “new” people have probably been inspired by and have read the people you’re referring to. They’ve probably cited those people in their essays, went to conferences that those people have spoken at, and maybe even had conversations with them. So, you’re referring to such scholarship is, truthfully, probably not a reason to fear. Instead of worrying about that, I would work on perfecting the writing sample and getting input on it from those writing your LOR.

Yeah, that's a good point about building on what others have done. In retrospect, it's possible that my drama-focused work suggested that I was not up to date on current performance-oriented scholarship. I didn't cite any performance-oriented critics though I emphasized in all of my SOPs that I was applying to work in certain programs because they had performance resources/coursework and I wanted to expand on my drama-oriented work.

I plan on spending the first part of the year creating a perfect writing sample. Last year, I was reluctant to work on it because I thought the pandemic might be impacting admissions so I had one of those editing processes where everything sounded pretty good when I sent it off but I didn't take ten days away from it and come back to it with new eyes which is generally an important part of my writing process. I think I felt pretty okay about what I sent because it was mostly coming from my already-reviewed/approved MA thesis. Who knows, though.

Edited by missmarianne
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12 minutes ago, missmarianne said:

I think I felt pretty okay about what I sent because it was mostly coming from my already-reviewed/approved MA thesis. Who knows, though.

I sent in something similar that I also published in a peer-reviewed journal as a way of guaranteeing its presentability. One of my PoIs commented that the WS might have been too much of a “stretch” and could have posed a potential problem for the file.

Edited by LtotheOG
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4 minutes ago, harleth said:

chiming in! i only emailed people if i had an actual question (this cycle for the most part i asked if they knew if they were planning to admit ppl since some schools decided really late). it was helpful in one case bc a POI revealed they were planning to leave that uni and i decided not to apply.

1. i agree with your assumption/what others have said! some of the POIs i contacted offered to chat via zoom so i had some 20-min convos but nothing beyond that

2. i didn't do this but i'm aware it's a thing; if i was aware of a connection i threw it in at the beginning

3. technically yes because i applied to work with my current MA supervisor

also, there was zero correlation between my results and which schools i contacted, so i'm skeptical about how much it actually helps. who you mention in your SoP and how you articulate fit there deffo seems more relevant!

1. Ahhh! This is my fear--someone leaving a school. The people who were open to zoom chats...when did you contact them? I might try contacting them earlier next time. Definitely hit everyone up in November, last time, which is final papers time, so.

2. I'm honestly feeling better knowing most of you didn't have this happen. My advisor had mentioned, in passing, Skip Gates contacting someone at whatever university to give them a recommendation and I was just like, "Cool. Cool, cool, cool, cool. 🤡"

3. Good to know. 

GOING TO CRUSH MY SOP THIS YEAR.

 

 

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Advice wanted: I’m one of the few who has yet to hear back from CUNY. I emailed the department to inquire about when decisions would come, but I haven’t yet received a reply. Is it pushy to follow up on that email or call on Monday? Should I just wait it out?

I’m wanting to start considering my options early, and I won’t be able to fully do this without the CUNY confirmation.

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2 minutes ago, Shake829 said:

Advice wanted: I’m one of the few who has yet to hear back from CUNY. I emailed the department to inquire about when decisions would come, but I haven’t yet received a reply. Is it pushy to follow up on that email or call on Monday? Should I just wait it out?

I’m wanting to start considering my options early, and I won’t be able to fully do this without the CUNY confirmation.

I’d probably wait it out a bit longer, given the slow roll this year.

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2 minutes ago, LtotheOG said:

I sent in something similar that I also published in a peer-reviewed journal as a way of guaranteeing its presentability. One of my PoIs commented that the WS might have been too much of a “stretch” and could have posed a potential problem for the file.

Yikes! My advisor recommended I send a published writing sample because a professor, two outside readers from the press, and two editors had approved it for publication, but the takeaway here seems to be that someone on an admissions committee could still disagree with all five critics and hate it.

🤡 Cool, cool, cool, cool. 🤡

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3 minutes ago, missmarianne said:

Yikes! My advisor recommended I send a published writing sample because a professor, two outside readers from the press, and two editors had approved it for publication, but the takeaway here seems to be that someone on an admissions committee could still disagree with all five critics and hate it.

🤡 Cool, cool, cool, cool. 🤡

As much as I hate to say it, they could. Can I ask if it plays well with/complements your SoP?

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2 minutes ago, missmarianne said:

Yikes! My advisor recommended I send a published writing sample because a professor, two outside readers from the press, and two editors had approved it for publication, but the takeaway here seems to be that someone on an admissions committee could still disagree with all five critics and hate it.

🤡 Cool, cool, cool, cool. 🤡

To clarify, this PoI wasn’t on the committee though. She did however go through my file. The judgement is her own.

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Just now, LtotheOG said:

As much as I hate to say it, I guess it could be. Can I ask if it plays well with/complements your SoP?

The first time I applied, I used a published piece that I felt went well with my SOP.

As to this year? Ehhhh. Not precisely. I chose to use an unpublished version of chapter two from my thesis because the fine people at the journal I sent the first chapter to were all, "Oh honey, no." Haha, there were some major structural issues that I was still working out--and that I'm still working out as we speak--in my revisions for that journal. Chapter two was related to my subject--which was sexual violence in recent re-stagings of some plays--though it could have been a little too general. 

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4 minutes ago, missmarianne said:

The first time I applied, I used a published piece that I felt went well with my SOP.

As to this year? Ehhhh. Not precisely. I chose to use an unpublished version of chapter two from my thesis because the fine people at the journal I sent the first chapter to were all, "Oh honey, no." Haha, there were some major structural issues that I was still working out--and that I'm still working out as we speak--in my revisions for that journal. Chapter two was related to my subject--which was sexual violence in recent re-stagings of some plays--though it could have been a little too general. 

Believe it or not, the best advice that I got for my writing sample was from an editor who rejected my paper. He went through it on Word with track changes and sent back his advice: Great, but not researched enough. He then proceeded to send an entire list of sources that I should browse through to help with that. 

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3 minutes ago, Shake829 said:

Believe it or not, the best advice that I got for my writing sample was from an editor who rejected my paper. He went through it on Word with track changes and sent back his advice: Great, but not researched enough. He then proceeded to send an entire list of sources that I should browse through to help with that. 

This is so true. It has always been super beneficial for me to get outside feedback, especially from people who are reading it for the first time. Even after my committee had approved chapter one, I still had some misgivings about structure in the back of my mind. I still sent it into a journal, though, knowing that the peer review would probably be helpful regardless and they sent me back the same back-of-my-mind criticism, only it was beautifully articulated by someone who hadn't written and re-written the project a million times. 

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I was rejected from UCLA. Yipeeeeeeeeeeeeee! 😂😅

If anyone's wondering, I logged on to my application portal and saw the official decision letter waiting for me there. I didn't receive any email notification prior. 

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34 minutes ago, missmarianne said:

1. Ahhh! This is my fear--someone leaving a school. The people who were open to zoom chats...when did you contact them? I might try contacting them earlier next time. Definitely hit everyone up in November, last time, which is final papers time, so.

same, there's a few profs who MUST be on the verge of retirement that i wanted to work with but i don't think there's any polite way of asking 'are you planning to retire soon', lol. 

i mostly contacted them in late september iirc, ahead of the end of semester rush. but i ended up getting rejected from all those schools anyway and admitted to a dept where i hadn't even emailed anyone, so ymmv! not sure what i got out of the chats other than a temporary rush of validation. 🤡  indeed.

and yess, good luck with future SoPs!

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4 hours ago, missmarianne said:

Okay. Actual (ignorant) question for next year when I inevitably have to do this again. Most people do their MA's and PhDs at my school and don't venture elsewhere so I feel like I'm not understanding major components of this process. I'd definitely private message one of you, but I'm keeping this here in case some other confused person needs this information as well later on. 

What are POI email exchanges supposed to look like? The past two years, I've just introduced myself/my work, praised the POIs work (sincerely), and asked about potentially working with me if I were accepted to X university. Ordinarily, the professor emails me back and says "Your work sounds interesting. I'd be happy to work with you if you're accepted" or, if the person knows one of my LORs, they might comment on that as well. That has really been the extent of the exchange for me, though--with Rutgers--I never got a reply back. I had heard, through one of my editors and a grad student I reached out to, that that particular professor was considering retiring soon, so I was not confident about that application going in and I didn't feel comfortable emailing that person a second time. Now I have a few questions.

1. Was I supposed to be carrying on an ongoing email exchange with these professors beyond the introductory/inquiry email and the thank you-for-replying-email? I assumed that I would be disrupting their work if I did that...

2. Did y'all* have other professors reach out to them first to make an introduction? Is that a thing that happens?

3. Did y'all know the people you were going to work with before you emailed them and, if so, how did you meet them?

 

*using y'all because it's gender neutral and I'm from the South. 🤠

As someone who's on the other side of the cycle (phd candidate in a lit studies program), I really don't think reaching out to POIs has any bearing on admission. I contacted zero professors in my admissions cycle and was admitted to several PhD programs. I've also had conversations with faculty about the admissions process and they literally have never mentioned a prospective student reaching out to them as a factor in admissions. It really just boils down to the writing sample, LORs, and the SOP. I suppose if a POI could provide feedback on an SOP or writing sample that would be helpful but I doubt most, if any, have the time to do that. 

Fit, of course, is important to convey in the SOP but honestly you can find out way more about fit from reading a professor's recent work than from a short email exchange (especially when profs are already so overwhelmed with email from current students!). 

There is sometimes the scenario where a professor you might want to work with is on medical leave or sabbatical or close to retiring and some people encourage reaching out to get more information about those situations. But I also feel that's not necessary because if there is just ONE person you want to work with in a dept, it probably is not a great fit honestly. In hindsight, the programs I was admitted to were ones where there were several faculty whose work aligned with mine. IMO, it's really important to make sure there is more than one faculty whose work aligns with yours; I've seen people who come to work with one star faculty and then find out they're never around or their advising styles don't vibe. 

Hope this is helpful — please feel free to message if you want to chat more about this or the admissions process! It is a certainly a frustrating and mystifying process but I really do think time is better spent working on admissions documents rather than reaching out to professors. 

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9 minutes ago, helloperil said:

As someone who's on the other side of the cycle (phd candidate in a lit studies program), I really don't think reaching out to POIs has any bearing on admission. I contacted zero professors in my admissions cycle and was admitted to several PhD programs. I've also had conversations with faculty about the admissions process and they literally have never mentioned a prospective student reaching out to them as a factor in admissions. It really just boils down to the writing sample, LORs, and the SOP. I suppose if a POI could provide feedback on an SOP or writing sample that would be helpful but I doubt most, if any, have the time to do that. 

Fit, of course, is important to convey in the SOP but honestly you can find out way more about fit from reading a professor's recent work than from a short email exchange (especially when profs are already so overwhelmed with email from current students!). 

There is sometimes the scenario where a professor you might want to work with is on medical leave or sabbatical or close to retiring and some people encourage reaching out to get more information about those situations. But I also feel that's not necessary because if there is just ONE person you want to work with in a dept, it probably is not a great fit honestly. In hindsight, the programs I was admitted to were ones where there were several faculty whose work aligned with mine. IMO, it's really important to make sure there is more than one faculty whose work aligns with yours; I've seen people who come to work with one star faculty and then find out they're never around or their advising styles don't vibe. 

Hope this is helpful — please feel free to message if you want to chat more about this or the admissions process! It is a certainly a frustrating and mystifying process but I really do think time is better spent working on admissions documents rather than reaching out to professors. 

Thanks very much! This is excellent advice on reading their work to get an idea of where they're at in terms of scholarship. I am in a very specific field so I really need to work on generalizing my focuses. I will almost certainly reach out to you. Thank you for your insight here!

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24 minutes ago, missmarianne said:

Thanks very much! This is excellent advice on reading their work to get an idea of where they're at in terms of scholarship. I am in a very specific field so I really need to work on generalizing my focuses. I will almost certainly reach out to you. Thank you for your insight here!

No problem! Another thing I remembered  — it can be helpful to peruse course descriptions if a program has that info on their website and many do have them available somewhere (here is Indiana's, since I see you applied there). It gives you another sense of the scholarship/research that the department is engaging in. It's also helpful to see /who/ is teaching the courses because professors who aren't around will not be teaching grad seminars and you can see what sorts of classes your POIs are interested in teaching right now. It can also give you a sense of their approaches — are they engaging a lot with more current scholarship in their course descriptions or are they more traditional. 

You can also cite specific courses you are interested in taking; I remember looking through course descriptions and saying in my SOP that I would love to take insert course here taught by so-and-so professor. It demonstrates that you've researched the program and are excited by their offerings and how they would fit into your proposed project. 

It might also help your writing sample because you can see who your POIs are in conversation with and who you might need to be reading if you want to demonstrate that you have an understanding of current scholarship in the field and are able to situate your own project in said field.

Edited by helloperil
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28 minutes ago, helloperil said:

As someone who's on the other side of the cycle (phd candidate in a lit studies program), I really don't think reaching out to POIs has any bearing on admission. I contacted zero professors in my admissions cycle and was admitted to several PhD programs. I've also had conversations with faculty about the admissions process and they literally have never mentioned a prospective student reaching out to them as a factor in admissions. It really just boils down to the writing sample, LORs, and the SOP. I suppose if a POI could provide feedback on an SOP or writing sample that would be helpful but I doubt most, if any, have the time to do that. 

Fit, of course, is important to convey in the SOP but honestly you can find out way more about fit from reading a professor's recent work than from a short email exchange (especially when profs are already so overwhelmed with email from current students!). 

There is sometimes the scenario where a professor you might want to work with is on medical leave or sabbatical or close to retiring and some people encourage reaching out to get more information about those situations. But I also feel that's not necessary because if there is just ONE person you want to work with in a dept, it probably is not a great fit honestly. In hindsight, the programs I was admitted to were ones where there were several faculty whose work aligned with mine. IMO, it's really important to make sure there is more than one faculty whose work aligns with yours; I've seen people who come to work with one star faculty and then find out they're never around or their advising styles don't vibe. 

Hope this is helpful — please feel free to message if you want to chat more about this or the admissions process! It is a certainly a frustrating and mystifying process but I really do think time is better spent working on admissions documents rather than reaching out to professors. 

Sure. But any number of people on here claim to have received acceptance letters from POI.

Perhaps in these particular instances these particular professors are, just temperamentally, quite eager to contact applicants whose friendly exchange they remember months, and hundreds of applications, later. It sounds to me, however, like a relationship had been built; how, I do not know, and if I admit that I suspect that the applicant's mentor reached out to a friendly colleague to put in a word on that student's behalf I do so without bitterness. And in any case this is the last time around for me. But just for the sake of knowing I would be interested to know what goes on, as would, I'm sure, other older or working class students who may be throwing hundreds of dollars out the window on chances they, as outsiders, just do not stand. 

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