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2021 Application Thread


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14 hours ago, bakeseal said:

Have I made a terrible mistake? Is it worth throwing another application or two out there, or should I focus on another batch of revisions to my existing SOPs and writing sample? 

Would love to hear any last minute advice/commiserations/etc, if anyone has any thoughts. 

In order, yes, submit at least one more application, and focus your efforts on your SOP and limit work on your writing sample to making adjustments for clarity.

The peril of your plan is that you are not merely competing against applicants who are dedicated to the study of history. You are also competing against applicants who are committed to the study of history. Committed applicants believe that COVID-19 does not materially impact their "chances" because they are competing against themselves; their potential, their hopes to contribute to the profession, and their doubts that they will be outstanding scholars. They know (somehow) that they're going to get into a program of their choice. 

IMO, a clear and convincing demonstration of commitment to the craft will give applicants a competitive advantage that will transcend the "stats" of an applicant who throws a hat in the ring thinking, "Well, I threw my hat in the ring but because of COVID..."

My specific recommendation to you is to focus on your SOP more than your writing sample. I urge you to do what you need to do so that your SOP reflects accurately the best version of yourself now and lays out a vision of your personal professional development. Figure out how to craft a SOP that you know is the best writing and thinking about history you can do right now.

At this point, the amount of effort it will take to improve your writing sample significantly (in terms of historical analysis) may be better spent on quality control. Make sure that your writing is clear, that your references are accurate, and that you've hunted and killed all the gremlins. Grammatical mistakes and typos can become harder to find the more you look at your own writing. Try to budget time so you can leave your writing sample untouched for a day or two and then circle back to a printed copy that you can mark up with a blue pencil.

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Hey there, I imagine that you must be very disappointed right now. My suggestions are 1. Take some deep breathes. 2. Disconnect from social media/your phone/the internet for a while. 3. Do something t

Just a reminder to everyone who is applying this year. You had a difficult first half of 2020. We, faculty, did too. Grad students did too (many lost summer stipends, many doing international res

Hey folks, I have gotten a bunch of messages since posting my one acceptance, asking about my application process, etc. and I am happy to provide any feedback and answer questions whenever I can (as l

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14 hours ago, coffeehum said:

Sorry to hear about the recent rejections. I am also finding the end of this application season to be fairly miserable. Most of the programs I'm applying to will be accepting fewer students this year, my recommenders and other mentors haven't been able to provide much feedback on my materials (understandably so), and I am finding problem after problem every time I review my SoPs. Like you, I'm also beginning to panic at the very real possibility of getting rejected from all of my programs.

I've also contemplated throwing in a few additional applications (applying for 5 programs), but I think our best shot at this point has to be focusing on in-progress applications. I have found throughout this cycle and other application processes that the last-minute adrenaline is best channeled into honing what I *really* mean and achieving as much clarity in structure/word choice as is possible.

Just my 2 cents, and I apologize for being a complete downer. 

 

15 hours ago, bakeseal said:

Some eleventh hour application anxieties: I ended up cutting back on the number of schools I'm applying to, largely because many schools near the top of my list (NYU, Penn, and Minnesota) aren't accepting applications this year (my interest, FWIW is in late nineteenth century US history of food and nutritional advice, esp during disease outbreaks. My recent focus is on Irish immigrant communities, but I'm not applying as an Irish historian). I felt like it wasn't worth applying to respectable but lower ranked schools I was less interested in if I felt I even had a chance at acceptance into one of those programs next year. So, right now I'm planning to submit applications for four top programs (Harvard, Yale, UC Berkeley, and JHU), figuring that I could live with rejections from those programs because they're so competitive, but have as good a shot as any dedicated student with a decent CV. I'm also applying for some long-shot funding for a masters in Irish History abroad, though I was already rejected this year from the Marshall and Mitchell so I'm trying to keep my expectations in check.

I have spent the past several months trying to stick to my plan and not get bogged down by depressing stats. Now that I'm really staring down these deadlines and looking towards next year, I am increasingly freaked out at the prospect of potential unemployment+a slate of PhD rejections. Have I made a terrible mistake? Is it worth throwing another application or two out there, or should I focus on another batch of revisions to my existing SOPs and writing sample? 

Would love to hear any last minute advice/commiserations/etc, if anyone has any thoughts. 

Don't.  Stick to your original plans. Do not throw in more applications because "COVID!" and "Dread!" What about ABDs who are finishing this year?  They are really struggling to make decisions about whether to try to extend their funding because of the overall economic crisis and disastrous job market (except for a field that is in very high demand right now). They're trying to decide whether to use COVID as an excuse to extend their time in graduate school, even if their dissertations will be largely finished by Spring 2021, or how to come to terms with the reality that they will very likely not have an academic job in Fall 2021 if they choose to graduate before then. The point is, everyone is going to be grappling with the same reality that comes with COVID and economic crisis. 

My unsolicited advice? There *is* more to life than the PhD. Don't devalue yourself. Know that you *are* worth the wait to get into programs of your dreams that aren't taking applications right now. If you don't get in this cycle, truly use the time to develop skills in administration, digital humanities (learn programming like ArcGIS or SPSS), project management, or/and community/outreach programming. Those are hard to develop during the PhD when you will be overwhelmed and busy with your own research, coursework, grant-writing, and obligations as a graduate teaching associate (which, frankly, most of the time is grading, a nearly useless skill in comparison to abovementioned to carry into non-teaching positions outside of academia). I've found myself speaking about my experiences prior to the PhD in half of the informational interviews and non-academic job applications I've been doing in the past a month or so.

My $0.02.

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5 hours ago, TMP said:

My unsolicited advice? There *is* more to life than the PhD. Don't devalue yourself. Know that you *are* worth the wait to get into programs of your dreams that aren't taking applications right now. If you don't get in this cycle, truly use the time to develop skills in administration, digital humanities (learn programming like ArcGIS or SPSS), project management, or/and community/outreach programming. Those are hard to develop during the PhD when you will be overwhelmed and busy with your own research, coursework, grant-writing, and obligations as a graduate teaching associate (which, frankly, most of the time is grading, a nearly useless skill in comparison to abovementioned to carry into non-teaching positions outside of academia). I've found myself speaking about my experiences prior to the PhD in half of the informational interviews and non-academic job applications I've been doing in the past a month or so.

My $0.02.

Not unsolicited! And very helpful. I think it is always good to remember that there are things I have control over, even if the current circumstances are less than ideal. I've been trying to speak with historians who have taken non-traditional paths after their PhDs, many have given similar advice. 

Also, it's probably not worth stressing over before I've ever submitted. My advisors wouldn't have suggested I apply to these programs if they truly thought I had no real chance, so there's always that. 

If anyone had time for a last minute read of my SOP, I would be very grateful, but It's not a big deal one way or another. 

 

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On 11/27/2020 at 11:08 PM, Sigaba said:

Be careful. Unless your German is excellent and you know the historiography like the back of your hand, using a word like "never" can be a costly mistake, all the more since it is an avoidable one.
 

Dear Sigaba,TsarandProphet, and TMP,

 

Thank you all for your insightful suggestions. Actually while I was summarizing for my post here, I used never but, of course, I never said never in my SoP :) Upon your suggestions, I have softened the parts that are related to the literature. For instance, I said:

"Unlike the general diplomatic history and political science literature on the Turco-German relations in the Interwar Era, which has generally been inclined to underestimate the German economic influence in Turkey in the 1920s and 30s due to Turkey’s eventual siding with the Allies in the political sphere in late 1939, my research has shown me that Turkey was indeed a part of this huge economic area from the mid-1930 on, which had severe repercussions for the country."

 I used the word"generally" to imply there might be previous studies that underscore more the importance of german economic and cultural influence.

Similarly, I remarked on another instance:

 

"In short, the originality of my thesis lies in the fact that it tries to construct an alternative narrative of the bilateral relations between these two countries by making use of the concept of soft power. It challenges the classical literature by underscoring the hitherto underestimated significance of German cultural and economic impact and its consequences in Turkey at the time."

 

It is also a big relief to know that at least I have the nucleus of a potent SoP, hopefully I will be developing it even more for the next years' applications. My hope of getting admitted is pretty low this year as just few phd programs are accepting students for the next year as well as the places are even more competitive than ever. 

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On 11/28/2020 at 10:33 PM, bakeseal said:

Not unsolicited! And very helpful. I think it is always good to remember that there are things I have control over, even if the current circumstances are less than ideal. I've been trying to speak with historians who have taken non-traditional paths after their PhDs, many have given similar advice. 

Also, it's probably not worth stressing over before I've ever submitted. My advisors wouldn't have suggested I apply to these programs if they truly thought I had no real chance, so there's always that. 

If anyone had time for a last minute read of my SOP, I would be very grateful, but It's not a big deal one way or another. 

 

I’m not sure if this is inappropriate to ask, but do you have a Twitter? Your work sounds really interesting! 

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Okay, one more question. I submitted apps to all of my US schools, but one of my professors has recently encouraged me to apply to UToronto, since they have several food historians, a food studies research center, along with some great North American cultural historians more broadly. Also, two of my letter writers have close connections to the department and my POI, which certainly doesn't hurt. 

My main issue: I don't have a master's degree, which the PhD program prefers, and while they say they accept some students with only a Bachelor's, I'm not sure if that's a regular occurrence. I have no intention of applying to their Masters, since they say they do not give MA funding, and I refuse to go into debt for a graduate degree in history. 

Does anyone have a sense of UToronto's admissions process? Is it worth applying without a masters? 

(also @jennalhardin I recently deactivated my twitter but you can always PM me if you have any questions about my research?) 

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49 minutes ago, bakeseal said:

I submitted apps to all of my US schools, but one of my professors has recently encouraged me to apply to UToronto, since they have several food historians, a food studies research center, along with some great North American cultural historians more broadly. Also, two of my letter writers have close connections to the department and my POI, which certainly doesn't hurt. 

If your advisor specifically recommended it, they have the faculty expertise and the resources for your interests, then why wouldn't you apply there? If you can afford the application fee, then it seems you have nothing to lose by applying. If they reject the PhD but offer the MA, you can always turn it down (which is smart; don't un-funded.) 

55 minutes ago, bakeseal said:

Does anyone have a sense of UToronto's admissions process?

I'm not really sure what admissions will be like. Connections certainly won't hurt, but they're not a guarantee. I have a genius friend who didn't get in and their advisor was an alum, but I don't really know how well the program would have been suited to their interests. I'm applying to U of T and my current advisor is well-liked by the department and they have good institutional resources for my research interests, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. 

I'd pay a lot of attention to your SOP and make sure you really emphasize why U of T would be a good fit for you and why you'd be good for U of T. Be sure to explain why you think you're ready for a PhD program instead of an MA program. Emphasize research experience and the questions you hope to pursue. Make sure your writing sample is really polished, and be sure you're ticking off all the boxes for a robust piece of history (demonstrating your grasp on the historiography, for example). 

You have about a month until the app is due. It wouldn't hurt to reach out to the POI via email and introduce yourself and see if they're interested. From that, also, you might get a good sense on whether or not Toronto is right for you.

Ultimately, I don't think you have anything to lose by applying.

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4 hours ago, telkanuru said:

It is unlikely to be worth your time applying without an MA. Also, the history dept only has 2 spots for non-Canadian students.

Yes, this is what I was worried about. Thanks for the heads up! 

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On 11/28/2020 at 12:14 AM, bakeseal said:

Some eleventh hour application anxieties: I ended up cutting back on the number of schools I'm applying to, largely because many schools near the top of my list (NYU, Penn, and Minnesota) aren't accepting applications this year (my interest, FWIW is in late nineteenth century US history of food and nutritional advice, esp during disease outbreaks. My recent focus is on Irish immigrant communities, but I'm not applying as an Irish historian).

You might consider applying to Rutgers if you haven't already.

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34 minutes ago, flowersandcoffee said:

Do you guys think people will be more or less inclined to apply to PhD programs this year? I feel like not a lot of people have been posting on here in comparison to previous years. Also, I wonder if lots of programs cancelling admissions means people will hold off and wait for next year... 

Guessing blindly...

Less inclined, fewer posts, people waiting for next season or deciding not to pursue a doctorate in history at all.

IRT fewer posts, it's my hunch that over the last several years, each application season brings more lurking and searching and less posting.

Intuitively, I think that among this season's applicants will come a handful of graduate students who will go on to achieve great things as professional academics. Maybe not Klio's answer to the USMA class of 1915, but one for the ages nonetheless.

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On 12/8/2020 at 10:06 PM, flowersandcoffee said:

Do you guys think people will be more or less inclined to apply to PhD programs this year? I feel like not a lot of people have been posting on here in comparison to previous years. Also, I wonder if lots of programs cancelling admissions means people will hold off and wait for next year... 

I think I'm certainly applying to more schools than I probably would if certain schools didn't have a moratorium on admissions. There were at least 2 top programs I definitely would have applied to that aren't accepting students due to COVID, which I think pushed me into applying to a greater number of mid-range places than I would have if I had had the opportunity to apply to the top programs. I'm applying to 12. I imagine I would have applied to about 6-8 if I had some of my top picks still around, since they were such great fits and I had great feedback from potential advisors before the pause on admissions was decided. :( 

In my MA cohort, I'm really the only one applying to PhD programs; there are two other students who ordinarily would have as well, but they both decided to wait a year. Overall I think more people are waiting, but I also think that will make some of the remaining schools more competitive for people who are responding how I am, by applying to (probably) more places than we would have ordinarily, due to fewer faves

I'm not hard-set on any school this year (my advisor tells me this is a good thing, haha) but I sort of wish I had my heart already set on a certain school for that (tormenting, but thrilling) whirlwind feeling. There's several places I know would be good fits that I'm still pretty excited to be applying to, but I'd be lying if I said covid and its disruptions/uncertainty this year didn't put a damper on the process for me.

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On 12/7/2020 at 5:27 PM, telkanuru said:

It is unlikely to be worth your time applying without an MA. Also, the history dept only has 2 spots for non-Canadian students.

not to mention an unlivable stipend. Great school and department but not viable for most people, imo.

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21 hours ago, d1389jjch said:

Does anyone know what is the exact time for each deadline? For example, does December 15th mean December 15th 11:59 pm, or December 14th 11:59 pm?
I'm sorry for this stupid question.....

I'd suggest calling the program--each one will have a different requirement and I personally would not leave it up to answers on this forum. Don't worry about the "stupid" question, I'm sure many other applicants have similar worries.

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22 hours ago, d1389jjch said:

Does anyone know what is the exact time for each deadline? For example, does December 15th mean December 15th 11:59 pm, or December 14th 11:59 pm?
I'm sorry for this stupid question.....

I'm pretty sure all of the schools I applied to had the exact time listed - not necessarily on the department's website, but always within the application portal or the general application details. 

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10 hours ago, missamericana said:

I'm pretty sure all of the schools I applied to had the exact time listed - not necessarily on the department's website, but always within the application portal or the general application details. 

I second this, and I'll add that all but one (?) school I applied to I think had a deadline of 5pm EST. So that might be a safer bet that 11:59pm. 

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I just finished my applications but reviewed a personal statement and happened upon a typo.... cest la vie

At this point, I'm working under the assumption I'm not getting in anywhere so I don't get my heart crushed too badly if I don't get into any of my 10 schools...

 

Anyway, CHEERS to all of us who have submitted apps. This is a crappy year with crappy prospects; yet we still pulled through and submitted good stuff!

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2 hours ago, cryloren said:

I just finished my applications but reviewed a personal statement and happened upon a typo.... cest la vie

Under no circumstances should you ever read any material you've already submitted. That way madness lies. 

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