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20 minutes ago, scarletwitch said:

Thanks so much, this is all really useful :)

I agree, and I will most likely apply to some smaller schools. I think the main thing will be seeing who responds to my introductory emails when I send them in June, and that will give me a good idea of which departments are interested in my project! 

I'm also hoping to get some funding for my MPhil, but I may not find out until March/April! Good luck! 

I think re the SOP, I know I need to emphasise fit with the department and POIs slightly more than I did in this round. I think over the summer I will devote quite a bit of time to preparing materials, particularly the SOP as besides that the only major piece of writing is the personal statement which is only needed for a couple of schools. 

Yes, it is definitely frustrating! I am top of my dept. at UCL but I do think being able to say I'm doing the masters in this interim year will make quite a bit of difference reapplying next year! Maybe also some POIs will notice my name in the acknowledgments section of a book one of my Professors has coming out in the fall! (I was his research assistant last summer) He's pretty well known in the US as talks regularly about US politics and elections. 

Feel free to DM me about Emory – I may be able to give some insight.

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Not doing so well this cycle and just have 4 schools left out of 11 that I originally applied to (Duke, Georgetown, UT Austin and Indiana). I'm hoping Duke and Georgetown get back to us by end of this week or beginning of next to get ever closer to closure on this cycle. And to shift more fully to thinking of how (and whether) to approach next year's applications. 

In particular, I wonder if next year will in fact net out as less competitive than this cycle - if cohort sizes will rebound (albeit not necessarily to pre-covid levels), if schools that didn't take students this year (NYU, Columbia, Brown, etc) will resume taking students, and if there was a greater surge in applicants this year than people who (perhaps wisely) decided to postpone applying to next cycle. What are other people's thoughts on these factors? And any early ear to the ground on schools that plan to increase cohort size next year? Would be great to aggregate this information upfront (insofar as it exists currently) to better assess the situation for next year as early as possible. I know I number myself among the folks on here that would probably have not applied this year if they knew a little more concretely just how dramatically cohort sizes were going to be cut before submitting applications. 

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1 hour ago, HRL said:

Not doing so well this cycle and just have 4 schools left out of 11 that I originally applied to (Duke, Georgetown, UT Austin and Indiana). I'm hoping Duke and Georgetown get back to us by end of this week or beginning of next to get ever closer to closure on this cycle. And to shift more fully to thinking of how (and whether) to approach next year's applications. 

In particular, I wonder if next year will in fact net out as less competitive than this cycle - if cohort sizes will rebound (albeit not necessarily to pre-covid levels), if schools that didn't take students this year (NYU, Columbia, Brown, etc) will resume taking students, and if there was a greater surge in applicants this year than people who (perhaps wisely) decided to postpone applying to next cycle. What are other people's thoughts on these factors? And any early ear to the ground on schools that plan to increase cohort size next year? Would be great to aggregate this information upfront (insofar as it exists currently) to better assess the situation for next year as early as possible. I know I number myself among the folks on here that would probably have not applied this year if they knew a little more concretely just how dramatically cohort sizes were going to be cut before submitting applications. 

I think next cycle will be about the same in terms of competitiveness in that there may be more people applying next year. However, I think there’s some factors which might help 2022 applicants in that cohort sizes may increase slightly (but probably won’t be back to normal), more places will be open for applications so that will spread things out, plus there’s indications that tons of people applied this year due to COVID panic and feeling like going back to graduate school is a safe option right now, especially when you can get a stipend from a PhD program. Moreover, I think applicants who have gone through this 2021 cycle (such as the both of us) will be able to put together a better set of materials for the 2022 cycle and/or proceed on to Masters level study in the interim year (as I will be doing), so likely will be in a stronger position in the 2022 cycle compared to some for whom it may be their first cycle. A POI I talked to recently said they were hoping things would be more normal next cycle. I think things won’t entirely be the same but we’ll start to see improvements in terms of the pandemic later this year which should hopefully help decision-making overall. Wishing you best of luck with the remainder of decisions this cycle and don’t be too discouraged if not as I’m sure things will work out better next cycle! 😁

Edited by scarletwitch
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1 hour ago, HRL said:

Not doing so well this cycle and just have 4 schools left out of 11 that I originally applied to (Duke, Georgetown, UT Austin and Indiana). I'm hoping Duke and Georgetown get back to us by end of this week or beginning of next to get ever closer to closure on this cycle. And to shift more fully to thinking of how (and whether) to approach next year's applications. 

In particular, I wonder if next year will in fact net out as less competitive than this cycle - if cohort sizes will rebound (albeit not necessarily to pre-covid levels), if schools that didn't take students this year (NYU, Columbia, Brown, etc) will resume taking students, and if there was a greater surge in applicants this year than people who (perhaps wisely) decided to postpone applying to next cycle. What are other people's thoughts on these factors? And any early ear to the ground on schools that plan to increase cohort size next year? Would be great to aggregate this information upfront (insofar as it exists currently) to better assess the situation for next year as early as possible. I know I number myself among the folks on here that would probably have not applied this year if they knew a little more concretely just how dramatically cohort sizes were going to be cut before submitting applications. 

I would say it's a mixed bag. I've spoken to people at a few universities this year who are hopeful that cohort sizes will rebound next year. On the other hand, I've spoken to a number of people who think that next year will remain a bottleneck year as well, and that universities may use the current cuts as justification for permanently reduced cohort sizes moving forward. And you have to consider that cohorts are going to get smaller because of market pressures as well. It's a real blemish on the reputation of top programs when they are minting too many degrees and a considerable number of their students are stuck adjuncting. So I'd say remain hopeful that next year will be better, but try to temper expectations about the long-term trends within humanities departments. 

All this is going to create some pretty intense win-lose dynamics, I think. Some people may be shut out of PhD programs moving forward partially based on this austerity logic of making cuts now for the long-term viability of the program and the field in general. For those that get in, it may then mean more resources (internal funding, external grants, etc.) but the expense is obviously a pared down group of admits, and probably outweighs the poorly distributed benefits. 

Don't want to dissuade anybody from applying or paint too grim a picture here. This is just the sense that I get from the people that I've been talking to. 

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3 hours ago, HRL said:

Not doing so well this cycle and just have 4 schools left out of 11 that I originally applied to (Duke, Georgetown, UT Austin and Indiana). I'm hoping Duke and Georgetown get back to us by end of this week or beginning of next to get ever closer to closure on this cycle. And to shift more fully to thinking of how (and whether) to approach next year's applications. 

In particular, I wonder if next year will in fact net out as less competitive than this cycle - if cohort sizes will rebound (albeit not necessarily to pre-covid levels), if schools that didn't take students this year (NYU, Columbia, Brown, etc) will resume taking students, and if there was a greater surge in applicants this year than people who (perhaps wisely) decided to postpone applying to next cycle. What are other people's thoughts on these factors? And any early ear to the ground on schools that plan to increase cohort size next year? Would be great to aggregate this information upfront (insofar as it exists currently) to better assess the situation for next year as early as possible. I know I number myself among the folks on here that would probably have not applied this year if they knew a little more concretely just how dramatically cohort sizes were going to be cut before submitting applications. 

I seriously doubt that in programs where they care about students they will increase cohort sizes, unless they care for their cheap labor. Top 20 programs that insist of admitting 10+ cohorts with absolutely no jobs is irresponsible. I'd also advise you against such programs. You want your program to be straight with you and support you.

8 hours ago, scarletwitch said:

Hi all,

I'd appreciate some advice just re applying next cycle as I'm pretty sure that's what I'll be doing. I'm going to spend a lot of the summer working on my statement of purpose for each school and really show in each one that I'm a good "fit" for the department and relevant POIs. 

So by the time I start filling out applications next September I will have graduated from a top UK university - UCL - (hopefully with a 1st) and will be heading to Cambridge for my MPhil. I'm hoping that will put me in a better position when I apply next year. 

I'm an Americanist, specialising in 20th Century US History - Race & Ethnicity and its connections with the Cold War/US Foreign Policy. 

I'm thinking that I'm going to reapply to the following schools - Yale, Princeton, Michigan, Wisconsin, Duke, Berkeley, Emory, Illinois, Vanderbilt, and UT Austin. And then newly apply to - Northwestern, NYU, Brown, Cornell, UCSD. I'm wondering about also some smaller ones like UMass Amherst, Indiana Bloomington, Boston University and Ohio State. 

I don't want to apply to as many as 20 places but more like 12-15. Is it worth applying to some of these smaller places? I read that there's no point doing a History PhD unless you get into one of the top programs so am a bit wary but still open to applying. 

Also, in terms of writing sample, I have a MA-level essay (I'm taking an MA level module in my final undergrad year) I'm working on that corresponds to some of the themes I want to pursue in the PhD, but then I am also working on my dissertation, which also tackles issues of race and incarceration in US history. Would it be best to submit the MA-level essay or a section of the dissertation for the writing sample? Or simply perhaps adapt based on the required page length for each institution? 

I think next cycle will be my last as I can't afford multiple application cycles. This one itself has been costly enough. I think my backup will be to try to get a job teaching Social Studies/History at middle or high school level after I'm done with my masters - either in the US or at an international school abroad. It seems like a more practical path in many ways as you can focus more on teaching rather than the 'publish or perish' culture of academe. That said, if I got into a top PhD program next cycle, I'd be ecstatic. 

Thanks all. I think after this cycle ends I'm going to hop off Grad Cafe as I think I'm going to try to not go on here as much during the 2022 cycle and also as I need to focus on my final dissertation for undergrad :) 

  1. I know Cambridge and UCL are excellent schools (I have friends that attended them and friends that teach there). However, don't think that just because you went to these schools, that would put you farther up in the list. The best schools for US history are... in the US and you would be competing with graduates from these schools. Focus on what you bring that is different, not on pedigree.
  2. Writing sample: The most recent polished work. It's about showing you can do research. 
  3. I don't know if you did this, but you are applying to a lot of programs. Are you tailoring your SOP enough? 
7 hours ago, SadriannaM311 said:

I don't have a ton of advice to offer as this is my first application cycle as well, but I will say this: 

- If you get into a smaller school with good funding, that's wonderful. I haven't heard the "no point unless you get into a bigger school" but my philosophy in pursuing this PhD is to do so without the expectation of a career at the end of it. Yes, that's all of our goals. BUT I believe that you should do this because you're passionate about the subject and it brings you joy. For me, getting paid (even a small amount) to do something that's life-giving for 5 years is worth it...even if it's at a small school. That being said, the faculty and board that you'd be working with is far more important than school name (at least that's what I have been told at every stage of this process). 

Sorry, no.

I mean, yes, it's nice to do things that bring you joy, and I'm all for that. But absolutely no one questions people are passionate about history if you are applying to twenty programs. 

If in your SOP you say something along the lines of "I don't really expect a career," then you are not giving them any reasons to make you an offer. Passion doesn't get you in. 

If in your SOP you say something along the lines of "I'm passionate about history," welcome to the club, you and 200 other applicants. 

These are the things that put anyone in the no list. 

AdComms are looking for colleagues, for people hungry to change the field, for teachers eager to get into the classroom, for administrators ready to advocate for the humanities. Some others, sadly, are looking for cheap labor, a huge problem in our system which exploits people's "passion" and sucks them dry. I've seen it. 

What do you mean by big/small school? Size of cohorts? "Rankings"? Funding? 

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Congratulations doubleo!! You must be over the moon. What kind of modern European history do you specialise in? Just curious because I’m also a modern europeanist and it seems like spot for us are tight in the US! Waitlisted at Harvard but rejected at Yale and probably Princeton. 

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36 minutes ago, doubleo said:

I can now vouch for the Princeton acceptances in addition to the Yale acceptances, if that helps (Modern Europe).

Congratulations doubleo!! You must be over the moon. What kind of modern European history do you specialise in? Just curious because I’m also a modern europeanist and it seems like spot for us are tight in the US! Waitlisted at Harvard but rejected at Yale and probably Princeton.  
 

sorry for the double post 

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1 hour ago, flowersandcoffee said:

Congratulations doubleo!! You must be over the moon. What kind of modern European history do you specialise in? Just curious because I’m also a modern europeanist and it seems like spot for us are tight in the US! Waitlisted at Harvard but rejected at Yale and probably Princeton.  
 

sorry for the double post 

Thank you! I do French/feminist history. I didn't apply to Harvard because it didn't make sense with my interests.

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2 hours ago, AP said:

I seriously doubt that in programs where they care about students they will increase cohort sizes, unless they care for their cheap labor. Top 20 programs that insist of admitting 10+ cohorts with absolutely no jobs is irresponsible. I'd also advise you against such programs. You want your program to be straight with you and support you.

  1. I know Cambridge and UCL are excellent schools (I have friends that attended them and friends that teach there). However, don't think that just because you went to these schools, that would put you farther up in the list. The best schools for US history are... in the US and you would be competing with graduates from these schools. Focus on what you bring that is different, not on pedigree.
  2. Writing sample: The most recent polished work. It's about showing you can do research. 
  3. I don't know if you did this, but you are applying to a lot of programs. Are you tailoring your SOP enough? 

Sorry, no.

I mean, yes, it's nice to do things that bring you joy, and I'm all for that. But absolutely no one questions people are passionate about history if you are applying to twenty programs. 

If in your SOP you say something along the lines of "I don't really expect a career," then you are not giving them any reasons to make you an offer. Passion doesn't get you in. 

If in your SOP you say something along the lines of "I'm passionate about history," welcome to the club, you and 200 other applicants. 

These are the things that put anyone in the no list. 

AdComms are looking for colleagues, for people hungry to change the field, for teachers eager to get into the classroom, for administrators ready to advocate for the humanities. Some others, sadly, are looking for cheap labor, a huge problem in our system which exploits people's "passion" and sucks them dry. I've seen it. 

What do you mean by big/small school? Size of cohorts? "Rankings"? Funding? 

That's fine. However, this was LITERALLY something that came directly from a professor at Duke. They mentioned that they are tired of seeing people who want to seek careers in the field directly because the careers are dwindling. Show them your passion and WHY you want to do this even if there isn't a job at the end of it - obviously not explicitly by saying "I don't expect a career."

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2 hours ago, AfricanusCrowther said:

Many have/will.

True (and tragic) story. However, I have heard these words come out of our Chancellor's mouth here at Vanderbilt: "We want the History program to be slimmer and meaner." And this was pre-covid. Our cohorts are coming down from a long-standing average of 10 to about 3-5.. and staying there. I am picking up similar stories from many other R1 institutions. In other words, admissions WILL continue to be this rough. Do count on it.

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7 hours ago, AP said:

I seriously doubt that in programs where they care about students they will increase cohort sizes, unless they care for their cheap labor. Top 20 programs that insist of admitting 10+ cohorts with absolutely no jobs is irresponsible. I'd also advise you against such programs. You want your program to be straight with you and support you.

  1. I know Cambridge and UCL are excellent schools (I have friends that attended them and friends that teach there). However, don't think that just because you went to these schools, that would put you farther up in the list. The best schools for US history are... in the US and you would be competing with graduates from these schools. Focus on what you bring that is different, not on pedigree.
  2. Writing sample: The most recent polished work. It's about showing you can do research. 
  3. I don't know if you did this, but you are applying to a lot of programs. Are you tailoring your SOP enough? 

Sorry, no.

I mean, yes, it's nice to do things that bring you joy, and I'm all for that. But absolutely no one questions people are passionate about history if you are applying to twenty programs. 

If in your SOP you say something along the lines of "I don't really expect a career," then you are not giving them any reasons to make you an offer. Passion doesn't get you in. 

If in your SOP you say something along the lines of "I'm passionate about history," welcome to the club, you and 200 other applicants. 

These are the things that put anyone in the no list. 

AdComms are looking for colleagues, for people hungry to change the field, for teachers eager to get into the classroom, for administrators ready to advocate for the humanities. Some others, sadly, are looking for cheap labor, a huge problem in our system which exploits people's "passion" and sucks them dry. I've seen it. 

What do you mean by big/small school? Size of cohorts? "Rankings"? Funding? 

1. I know that compared to Yale or Harvard, UCL and Cambridge pale in comparison and I wasn’t suggesting this would help my application next year, just that as a U.K. applicant these are our top schools (and are both in the top 10 for the QS world rankings.) I know that in some ways being an international applicant, even though I’m a US citizen, is to my disadvantage.

2. Thanks - I think most likely my dissertation will be the best writing sample to use. 

3. I applied to too many schools this cycle and it wasn’t the best idea, but I was trying to maximise my chances. I did tailor my SOP to each application but I’m going to make sure that I do this even better for next cycle. It’s what I’ll be working on over the summer after I finalise my list of where I’ll be applying.


I appreciate and thank you for your candidness but I have come away from this answer feeling discouraged about my chances of getting in next year as an applicant from the U.K. I think it may be time for me to step back from Grad Cafe, I appreciate everyone’s advice and support but I need to concentrate and avoid distractions. I’m pretty sure this cycle is over for me, so wishing you all the best and for my fellow 2022 applicants, good luck next year!

Edited by scarletwitch
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9 hours ago, SAM311 said:

That's fine. However, this was LITERALLY something that came directly from a professor at Duke. They mentioned that they are tired of seeing people who want to seek careers in the field directly because the careers are dwindling. Show them your passion and WHY you want to do this even if there isn't a job at the end of it - obviously not explicitly by saying "I don't expect a career."

Yes, it's the debate many of us are having in our departments. I stand by what I said: you and 200 other people are passionate about history. This is not what gets you in. 

If you are trying to word it in the SOP, I think you could phrase it as your commitment to doing something with that passion, like answering questions about inequality, advancing the field in terms of accessibility, organizing events for the dissemination of scholarship on campus, etc. These are concrete ways in which your passion is visible. 

Edited by AP
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12 hours ago, Guest564 said:

True (and tragic) story. However, I have heard these words come out of our Chancellor's mouth here at Vanderbilt: "We want the History program to be slimmer and meaner." And this was pre-covid. Our cohorts are coming down from a long-standing average of 10 to about 3-5.. and staying there. I am picking up similar stories from many other R1 institutions. In other words, admissions WILL continue to be this rough. Do count on it.

Once the dust has settled it will be interesting to parse out how much PhD programs are directly reacting to Covid constraints and how many are just leaping at the chance to enact structural changes that they were angling to enact anyway. 

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Saw a Duke acceptance yesterday. Don't know about my fellow applicants waiting on Duke, but I think if I see even one more acceptance, I'm assuming it's a done deal. (And am thinking it possibly/probably already is.)

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Thinking a lot of thoughts and feeling a lot of feelings right now. I did not receive any offers this year— I was waitlisted at Berkeley, and rejected everywhere else. I technically haven’t heard from Princeton yet, though I assume rejection at this point. 

I did however just receive an extremely thoughtful and affirming email from a POI at another school. She wrote to tell me that I had one of the strongest applications she had ever read, but my area of interest was outside of the department’s target for the year. She is now the second POI to reject me personally who said they hoped I was not too disappointed because they assumed I was accepted somewhere else. I’d like to very gently recommend to any faculty in contact with potential graduate students that they not assume the applicants they’re in contact with were accepted at other schools, because while I’m sure it was meant to be a compliment, it was upsetting and frustrating to hear after the string of rejections. Also, ??????? Really not sure what to make of that after getting this outcome. 

Anyway. I may not have come out of this cycle with any actual acceptances (still keeping my fingers crossed for Berkeley), but a historian whose research I admire a great deal wrote to tell me I would make a great historian. It was a much needed reminder that these setbacks, as upsetting as they are right now, don’t need to stop me from producing work that matters and that I (and hopefully other people) care about. So while I wait to see if Berkeley can offer me a spot this year, I’m going to be shifting my attention away from stressing about applications and acceptances and prestige and towards my research (before I have to worry about looking for a job next year. Yikes!) 

Sending lots of good vibes and gratitude to other applicants and to the many helpful current grad students on this board! If/when I reapply, I will definitely have a lot more insight than I did this time around.

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