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SkepticFutile

What should I notice as an international applicant for MA?

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As the title shows, I am a student majoring in philosophy, but has no experience in studying aboard. Nor did I receive qualified analytic training. Still, I want to apply for MA programs in North America, for I think I should have (relatively strict) guided courses of analytic philosophy, given my lack of those trainings. What's more, I want to assess my ability to do philosophy as a vocation, rather than a job relying more on social connections. Yes, I think most of phDs gratudated from my country are better treated as charlatans, not philosophers. For someone who has no confidence to be excellent by only doing self-learning, I think it is a better choice to chase for phD aboard.

[well, maybe you would say 'to be a philosopher itself is always something relying more on social connections rather than academic acumen or articulating skills, and it is the case everywhere'. If someone would argue like that, it helps me a lot, for I would quit this field without any regret. But as far as I know, from the papers I read and professors I met, I think there is much better academic environment in English-speaking countries than mine.]

So much for my background. 

When I looked up tips for application, I found them not so fit to me, or the conditions of my type.

For example, the most important part, writing sample, is always suggested to be come from the course/term papers. Before it is finished, the writing sample should be polished again and again by your own and examined by your professors. And those professors are also those who provide you recommandations. All the processes seem to be good for an undergraduate studying philosophy in analytic style department, of which I dream.

So, I have to organize my writing sample from no course but my MA thesis, without knowing whether there is anything 'original'. And professors, who are good persons though, may not be eligible to examine my WS, for many of them have only a limited knowledge to this topic (and they even dare to be a supervisor in an area they are not familiar with). Let alone recommandations. I hope those who are familiar with me have a little international reputations, and would not be regarded as imposters.

Alas, so much for complaint.

I think I need to clarify and add some of my concernings here:

a. about WS: what is the standards of WS for applying MA program, especially in its degree of ingenuity?  I have almost no one to discuss with because professors here have no experience for that.

b. about recommandations: I think it is better for me to bet my professors have international reputations. Well, at least, the department I am in is about 150-200 in QS.

c. about GRE and TOEFL: It is said (I forgot the sourse, maybe agencies)GRE and TOEFL scores of international applicants are weighted, because they in general have no good WS and recommandations.

d. numbers of applications: for there are not too many good (or merited) MA programs, I might choose to apply for almost the fee waiver/funded programs.

 

I am here waiting for tips and suggestions.

If there are any problems in my expression or even English-using,  questions or corrections are welcomed.

 

AH, by the way, does San Jose State University a good choice for me? I find Anand Vaidya there when I prepare for my thesis of modal epistemology. But 1) I may not continue my interest in this topic and 2) I want to receive completed guided courses of analytic philosophy, which I did not think SJSU could provide and 3) I doubt its placement is average in America, for SJSU is not showed on that googledoc. [though maybe to be admitted by SJSU is beyound my limit]

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I was in a similar situation a few years ago. Please feel free to send me a message if you need other information. Good luck!

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On 7/30/2020 at 4:46 PM, SkepticFutile said:

a. about WS: what is the standards of WS for applying MA program, especially in its degree of ingenuity?  I have almost no one to discuss with because professors here have no experience for that.

Originality is probably going to be less important for MA applications than PhD applications, but it's not going to be irrelevant. Try to say something "new" in your paper. But that doesn't mean you need to come up with an entirely new position. Presenting and working through an original objection to a popular argument in the literature, for instance, would be a significant and original contribution. But you paper should be more than just a literature review explaining and working through arguments that have already been made by others without providing any new insight about those arguments.

On 7/30/2020 at 4:46 PM, SkepticFutile said:

b. about recommandations: I think it is better for me to bet my professors have international reputations. Well, at least, the department I am in is about 150-200 in QS.

All else being equal, a letter of rec from someone with an international reputation is better than one from someone who doesn't have an international reputation. All else being equal a letter from someone who knows you well and can speak concretely and in detail about you and your work is better than someone who can't. The latter is more important than the former. All else is never equal.

On 7/30/2020 at 4:46 PM, SkepticFutile said:

c. about GRE and TOEFL: It is said (I forgot the sourse, maybe agencies)GRE and TOEFL scores of international applicants are weighted, because they in general have no good WS and recommandations.

I don't know if GRE and TOEFL are actually weighted more for international applicants (I've never been on an admissions committee and neither have most people on these boards). But the explanation for why they would be more weighted is that American professors often can't make heads or tails about the grading systems from foreign universities and thus use standardized tests as a standard unit of measurement/comparison.  But your writing sample, letters of rec, and SOP are still going to be more important.

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Thanks for your opinions. 

14 hours ago, Glasperlenspieler said:

Presenting and working through an original objection to a popular argument in the literature, for instance, would be a significant and original contribution.

Maybe a good startpoint for WS is to summarize/find out a 'popular argument', which is hard to find when I dive into newest papers without any guide. I would try it.

14 hours ago, Glasperlenspieler said:

The latter is more important than the former. All else is never equal.

Thanks. It is helpful.

14 hours ago, Glasperlenspieler said:

But the explanation for why they would be more weighted is that American professors often can't make heads or tails about the grading systems from foreign universities and thus use standardized tests as a standard unit of measurement/comparison.  But your writing sample, letters of rec, and SOP are still going to be more important.

So, your opinion is that those standarized tests take the place of transcripts? It makes sense, though a bad news for me. 

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