Jump to content

UVA PhD Acceptances


Recommended Posts

Hello, not sure if this post is helpful for anyone, but I know COVID anxiety has people who are applying very nervous. The UVA Religious Studies Department recently sent out an email to students and faculty informing us that the dept will accept PhD students for the next academic year. It'll be a significantly smaller than usual cohort, but there will be one.  

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I disagree with the above post's first point. I think this simply shows they have the resources for it but competition will be high. Also, everyone keeps talking about how everyone will hold off applying until next cycle because of the small cohorts/cancellations of admissions, but honestly, if it was me, I'd apply anyway. All these are assumptions and we don't quite know what will happen, so do your best and apply anyway. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

In my opinion, this is the time to overhaul PhD programs in the field. Even before the pandemic few of us were getting tenure-track jobs. Nowadays--and I suspect this won't change much in the next five years, if ever completely revert to pre-pandemic times--basically no one is getting a job. telkanuru is right on both accounts. Top programs are not dealing with reality, at least the reality facing nearly all PhD grads, no matter program ranking. These programs exist in institutions with excess. And I can't really blame those departments. If I was faculty at UVA I would be happy to continue on the way things have been for decades, regardless of whether tenure-track jobs have trickled to nearly zero. I would also be happy, as all R1 departments are right now, to train my doctoral students for jobs that don't exist and to continue enforcing the idea that a PhD in religion/et sim. is only meant--only really matters--if it prepares you for those jobs that no longer exist. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, WanYesOnly said:

 I think this simply shows they have the resources for it but competition will be high. 

Look at what schools aren't taking cohorts, check their endowments, and then talk to me again about resources with a straight face.

On a related note, learning to differentiate between optimism and wishful thinking is a very useful life skill, in academia and beyond.

Link to post
Share on other sites

If it's not been done already, someone could make a point by making a graph of some sort that compares the likelihood of highly skilled high school football athletes making it to D1 teams and from there to pro teams. And then compare the rates by which UG majors and non majors in various fields go on to get graduate degrees and then TT jobs.

Heck. On the same graph, put the success rate of aspiring astronauts and SOF types. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, sacklunch said:

In my opinion, this is the time to overhaul PhD programs in the field. 

This may be happening. Some of the chatter among those on the business side of the Ivory Tower is about running schools somewhat more like private sector companies. Missions, strategies, and metrics (KPIs) to evaluate how well the moving pieces are performing. The most surprising thing I've heard so far is the idea that the "we're all in this together" approach that's fashionable in many quarters of the Ivory Tower when it comes to COVID-19 related layoffs needs to go. People who under perform, regardless of rank and status, need to be sent away.

And even if somehow a magic wand were to get waved and COVID-19 goes away and there's a miraculous V shaped recovery, the impending crisis of decades of deferred maintenance is going to up end the Ivory Tower in unimaginable ways. Ultimately, gravity wins every argument.

On the other hand, the arrival of deep learning ASIs may limit greatly the need for graduate students to perform the work of TAs and RAs.

Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Sigaba said:

On the other hand, the arrival of deep learning ASIs may limit greatly the need for graduate students to perform the work of TAs and RAs.

That'll come but for the time being a number of former consulting colleagues have said some of the top private universities are looking hard at Disaggregated Faculty Models of operation. In these systems you have a faculty member responsible for teaching and then a different person who is responsible for evaluation of student's work. The obvious downside to this - not much need for a TA. While grading is often a TA's responsibility, this system generally relies on someone only doing grading and not needing mentoring, training, etc along the way. There's a lot more downside too but that's a longer post.

A major university in the northeast has this system rolled out to their part-time/non-traditional students already but they've taken it a step further. The instruction is done via prerecorded lectures and then grading done via, at a minimum, master's level educated examiners. Faculty are paid a royalty per student so some have really focused on quality while others have opted for quantity. Its been at work now for two years and slated to be rolled out to the wider undergraduate body for online courses by 2025.

I know of another 10-12 universities that have working groups working on various models of this system, most of them actively talking about phasing out a number of PhD slots as a result. Simply, it's cheaper to pay someone at a laptop to grade than to train up another faculty member.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, xypathos said:

That'll come but for the time being a number of former consulting colleagues have said some of the top private universities are looking hard at Disaggregated Faculty Models of operation.

Ah, a caste system. That'll solve everything. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, xypathos said:

That'll come but for the time being a number of former consulting colleagues have said some of the top private universities are looking hard at Disaggregated Faculty Models of operation. In these systems you have a faculty member responsible for teaching and then a different person who is responsible for evaluation of student's work. The obvious downside to this - not much need for a TA. While grading is often a TA's responsibility, this system generally relies on someone only doing grading and not needing mentoring, training, etc along the way. There's a lot more downside too but that's a longer post.

A major university in the northeast has this system rolled out to their part-time/non-traditional students already but they've taken it a step further. The instruction is done via prerecorded lectures and then grading done via, at a minimum, master's level educated examiners. Faculty are paid a royalty per student so some have really focused on quality while others have opted for quantity. Its been at work now for two years and slated to be rolled out to the wider undergraduate body for online courses by 2025.

I know of another 10-12 universities that have working groups working on various models of this system, most of them actively talking about phasing out a number of PhD slots as a result. Simply, it's cheaper to pay someone at a laptop to grade than to train up another faculty member.

I would suggest that the system you describe in your post is setting the stage for AI/ASI in the Ivory Tower is similar to TNCs (transportation network companies like Lyft and Uber) being used to push AVs (autonomous vehicles) into transportation. (The extent to which TNC drivers don't get the connection is chilling, IMO.) By breaking down work into smaller pieces, one can learn which pieces are more important than others, and which ones can be done through software.

Along the way, the people participating think in terms of the upside (the convenience of on demand services and a la carte pricing/subscriptions, the perception of lower operational costs because of lower overhead, not having to deal with as many people), and the down side in personal terms without realizing the extent to which they're participating in the commodification of their every day lives. 

MOO, many members of many professions that seek to leverage technology do not understand that they are actually the prey of technology firms.

Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, Sigaba said:

This may be happening. Some of the chatter among those on the business side of the Ivory Tower is about running schools somewhat more like private sector companies. Missions, strategies, and metrics (KPIs) to evaluate how well the moving pieces are performing. The most surprising thing I've heard so far is the idea that the "we're all in this together" approach that's fashionable in many quarters of the Ivory Tower when it comes to COVID-19 related layoffs needs to go. People who under perform, regardless of rank and status, need to be sent away.

And even if somehow a magic wand were to get waved and COVID-19 goes away and there's a miraculous V shaped recovery, the impending crisis of decades of deferred maintenance is going to up end the Ivory Tower in unimaginable ways. Ultimately, gravity wins every argument.

On the other hand, the arrival of deep learning ASIs may limit greatly the need for graduate students to perform the work of TAs and RAs.

I may be misunderstanding you, so feel free to correct me if you think I am. But I am speaking specifically about doctoral students, not faculty, in RS (and other fields in the humanities). Basically all doctoral students at R1 schools in our field are "leeching" off of more profitable enterprises within the university. Yes, PhD students help some with TAing, but at least at R1s this is a very small part of what is expected of you. To your point, there are of course ways to measure the performance of doctoral students in RS--exams, e.g.--but most of what we produce/do is not actually profitable to anyone outside of the student herself/himself. In other words, I don't think doctoral students in R1 humanities departments can exist in this private-sector model you speak of.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, sacklunch said:

I may be misunderstanding you, so feel free to correct me if you think I am. But I am speaking specifically about doctoral students, not faculty, in RS (and other fields in the humanities). Basically all doctoral students at R1 schools in our field are "leeching" off of more profitable enterprises within the university. Yes, PhD students help some with TAing, but at least at R1s this is a very small part of what is expected of you. To your point, there are of course ways to measure the performance of doctoral students in RS--exams, e.g.--but most of what we produce/do is not actually profitable to anyone outside of the student herself/himself. In other words, I don't think doctoral students in R1 humanities departments can exist in this private-sector model you speak of.

I think that what I'm trying to say is that discussions of retooling among business / finance types are drastically different than conversations in an academic department. One of the key reason for the difference is that the relationships between revenue and expenses are much more complicated than academics generally realize.

Metaphorically, you're calling for a discussion for managing a forest in a manner that is more sustainable: how can the trees be planted, groomed, and harvested better for the benefit of the forest. Elsewhere, conversations about sustainability include considerations that may make burning down all or part of the forest not just a possibility but a necessity.

An academic department could be part of a profession- wide initiative to right size graduate admissions so that the pool of applicants for TT positions becomes less crowded and more qualified. From there, departments could become more competitive because they can point to placement records and the achievements and accomplishments of its graduates.

What I'm saying is that these conversations you and I want departments to have may result in outcomes that benefit professors, undergraduates, and graduate students -- if not also American society but these changes may not matter if the retooling doesn't move the virtual needles on virtual gauges on software generated dashboards that the academics don't know exist. 

In the short run, though, I would not automatically agree that worker bees in the Ivory Tower are leaching off profit centers. If you let high earners and keep capable worker bees, pile on the work by having them do "more with less," profits will go up.)

Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, Sigaba said:

I think that what I'm trying to say is that discussions of retooling among business / finance types are drastically different than conversations in an academic department. One of the key reason for the difference is that the relationships between revenue and expenses are much more complicated than academics generally realize.

Metaphorically, you're calling for a discussion for managing a forest in a manner that is more sustainable: how can the trees be planted, groomed, and harvested better for the benefit of the forest. Elsewhere, conversations about sustainability include considerations that may make burning down all or part of the forest not just a possibility but a necessity.

An academic department could be part of a profession- wide initiative to right size graduate admissions so that the pool of applicants for TT positions becomes less crowded and more qualified. From there, departments could become more competitive because they can point to placement records and the achievements and accomplishments of its graduates.

What I'm saying is that these conversations you and I want departments to have may result in outcomes that benefit professors, undergraduates, and graduate students -- if not also American society but these changes may not matter if the retooling doesn't move the virtual needles on virtual gauges on software generated dashboards that the academics don't know exist. 

In the short run, though, I would not automatically agree that worker bees in the Ivory Tower are leaching off profit centers. If you let high earners and keep capable worker bees, pile on the work by having them do "more with less," profits will go up.)

Sounds reasonable enough. I suppose my main problem with the current system is it trains students for jobs that are increasingly disappearing. But the alternative, that is revamping these programs for "alt-ac" careers is going to be difficult if not impossible in my view. In this alt-ac revamp, we cannot be scholars in the traditional sense nor can we primarily be teachers, at least at the college level, because again those jobs are disappearing. So what are we left doing? How can our advisers/mentors train us to do these alt-ac jobs when they have no experience/training outside of academia? How can disciplines that focus on, say, bronze age history revamp themselves to be competitive in the non-ac market? 

Link to post
Share on other sites
29 minutes ago, sacklunch said:

Sounds reasonable enough. I suppose my main problem with the current system is it trains students for jobs that are increasingly disappearing. But the alternative, that is revamping these programs for "alt-ac" careers is going to be difficult if not impossible in my view. In this alt-ac revamp, we cannot be scholars in the traditional sense nor can we primarily be teachers, at least at the college level, because again those jobs are disappearing. So what are we left doing? How can our advisers/mentors train us to do these alt-ac jobs when they have no experience/training outside of academia? How can disciplines that focus on, say, bronze age history revamp themselves to be competitive in the non-ac market? 

Alt ac training can be gained by picking fields and outside fields that have skill sets that are cross transferable.

A challenge right now is that some skills (like data visualization)  are in very high demand in today's job market but won't be for much longer because of technology.

Another challenge is that skills that will likely remain in demand may not be as relevant to as many disciplines unless a graduate student unless she is very smart in how she picks her fields and dissertation topic.

Link to post
Share on other sites
24 minutes ago, Sigaba said:

Alt ac training can be gained by picking fields and outside fields that have skill sets that are cross transferable.

A challenge right now is that some skills (like data visualization)  are in very high demand in today's job market but won't be for much longer because of technology.

Another challenge is that skills that will likely remain in demand may not be as relevant to as many disciplines unless a graduate student unless she is very smart in how she picks her fields and dissertation topic.

Yes, well, the problem here is transferability, especially for those of us who work with societies and languages long dead.

Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, sacklunch said:

Yes, well, the problem here is transferability, especially for those of us who work with societies and languages long dead.

Just spitballing here...

Widen your search for secondary works related to your primary fields of interest. Maybe you'll come across some works that expand the way you think about the societies and languages you've studied in a way that you can understand. I think it's going to be something "big picture" that you may not necessarily be able to put in a cover letter on a resume or talk about in a job interview, but the insight itself may inspire confidence and that confidence may help push you over the top and or allow you to add value to your team.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.