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I think a lot of you are focusing way too much on PGR rankings without really understanding what they are and how they should be used. These rankings are the result of a man (Brian Leiter) who's sole

I've taken some time off of Gradcafe for the past two days to clear my mind and think about my situation rationally. I would like to first apologize to @PolPhil for making unsubstantiated, emotional,

I got shut out of PhD programs two years ago. I did a funded MA and now I have 4 offers, 0 rejections, and 8 still pending. It's very doable.

Maybe I am not a good philosopher, I know for a fact I am a dumb bitch for self-funding an MA. I spent the whole summer working on my application closely with my thesis advisors. Spending my evenings attending Champaign-Urbana's Aspire program just to reject me but accept someone from my program who applied on a whim. I do wish to die now. 

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@Outer Heaven I am very sorry to hear this. If you are still committed to post-graduate study in philosophy, do you think it might be worthwhile to contact some of these programs you've heard back from to ask for feedback on your application? 

Also, know that there are many things you can do with a philosophy MA -- teaching, consultation work, business management, etc. Someone also posted this in the FB group which might be a useful place to start: https://letsphi.com/

Sending good vibes your way. Please take care of yourself! Log off of TGC and email for a while if you are able to do so. So much of what goes on in admissions processes is arbitrary and ultimately not a reflection on your philosophical ability, intelligence, etc.

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TGC is like a drug for me. It is detrimental to my mental health but I can't help but check it, just to get my soul crushed whenever there's an acceptance/waitlist report and I didn't get anything from them. It sucks to know that my philosophical abilities are not adequate enough for me to be an academic philosopher. I thought I was good enough. 

Bracing for a shut out. I think about ending it all on a daily basis. (Not my life, but just my philosophical career as a whole) 

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37 minutes ago, jillmay000 said:

Noticed a couple people venting in the results page about UVa being an arrogant department full of jerks. Is this a real reputation they have, or just (justified, because they put some really dumb stuff in their rejection letter) frustrated venting?

I can only speak to my personal experience as someone who was told there is a "very good" chance I'll get an offer off the waitlist, but everyone has been super nice and honest with me. It's clear that the department is a bit smaller than other places, and I don't think it would be a good fit for a lot of people, but personally there happen to be cool people working on my research interests, and I have yet to have an unpleasant correspondence with anyone. But then again, I have not interacted with any administrator and have only been emailing with professors and grad students. 

I guess it would be worth mentioning that there is at least one professor there who has a reputation for being a jerk, according to a reliable source. BUT it does not seem that that is the departmental culture or norm at all. There are assholes in every department in every field in every institution (but I am very interested in hearing other people's experiences!!). 

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8 hours ago, Happybuddha said:

I can only speak to my personal experience as someone who was told there is a "very good" chance I'll get an offer off the waitlist, but everyone has been super nice and honest with me. It's clear that the department is a bit smaller than other places, and I don't think it would be a good fit for a lot of people, but personally there happen to be cool people working on my research interests, and I have yet to have an unpleasant correspondence with anyone. But then again, I have not interacted with any administrator and have only been emailing with professors and grad students. 

I guess it would be worth mentioning that there is at least one professor there who has a reputation for being a jerk, according to a reliable source. BUT it does not seem that that is the departmental culture or norm at all. There are assholes in every department in every field in every institution (but I am very interested in hearing other people's experiences!!). 

How should I approach to the professors as a waitlisted student?

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17 hours ago, PhilCoffee said:

How should I approach to the professors as a waitlisted student?

The schools where I've done it so far were both schools where I was told there is a pretty good chance of admit, and they told me I was welcome to reach out! Some other programs have acted like it is a bit premature, but everyone has said it's appropriate, so if there is someone you really want to chat with/network with at a school then now is a great time to do so! For me, I basically just emailed them letting them know I am currently waitlisted and am very interested in their work, and would love to chat with them sometime over the next month or so. In other cases, grad students that I've spoken to have offered to connect me to professors, which is always nice since it eliminates any awkwardness or potential of "why is this waitlisted student emailing me?!" But so far I have only had positive responses from the people that I've reached out to! 

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At this point I am 99% sure I am shut out. Currently I am waiting on six more schools but they are all assumed rejections (except Harvard and Princeton, but, really, am I going to be magically accepted to them? lol) 

I don’t know what I did wrong. I wish someone could tell me specifically what I did wrong. In an ideal world that would be possible. But that is a luxury not allowed in this world. All the rejection emails say “we cannot provide you with individual feedback regarding your applications” so they probably don’t want anyone to be asking around for feedbacks. Pretty confusing and, honestly, demoralizing.

I don’t want to disclose too much identifying information but I’d like to provide some context on my apps and my background. I am a student at one of the USNWR top 10 schools. But it is not a school that is one of the PGR top 10 schools. Nonetheless, my friends in the past years have gone to excellent schools such as Yale, Stanford, Princeton, etc. and I’ve heard from the undergradute director of the philosophy department that previously students have went to excellent departments such as Rutgers, Harvard, Michigan, Yale, Princeton, etc. For some reason that made me feel weirdly confident about my chances. I was like, ‘if all the students from previous years got to go to these departments I surely can, right?’

I mean, I didn’t only count on that and it’s not like I did no work regarding my apps. I took grad courses, established good relationships with my potential letter writers, wrote (or currently writing) an undergrad thesis, presented at a few conferences, really polished my writing sample with the help of my professors and grad students, etc. I really did try my best I can and I thought I had a decent chance. My professors encouraged me that I will be able to go to a high ranked department and that I am philosophically very capable. All of these boosted my ego.

I decided to apply to 14 schools all within the top 20. My letter writers did not stop me from doing so. (In fact, one of the letter writers told me that this is a “good move.”) And guess what, now I am at 8 rejections and 6 pending (although most of them are presumed rejections). I am going to be shut out this cycle.

I don’t know where I went wrong. Was I too arrogant? Did I not try too hard? My friends and previous students at my institution were all able to gain admissions to excellent programs and I genuinely did not think that I’d be the outlier. But alas, I am an outlier. 
 

And the fact that I am an outlier makes me think if I am worthy of pursuing this thing called philosophy. Philosophy doesn’t need me, perhaps.

Sorry if this sounds arrogant and full of myself. It was not my intention to be arrogant. I guess I was just reflecting on how arrogant I was when I was submitting apps back in January. I realize that I was very stupid and immature.

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3 minutes ago, A_bad_philosopher said:

I don’t know where I went wrong. Was I too arrogant? Did I not try too hard? My friends and previous students at my institution were all able to gain admissions to excellent programs and I genuinely did not think that I’d be the outlier. But alas, I am an outlier. 

Hey, I was in a *very* similar situation back in 2016-2017. I just posted a reply to the "How many people get shut out each year?" thread, so you can read more there if you want. Essentially, I worked hard and felt like I had "done everything right", and since all my friends got into T10 programs, I expected to do well too. My professors were all shocked that I was shut out, and at one point I was in such a dark place that I even started doubting their credibility because of my failure.

It took me 4 years to gather courage to reapply (and honestly if my home country weren't in such political chaos, I might not have tried). I submitted a different writing sample and applied a lot more widely, so my results are significantly better. So, to reiterate, you're not alone, and this doesn't necessarily mean anything regarding your philosophical abilities/talents, because

1. From what I've heard, this seems to be an especially brutal cycle, so getting shut out this year (especially from T20 programs only) might not mean anything other than bad luck.

2. Even if getting shut out from T20 is indicative of *something*, it might be that your dossier doesn't accurately reflect your philosophical abilities, rather than that you're not talented/qualified, period. In my case, last time I condensed my 60-page honors thesis into about 30 pages, which was probably still too long/ambitious. But I did much, much better this time by expanding on a 15-page term paper written for a grad seminar instead.

Hang in there, and PM me if you'd like to talk more!

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2 hours ago, A_bad_philosopher said:

At this point I am 99% sure I am shut out. Currently I am waiting on six more schools but they are all assumed rejections (except Harvard and Princeton, but, really, am I going to be magically accepted to them? lol) 

I don’t know what I did wrong. I wish someone could tell me specifically what I did wrong. In an ideal world that would be possible. But that is a luxury not allowed in this world. All the rejection emails say “we cannot provide you with individual feedback regarding your applications” so they probably don’t want anyone to be asking around for feedbacks. Pretty confusing and, honestly, demoralizing.

I don’t want to disclose too much identifying information but I’d like to provide some context on my apps and my background. I am a student at one of the USNWR top 10 schools. But it is not a school that is one of the PGR top 10 schools. Nonetheless, my friends in the past years have gone to excellent schools such as Yale, Stanford, Princeton, etc. and I’ve heard from the undergradute director of the philosophy department that previously students have went to excellent departments such as Rutgers, Harvard, Michigan, Yale, Princeton, etc. For some reason that made me feel weirdly confident about my chances. I was like, ‘if all the students from previous years got to go to these departments I surely can, right?’

I mean, I didn’t only count on that and it’s not like I did no work regarding my apps. I took grad courses, established good relationships with my potential letter writers, wrote (or currently writing) an undergrad thesis, presented at a few conferences, really polished my writing sample with the help of my professors and grad students, etc. I really did try my best I can and I thought I had a decent chance. My professors encouraged me that I will be able to go to a high ranked department and that I am philosophically very capable. All of these boosted my ego.

I decided to apply to 14 schools all within the top 20. My letter writers did not stop me from doing so. (In fact, one of the letter writers told me that this is a “good move.”) And guess what, now I am at 8 rejections and 6 pending (although most of them are presumed rejections). I am going to be shut out this cycle.

I don’t know where I went wrong. Was I too arrogant? Did I not try too hard? My friends and previous students at my institution were all able to gain admissions to excellent programs and I genuinely did not think that I’d be the outlier. But alas, I am an outlier. 
 

And the fact that I am an outlier makes me think if I am worthy of pursuing this thing called philosophy. Philosophy doesn’t need me, perhaps.

Sorry if this sounds arrogant and full of myself. It was not my intention to be arrogant. I guess I was just reflecting on how arrogant I was when I was submitting apps back in January. I realize that I was very stupid and immature.

I probably could never get into a T10 university, in all honesty.  Not because I am incompetent, but for the fact that one of the most reliable determinates for admission into a top university is pedigree, and as far as that goes, I have none.  My initial plan was to earn an AA in business and leave higher education behind.  So, naturally, I hastily signed onto a diploma mill and only later realized that the research, rather than the padding of a resume, was my true calling in life.  So, my path to a top-30 program was completely severed on the basis of my undergrad pedigree.  

I assume that you do have the pedigree.  However, this cycle cannot not be called normal by any stretch of the imagination.  The 2021 application year realized record applications for fewer spots.  So, the fact that you are currently 0 for 8 with 6 pending does not reflect on your talent or potential.  It bears on your luck, given the downturn in probability.

Not that you ought to be receiving this advice given what I have communicated of my own choices; but if you were to indulge me, I would suggest one of two things:

1) You could wait and see if you get in off of a waitlist this year (if you still have 6 out there, I would say that you may be under consideration.  And I suggest from the experience I had last year, accepted off of a waitlist on April 20th after 0 for 7 with 1 pending).  Then, assuming you do not get an offer, you could simply reapply 2022, 2023 et al at T10 universities until you get in.

2) Or just hedge the probability of getting in somewhere by matching each application to a T10 (R1?) school, with a corresponding application to a safety school (R2).  Think of the sunk cost fallacy.  If you want to keep sinking money into the same premium stocks each year without diversifying, you are going to find yourself penniless in no time. Diversifying may mean studying the movements of universities that both fit your interests, and are moving from T-40ish to within the T-10-30 range; and, in fact, this is to include safety schools that would clamor to take you.  

Of course, if you are looking for a PhD path into an eventual professorship at Harvard or Princeton, you will either have to relax this standard, or if you are unwilling to do so, continue to only apply to these top programs - year after year ad infinitum. 

I accepted an offer last year from an R2 university.  My situation is my own, so I cannot judge you or your long-term plans.  But I have found that these artificial evaluative processes are not always tractable to talent, potential, or even ultimate success.  You surely can get into a program.  But you should not perhaps allow the perfect to become the enemy of the pretty good; at least, not if you truly wish to do philosophy and shoulder the responsibility of making your own luck, once the power of pedigree comes up against its own limits.

 

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@washabirva @PHILOKEV thank you for your replies. It truly is extremely difficult to not take the rejections personally. It feels so personal on so many levels. And as you said, @washabirva, I am starting to doubt my professors' credibility as well.

I would be ecstatic to receive some kind of offer in the eleventh hour but I doubt that's gonna happen. I didn't even get any kind of waitlist offers. There is a school that has sent out all offers for acceptance, rejection, and waitlist where I still did not get anything from them. I've heard that this most likely means that I am on their 'hidden waitlist' and I've also heard that it is extremely rare to receive an acceptance offer if you're on the 'hidden waitlist.' so probabilistically if I actually end up with an offer that would literally be a miracle. 

and I guess I am not necessarily looking for an eventual professorship at Harvard or Princeton. I just want a job in philosophy. But my professors at my institution told me that if you want a job then it is in your best interest to go to a school in the top 20 range to optimize my chances, although, of course, getting a job coming out of a school that is not in top 20 is not impossible. 

I don't know at this point. If this process is truly just luck-based then is there a point in trying next year and next next year and... so on? Ironically, precisely since it is luck-based it may be worth a try, but at the same time, the 'chances' are like 4-5% (the avg acceptance rates among top 20 philosophy grad schools, probably). So what am I really going for here?

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I think a lot of you are focusing way too much on PGR rankings without really understanding what they are and how they should be used. These rankings are the result of a man (Brian Leiter) who's sole goal in life is to make academic philosophy into as toxic of a place as possible. PGR rankings serve to give 20 or so. academics at top ranking departments the chance to express their general opinion about other departments in the field. The rankings themselves don't really make much sense. How do you put a relevant quantitative number on something like a 7-year graduate program? 

You should never, ever, base your choice on PGR rankings. Use them as a general guide for what programs are considered quality by other academics, but nothing more.

I have been accepted by a T50 school and waitlisted by a T10, a T20, and a T30 school. I went to a small liberal arts college that is fairly unknown, and I am finishing up a philosophy MA at an unranked school that does not have a strong reputation. It isn't impossible to get into PGR places without a pedigree.

I am actually planning on attending the T50 school over the others because they have a really top scholar who works in my field. You should always attend places based on who you want to work with, not some BS ranking by dipshit Brian Leiter.

I think we on this forum have put too much stock in a system that professors themselves don't think should be there. I wish Leiter would heed the calls to take that stupid ranking down.

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4 minutes ago, HomoLudens said:

I think a lot of you are focusing way too much on PGR rankings without really understanding what they are and how they should be used. These rankings are the result of a man (Brian Leiter) who's sole goal in life is to make academic philosophy into as toxic of a place as possible. PGR rankings serve to give 20 or so. academics at top ranking departments the chance to express their general opinion about other departments in the field. The rankings themselves don't really make much sense. How do you put a relevant quantitative number on something like a 7-year graduate program? 

You should never, ever, base your choice on PGR rankings. Use them as a general guide for what programs are considered quality by other academics, but nothing more.

I have been accepted by a T50 school and waitlisted by a T10, a T20, and a T30 school. I went to a small liberal arts college that is fairly unknown, and I am finishing up a philosophy MA at an unranked school that does not have a strong reputation. It isn't impossible to get into PGR places without a pedigree.

I am actually planning on attending the T50 school over the others because they have a really top scholar who works in my field. You should always attend places based on who you want to work with, not some BS ranking by dipshit Brian Leiter.

I think we on this forum have put too much stock in a system that professors themselves don't think should be there. I wish Leiter would heed the calls to take that stupid ranking down.

Brian Leiter hasn't ran the PGR in years

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Please stop telling people that they should only attend a PGR T10 school. It is very clear that some people think that anything less then that will result in homelessness or something. Look at individual departments, with people that you like, and check the placements of students who worked with the people that you want to work with

Another word of advice, just do an MA out of Undergrad. Too many people don't know what academic philosophy is and how it works in a real department. An MA gives you a really good primer for the real thing at a PhD. I know too many smart people who did well in UG, got into a PhD in philosophy, and were shocked that it was competitive and that they had *gasp* submit papers for publication that were most likely going to be rejected. Grad school sucks. Even once you get in it is constant rejection, second guessing, and anxiety. The people who have it worse (this is anecdotal of course) are those straight out of UG and no MA.

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Just now, HomoLudens said:

He is still its champion, though. He literally just updated his blog a couple of days ago with projections about rankings.

Yeah, supporting something and being responsible for its existence/operation are two very different things

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26 minutes ago, HomoLudens said:

Please stop telling people that they should only attend a PGR T10 school. It is very clear that some people think that anything less then that will result in homelessness or something. Look at individual departments, with people that you like, and check the placements of students who worked with the people that you want to work with

Another word of advice, just do an MA out of Undergrad. Too many people don't know what academic philosophy is and how it works in a real department. An MA gives you a really good primer for the real thing at a PhD. I know too many smart people who did well in UG, got into a PhD in philosophy, and were shocked that it was competitive and that they had *gasp* submit papers for publication that were most likely going to be rejected. Grad school sucks. Even once you get in it is constant rejection, second guessing, and anxiety. The people who have it worse (this is anecdotal of course) are those straight out of UG and no MA.

There is something with this. But also, note that there may be cases where ones intended supervisor leaves, or one is no longer passionate about what she used to.

So, there are some good things about going to a top department:

1) There are more top-notch philosophers at top departments (I wonder whether you'll reject the notion of top department, though)

2) There are more top-notch philosophers in different areas at one top department. This may itself make one change ones interests, and it also allows that one can actually change the direction without loss at many levels.

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On 3/1/2021 at 10:22 AM, aristotleonchipotle said:

TGC is like a drug for me. It is detrimental to my mental health but I can't help but check it, just to get my soul crushed whenever there's an acceptance/waitlist report and I didn't get anything from them. It sucks to know that my philosophical abilities are not adequate enough for me to be an academic philosopher. I thought I was good enough. 

Bracing for a shut out. I think about ending it all on a daily basis. (Not my life, but just my philosophical career as a whole) 

Last year I got rejected everywhere. This year I was admitted to my top choice (Oxford) and I am under consideration for funding. 

My philosophical abilities didn't change. I just did some things to better position myself and make my application look better. There is a huge difference between your acumen and your application. 

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