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Reapplying for Spring 2011


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Hi Everyone,

I was hoping for some advice....

I applied to UNLV earlier this year to pursue my Masters degree in history for the Fall 2010 term. I received my B.A. in history back in 2001, so I've been out of school for quite a while. I was still able to get three professors to submit amazing letters of recommendation, write an awesome SOP, and find a paper from my undergrad for the writing sample. I wasn't required to have GRE scores. Anyway, I was rejected. I was just under the GPA requirement and I'm sure my writing sample didn't showcase my best work, since it was done early on in my undergrad career. The Graduate Committee did say they enjoyed reading my application, but felt I might not be prepared for graduate study. They suggested I take a couple of classes as an non-degree seeking student and reapply. I've decided to take two classes in the fall, but my question is this:

I want to reapply for the Spring 2011 term, of which the deadline is Nov. 1st. I'm not sure I will have a paper from the classes I'm taking assigned prior to that deadline and I need something that better displays my ability. How do I go about this? Do I write my own on a subject of my choosing? Should I approach one of my future professors for help? Also, when I reapply, I can resubmit my letters of rec, correct? I hope to get the professors I'll have this fall write letters as well, but will they do this after just two months of knowing me? I guess I'm curious how this will all work and come together by the deadline. If not, I'll have to wait until next fall, and that's not the best option for me.

Any ideas? sad.gif

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For the writing sample: the easiest thing to do is probably to improving on the sample you submitted last year, which I suppose you chose because it is your best work to date. Have one or more professors read and comment on it, and incorporate the comments into the paper. If you feel that you can approach your new professors, that could be a good indication of your seriousness and would help if/when you ask them for a recommendation. You might also want to completely rewrite parts of the paper to reflect your current writing style. Another option is to choose a new topic and start a new paper from scratch. I would only suggest that if you have support of the kind I described above - a professor should read this paper and comment on it, so you know what quality paper you have before you submit. If that's possible, then working on a new paper over the summer in tandem with one of your new professors could be a great way to show you are serious about the work, and have done it recently with good results. In any case, I wouldn't suggest waiting until the fall semester to start working on a paper for one of the courses you're planning to take since that will create an unnecessary time constraint.

As for letters, I'd suggest keeping the original three papers you had last year, which you say are all strong, and adding a fourth supporting letter from one of the new profs. As far as I know, you should be able to resubmit the same letters.

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I would agree with fuzzylogician if it wasn't for this:

Anyway, I was rejected. I was just under the GPA requirement and I'm sure my writing sample didn't showcase my best work, since it was done early on in my undergrad career.

Could you define "early on"? If you're using a paper from like second year, I'd suggest changing samples. Why did you go with an earlier paper, rather than a later one, which would presumably have shown more depth of research and complexity of thought? I'm sure you had a good reason, just wondering what it is.

Another route you might be able to take is to build a writing sample off of a presentation for one of your grad classes in the fall. Don't know if history runs the same way English does, but our grad seminars almost always involve one or two lengthy presentations from each student over the course of the term. Presentation write-ups can be 10-12 pages, if they're thorough. Assuming your fall classes run on this model, you might try to schedule your presentation early in the term, and tell the prof that you're hoping to use it as the basis for your writing sample. Then you could use the feedback you get on the presentation to expand/refine the paper.

It might not work out, and it would probably take more work, but the reason I suggest it is that it would show that you're capable of graduate level research, which is what the search committee wants to see. If they can't see your grades, at least they can see what kind of work you're producing in a grad seminar.

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hmm, I just took that quote to mean that the paper was written 10 years ago and didn't get to have a makeover before submission. In that case, the thing to do would be to rewrite it addressing current literature and thought. As I'd written, I assume this paper was chosen for a reason, namely that it was the best one the OP has to date. OP, if you think you can add new, maybe more mature and insightful, ideas - then I think you should go ahead and do that and not wait until the fall and hope that you get a good assignment that you can work into a writing sample. If you think the ideas in the paper aren't going to be enough, then perhaps it would be better to start over from scratch and write a new paper. In which case, again, I would advise you to at least start reading up on a topic and have a rough draft of your idea for the paper before the end of summer.

As for proving to the committee that you can do grad level work - I assume that you are going to mention your new grad courses in your sop. Maybe adding a line about rewriting/expanding your writing sample during the summer and fall could solve that difficulty. The committee should know that the quality of the work you do over the summer and the work you do in the first two months of grad school are comparable.

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Hi regal.

I am in a similar situation to you as far as non-matriculation is concerned, however I have a lot of field experience and have taken graduate level courses in my area, and was still given the "non-matriculated" option rather than acceptance, assumably because my UGPA was just under their requirements, and I mean just under. It has a lot to do with that this year, because of the bad economy, most programs, even those not "tier 1" were innundated with applicants - so if you had blemishes on your record you really didn't stand a chance anywhere. I don't mean to be harsh, this is just how it is as far as I see it.

My "plan of attack" is, like you, to reapply for spring 2011 official admission. I think that focusing on working hard in all of your classes and reaching out to those professors is probably the most important thing at this point. Showing the institution that your UGPA is not representative of the type of work you are capable of is of the utmost importance. The writing sample, well I would work on it, bring it into one of those professors you become friendly with and ask them. If there is any coursework like an essay or even an essay question on an exam before that deadline, you could also think about expanding that into something polished for a new writing example. However, I have a strong feeling that as a non-matriculated student the most important thing is earning the highest grades possible and making a seriously positive impression on the school you wish to attend.

Best of luck, and here's hoping for the spring of 2011.

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