Jump to content

Admission Decision and Ranking of Programs


Recommended Posts

Hey guys, I really appreciate the advice on this because it has been stressing me a lot as I try to make my final decision:

Throughout the admissions process, I was really heavily guided by one of my undergraduate mentors who started off at a much less prestigious program but ended up moving to Harvard when his advisor moved.  He had really emphasized the idea that the advisor trumps the school.  But talking with my other close advisors (unfortunately after sending out my applications), I got a bit of a wakeup call.  One told me not even consider graduate school if not at a top program, and the other strongly advised against it unless I was happy not going into academia.  In their words (and in terms I'm sure everyone on here has heard), getting a PhD in today's climate is a bad idea ("soul-crushing" according to the Yale-PhD post-doc I took a class with), and that's only exacerbated by being at a lower-tier school.  Recently I was also reading Marshall Poe's How to Read a History Book and he notes that status matters immensely, particularly in disciplines like history where quality is very difficult to measure objectively, and that many professors advise not even getting into the profession if not accepted into "top-ten" program.

I currently have offers from UCLA and Wisconsin, and I want to know what you guys think, particularly about the former which I'm leaning towards.  It's insanely difficult to find any conception of rankings for the field of history (beyond the QS/US News ones that don't seem to mesh with what people in the profession actually think, as UCLA ranks far higher than it should according to my advisor's comments, who placed it in the "next tier" down).  How does UCLA fit into this picture?  It almost certainly falls outside of this top-ten that Poe cites (since there are 7 history PhD Ivies plus Bay Area schools, Michigan, and Chicago), but how far down?  It's hard to get a picture on here, because most of the conversations seem to circle around those very top schools (I've seen almost nothing about UCLA, but dozens of posts about Princeton or Yale admissions), which has sort of emphasized for me that it's far less respected and might be better to stay away from.  I didn't even conceive that things could be so stratified during my applications, but I've been terrified that if I choose LA and a school that people in the profession see as good but not good enough, I'm basically circumscribing my opportunities (not necessarily just employment, but all around) from the get-go.  I also have a masters opportunity at Oxford, and in the worst case can take a gap year to reapply looking for a top program (if that doesn't work out, I might just take their advice to do law school if I can't get into a top program).

What would you guys recommend?  Thank you so much!

Link to comment
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

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use