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Tybalt

The Day After

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I almost can't believe that it's April 16th. When I submitted my first application (UCLA on December 1st), I thought this day would never come, and it has been the LONGEST four and a half months of my life. On campus visits and in the offices of my current MA, people (myself included) would always joke about "the gradcafe" and how it was a dangerous website. Some would only check the results forum. Some never logged on at all. There were debates about the usefulness of the site, particularly when contrasted with the inevitable reality that this site DOES add to the stress of the application season.

I will only say this--Regardless of anything else, good or bad, about this website, it has made it abundantly clear to me how difficult it must be for admissions committees. If I was tasked with picking out a group of 6-10 people from just the Gradcafe membership (which is just a small percentage of the overall applicant pool), I don't think I'd be able to do it. Over the last few months, we've agonized together, commiserated together, celebrated together and grieved together.

For all of that and more, I say to the Gradcafe community at large--THANK YOU!

For those that made it--Congrats!

For those facing another round of applications next year-Good luck, and we'll all be around pulling for you.

Also- I just want to plug my MA institution. I have spent the last two years doing my MA at Saint Bonaventure University in Western NY. I can't say enough good things about the program. When I look at the work I was doing before and after the program, the difference is somewhat frightening. For anyone who may be interested, Bonaventure's deadline isn't for another couple of weeks yet.

Some details about Bonaventure:

-36 credit MA

-They have a Learning/Teaching Fellowship that gives you the chance to add teaching experience to your CV

-The funding is 50% tuition waiver and then a stipend that covers the other 50% (and the cost of living is so cheap in this area that you can do the program without taking loans).

-There is support for submitting to and attending conferences. You will also gain experience (and CV material) in organizing a conference, as Bonaventure hosts an annual grad conference.

-Four of the students in my cohort wanted to continue our education (3 at the PhD and 1 who wanted an MLS). All four of us received at least one offer. The MLS student got in to the only school she applied to. Between the three of us seeking PhD's, we ended the season with a combined 5 offers of admission and 7 wait lists (including Florida, Rochester, Buffalo, Maryland and Toronto). I will be attending Rochester, and the other two will be attending UBuffalo.

Last year, two of the graduates sought to continue on. Both are now in PhD programs.

I'll digress for now, but I've had such a great experience at this relatively unknown program, and I wanted to let others know about it--particularly those who have not received good news this week.

This is the link to the program:

http://www.sbu.edu/a...es.aspx?id=8480

Edited by Tybalt

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I just also wanted to say thanks to the Grad Cafe community. Like any other informal network (cyber or live), advice isn't always right, but I think by far you get more good than bad, and I'm always happy to put Mill's Marketplace of Ideas into practical effect. I've been around Grad Cafe for two application seasons. Between an initial attempt, the attempt that ended up with an MA, and then a quick dip, and this year, I've participated if four (FOUR!) app seasons. I know that if I'd found it earlier, I wouldn't have needed as many attempts. I am a first-time college student, let alone grad student, from my family. My undergrad institution is small, and lots of the English folk don't go on for graduate degrees. My profs were supportive and awesome, but it had been decades since any of them had been in a Ph.D. program. Needless to say, my first round of applications (including Harvard, Cambridge, and UPenn. .. yeah, unrealistic much?) didn't quite work out. I didn't learn anything from the process because I didn't get any feedback. I didn't do much to prepare for the next round, which included Harvard, Brown, UChicago, Notre Dame, and UW. I got an offer from Notre Dame (absolutely no idea why because my personal statement was aweful. . .) and an MA offer from UC. I know the debate about the MAPH program; I found it useful, but I can see the advantages of other programs. Anyway, I applied to UC, Princeton, Northwestern, and UIUC. I found Grad Cafe late in the game. This was right when the recession hit and programs cut their cohorts in half. Princeton said I'd have gotten an offer the previous year. UC said I was competitive (but they almost never take people from their MA to Ph.D.), Northwestern doesn't like UC migrants (learned that later), and I sent UC's personal statement to UIUC (oops. . I didn't want to go there and my subliminal mind deliberately sabotaged me ;). I took a few years for personal and family reasons and applied again, using lots of advice I'd acquired from the GC and others (including my UC profs). I had lots of state school success (UMinnesota, UUtah, UOregon, UKansas, waitlist UTA, UW in a personal phone call told me they loved my work but didn't have an advisor for me) but didn't get into my top picks (UChicago, Harvard, Stanford, Duke). I think my age, time out, etc., affected that (and the obvious wealth of really competitive applicants). Anyway, the point of this digression is to say that empirically, in my case anyway, Grad Cafe made a positive difference. Thank you all! I'm so happy for those of you who got in and hope to meet you as colleagues. To those of you who didn't: try again if this is really what you want. Ask for help here (take it with a grain of salt of course ;) and everywhere you possibly can. I'm more than happy to read personal statements, share anecdotes, whatever. I wish you all luck!

And I can't say enough how long it has been since that Dec 1 deadline (UTA and UMinnesota for me) until now. I'm SO glad it is over!!!!

Edited by lyonessrampant

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I'm also glad that it's over. Congrats to all who were fortunate enough to get in, and best wishes to those who'll be going another round.

Most of my application materials were complete by the time I joined GC, but it was helpful to get a sense of what others were doing. I'm sure that for many of us, our paths will be crossing over the next few years at conferences and what-not; might be fun to meet for drinks at MLA in January (for those who are attending).

Lastly, this may have been mentioned elsewhere, but I'm just wrapping up a reading of Gregory Semenza's "Graduate Study for the Twenty-First Century" (978-0230100336) and I've found it immensely useful. He has a lot of great advice that stems from his own experience and seems pertinent to the humanities as they are today. If you haven't read it, I would suggest taking a look as he demystifies aspects of grad school that I would never have even known about.

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Just to chime in with Tybalt, lyoness, and others, this is a truly wonderful community. It's just such a relief to be able to share the agony of waiting, uncertainty, etc. with a community of people who understand. And it's true that ideally we should get application advice from our profs, but profs are busy people and it's often hard to get hold of them, and I feel bad bothering them with every tiny detail. So having the GC community for advice and support has been wonderful. Another 'real life' resource is current PhD students, but since I'm sort of introverted, I haven't really gotten to know a whole lot of PhD students at my MA school. So again, the GC is great for those of us who are sort of socially phobic.

A funny thing is that when I visited a school where I was waitlisted, the first person I met was a Grad Cafe-er! She even opened the door for me when she saw me standing outside looking lost :) (Otherwise, I would have stood there nervously a little longer.) Eventually, I got in off the waitlist and will be going there in the fall (so will she, actually), but my first crossing of that threshold, and my first entry into the hallowed grounds of that department, was enabled by a fellow GC-er who graciously opened the door. So that's yet another reason why the Grad Cafe will remain close to my heart.

I hope we don't lose touch with each other now that the application season is over! I'd really like us to remain part of this community -- help next year's applicants, meet up at conferences, maybe open doors for each other, literally and metaphorically. I love you all! :)

Edited by fall-11

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yeah, i've been involved with GC & WGI off and on for several years now and i do agree it can be a good SUPPLEMENT to professor's advice, but certainly not a substitute for it.

i also want to wish everyone luck in their new homes... everyone i've met this season (either in person or just online) from GC this year has been wonderful! i certainly offer my couch to anyone who wants to come party in louisiana for mardi gras ;)

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Lastly, this may have been mentioned elsewhere, but I'm just wrapping up a reading of Gregory Semenza's "Graduate Study for the Twenty-First Century" (978-0230100336) and I've found it immensely useful. He has a lot of great advice that stems from his own experience and seems pertinent to the humanities as they are today. If you haven't read it, I would suggest taking a look as he demystifies aspects of grad school that I would never have even known about.

i downloaded this tonight based on your recommendation, and i read it all in one sitting. even coming in with an MA, i found a lot of the book to be really illuminating. i'd recommend it too!

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Hello, cafe-goers!

I came across this forum a little while ago while doing a little research for my forthcoming PhD applications. I thought it was time to de-lurk and join the community, and this is the perfect thread for my first post, because I, too, want to congratulate all of you who have been through this arduous process and to thank you for your many helpful posts! I hope you don't all disappear now that you are past the April 15th milestone ...

congratulations and best of luck to all of you about to embark on graduate studies in literature -- and I hope I will be joining you in a year or so!

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i downloaded this tonight based on your recommendation, and i read it all in one sitting. even coming in with an MA, i found a lot of the book to be really illuminating. i'd recommend it too!

Wow. With that reading speed, you're going to be just fine in grad school! I've had the hard copy of that book sitting on my shelves for over a semester now. I keep telling myself, oh, I'll get to it soon...

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I want to say thanks, as well. GradCafe has helped me through two extremely stressful rounds of applications now!

Last year, as a college fourth-year completing my thesis project, I applied to eight schools and was roundly rejected by every single one. I was so confident that I'd get multiple admits, but once the last rejection letter rolled in, I realized that I had had no idea what I was doing and my confidence was beyond crushed. My professors had little time to help me with application materials because they were also teaching me classes and helping me with my thesis, and I had little time to commit to the applications for the same reasons. I used pretty much the same statement of purpose for every school. I harped on the irregularities in my transcripts (I attended three different undergrad institutions). I used papers from my second year as writing samples. I chose schools I liked the sound of without doing nearly enough research into their strengths, their faculty, and the types of students they admit. I applied to UPenn (one of the most competitive in the country!) and SUNY Buffalo (where my interests were a terrible fit!), and several other places that just CLEARLY wouldn't have worked. I felt like an idiot, and no one had the time to bother telling me what I was doing wrong.

So I decided to figure it out for myself. This year, I was out of school and working a full-time job four days per week. Luckily, the job didn't follow me home (it's retail), and I was able to commit A LOT (seriously, A LOT) of time to my applications. I carefully researched many, many schools and selected eleven that were strong in my fields of interest. I contacted several faculty members, particularly at my top choice school, and even met with a faculty member at my top choice. I wasn't shy with any potential or former professors: I told them exactly what my goals were and straight-up asked for advice about what should go in my personal statement. All of them were remarkably helpful and none of them were put off by my boldness. I created a hanging file system for my applications, as well as a checklist for each one, and methodically completed them in the order that they were due. I wrote a completely new statement of purpose for each program. I carefully edited my best thesis chapter and used it as a writing sample.

Disaster struck when, as the due-date for my first (and top choice) application neared on December 1st, I realized that one of my recommendation writers might not come through. She stopped responding to my emails about ten days prior, and never acknowleged receiving the packet of carefully printed, stamped, and organized materials I had mailed to her. I tried to have some faith, but decided that I HAD to err on the side of caution. I contacted another former professor and asked him to overnight me a set of letters for all of my schools. Eight letters. In less than two days. I felt like an absolute asshole. But he came through, and I got my first-choice application mailed the morning of December 1st. The materials from my first recommender never arrived, and I haven't had any emails or letters from her since.

To my complete surprise, I ended up getting in to five schools, and was wait-listed at a sixth where I later withdrew myself from consideration to accept an offer from my #1 choice. I could barely believe it when I got my first admit, much less the subsequent ones, and I practically fainted both when I was wait-listed and when I was taken off the wait-list at my top choice. In one year, I went from nothing but form-letter rejections to mostly eager acceptances at awesome schools.

Most importantly, do not give up if grad school is really what you want to do. And in the application process, never be timid or shy about asking for what you need; just ask for it straightforwardly and then thank everyone profusely.

Congrats to everyone and GOOD LUCK!

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Oh definitely, I don't recommend relying majorly on GC for advice, but for little questions, it's great. It is also really useful to find out about schools and profs you don't know about by asking. Best of all, it is a place to commiserate together with people who know what you're going through!

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I've had the hard copy of that book sitting on my shelves for over a semester now. I keep telling myself, oh, I'll get to it soon...

I checked it out from the library and, although I took a ton of notes, I need to get my own copy as well (digital or analog). The amount of reference examples that he includes in the appendix is worth the price alone.

To quote a review in The Valve: "You’ll learn that there’s a “mid-Atlantic university” who won’t hire anyone without at least two articles and who hasn’t taught at least ten courses, for example, an instance that invites generalization. You’ll be reminded several times that diligent industry is the key to academic success, not native intelligence, talent, flair, or even pedigree. There are sample everything--conference proposals, job acceptance letters, varieties of dissertation abstract."

Sorry to temporarily hijack the thread with my Semenza worship!

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I'd like to say:

A. Right on to everyone in here, especially Tortola. That was a very heartwarming and inspiring message and I'm so glad things have worked out for you. Clearly you deserve it.

B. I look forward to being in a position to celebrate with you all, whether it's in a couple of days, a couple of weeks, or a year from now. In the meantime, I'm still waiting/confused. Moreover, I've had a curveball or two thrown in my direction right around the time when things are supposed to be clearing up. As I've discovered, "The Day After" is not a unifying day of resolution. This will be something I encourage folks to keep in mind next year on this forum, which I will frequent whether or not I decide to take what this year gives me.

C. Again, all my best to everyone in here. This is a wonderful community I'm so glad to have found.

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I'm also glad that it's over. Congrats to all who were fortunate enough to get in, and best wishes to those who'll be going another round.

Most of my application materials were complete by the time I joined GC, but it was helpful to get a sense of what others were doing. I'm sure that for many of us, our paths will be crossing over the next few years at conferences and what-not; might be fun to meet for drinks at MLA in January (for those who are attending).

Lastly, this may have been mentioned elsewhere, but I'm just wrapping up a reading of Gregory Semenza's "Graduate Study for the Twenty-First Century" (978-0230100336) and I've found it immensely useful. He has a lot of great advice that stems from his own experience and seems pertinent to the humanities as they are today. If you haven't read it, I would suggest taking a look as he demystifies aspects of grad school that I would never have even known about.

What aspect of the graduate experience does the book focus on? I don't want to read a book that details how to make good choices in areas I've already screwed up.

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I look forward to being in a position to celebrate with you all, whether it's in a couple of days, a couple of weeks, or a year from now. In the meantime, I'm still waiting/confused.

Same here. At this point I can't even muster the energy to do anything but wait in somewhat of a comatose state.

Also +1 for Semenza's book.

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What aspect of the graduate experience does the book focus on? I don't want to read a book that details how to make good choices in areas I've already screwed up.

It covers virtually every aspect aside from the application process. The sections on seminar paper research, comps, teaching, time management, dissertation writing, publishing, and conferences I found to be especially useful. What areas are you concerned with?

Oh, and keeping fingers crossed for you, Rhet Man.

Edited by truckbasket

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It covers virtually every aspect aside from the application process. The sections on seminar paper research, comps, teaching, time management, dissertation writing, publishing, and conferences I found to be especially useful. What areas are you concerned with?

Oh, and keeping fingers crossed for you, Rhet Man.

Thanks Truckbasket...I just meant to say humorously that I don't need much advice on program selection. I feel like, should I have to apply again next year, I'll be in a very strong and informed position.

It wasn't funny because my April 15th stuff was less than fun (though nothing actually went wrong).

I can certainly use a good book for the remainder of the PhD-gettin' process.

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Rhet Man, KRC, and anyone else still in limbo -- I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you. I know it's an awful feeling to be in limbo -- hang in there, and good luck! :) And of course, we're here if you need to talk or vent.

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Wow. With that reading speed, you're going to be just fine in grad school! I've had the hard copy of that book sitting on my shelves for over a semester now. I keep telling myself, oh, I'll get to it soon...

haha, I can read super fast but it always just means that I read everything for class twice because I've forgotten half of it by the time I'm done with the first readthrough.

I really wish I had read the chapter on seminar papers two years ago when I started my MA...It made me realize how much work i still have in that area! but it's encouraging too. its motivated me to really start working on revising some of my work this summer.

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Rhet Man, KRC, and anyone else still in limbo -- I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you. I know it's an awful feeling to be in limbo -- hang in there, and good luck! :) And of course, we're here if you need to talk or vent.

Thanks for the well-wishes. I'll be just fine. Three excellent PhD programs are possible, and my employment situation doesn't suck in case I decide to wait a year.

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Rhet Man, KRC, and anyone else still in limbo -- I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you. I know it's an awful feeling to be in limbo -- hang in there, and good luck! :) And of course, we're here if you need to talk or vent.

Just to add a further note of encouragement to anyone who's still waiting -- when I applied to MA programs two years back, two of the schools I was waitlisted at eventually offered me funded spots -- one on May 1, the other on May 6. I had already accepted an offer by the April 15 deadline, so I didn't end up going to these other two schools, but I just mean that even if it's after April 15, you might still hear good news in the coming weeks as a result of other folks turning down offers or whatever.

And even if anyone does end up having to reapply next year, it might seem discouraging right now, but it'll work out better in the long run. I myself had to do two rounds with my MA apps. I initially applied for Fall 2008, and got only unfunded offers, then reapplied for Fall 2009 with a stronger SOP and writing sample, and got three funded MA offers (as well as some unfunded ones). So if you didn't make it this round, and need to do it again, believe me, you'll have a *much* stronger application thanks to having been through the process once.

Good luck, and stay strong! :)

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I am glad to have been part of this community for the past (THREE :eek:) application seasons. I'll be around next year, only because I'm holding out hope for my top school (err, the only school I've applied at. Ever. Sigh). Everyone here is wonderful---I've kept my fingers crossed for countless people and am so very glad to see they're moving on to *phenomenal* programs. Good luck to us all, whether we're heading to a program or battling competition next round! :)

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I'll be just fine. ... my employment situation doesn't suck in case I decide to wait a year.

Again, same here :)

Things could definitely be worse.

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I found this community right at the end of my unsuccessful application season last year... just in time to start checking the results boards obsessively ;). I don't post a huge amount, but I've gotten a lot of wisdom from the previous posts. I'm so glad this resource exists; it was extremely helpful for me this time around and it was so good to commiserate with others when my RL friends and boyfriend got tired of hearing me obsess over the wait. I'm so happy for the people that have found a spot this time, and those who didn't shouldn't give up- I've been there! I'm planning on sticking around, because I know everyone needs support during this hellish process!

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