Jump to content
  • advertisement_alt
  • advertisement_alt
  • advertisement_alt

Sample size is beyond anything I wrote during undergrad. Options?


ericinbh
 Share

Recommended Posts

I just finished my undergrad, and I am taking two years off to teach English abroad, but of course I am already preparing my future application materials for grad school in English literature. The problem is that none of my course work as an undergrad is beyond 8 pages, and it seems that, since applying to a masters program means applying to the first year of a PhD program, the sample requirements for all my prospective schools hover around 20 pages.

I have no qualms about expanding on a paper I have already written, but I feel a little insecure about such a process unless I had a professor to consult throughout it. It is an important piece of the applciation and I would prefer not to do it blindly.

Has anyone else run into this problem, or do most of you already have the sample size written in undergrad? What sort of options do I have? I was enrolled in my departmental honors program, which grooms us for all this stuff, but I dropped out to do a study abroad.

I am thinking about checking in with some of my previous profs and TAs with whom I have established good rapport and just asking them to help me out, but they are already overworked enough and I do not want to impose. I was thinking about consulting my alma mater's (University of Washington) continuing education or online course list and seeing if I can find some guidance that way.

Anyways, just fishing for ideas/suggestions. Also, this is my first post and I am glad to have found this board. I think I will be here often throughout the applciation process.

Cheers,

Eric

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Some departments will allow you to submit two writing samples that have a total page count in the range they're looking for, but it would really be best if you were able to submit one and show that you're capable of the kind of sustained writing a grad program requires. (Also, this probably isn't true of every program.)

Are you still in contact with the professor for whom you wrote the paper? (Or, would you feel comfortable getting back in contact?) S/he might have some suggestions on expanding it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I expanded a 10-page paper into 20 pages, and asked one of the professors writing my LORs to critique it. I was living in a different city, but emailed the essay to her in advance, and we discussed it for a bit when I made time to visit in person.

Giving you some advice and support is part of the recommender's job - as long as you do not abuse it. Be polite, give them lots of time with a paper already polished as far as you can make it, and send them a nice handwritten card afterwards. The key thing is to do it well in advance, not be stuck doing it on December 1 when the deadline is December 7 etc. Since you are already planning to do it two years in advance, I think you can do it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks a lot. I have also been giving more thought to the idea of taking a Graduate Non-Matriculated course to see if I can produce something there. I'm waiting to hear back from my university as to whether this is an option to me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks a lot. I have also been giving more thought to the idea of taking a Graduate Non-Matriculated course to see if I can produce something there. I'm waiting to hear back from my university as to whether this is an option to me.

See if the university you're applying to will allow multiple samples to make up for the page count. If not, then perhaps expanding on another paper (ideally one that can be reviewed by the professor) might be a better option before enrolling in a full course and writing something completely new. The time involved could easily outweigh what could be spent revising/expanding on one you've already written.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

See if the university you're applying to will allow multiple samples to make up for the page count. If not, then perhaps expanding on another paper (ideally one that can be reviewed by the professor) might be a better option before enrolling in a full course and writing something completely new. The time involved could easily outweigh what could be spent revising/expanding on one you've already written.

I agree with this generally, but since the OP is planning very far ahead (at least a year?), writing a new paper may in fact be the best option.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am thinking about checking in with some of my previous profs and TAs with whom I have established good rapport and just asking them to help me out, but they are already overworked enough and I do not want to impose. I was thinking about consulting my alma mater's (University of Washington) continuing education or online course list and seeing if I can find some guidance that way.

E--

As a rule of thumb, do not ever self-select yourself out of opportunities to receive guidance, mentoring, teaching, and training. Do not hesitate to ask your previous profs and TAs for support. Let them decide if the request is an imposition. If it is, they'll let you know.

Also, I think you should mull over harpyemma's thoughtful question. How well can the writers of your LoRs really know you and your work if your work is so brief? Does your UG major have a reputation that you need to confront in your SOP? Will you be competing against applicants who wrote their asses off as undergraduates? What will your learning curve be like when you get into a graduate program and have these applicants as classmates?

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
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

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