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I graduate in May 2011 with a Master's in cultural anthropology and my dream is to pursue my PhD, however, I did not get into the only Antho PhD program in my city. I'm married and I own a house. Therefore, I have to stay where I'm at for a couple years (hence why I only applied to the one local program).

I'm planning on applying to programs for fall 2013 but, until then, I'm working in an unrelated field to save up money. My focus in anthropology is on cyberanthropology (particularly social media) and I'm managing social media and PR at my current job. So I could tie it into my resesarch interests in a way, but my work is no way research/anthropology related. My question is, how do I stay desirable to an application committee? Will it reflect negatively on my application if I've been working full time for a couple of years in an unrelated field? Is there anything I can do on an on-going basis that will improve my chances of getting in for 2013?

Any help and/or advice you can provide would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

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Those are some awesome research interests! I definitely think you can tie in your current work to your research interests. Are you going to reapply to the this same school that didn't accept you? I'd say if you could afford it, take a class or two related to your interests. And as far as desirability goes...I don't think so! I've actually had several professors tell me that they actually prefer when applicants to their PhD program have been in the work force for a few years, since they tend to me more mature, motivated, and driven than those fresh out of undergrad.

Also, if you want to message me for more advice, feel free! I think we have a very similar situation: married, limited to one geographical areas, reapplying for fall 2013. :) I also got rejected from the only PhD program I applied to, so now I'm in the process of trying to make myself a stronger applicant for the 2013 season.

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  • 2 weeks later...

MMDYE, don't worry. In my program, there's actually a slight preference in favor of accepting people who are *not* fresh out of undergrad. Applicants who are a few years out of undergrad generally have a clearer idea of what they want to study and what they want to get out of grad school, regardless of how they've spent the "gap years" (working, doing research, getting an MA, etc).

If you can, I'd recommend that you take a class or two here and there just to stay sharp (and, if possible, to build connections in the department where you want to end up). Think about how your work relates to your academic interests, but don't force it. Read books and articles that interest you. All of these things will help you to position yourself as a more mature, developed, and thoughtful applicant when your next app season rolls around.

And in the meantime, save up as much money as you can- grad school stipends make for a tight budget!

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Thanks so much, noodles and far_to_go. I really appreciate your words of advice and encouragement. I find myself freaking out here at work trying to find a way to do research on the side, etc., but I think I'm worrying a little too much. I will definitely stay in touch, noodles, as we are very much in the same boat. Thanks again!

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