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Hey Everyone!

I'm thinking of applying to a cultural anthropology PhD programs next year but have a few questions and concerns. To give you an idea of my background, I graduated with an anth BA and have been living in China for the past three years. During this time, I've worked at two different companies and am now taking time off to prepare for grad school. Still, I'm not sure about the following:

1) Do my basic stats make me eligible for admission/funding? My overall GPA was around 3.6, and my major GPA was around 3.8. My GRE scores were in the top 96% for verbal and top 77% for math. I don't know my writing score yet. Should I take the GRE again?

1) Numbers aside, I'm worried that I don't really have any credentials that would make me stand out. I did an undergraduate thesis, but I would probably need a stronger writing sample. What would be the best way to get experience or build my resume? I might look into research scholarships (i.e. Fulbright), but I'm not sure if there's much available for people who have been out of college for a few years. Would doing independent research with a professor be feasible?

2) Could someone give me the low-down on funding? I want to avoid going into debt, so I would like to know which schools offer strong/stable packages.

3) What are people's thoughts on the academic job market? Everything I've heard has been discouraging. What would help me secure a position in academia after graduating? Should I only apply to schools with high rankings?

4) What are language requirements? While I'm proficient in Chinese, I still need to use this year to improve, so I can do meaningful research in the future.

As you can tell, I'm completely lost! Any help or advice would be appreciated.

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You say you're lost, but reading what you go on to say, it seems like you're very well-placed to go on to a graduate programme. Unless I've wildly misunderstood the marking, your GRE scores are excellent, you have an anthropology degree, a solid GPA (especially for your major) and are proficient in the language where you will (presumably) go on to do your fieldwork, with a further year planned to perfect it. That really would be a great profile to bring to an admissions board, from what I can tell from the whole process.

You really would be a strong candidate. Now would be the time to focus in on what you are particularly interested in, scout out the different programmes and find the ones that match you. Funding differs between departments, so just have a look on each website.

Good luck.

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Thanks for your reassurance :) I suppose I'm just concerned that my stats aren't good enough for top programs (e.g. Chicago or Harvard); people like me are probably a dime a dozen for these institutions. I'm just wondering how I can improve my chances of gaining admission and funding.

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