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Am I anywhere NEAR qualified??

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Okay, I'm not sure if this is the right forum for this, but I'm desperate (Sorry in advance for the long post). I am starting the grad school search, so that I'm prepared to apply when deadlines approach this coming winter (I'm a planner, I know!). Unfortunately, as I browse through chat rooms, message boards, and forums I become increasingly anxious.

I am currently attending a satellite branch of the University of Texas system. Not a "small" school, but not a name that screams "prestigious" either. I was originally an English lit. major, but switched to anthropology last semester after falling in love with an Intro. to Anthro. course. I've since done a great deal of research and chatting with professors, and I've decided that archaeology is my field of choice.

Here's where it gets fun.

I am a member of Phi Theta Kappa. That's it. My school has only one honor society for anthropology majors, and I won't be eligible to join until the next round in the spring of 2013, the semester I graduate. I am financially independent, and therefore cannot afford to attend any field schools or excavation programs offered during the semester or summer. There is only one museum in my city that is not run by small families or volunteers, and they are not currently offering internships, volunteer opportunities, or job opportunities that will meet my financial needs and/or work with my school schedule. I am and always have been a relatively good student (3.76 GPA at the moment), I'm confident that I can do well on the GRE as I am an excellent test taker, and I have met a few professors that are more than willing to help me prepare my application and provide references although I've only known them for a few short weeks (my school may be small, but the profs are AMAZING).

Am I any competition for NYU, my school of choice? Through all of my 'googleing' I've discovered that most applicants have incredibly impressive resumes, and at this point I feel like my application would be a waste of time and money.

Help me? Please? Any advice is welcome!

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You'll never know if you never try :)

Go for it. Trust me. If the best schools only accepted the most qualified/impressive resumes, they wouldn't be called the best.

My friend felt the same way. Today, he's doing MPA at Harvard. Another one was also as apprehensive, and today she's at Cornell.

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I think it's always worth applying! Perhaps the best thing to do would be to get in touch with the faculty at different schools you're interested in, and address this to them directly.

But, having said that, from my understanding of archaeology, it is really important to have some field experience when applying to a PhD program. As you're relatively new to the discipline, it would also probably be in your best interests to get some research experience just to check that it meets/surpasses your expectations. I am sociocultural, for which I could think of a range of ways to get useful experience (language training, peace/americorps, community work etc.) that could be accessible for you. Perhaps some archaeologists could chime in with some suggestions - but from my understanding it would be worthwhile, even necessary, to delay applying so that you can get that experience.

All the best.

Edited by leapfrog
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If it's archaeology you'd like to do, it would be good to experience digging before committing to it. Fieldwork is a very important part of what we do. It's tough work and several people are disillusioned. A fieldschool would be the best way but if you have problems finding money, here's what I could recommend:

-applying to sources of funding in your university to go to a fieldschool. That's what I did last summer and managed to take part in an excavation project in Belize for a month (for free!) Coming from Europe, and with the flights and all that, I can tell you I wouldn't have been able to afford it otherwise.

-find a project that is not going to cost you $2000. I've talked to American students and I get the feeling that you guys always have to pay to go digging. It's not the case in Europe. I've been digging in several projects, for free. Of course the problem with you would be the flights, to get you to Europe.

Feel free to send me a message. I'm happy to help :)

What sort of archaeology are you most interested in, and which part of the world? Obviously any experience would be good to take if you haven't dug before.

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See if you can find any NSF-REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) programs in your area/s of interest. There are plenty for this summer whose deadlines haven't passed yet. These programs pay for everything and provide a stipend, so affordability shouldn't be an issue. Even if you can't find one that's specifically archaeology, you might be able to find one that gives you useful skills, like GIS, data analysis, etc.

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Hi, so not to be overly blunt, but right now you are not qualified, but that's ok. What others have said is correct Archaeology programs like field experience, you will

need AT LEAST a field school to get into a doctoral program. Also, it is highly dependent on the department but in my experience archaeology graduate students are not 22 or 23 years old, the programs prefer someone a bit older. This is not true across the board, but you generally have to be driven to the point of singularly focused madness to get into a top program right out of undergrad.

At this point you should start trying to get involved with a basic lab, your school should have one that undergrads participate in. You will generally wash faunal remains, sort lithics, or clean up historics, get a tetanus shot now if you want to be an archaeologist. While your doing this start figuring out what artifacts, time periods or cultures you find the most interesting. Also, you should be getting to know your professors and any grad students your working with. Many times there are scholarships for worthy students as a part of a field schools grant funding. If you know the professor running the project you can get a leg up on winning this.

You cant waste any time so this summer you should do a field project, either get a scholarship for the field school, there are many sources to find this the AAA and SAA have some as well. If that does not work out, try this

http://www.passportintime.com/. Its a program run by the national forest service where volunteers work with Forest Service archaeologists on various sites throughout the U.S. This is especially good because you will get to know the people that run the government archaeology in your area, and will have a leg up on getting a job hen you graduate.

After your field school you need to decide if this is the kind of thing that's for you, if it is time to get to work on an independent research project. This is when those connections you have made with professors and grad students pays off. Find a professor that will oversee your project and talk to them about what is available to you. They usually have a few things you can help work on, better yet come up with your own idea based on what you know about their work and the available collections. This is whee you going to build a lot of resume line items. Learn new methods of analysis, get a baseline reading of the area or field you want to work in, and if all goes well try and present a poster at the local archaeological conference. Here you can meet other professors and get to know the local professionals working outside of academia. This will become important.

You can try applying to grad school now if your certain this is what you want to do, but be warned either get into a top 20 Ph.D program or be very afraid, because the odds of you getting a tenured faculty position are slim without that. Don't despair though, most archaeology is done outside of academia in a strange world known as cultural resource management, or CRM. I advise you take at least a year off and work in CRM before going to grad school. Here you will see what the day to day work of an archaeologist is, and believe me its not for everyone. You are going to learn to love early mornings, I'm not sure why this is, but archaeology always starts at the buttcrack of dawn. Also start going to the gym now, because being an archaeologist means that you are a ditch digger with a degree. The most common reasons people are let go or fired in this industry are they are to slow, incomplete or incomprehensible paperwork, and being hungover consistently. Ya, on away projects that gets to be a problem. You are going to have to travel, a lot. You will meet some of the most ridiculous people you have ever worked with, career field techs are a unique bunch, those stories you heard about archaeology in the 70's and 80's, well they are true and some of those guys are still around.

I say you should take a year to do CRM for a few reasons, one is to see if you really enjoy this work, it has beautiful highs and almost exquisite lows, but more importantly work experience, if you dont have it when you gradaute with your degree you will be in trouble. Your options will likely be faculty at a university, or the entry level shovelbum jobs you would be looking at right now. You need at least some experience before anyone is going to hire you for something else.

Unless you get a specialty. Get a specialty. I don't mean lithic analyst or feature specialist. Those are everywhere. I mean geoarch, GIS, architectural History, or Human Osteology. With these skills you have a better chance of landing the kind of position you will enjoy, as you are hired to do that specialty not budget projects, run the dig crew, and write the site reports. CRM will also give you a chance to work on more research projects and build up your skill set. If you have other questions let me know, but I've rambled on enough for one post.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think Clover has it right. You can't know unless you try.

I had my undergrad in Business, from an obscure but strong regional university and fell in love with Anthro to broaden my background towards International Business. I applied to Oxford for an MPhil in Social Anthropology and by some miracle was accepted (meanwhile I was rejected from three other schools with much lower profiles).

To summarize: You never know...give it a try!

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