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Writing Sample a Few Years Out of School


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Hello All,

I'm new to the forum and am beginning what I expect to be a year-long process of researching and applying for grad school programs. I apologize in advance if this topic has been addressed before.

I minored in Art History as an undergrad, with a major in Communication. I studied abroad in Siena, Italy and at Oxford, both times focusing in art history. The classes I took abroad account for the majority of minor, so I only took a few art history courses at my main institution (Umass, Amherst) and don't have the thorough art history background that an art history major would have.

For the past three years, I've worked at a major auction house in NYC. I was still in the art field, but focusing on European Furniture, rather than fine art, as a way of getting my foot in the door.

My dilemma is this: I know the writing sample is a major portion of the application, but I don't feel that any of my undergraduate work is a good representation of my abilities. I received good grades, but at the undergraduate level, I didn't do very much in-depth art historical research and I'm not published. Furthermore, I'm working on honing my intended focus, so I'm not sure what subject my sample should cover.

Would you recommend:

A) Taking another course at the undergrad or grad level in order to produce an application-worthy paper.

B) Writing a paper on my own and having it reviewed my past professors.

I'm nervous about the second option, as I'm really out of the swing of academic writing. Any other suggestions are extremely helpful!

Many thanks!

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There's always the option of taking a paper you wrote during your undergrad, and using that to spin off into a more in-depth look at that topic. If you have a paper from undergrad lying around that you don't hate/still feel a bit connected with, you can consider expanding and refining it into your writing sample. That way you're not starting from scratch. I would still advise asking a professor or two that you feel comfortable with to look it over.

Good Luck!

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