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Overall package good, worried about GRE scores


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I am applying for a PhD in History for Fall 2013, with a focus on Modern Europe, and a particular emphasis on Eastern Europe/the Balkans. I graduated with a BA in History from a liberal arts school that is well-known in Texas, but not in the rest of the country. My overall GPA was a 3.64, my history GPA was 3.8. I wrote a Senior Thesis in history under the supervision of a professor, and got an A. I also worked as a research assistant for another history professor in summer 2010. I have great relationships with my professors who will write my recommendations. I also did a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Bulgaria for a year where I taught at a school and volunteered for an NGO that was geared toward building civil society in my small town (and by the way, the lack of civil society and social capital in Balkan countries is one aspect of Eastern Europe that I want to incorporate into my PhD research, so I think the experience is relevant). I also did on the ground research in Bulgaria that will culminate in a paper (not a history paper, though). By the time I enter grad school, I will have 3 years of teaching under my belt (2 in Shanghai, 1 in Bulgaria).

The only things I'm really worried about are my GRE scores (Q:151, V:162, don't have my Writing score yet, but I imagine it will be in the 4-5 range). I'm also worried they won't see high school teaching as valid teaching experience. I'm especially worried about how they will see my experience in China. I've been teaching (SAT/TOEFL prep and humanities classes like US History and American Literature) there, but it's irrelevant to my academic interests.

I'm applying to all top universities (UC Berkeley, UT Austin, UNC, Columbia, NYU, Stanford, maybe U Chicago). Given my mediocre GRE scores, what are my chances of getting in and getting funding??

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I really don't see why you would be worried about it. Your verbal score is 89th percentile and your quant score does not matter for history programs. While it would be helpful to have a somewhat higher verbal score, you should be above any department cut offs. This is a rough estimation, but your score translates to approximately a 1280. People have gotten in with lower scores I assure you. Also, I don't know about history, but in my discipline teaching is not something to be emphasized, the focus should really be on research.

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The writing score could be better, but the GRE's in that package aren't something to worry that much about. I would mention but not focus on the China experiance in your SOP, focus on your experiance in Bulgaria. That's what's important to your future as a scholar. Link your narrative about your experiances to the project you want to work on as a phd student.

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