Jump to content

What will you do differently next year?


Recommended Posts

Since the results started to come out and things are already not looking good, I cannot help but start to wonder what I will do differently next year?  I know the game is not over yet, but I am preparing myself for the worst. 

 

I thought I would start this thread to discuss ideas about what one could do to improve his/her chances next time.

 

In my case...

 

. Improve my GRE scores substantially

. Be published (though I do not know how to do this when all I have is an underg degree)

. Find a job/internship in Museum/Gallery

. Apply to more schools and study even more in depth research interests of potential POIs

. Write a "much better" SOP (I heard from one of schools I was rejected (from the POI) that my SOP was actually one of the best they had this year --  yet I didn't get in)

..... I don't know what else! 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Be published (though I do not know how to do this when all I have is an underg degree)

I began publishing as an MA student. As long as they read it blind and the paper is, in fact, publishable it's no big deal. But these schools will typically only be impressed by top journals. To some extent I agree with preparing early for the pursuits of scholarship, but that doesn't mean that it will be impressive to everyone.

 

It's hard to know what advice to give without a clear picture. Your choices are certainly top programs. Should you have a more broad range of schools?

You said improve your GREs "substantially." I take this to mean that they are very low. This is problematic.

One POI said you had a strong SOP. I would wait a few weeks and see if any programs are willing to help you understand why your application was not successful. GRE? Writing sample? LORs? CV? Transcripts?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Edit: Also, I completely decided not to apply to one Ivy because the POI did respond back to my email with "Yes, I'm considering students. Please look at my website." No signature or anything. I have enough self-respect to at least expect a greeting and a signature! 

YES. I knocked a few schools from my list due to this. A meaningful response can make a world of difference.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Brazillian,

 

9 schools is plenty if you apply to the right ones.  Fit and the potential to produce strong research are the key attributes programs seek in their students.  While people tend to fret over a single component of their application, say, a particularly weak GRE writing score or that one unreliable letter writer, the evaluation process is impressionistic, or as adcoms would say, "holistic" which means LORS, numbers, SOP and sample are all arranged (debated over) by faculty members to produce a gestalt image of your intellectual life and how they imagine it would continue under their instruction.

 

Your school list seems to be very heavy on prestige factor, which could genuinely be a hinderance to the quality of your applications.  Think about it: Its unlikely that all of the brand schools coincidentally have exceptionally strong faculty specializing in your very, very precise sub-discipline.  Because all programs, but especially the larger programs, like to distinguish themselves by having certain theoretical or methodological tendencies, your SOP must have been in some ways scattered, or alternatively, a perfect fit for one or two programs to which you applied, but totally off the mark for all the others. Think about fit the next time you assemble a school list and you're sure to have much greater success!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Meh, the only "top" school I applied to rejected me even though I did have publications (yes, multiple) and some truly spectacular internship experience. I even have a job as an art historical researcher in a well-respected institution. My GREs were probably a little on the low side and my writing sample wasn't very long, but that's ok... that "top" school was my last choice so I'm pretty happy about not having to give it serious consideration against my first choice, which I actually got in to!

 

I'm pretty sure the reason for my rejection was a fine combination of short writing sample, GRE scores, and that I made it very clear that I had curatorial objectives over purely academic ones. Also, the professor I was interested in studying under no longer concentrates solely in my field anymore and has quite a few students already, despite that their interests IN my field were a bit out of scope for my own interests and I felt like I was stretching my interests when drafting that SOP. It was actually a relief to get the rejection, lol.

 

Also, to be honest, one of the main reasons my first choice was my first choice was because I emailed all my POIs and this person responded back immediately and was more than happy to discuss with me my interests and their program. That's the kind of adviser I was looking for anyway, so it felt like a great fit for me in that regard. Very pleased I got in! 

 

 

Edit: Also, I completely decided not to apply to one Ivy because the POI did respond back to my email with "Yes, I'm considering students. Please look at my website." No signature or anything. I have enough self-respect to at least expect a greeting and a signature! 

 

 

I had similar experiences with contacting a couple of POIs.  I decided not to apply to a couple of Ivy schools also because the professors didn't even have the courtesy of responding to my emails.  My POI at Princeton, on the other hand, was extremely helpful, resourceful and kind all along; what was already my top choice became "sort of" an obsession.  Needless to say, I felt awful when rejected.  At the end of the day, it all boils down to the fact that I am probably not Princeton material.  But I do want to become one, and now I am wondering what I can do to spark their interest in me.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Your school list seems to be very heavy on prestige factor, which could genuinely be a hinderance to the quality of your applications.  Think about it: Its unlikely that all of the brand schools coincidentally have exceptionally strong faculty specializing in your very, very precise sub-discipline.  Because all programs, but especially the larger programs, like to distinguish themselves by having certain theoretical or methodological tendencies, your SOP must have been in some ways scattered, or alternatively, a perfect fit for one or two programs to which you applied, but totally off the mark for all the others. Think about fit the next time you assemble a school list and you're sure to have much greater success!

 

To play devil's advocate... In my sub-field there are about 7 schools at which one can pursue a PhD. Out of those seven, 5 are the absolute top Art History programs, and the remaining two are considered top 10 or 15.  

 

------

 

On the topic of publications Brazilian, I am not sure if it is necessary or even advisable at this stage in your career. I *technically* have a publication from a paper I wrote in my undergrad days. It won an award and as a result was published, without my consent, in my undergrad university's journal. It's accessible online if you search my name, and is one of the first google results when you search a major artwork from my subfield. It's not a bad essay, but I wrote it when I was a junior and its not representative of the work I do now - I don't like the idea of adcoms, students and colleagues being able to find it online. Hold off on getting work published until you have matured as a scholar. 

 

This advice does not hold for things like museum catalogues, though. I think that catalogue entries can be a great way to get publications that show your commitment to the field without tying you to something you may change your mind about later. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

hey--

i've gotten into 2 top 10 schools in the last 2 weeks.  zero publications.  i don't think it's that important.

 

I DO think you need to have stellar GRE scores. shoot for a perfect in verbal and 5 or higher in writing.  my advisor in my ma program was literally like, "If a person has a perfect in verbal, they can have a zero in math.  we don't care."

 

also, think about an MA program.  yes, they're cash cows, but they prove you can do graduate level work.  

 

finally, you're writing sample should be of publishable quality.  i think that proves that even though you're not published yet, you could and will be.  

 

obvs your sop is important, but since you've got that covered don't sweat it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

First of all, don't give up until you know you have been rejected from all of the schools you applied to.

 

It. is. not. over.

 

Second of all, if you're talking about Princeton, with Irene Small as the POI, potentially you were edged out in favour of applications favoured by more senior faculty members. I assume we're talking about the 20th century, so it's possible that Doherty/Foster wanted specific candidates. The same goes for Berkeley, assuming we're discussing Julia Bryan-Wilson. As far as I know, at least three students interested in working with her were accepted last year, so it is very possible that the committee chose to accept candidates from other areas this year.

 

A lot of this process is tied in with department politics and balance. I wouldn't worry too much about your application needing improvement at this point, especially if a POI at one of the two aforementioned departments complimented your SOP. It may just not be your year in regards to certain departments. 

It's ok! You aren't out of the game yet! 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Dear friends,

 

I honestly wish I'd known this website much earlier in the process.  Just by reading the back and forth between you guys, I have gained an understanding of the admission process that would have proven useful when I was still working on my application.  I guess this was my first time doing this and I know now that I made TONS of mistakes; several of them already pinpointed by many of the comments here.  Though the game is not over until is over, it will be a miracle if I get in this year.  I am confident though that I will put a very competitive application together next year, and hopefully the results will be different.  Modesty aside, I do not think I am the worst candidate ever.  Of course, any improvement to my app next year will not have been possible without your invaluable help!

 

There is truly a lot of great advice here.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Link to post
Share on other sites

As someone who did not get accepted into programs my first time and had very good offers a year later, I would have to say that what made the difference was a complete re-write of the writing sample and a more mature statement of purpose. I was told by people who have sat on admissions committees that one of the factors they are concerned with is maturity and evidence of a person's passion being sustainable. For top schools which offer stipends and full funding, you are an investment for them. They want to make sure that you have thoroughly thought through your choice of sub-field and career options. Your list of improvements looks good and the only further suggestion I would make is that if museum work is your primary goal, try to actually find a job and not just internships. Showing that you know what the daily grind in a museum position is like (which often internships don't really show you), even if it isn't related to curation or even in an art museum really adds to the maturity of your CV and SOP. Work experience shows that you know what it's like to not be in school, have explored career possibilities and have chosen to pursue graduate studies based on this experience.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...

As we near the end of this cycle, is anyone finding that you will be taking a different road than you had anticipated? I applied for PhD programs, and while I did get accepted into 1 program with funding, I am assuming that I did not get into my top school/s (based on the results board). I am considering getting my MA (or 2!) and then reapplying for the PhD... Anyone else in a similar situation?

Link to post
Share on other sites

As we near the end of this cycle, is anyone finding that you will be taking a different road than you had anticipated? I applied for PhD programs, and while I did get accepted into 1 program with funding, I am assuming that I did not get into my top school/s (based on the results board). I am considering getting my MA (or 2!) and then reapplying for the PhD... Anyone else in a similar situation?

I am in a similar situation, kaykay12, except for the fact that I have not been accepted anywhere. I still think, however, that regardless of this year's results, I will be applying to a few MAs next year also.  I am pretty confident about the people that I want to work with, and where I would be willing to relocated to for a PhD (location IS very important to me).  So an MA at this point might be just what I need to get where I want to be - I will put up with a small town for two years, not for 5+.

 

Though I am fine with being rejected across the board, and I honestly mean that, I would love to get all the results out of the way already. I am more and more confident that I won't be accepted anywhere, but still... I HATE that lingering sensation of "what if."

Link to post
Share on other sites

Greetings all! First-time poster here - I must say, finding this forum has made me feel much better (well, most of the time!) about everything.  Brazilianbuddy, I am right with you - I wish I had come across these conversations sooner, as I feel that I could have made improvements or done things a bit differently if I had known certain things from the get-go.  And it helps diminish the sense of anxiety or disappointment to know that this is an intense and stressful process for everyone, no matter what the outcome, and there's something to be said for strength in numbers.   

I have been wait-listed at my first choice, but have no clue what the chances are of getting admitted from the wait list, of course.  Other than that, I have wallowed through a bevy of rejections, and as for the still "pending" apps, I am in the "no news is bad news" zone, and trying to mentally move on, make new plans for next year, and think about what I can do to improve my chances for the next round.  

Thanks to everyone for the helpful comments and support!  

Link to post
Share on other sites

As we near the end of this cycle, is anyone finding that you will be taking a different road than you had anticipated? I applied for PhD programs, and while I did get accepted into 1 program with funding, I am assuming that I did not get into my top school/s (based on the results board). I am considering getting my MA (or 2!) and then reapplying for the PhD... Anyone else in a similar situation?

Hi KayKay12, I was in the same situation, got an MA and then re-applied.  I've gotten offers at good programs now, but know many people with MAs that haven't.  Unless you feel unprepared for the Ph.D. (as I felt my first time around), it may be worth reviewing your application, adding to your resume and re-applying for both Ph.D.s and MAs next year, and see what happens.  Do you feel like your current offer isn't worth the time?

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...
Guest lefilsdhomme

Having now successfully weathered the storm that is the application process, if I were to do it over again I would do three things differently:

 

- Apply to 10 schools. Thankfully I was accepted to my top choice, but having chosen to only apply to six I was not left with as many options as I had hoped for. I realize that for many ten seems excessive (it did to me at least), but if you want options and potential "bargaining chips" cast a wide net. PhD applications are a crap shoot.

 

- Master the art of being generally specific. While not confirmed, I have a strong feeling that although my Statement was well written and tight, for a number of programs the way in which I articulated my interests may have been too temporally/geographically specific.

 

- Embrace the fact that rejections do not determine your self-worth. This is echoed over and over on the forums, but it is so true that it doesn't hurt to say it again.

Link to post
Share on other sites

- Embrace the fact that rejections do not determine your self-worth. This is echoed over and over on the forums, but it is so true that it doesn't hurt to say it again.

 

Amen and thanks to that comment!  I am right at that point where self-worth has become deeply entangled with self-doubt, and reading something like this helps me minimize a bit of my anxieties and doubts.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.