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Hi everyone. New here, can't believe I found this thread only now. Anyway, I'm applying for Eng Lit for Fall 2014. Hopefully I'll be able to continue studies in a M.A/Ph.D program, but I am considering applying to a few funded M.A. programs. Being an international applicant, who will get a B.A. in English Literature from a non-English speaking country, I guess a funded M.A. wouldn't hurt? Language isn't an issue for me(I was born in the U.S.), but I think experiencing grad school and getting to know professors and just being physically closer to the academia wouldn't hurt. Obviously I am still trying to figure out what to do, but Ph.D programs are definitely my priority.

 

That said, I've taken the GRE test, and while I think my verbal isn't too bad (164), and hopefully my quant scores aren't dismal (156), I am concerned about my AW score(4.5). I've read through websites and most say they concentrate on the verbal section, but none directly address whether AW scores matter. Do AW scores matter? Since there are SOPs and Writing Samples in the application anyway, I think they shouldn't…. Also, just thinking of the subject test freaks me out. (I'm planning to take it in October.) 

 

But I guess it's the writing sample that is really nerve racking. I can either expand on the papers I've written, or write a new one, but either way I can't help but think that whatever topic I'm writing about is clichéd. Everything is so intimidating (plus I'm probably stressing out too much) but at this point I feel like everything I'm interested in and want to write about has already been studied and written about. My current focus is to find the right approach, topic and text for my writing sample, since it is also related to writing SOPs, which I guess is the best way to show my competency as a student with a B.A from a non-English speaking country. 

 

Also, I have just started to compile a list of schools, creating excel and word documents, etc. My interests are in women and gender studies(also, how race works as a factor in such), literature from 19C to modern, child lit and YA lit, and film studies. (Any suggestions on programs?) My concern is that these could appear to broad to adcomms. Anyway, I started with the top 20 and 50 list but have started to realise that fit is more important than ranking.  I'm just astonished by how some web sites seem to be designed for the sake of never giving you any information. 

 

Sorry for all the rambling, obviously I'm going through a "OHMYGOD I'M NEVER GOING TO GET IN ANYWHERE" sort of meltdown, so I'll try to stop here now, and start reading through this thread.

Oh, and one last thing about language requirements- how important are they in applications? I'm a beginner in French and the one thing I can say fluently in French is that I can't speak French. 
 
Thanks guys, and any advice/comments would be much appreciated! 
 
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I just got a phone call from Tufts University! First acceptance. Beyond excited.

I'm reading this thread and seeing your stories and concerns, and they transport me back six years ago, when I first applied to graduate school. I applied to graduate school right out of my undergrad.

I just got into Syracuse's MA! Holy shit. Weight lifted.   Funding info to come, but they try to fund everyone. Woooo!

Nailbiter: I hesitate to say that AW scores don't matter, but AW scores don't matter. It could possibly be a deterrent for outside funding (i.e. fellowships) not directly handled through a GTA-type position. The same goes for quant scores, from what I understand.

 

Also, I think your concerns about having a cliched writing sample is completely legitimate. You probably are going to write something that is relatively similar to something somebody else has written, at least in its nascent stages. That's why, if you're writing a new sample, you need to start very soon to make sure your covering all of your bases as far as finding a special niche within your discipline(s). I know this seems like common sense, but I find it comforting that there are many people applying to these programs that don't have much of a strategy going in. Use this time to your advantage and make sure when the end of the year comes, that there was absolutely nothing else you could have done to improve your application. With that said, even if someone reads your writing sample and finds something too familiar about it, I think that's okay too. If I were on an adcomm, I would be looking more for potential of development and general perspicacity than anything else.

 

What the hell do I know, though? I'm just an applicant!

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Being an international applicant, who will get a B.A. in English Literature from a non-English speaking country, I guess a funded M.A. wouldn't hurt? 

 

Oh, and one last thing about language requirements- how important are they in applications? I'm a beginner in French and the one thing I can say fluently in French is that I can't speak French. 

 

If you go to school in a non-English speaking country, aren't you at least bilingual? That's more than most Americans. Are there programs that specifically ask for French?

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That said, I've taken the GRE test, and while I think my verbal isn't too bad (164), and hopefully my quant scores aren't dismal (156), I am concerned about my AW score(4.5). I've read through websites and most say they concentrate on the verbal section, but none directly address whether AW scores matter. Do AW scores matter? Since there are SOPs and Writing Samples in the application anyway, I think they shouldn't…. Also, just thinking of the subject test freaks me out. (I'm planning to take it in October.)  

 

From what I understand, the AW score isn't a big deal, and they definitely focus more on the writing sample and SOP.

 

 

But I guess it's the writing sample that is really nerve racking. I can either expand on the papers I've written, or write a new one, but either way I can't help but think that whatever topic I'm writing about is clichéd. Everything is so intimidating (plus I'm probably stressing out too much) but at this point I feel like everything I'm interested in and want to write about has already been studied and written about. 

 

I feel you there. I will most likely use samples from the MA classes I'm currently taking, but I've also been looking at calls for papers to see what people are interested in, presenting about, etc. just in case I did need to write a new one.

 

 

Also, I have just started to compile a list of schools, creating excel and word documents, etc. My interests are in women and gender studies(also, how race works as a factor in such), literature from 19C to modern, child lit and YA lit, and film studies. (Any suggestions on programs?) My concern is that these could appear to broad to adcomms. Anyway, I started with the top 20 and 50 list but have started to realise that fit is more important than ranking.  I'm just astonished by how some web sites seem to be designed for the sake of never giving you any information. 

 

We have a lot of the same interests (*points to signature* lol) and I share your concerns about them appearing to be too broad. I do have certain interests that are a bit more narrow that have developed during my MA program, but I still like a lot of broad categories as well. As far as program recommendations go, I'm still working on narrowing my list so I'm not much help there. And lol about the websites. I've literally axed some schools because their websites were terribly unhelpful.

 

 

Oh, and one last thing about language requirements- how important are they in applications? I'm a beginner in French and the one thing I can say fluently in French is that I can't speak French. 

 

From what I've seen, most schools aren't necessarily expecting you to be fluent upon admission, but they require you to prove reading knowledge in one or two languages by the end of your 2nd or 3rd year. There are, of course, exceptions like UCSC that want you to be able to do work in other languages immediately.

 

Does anyone here knows how a typical CV should be like? Does anyone mind uploading his/her CV, just to be a reference for next year applicants? 

 

I don't have one of my own yet, but I've looked at samples and seen a lot of similarities and differences. I think the information at this site will be most helpful  when I start putting mine together though: http://theprofessorisin.com/2012/01/12/dr-karens-rules-of-the-academic-cv/

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Hey ya'll! I'm happy to share my application materials with anyone who wants to see some examples. PM me if you'd like. I also had some disparate interests, but I presented them as overlapping (or so I was told by some of the professors who reached out to me). 

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Use this time to your advantage and make sure when the end of the year comes, that there was absolutely nothing else you could have done to improve your application. With that said, even if someone reads your writing sample and finds something too familiar about it, I think that's okay too. If I were on an adcomm, I would be looking more for potential of development and general perspicacity than anything else.

 

Champagne, thanks! Good to know AW and quant scores won't matter much. Also, thanks for the advice on writing samples. I guess the best way is to try to show that I am aware of on-going research on the topic, and have my own take on it as well. Anyway, I totally agree, when I look back later I don't want to think I could've done better, improved this and that, etc. :)

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If you go to school in a non-English speaking country, aren't you at least bilingual? That's more than most Americans. Are there programs that specifically ask for French?

 

Isabelarcher: yes, I am bilingual, and speak Korean as well...but sadly it won't be that helpful. The thing is I'm not that interested in Comp Lit, and Asian American Lit is also not my top priority when it comes to fields of interest. Most of the websites I've been to list mainly European languages-French, German, etc, or Spanish and all-, and many state that unless you are studying a related field the requirements must be made by European languages. Hence French, the only European language I've ever studied! 

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We have a lot of the same interests (*points to signature* lol) and I share your concerns about them appearing to be too broad. I do have certain interests that are a bit more narrow that have developed during my MA program, but I still like a lot of broad categories as well. As far as program recommendations go, I'm still working on narrowing my list so I'm not much help there. And lol about the websites. I've literally axed some schools because their websites were terribly unhelpful

 

Escapingindiana: wow we do share many interests! It's nice and encouraging to meet someone else also interested in said fields :) Hopefully both of us will find programs with great fit and get accepted. Now that is some wishful thinking there... but anyways, I actually did the same thing; I started by crossing out programs with unkind websites. There are so many programs out there and I feel like the websites also show how they would take care of students, etc. 

 

Also, thanks for answering my questions. So no need to panic about language requirements yet. Good to know!

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Hey ya'll! I'm happy to share my application materials with anyone who wants to see some examples. PM me if you'd like. I also had some disparate interests, but I presented them as overlapping (or so I was told by some of the professors who reached out to me). 

Just did. Thanks in advance  :) 

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Hey ya'll! I'm happy to share my application materials with anyone who wants to see some examples. PM me if you'd like. I also had some disparate interests, but I presented them as overlapping (or so I was told by some of the professors who reached out to me). 

I just PMed you as well, thanks in avance!  

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Hey ya'll! I'm happy to share my application materials with anyone who wants to see some examples. PM me if you'd like. I also had some disparate interests, but I presented them as overlapping (or so I was told by some of the professors who reached out to me). 

 

If you don't mind sharing with a mostly-lurker, I'd appreciate it, too.  PMing you now.  Thanks so much!

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Hi y'all. Can anyone explain the difference between state schools and other schools? I mean how they're different in terms of funding and how easy/hard to get in. Thanks

 

The differences are rather nuanced. Others can pile in, but here's my impression.

 

State schools are, in part, funded by their state budgets. They have certain obligations to fulfill toward the home state, such as a certain percentage of in-state admissions (this may not be a rule as much as an "unspoken quota" issue), state scholarships, and so on. Since different states' budgets are at different levels, this means that different state universities may be variably inclined toward certain fields. In other words, Republican-majority or Republican-led states typically see their universities suffer when it comes to the humanities, arts, and generally anything related to culture. Recently, the governor of North Carolina disparaged some humanities work at UNC. UNC, of all places. And over in Wisconsin, the university system is suffering badly because of another boneheaded right-wing loon. So, there is that.

 

Private universities (which I obviously favour for these reasons) do not suffer from such obligations. Funding may also be more liberal. Resources, too. Again, this obviously depends on what we're comparing. A small private university versus a major public university such as Berkeley? Clearly Berkeley wins. 

 

And then there are some oddballs like Pittsburgh, which are...neither public nor private, as far as I can make out. I'm actually a bit confused over what exactly Pittsburgh defines itself as, but dazedandbemused has extensive knowledge of Pitt and might be of more help.

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So I mentioned that submitted proposals for the first time a couple days ago. I got an email last night about one of them and almost had a minor freak out just from reading the subject line.

 

Then I read the email, and it was just from the presenter letting me know that they were canceling that session.

 

:(

 

Hi y'all. Can anyone explain the difference between state schools and other schools? I mean how they're different in terms of funding and how easy/hard to get in. Thanks

 

I don't know much about funding differences, but I think the general perception is that state schools are easier to get into. I'm not sure how grounded in reality that really is though.

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So I mentioned that submitted proposals for the first time a couple days ago. I got an email last night about one of them and almost had a minor freak out just from reading the subject line.

 

Then I read the email, and it was just from the presenter letting me know that they were canceling that session.

 

:(

I did the same thing when they emailed me to let me know they had received my submission :)

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Hi y'all. Can anyone explain the difference between state schools and other schools? I mean how they're different in terms of funding and how easy/hard to get in. Thanks

 

I think Swagato covered the funding portion of it perfectly. When it comes to the competitive nature of admission at state schools--it really just depends on the program. Take a look at the graduate school website because they will usually have the statistics of how many people apply vs how many people accepted. I know I'm usually an advocate against taking rankings into account when it comes to choosing a school but they can tell you a lot when you are looking for the competitive part of the process. As the top schools will probably be more competitive than the lower ranked ones--despite public or private. All in all to get the best sense of the school you need to look at programs independently from one another.

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Recently, the governor of North Carolina disparaged some humanities work at UNC. UNC, of all places. And over in Wisconsin, the university system is suffering badly because of another boneheaded right-wing loon. So, there is that.

 

Could you say more about this?

 

I don't know much about funding differences, but I think the general perception is that state schools are easier to get into. I'm not sure how grounded in reality that really is though.

 

No... just no.  Maybe if we're talking about lower-ranked institutions, but being admitted into a top program at a state university isn't any easier than anywhere else.  Think of all the insanely competitive and well-regarded Ph.D. programs in English; many of those are at state schools: UC-Berkeley, UCLA, UC-Irvine, Michigan, UNC-Chapel Hill, UT-Austin, Wisconsin-Madison, etc.

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Could you say more about this?

 

 

No... just no.  Maybe if we're talking about lower-ranked institutions, but being admitted into a top program at a state university isn't any easier than anywhere else.  Think of all the insanely competitive and well-regarded Ph.D. programs in English; many of those are at state schools: UC-Berkeley, UCLA, UC-Irvine, Michigan, UNC-Chapel Hill, UT-Austin, Wisconsin-Madison, etc.

 

Oh I agree. I was just saying what I think the perception is based on what I've seen from other people's statements. There seems to be a good deal of people who think the other schools are, by and large, much more difficult to get into. Personally, based on my own preliminary research, I don't see much of a difference overall. 

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Could you say more about this?

 

1) http://chronicle.com/blogs/conversation/2013/04/01/notes-from-an-employed-philosopher/

 

2) http://chronicle.com/blogs/ticker/north-carolina-governor-wants-to-tie-university-support-to-jobs-not-liberal-arts/54787

 

Edit: I assumed you'd be more interested in the UNC bit since that's where you're headed, but if you're also interested in Wisconsin, just look up Scott Walker and the fun he's created for them. 

Edited by Swagato
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I don't think it's so much about whether or not a school is private or public when it comes to levels of admission difficulty. It's really more dependent upon the caliber of the program. There's definitely lower ranked programs at private universities that are less competitive and relatively easy to get into and higher ranked public schools that are extremely competitive and relatively difficult to get into. I'd imagine the main difference is, as Swagato expressed, a matter of funding.

Edited by Gwendolyn
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Just to throw in my two cents: I went to grad school at UVa, a state school that gets a LOT of funding from private donors / alumni. So there's that, too. Aside from good funding packages for the English grads, there seemed to be a decent amount of paid opportunities floating around over the summer and during term time, etc. Way more money in that grad world than the one I'm in now.

 

Oh and definitely calibre of the program over public/private. I know for certain UVa is no breeze to get into!

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Could you say more about this?

 

 

No... just no.  Maybe if we're talking about lower-ranked institutions, but being admitted into a top program at a state university isn't any easier than anywhere else.  Think of all the insanely competitive and well-regarded Ph.D. programs in English; many of those are at state schools: UC-Berkeley, UCLA, UC-Irvine, Michigan, UNC-Chapel Hill, UT-Austin, Wisconsin-Madison, etc.

 

I'll add that not every school is at the mercy of state financial politics either. My current institution is public, but hasn't been funded by the state in years... (mainly because the state's almost as broke as California). 

 

So really, I don't think anyone can make a blanket statement even about something like funding. That's why it's important to do so much research into each school since there are so much fewer absolutes than say if you're looking at the undergrad level.

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