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Unique Predicament


MimiG

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Hi everyone! I will be graduating with dual degrees in Marketing and Writing this May and I am utterly clueless as to what I want to do after that. I have always been very interested in the social sciences, so I'm thinking about applying to grad schools for Sociology next year. I have a cumulative GPA of 2.98 as of last semester, but I'm positive this will go up to at least a 3.0 after this one. My major GPA for Writing is around 3.4. I'm also planning to study for and take the GRE sometime this fall. I'm graduating from a small, private liberal arts college in the midwest. If anyone could tell me where exactly I should start in this application process and if I even have a shot at getting into a decent program given my unique situation, I'd be really grateful. Thank you in advance! 

 

Mimi

 

 

 

EDIT: Some more information/questions. I would LOVE to study subcultures, especially fandom cultures. Can you please give some advice on what specific things I could do to steer myself in the right direction for this particular subject? Also, since I only took an Intro to Sociology class in college, I don't have any Soc professors to ask for LoRs. Does it matter if I have my Writing professors and an employer write me LoRs? Please, and thank you!

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I second rising star. I would caution that being interested in a topic is not tantamount to being interested in a field of study. To get a sense of whether the discipline as a whole, rather than the study of subcultures, is something you wish to actively pursue long-term, as an academic, professional, intellectual and theoretical discipline, I'd recommend familiarizing yourself both broadly and deeply with the sociological canon. Revisit your introduction to sociology and read additional works on classic and contemporary theorists as well as articles in ASA and other sociological journals. Practice writing in the vernacular and be sure to frame your research questions sociologically. Your audience will want to know that you are thinking like a sociologist, already attending to that work, that theoretical discipline, in some manner.

 

Have you considered anthropology? What makes your interest in fandom cultures particularly sociological? You'll have to sort that out.

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MimiG,

 

I was once more pondering your comment, "I am utterly clueless as to what I want to do after that. I have always been very interested in the social sciences, so I'm thinking about applying to grad schools for Sociology next year," and a few additional thoughts came to mind.

 

1) Why the rush to go straight from your BA to grad school? If you are feeling clueless, uncertain about what program or discipline is right for you, then consider taking some time off from academia to enter the job market, join the Peace Corps, teach ESL abroad, apply for an internship, or engage in some other venture that offers you invaluable work/life experience and the time you need to clarify and cement your academic/research interests.

 

2) Sounds to me that you are in a state of emergence, a point of reassessing and redefining who you are and what you want. These are the points in life when it is important to step back and take stock. When uncertainty abounds, making intermediate plans or taking intermediary steps may serve your present and future self best. (I speak from experience and as someone who has professionally helped high school and college students in similar situations.) Are you intending to apply exclusively to doctoral programs? Under the circumstances, you may want to consider an MA program in the social sciences or the humanities. It would give you time to dig into the scholarship and an opportunity to raise your GPA before applying to doctoral programs. An MA in Cultural Studies might be an excellent (side) stepping stone, given your writing background. And you can always push your research in CS toward a sociological horizon, making the transition to a PhD program in sociology that much easier. As previously noted, an anthro program might also be an excellent fit, and moreover, depending on the scope of your research interests, a better fit than sociology.

 

3) Echoing the above, and once more reiterating Rising Star's recommendation, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of taking the time you need right now to get to know yourself, your research interests, and ultimately, acquainting yourself further with your chosen discipline, whatever it turns out to be.

 

P.S.: I hope these thoughts do not come across as patronizing. I realize I do not know anything about your background or work/life experience. And I do not wish to underestimate the estimability or force of either one. But your comment gives me urgent pause and raises, if not a red flag, a bold yellow caution sign. Hence, I strongly advise giving yourself the time you deserve to sort this out, muddle through, and get clear about the course of study that would serve you -- and the multidimensional person that you are -- best. If you are a younger, traditional undergrad who is in good overall health, believe me, you have plenty of time. Use it to your advantage.

 

P.P.S: The average GPA of admitted applicants at the two top 20 programs to which I applied was 3.8. At the top 30 program to which I applied, the average GPA of admitted applicants was somewhere between 3.5 and 3.7. It's not impossible to get into a top flight PhD program with a lower than average GPA, but if you're going to try to make that work, the rest of your application, most especially your SOP, will have to be airtight. You will have to demonstrate to the adcomm that you are committed to 5-7 years of sociological study/research, have developed a strong, thoughtful sociological vision, are capable of conducting research, and are an excellent candidate for program completion. Also, what will you contribute to the program...the department, and what are your plans beyond the PhD? You'll have to address all these questions and then some.

---------------------------------

NOTE: Edited for typos. Getting used to this new 11" touchscreen interface is rough.

Edited by La_Di_Da
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MimiG,

 

I was once more pondering your comment, "I am utterly clueless as to what I want to do after that. I have always been very interested in the social sciences, so I'm thinking about applying to grad schools for Sociology next year," and a few additional thoughts came to mind.

 

1) Why the rush to go straight from your BA to grad school? If you are feeling clueless, uncertain about what program or discipline is right for you, then consider taking some time off from academia to enter the job market, join the Peace Corps, teach ESL abroad, apply for an internship, or engage in some other venture that offers you invaluable work/life experience and the time you need to clarify and cement your academic/research interests.

 

2) Sounds to me that you are in a state of emergence, a point of reassessing and redefining who you are and what you want. These are the points in life when it is important to step back and take stock. When uncertainty abounds, making intermediate plans or taking intermediary steps may serve your present and future self best. (I speak from experience and as someone who has professionally helped high school and college students in similar situations.) Are you intending to apply exclusively to doctoral programs? Under the circumstances, you may want to consider an MA program in the social sciences or the humanities. It would give you time to dig into the scholarship and an opportunity to raise your GPA before applying to doctoral programs. An MA in Cultural Studies might be an excellent (side) stepping stone, given your writing background. And you can always push your research in CS toward a sociological horizon, making the transition to a PhD program in sociology that much easier. As previously noted, an anthro program might also be an excellent fit, and moreover, depending on the scope of your research interests, a better fit than sociology.

 

3) Echoing the above, and once more reiterating Rising Star's recommendation, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of taking the time you need right now to get to know yourself, your research interests, and ultimately, acquainting yourself further with your chosen discipline, whatever it turns out to be.

 

P.S.: I hope these thoughts do not come across as patronizing. I realize I do not know anything about your background or work/life experience. And I do not wish to underestimate the estimability or force of either one. But your comment gives me urgent pause and raises, if not a red flag, a bold yellow caution sign. Hence, I strongly advise giving yourself the time you deserve to sort this out, muddle through, and get clear about the course of study that would serve you -- and the multidimensional person that you are -- best. If you are a younger, traditional undergrad who is in good overall health, believe me, you have plenty of time. Use it to your advantage.

 

P.P.S: The average GPA of admitted applicants at the two top 20 programs to which I applied was 3.8. At the top 30 program to which I applied, the average GPA of admitted applicants was somewhere between 3.5 and 3.7. It's not impossible to get into a top flight PhD program with a lower than average GPA, but if you're going to try to make that work, the rest of your application, most especially your SOP, will have to be airtight. You will have to demonstrate to the adcomm that you are committed to 5-7 years of sociological study/research, have developed a strong, thoughtful sociological vision, are capable of conducting research, and are an excellent candidate for program completion. Also, what will you contribute to the program...the department, and what are your plans beyond the PhD? You'll have to address all these questions and then some.

---------------------------------

NOTE: Edited for typos. Getting used to this new 11" touchscreen interface is rough.

 

Thank you for all the great insight! You have given me a good deal to think about. I think I will definitely take my time deciding not just if this is what I want, but also if this is right for me. I'm revisiting my Intro notes right now, then I have plans to start reading up on Subcultures and any other Sociological literature that strikes my fancy. Meanwhile, I will also study for GRE and look up some MA programs. I had not thought of Anthropology, so thanks for bringing that up. Thank you so much for responding, and responding so thoroughly. It is greatly appreciated! 

 

-Mimi

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I'm at the tail-end of my MA in Sociology. My department has someone who's considered an expert in subcultures, particularly music subcultures, but my bet is he is familiar with the kind of stuff you're talking about. I actually TA for him. Feel free to PM me if you want a little more info about our program. It's an MA program with pretty good funding.

Just PM'd you! Thanks! 

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