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Advice for international students!


surlefil

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Is anybody here a foreign student that has applied to a Ph.D. (or intends to do so)?

I would like to know if you have any advice for preparing the applications. I'm from Argentina and I want to apply to a Ph.D. in Aesthetics (continental). These would be some of the questions.

 

1) How should I show I'm a good student if the people that will read my application do not know anything about my university (like how good it is, what is a good GPA there, etc.)?

 

2) How should I choose the professors that will write my letters of recommendation?

 

3) How much do conference presentations, publications, etc. count as the journals in which I published are not very known in the US?

 

4) What should my profile be like? It may sound too general, but when you are not from the US it is not that easy to really be aware of what it is important to aware of!

 

Thank you!!

 

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Hi Surlefil! I'm from Argentina as well!

Is anybody here a foreign student that has applied to a Ph.D. (or intends to do so)? yes, I have applied and been accepted for next fall :D

I would like to know if you have any advice for preparing the applications. I'm from Argentina and I want to apply to a Ph.D. in Aesthetics (continental). These would be some of the questions.

 

1) How should I show I'm a good student if the people that will read my application do not know anything about my university (like how good it is, what is a good GPA there, etc.)? What I did was to tell them in the SOP. I do not know how much they know my university, but you should show all over the place that, regardless the fact they don't know your school, you came out as an outstanding applicant. ;) In some applications I had to complete my average according to our system, you had a place to complete over how many marks your scores is. Anyway, you should get in touch with advisors beforehand and you can talk this out with them.

 

2) How should I choose the professors that will write my letters of recommendation? In Argentina our professors are not used to doing this writing so you should choose them carefully and work with them. First of all, you should choose the ones that have seen you grow, that have worked close to you or/and in some way can provide insightful information about your academic performance. I asked a professor I had for two research seminars and two subjects, my thesis tutor and an employer. It is not common to ask an employer, but talked about this with my POIs (person of interests in the universities I applied) and they agreed that she worked very close to me and could contribute with my application. I had regular meetings with them, and lots of e-mails. I even created a "guide" so that they knew what a LOR is about. I asked them to look at my programs' pages so that they knew what I was applying for. They all took the job very seriously, and they should. If you see that any of your recommenders delays your application, either buzz him/her around or choose another one.

 

3) How much do conference presentations, publications, etc. count as the journals in which I published are not very known in the US? I think the only person that can answer this is a potential advisor, so talk to them. I did not care about this, I included all my publications and conference presentations. You can't blame yourself if they are not known in the northern hemisphere, right?

 

4) What should my profile be like? It may sound too general, but when you are not from the US it is not that easy to really be aware of what it is important to aware of! I don't understand this question, could you expand?

 

Thank you!!

You are welcome!!! 

If you want, you can PM me and I'll give you some hints that other Argentines passed me over. :) 

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Thanks a lot!!! I will PM you right now! As for question 4, what I wanted to know is what should my student profile be like, because in the US I guess every student must know what to say, how to say it, what not to say, if to include in the SOP that he/she played the piano or wrote in the newspaper or whatever. That is to say, what is it that is considered valuable in a student, besides good GPA, good GRE scores, etc.

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I'm from Brazil and I believe my case is pretty similar to yours. Andean, I would appreciate if you could share that information.

 

I talked to other Argentinians who have applied recently and they told me it's hard to say what really matters in your application. One point that might be positive for us is that here in South America (as far as I am concerned of, that's the case in Brazil and Argentina) we take more philosophy classes than in the usual B.A. in North America. But it's hard to say to what extent it really helps your application (if it does at all).

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Hi Reixis, I'll answer your PM here, it may be useful for others :)

 

 

All right, I hope you find my advice helpful! First of all, my field is history but I think what I have learned about applications is applicable (sic) to philosophy as well. Now, you've read what I told Surlefil. I posted something else 

 

Basically, take your time to prepare the app. Browse through schools and departments. If you want to compare them, you can use rankings. I do not trust them THAT much, but they are useful. The three best rankings are this onethis one, and this one. You Brazilians have a lot of connections in the US because your government is more PhD-abroad-friendly. I'd also scan the academia in Brazil and contact any professor that may give you advice on the application process, especially as where to apply. I was accepted at a university I'd have never applied because I did not know it. The fact that I hadn't heard of it means that I needed to do my homework. Even now I think I should have done more research on many others that several scholars mentioned to me. 

 

This is important: talk to people. Write to prospective POIs, to current students and Brazilians that are now in the US. By chance, I had interviews in Buenos Aires with current Argentineans studying in the universities I wanted to apply (who also suggested other places) and even with an Argentine who is currently teaching in the US. I also talked to professors here that graduated abroad. Finally, I contacted students in the programs I was applying to, all of them were very nice and helpful.

 

The application process is long, and the most difficult part, as always, is the SOP and the writing sample. Take your time to prepare these. They will show who you are as a scholar to the ad comms so you want to reflect professionalism, maturity and a clearly defined interests. This is going to sound harsh but just wanting to go to the US does not mean that it will happen. Furthermore, the fact that you probably deserve it does not mean it is going to happen either. This is life and life is though. Work on your SOP and your writing sample. We are not used to write in English, read articles so as to familiarize yourself with format, style and length. In this part I was guided by several graduate students. Ask others to read your work, especially people that has already studied in the US. A student shared this SOP which came in handy.

 

Prepare for GRE. You will spend a lot of time working on your apps: writing, editing, working with recommenders, reading, etc. You will also invest money on apps, TOEFL, sending supporting documents (not all of the universities require them), and sitting for GRE. So take it seriously. It is not an easy exam, but it is not impossible. Work on this as well. I practised at least on hour per day, more on weekends. Practise, practise, practise. TOEFL is simpler. 

 

mmm can't think of anything else. ;) 

 

Keep in touch!

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