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Hey everyone, I just signed up for this website, and I'm hoping it'll be a big help to me as I get ready to apply to graduate school Ph.D programs this coming fall (for admission into the Fall 2014 cohorts). I'm graduating from a school where there is no faculty member for my field of graduate study interest, so I've been kinda shooting in the dark as far as what to look for in a school, where to find conferences, etc.

 

I'm graduating in the spring of 2014 with a B.A. in history. What I would like to study at the graduate level is the history and civilization of the Imperial and post-Imperial histories of the Roman Mediterranean World: not just the people and leaders of the city of Rome, but the wider Roman world, from Germania to Britain to Hispania, North Africa, Syria, Egypt, Palestine -- all around the empire and beyond its frontiers wherever its influence could be felt. The eras/regions I am most interested in are the Roman World's Imperial period (from 50s BCE-470s CE) first and foremost, the Western post-Imperial period (to 800s CE) second most, the Eastern Imperial period (to 800s or so) third most, and then some tertiary fields like Republican Rome, Anglo-Saxon Britain, and the Vikings more distantly. I'm more interested in the waning of "Roman" civilization than I am in the birth of Medieval Europe, and so I've been told my interests are more in line with Roman-Era and Late Antiquity than Early Medieval and Byzantine Studies. (Does this sound about right?)

 

I've been going through and assembling a list of schools to apply to based on my interests, and I've got either 8 or 9, but I could use a little help: I'm trying to figure out whether these schools are all a good fit. Whenever I contact one of them I am invariably treated to a round of 'Yes! Rome! We like Rome! You come! We study! Rome good!' Rah rah!-ism without any specifics, and I've had very little luck finding faculty that specialize in any form of Late Antiquity studies (if I only wanted to study Roman-Era history I'm fine, but since I want to study both Roman-Era and Late Antiquity, things seem to be more complicated.)

 

These are the schools/programs I've got on my list right now:

 

1. Stanford's Classics Department has a program in Ancient History which is primarily focused on the history of the Mediterranean World. This works out great for my study of Roman-Era history, but I'm not too sure they have sufficient faculty to guide me in Late Antiquity studies.

2. UC Berkeley has an Ancient History Ph.D which actually offers everything that I am looking for.

3. UCLA also offers an Ancient History Ph.D. that seems to offer everything I am looking for.

4. University of Washington at Seattle offers an MA-> Ph.D program which offers faculty in both Ancient and Late Antique studies.

5. Harvard University --  It's probably the school I am least likely to get into, but I'd like to at least apply to one 'Shoot for the Moon' school.

6. Brown University  -- offers a fantastic program.

7. University of Ann Arbor, MI is a safe school

8. University of Twin Cities, MN  is another safe school.

9. University of Southern California, at Los Angeles -- their classics department MAY have a Ph.D. program concentration in Ancient History, but I've been unable to get a response from them when I've e-mailed. Does anyone know whether or not this is true?

 

Does anyone have any other possible suggestions for programs that I could look into, or is this a pretty comprehensive list? I want to stay out of the South, the Midwest, or the Mid-Atlantic States, and UC Santa Barbara is just a bit too much of a commute for my spouse to any teaching jobs they might get in Los Angeles to really make it worthwhile.

 

Finally, does anyone know whether attending a Classics or an interdisciplinary History-Classics program would have a negative impact on my ability to get a job post-grad school in terms of teaching history? I'd like the opportunity to pick up enough 'Classics' cred to also teach "Roman Civ" and "Greek Civ" courses, but my primary focus is in history.

 

Thanks for all your help.

Edited by NorthernLights
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I'm always going to ask this of any undergraduate anxious to continue right onto graduate school.  Have you thought about taking a year or two off?

 

If you want to be a profssor, then let me ask this: Given your geographic limitations, suppose you get a tenure track job in any of those areas that you said you don't want to be in, what would you do?  Turn it down and get a different kind of job?

 

As to your interests, it still sounds way too broad.  Is there a specific theme you're interested in like the military, gender, sexuality...?  If you want to cover broad geography, you'll need a theme or very specific time period to tie all the places together.

 

Do you have languages?

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I wonder if OP is an older undergrad/nontrad student though? After all, he/she has a spouse already. In that case he/she might already have enough life experience to know this is what he/she wants.

 

OP, I would caution that you're really top-loading your list with institutions that are elite from a lay perspective. You can't write off Michigan as a "safety" -- it's a really formidable graduate institution that ranks in the top ten for history. While Brown, for one, is an Ivy League school with a lot of name brand appeal, its department isn't quite as reputable in the field overall.

 

That said, I second Brown for your interests, which is at least as important as overall reputation. I can vouch for Jonathan Conant who's now there and does late antiquity, specializing in North Africa. I don't know how he is with grad students he supervises (or the extent to which he does) but I was always impressed in my interactions with him. You should know that Brown is a very small graduate community overall, though, if that is something that concerns you.

 

You may also want to consider Cornell. Eric Rebillard also works on late antiquity. And Barry Strauss covers the ancient world in general, though his research focus tends to be military.

Edited by czesc
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OP, I would caution that you're really top-loading your list with institutions that are elite from a lay perspective. You can't write off Michigan as a "safety" -- it's a really formidable graduate institution that ranks in the top ten for history. While Brown, for one, is an Ivy League school with a lot of name brand appeal, its department isn't quite as reputable in the field overall.

 

 

I was going to say exactly this - no school is ever really "safe," but I would be really be hard pressed to think of Michigan as safe, at all. They get somewhere in the realm of 350-400 applicants a year, but only 10-15 ultimately end up attending; it's possible to get in, of course, but the odds aren't stacked in anyone's favor. Same as Minnesota - they might not have the same rankings, but they would be as competitive. Look around this board for a little bit and you'll realize that people who are dream applicants on paper, who have perfect GPAs and stellar writing samples and LORs, get rejected from half or over half or all of the schools they apply to. 

 

I understand not wanting to move to certain regions - I know I don't want to live in New York, for example! But I'm wondering if you could be missing out on some good programs just because they're not in your prime locales; you don't have to apply to them, obviously, but I would really look into all your options before you decide to write off whole regions entirely. Indiana, OSU, and especially Wisconsin are also strong programs; UT-Austin, UNC, and UVa are similarly well regarded. I have no idea if they would even have faculty in your area of interest, but it doesn't hurt to look and you might be surprised.

Edited by girlscoutcookies
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I'm always going to ask this of any undergraduate anxious to continue right onto graduate school.  Have you thought about taking a year or two off?

 

If you want to be a profssor, then let me ask this: Given your geographic limitations, suppose you get a tenure track job in any of those areas that you said you don't want to be in, what would you do?  Turn it down and get a different kind of job?

 

As to your interests, it still sounds way too broad.  Is there a specific theme you're interested in like the military, gender, sexuality...?  If you want to cover broad geography, you'll need a theme or very specific time period to tie all the places together.

 

Do you have languages?

 

As someone else noted, I am an older undergrad. I dropped out of college when I was 20, came back when I was 31, with a drive to do what I've ALWAYS wanted to do: teach college students Roman history and do ground breaking historical research.

 

I'm extremely, extremely unlikely to get a job in most of the areas I've written off for same reasons that I don't want to study there, but it's personal and I don't want to go into it. Yes: that may limit my options, but I don't want to live anywhere where there's no employment or housing discrimination laws that cover me - I've done it before, and it's just asking for trouble.

 

And I do have more specific interests (Roman Frontier Relations in the Northwest of the Empire, Development of Roman Civilization in the North West, Transition of the North Western Imperial Provinces from an Imperial to a Post-Imperial Society)- but since most of the grad schools I've encountered say "Pick 3-4 broad areas of study interest", that was what I laid out in my OP. :)

 

I know that I have picked a number of top schools. I did NOT know, actually, that Michigan was so competitive -- but this is good. Learning this from you helps me to reasses - maybe I need another school, another 'safe' school - maybe I should work harder on finding a way to make Santa Barbara a possibility? I do have faculty inside Minnesota who are encouraging me to go there, so I do consider that to be as safe as anything on my list - it's a known quantity, and if they turn me down, then I probably need to reasses my approach. What about Seattle? It's higher on my desired list because it has both program AND geographic locale, but it does not appear to be nearly as prestigious. Does anyone know of easier-to-get-into schools in the regions I mentioned that I can use as more 'safety' schools?

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I was going to say exactly this - no school is ever really "safe," but I would be really be hard pressed to think of Michigan as safe, at all. They get somewhere in the realm of 350-400 applicants a year, but only 10-15 ultimately end up attending; it's possible to get in, of course, but the odds aren't stacked in anyone's favor. Same as Minnesota - they might not have the same rankings, but they would be as competitive. Look around this board for a little bit and you'll realize that people who are dream applicants on paper, who have perfect GPAs and stellar writing samples and LORs, get rejected from half or over half or all of the schools they apply to. 

 

I understand not wanting to move to certain regions - I know I don't want to live in New York, for example! But I'm wondering if you could be missing out on some good programs just because they're not in your prime locales; you don't have to apply to them, obviously, but I would really look into all your options before you decide to write off whole regions entirely. Indiana, OSU, and especially Wisconsin are also strong programs; UT-Austin, UNC, and UVa are similarly well regarded. I have no idea if they would even have faculty in your area of interest, but it doesn't hurt to look and you might be surprised.

 

"Get rejected from half or over half of all the schools they applied to" -- I know. I originally started out with a list of 13 schools. I cut ones that were iffy because A) my spouse is unlikely to get a job there because of the remoteness, B) Their program did not offer anything to me, C) the commute from a major metropolitan area (where my wife would likely get a job adjuncting/working in writing centers/interning with poetry journals) is too high - over 2 hours. Santa Barbara is just under a 2 hour commute from Los Angeles, but knowing Los Angeles traffic as I do, I'm not sure if it's worth trying. We could try to live in Sun Valley and make it work, but neither of us really want to do that.

 

Anyway, I narrowed down to 8, with a possible 9th. The experience of all my grad-school friends has suggested that given that number, I will probably get into at least ONE of them, and all of them are schools I have researched extensively and am more than willing to attend. I'm still trying to get information on USC - their website is blindingly unhelpful and I don't know anyone who knows anyone in the program, and for some reason they wont return my e-mails. But ... maybe what I'm asking isn't possible, but given the 8-10 schools I'm applying to, given the geographic limits of my search, is this a fairly comprehensive list, or am I missing anything  important?

Edited by NorthernLights
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I wonder if OP is an older undergrad/nontrad student though? After all, he/she has a spouse already. In that case he/she might already have enough life experience to know this is what he/she wants.

 

OP, I would caution that you're really top-loading your list with institutions that are elite from a lay perspective. You can't write off Michigan as a "safety" -- it's a really formidable graduate institution that ranks in the top ten for history. While Brown, for one, is an Ivy League school with a lot of name brand appeal, its department isn't quite as reputable in the field overall.

 

That said, I second Brown for your interests, which is at least as important as overall reputation. I can vouch for Jonathan Conant who's now there and does late antiquity, specializing in North Africa. I don't know how he is with grad students he supervises (or the extent to which he does) but I was always impressed in my interactions with him. You should know that Brown is a very small graduate community overall, though, if that is something that concerns you.

 

You may also want to consider Cornell. Eric Rebillard also works on late antiquity. And Barry Strauss covers the ancient world in general, though his research focus tends to be military.

 

So does that multiquote option allow me to respond to several posts simultaneously? Sorry, my first time trying to use this forum.

 

Regarding the 'elite'ness of the schools I'm listing, I know. It's sort of difficult becase A) I can't afford to go to any school that doesn't offer enough financial aid to sustain me until I can start teaching undergrads, B) They have the programs with the best matchups in terms of academic fields taught and interdisciplinary options. Brown is one of the ones I find most exciting - their program seems to be truly unique and amazing, and I would be thrilled to go there.

 

I didn't pick ANY of the schools on my list because they were prestigious - and in fact I cut Princeton and Yale because I figured I was applying to enough top-tier programs as it was and I wanted more room (on a list of 8, at the time) for less prestigious programs. Is UC Santa Barbara a very prestigious school?

 

Oh, and I will give Cornell another look, thank you.

Edited by NorthernLights
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The first thought I had was that the areas of interest you've chosen - Imperial Rom and Late Antiquity - are vastly divergent. This isn't a huge problem if you're willing to do either, but don't apply to schools with the intent to do both. That seems to me to be a surefire way to get thrown on the "Doesn't know what they want to do" pile. 

 

Also: what languages do you know, and how well?

 

I would also say that I'm in a similar position; I got my BA (ALB, actually) this May at the age of 27. I, too, dropped out of college back when I was 20. I applied to 8 doctoral programs and was told across the board that they liked my apps, but that I needed to get a MA and come back to show them I wasn't a risk. Fortunately, I had applied to those as well. I would do the same.

 

Finally, as others have said, there are no safe schools.

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[O]r am I missing anything  important?

 

Yes.

 

You spend almost as much time talking about what you don't want to do than what you do want to do.

 

How do you think that level of ambivalence (for lack of a better term) is going to compare to equally qualified applicants who are willing to do what they need to do to earn their doctorate?

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In terms of "prestige" within the discipline, the USNWR rankings may be controversial but come relatively close to an accurate representation of how people feel in history about programs, as opposed to the general impression of schools by the public at large:

 

http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-humanities-schools/history-rankings

Edited by czesc
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The first thought I had was that the areas of interest you've chosen - Imperial Rom and Late Antiquity - are vastly divergent. This isn't a huge problem if you're willing to do either, but don't apply to schools with the intent to do both. That seems to me to be a surefire way to get thrown on the "Doesn't know what they want to do" pile. 

 

Also: what languages do you know, and how well?

 

I would also say that I'm in a similar position; I got my BA (ALB, actually) this May at the age of 27. I, too, dropped out of college back when I was 20. I applied to 8 doctoral programs and was told across the board that they liked my apps, but that I needed to get a MA and come back to show them I wasn't a risk. Fortunately, I had applied to those as well. I would do the same.

 

Finally, as others have said, there are no safe schools.

 

Languages: Latin, Greek, French, German. Working on Italian.

 

No one I've read or talked to on the subject who has been published and or is researching recently has suggested to me that Roman History and Late Antique are divergent fields. In fact, most of the professors and scholars I've talked to have encouraged me to understand and explore continuities and persistant trends between Imperial Roman and Late Antique history, to - to the best of my ability - ignore artificial boundaries between them, and not to fail to recognize the effect that 6th, 7th, and 8th century Imperial Rome in the East had on the still-Roman civilizations in the West. This is the most consistent direction I've recieved from correspondants and unofficial advisors in terms of my scholarly pursuits on the subject.

 

Also, if having interests in more than one field is really a problem then why do so many of the programs require you to pick 3-4 specialization fields, such as Roman History, Greek History, Byzantine, and some subfield? Like, in what way is studying GREEK HISTORY more relevant for me than Late Antiquity?

 

Also, I may be a returning student, but I'm still getting a traditional degree: I went back to school in 2010 in LA at a Community College to raise my GPA high enough so that I could get into a 4 year state university, and since I've returned I've only gotten 4.0s in every class, and I've taken (and will take next year) 2 extra years worth of upper division and independent study classes in order to not only raise my GPA but to get a substantial academic background in the field I want to study. All that said, I am very cautious about my prospects of getting in, which is why I'm trying to find more schools in the areas I feel safe living in to apply to. I've considered the possibility of applying to MA programs, but in my case that does not seem feasible, as I do not believe I have the credit rating required to get Plus loans and cannot afford an MA program only just Staffords. It is Ph.D program or bust. And I will continue to apply year after year until I get into one if that's nessecary. I also have university contacts at schools like Minnesota-Twin Cities who are interested in helping me get in.

 

Yes.

 

You spend almost as much time talking about what you don't want to do than what you do want to do.

 

How do you think that level of ambivalence (for lack of a better term) is going to compare to equally qualified applicants who are willing to do what they need to do to earn their doctorate?

 

There's a big difference between telling an informal group of my peers "I can't go to school in the south, midwest, or mid-atlantic states because they're run by crazy people who hate hate hate people like me" and applying to grad school and telling them all of the crazy things I've done so far just to get to where I am and how willing I am to do anything --at one of their schools-- to get a Ph.D, how it's the one thing I do anymore: prep for grad school, practice my language forms from dawn to dusk 7 days a week, intern at academic journals, write academic book reviews and have them published, publish my own research, look for conferences to attend, network network network, etc.

 

In terms of "prestige" within the discipline, the USNWR rankings may be controversial but come relatively close to an accurate representation of how people feel in history about programs, as opposed to the general impression of schools by the public at large:

 

http://grad-schools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-humanities-schools/history-rankings

 

Thank you! This is very helpful. They must have just updated that list, the last one I looked at was from like 2007.

Edited by NorthernLights
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There's a big difference between telling an informal group of my peers "I can't go to school in the south, midwest, or mid-atlantic states because they're run by crazy people who hate hate hate people like me" and applying to grad school and telling them all of the crazy things I've done so far just to get to where I am and how willing I am to do anything --at one of their schools-- to get a Ph.D, how it's the one thing I do anymore: prep for grad school, practice my language forms from dawn to dusk 7 days a week, intern at academic journals, write academic book reviews and have them published, publish my own research, look for conferences to attend, network network network, etc.

 

 

Bluntly, I think you should dial down your attitude and increase your situational awareness.

  • Is it safe for you to assume that members of admissions committees do not know about the Grad Cafe and lurk here?
  • Is it smart for you to come to a forum, ask for guidance, and then start arguing with people who have different information and perspectives than you about the state of your field? (You do realize that telkanuru goes to Harvard and might have some information and/or a POV about that school's approach to the classics that may be useful to you?)
  • Is it wise to think that you're good enough of an actor that your mask is not going to slip and your intolerance isn't going to shine through?
    • Do you know for a fact that none of the professors you're going to rely upon for guidance and support in the coming years don't come from states run by "crazy people"?
  • And what does it say about your willingness to do "anything" when
    • you are using out of date resources,
    • you are completely on the wrong page about Michigan, and
    • you seem unwilling to pick up a cell phone and dial (213) 821-5303 and ask Thomas Habinek your questions about USC?
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I would just add that although you seem to be bent on "not discussing" why you don't want to move to the southern/midwestern states, you are dropping quite a bit of personal information on here. I don't care, personally, but as Sigaba pointed out earlier, there are faculty and/or admissions people (including grad students, who often serve in admissions commitees) that do read the boards and might be able to put two and two together.

Also, the job market in ancient history is really tough in an already bad job market for all historians, so keep that in mind. You may have to apply to a job in a place you don't necessarily love because it might be the only job open in your field and specialty that year, and you will be fighting 200 other people who desperately want it. Some schools have gutted classics, others have no ancient historians of Europe at all. Heck, I am in a field that has done *slightly* better than average, and will consider myself lucky to beat 300 people to get a job one day in a tiny town in the midwest.

In terms of the list of schools, I think you should do research on the specific faculty in those programs and contact them to see whether they are taking anyone, whether those faculty plan to be around, etc. I left the field of Late Antiquity, which I worked on as an undergrad at one of your listed institutions (I simply changed interests, though the dim job prospects definitely made my decision to switch easier). My then-advisor is no longer there, though the university still lists them as faculty (and has another faculty member in my current field who teaches on the other coast). So, rather than ask us to find programs, you need to do your own research.

Finally, a lot of programs are not responding to emails right now bc professors are traveling. My advisor and I are on the same continent right now (and it's not North America). :)

Edited by CageFree
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Languages: Latin, Greek, French, German. Working on Italian.

 

Competency matters as well, and how that competency is demonstrated, particularly if you have LoRs which talk about your language skills.

 

No one I've read or talked to on the subject who has been published and or is researching recently has suggested to me that Roman History and Late Antique are divergent fields. In fact, most of the professors and scholars I've talked to have encouraged me to understand and explore continuities and persistant trends between Imperial Roman and Late Antique history, to - to the best of my ability - ignore artificial boundaries between them, and not to fail to recognize the effect that 6th, 7th, and 8th century Imperial Rome in the East had on the still-Roman civilizations in the West. This is the most consistent direction I've recieved from correspondants and unofficial advisors in terms of my scholarly pursuits on the subject.

 

In your initial post, you gave a period of interest that covered 50 BCE to 800 CE and a geographic space from the British Isles to Baghdad, with no definite preference for social, intellectual, economic, etc. specialization. A critical approach to periodization and place is fine, but your stated interests still still strike me as being very separate, and even in different departments. 

 

Also, if having interests in more than one field is really a problem then why do so many of the programs require you to pick 3-4 specialization fields, such as Roman History, Greek History, Byzantine, and some subfield? Like, in what way is studying GREEK HISTORY more relevant for me than Late Antiquity?

 

I think you're confusing your generals fields with your stated research interest. They are not the same thing. The point of generals is that they are general. A thesis is not.

 

Also, I may be a returning student, but I'm still getting a traditional degree: I went back to school in 2010 in LA at a Community College to raise my GPA high enough so that I could get into a 4 year state university, and since I've returned I've only gotten 4.0s in every class, and I've taken (and will take next year) 2 extra years worth of upper division and independent study classes in order to not only raise my GPA but to get a substantial academic background in the field I want to study. All that said, I am very cautious about my prospects of getting in, which is why I'm trying to find more schools in the areas I feel safe living in to apply to. I've considered the possibility of applying to MA programs, but in my case that does not seem feasible, as I do not believe I have the credit rating required to get Plus loans and cannot afford an MA program only just Staffords. It is Ph.D program or bust. And I will continue to apply year after year until I get into one if that's nessecary. I also have university contacts at schools like Minnesota-Twin Cities who are interested in helping me get in.

 

Whatever makes you feel good about yourself, but I think you're blinding yourself to how hard this really is. I applied with a Harvard diploma and a 3.8, with LoRs from three tenured Harvard faculty members and a 167/158 GRE. I had demonstrated competency in Latin, Old English, French, and German. I was still told by the schools I applied to (Harvard, HDS, Yale, ND, UMinn, UChicago, BC, BU) that they liked my app a heck of a lot, but that I needed to get a MA before they would really consider my app. I'm not saying you will encounter the same thing - a lot of the admissions process can seem random - but I would be prepared to not get into any PhD programs. Unless you have a way to stay in academia after, I don't see what good subsequent reapplications might do you, particularly if your apps were to be rejected for similar reasons.

 

There are also some funded MA programs. I believe there was a list around this forum somewhere. I receive $20k a year in institutional support in the form of grants for mine, to cover $29k of tuition and fees. If this is something you're really interested in, an MA is something you need to consider, particularly when you consider the fact that most of the most competitive people you're going to be applying against will have one. 

 

Or not, I'm a grad student, not a cop.

 

I would also add that Sigaba and CageFree are totally correct and very much worth listening to.

 

In closing, I would emphasize, once again, that there is no such thing as a safety school.

 

Late edit: out of curiosity, which professor(s) at Harvard were you hoping to work with?

Edited by telkanuru
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I would just add that although you seem to be bent on "not discussing" why you don't want to move to the southern/midwestern states, you are dropping quite a bit of personal information on here. I don't care, personally, but as Sigaba pointed out earlier, there are faculty and/or admissions people (including grad students, who often serve in admissions commitees) that do read the boards and might be able to put two and two together.

 

 

Case in point: A colleague of mine told me about this prospective applicant who e-mailed him.  I recognized the person's interests and background from his/her posts on the GradCafe.  This colleague's one of the most respected students in the department and professors deeply value him and his person was interested in working with one of his committee members.  So he was careful in his responses after I told him of my impressions of this particular poster.  It's unlikely that this applicant will end up applying to my program.  

 

I think what Sigaba and CageFree are trying to say is that you need to be mindful of how you're coming across people on these boards and in life.  Academia is hard as it is and nobody wants a difficult, argumentative colleague.  In fact, I go to a program that's solid in your interests but you don't want to come to this area of the country and I don't get a sense of collegiality here so I hesitate to even PM you to convince you to give my program a look.

 

I know this seems a  bit harsh but I'm giving you a teaspoonful of bitter medicine of how academia works.

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Well, I don't know about the rest of you, but TMP's post definitely has me questioning how many of the admissions decisions I received were colored by any of my comments on Gradcafe! I'd considered the possibility but assumed that most people with the power to make decisions weren't likely to be spending their time lurking around here. I hadn't thought so much about grad students influencing the process so closely...

 

Going back to the geography question -- NorthernLights, I'm a bit confused. The Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and South are very diverse culturally and politically...it's strange to me that you'd find all of these places objectionable. Not to mention that there's considerable diversity within these regions...New York and Chicago are not Smallville, Illinois and Smallville, PA...and most college towns and neighborhoods have fairly similar cultures and politics, anyway - at least, while they're flavored by their regions, they're equally flavored by a sort of national academic culture that make them distinct from their surroundings as well.

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[quote name="czesc" post="1058006454" timestamp="1374645890"

 

Going back to the geography question -- NorthernLights, I'm a bit confused. The Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and South are very diverse culturally and politically...it's strange to me that you'd find all of these places objectionable. Not to mention that there's considerable diversity within these regions...New York and Chicago are not Smallville, Illinois and Smallville, PA...and most college towns and neighborhoods have fairly similar cultures and politics, anyway - at least, while they're flavored by their regions, they're equally flavored by a sort of national academic culture that make them distinct from their surroundings as well.This. Take Austin, TX. I didn't apply to UT-Austin because I thought... "ugh, Texas," and I'm from LA (totally stupid on my part). Later I found out it's really progressive, probably more so than some other places I applied to. So... just evaluate a program on its own merits and evaluate each locale. Austin would be far more welcoming to people who march to the beat of their own drum than say, Irvine.

Edited by CageFree
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Going back to the geography question -- NorthernLights, I'm a bit confused. The Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, and South are very diverse culturally and politically...it's strange to me that you'd find all of these places objectionable. Not to mention that there's considerable diversity within these regions...New York and Chicago are not Smallville, Illinois and Smallville, PA...and most college towns and neighborhoods have fairly similar cultures and politics, anyway - at least, while they're flavored by their regions, they're equally flavored by a sort of national academic culture that make them distinct from their surroundings as well.

This. Take Austin, TX. I didn't apply to UT-Austin because I thought... "ugh, Texas," and I'm from LA (totally stupid on my part). Later I found out it's really progressive, probably more so than some other places I applied to. So... just evaluate a program on its own merits and evaluate each locale. Austin would be far more welcoming to people who march to the beat of their own drum than say, Irvine.

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I gotta be honest, it's been interesting to watch this thread. As someone who thinks I know what I'm getting into I think there is an instinct here that's a little OMG to people from outside. It's super aggressive. But it's not to drive people out so much as it is to explain that, for better or worse, this is how this world works. I hope the original poster looks at all this, realizes that this is a fraction of the difficulty he or she will face in the real academic world, and chooses whether or not they're ready for it on that basis. I absolutely cherish it, but that is not how everyone will react...

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I gotta be honest, it's been interesting to watch this thread. As someone who thinks I know what I'm getting into I think there is an instinct here that's a little OMG to people from outside. It's super aggressive. But it's not to drive people out so much as it is to explain that, for better or worse, this is how this world works. I hope the original poster looks at all this, realizes that this is a fraction of the difficulty he or she will face in the real academic world, and chooses whether or not they're ready for it on that basis. I absolutely cherish it, but that is not how everyone will react...

 

 

 

The advice I've received from this message board has been invaluable.

I don't know what I would have done last year without TMP, StrageLight, Safferz, and others.

I hope in 2 years I'll have something worthwhile to offer newer people.

Until then...

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I think what Sigaba and CageFree are trying to say is that you need to be mindful of how you're coming across people on these boards and in life.  Academia is hard as it is and nobody wants a difficult, argumentative colleague.

 

To be clear, I'm saying something a bit different.

 

Bluntly, the OP reflects a lean back approach to history because it asks for answers that should already be known, it rests in part upon a foundation of misinformation, and it asks for help when additional acts of self reliance and creative thought have clearly not been executed. I understand that some of my posts are controversial, even unpopular, but for the love of Klio. There are members of this BB who say they want to be historians but exhibit a profound unwillingness to do research or to think dynamically.

 

Here's the thing. Graduate school in history is very much a lean forward experience. Asking questions like "What should I do/read/think now?" will get you used as a chew toy.* Conversely, graduate students who say "This is what I'm doing/reading/thinking now ..." will get cut a lot of slack--even when they're screwing up in a big way--and they will be often given hints of the answers to questions they'd not have thought to ask.

 

Yes, this dynamic may not be entirely fair, especially since it is exceeding unlikely that many professors are going to tell you the rules of the road in ways that make sense right away, or even in a couple of years.  Moreover, those professors who are inclined towards mentoring are going to play favorites.**

 

Yet, things are what they are. One can use resources like the Grad Cafe to figure out ways to lean forward. Or not.

 

 

_____________________________________________

* During a meeting of an introductory seminar on historiography, a first year student asked the professor, who was also the DGS, a question that all of us wanted to hear the answer. With one exception, the other students in the class gave their classmate an "I wish I'd asked that" look of approval. The one other student looked down at his notebook because he sensed what was going to happen next. And it did. The professor looked at the student who asked the question and destroyed him.

** When you're sitting in a professor's office and he or she says something that almost sounds like a casual throw-away comment and then smiles somewhat smirkily--as if a joke has been told and you didn't hear the punch line--that's when you will know you're being mentored. Or maybe you're just being toyed with. Often, it is the same thing.

 

So a challenge aspiring history graduate students face at a place like the Grade Cafe is to figure out ways to make the transition from the sensibilities of an undergraduate towards the comportment of a graduate student even though the concerns you have as someone trying to get into a program are more immediate.

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** When you're sitting in a professor's office and he or she says something that almost sounds like a casual throw-away comment and then smiles somewhat smirkily--as if a joke has been told and you didn't hear the punch line--that's when you will know you're being mentored. Or maybe you're just being toyed with. Often, it is the same thing.

Crap. Or yay? 

 

It strikes me that the above is a fairly concise yet accurate summary of graduate school in general.

Edited by telkanuru
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