Jump to content

Take the plunge or wait for a year?


goodbyesickan

Recommended Posts

Ok, I'm a 30 year old who already has a M.A. in English from Old Dominion University. I spent a couple of years teaching middle school (big mistake) and I'm now looking to eventually get a Ph.D. in Women's Studies or a related field. Naively, I only applied to a few highly prestigious schools this year and was rejected by all of them. My GRE's are wonderful and I know my rec's were great. I'm just not sure how to proceed at this moment and would appreciate any suggestions.

Here's an option I'm considering. I am thinking of beginning an M.A. this fall in a Humanities program with an emphasis in Women's Studies at Old Dominion University (which is a local school for me). Their admission deadline is very late (June 1st for the fall), I believe I have a good chance of acceptance, and my wife's work obligations make it too late to move out of the area this summer.

However, because ODU only offers a limited number of graduate level Women's Studies courses, this program would not be my first choice. I would want to leave open the ability to apply to other schools for admission next fall (at either the M.A. or Ph.D. level). I am wondering if you had an opinion on whether I would hurt or help my chances by beginning the ODU program.

There a few factors as I see it:

1. While I've heard that its understandable to transfer from a M.A. program to a Ph.D. program, I don't know if beginning one M.A. program and then seeking to tranfer to another one would be acceptable.

2. If I did complete the ODU program and then applied for a Ph.D., I don't know if two M.A.'s from the same university would be seen as a strength or a weakness.

3. Since I would want to pursue a Ph.D. program in women's studies or gender studies, I don't know if enrolling in a M.A. that has a interdisciplinary "emphasis" would be seen as somehow less real than waiting to be accepted into a program called "Women's Studies."

Beginning an M.A. seems at first glance to be the best way to increase my desirability, but I don't know if I would be shooting myself in the foot by enrolling in a program that, while I think I would enjoy it, would not have been on my list except for the eleventh hour situation I've placed myself in.

On the other hand, the ODU program allows me to continue to develop academically in my chosen field. Otherwise, I would have to wait until 2010 before beginning a progam.

If you have any thoughts or insights on this, I'd very much appreciate hearing them.

Thanks.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmm, I say if your goal is to do a PhD, then I say shore yourself up so your application can be more competitive next year. I would opt to do some sort of research or writing for publication over the next year in areas that you would be focusing on in the PhD program.

I don't think doing another MA would be worth it, especially if you are coming out of your own pocket to fund it. Also why go through the trouble of transferring to another school. Even if you did go that route, there is no guarantee the other school would take the classes. Have you contacted the universities you were rejected from? It might be a good idea to call those departments and ask for feedback on your application. You may in addition want to see if they will allow you to reuse your transcripts and LORs if you say they were really good.

Finally, please do not apply to any program where you feel you would not be happy. If you feel you will only be happy at top programs, then focus only on those programs and making yourself competitive for them. Same for the MA level. If you do not think you would be happy at ODU for the MA, then do not do it. If you browse this site, you will see countless posts from people bemoaning the fact they only got in to universities they really don't want to attend. So, do only what makes you happy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmm, I say if your goal is to do a PhD, then I say shore yourself up so your application can be more competitive next year. I would opt to do some sort of research or writing for publication over the next year in areas that you would be focusing on in the PhD program.

I don't think doing another MA would be worth it, especially if you are coming out of your own pocket to fund it. Also why go through the trouble of transferring to another school. Even if you did go that route, there is no guarantee the other school would take the classes. Have you contacted the universities you were rejected from? It might be a good idea to call those departments and ask for feedback on your application. You may in addition want to see if they will allow you to reuse your transcripts and LORs if you say they were really good.

Finally, please do not apply to any program where you feel you would not be happy. If you feel you will only be happy at top programs, then focus only on those programs and making yourself competitive for them. Same for the MA level. If you do not think you would be happy at ODU for the MA, then do not do it. If you browse this site, you will see countless posts from people bemoaning the fact they only got in to universities they really don't want to attend. So, do only what makes you happy.

Seconded. All of it. With the caveat that, as I'm sure of course you know, "top programs" is a highly subjective term.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Could you take a class or two as a non-degree student? That way you could take some women's studies grad classes and not have to commit to an MA at a school that isn't a great fit.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My advice:

Don't do the masters. You have been out of school for a bit and in a field like gender studies, it is imperative to be ultra hip and up on the absolute latest work. I'm sure you could do things that could strengthen your profile much more than another masters.

Other things:

Who wrote your letters? Since you have been out of school, it may be tough, but make sure ALL 3 are from university professors. No professional recs for a women studies program, even if they are related.

Are you up on the literature and recent research? The direction of gender literature has shifted greatly in the last 5-10 years. Make sure your research interests are "hip", and that you are using language that really resonates with these types of programs.

I did gender studies in undergrad and nearly applied to programs last year. If you are relatively unfamiliar with the field, there could be huge traps you fell into that could make your app be tossed off the pile right away. PM if you want.

Link to comment
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

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use