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2nd-time applicants -- how do you maintain your confidence?


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I agree with Iphi. Work on your application and any gaps you see. 

The first time I applied I was in the final year of my undergrad and I got rejected across the board. Since then I worked for a couple of years and did an MA in the UK, and now here I am applying again, with a significantly better application (in my opinion, and I've got one acceptance so far). 

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I agree with Iphi. Work on your application and any gaps you see. 

The first time I applied I was in the final year of my undergrad and I got rejected across the board. Since then I worked for a couple of years and did an MA in the UK, and now here I am applying again, with a significantly better application (in my opinion, and I've got one acceptance so far). 

 

 

This. For one, learning to cope with rejection will come in handy in the future, especially in this field. But beyond that, if you have to find another option, do so. You know that if after the dust settles you wish to go for round two with the PhD applications you have about a year to kill before you are accepted and start classes. Take that year to try out a new field, work a crappy (or awesome) job and pay down student loans, or simple cultivate some kind of skill. You may just find your calling or feel even more resolved when telling your friends and family that you'd like to dedicate yourself to literature as opposed to becoming a lawyer. Seriously though, it's not a bad thing to step back from academia every once in a while.

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I applied twice before being successful this round. A lot of this has been covered in previous discussions, but here's how I handled it.

 

1) Take the time in between to take classes, apply to and present at conferences, polish your writing samples, raise your GRE scores, or do anything else that will improve your application and fulfill that scholarly desire.

 

2) Apply to more schools, and if at all possible, make sure you are researching schools well and applying to the ones where your work will fit, not just those that are nearby or obvious for other reasons.

 

3) Apply to outside scholarships and fellowships, such as the Fulbright. This, like the first, helps in more than one way. It might help you to be a more competitive applicant, but it will also teach you how to manage multiple fronts and write in a more clear and concise manner.

 

4) Contact POI's. This is iffy, but if there is a good reason to do it .. like you have read your POI's work and want to know more or have a (reasonable) request, it might help. I was really nervous and uncertain, but it helped me to gain confidence and communicate my work.

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Long time lurker here. This is actually my third consecutive application cycle (with a fourth one back in '09 when I applied to PhDs and MAs, and ended up getting my MA-- which, I will throw out there, was an amazing experience).

 

My first cycle I applied to only 4 schools as I was finishing my MA (writing a thesis, classes, teaching). I received two waitlists (including one at my dream school) but nothing panned out.

 

My second cycle I applied to 11 schools and got nothing. All flat rejections.

 

Now I'm on my third cycle, and I've applied to 20 schools. Right now I'm sitting on 4 outright rejections, with a potential 6 or so implicit rejections. 

 

The truth is . . .it's hard! The process beats us all up. People tell you that it's a competitive process, which only makes you think-- Well, aren't I competitive? It's random and strange and completely illogical. You try to live your day to day life despite the fear hanging over your head-- is this the day? Who will I hear from today? It's relentless (for me, only made worse by my partner and my birthdays, as well as Valentines day, right smack dab in the worst of notification season). 

 

All you can really do is be persistent. Keep up with scholarship. Retake the GREs. Write the DGS at schools you've been rejected from and ask for feedback. Try to get published. And most of all, don't lose hope. I can tell you that I've had numerous conversations with my SO (who is in his second year of a fantastic English PhD program) about what I (and we) will do if this doesn't pan out. It's good to have a game plan, but at the end of the day, as much as you whine and complain and bemoan this field, and the application process, and the eventual job market . . . you just hope. It's the best any of us can do.

 

Sorry if I rambled, but man, that was cathartic. :)

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collikl: Love the 'Life of Brian' quote in your signature! I really hope this application season pans out for you!

This is my first time going through the process (aside from getting my MA), and I have NO IDEA what to expect. I technically applied to three programs, though I'm in the running for a fourth through a grant for digital humanities. (Really crossing my fingers for that last one!! The stipend is incredible.) While I anticipate that I will likely be rejected from all the programs to which I applied, I am still hopeful.

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This is my second year applying. In the interim, I realized that the process of applying to graduate school is so massively daunting, that I'd be amazed if anyone gets it right the first time. So I wouldn't fret. I think that colleges should offer a fall-semester senior year course that is purely to help students organize their grad. application process and to give them important information about it. I know so much more now than I did then, but I had to spend two years reading every internet article I could get my hands on and fail one application season to reach any level of understanding. 

 

Maybe I'm being a bit dramatic. 

 

Last year I applied to all PhD and MFA programs. I applied to 10 or 11, about half PhD and half MFA. I was rejected from everywhere, except NYU offered me an (unfunded) spot in their Master's program. 

 

This year I only applied to three programs, all Masters, and all programs that have competitive funding for their master's students. Also, I picked my programs based more on location and cost of living than on prestige, which I think is a more realistic way of going about it.

 

Basically, I focused better, and realized I wasn't prepared yet for PhD level work.

 

Good luck to you! Hopefully we're not both back here next year.

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