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2014 round-up


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when i was applying at the beginning of this year, i really wished i had access to a good sample of student profiles with admissions data.  i got my last result back this morning, so i'm checking out of the grad cafe--nice getting to know some of you guys, and i'm sure we'll all be seeing more of one another in the future!

 

here are my results, my stats, and general retrospective advice on the whole process.  it would be great if others could post something similar in this thread once their season is over.  that way future generations won't have to spend hours wading through old threads trying to piece together information.

 

---

 

 

accepted: harvard, yale, princeton, columbia (clst), ut austin.  (all of these but austin interviewed before accepting.)

interview: brown, but i withdrew before it occurred.

rejected: stanford, michigan ann arbor, chicago.

 

AOI: ancient philosophy, ancient medicine, epic

 

degrees: bachelor of arts with honours from a new zealand university.  no further degrees.

 

GRE: 170V, 154Q, 4.5W

 

GPA: this is difficult since i'm an international and my university's gpa scale is weird.  my transcript showed four years of straight As.

 

professional stuff: no publications. one presentation at a plenary session of an anthropology conference.  no teaching/TAing experience.

 

greek & latin: four years of each.  plenty of reading done outside of courses.  in greek: four dialogues of plato, two works of aristotle (one lengthy), eight books of homer, all of hesiod, four tragedies, one comedy, two hippocratic treatises, one gospel, assorted shorter things.  in latin: maybe half of that.

 

other languages: german (2 semesters), french (1), italian (4), old norse (2), sanskrit (2).  also a couple of other languages, self-taught and extremely crappy in both.

 

writing sample: i had two: one was a strictly philosophical paper intended to display competence in ancient philosophy.  it had a bibliography of about 85 secondary sources, with about 15 items in modern languages other than English.  this one went to yale, princeton, austin, stanford, michigan, and chicago, so about a 50% hit rate.  the other was a wackier, more general-interest paper that made grand, sweeping, shakily supported statements about the development of the ancient greek mind.  it didn't have as big a biblio, or as many modern-language sources, but it did utilize a very broad range of greek primary sources.  this one went to columbia, harvard, and brown.  i got far more comments about the second than i did the first.  tentative lesson: ambitious displays of "potential" are better than "safe" displays of competence.  but that probably depends on what stage of your career you're at, and safe and competent is no application-killer.

 

letters of rec: three from classics professors i'd had good relations with, none of them superstars, but all of them (the equivalent of) tenured faculty.  i had a fourth, which i sent to harvard and columbia for reasons specific to those applications, from a tenured english professor.

 

 

advice for next year's applicants

tailor your statement of purpose to each school.  don't just add an extra paragraph at the end--write a new statement in each case, so that the fit comes across organically.  name names if you've read something by the name.  it's no problem to stress certain interests for certain schools, provided they are genuine interests.  you're never going to cover all your interests in one statement anyway, so play to the strengths that you picked each school for.

 
the nice thing about classics is that there are a lot of substantial markers for your abilities and seriousness as a student, mostly in language preparation.  this makes admissions far less of a crapshoot than disciplines like philosophy and literature, where a huge amount of emphasis is placed on bullshit like undergrad pedigree, reputation of recommenders, and whether you have some mysterious "x-factor."
 

the best thing you can do to strengthen your application is learn german, french, or italian, and preferably learn more than one.  you don't have to be great, and it doesn't take much coursework, because all they want you to do is read.  german is valued more highly than the other two, but that's because it's harder.  it's certainly possible to get to reading competence in any of these languages within one year.

 

another really good thing to do is set aside an hour or two a day to read greek and latin.  pick short works that you can finish in a reasonable space of time (a short dialogue of plato, a book of vergil, a tragedy), this will keep you from burning out on any one piece.  keep a list of everything you read and attach it to your application.  don't be shy about this; if they don't give you a specific form for it in the application, put it on your CV.

 

one major weakness of my application was that i didn't have any coursework (as in, none whatsoever) in either ancient philosophy or modern philosophy.  i had several concerned comments on this from philosophers at interviews.  i had, however, written an honours thesis on ancient philosophy, and i had read a lot of philosophy in greek on my own time, and this seemed to reassure them in most cases.  i also didn't have an abundance of coursework in classical civ/history, and none at all in art or archaeology.  this didn't come up once in all the interviews i had.

 

GRE didn't matter at all, though that may not be the case for US students.  i didn't hear anything about my letters except once, and it was vague, so i don't think they are that important, provided of course that they are positive.  i would strongly recommend going through all your online applications and sending out letter requests a month in advance.  i didn't do that, and on one occasion ended up having to frantically email people begging them to submit their letters for two applications which were due the next morning.  pretty embarrassing.

 

for international applicants: i spent one year on exchange in undergrad at a somewhat-selective US college.  i think this helped my application, because it showed i was familiar with the way they do things in the USA, and i also had a transcript that was more familiar to the adcoms than my new zealand ones were.  i think that year was really beneficial in terms of improving my greek and latin, too.  (incidentally for those worried about the cost of an exchange, i ended up saving money in the year i spent in the USA compared to a year's living costs in new zealand.  it depends on the cost of living in your home country, obviously, but the USA is really cheap to live in, so it's not a bad idea if you have the time left in undergrad.)

 

 

at the interview:

my skype interviews sucked.  i thought i blew them completely, but i didn't.  i think that's just the nature of skype.  take how well you think you did in any skype interview, multiply by about five, that's how well you actually did.

 

on-campus interviews are a whole other matter.  these were the most fun i've had in ages--lots of free food, meeting excellent people who will be future colleagues, and seeing the cities you could be living in next autumn.  best and weirdest of all, the celebrities of your particular corner of classics will talk in depth about your research and writing sample.  milk that shit.  give them extra papers to read and comment on.  this is a very rare chance to have your work reviewed by the top scholars in your field.  if they like it, you might even keep the contacts if you end up at a different school.

 

i wouldn't panic, though, about proving your intellectual worth.  they liked your stats, they know you're good; that's why you're there.  the interviews seemed like they were mostly about showing that you'd be a good student and a good colleague.  to that end, try to be friendly above all; ask people about their interests and try to get to know them.  lots of faculty you talk to aren't going to share any research interests with you, but that's not to say you won't have personal interests in common: these in-person visits are a good opportunity to display a bit of breadth that doesn't come across in your applications.  you probably have a number of interests outside of classics; don't be afraid to talk about them.  i ended up talking to various people about hume, proust, milton, ralph ellison, blues guitar, rap music, and other stuff.  these conversations seemed as important to the interview as ones about my research.

 

try to read something important by most of the people you might end up working with at each school.  don't shoehorn it into conversations with them, though--just read it to get a sense of who they are as scholars.  if it comes up naturally, go ahead and say you read it.

 

talk to grad students who are in the dissertation-writing phase.  they're much happier to be frank with you.  keep an eye on how happy they seem, how confident in their work they are, what kind of relationship they seem to have with their supervisors.

 

keep your ear out on your visits.  you learn the most about the departments you're visiting from other departments you're visiting.  pay close attention to rumours: most of the stuff you need to know isn't written down anywhere, so the only way you're going to learn about it is by word of mouth.  ask especially about climate for women, placement rates, and attrition in other departments.  ask people on hiring committees which schools produce the most competitive candidates in your subfield.  be aware, though, that everybody is perfectly happy to badmouth everybody else (this surprised me).  the vaguer the criticisms, the less likely they are to be true.

 

the most important thing: take a notebook.  every time you get a break, write down notes on everything you learnt in your last few conversations.  otherwise you'll forget it all within a week.

 

good luck!

Edited by actual_entity
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one major weakness of my application was that i didn't have any coursework (as in, none whatsoever) in either ancient philosophy or modern philosophy.  i had several concerned comments on this from philosophers at interviews.

I will post my full results in a couple weeks, but I encountered this also, which I did not anticipate.

 

Anyways, congrats! It seems like you had an awesome season. Any idea where you are going?

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I don't have the time to post something as detailed as actual did, but here are my results and thoughts.

 

accepted: UCLA (after interview), UWashington (no funding)

rejected: Princeton, Cornell, Stanford (after Skype interview), UMichigan, UChicago

 

AOI: Historical linguistics, prose stylistics

 

degrees: Bachelor of Science (Mathematics-Computer Science, Classics) from Brown University, Master of Arts (expected - Classics) from University of Kansas

 

GRE: 169V, 170Q, 5.0W

 

GPA: 3.93 undergrad (3.86 in Classics), 4.0 grad

 

professional stuff: no publications or presentations. 5 semesters experience TAing Latin/Classics (4 as instructor of record) [5 semesters experience TAing computer science]

 

greek & latin: both since high school; transcripts show 6 semesters advanced undergrad Latin, 4 semesters advanced undergrad Greek, 5 semesters graduate Latin (1 taken while an undergrad), 3 semesters graduate Greek.

 

other languages: german (3 years), italian (1 year), french (1 semester reading course).

 

writing sample: The introduction and first section of my MA thesis, a stylistic commentary on Cicero's Post Reditum ad Quirites.  This was a bit of a gambit because it's atypical as a sample.  Both UCLA and Stanford mentioned enjoying it.

 

letters of rec: Three from classics professors at my MA program, one of whom is very well known, one who is fairly well known, and one who is rising in the field.

 

advice for next year's applicants: I have no idea how this process works still, and it feels kind of random.  The school to which I was accepted with funding is the school to which I submitted a personal statement with a blatant typo.  It was, however, the best fit given my interests.  The other school to which I was accepted was naturally the worst fit given my interests.  I'd echo actual's advice of changing more than just the last paragraph of one's personal statement for each school.  The importance of reading lists depends on the school (KU admits to essentially ignoring them, for instance).  Additionally, check to make sure your person of interest is young enough to be still taking on advisees.  It was heavily implied by Stanford (during the interview, no less) that, although they expected me to get into a good program and do well, they would be rejecting me because my person of interest was no longer taking on students.  And finally, days on which you receive multiple rejections are hard.

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I will post my full results in a couple weeks, but I encountered this also, which I did not anticipate.

 

Anyways, congrats! It seems like you had an awesome season. Any idea where you are going?

 

nope!  but i just turned down harvard and austin, and i think they both do waitlists, so i hope that helps somebody out.

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nope!  but i just turned down harvard and austin, and i think they both do waitlists, so i hope that helps somebody out.

 

Thanks. I'd be interested in hearing if anybody else will be making a decision on Harvard one way or another (I've got a stake there and am hoping to have that option on or off the table sooner rather than later).

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APPLIED  Toronto, Cincinnati, UT Austin, Cornell, Brown, Berkeley, Oxford, Cambridge, Columbia, Michigan, Penn, Nottingham, Sheffield.

 

RESULTS: 

ACCEPTED: - Toronto, Cincinnati, UT Austin, Oxford, Cambridge, Nottingham, Sheffield

 

INTERVIEW:

Michigan (IPCAA) – still to come.

 

 Columbia (Classical Studies) – I do not know what is going on here – have been in contact with department chair who says they are ‘quite hopeful’ of an offer, but it’s been snarled up in their bureaucracy  due to them wanting ‘field distribution’. Whether this is a nice way of them saying I’m waitlisted I don’t know…I can’t see why they would say what they have unless they meant it.

 

REJECTED:  Cornell, Brown, Berkeley, Penn (AAMW) – I do not know for sure about Penn as they have said nothing. I assume rejection.

 

AREA OF INTEREST: Classical Archaeology, Aegean Prehistory. Specifically the Late Bronze Age. Public Space in the Ancient World and the construction of Social order. Relationships between Text and Archaeology. Ordinary life in the ancient World.

 

DEGREES BA (Hons), MPhil both  from Cambridge.

 

GRE: 165V, 147Q, 5.0 Writing.

 

GPA: N/A as international. For those familiar with the UK system 1st Class BA, ‘High Pass’ MPhil (Averaging over 70%, which some Universities call a Distinction).

 

PROFESSIONAL STUFF: No publications or conference presentations. No teaching experience.

 

GREEK AND LATIN.  I had the ‘traditional’ British Classical education. I started Latin at 8, and Greek at 13 (I am 23 now). Texts read – a lot both in Class and in my own time.  This is a truncated form of the reading list I sent to several Universities:

 

Calpurnius Siculus, Eclogues, (1,4,7).

Cicero – Pro Caelio (entire Text).

Cicero – Pro Lege Manilia (entire Text).

Cicero - De Oratore 2.216-90

Cicero – In Pisonem (About half)

Horace – Satires (Book I).

Livy – Ab urbe condita (Book XXI)

Lucan – Civil War (Books VIII, IX)

Lucretius – De rerum natura (Book III).

Martial – Epigrams (Book X).

Persius – Satires (1,5,9)

Petronius – Satyricon (Cena Trimalchionis).

Phaedrus (Book V)

Plautus – Asinaria (complete).

Pliny – Letters (6.16, 6.20).

Seneca – Apocolocyntosis (complete).

Seneca – Thyestes (complete).

Seneca – Medea (complete).

Suetonius – Lives of the Emperors (Nero).

Terence – Hautontimorumenus (complete).

Virgil – Aeneid (Books II, IV, IX)

Virgil – Eclogues (entire Text)

Anonymous – Gesta Francorum (complete).

Anonymous – Origo Constantini imperatoris.

Augustus – Res Gestae (complete)

Caesar – De Bello Gallico (Half of Book 1)

Cicero – Pro Roscio Amerino (Half)

Cicero – In Catalinam I (complete)

Cicero – In Catalinam II (complete)

Catullus – all shorter poems.

Florus – Epitome of Roman History.

Lactantius – De Mortibus persecutorum.

Juvenal – Satires (1, 2)

Manilius – Astronomica (50 lines)

Sallust – Cataline (half)

Silius Italicus – extracts (about 100-150 Lines)

Suetonius – Augustus

Statius – Thebaid (about 30 Lines)

Velleius Paterculus – Book 1

Aeschylus/Pseudo –Aeschylus – Prometheus Bound (Complete)

Aesop 102, 228, 229,292

Aristophanes – Birds (Complete)

Euripides – Helen (Complete)

Euripides – Alcestis (Complete)

Euripides – Trojan Women (Complete)

Euripides – Medea (Complete)

Herodotus – Book 1 (Half)

Hesiod – Theogony (Complete)

Hesiod – Works and Days (Complete)

Homer – Iliad (Books 1,3,6,9,18,21,24)

Homer – Odyssey (Books 11,18,20)

Lucian – Prometheus (Complete)

Lysias – Speech 1 (Complete)

Pindar, Olympians 1, 6, 7, 9

Plato – Crito (Complete)

Plato  - Protagoras (320c-324c)

Plato - Symposium (189a-193e)

Thucydides – 1.1-15, 2.1-65.

Arrian – Anabasis extracts (about 20-30 pages in the original)

Aristophanes – Clouds (Complete)

Aristophanes – Frogs (Complete)

Aristophanes – Thesmophoriazusae (Complete)

Aristophanes – Ecclesiasuzae (Complete)

Aristophanes – Acharnians (Complete)

Aristophanes – Knights (Complete)

Aristophanes – Lysistrata (Complete)

Aristophanes – Peace (Complete)

Euripides – Cyclops  (around a quarter)

Homer – Odyssey (Book 10)

Pausanias – Book 1 (about half)

Plutarch – Alexander

Quintus Smyrnaeus – Fall of Troy (Book 1, 2)

Sophocles – Oedipus Rex (200 lines)

Xenophon -  Cyropaedia (about 20 pages)

Xenophon – Anabasis (about 10 pages)

 

 

OTHER LANGUAGES:

French – studied 7-16 at school can get through stuff in it.

Modern Greek – based on knowledge of ancient have read stuff in this, very slowly with grammar and dictionary.

German – rudimentary.

 

FIELD EXPERIENCE – 1 Week. It is not true you need tonnes to get into Classical Archaeology Programs.

 

WRITING SAMPLE:  Varied depending on length. Either my 12,000 word MPhil dissertation or a 5000 word essay from my MPhil. Both on Aegean Prehistory.

 

REFERENCES: Two from senior Professors, both of whom are well known , one in Ancient History/Art History, one in Roman Archaeology. The other from my MPhil supervisor, who specialises in Aegean Prehistory. In talking to a Professor post-admission at one Program he said he had rung up and talked to one of my reference writers so this is something to bear in mind in choosing writers. He also said that he’d contacted a Professor who I’d mentioned in my Statement as having influenced me in choosing the Program, but who did not write me a letter of recommendation.

 

ADVICE FOR FUTURE APPLICANTS

Think very carefully where you apply, particularly if you are an archaeologist or someone with slightly unusual interests. Fit will be particularly important, and more so than ‘prestige’, whatever that is. For a Bronze Age specialist UT Austin and Cincinnati were always going to be top choices – do not be seduced by ‘top 10’ lists, but rather where you think you will get in. When I look at my rejections it is completely clear in each case what the weakness was – namely that at those departments while Aegean Prehistory had some place, it was very much on the periphery of the department.

 It’s worth pointing out that I got rejected from Brown’s Joukowsky Institute program, and other pure ‘archaeology programs’ that I contacted, with the exception at IPCAA were less keen given my Classics Background – if you want to get into Classical Archaeology with a Classics undergrad then it’s definitely worth targeting ‘Classics’ Departments.

Looking back I should have reviewed Faculty lists more carefully than I did and I think I would not have applied to two of the Programs I did and got rejected from.

That said it is OK to go for different places stressing different interests – as has been said before, so long as it is the truth. I would be very happy to write an eventual PHD thesis on Aegean Prehistory or Space and Society in the Ancient world – hence I could happily apply to a Program like Columbia’s Classical Studies stressing an intention to move away from Aegean Prehistory – at this stage of my life/career, I would be happy to take either path – the problem was applying somewhere like Cornell and stressing my Aegean Prehistory to a huge amount, when it is only a minor part of what their department does.

My GRE Verbal and Writing are good, but not exceptional for Classics applicants, and my Quantitative is appalling – I can only surmise it is totally irrelevant, or a minimal part of the application.

I wrote a new Statement of Purpose for each institution, although certain core sections were the same in their thrust – mainly describing what I did for my MPhil Dissertation and the theoretical and factual questions I asked in it and what I wanted to go on and do in a PhD – one Program contacted me and wanted to know more, and admitted me after I went into a little more detail.

Languages: personally I feel they are overestimated. I have very strong Latin and Greek, but only decent, compared to some, modern languages – I’m not as convinced they are as much as a deal breaker as some people have made out.

 

INTERVIEWS

I have only thus far had them on Skype. I will be going to Michigan later this month. Skype interviews are inherently awkward experiences and I thought they were all awful, although the three I’ve had resulted in one invitation for an in-person interview, an acceptance, and the maybe not sure situation I have at Columbia (see above). A note to people applying in the UK – UK grad interviews are nothing like US ones, they last about half an hour so there is no disadvantage to not coming in person.

I got asked all sorts of things ranging from what my interests were, to defending a point I made in one of the papers I sent over. Two questions that caught me out were ‘who is your favourite theorist’ rather than the standard ‘favourite book/article’ question, and ‘if you had to plan a graduate level seminar course what would it be on?’.

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Well, my results are all in, so I’ll join the party:

 

Accepted: Minnesota (MA-PhD, full funding), Kentucky (MA, full funding), Georgia (no word on funding).

Waitlisted: FSU (MA)

Rejected: Notre Dame (MA)

 

Degrees: BA English literature with philosophy minor from unknown SLAC; finishing up an MA this semester in a social-sciency field.

 

GRE: 1400, V/Q split down the middle; 5.5 W

 

GPA: 4.0 at all institutions

 

Professional stuff: instructor of record for several non-classics courses, one classics-related presentation, summer Greek teaching experience

 

Languages: 3 semesters graduate-level Greek; fourth-semester undergraduate Latin, one semester advanced undergraduate Latin, one graduate Latin course in progress.  Several college years of Spanish, 1 of French, 1 of Italian.  Writing sample included sources in the latter languages.  I noted German as "in progress" on my CV.

 

Reading list (in my applications, I used an asterisk to indicate what was read for coursework):

 

A few books of Homer

The longer Homeric Hymns and a few short ones

Some speeches by Lysias

Some of Plato’s dialogues

Several speeches of Demosthenes

Some Epicurus, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, Sextus, and other Hellenistic philosophers

All of the New Testament and some of the LXX

Quite a few works by Ignatius, Justin Martyr, Athanasius, Gregory of Nazianzus, and other early Christian / patristic writers

 

All the Catilinarians

Several lives by Nepos

Maybe half of Catullus

Selections from Ovid

Maybe half of Sallust’s BC

A few New Testament books from the Vulgate

 

Letters: Two from classicists with whom I’d done graduate work, one from my MA advisor.

 

Advice: This is mainly for people in my position, trying to get into classics graduate programs without an undergraduate classics major or significant language experience.  For financial reasons, I refused to do a postbac, and instead took as much Greek and Latin as I could while a (funded) MA student in another field.  So when I submitted my applications, I had four semesters of undergraduate Greek and three semesters of graduate Greek.  For Latin, I had finished fourth-semester undergraduate Latin and was in the middle of a upper-level undergraduate class; in my SoP I noted that I planned to take a graduate Latin class in the spring.  For my writing sample, I revised a Greek seminar paper. 

 

My application wasn’t enough for Notre Dame, and it got me waitlisted at FSU, but it got me funded at Minnesota and Kentucky.  If you go back through past posts in this subforum, you’ll find one of mine panicking about whether I’d have enough language work by the time I applied.  I’m happy to report that it is indeed possible to get funded at a classics MA program without an undergraduate classics major and without a postbac, though I did have to find another way to get the language experience.  And I am told by two of my recommenders that their letters were very strong.

 

I didn’t mention any faculty members by name in my SoPs, nor did I contact anyone beforehand.  My interests are broad enough at this point that I didn’t think it was necessary, and I didn't apply anywhere that had only one person working on something I was interested in.  I followed the common strategy of boilerplate used for all SoPs plus a fit paragraph tailored for each school.

 

A late letter won't sink your application; one of my acceptances didn't get two letters until a week after the deadline.

 

 

Finally, I’ll echo the received wisdom regarding fit.  Both of my funded acceptances were superb fits, and one was an even better fit than I knew when I applied.

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Ok, I think I will add my information now that the dust has settled. 

 

Accepted at Yale, Colorado. Waitlisted at Harvard. Rejected at Princeton, Michigan, Cornell, Chicago, Toronto, Illinois (or so I assume). 

 

GRE: 162 (V), 154 (Q), 5.5 (A)

 

GPA: I am an international student and do not have a GPA. I generally just made it up in my applications. 

 

Other stuff: year and a half of teaching experience in beginners Latin, intermediate Latin, Classical mythology, Roman history. 1 publication. 2 book reviews. A few conference presentations. Hold an MA and BA. 

 

Languages: 1 year of German. Four years of both Latin and Greek coursework

 

Reading list: comparable to what actual_entity has with more Latin than Greek.

 

Advice: contact professors whom you are interested in first. Find out if they are moving, retiring, interested in your proposed projects, etc.   

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ACCEPTED: - Toronto, Cincinnati, UT Austin, Oxford, Cambridge, Nottingham, Sheffield

 

Congratulations, Marcus_Tullius, on your success, and thanks for the extensive advice! Any sense of which program you might be leaning toward / why?

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Congratulations, Marcus_Tullius, on your success, and thanks for the extensive advice! Any sense of which program you might be leaning toward / why?

Thanks!

I do NOT know - this is driving me nuts - none of the British ones (yet) have funding, so I'm only really looking at the US/Canadian ones. I actually also just heard that I'd got a place at Columbia for Classical Studies over the weekend, which has made things even harder.

The frontrunners in my debate right now are Columbia and Cincinnati (chase the name/reputation but change my direction somewhat, or to stick with the BA and work with awesome people like Jack Davis...it's a real tough one). However I'm actually a Canadian citizen (UK/Canada) so Toronto is very much up there - I'm visiting there later in the week after the IPCAA interview weekend - like Columbia that would represent a change in direction, but if I really like the place I'm totally not discounting it at this stage. UT Austin - I love the Program and think the people there are great, but the funding is not as good as the other three options I have, so I suspect I will probably turn it down this week. If you're on a waiting list, I know it's not the thing you want to hear, but I do assure you I'm not sitting on offers I'm definitely not interested in - I am honestly gathering as much information as I can before making a decision.

It is a pretty life defining decision though - Bronze Age specialist or more traditional 'Classicist' and I really can't make this decision yet - + I have not heard from Penn (although I assume rejection by now) and obviously I have the interview at Michigan which would be really tempting if I were lucky enough to get a place.

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Before you discount Austin, take into account that housing, food, and entertainment are much, much cheaper in Austin than New York. Also, since the weather is better there is more fun, free stuff to do outside there too. (I'm not applying for Classics, so I have no dog in this fight, but I have lived in both cities.)

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  • 4 weeks later...

Now that the 15th is behind us and the dust has settled, I hope this thread will see some more traffic. That being said, now that I've made my (very difficult) decision, I figured I'd contribute.

 

Accepted: *Kansas (MA- funded), FSU (MA- funded), CU-Boulder (MA- unfunded)

Rejected: WUStL (MA), Illinois (MA/PhD), UNC (MA/PhD), Maryland (MA) [assumed. No official word from College Park.]

* = attending

 

GRE: 168 V, 156 Q, 5.0 W

GPA: 3.79 overall, 3.9+ Classics

 

Degrees: BA in Ancient Studies, Literature, and Creative Writing from Eckerd College (SLAC), MFA in Creative Writing from CU-Boulder.

 

AOI: Latin & Greek historiography, reception studies

 

Languages: Latin from high school up to graduate level, Greek only 1 summer intensive + 3 semesters following. Some German and Hebrew.

 

Professional Stuff: 2 conference papers and some non-Classics publications.

 

Advice: I either contacted or was already known to two out of three of the institutions at which I was accepted. (And none at which I was rejected.) Contacting directors or researchers of interest is usually considered unimportant at the MA-level, but I think it's a boon to both students and programs-- helps you solidify early on in the process whether the school's as good a fit as it seems on paper.

 

Like Petros, I'm coming out of a different department. I had no Greek as an undergraduate. Instead of going the postbacc route, I tried to forge my own while in my MFA and lucked into really supportive departments at CU-Boulder. My only real regret for the process is not having written a new writing sample and instead going with a portion of my undergraduate thesis which, in my case, was a few years out of date in terms of my skills and interests.

 

And if you are in the midst of a shifting path of education, as it were, don't be afraid to 1) use letters from multiple disciplines [i had two classicists and a literature] or 2) mention the benefits of your non-traditional experience [in my case, loads and loads of literary theory]. As one of my very wise letter writers reminded me, those programs which do not assign much value to those experiences will likely also not be a good fit for those skills. Better to lay it all out there in the letter than find out only when you've enrolled in the school that, say, many of the professors dislike the use of modern literary criticism when dealing with classical texts.  

 

In summary: (1) Might as well make contact early. (2) Get the language wherever you can. (3) Represent yourself as yourself and the results will be more worthwhile.  

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So having done April 15th, taken it down to the wire (not accepting anywhere until 2200 UK time - about 1700 EST) my final decision was:
 

Accepted - Cincinnati, Columbia, Toronto, UT Austin.

 

Rejected - Brown, Berkeley, Penn, Cornell, Michigan

 

I'll be going to Cincinnati - tough choice between it and  Columbia, but only one can supervise on Late Bronze Age that effectively. So here's **** to all the naysayers.

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Marcus Tullius, I've been creepy-stalker-like following your decision making process (I'll be at Columbia CLST, so I was trying to figure out who'd be joining me). Congrats on your decision, though sorry we won't be classmates! I just wanted to say, definitely don't listen to any naysayers! Jack Davis is THE BEST. I am not a bronze age person, but he makes me wish I was. He's also hilarious and super nice. I'm sure you know that already though!

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Alright, well I have officially decided, so I'll post now.

 

Accepted: Cornell, UC-Santa Barbara

Waitlisted: Michigan (interviewed at prospective weekend, waitlisted, but ultimately rejected), Stanford (still up in the air, but most likely rejection)

Rejected: Princeton, Berkeley, Toronto

 

Attending: Cornell

 

AOI: ancient philosophy, intellectual history

 

Degrees: B.A. from large public university w/ a Ph.D. program, double major Classics and Spanish, studied abroad for one semester in Rome

 

GRE: 166 V, 158 Q, 5.5 AW

 

GPA: 3.86 cum., 3.96 classics

 

Professional: 1 year full-time Latin teaching experience (grades 7-12), no publications

 

Greek & Latin: 10 semesters Greek (including 3 grad seminars), 7 semesters Latin + 1 year in high school. Extensive reading in Greek, slightly less in Latin

 

Other languages: second major in Spanish literature, German (5 semesters), French (3 semesters), Italian (1 semester). I recommend doing a Romance language as much as you can, since it really helps with reading other foreign languages. I felt like Spanish and Latin reciprocated and each helped me with developing skills in the other, and after so much Spanish, learning French was ridiculously easy. Of course, I was lucky to have chosen a Romance language as a second major, but I will say it was worth the extra investment, even after I decided that I was going to pursue Classics professionally.

 

Writing Sample: Taken from my honors thesis, which focused on characterization and genre in Plato's Symposium, roughly 30 entries in the bibliography, showed some competence in French critical theory.

 

Letters: Three from Classics faculty with whom I had worked quite a bit. 2 Greek literature specialists and 1 late-antique historian.

 

Advice: Honestly, I could have put more effort into my applications, but I don't believe the payoff would have been guaranteed. All the schools that showed interest in me remarked on my writing sample, and I think decisions really do come down to it. Greek and Latin are important, but there seems to be a threshold that if you pass, you are okay. I recommend putting more effort into your sample rather than, say, taking another language course (if you have to decide between the two, and you are at the advanced levels of both languages). My statement of purpose was well-polished, but I think I spent too much time worrying about perfection. If I had to do it again, I would now write something rather simple and direct, and tailor it more to each school. I only changed small portions of the statement for each department. I think it helps to mention particular articles/books which influenced your work by the faculty at each school. If you are writing a thesis, try to incorporate material from potential graduate advisors so you can show a real interest in their work.

 

Skype interviews suck. Mine with Cornell felt like a disaster, but I still got an offer. The visiting days are intense, but generally great.

 

I should have applied to more schools, even if I felt like the fit was tenuous, sometimes it is hard to read exactly who will like you and who won't. Don't take rejection personally, there are tons of qualified applicants and only so much funding. Even though I only got two acceptances, serious interest from two other schools feels like a great achievement. Remember that these schools are taking a bit of a risk investing in you, but they do want to produce good scholars who will reflect positively on the department.

 

Anyway, good luck to everyone next year, and feel free to PM any questions. I probably won't be on here much anymore, but I may check back every once in a while.

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Has anyone applied and been accepted into UK schools for graduate studies? If so, what is different when applying to UK vs US schools? I am particularly interested in going for Classical Archaeology - Kent and Leicester are the ones I am interested in. 

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Has anyone applied and been accepted into UK schools for graduate studies? If so, what is different when applying to UK vs US schools? I am particularly interested in going for Classical Archaeology - Kent and Leicester are the ones I am interested in. 

 

Hi Gladiatrix,

 

I have no experience with Kent and Leicester, but I applied (and got into) UCL, Edinburgh, Oxford and Durham in classical arch. The biggest difference, at lead at the DPhil level, is the statement of purpose. It's essentially a detailed research proposal, not a list of your language skills and relevant experience. Although it is obviously important in any application you send, I got the feeling that the writing sample has a lot of weight in the UK application process (maybe more so than in the US). Feel free to PM me if you have any specific questions, I'd be happy to help! 

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Has anyone applied and been accepted into UK schools for graduate studies? If so, what is different when applying to UK vs US schools? I am particularly interested in going for Classical Archaeology - Kent and Leicester are the ones I am interested in. 

Hey, so I'm a Brit and very familiar with the process over here. So some general points then I'll comment on the departments you're interested in:

1. The system is the reverse of the US - if you are not an idiot you will almost certainly get an offer. I got offers from Oxford, Cambridge, Nottingham, Sheffield this year, You will get offers, even for places like UCL and Oxbridge without too much effort.

 

2. The converse is that FUNDING is immensely difficult. I got no funding at any of the above places, in fact at two of them Classical Archaeology was not awarded funding this year at all.

3. You only need two letters of recommendation, apart from at Oxford where you need three.

4. Your research Proposal is important. If you are going for a PhD bear in mind you *will* be writing the research you proposed f from day one for three years until you finish. There is no coursework, none to limited teaching etc.

 

5. Be careful if you want to work in the US/Canadian system after you finish. I have been advised by people on both sides of the Atlantic that because there is less of an all round element to a UK PhD and less teaching, US universities are not overly willing to take UK trained people straight out of a PhD - you would need to do several postdocs and other junior jobs before having the experience, especially in teaching. The issue you would face is that as an international student  on a visa (I presume) this may be hard for you to do. The UK has an unfortunate Conservative government that has been not only attacking the funding for PhDs in humanities, but also reducing immigration by any means possible, including making it hard for very highly qualified and intelligent people, in all fields to work in the UK. Given the freedom of movement in the EU hiring Americans is currently a lot of hassle for UK universities, when they can hire someone from anywhere in the UK/Europe visa free. This isn't to say that it's impossible but I do know at least one American who did their PhD over here who 'fell through the cracks' - ie UK places were not that interested for non-academic reasons, and US institutions, because he did not have teaching experience were not interested either - it's just something to consider. Personally I am happier moving from the UK to the US for a PhD than I would be the other way round.

Finally some words on the Universities in Question - within a UK view Leicester and Kent are middle ranking, but not bad Universities - Kent is in a much nicer location however. I don't know your interests so can't comment too much on why you have chosen them, but bear in mind that 'fit' is slightly less important in the UK than the US - if they *can* supervise it, and you aren't a moron, they will make an offer, but probably wont' fund it (Cambridge had 2 spots this year for all subfields of classics, with one guaranteed for literature, meaning that Archaeology, History, Linguistics, Philosophy, Art History applicants were all competing for one spot!). Overall I would say the 'top' places to do Classical Arch are UCL with the IOA and Oxford. Cambridge is not far behind but it is very poor at 'dirt' archaeology - the people there are excellent however. Other places you might want to look at, if you haven't already, are York, Edinburgh, Sheffield and Exeter. Bristol have some ok archaeology too.

Anyhow feel free to PM me if you want to know more.

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Thanks =) I am particularly interested in Kent and Leicester because they have scholars who specialize in social history and archaeology in the Roman world. I have sent you a PM, and I may have more questions later, haha. 

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I can't quite recommend Ox for Archaeology. God I feel like a traitor but...they're so disorganised I have hated. every. single. course. I've ever had the displeasure of taking there. Moreover while those in other areas make good efforts to keep themselves acquainted with other fields, this is not the case in Arch. Moreover the graduate component seems to be made up of internationals who just can't read Latin and Greek with anything like facility, making working with inscriptions and suchlike so god damn awful in class. So if anyone wanted to do, say, Bronze Age Aegean at Ox, I would absolutely warn them off it. From the bottom of my heart. Conversely I've been impressed with the Cambs peeps I've met. 

 

I don't quite agree with Marcus' assessment: I've known quite a few people who studied at Oxford for both BA (MA after a while) and M.St/M.Phil fail to get offers here for the DPhil. Saying that I've also seen absolute retards on the doctoral programme with heavy funding packages so I'll not pretend I know what the criteria are. But there aren't any sure bets! I got offers from Ox, Cambs, the London ones etc but failed to secure anything from Nottingham (supervisor too busy, so rejection, which sucks). Likewise teaching depends on the person. My partner has a pretty full teaching schedule. I myself can't imagine possessing such patience. 

 

I agree that UCL is great btw for Arch and other areas. Plus you get to be in London. Conversely you get to be in London so good luck there. 

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I can't quite recommend Ox for Archaeology. God I feel like a traitor but...they're so disorganised I have hated. every. single. course. I've ever had the displeasure of taking there. Moreover while those in other areas make good efforts to keep themselves acquainted with other fields, this is not the case in Arch. Moreover the graduate component seems to be made up of internationals who just can't read Latin and Greek with anything like facility, making working with inscriptions and suchlike so god damn awful in class. So if anyone wanted to do, say, Bronze Age Aegean at Ox, I would absolutely warn them off it. From the bottom of my heart. Conversely I've been impressed with the Cambs peeps I've met. 

 

I don't quite agree with Marcus' assessment: I've known quite a few people who studied at Oxford for both BA (MA after a while) and M.St/M.Phil fail to get offers here for the DPhil. Saying that I've also seen absolute retards on the doctoral programme with heavy funding packages so I'll not pretend I know what the criteria are. But there aren't any sure bets! I got offers from Ox, Cambs, the London ones etc but failed to secure anything from Nottingham (supervisor too busy, so rejection, which sucks). Likewise teaching depends on the person. My partner has a pretty full teaching schedule. I myself can't imagine possessing such patience. 

 

I agree that UCL is great btw for Arch and other areas. Plus you get to be in London. Conversely you get to be in London so good luck there. 

I agree with you to an extent - certainly a supervisor being full up is a genuine issue, that said, once I checked with prospective supervisors in advance and got confirmation they would be interested, getting the offer was not that hard (Nottingham and Sheffield offered a place within a week). I agree I've met morons doing PhDs at Cambridge also - part of the problem is that department politics play a large role, or so I've been told...

I was interested in your assessment of Oxford - being a Cantab myself I've never really been in depth with the Oxford Arch dept, but the fact that Classical Arch has it's own space has always impressed me (and for BA, after Sheffield I'd put Ox #2 in the UK - they have Bendall and Lemos, who are both great, although they lost Galanakis (also awesome - he supervised my master's) to Cambridge. London for BA is falling away I'd say - they have Whitelaw, of course, but Broodbank is moving to Cambridge....But the converse of this is that at Cambridge Archaeology proper and Classical Archaeology have a huge divide and the break between near eastern, classicals, and even people working on classical stuff in the archaeology dept is huge,...

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Honestly I think your ease has something to do with your quality as a candidate. You're from one of the best universities in the discipline, most likely would good marks and references. As for Ox I'll PM you. Don't get me wrong, love it! But...

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