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I'm an NYU Master's student who got rejected from the PhD program


Just Jeff
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I study in the interdisciplinary department of humanities and society, specifically focusing on philosophy. I applied to NYU's PhD in Philosophy program, and I just got rejected yesterday.

 

I feel terrible right now. NYU was one of the best things that has ever happened to me, and now I lost it. I feel like if I go to Rutgers or another school, I will be "downgrading" my education. I don't want to go from a top university to a lower one. :(

 

Should I just wait another year to reapply?

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I can understand the disappointment, especially if you study there now. But honestly, PhD admissions is a crapshoot, especially at a school like NYU for philosophy. What baffles me is that you're dismissing a school of the caliber of Rutgers, which I personally would consider a top department. Furthermore, waiting another year is no guarantee that you'll get the results you desire.

If you currently study at NYU, would it be possible to reach out to the faculty there and ask about your application?

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I can understand the disappointment, especially if you study there now. But honestly, PhD admissions is a crapshoot, especially at a school like NYU for philosophy. What baffles me is that you're dismissing a school of the caliber of Rutgers, which I personally would consider a top department. Furthermore, waiting another year is no guarantee that you'll get the results you desire.

If you currently study at NYU, would it be possible to reach out to the faculty there and ask about your application?

 

Thanks so much for your reply. I guess I can try. I can ask them how I can make it stronger perhaps?

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I don't think it would hurt to ask if it'll give you peace of mind. But seriously consider the risks involved in reapplying, as you may well get rejected at both NYU and Rutgers during your second go-around for reasons outside your control (too many students in your AOI, senior faculty taking a leave of absence, etc).

Best of luck to you!

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I study in the interdisciplinary department of humanities and society, specifically focusing on philosophy. I applied to NYU's PhD in Philosophy program, and I just got rejected yesterday.

 

I feel terrible right now. NYU was one of the best things that has ever happened to me, and now I lost it. I feel like if I go to Rutgers or another school, I will be "downgrading" my education. I don't want to go from a top university to a lower one. :(

 

Should I just wait another year to reapply?

 

Wait -- you're seriously denigrating one of the handful of "best" philosophy departments in the world? 

 

I understand the grief of losing your top choice, but maybe you could check out the results page and realize just how many people would KILL for the opportunity to go to top 15 programs, much less top 5 or whatever. What's more, when you get to this elite level of education it's not like comparing a Bentley to a Corolla -- it's (for lack of a better analogy) the comparison between diamonds and gold, i.e. "Oh shit, I didn't get diamonds this time and all I'm left with is this pile of stupid gold."

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Wait -- you're seriously denigrating one of the handful of "best" philosophy departments in the world? 

 

I understand the grief of losing your top choice, but maybe you could check out the results page and realize just how many people would KILL for the opportunity to go to top 15 programs, much less top 5 or whatever. What's more, when you get to this elite level of education it's not like comparing a Bentley to a Corolla -- it's (for lack of a better analogy) the comparison between diamonds and gold, i.e. "Oh shit, I didn't get diamonds this time and all I'm left with is this pile of stupid gold."

 

Hi, ColinMatthew. Do you really think Rutgers is one of the best? All my professors tell me I'd be "downgrading" if I were to get accepted there.

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Hi, ColinMatthew. Do you really think Rutgers is one of the best? All my professors tell me I'd be "downgrading" if I were to get accepted there.

I would not be surprised if some of the attitude was from NYU being a private university and Rutgers being a public one. Also, throw in a little bit of attitude about how NY is a better state than NJ for flavor.
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NYU is definitely a top program but that doesn't mean 1. it's the best program for you or 2. it's the only place you should consider going.

Philosophy PhDs are incredible competitive. The philosophy board is full of strong candidates with excellent grades, GRE scores, writing samples, and letters who get rejected from much lesser programs than NYU. I don't know if NYU gave you specifics, but they get probably 300+ applications for 5-10 spots. If it's the only place you applied, the odds are against you, no matter how good you are. 

You should also consider how good of a fit the program is at the PhD level. What is your AOS? Does NYU have multiple professors you could see yourself working with? Did you talk about these things specifically in your SoP? I didn't apply to NYU because I couldn't write a convincing statement about why I would want to go there; they don't have professors or strengths in my AOS. 

If you think you can make a more convincing case next year, you can reapply. But there's a strong element of randomness in philosophy admissions results (there's people who have applied to the same school more than once and made it on the waitlist the first time and were flat out rejected the second time, despite having earned an MA in between applying). It's best to apply to multiple programs that work for you, and once you're accepted you can worry about the perceived quality of the institution. 

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Hi, ColinMatthew. Do you really think Rutgers is one of the best? All my professors tell me I'd be "downgrading" if I were to get accepted there.

 

I'm really surprised to hear that. All things aren't summed up in any given ranking system (to my knowledge). That said, things like Philosophy Gourmet show Rutgers to be the #2 program in the US. I think that's a good indicator that the program is generally regarded as one of the best. More important things however are probably job placement, work in your subfield, etc... Those things you'd have to investigate.

 

What I'm trying to get at is that I can totally understand your frustration and grief if you're talking about going from #1 to, say, top 60 or whatever. Pretty clear that that would affect job prospects and might be something you'd be expected to explain to people down the road. But I can't imagine that among the top programs, you'd ever find yourself having to explain your choices in the future.

 

The point of going through all of this is to learn, right? To get really good at something you like to do? Set a threshold value for perceived quality of program that meshes with your career desires (preferably not limited to the #1 program in a field as competitive as Philosophy), but above that threshold just realize that you're going to have vast opportunities that are way more dependent on you than they are on the reputation of your program. 

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