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Communication/Media Studies Ph.D Fall 2015--Apps, Decisions, and Waiting...

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Hi all! I know it's still a bit early to start this thread but, considering USC moved up their deadline to November 1, I figured an early start couldn't hurt. 

 

In the past, applicants have used these threads to discuss application issues, air their anxieties, and receive advice from people in similar situations. We can share information, answer questions, and provide/receive support from fellow applicants. From what I've seen, these threads can be extremely beneficial so I hope we're all able to take advantage of it. 

 

I'll get us started. I'm looking into communication/media studies/screen culture programs with strengths in participatory culture, fandom, social media/technology, and television studies. As such, it's a pretty wide spread between communications, film studies, and other related humanities programs. I'm still refining my list of schools and programs but looking at 10 applications, at this point. 

 

What types of programs are you considering? What are your research interests? What have you done to prepare for application season? What are your main application concerns?

 

I hope that all of the fall 2015 applicants will introduce themselves and make use of these forums. I look forward to going through this process with all of you!

 

- Les

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I'm applying to mostly rhetoric and philosophy of communication programs.  I will be applying to the following schools:  Minnesota, Iowa, Northwestern, Pitt, UT-Austin, Kansas, Penn State, Illinois and UPenn. 

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I'm applying to mostly rhetoric and philosophy of communication programs.  I will be applying to the following schools:  Minnesota, Iowa, Northwestern, Pitt, UT-Austin, Kansas, Penn State, Illinois and UPenn. 

 

Hey there! Different subjects, obviously, but I'm applying to Northwestern and UT-Austin as well. 

 

Have you started working on your SOP yet? 

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Updates!

 

I've emailed two professors. One (top choice) responded immediately; the other has yet to respond. I need to get cracking on the other emails but it's still so nerve-wracking and I have so much other work to do. I need to make that a priority this week. 

 

Have all of you contacted your PsOI?

 

I've finished updating my CV. If a school doesn't require it, would it be a bad idea to include it anyway? My SOP is crammed with enough information already; I don't think it can cover the details of my CV, too. 

 

Do your programs require CVs?

 

I've completed part of my SOP but I've been stalled for a week or so. That's another aspect I need to focus on this week.

 

I'm scheduled to retake the GRE this weekend but I might postpone it. I haven't decided yet.

 

How are all of you doing?

 

- Les

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Hi everybody!

 

I'm making decent progress!

 

Finalized my list of schools. 

 

Took the GRE and got my scores (151Q, 165V, 5.5AW) but the quant is low so I'm retaking in November. I'm terrified of those enigmatic funding cut-off scores I keep hearing about. 

 

Got enthusiastic agreement from all three of my rec letter writers, and I've entered their info into the first-due online app so they've already been notified. 

 

Completed the entire first draft of my Statement of Purpose and sent it to my recommenders. 

 

Completed my CV (some of my programs require them, others don't) and sent that to my recommenders as well. 

 

I've had three skype conversations with people at my #1 choice school (two current doctoral students and the dean of students), those went beautifully. I'm very encouraged. 

 

This week: select and reach out to PoIs, continue work on the statement, order transcripts. 

 

One thing that's been AMAZINGLY helpful: talking to people, over and over again, about my research goals. This has given me TONS of incredibly useful feedback and insight. Just through a series of conversations, I've been able to shape and focus my goals dramatically in the last six months. I have a big meeting tomorrow with a guy who's taught at both my #1 and #2 schools, hoping he can give me some insight. 

 

Luck to us all!

Edited by grad_wannabe

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Took the GRE and got my scores (151Q, 165V, 5.5AW) but the quant is low so I'm retaking in November. I'm terrified of those enigmatic funding cut-off scores I keep hearing about. 

 

 

 

One could think that's ETS business model. Huh. Weird. 

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One could think that's ETS business model. Huh. Weird. 

 

 

Took the GRE and got my scores (151Q, 165V, 5.5AW) but the quant is low so I'm retaking in November. I'm terrified of those enigmatic funding cut-off scores I keep hearing about. 

 

 

Anyone know what the cutoff scores might be and where?  I'm somewhat new to the comm applications.

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Anyone know what the cutoff scores might be and where?  I'm somewhat new to the comm applications.

 

That's what I'd like to know (as would probably everyone else).

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That's what I'd like to know (as would probably everyone else).

 

I guess I assumed that someone had inside knowledge.  In philosophy everyone assumed for a long time that there were cutoffs, but we found out that a very few (maybe less than 5) actually did.  Is it possible that everyone is assuming this without it actually being true?  I know several of the admission committee members I've talked with have specifically said that they don't have cutoffs.  

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I guess I assumed that someone had inside knowledge.  In philosophy everyone assumed for a long time that there were cutoffs, but we found out that a very few (maybe less than 5) actually did.  Is it possible that everyone is assuming this without it actually being true?  I know several of the admission committee members I've talked with have specifically said that they don't have cutoffs.  

 

I think the main problem is that there are no definite answers. Some schools have cut offs to weed out students; some don't. Some fellowships have cut offs (most, I'd imagine); some may not. It also varies between fields and GRE percentiles change each year, I believe. That's what makes all of this so hard.

 

And then you have the well-meaning people who say "don't focus on it unless your score is worryingly low." Good advice but what exactly IS worryingly low? Now I'm worrying about that, too. 

 

Bleck.

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One program administrator I spoke to said that unless your GRE scores are in the tippy top top (90th percentiles and above), you won't get funding from the university-wide pools, because those have to be based on more "objective" criteria - and numbers in the form of GRE scores provide just that.

 

This same administrator also told me that departmental funding has a lot more leeway in terms of overlooking GRE scores, presumably because it's a much smaller pool, and whomever makes the decision is only accountable to the rest of the department (made up of people who want more good people, not just good GRE test-takers), and not the entire school's leadership (who is accountable to even higher powers-that-be with possibly even less insight). 

 

This wasn't a comm program mind you, but another social science program.

 

 

One could think that's ETS business model. Huh. Weird. 

 

Hahaha.

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Hi, I had a query regarding transferring from one school to another. so im in phd communication program ( just started). Is it possible to switch to another school and if i do, what excuse should i give ( i personally want to go to a school with a better ranking) in my personal statement? i am confused , your suggestions will be valued

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It is my personal opinion that program ranking doesn't matter as much as what you produce and how well you fit with the program.  Transfers should be related to seeking a program that better matches your research interests (or to follow a professor who is moving from your old program to the new one).

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One program administrator I spoke to said that unless your GRE scores are in the tippy top top (90th percentiles and above), you won't get funding from the university-wide pools, because those have to be based on more "objective" criteria - and numbers in the form of GRE scores provide just that.

 

90th percentiles or above in all three or just in the relevant section (quant for sciences, verbal for humanities, etc.)? 

 

If I need the 90th percentile+ in quant too, I can kiss that goodbye. 

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90th percentiles or above in all three or just in the relevant section (quant for sciences, verbal for humanities, etc.)? 

 

If I need the 90th percentile+ in quant too, I can kiss that goodbye. 

 

Unfortunately all three - but keep in mind this was for university-wide funding, not the funding that would come from within the department itself. From what I've seen, TA and RA funding for classes and projects in a department, comes from the department.  At this particular school (also bear in mind this was just one school), it was the fellowships and scholarships which came from a university-wide pool of funding. 

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It is my personal opinion that program ranking doesn't matter as much as what you produce and how well you fit with the program.  Transfers should be related to seeking a program that better matches your research interests (or to follow a professor who is moving from your old program to the new one).

 

I agree with lyrehc.

 

Is ranking the only reason you want to switch?

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It is my personal opinion that program ranking doesn't matter as much as what you produce and how well you fit with the program.  Transfers should be related to seeking a program that better matches your research interests (or to follow a professor who is moving from your old program to the new one).

 

While I agree with what you say, I would also like to add that this is only true to an extent. A big part of the so-called job crisis in academia is due to the fact that there are so many PhD programs that are just very bad at producing employable graduates. They don't always send you obvious signals that they are one of those, either, so rankings can be useful in assessing those things. 

 

But if we're talking about multiple schools that are basically "good," then the better fit is where you want to be. Rankings are necessarily biased and incomplete, so trifling over a few positions in the rankings is a fruitless exercise either way. Which PhD program is best? UPenn? Stanford? USC? Does it matter? Probably not. All of them are great. You'll do best at the best fit. 

 

I just throw this out there because I see every year people rationalizing really questionable choices of school based on the "fit" criteria. There's give and take with these things. I should also add that if you plan on just getting your MA, school ranking is definitely less important and you should prioritize a place where you fit well and won't go into debt.

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i'd like to add to what JLRC said...

 

I feel like you've probably started out by approaching the application process wrong, Rose and that might be one of the major reasons you did not end up in one of your desired top ranking programs. 

1) people on admission committees are super smart people, they all have PhDs and have been in this business for quite some time. They won't be easily fooled.

2) a school with high ranking / great reputation etc. knows about that and they are no idiots (refer to point 1), they know that they will only continue to produce top graduates if they find very good candidates that have very good fit.

3) People on admission committees have probably seen it all and they will be able to spot people applying to top programs only for the sake of applying to a great program. 

Why would they not want these people? I think in the long run, you will need to do this PhD thing for the sake of loving research and, depending on where you're studying and how you're funded, teaching. While I understand the desire to go to a top ranked school, in the end, whether you will be able to pursue the research you love will determine whether you will be successful.

 

Are you from the US, Rose? (I am asking because I can see how some cultural differences could complicate things but could be that I'm totally on the wrong path here)

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While I agree with what you say, I would also like to add that this is only true to an extent. A big part of the so-called job crisis in academia is due to the fact that there are so many PhD programs that are just very bad at producing employable graduates. They don't always send you obvious signals that they are one of those, either, so rankings can be useful in assessing those things. 

 

But if we're talking about multiple schools that are basically "good," then the better fit is where you want to be. Rankings are necessarily biased and incomplete, so trifling over a few positions in the rankings is a fruitless exercise either way. Which PhD program is best? UPenn? Stanford? USC? Does it matter? Probably not. All of them are great. You'll do best at the best fit. 

 

I just throw this out there because I see every year people rationalizing really questionable choices of school based on the "fit" criteria. There's give and take with these things. I should also add that if you plan on just getting your MA, school ranking is definitely less important and you should prioritize a place where you fit well and won't go into debt.

Questionable programs are an entirely different matter.  I'm coming at this from the perspective of someone who is in a program that other programs view as "solid" but which isn't top 10.  For me, the rank matters less than knowing that the department chair is committed to funding all students for 4 years, knowing that there is a diverse faculty pool of which the vast majority want to mentor students, knowing that my program requires a research component and fits it in as a "class" for those students who are unsure about how to set up and pursue a project, of knowing that there is a wide range of interests so the chances are high that if my interests shift I still have professors available to work with me. . . 

Programs that are at schools that are often viewed as questionable are ones I would steer clear of.

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There are programs that aren't recognized by NCA and ICA. I think any that don't make their list would be important to avoid.

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There are programs that aren't recognized by NCA and ICA. I think any that don't make their list would be important to avoid.

 

Well, that's pretty simple isn't it....

  

I couldn't find an ICA list, but I had been reading up on my schools through the NCA. Do you know off-hand where ICA hides university program info?

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