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History Admissions 2010


geigwm6
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I hope all of your summers are going well. So are any of you all doing anything yet for applications for History admissions 2010?

I am doing a fair amount of reading, researching schools, working on some essays, and refining my writing sample.

I'm applying for American History in the 18th and 19th centuries with an emphasis on the US South. I'm probably applying to MA programs, because I'm not a super qualified applicant and am not sure what exactly I'm studying.

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I'm in the same process. Working on a proposal for my senior thesis (which will become my writing sample), studying for the GRE (taking it in August), contacting professors, looking over specifics of all programs I will be applying to. Still looking for more MA programs since, like you, I consider myself not a very qualified applicant. I'm applying for Modern European history with a focus on German (Third Reich) and an emphasis on the role of religion in it.

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This is round two of applications for me, so this summer I'm working on updating and improving my applications from last year. I'm working on a new writing sample, reworking my SOP, contacting potential profs, finding a few additional schools to apply to, and working as a research assistant. Hopefully all these improvements will yield better results!

I'm apply to PhD programs in American military history, a masters in Maritime Studies, and a masters in War Studies.

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Out of curiosity, what kind of writing samples are you all thinking of using? What kind of revision process are you using? I ask this knowing two things. One, that everyone says that the writing sample is the most important part of the application. Two, that my writing sample got me into graduate school.

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I was planning on using my thesis which is on m research interest (Eastern Cherokees under William Holland Thomas during the Civil War). However this is rather long (I just cut it down and its still 20+ pages). Furthermore, this paper still needs a lot of work. I have another sample that is very good (better than the other one) on interfaith marriage in Al-Andalus and was nominated for a Women's and Gender Studies award, and its only 10 pages long. I'm going over it myself and with m professors. So I have a good writing sample that has nothing to do with my interests and one that needs work (albeit on an interesting/unique topic) that fits my research interests.

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Writing Sample:

I used my undergrad thesis last time and one professor told me that it should have had more of a basis in primary documents, as opposed to using them to further the argument. It actually had a lot of primary docs in the basis, but I guess I didn't present it that way. This time around I'm going to write a new paper a little more inline with my research interests - I'm a little nervous though since its been a while (I graduated in 2003).

Application advise:

- Make sure your writing sample is solid - clear argument, no typos, shows that you know how to conduct original research with primary documents

- Write your SOP (statement of purpose), revise, revise, set it aside for a while, then revise some more, then have a professor read it over.

- Fit is very important! Make sure that in your contact with professors and in your SOP that you clearly state your interests and how that school/professor matches your interests and needs

- Apply to as many schools as you can that fit your interests and your ambition level (that you would want to attend). Don't make the mistake of applying to only a few schools - better to apply to many and then choose from the ones you get accepted to.

- Don't wait until the last minute - GRE scores and letters of rec (LOR) have a habit of getting lost in the mail and LOR writers can get busy

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I think using an undergraduate thesis is overrated. Or more accurately, I think using it depends on its specific nature or value. Primary documents are really nice. Demonstrating that you can use them is great, especially if they are in another language. I did that, but it was really token, like quoting Milit

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I cut my paper down from over 9,000 words to about 7,000 words. Since I am an Americanist there is no need to include foreign languages in my Civil War paper. My professor is one of the best Civil War scholars out there and the toughest grader in the history department. It is a pretty unique paper called:

The Eastern Band of Cherokees and William Holland Thomas:

Questionable Confederates or Staunch Secessionists?

Examining Paradoxical Loyalties, Perceptions, and Nationalism

I am working on it very hard and having everyone read it who has eyes and a brain.

Thanks for the advice!

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Out of curiosity, what kind of writing samples are you all thinking of using? What kind of revision process are you using? I ask this knowing two things. One, that everyone says that the writing sample is the most important part of the application. Two, that my writing sample got me into graduate school.

I would just say that as with any other aspect of your application, the writing sample will be judged differently by different readers. I had one professor say my writing sample was weak in primary sources and that I needed to provide a second one, which I did. I had another professor (better known, better department) state that the exact same writing sample was one of the strongest parts of my application. I would say that your overall ability to write coherently and concisely is most important - if your application otherwise presents you as an intelligent person, it seems unlikely a faculty member will look at a dearth of primary sources and assume you can't learn to work with them or that you can't research.

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I would just say that as with any other aspect of your application, the writing sample will be judged differently by different readers. I had one professor say my writing sample was weak in primary sources and that I needed to provide a second one, which I did. I had another professor (better known, better department) state that the exact same writing sample was one of the strongest parts of my application. I would say that your overall ability to write coherently and concisely is most important - if your application otherwise presents you as an intelligent person, it seems unlikely a faculty member will look at a dearth of primary sources and assume you can't learn to work with them or that you can't research.

Well, yeah. Like I said, my use of primary sources was token.

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I think the paper I chose was good otherwise, so I may stick with it and just revise the hell out of it. When I look back at it, there were a lot of primary sources used, they were just found within secondary sources (ex: a copy of Bayeux Tapestry printed within a book on the Norman Conquest). Now that I have some contacts at the University I graduated from (I'm taking a grad class in the fall and doing summer research), I'll see if someone can look it over and give me some feedback.

I've been emailing with the departments, ad coms of the schools I applied to last time and so far it looks like the thing that killed my applications was my SOP. I think I'm going to scrap the old one and start over. It needs more concrete research interests, methods, background, etc.

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I've been expanding my list from last year and so far I've got:

Military History (PhD): Ohio State, Temple, Duke, Chapel Hill, George Washington, Texas A&M, Kansas State

Martime Studies (MA): East Carolina

War Studies (MA): University of Glasgow

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I've been expanding my list from last year and so far I've got:

Military History (PhD): Ohio State, Temple, Duke, Chapel Hill, George Washington, Texas A&M, Kansas State

Martime Studies (MA): East Carolina

War Studies (MA): University of Glasgow

Looking at your old list, do you really think you might be falling into the trap of applying to the same schools all over again?

I know you said that you talked to ad coms or whatever, but there are a lot of things that ad coms aren't going to mention. For example, if your advisor lost an interdepartmental battle over grad students with a colleague, they're not going to tell you. If your advisor wasn't taking on graduate students for administrative or personal reasons, they're not going to tell you. Politics is a big deal, especially when you are qualified enough and there are 200-250 applicants for less than 20 offers. Applying to the same schools over again is probably a bad thing. If you want to apply to some of them, make sure you know that it is worth it (considering that # of applicants is either goign to be the same or worse, with less funding as usual). I would start looking at other places and more MA programs.

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Yeah, the only real additions are Texas, Kansas, Glasgow, and East Carolina. The problem I'm having with making a new list is that there aren't that many military history programs out there (I'm looking for programs that have military history as a major field with numerous courses).

I am still looking though, so I'm sure the list will evolve over the coming months.

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Yeah, the only real additions are Texas, Kansas, Glasgow, and East Carolina. The problem I'm having with making a new list is that there aren't that many military history programs out there (I'm looking for programs that have military history as a major field with numerous courses).

I am still looking though, so I'm sure the list will evolve over the coming months.

I'm not sure if limiting yourself this way is a good idea. I suppose it depends on what you want to do with your degree, but even then...

In any case, while I am not a strictly military history guy, I am pretty familiar with the community. Have you looked at North Texas?

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Yeah, the only real additions are Texas, Kansas, Glasgow, and East Carolina. The problem I'm having with making a new list is that there aren't that many military history programs out there (I'm looking for programs that have military history as a major field with numerous courses).

I am still looking though, so I'm sure the list will evolve over the coming months.

Despite the fact that you will be a dirty, dirty Jayhawk, kU seems like a good place to apply. According to their website, they admit something like 1/3 of applicants. I suppose it's because nobody wants to live in Kansas, but for a top 50 department those seem like good odds.

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I am still on the wait-list for the Mizzou MA program, and they said last year extra funding showed up as late as August. So I don't know if I am going to be applying next cycle or not.

Anyway, I have a question for those admitted last cycle, should any of you still be lurking around these boards:

Was anyone admitted with a writing sample that was NOT in the field you intend to pursue?

My area is 20th century American political culture, yet the sample I used to apply was my seminar paper on Stalinism. I know just about every department's website says that it doesn't matter, but I'm wondering if the results may prove otherwise.

The sample I used was an A paper, and from a really tough grader (I may have been the only straight A and not A- in that course). I'm thinking about going with one of two shorter papers next year: one in American history, and one in French history which is probably the most interesting paper I wrote as an undergrad. But I don't want to opt for the latter option if nobody has had any success using papers from outside their field.

Thanks for any replies.

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Was anyone admitted with a writing sample that was NOT in the field you intend to pursue?

I used a paper that was technically within the same general region and time period that I intend to pursue but did not really match well with my professed intended course of study. That being said, the best review I received on it was from a professor whose interests matched up nearly exactly with my writing sample - and I was somewhat flattered by that given that if it a crock of crap, he surely would have been the one to point it out.

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I know you said that you talked to ad coms or whatever, but there are a lot of things that ad coms aren't going to mention. For example, if your advisor lost an interdepartmental battle over grad students with a colleague, they're not going to tell you. If your advisor wasn't taking on graduate students for administrative or personal reasons, they're not going to tell you.

I'm not sure either of these is true in all cases. I dealt with some professors who were very forthright on these issues. Also, determining whether a potential advisor is going to be taking on new students is one of the primary reasons to contact them in advance of submitting an application. Not that I ever did that.

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I'm not sure either of these is true in all cases. I dealt with some professors who were very forthright on these issues. Also, determining whether a potential advisor is going to be taking on new students is one of the primary reasons to contact them in advance of submitting an application. Not that I ever did that.

I had at least two professors tell me that they were leaving for another department. Neither disclosed where they were going (I wonder if they're not allowed to), but it was easy to Google. I also had another tell me she would be on Research leave.

I contacted a lot of professors last year. I was only admitted to two programs, and ended up on on funding wait-lists at both. One professor asked to talk to me on the phone, and we ended up hitting it off and talking for nearly an hour; this didn't end up in an offer of admission, however.

I think it's worth contacting profs so that you avoid wasting application fees, but you shouldn't think of it as gaining a competitive advantage. It could probably even be detrimental if you come across as irritating, essentially sending them an electronic-handjob fawning over their academic greatness.

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