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Fall 2016 Applicant wants advice on how to become a good canidate for admission in the next year.


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Hello. Im graduating in Spring from my UG program and would like to start grad school a little over a year later. Can you advise me on how to optimize this "free year"?

Presently, 3.1 last 60 units gpa with 3.8 gpa in my major (history). I have two minors, international relations and asian studies. I have not published, instead I pursued public history endevors. Like volunteering at a major museum's asian art section fot ~9 months plus my capstone for uni was producing an exhibition at the local historical society. I was cited as assistant curator and researcher for that. I also am trilingual, english+japanese+spanish.

I have to take the GRE and do well in that because of my low gpa. I also am taking the JLPT and should be at N2 level by fall 2016. XP wise, it is trying to find work at museums, historical societies, and libraries.

Should I take a graduate level class as well? Anything else? I listed the programs Id like to grt into below.

San Francisco State

-Museum Studies, MA

-World History, MA

University of San Francisco

-Asia-Pacific Studies, MA

San Francisco Art Insitute

-Museum studies, MA

San José State

-Library Science, MS

Sacremento State

Public History, MA

UCLA (hah, but might as well try)

-Library Science, MA(S?)

U Washington

-Library Science, MA(S)

-Museum Studies, MA

-History, MA

U British Columbia

-History, MA

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I could be off base, as I have not so much as dipped my big toe into history or any such social science (Is it social science?).


Grad schools like research, I mean, that is their purpose really. If you want to beef up your application, I would suggest trying to find an opportunity to put in some real research. I'm not really sure what that would entail for history and such, but I'm sure you will know where to look. 

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If you havent written a senior thesis or primary source based paper as an undergrad, that's the key thing you should work on during your year off. Explore some local archives and dig into the primary sources.

I noticed you're applying to a few Bay Area schools--are you local? The Hoover Institution at Stanford is free and open to the public, you can go to the Bancroft at Berkeley and I'm sure SF State has some good archival material. If you show programs you are self-motivated when it comes to research, that'll go a long way.

Keep in mind your major GPA is more important, and yours is high. Score decently on the GREs and I don't foresee a problem when it comes to the quantitative portions of your applications. The most important thing for you is to write a compelling and focused SOP and primary source based paper, with proper engagement with the historiography.

Good luck!

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Thank you. Hmm, I did not do a final thesis. I did the museum work capstone class instead. I am unsure which papers I have done qualify... I have article reviews, term papers, historiography papers, and so forth. Do you mean a paper with only primary sources, like an analysis and dicussion of X legal document from 1765 or something?

Also, yes I live in San Francisco. I have only done archival research at a local historical society though.

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I mean a paper based on both primary sources and secondary literature--this is if you're trying to study history or (to my knowledge) any area studies programs at the grad level. I can't speak for Museum Studies or Library Science and the like.

So you'd look at primary source documents (like letters, diaries, government docs, film, novels, images, etc...primary sources are legion, if you are unsure what kind of things are primaries you should spend some time googling and talking to professors) and any secondary works relevant to the topic your primary source research is on. Ideally, you'd look at the most important works by historians on the topic to situate your paper within the historiography. You need to know the historiography to make a compelling argument.

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