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Coming Back From A Shutout (Long-Term)


mithrandir8
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Hey folks, first-time poster, but long-time lurker. I was shut out this application season (2 acceptances without funding, 2 unsuccessful waitlists, a whole wreck of rejections) and will be pursuing a law degree this fall. I got into a very good law school and I am excited about my studies there, but I really want to get back into philosophy after law school, a route which would also open up the possibility of going into legal academia. Does anyone have any tips for keeping fresh in philosophy/improving my skills and my application in the interim?

 

Suffice it to say I was really hoping to grad school, but I'm trying to keep a level head about the situation. The good news: I will have a very marketable degree in an engaging field that I can use as a safety net if apps fail or family situation arises and committees might look favorably on my law education. Thanks to some generous help from the school, I won't have a bunch of debt hanging over my head. The bad news: I'll be older, more distanced from my recommenders, and won't have done a lot of serious philosophy in some time. Will I need to apply for masters programs on the other end to remedy some of these downsides?

 

There's always the possibility that I won't make it back (3-5 years seems like a long time), but I do want to keep the option open. I've really loved philosophy, and I still think being a philosophy professor would be the perfect job for fulfilling my intellectual passions. I thought I was a pretty competitive candidate this time around (3.9+ philosophy and overall gpa from a leiter-ranked school, very good GREs, and honors in philosophy with a thesis which was my writing sample), but I'd really like to make sure I have a better chance in the future. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

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I know someone who did that (though I'm not sure this person planned to do that), but they went to law school and then returned to pursue a philosophy PhD.

 

The bad news: I'll be older, more distanced from my recommenders, and won't have done a lot of serious philosophy in some time.

 

 

Presumably you'll pick up better recommendations while in law school? Study and try to do some legal research. Most philosophy programs care more about what you are capable of, rather than how much philosophy you've already read. Law and philosophy also overlap a lot, so try to find ways to stay active by looking into that (would be my advice). You should be able to write a really good writing sample given the experience you'll pick up before you apply again. That's my .02.

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This might be a long-shot, but does whatever school you're going to do a joint JD-MA in Philosophy? If so, you could maybe just apply for the master's program next fall. I think when I was looking around, I saw several schools talk about JD and philosophy students opting for a joint degree while one was in progress, so I don't think this is a rare thing, just something to check for wherever you're going.

This would be good, too, because your application materials are still fresh. I would myself be very uncomfortable relying on 5 yr old professors for the strongest letters of recommendation; as Die_Kurator said, better to just go with whatever political theory professors you might latch onto while your there if you don't go for the joint JD-MA.

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This might be a long-shot, but does whatever school you're going to do a joint JD-MA in Philosophy? If so, you could maybe just apply for the master's program next fall. I think when I was looking around, I saw several schools talk about JD and philosophy students opting for a joint degree while one was in progress, so I don't think this is a rare thing, just something to check for wherever you're going.

This would be good, too, because your application materials are still fresh. I would myself be very uncomfortable relying on 5 yr old professors for the strongest letters of recommendation; as Die_Kurator said, better to just go with whatever political theory professors you might latch onto while your there if you don't go for the joint JD-MA.

 

Unfortunately not an option at my school, although it was one of the things I looked into.

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Mithrandir8, please email me after May 9, the last day of finals, at ian dot faircloud at g mail. I'm a JD candidate at Penn. I have an MA in philosophy. I was shut-out last year. Our situations are quite similar.

In the meantime, it really could matter what you mean by very good law school. Are you going to be at Harvard or Yale? Do you mind letting us know the school?

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Mithrandir8, please email me after May 9, the last day of finals, at ian dot faircloud at g mail. I'm a JD candidate at Penn. I have an MA in philosophy. I was shut-out last year. Our situations are quite similar.

In the meantime, it really could matter what you mean by very good law school. Are you going to be at Harvard or Yale? Do you mind letting us know the school?

 

Will do! I will be going to U Chicago.

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