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@bosie_dearest Thanks for the info and tips! I know that being rejected obviously has something to do with one's application, but one of my friends who was rejected by all of the PhD English Literature programs she applied to (she only applied to top ten programs and mostly Ivies) called all of the programs that rejected her to ask what she could improve, and they all gave a similar answer along the lines of, "It has nothing to do with your application; it was fine. It's just a competitive program." She knows that's not the truth and was disappointed that they didn't tell her what she needed to improve, but she figures they can't answer and look at every rejected applicant because there are more grad school applicants than ever these days.

I was thinking about calling Penn and asking what I could do to improve my chances of being accepted, but I'm guessing they're going to give me a similar answer to all of the responses she received, so that's why I asked if I should even bother calling.

Also, congrats on attending the IFA's PhD program in the fall! That's exciting!

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Jeez, I love the snark and pomp of some people on this thread. Look, guys, most of us don't need a reality check. We know it's hard out there, getting into grad programs is really competitive, the mar

calling programs--by which I assume you mean calling the department administrator, who is generally not privy to any of the information you're seeking--to learn about your application's shortcomings i

I think a better question for @northeastregional is why they would bring that type of attitude to a thread full of people trying to commiserate about the stress of pursuing their passion/dreams. C'mon

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I'm starting to get a little anxious.  I'm heard affirmatively from two programs - which is good - and negatively from three programs, but today is March 16, and I'm still waiting to hear from six schools.  (I applied to eleven programs across ten schools.)  I need to be making a decision about the two I got into, and yet I don't even know what all of my options are.  Decision day is in a month.  When am I going to hear from these six schools?

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I feel for those who are waiting still - the anxiety is terrible.

It's a wrap for me now. I was rejected from the three American PhD programs I applied to (mind you I only applied to the very competitive, in an optimistic, naive and ad hoc manner haha), but I have been accepted into the Mst in History of Art and Visual Culture at Oxford in the UK.

Likely to take up the degree, despite the cost, as it seems like too good an opportunity to pass up, all things considered. Fingers crossed for some news of financial assistance (though I am not counting on it). 

Good luck to you all.

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12 hours ago, papereverwhere said:

I feel for those who are waiting still - the anxiety is terrible.

It's a wrap for me now. I was rejected from the three American PhD programs I applied to (mind you I only applied to the very competitive, in an optimistic, naive and ad hoc manner haha), but I have been accepted into the Mst in History of Art and Visual Culture at Oxford in the UK.

Likely to take up the degree, despite the cost, as it seems like too good an opportunity to pass up, all things considered. Fingers crossed for some news of financial assistance (though I am not counting on it). 

Good luck to you all.

You should ask them their acceptance rate for American students before you sink $30k+ into a 9-month course. "too good an opportunity to pass up" isn't quite right when they take over 40% of graduate applicants in the humanities: 

https://www.ox.ac.uk/sites/files/oxford/Graduate%20admissions%20statistics%20for%20the%202013-14%20admission%20cycle_amended.pdf.

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On 3/16/2016 at 9:09 PM, welshforjohn said:

Is there anyone who has reapplied to programs and asked what they can do to improve their application/chances of getting in? If so, did they actually tell you what you can improve or did they just say something along the lines of, "It has nothing to do with your application; it was fine. It's just a competitive program."?

I'm asking because I know somebody much older than me who was rejected from a PhD program for clinical psychology the first time and they asked what they needed to improve and were actually told that they needed more research experience. They got published and lo and behold, they were accepted when they reapplied. That was at least two or three decades ago, though, so grad programs probably get more applicants now and thus, are not as helpful. 

I think we all know (or know of) people who "improved" their application and got in by the second try. That said, it can be hard to see ourselves objectively and I would put real stock in the decisions of admissions committees when you reflect on how to go forward. In my experience, the students who struggle the most in graduate school are the students who fought the hardest to be there, or for whom our program was their only offer. Those are the students who drop out ABD or earlier. It can be tough news to swallow but my advice would be to distance yourself from dramatic, absolutist romanticization  - ie. "I was born to be an art historian," (you weren't)  or "This is the only path would bring me happiness" (it's not) - and to be practical about the feedback you've received from professionals in the field who know what it takes to succeed as a graduate student. 

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calling programs--by which I assume you mean calling the department administrator, who is generally not privy to any of the information you're seeking--to learn about your application's shortcomings is a fool's errand. It's a bit like asking the price of a dress in a fancy boutique: if you have to ask, you probably don't belong there. I'm not saying that's right or wrong, it's just how it is.

Along those lines, if any of you think getting a phd in art history is about being "mentored," you are in for a rude awakening. Professors don't bring you "on board" out of the goodness of their hearts; they do so if they think you will ultimately make them look good with minimal (if any) assistance, allowing them to accrue more of academia's chief currency: prestige. If you succeed (get fellowships, publish, land a job), they take credit; if you fail, it's because you weren't good enough. In any case, there is no liability: as long as their next book contract/cushy residential fellowship is secured, the rest is background noise. Nobody reaches the upper echelons of this business because they prioritize teaching or advising. Getting a phd is about internalizing rules (mostly of the unsaid variety), strategizing your relationships, shameless self-promotion, and offending as few important people as possible in the process. 

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3 minutes ago, northeastregional said:

Funniest (and truest) tidbit in this thread.

 

23 minutes ago, x\/x\/x said:

calling programs--by which I assume you mean calling the department administrator, who is generally not privy to any of the information you're seeking--to learn about your application's shortcomings is a fool's errand. It's a bit like asking the price of a dress in a fancy boutique: if you have to ask, you probably don't belong there. I'm not saying that's right or wrong, it's just how it is.

Along those lines, if any of you think getting a phd in art history is about being "mentored," you are in for a rude awakening. Professors don't bring you "on board" out of the goodness of their hearts; they do so if they think you will ultimately make them look good with minimal (if any) assistance, allowing them to accrue more of academia's chief currency: prestige. If you succeed (get fellowships, publish, land a job), they take credit; if you fail, it's because you weren't good enough. In any case, there is no liability: as long as their next book contract/cushy residential fellowship is secured, the rest is background noise. Nobody reaches the upper echelons of this business because they prioritize teaching or advising. Getting a phd is about internalizing rules (mostly of the unsaid variety), strategizing your relationships, shameless self-promotion, and offending as few important people as possible in the process. 

Jeez, I love the snark and pomp of some people on this thread. Look, guys, most of us don't need a reality check. We know it's hard out there, getting into grad programs is really competitive, the market is bad, top schools get you better jobs, not everyone's cut out to do this, blah blah blah. Sure, a lot of people don't get in on the first try (that is totally NOT unique to art history, by the way - I've heard plenty of success stories from other disciplines from humanities to the sciences), but I REALLY don't think that means you "don't belong there." I'm sorry, that's just bullshit. Please quote me some reputable sources (your "experience" doesn't count) that say the people who struggle to get in, or (GASP) fight the hardest to be there are the ones who drop out ABD or earlier - from what I've read on the subject, most students drop out due to mental health issues (caused by the stress of working toward a PhD), a bad study environment, realizing they will have better job prospects in other fields, etc. etc. I don't see how that directly correlates with acceptance to one program or getting in on the second or third try, especially if amending your application is enough to get you in the second time. That's just false logic. It could be something as simple as you're not emphasizing the right things, you need to re-frame your research, or yes, get more experience in some area.  This isn't necessarily a reflection of your ability to succeed, especially early in your career.

If we know all this and still wish to pursue this career, that's our business. If we decide it isn't worth it later, that is also our business. We'll figure it out ourselves. Some of us aren't pursuing this career simply to teach in a top-ten institution. Delight in the fact you've said your piece and take your negativity and elitism elsewhere. 

#sorrynotsorry

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15 minutes ago, MaytheSchwartzBeWithYou said:

Look, guys, most of us don't need a reality check.

This 11-page thread says otherwise. Thanks to FERPA, there is no data on admittance vs. completion, which is why I began: "In my experience..." And I don't know anyone who has dropped out for any of the reasons you mentioned, but maybe their experiences are buried in the "etc. etc." It would be false logic if tweaking your application led to different results more often than not, but that's simply not the case. We should poll the repeat applicants from this year to the next - I predict little change.

I agree that a rejection isn't necessarily a reflection of your ability to succeed. I just don't believe that everyone posting on this thread is the exception - most of you are, by definition, the rule. I'm not wringing my hands over the job market, top-ten or otherwise. I am married to a TT professor in the field and I have no plans to enter the academic track, so the job market doesn't affect me at all. 

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39 minutes ago, northeastregional said:

This 11-page thread says otherwise.

Support this statement?

39 minutes ago, northeastregional said:

Thanks to FERPA, there is no data on admittance vs. completion, which is why I began: "In my experience..." And I don't know anyone who has dropped out for any of the reasons you mentioned, but maybe their experiences are buried in the "etc. etc."

There are a number of articles on this subject in Chronicle/Chronicle Vitae, for starters. Who talk about the exact things I mentioned. I'm sorry you don't know any of them, but there isn't much we can do about that.

39 minutes ago, northeastregional said:

We should poll the repeat applicants from this year to the next - I predict little change.

Again, support this claim.

39 minutes ago, northeastregional said:

I just don't believe that everyone posting on this thread is the exception - most of you are, by definition, the rule. I'm not wringing my hands over the job market, top-ten or otherwise. I am married to a TT professor in the field and I have no plans to enter the academic track, so the job market doesn't affect me at all. 

Why are you here, again? If you're not pursuing our profession then I don't really understand your reason for posting here other than to disseminate your second-hand knowledge and tear people down. Speaking honestly, respectfully, and with knowledge is one thing, but that's not really what you're doing here.

By the way, I don't really care about being "the exception to the rule." I don't consider myself an exception, but I do know that persistence pays off. And I do know I am capable of obtaining a PhD and being successful, whether I ultimately end up in a tenure track position at a university or doing something else with my PhD.

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35 minutes ago, northeastregional said:

This 11-page thread says otherwise. Thanks to FERPA, there is no data on admittance vs. completion, which is why I began: "In my experience..." And I don't know anyone who has dropped out for any of the reasons you mentioned, but maybe their experiences are buried in the "etc. etc." It would be false logic if tweaking your application led to different results more often than not, but that's simply not the case. We should poll the repeat applicants from this year to the next - I predict little change.

I agree that a rejection isn't necessarily a reflection of your ability to succeed. I just don't believe that everyone posting on this thread is the exception - most of you are, by definition, the rule. I'm not wringing my hands over the job market, top-ten or otherwise. I am married to a TT professor in the field and I have no plans to enter the academic track, so the job market doesn't affect me at all. 

@MaytheSchwartzBeWithYou I could not agree more with what you are saying.

 

Northeastregional - I called you out on this a while ago and it seems like your responses are continuing to impress. This is not meant to be a negative forum. You continue to troll here, posting comments that are exceedingly negative. You are not even an applicant! So why are you here? The level of intelligence of people who have contributed to these 11 pages is not low and people do understand the gravity of being a grad student and that the job market is far from ideal. No one here is a fortune teller and no one knows if applying a second or even third time will bring them to the right school but it has for many in the field of art history, so unless you are going to offer actual advice pertaining to this, keep your opinions to yourself. It is absolutely none of your business to assume whether or not people are the exception or the rule. Being married to someone in the field does not make you an expert, it makes you a bit more knowledgeable than the average person but beyond that there is nothing. If you were genuinely offering people valuable advice in a respectable manner I would have no issue with the statements you are making what so ever, but all you have done is be exceedingly rude. If you are not going to offer anything of actual value or perspective that can be put in a positive way, then please stop commenting in this forum.

 

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My knowledge is not secondhand - I am a doctoral candidate in a program that is discussed incessantly in this forum and I have close (even marital, gasp) ties to other programs in the field. I don't need to support my "claims" because my insight is anecdotal, not statistical. There are no articles in Chronicle/Chronicle Vitae or elsewhere that breakdown PhD completion rates in art history vs. the application round at which successful students were admitted and the total number of PhD admission offers they had at matriculation.

MaytheSchwartzBeWithYou, you say "persistence pays off" -- support that claim. "I do know I am capable of obtaining a PhD" -- you have no way of knowing if this is true unless you already have a PhD in another field.

This is a forum for practical advice, not a support group. Sometimes when you ask strangers for advice, you don't get the answers you want. Maybe I will see you all in the fall (or the fall of 2017, it seems) but statistically, I would wager that I will not (odds are about 5-7%).

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31 minutes ago, northeastregional said:

My knowledge is not secondhand - I am a doctoral candidate in a program that is discussed incessantly in this forum and I have close (even marital, gasp) ties to other programs in the field.

You should know every field is different - yes, there are some things that are true across the board, but I'm sorry, not fields are the same. 

 

31 minutes ago, northeastregional said:

I don't need to support my "claims" because my insight is anecdotal, not statistical. There are no articles in Chronicle/Chronicle Vitae or elsewhere that breakdown PhD completion rates in art history vs. the application round at which successful students were admitted and the total number of PhD admission offers they had at matriculation.

If you expect people to take you seriously, you do. Also, there are definitely articles on Chronicle/Chronicle vitae who are interviewed about why they dropped out, and also plenty of articles on mental health in PhD programs and its effects on program completion, so that's certainly more evidence than you've been able to offer. 

31 minutes ago, northeastregional said:

MaytheSchwartzBeWithYou, you say "persistence pays off" -- support that claim.

How about all of the posters on the results board who have said this is their second or third time applying, and they were accepted to a number of schools? That's not just for art history, that's in general.

31 minutes ago, northeastregional said:

"I do know I am capable of obtaining a PhD" -- you have no way of knowing if this is true unless you already have a PhD in another field.

You have no way of knowing what I'm capable of, and it seems you have a very narrow definition of what "capable" is. I've been through a lot of crap in the past couple of years and completed my master's thesis almost entirely on my own - I feel like if I can do that, I can probably do just about anything. There is also a difference between "can" and "will" - my choices may not reflect my capability. Some things are beyond my control, but I'm not referring to those factors.

31 minutes ago, northeastregional said:

This is a forum for practical advice, not a support group. Sometimes when you ask strangers for advice, you don't get the answers you want. Maybe I will see you all in the fall (or the fall of 2017, it seems) but statistically, I would wager that I will not (odds are about 5-7%).

I think most of the people on this board would disagree with you, especially based on the other responses to your previous comments. I know it's crazy, but message boards can be about more than one thing at the same time. I don't need the answers I "want" - I'm already aware of the possibilities. Also, if you're not in art history the likelihood of "seeing" you in the fall is slim to none (thankfully) - but thanks for the comment.

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4 minutes ago, MaytheSchwartzBeWithYou said:

You should know every field is different - yes, there are some things that are true across the board, but I'm sorry, not fields are the same. 

I don't get why this is hard for you to follow. I am an art historian. My wife is an art historian. We are affiliated with different programs, we work in different subject areas and in different capacities, but art history PhD programs for us both. Unlike you, I have offered biographical details that are verifiable - I shouldn't be hard to find online.

An article where a student is "interviewed about why they dropped out," is no different than the anecdotal insight I have offered here. "How about all of the posters on the results board who have said this is their second or third time applying, and they were accepted to a number of schools?" is also anecdotal. The difference is that I actually know these people, whereas you are trusting a "results board."

"You have no way of knowing what I'm capable of, and it seems you have a very narrow definition of what "capable" is." -- you may very well be capable of finishing a PhD but you cannot support this claim, to borrow your phrase, until you have completed the degree. I also cannot say that I am capable of completing a PhD. I can say that I am capable of being admitted to a PhD program.

"I think most of the people on this board would disagree with you" - I don't care. "I know it's crazy, but message boards can be about more than one thing at the same time." -- right, exactly. 

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20 minutes ago, northeastregional said:

I don't get why this is hard for you to follow. I am an art historian. My wife is an art historian. We are affiliated with different programs, we work in different subject areas and in different capacities, but art history PhD programs for us both. Unlike you, I have offered biographical details that are verifiable - I shouldn't be hard to find online.

An article where a student is "interviewed about why they dropped out," is no different than the anecdotal insight I have offered here. "How about all of the posters on the results board who have said this is their second or third time applying, and they were accepted to a number of schools?" is also anecdotal. The difference is that I actually know these people, whereas you are trusting a "results board."

"You have no way of knowing what I'm capable of, and it seems you have a very narrow definition of what "capable" is." -- you may very well be capable of finishing a PhD but you cannot support this claim, to borrow your phrase, until you have completed the degree. I also cannot say that I am capable of completing a PhD. I can say that I am capable of being admitted to a PhD program.

"I think most of the people on this board would disagree with you" - I don't care. "I know it's crazy, but message boards can be about more than one thing at the same time." -- right, exactly. 

Have you mentioned you are in an art history program? I don't believe so.  You've said you are directly affiliated with specific institutions, and that you are a federal employee. To my knowledge, that's all. I don't know why you think in the age of Google you would be unable to find biographical details about me that are verifiable - I simply choose not to share them on an anonymous message board. I'm not hard to find online, either, by the way. Most people aren't.

I'm not saying what I have offered as anecdotal evidence is "better" necessarily - simply that I have quite a bit more of it than the opinions of two people (yourself and your wife). 

"You have no way of knowing what I'm capable of, and it seems you have a very narrow definition of what "capable" is." -- you may very well be capable of finishing a PhD but you cannot support this claim, to borrow your phrase, until you have completed the degree. I also cannot say that I am capable of completing a PhD. I can say that I am capable of being admitted to a PhD program.

THAT claim I don't need to support, because it's not about facts and figures, it's about personality, self-awareness and experience. There is no reason I could think of that I would not be capable of finishing a program; whether I do so is a separate question. 

Right, message boards can be about more than one thing. So saying this "isn't a support board" is false.

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6 minutes ago, MaytheSchwartzBeWithYou said:

Have you mentioned you are in an art history program? I don't believe so.  

"I am a doctoral candidate in a program that is discussed incessantly in this forum." 

And you say: "I have quite a bit more of it [anecdotal experience] than the opinions of two people" but we are two people working and studying in PhD programs, you are one person on the outside. I don't think you can claim to be more of an expert about what actually happens to students who enter PhD programs until you've been there. It's a matter of experience and expertise. Unless you, like my wife, served on an admissions committee this fall, we are more qualified to speak about graduate admissions in art history than you are. 

"it's about personality, self-awareness and experience" -- Who told you that? You will find that this is not true. Personality and self-awareness aside, you lack experience working towards a PhD unless, as previously mentioned, you have a PhD in another field.

"there is no reason I could think of that I would not be capable of finishing a program" -- the admission committees have thought of reasons. A low blow, maybe, but my last.

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15 minutes ago, northeastregional said:

And you say: "I have quite a bit more of it [anecdotal experience] than the opinions of two people" but we are two people working and studying in PhD programs, you are one person on the outside. I don't think you can claim to be more of an expert about what actually happens to students who enter PhD programs until you've been there. It's a matter of experience and expertise. Unless you, like my wife, served on an admissions committee this fall, we are more qualified to speak about graduate admissions in art history than you are. 

I never said I was an expert and I wasn't speaking about myself, I was speaking about all of the other people (who are not two people) who have countered what you have said. In that way, I have far more evidence than you - you speak from one (possibly two) programs, but I'm working from a sample of many.  Let's chalk that up to a difference of opinion.

15 minutes ago, northeastregional said:

"it's about personality, self-awareness and experience" -- Who told you that? You will find that this is not true. Personality and self-awareness aside, you lack experience working towards a PhD unless, as previously mentioned, you have a PhD in another field.

So then tell me what is? 

15 minutes ago, northeastregional said:

"there is no reason I could think of that I would not be capable of finishing a program" -- the admission committees have thought of reasons. A low blow, maybe, but my last.

LOL, you're right, that is a low blow, but (A). there are many reasons people can be rejected, that is simply one of them; and (b). the good thing is I don't care what you think. People like you are poisonous to the educational community and that is really unfortunate.

I don't know why you feel the need to troll these boards, especially if, as you say, you are in a PhD program and should really be old enough and educated enough to know that someday the people on these boards could be your peers. Perhaps the anonymity of the internet emboldens you, but I hope you are more pleasant in person than you are online.

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1 hour ago, northeastregional said:

"there is no reason I could think of that I would not be capable of finishing a program" -- the admission committees have thought of reasons. A low blow, maybe, but my last.

There's nothing wrong with disagreeing with someone or contradicting their point, but when you use their application status - a subject that could already be a source of dejection - as a means to personally attack them, that is when you've crossed the line. Let's all keep a civil tone here. Yes, there are many purposes to this forum, but overall, this should be a place of respectful dialogue and sharing - not shameless bickering that tears others down.

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@northeastregional have you ever heard the phrase: "If everyone you encounter is an asshole, maybe you're the asshole?" You're married, you're not in academia, and, god willing, you have at least one hobby or interest that's not trolling people on the internet. So, as many of us have requested of you before: please, just leave us be. 

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2 minutes ago, bosie_dearest said:

@northeastregional have you ever heard the phrase: "If everyone you encounter is an asshole, maybe you're the asshole?" You're married, you're not in academia, and, god willing, you have at least one hobby or interest that's not trolling people on the internet. So, as many of us have requested of you before: please, just leave us be. 

Amen

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I think this is far too complicated. Most of the time (sorry to bring up personal antidotes), but many folks who have easy times landing spots in 10 ten programs are generally the types who were fortunate enough to have the funds, test well, etc, and get into the same top 10 places to receive a BA. While I think before 2000, there was far more of an emphasis placed on going to an ivy, Berkeley, etc, I think its beginning to change. I sat in on a variety of hiring committees- the ones from the ivies and "wannabe ivies" were the least successful candidate by far. Again, as mentioned before, I think the primary benefit of going to an ivy is probably the funding situation (for going to conferences, etc). However, if you are qualified, you can get a very nice deal with a 10-30 school with funding, benefits, and the whole shebang. Most job committees have members from a variety of departments, so thats something else to consider too. If you come from a program that lacks funding, etc, perhaps it better makes you able to cope with the funding realities down the road (Gee, I'm not getting a full reimbursement for every conference I go too?).

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