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smwinterfeldt

The State of UC Boulder's Program

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Hi everyone,

I'm going to be applying to about 10 or so programs this year. Currently, UC Boulder is not among them, but I've heard they have (had?) a strong pluralistic program that would fit my research interests. I am aware that UC Boulder's program recently went through some upheaval, and I have not yet checked if they have re-opened the program for applications. But I have been cautioned against applying there because of the recent upheaval. My question is why should I be concerned that applying (and potentially attending) such a program might not be such a wise idea, if the department has restructured itself and re-opened for applications?

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They definitely have re-opened for applications because I applied last year. There are risks to attending a program that is being massively restructured for a few reasons. If you're concerned with ranking, that can change a lot as faculty shifts around. It's just difficult to know how the restructure will affect the department, and reputation matters a lot. Also don't underestimate the importance of a program with a good and supportive climate. Of course their restructuring was supposed to fix the climate issues but it's hard to know whether that has been effective.

That being said, I personally don't see any problem with at least applying. There is a cost/benefit analysis for applications but the best advice I got applying to graduate school was cast a wide net and apply to as many places as is feasible. If you get in, you can visit and decide for yourself if you see yourself there.

I got on the wait list when I applied and I probably wouldn't have gone if I got in (because the program I'm in now is a better fit for my research interests)- but honestly I considered going there just for the location. This photo of campus was included in an e-mail telling us that all wait listed applicants could attend the MA program (without funding of course):

 

 

unnamed.thumb.jpg.7258df8f26383b2d0e2e05

Edited by qualiafreak

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Let's begin by pointing out that the costs to you of applying are the application fee, the GRE score, the time that it takes to file an application, and (if you'd like to include it) the time that it takes for your letter writers to submit letters. These aren't particularly high costs, in my view. This is a low-risk situation.

But choosing a graduate program is a huge decision that will change your life, for better or worse.

I, frankly, was shocked and appalled that the University of Colorado Boulder refused to reimburse students who paid to have GRE scores sent, only to be told (when it was too late) that their applications would not be considered. That's the university, not the department. However, in my own interaction with people at the Philosophy department, I personally did not see a lot of concern for those of us who were mistreated by the university. (To be fair, the department had bigger problems. And we're talking only about my loss of ~$30 plus whatever incidental losses I incurred from planning an application. And the costs of everybody else situated similarly.) But again, I did not see a lot of concern from the Philosophy department for those who were mistreated as a result of the department's late decision not to consider applications.

Has the department completely recovered? What are the lasting effects of the turmoil recently experienced there? How do current students feel about things? Notice that in terms of prestige, for what it's worth, the department took a hit. There's no question about that.

I agree with qualiafreak that it's probably worth applying. Small risk. Chance of reward, in the case that you are admitted and are convinced that the department is a good place to study philosophy right now.

If I were privileged to choose among multiple offers of admission, the recent turmoil at Boulder would be a factor in my decision.

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They definitely have re-opened for applications because I applied last year. There are risks to attending a program that is being massively restructured for a few reasons. If you're concerned with ranking, that can change a lot as faculty shifts around. It's just difficult to know how the restructure will affect the department, and reputation matters a lot. Also don't underestimate the importance of a program with a good and supportive climate. Of course their restructuring was supposed to fix the climate issues but it's hard to know whether that has been effective.

That being said, I personally don't see any problem with at least applying. There is a cost/benefit analysis for applications but the best advice I got applying to graduate school was cast a wide net and apply to as many places as is feasible. If you get in, you can visit and decide for yourself if you see yourself there.

I got on the wait list when I applied and I probably wouldn't have gone if I got in (because the program I'm in now is a better fit for my research interests)- but honestly I considered going there just for the location. This photo of campus was included in an e-mail telling us that all wait listed applicants could attend the MA program (without funding of course):

 

 

unnamed.thumb.jpg.7258df8f26383b2d0e2e05


Are you implying that Boulder is prettier than where you are now?????

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I'm not sure that I'd call Boulder a pluralistic department, but perhaps we have different things in mind with that label. Also, FWIW, they're advertising for a senior hire this year, AOS and AOC open.

 

Personally, I'd be leery of applying there for a little while yet. It can take a while--and a few generations of students--to get over the kind of damage that stuff wreaks. I'm not sure what the atmosphere there is like, but I do know that they host at least one fairly vocal (and public) dissenting voice among the grad students. That might be an indication of a divided atmosphere, or maybe not. It might be worth trying to reach out to some current grads there and asking them what they think, if they're comfortable talking to you about it.

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