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Chances for Ph.D Programs


BCHistory

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I apologize for this duplicate post. I also posted the topic below in the "Applications" forum. I wasn't sure where I would receive the best response. If I wasn't supposed to duplicate posts like this, I apologize.

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This is my first time posting in this forum. I've been reading the topics for a while, and some of them have gotten me a bit nervous regarding my chances for admission into Ph.D programs in history. Would anybody mind making an honest assessment of how I stack up in the admissions process at the schools to which I've applied? Thanks!

GPA: 3.63 overall; 3.67 major (history)

GRE: 720 V (98%); 750 Q (83%); 5.0 AW (81%)

BA in history and political science from Emory University; Dean's List; Phi Alpha Theta; National Merit Scholar. I worked for four years at Emory's Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, and since I've graduated in 2008, I have worked at the South Caroliniana Library at the University of South Carolina. Reading knowledge of Italian.

I want to study American religious history, with a focus on American Catholicism, African-American Catholics, parochial educational practices of the nineteenth century, southern Catholics during the Civil War and Reconstruction, and Catholic minority identity formation and religiously informed nationalism.

All of my applications and letters have been submitted. I feel confident that the letters will be good, and I shared my writing sample and statement of purpose with several professors, went through countless edits and revisions, and am very proud of the work I accomplished in this area.

However, my major concern: I attended law school for one semester with serious reservations, partly out of a desire to please my parents and partly because of what I apprehended to be a surer monetary return. I struggled with the decision of attending law school or pursuing a Ph.D when I was an undergraduate. I knew very quickly that I made the wrong choice, but stuck it out to the end of my first semester to finish my exams and classes honorably. Unfortunately, I wound up with a disappointing 2.93 in my one semester of law school.

I applied to fourteen schools based mostly on what I perceived to be good academic and intellectual "fits," rather than a focus on the rankings of the schools. I applied to the following:

Emory

UGA

South Carolina

Vanderbilt

Wisconsin

Notre Dame

Chicago

Northwestern

WashU

Cornell

Delaware

Boston College

Rutgers

Penn State

I have established correspondence with two or three professors at each program, and I have maintained this correspondence for several months now, even meeting in person with a few. Almost all have overlapping research interests, and I would feel comfortable at every program.

Basically, what are my chances at these Ph.D programs? Is that one semester of law school going to sink me? I feel that my GPA is very inadequate, compared to all of the 4.0s that I have seen in this forum. Am I just going through typical pre-decision jitters as I wait for admissions decisions over the next few months?

Thanks in advance for all who can give insights and advice. Good luck with all of your applications!

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your GPA is excellent, don't worry. there isn't a great deal of difference between a 3.8 or 4.0, really. if you explained that you attended law school, decided it wasn't for you, and just finished up the semester out of a desire to finish what you start, all in your statement of purpose or in an additional letter, then you're fine. if that law school GPA goes unexplained, it might raise a few eyebrows but won't necessarily exclude you from anywhere.

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your GPA is excellent, don't worry. there isn't a great deal of difference between a 3.8 or 4.0, really. if you explained that you attended law school, decided it wasn't for you, and just finished up the semester out of a desire to finish what you start, all in your statement of purpose or in an additional letter, then you're fine. if that law school GPA goes unexplained, it might raise a few eyebrows but won't necessarily exclude you from anywhere.

Thanks for the response. My referees and former professors told me not to really mention it in my statement unless I could make a connection between my law school semester and my future graduate studies. Should I send a follow-up letter to my schools explaining the situation, or should I just let the rest of my record speak for itself? I've already submitted my applications; is it already too late to send in an additional supporting letter such as this? Thanks!

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Thanks for the response. My referees and former professors told me not to really mention it in my statement unless I could make a connection between my law school semester and my future graduate studies. Should I send a follow-up letter to my schools explaining the situation, or should I just let the rest of my record speak for itself? I've already submitted my applications; is it already too late to send in an additional supporting letter such as this? Thanks!

Let it go. They'll obviously see that law school didn't work out. And there are plenty of people in history in your situation- law school or history graduate program??

I am actually, frankly, shocked that Michigan isn't on your list given your interests.

How's Emory's history department?

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How's Emory's history department?

Very good department. The professors were phenomenal and very interested in student' work and progress. Emory is definitely worth a look.

Since I looked at so many different schools, I can't recall my exact reasoning for why I didn't apply to Michigan. I'll take another look at the department's website and try to remember why it is that I didn't apply.

Thanks for the law school advice!

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Very good department. The professors were phenomenal and very interested in student' work and progress. Emory is definitely worth a look.

Since I looked at so many different schools, I can't recall my exact reasoning for why I didn't apply to Michigan. I'll take another look at the department's website and try to remember why it is that I didn't apply.

Thanks for the law school advice!

I would mention your law school experience in your app, but only in a sentence. Say what was missing in Law school and what you will find in the academic study of history. I'd mention it in the last paragraph or wherever you put your "fit" paragraph.

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