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This is totally fair. Although this obviously isn't your case, I've spoken with some peers who have simply said, "Yeah, I'd like to go to school on the west coast so I can go surfing." That seems like a pretty bad idea and hopefully those people get weeded out.

But that's not all we have here. We also have the governator!!

Edited by joro

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A virtual toast to this forum community and the positive feedback! I too get annoyed with people with amazing scores/gpas who seem to ask "what are my chances?" just as an excuse to broadcast their awesome qualifications, but on the other hand, as many previous posters have already said, everyone's anxious and many of these seeming attention-seekers are probably actually reassurance-seekers. Last year I went in to the application round I had a 3.98 gpa, 1300+ gre, and then got rejected everywhere except my undergrad (so much for any urge to brag...nothing deflates an ego like six rejection letters in a row); so don't judge the "high numerical score" people too harshly for their worries! We're all here looking for someone, anyone, who understands our manic application anxiety--because let's face it, how many of us, even those of us with super-supportive families, have people in our real lives who really "get it" about this process, especially for each of our particular programs? I suppose some people want or need the kind of hand-holding support Pamphilia mentioned: of course we know most people on this forum are fellow-applicants and on the same side of the great applicant/adcom divide, but every bit of reassurance helps for those of us checking our emails twenty times an hour in December for a program that doesn't usually send out decisions until March (c'mon, I know I'm not the only one who does this).

Anyway...this conversation is reminding me why I didn't apply to law school. I could never be happy in an environment like that...who could??!? My roommate went from a creative writing BA to a highly competitive MBA program and she is definitely suffering culture shock in the environment of intense ambition and competition. I mean...academics have egos and agendas and they can manipulate with the best of them, but Law school/business school is like another world.

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Last year I went in to the application round I had a 3.98 gpa, 1300+ gre, and then got rejected everywhere except my undergrad (so much for any urge to brag...nothing deflates an ego like six rejection letters in a row); so don't judge the "high numerical score" people too harshly for their worries!

Oh, so you're one of them!

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But that's not all we have here. We also have the governator!!

Oh yeah, how could I forget? I should email all my peers and wish them the best of luck. Surfing + Governator = grad school success (and it didn't even take a calculator to figure that out - thanks, GRE math!)

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Yikes! I have a cousin that went to law school, and when word got around that I was applying to grad school she called me (we're not very close) to tell me NOT to go to law school. I'm glad I'm applying to MFA programs, hopefully they won't be quite so scary.

That was another thing. I have three lawyers in the family and a ton in my sorority. Each and every one of them felt it their duty to pull me aside and BEG me not to go to law school. :/

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Considering I only know a few lawyers and they're all now doing Ph.Ds in other fields (mostly religion), I have no desire to go into law school. I'll just cut out the middle man and go straight to religion.

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I agree, it is annoying when people post those sorts of stats but at the same time I wonder -if they have to do that to feel good about themselves maybe there are real insecurity issues behind it. Maybe they really do need the hand holding?

I also have to say that these forums have been great for the positive/constructive feedback.

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Reading this is really interesting ... I'm doing plenty of internal fretting over scores and stuff, but haven't been game to post due to fear of sounding obnoxious (since I have one of 'those' GRE scores - and god alone knows how, since I haven't done maths without counting on my fingers since 2003 - but everything else is international and I can't translate it into US expectations ... hence the fretting).

But my sense of the posts here has overwhelmingly been that they're rooted in genuine uncertainty. This whole process just seems saturated in anxiety for everyone.

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I just graduated from law school, it was a miserable experience! It was a top school and most of the kids were big D's. And I feel like some of these posters with their arrggghhh, I only have a 3.99 and a 1560, do I have a shot are just as douchey.

But my good friend from law school who is in a top English PhD program says that alot of the people in his program now are very competitive, so who knows if it is really any better in academia as opposed to professional school.

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I'll take the positivity & encouragement I see on here (and the YMMV qualifications of course!) any day.

I actually had to google that acronym. What is this, a law school board? That response was TTT and IMO ITE we need to express ourselves as clearly as possible to guarantee our future financial success. FYI You must be either a hippie or old. Or a minority who is trying to steal the spot promised to me at birth by divine right.

This is totally fair. Although this obviously isn't your case, I've spoken with some peers who have simply said, "Yeah, I'd like to go to school on the west coast so I can go surfing." That seems like a pretty bad idea and hopefully those people get weeded out.

If surfing is important to someone, I can totally respect that. Though I'm applying to two programs outside outside of cities, it's wicked important for me to be able to go to punk/hardcore shows. I've lived for the past two and a half years in Turkey, and while Istanbul is wonderful, it lacks certain cultural experiences (by which yes, I do mean punk shows), that I want from life. I've ended up kind of viewing it as a necessary sacrifice to learn Turkish. I mean, c'mon, I missed the Unbroken reunion show! Unbroken! And the Small Brown Bike reunion! Both would have been in Chicago too!

1. I am annoyed when people suggest that it is somehow frivolous to decide where to apply based on a program's ranking rather than "fit." The program's ranking is what determines what kind of job you will get. It isn't just about prestige--it has immense practical importance.

2. The concept of "fit" is kind of annoying in general given that you haven't even started the program, haven't taken any classes, etc. Interests evolve. I'd love to compare people's dissertation topics with their original statements of purpose. I bet you would find a lot of people in a completely different place. I don't think having narrowed your interests down to one particular topic before you even take one graduate class means that you will be a better graduate student in the end.

Finally,

1. I think there is something to be said for rankings, a lot to be said for producing quality work, but sometimes if there is a good fit (here's that dreaded word again), it can make a lot of difference. Secularism is one of the main issues I'm interested in and, excluding political scientists (that is, counting people in Religion, Sociology or Anthropology), there is almost no one working on it. For that, reason, I've been widely encouraged by every faculty member I've contacted to look at CUNY Anthropology simply because Talal Asad is there, and he's pretty much "the guy". While I will confess to a rankings-based mindset generally, it can't all be rankings based. (see my unnumbered third point)

2. I think we understand fit differently. If you are looking at a relatively popular subject, let's say America in History, 19th Century British Novels in English, Systematic Theology in Religion, African-Americans in Sociology, Painting in MFA, China in Anthropology, whatever, you can pretty much apply anywhere because any school will have those things. However, speaking only to my own experience, if you're interested in a lesson common field, you have to find someone appropriate. If you're not studying America, for instance, you need someone comfortable with that general area. My interests (religion in Turkey, which inherently deals with politics and Islam and minorities) are no less broad than, say, the 20th century American novel, but there are a lot of people working on 20th century American literature as a broad field and few people working on Turkey at all or Islam outside the Arab world at all. Different schools also seem to have very different ideas of good fits: of the religion programs I contacted, Duke and Northwestern have pretty similar resources for what interests me. In fact, Duke has one Islamist, while Northwestern has two. However, the guy at Duke thinks I'm a decent fit while the Northwestern guy said I should apply, but if there is a better fit, they'll take her over me. My idea of "fit" is very general--at least one person working on Modern Islam in any way, shape, or form; at least one person working on issues of religion and politics, or even religion and identity; preferably a place that also offers Turkish language classes. (Which brings up the whole language issue: if you want to work with languages, you might need to know them already... or start learning them really soon). I mean, I think I want to write about myth making in the Secularist project, but I could end up writing about the Turkish government involved in the religious affairs of Turkish immigrants to Germany. Hell, I could write about something entirely different, like "homegrown terrorism", or how religion relates to national idenity. But I have general interests in Islam and politics, and a generally disinterest in learning Arabic.

As a finally point, I think the points actual can be combined. Let's for example, look at the USNWR rankings for history. There are overall rankings, which are then broken down into several subcategories. I mean, there is a lot of correlation between the overall scores and those of individual categories, but not in ever case. Consider Women's History. They rank Rutgers number one, so presumably, if you study women's history there, you'll get a better job. Then again, Rutgers is ranked twentieth overall. And as you get out of the top ten, into smaller departments, I'm sure these differences magnify. Perhaps, then, if you're interested in women's history, you should apply to Rutgers because it is ranked higher in that field. Well, what about all the other sub-disciplines? The ones that aren't officially ranked? Basically, "fit" does mean rankings... but only rankings within a very particular subfield. One would hope that those looking to hire you realize this, and from what I can see, that might well be true (especially if the department looking to hire you already has someone in that subfield). My old man is a medical sociologist and he can just reel off lists of medical sociologists, which sociology programs produce which type of graduates, where the top spots for medical sociology are, etc. And you'll notice that medical sociology, which is definitely a recognized field (as opposed to say "Religion in Turkey"), isn't even listed on the USNWR subcategory rankings. So I don't think you're instance on rankings and others instance on fit are so far apart as you might think. But that's just me, and it's almost 5 in the morning in this time zone.

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I was able to find enough programs that address the fit question within the areas I would want to live.

Slightly OT, but...I just want to express my undying jealousy.

I am so, so desperate to escape the Midwest. I have been trying to get out of here roughly since elementary school.

Four of the five programs I am applying to are in the Midwest. Two are in my hometown.

Vita detestabilis, nunc obdurat, et tunc curat, ludo mentis aciem

:P

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I actually had to google that acronym. What is this, a law school board? That response was TTT and IMO ITE we need to express ourselves as clearly as possible to guarantee our future financial success. FYI You must be either a hippie or old. Or a minority who is trying to steal the spot promised to me at birth by divine right.

Haha yeah I had to google it too at first, you make a good point. (I assume the rest of this statement is the type of thing said on the law school boards...in which case, I'm glad I never applied to law school!)

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Oh, so you're one of them!

Lol, I wish being one of "them" got me anywhere. The moral of my story is that we're all on the same side here. I never posted asking for people to 'review' my qualifications because I didn't want to be obnoxious, and it looks like I made the right decision! This season my application is REALLY different because I'm 1) already in grad school and 2) applying to something really specific that's pretty different from my undergrad...so I don't think there's any hope of figuring out what's useful/good/bad anyway. The whole process is just as much of a mystery as it ever was.

Edited by piccgeek

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Lol, I wish being one of "them" got me anywhere. The moral of my story is that we're all on the same side here. I never posted asking for people to 'review' my qualifications because I didn't want to be obnoxious, and it looks like I made the right decision! This season my application is REALLY different because I'm 1) already in grad school and 2) applying to something really specific that's pretty different from my undergrad...so I don't think there's any hope of figuring out what's useful/good/bad anyway. The whole process is just as much of a mystery as it ever was.

I think I'm one of "them" too--I was worried that I might be annoying with my blog--but never posted "what are my chances" posts. (Is it just me or do international students do that more? They post once, expecting us to be the all-knowing experts.)

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I am so, so desperate to escape the Midwest. I have been trying to get out of here roughly since elementary school.

Dude... never talk down to the Midwest. You know what the Midwest is: young and reckless. I'd be so happy to end up back in the Midwest. And I was born an East Coast elitist. I assume by your home town you mean hog butcher to the world, the city of big shoulders (because its the only Midwestern city I can think of with two or more schools...). Just wait until you go to another city and you have to actually give directions instead of a street address... I can't think of a railroad station in another city where I've seen Amish people. Imagine living in a place where they put KETCHUP on their HOT DOGS, or there is only one local baseball team that disappoints. People really are different outside the Midwest... people will walk on the sidewalks so much faster. How many people do I know who were robbed on the South Side who were allowed to keep their wallets if they just coughed up their money. Like, that's the kind of empathy you just won't find in other regions.

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More venting: I don't think this can be said enough. Nobody who isn't applying to grad schools seems to understand how much of a pain it is! Back when I was applying to college, college admission was all anyone ever talked about. Where are you applying? What do you want to major in? Blah blah, etc. Maybe it was because I went to a prep school, where the entire point of the institution was to get us students into college, but I remember there being an incredible support network for people applying to college, even in junior year and before. Obviously, I don't expect the same degree of obsessive, smothering hand-holding now that I received in high school. But still, it would be nice if someone were to acknowledge how much work these applications are! For some reason people expect you to have your applications finished in a couple days, like you just have to casually enter a few test scores and grades into a computer and you're all finished. Especially in social situations, people can be annoying. People expect me to be able to come out all the time and dismiss working on applications as a legitimate thing to spend time on.

The good thing about this process is that it will be finished by the second semester. At least, my part of it will be. After this horrible semester, which has been a constant barrage of stress, near nervous breakdowns, challenging work, and eruptions of self-doubt, I will be the happiest of all my friends. I will be able to enjoy the second semester, and it will seem so amazingly easy and carefree in comparison to this one. So I'm glad for that.

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Is anyone else happy that they applied this semester and not next semester? Like, I am glad because I think my GPA might lower a little bit this semester. So I am really excited that I sent all my transcripts from this semester and didnt wait to my grades were updated.

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I am also fed up of people who dont understand the stress and chaos of this process trying to have an opinion on it. I have a couple of 'friends' who just keep going "of course you will get in" without really having any idea what they are saying or how horrible and hard and rubbish and unknown this whole thing is. I think next time someone says it I may well hit them.

Also in support of the international applicants asking questions, it really is tough doing this from a different system. However, it is so obvious that 1560 is a good score so there really is no need to just ask about that, the stuff we really need to know about is something only the schools can help with, and they dont.

And breath, really must get back to writing my essay so I dont fail this year.......

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I am also fed up of people who dont understand the stress and chaos of this process trying to have an opinion on it. I have a couple of 'friends' who just keep going "of course you will get in" without really having any idea what they are saying or how horrible and hard and rubbish and unknown this whole thing is. I think next time someone says it I may well hit them.

Gah! Yes.

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I am also fed up of people who dont understand the stress and chaos of this process trying to have an opinion on it. I have a couple of 'friends' who just keep going "of course you will get in" without really having any idea what they are saying or how horrible and hard and rubbish and unknown this whole thing is. I think next time someone says it I may well hit them.

StrangeLight posted this on a thread on the History board, and I am going to start paraphrasing it to people who give me the "but you're/your application's so [X], of COURSE you'll get in" so as to avoid the potential of assault charges:

some people have strong academic records, apply to programs with a good fit and a potential advisor interested in working with them, take time on their SOP and writing sample, have strong LORs, and they still don't get in anywhere. people who strike out completely aren't solely the ill-prepared.

i hope for both of you that your applications are well received and you have your choice of schools, but having been through this process twice (for a journalism masters and a history PhD), i can tell you that "crapshoot" is a rather fair assessment of the process, especially for last year's admissions cycle. the financial crisis dramatically dropped the number of spaces available in most grad programs. schools that would normally accept 20 new students were only taking on 7 or 8. entire subfields were shut out of the running. some schools only took students who already had masters degrees so they could have an entire cohort that didn't require masters classes.

say there are 9 spots total. your potential advisor and another professor are battling over who gets the 9th student. if your potential advisor wins, you're in. if he or she doesn't, because that prof doesn't have the same record of achievement or has a few advisees already, then you're out. that has NOTHING to do with how well you prepare your application or what kind of rapport you establish with your potential advisor ahead of time, and the "it's my turn for an advisee" argument is fairly common in any grad program.

so... again. best of luck to you both, but realize that the people who were shut out completely last year weren't necessarily weak applicants applying to the wrong schools without contacting advisors ahead of time.

Edited by Sparky

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Yes I get that too and it drives me up the wall! Yes 5% of applicants get in but of course I will get in. Because I win the lottery every other day too. I am just lucky like that.

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Yes I get that too and it drives me up the wall! Yes 5% of applicants get in but of course I will get in. Because I win the lottery every other day too. I am just lucky like that.

Yup. People said this to me all the time too..."You are so smart, of course they will want you." Yes, I am smart and I aced the GRE (ducks to avoid flying tomatoes)--but I also all-but-flunked-out of school after my sophomore year, and I was trying to get into physical science programs with no research experience at all.

One person told me, "Stanford and Harvard would be lucky to have you." Yes, but they wouldn't want me!! :D

There are no guarantees in grad school admissions. I didn't get in to two of my three safety schools (keep in mind that my stats were WAAAAY above their averages), but I did get into a highly-ranked program I applied to on a whim more than anything. Go figure!

...And now that I'm applying for fellowships I hear the same thing. "Of course you'll get funding." Ha. I was actually grateful when my dad told me, "You know, the odds that you'll get an NSF fellowship are pretty low. They like hot shots, and you're not a hot shot yet." Of course it was a bit depressing to think about but it was nice to hear the truth instead of platitudes!

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The good thing about this process is that it will be finished by the second semester. At least, my part of it will be. After this horrible semester, which has been a constant barrage of stress, near nervous breakdowns, challenging work, and eruptions of self-doubt, I will be the happiest of all my friends. I will be able to enjoy the second semester, and it will seem so amazingly easy and carefree in comparison to this one. So I'm glad for that.

I hate to be a downer but...next semester, when all you can do is wait, without any control, without knowing when anyone's going to get back to you...that also sucks. Not only because waiting is torture, but because no one will understand why it's so torturous. When I was waiting through December, January, February, and into March last year, I talked about grad school all the time. I worried about it, I checked the mail ten times a day, I tried not to describe various "what ifs" to my friends, but I couldn't help myself because the obsession was taking over my brain. Everyone thought I was nuts. So...yeah. This feeling like no one gets what you're going through? That's not going to get away next semester. *sigh*

And just in case anyone was hoping for a rainbow at the end of this process...no one gets GRAD SCHOOL any better than they get the grad school application process. My mother told me yesterday that my stress over this final research paper I'm writing is "adorable" because she "knows I'm so good at this sort of thing." *face palm*

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Yup. People said this to me all the time too..."You are so smart, of course they will want you." Yes, I am smart and I aced the GRE (ducks to avoid flying tomatoes)--but I also all-but-flunked-out of school after my sophomore year, and I was trying to get into physical science programs with no research experience at all.

One person told me, "Stanford and Harvard would be lucky to have you." Yes, but they wouldn't want me!! :D

There are no guarantees in grad school admissions. I didn't get in to two of my three safety schools (keep in mind that my stats were WAAAAY above their averages), but I did get into a highly-ranked program I applied to on a whim more than anything. Go figure!

...And now that I'm applying for fellowships I hear the same thing. "Of course you'll get funding." Ha. I was actually grateful when my dad told me, "You know, the odds that you'll get an NSF fellowship are pretty low. They like hot shots, and you're not a hot shot yet." Of course it was a bit depressing to think about but it was nice to hear the truth instead of platitudes!

We're still venting, right?

Well I hear the same thing and I'm getting angry. I mean Bruce Banner Hulk angry. On my other online sites I promised not to say another word about the process about a week ago and I have held to it. But recently I did say something about my current coursework along the lines of wishing I had a peer group to read my stuff and give me feedback like I'm ALWAYS doing for others. But I don't have that, for various reasons.

Well someone I consider a friend took the opportunity to go snarkfest on me about how she's so "sorry I'm such a fucking genius that no one can read my work" and how "i'm the most overprepared person for grad school ever" and basically how my concerns are invalid.

I went a little off the wall.

Besides missing the point and taking the opportunity to passively aggressively insult me she did what everyone is doing: assuming my concerns are invalid. That burns my arse!!!! I am smart. I will give people that. I'm not being coy or asking for validation. But I'm smart enough to know how difficult the friggin' odds are!!!! If this was about proving I was smart then, sure, I'd be crazy to be obsessive maybe. But it's not about that. It's about a host of things I cannot control. Funding is down. Programs are being cut and reducing incoming cohort sizes. The job market has a glut of wannabes also applying that maybe would not have three or four years ago. It's just as likely that I'll get lost in a sea of applications and department politics as it is that someone will have the time to even read my stupid file.

So screw everybody for acting like I'm crazy for having concerns. I gave up a lot to do this and if I wanna be concerned about my chances then I think it's a good sign. It means I'm not taking it lightly or taking anything for granted.

And now I will try to be done. :D

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