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The time is finally upon us! The first of the U.S. programs look to have application deadlines of December 1st (Northwestern, for one), and the rest fall irregularly in the days afterward. Surely we're all in the final stages of preparation, making those last little tweaks to our statements, CVs, and samples, and anticipating the long, excruciating wait for acceptances and (inevitably) rejections.

So how are we doing? Nervous? Scared? Nauseous? Hopeful? Confident? Excited? A blend of ALL of these?

I really feel like a blend. There's no way that one can be fully confident in this process, as there are just so many factors that are out of our control. But even though the stakes are so high and there's obviously no way to be even remotely certain of even a single acceptance, I can't help but feel a little giddy regardless. In three months I might be in the depths of despair, but for now I have a bit of a "completion high" going. Am I alone in this?

Anyhow, we've had a bit of a quieter GC cohort this time around, but thanks to those of you who are here and are applying for the first or second time, and for the erstwhile support of Those Who Have Gone Before.



 

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2 hours ago, Wyatt's Terps said:

So how are we doing? Nervous? Scared? Nauseous? Hopeful? Confident? Excited? A blend of ALL of these?

I feel like I cycle through all these emotions on a daily basis.  It definitely feels good to submit applications but I'll feel better once my recommenders actually submit their letters!

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1st time going through the MA application process! (Last year didn't count because I only applied to 1 program)

I flip flop between thinking that I have this whole application thing on lock and thinking that I have no clue what I'm doing. I wish my letter writers/advisors would get back to me regarding my application materials. It's not like they're gearing up for the holidays, teaching classes, or working on their own publications or anything...

I find that I've been on GradCafe for a few hours each day for the last week. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

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2 hours ago, Caien said:

Dramatic confession: I still haven't done my CV   :ph34r:

It's okay! It's safe to say that it's the easiest of the documents to put together, and also the least important, by most accounts. You can DO it!

36 minutes ago, museum_geek said:

I feel like I cycle through all these emotions on a daily basis.  It definitely feels good to submit applications but I'll feel better once my recommenders actually submit their letters!

Yes! This! And I wish I knew what they were going to say. I heard a horror story yesterday from someone who is on the History adcomm at UMD. A few years ago, one of the LORs said something like "He really isn't a very good student, but he begged me for a letter, so here it is." I can't imagine what kind of monster would do that, and yet it obviously happens from time to time... That, um, doesn't mean anything for YOU, however!

19 minutes ago, positivitize said:

I flip flop between thinking that I have this whole application thing on lock and thinking that I have no clue what I'm doing. I wish my letter writers/advisors would get back to me regarding my application materials. It's not like they're gearing up for the holidays, teaching classes, or working on their own publications or anything...

I find that I've been on GradCafe for a few hours each day for the last week. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

Yeah, this is my second cycle as an applicant, and my third on GC in total (I was just a cheerleader last year). I can tell you that the flip-flopping is par for the course. I truly had an hour or two of existential dread after my first two drafts of my SoP. I was so focused on making my WS as good as it could be that I was somehow dismissing the SoP as being a "short and easy document," despite knowing full well that it is in some ways harder than a 20-page paper... I feel good about it now, after rewriting it from scratch with a different approach, and having a dozen sets of eyes on it, and putting it through nine revisions...but who's to say, right? As for the letter writers, I think pretty much all programs allow the letters to come after the application deadlines. I know that's small solace for us as applicants, but it's solace nonetheless...

 

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4 hours ago, Wyatt's Terps said:

As for the letter writers, I think pretty much all programs allow the letters to come after the application deadlines. I know that's small solace for us as applicants, but it's solace nonetheless...

Knowing that definitely makes me feel better.  Two of my letter writers are on my thesis committee and the other supervised a semester long ethnographic research project, so I know they will all write strong LORs, but it still drives me crazy how nonchalant they seem to be about deadlines!

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5 minutes ago, museum_geek said:

Knowing that definitely makes me feel better.  Two of my letter writers are on my thesis committee and the other supervised a semester long ethnographic research project, so I know they will all write strong LORs, but it still drives me crazy how nonchalant they seem to be about deadlines!

Please watch out for this. Look at the specific program, because some state that they do not accept letters after the deadline. 

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WS formatting is proving to be particularly difficult. Any advice or examples of WS formatting? I know that i need to double space, TNR, name in the corner, but do i need the typical MLA name, prof name, class thing? If I have an epigraph, do I need to single space it? What about images? Do they take up page space? 

 

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7 hours ago, BlackRosePhD said:

Please watch out for this. Look at the specific program, because some state that they do not accept letters after the deadline. 

Ah, yes. Always defer to specific program guidelines. I hadn't come across any that don't allow letters after the deadline, but it (almost) goes without saying that program guidelines are the be all, end all here.
 

1 hour ago, BlackRosePhD said:

WS formatting is proving to be particularly difficult. Any advice or examples of WS formatting? I know that i need to double space, TNR, name in the corner, but do i need the typical MLA name, prof name, class thing? If I have an epigraph, do I need to single space it? What about images? Do they take up page space? 

 

It really varies. I, for one, don't use Times New Roman, and haven't for a couple of years. It's not an MLA format requirement, and I find fonts in the Century group (I use Century Schoolbook) to be far more readable...which is why they are used in legal briefs and other similar documents. Font choice probably won't affect your application one way or another, but they can have subtle effects on readability and presentation. In my WS, I have a full-page image, as well as two images that take up a third of a page. I wouldn't count those against a page count, per se, though if your paper is 18 or so pages with the image, and the requirement is 20-25 pages, I wouldn't worry too much. From what I understand from professors etc., it's more important to not go over the stated page limit than to not go under. It also goes without saying that works cited doesn't factor into total page count either. Epigraphs are typically single-spaced in MLA. As for other formatting, in the top left corner of the first page I have it thus:

My Name

Writing Sample

University of ___________

2017 Ph.D. Program Application

There's probably no one right way to do that, however, and I would assume you're not going to get passed over for a technicality.

If there happens to be anyone reading this who is currently in a Ph.D. program, it might be helpful for you to weigh in on some of these formatting questions, however. I'm no expert, and my advice is only based on what I've read and heard...so YMMV.


P.S. I just took a quick look at the successful statements of purpose I have (I've collected several from English majors who have gotten into Ph.D. programs), and two of them were in Cambria font -- one 11-point, one 12-point. So take that as you will.

 

Edited by Wyatt's Terps
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19 hours ago, Wyatt's Terps said:

So how are we doing? Nervous? Scared? Nauseous? Hopeful? Confident? Excited? A blend of ALL of these?
 

Surprisingly, submitting my applications is way more relieving than I thought it would be (only got 4 left!), but that also may be because I started working on everything in June. I'm sure the anxiety will set in around early January, post holidays waiting to hear back from programs. 

Hopefully everyone isn't stressing too much! You can do it!

3 hours ago, Wyatt's Terps said:


P.S. I just took a quick look at the successful statements of purpose I have (I've collected several from English majors who have gotten into Ph.D. programs), and two of them were in Cambria font -- one 11-point, one 12-point. So take that as you will.

 

I asked one of my Professors who's writing a letter of rec about this and she was saying she doesn't really care, as long as it is well written and she can read it. Now that may be different for programs in the top 5, but I went to undergrad at a top 20 program and she regularly sits on the advisory board for grad admissions.

I also may or may not have shamelessly made my font smaller (12 point to 11 point) to reduce my WS down to 8 pages for Oregon State *side note- WHY is your ENGLISH application asking for "your best academic writing" at an 8 page max, when basically everyone else wants 10+ pages?!?*

 

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I am personally losing my mind: my applications are all completed, and I've already submitted one for rolling admissions, but it's just really hitting me how real this is. I've been a lurker on GC for a couple of years, and am only now ready to apply myself. So much is out of my control- and I do not deal with that well! 

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1 hour ago, kirbs005 said:

Surprisingly, submitting my applications is way more relieving than I thought it would be (only got 4 left!), but that also may be because I started working on everything in June. I'm sure the anxiety will set in around early January, post holidays waiting to hear back from programs. 

. . .

I also may or may not have shamelessly made my font smaller (12 point to 11 point) to reduce my WS down to 8 pages for Oregon State *side note- WHY is your ENGLISH application asking for "your best academic writing" at an 8 page max, when basically everyone else wants 10+ pages?!?*

 

 

Everyone is submitting their applications way earlier than I ever thought to submit my own. My earliest deadline is Dec. 4, and I'd planned on working on my materials until a day or two before the deadline and submitting around the 2nd. Is this a mistake? Is there an advantage to submitting your application a month early?

As for a literature student's "best academic writing" coming in the form of an 8-page paper, I understand your frustration. I, too, am trying to figure out how to edit my 19 page WS down to a cohesive 10 pages for Syracuse's MA application requirements. I might just have to take an excerpt from the middle of the paper and write a short bit to lead it in/conclude it. Then again, for their _PhD_ application they say 10-25 is acceptable... Maybe I'll just submit 15 and call it. Bleh.

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2 hours ago, kirbs005 said:

Surprisingly, submitting my applications is way more relieving than I thought it would be (only got 4 left!), but that also may be because I started working on everything in June. I'm sure the anxiety will set in around early January, post holidays waiting to hear back from programs. 

I asked one of my Professors who's writing a letter of rec about this and she was saying she doesn't really care, as long as it is well written and she can read it. Now that may be different for programs in the top 5, but I went to undergrad at a top 20 program and she regularly sits on the advisory board for grad admissions.

I also may or may not have shamelessly made my font smaller (12 point to 11 point) to reduce my WS down to 8 pages for Oregon State *side note- WHY is your ENGLISH application asking for "your best academic writing" at an 8 page max, when basically everyone else wants 10+ pages?!?*

 

Yes! Definitely relieving. I haven't officially clicked "submit" on anything yet, but I started most of the apps on the day they became available, and populated all of the fields other than WS and SoP. As such, knowing that all I have to do is upload my written materials and pay the fee makes me rather giddy...

And good to know regarding the font issue. It makes sense, really. Oh, and I don't blame you for reducing your font size. I'll be doing the exact same thing for one of my "under 15 pages" apps... It's not cheating, it's critical thinking!

 

1 hour ago, oleannainmaire said:

I am personally losing my mind: my applications are all completed, and I've already submitted one for rolling admissions, but it's just really hitting me how real this is. I've been a lurker on GC for a couple of years, and am only now ready to apply myself. So much is out of my control- and I do not deal with that well! 

Hang in there, and welcome! Glad you delurked. :)
 

50 minutes ago, positivitize said:

Everyone is submitting their applications way earlier than I ever thought to submit my own. My earliest deadline is Dec. 4, and I'd planned on working on my materials until a day or two before the deadline and submitting around the 2nd. Is this a mistake? Is there an advantage to submitting your application a month early?

As for a literature student's "best academic writing" coming in the form of an 8-page paper, I understand your frustration. I, too, am trying to figure out how to edit my 19 page WS down to a cohesive 10 pages for Syracuse's MA application requirements. I might just have to take an excerpt from the middle of the paper and write a short bit to lead it in/conclude it. Then again, for their _PhD_ application they say 10-25 is acceptable... Maybe I'll just submit 15 and call it. Bleh.

For me it's mostly a function of time allocation. I've got a few days off for Thanksgiving break, but have a couple of big papers due on December 6th and 14th, a presentation on the 5th, and have to grade 18 of my students' 8-10 page papers starting on November 29th. Getting all of these applications out of the way now while I'm still sane and not overwhelmed just feels sensible to me. 

 

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My first US application deadline is November 30, so I'm hoping to submit in the next day or so. I'm on the home stretch for the version of my Writing Sample that will satisfy most schools, and have only small tweaks left for each Statement of Purpose. The rest is ready to go. :|

My last cycle (for my MA applications), I submitted each app two days before its deadline, so the prospect of being ready to submit most of my applications this early is a little terrifying (shouldn't I use all the available time? won't I find something else I could've fixed after I've submitted?). But it's mostly a relief, given the mental/emotional energy and time apps take up, some of which I will need to redirect towards my seminar papers pretty soon.

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Good job, @erosanddust!

Can you believe that in the application cycle two years ago, I submitted many applications on the day they opened?

Big mistake, in retrospect. I thought I was being efficient, but I could have spent so much time refining and getting feedback. I really should have known better, but mea culpa. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 11/21/2016 at 5:32 AM, Wyatt's Terps said:

 In my WS, I have a full-page image, as well as two images that take up a third of a page. I wouldn't count those against a page count, per se, though if your paper is 18 or so pages with the image, and the requirement is 20-25 pages, I wouldn't worry too much. From what I understand from professors etc., it's more important to not go over the stated page limit than to not go under. It also goes without saying that works cited doesn't factor into total page count either.

 

@BlackRosePhD - Bouncing off the above, when I e-mailed the schools I'm applying to, I got different answers about how they'd like my images included.  That said, my writing sample is about a graphic novel, so admittedly, it's probably more image heavy than the usual.  If you're going to have a bunch of pictures, you may want to just quickly check with the department before submitting. 

(Also, 2 thumbs up for .hack.)

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I'm getting a bit nervous over here.

I've done everything on my end, but 2/3 recommenders aren't responding to emails, haven't submitted a thing, and are totally unavailable. This really worries me, especially because one of my programs requires that letters be in by the deadline. :/

 

I've called their offices a few times today hoping to get ahold of them, sent weekly emails etc etc. It's a ghost town over here. 

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31 minutes ago, BlackRosePhD said:

I'm getting a bit nervous over here.

I've done everything on my end, but 2/3 recommenders aren't responding to emails, haven't submitted a thing, and are totally unavailable. This really worries me, especially because one of my programs requires that letters be in by the deadline. :/

 

I've called their offices a few times today hoping to get ahold of them, sent weekly emails etc etc. It's a ghost town over here. 

Augh! I'm in the same boat! You have ALL of my commiseration!

I've sent several emails to one of my recommenders over the past few weeks, and she has been unresponsive. Worse still, I received an email from Northwestern asking about my lack of uploaded letters, since their deadline is tomorrow. Apparently Northwestern is one of the programs that doesn't give a lot of leeway to LORs being submitted after the deadline. It makes sense, given that they traditionally make their decisions in January, but it's a bit frustrating nonetheless (although Nathan Mead is one of the best graduate admin people out there, IMO -- always on the ball and pleasant to deal with). One of my three recommenders has now uploaded her letter, but it's been radio silence from the others. If they don't get their letters in this weekend, I can likely kiss Northwestern goodbye. :(

I could go on a mini-rant about having application deadlines at the busiest time of the academic year...but that's a post or thread for another day.

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2 hours ago, Wyatt's Terps said:

Augh! I'm in the same boat! You have ALL of my commiseration!

I've sent several emails to one of my recommenders over the past few weeks, and she has been unresponsive. Worse still, I received an email from Northwestern asking about my lack of uploaded letters, since their deadline is tomorrow. Apparently Northwestern is one of the programs that doesn't give a lot of leeway to LORs being submitted after the deadline. It makes sense, given that they traditionally make their decisions in January, but it's a bit frustrating nonetheless (although Nathan Mead is one of the best graduate admin people out there, IMO -- always on the ball and pleasant to deal with). One of my three recommenders has now uploaded her letter, but it's been radio silence from the others. If they don't get their letters in this weekend, I can likely kiss Northwestern goodbye. :(

I could go on a mini-rant about having application deadlines at the busiest time of the academic year...but that's a post or thread for another day.

I spoke to one writer in person and he brushed me off as he left his office.

I'm so frustrated. This really isn't fair. I barely have money for applications, and to potentially not even have it reviewed because of zero LOR's being in is so darn upsetting. 

I'm trying. I'm putting in the work. I really am. I just need to get a chance by having these applications in front of the adcom. 

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21 minutes ago, BlackRosePhD said:

I spoke to one writer in person and he brushed me off as he left his office.

I'm so frustrated. This really isn't fair. I barely have money for applications, and to potentially not even have it reviewed because of zero LOR's being in is so darn upsetting. 

I'm trying. I'm putting in the work. I really am. I just need to get a chance by having these applications in front of the adcom. 

Dammit. This is really, really shitty. Do you have a potential backup LOR writer? Someone who you have a good rapport with whom you can turn to in a crisis? If there's anyone, then you can explain the situation. It's a very busy time of year, but you might find some legitimate sympathy. Writing letters for good students is literally part of their job. So long as you've been good to your LOR-writers, there's no good reason for them to not write for you in a timely fashion.

Really sorry about this, BR. :(

 

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33 minutes ago, BlackRosePhD said:

I spoke to one writer in person and he brushed me off as he left his office.

I'm so frustrated. This really isn't fair. I barely have money for applications, and to potentially not even have it reviewed because of zero LOR's being in is so darn upsetting. 

I'm trying. I'm putting in the work. I really am. I just need to get a chance by having these applications in front of the adcom. 

I'm trying to remain as objective as possible:


1) Do any of your writers have secretaries that work for them? If so, would it be possible to have the secretary e-mail the professor? I know that professors may be afforded a secretary if they head a different department.

2) How much of a notice did you give your professors? Did they seem thrill to write you a letter or did they hold reservations? (Last year, I had a professor refuse to write a letter because she didn't think she *knew* me well enough despite being in her class. The structure of the program was such that you'd be taking each professor once before graduation.)

3) Between the first time you asked them, have you asked them again? I got really nervous about some of my deadlines because one professor hadn't submitted. He ended up submitting hours after I resent him an e-mail. Turns out I had nothing to fret; sometimes professors are procrastinators too.

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5 hours ago, Wyatt's Terps said:

 

I could go on a mini-rant about having application deadlines at the busiest time of the academic year...but that's a post or thread for another day.

So true though, so true. 

Last year I didn't realise until it was too late that while one of my apps required all the letters to be in by the deadline, the automated recommendation requests couldn't actually go out until after you had submitted your application! The deadline was New Year's Day, so factoring in Xmas, realistically the de facto deadline was mid-December, and that's if your professors are prompt and organised! I had a major freak out and ended up on the phone to our department secretary (who, thankfully, is both lovely and was in over the break to get done work done) and she tracked down the prof wherever he was.

This isn't too helpful for you @BlackRosePhD as my prof was very responsive, but I second Wyatt's suggestion that you try an admin person if you can, and emphasise (politely as you can) that it's now or never.

If it's any consolation, sometimes they are just busy rather than reluctant to help you. One of my profs was not responding to emails and I discovered (because I follow her on twitter lol) that's she was moving house as well as the usual essay/exam period.

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6 hours ago, biyutefulphlower said:

@BlackRosePhD - Bouncing off the above, when I e-mailed the schools I'm applying to, I got different answers about how they'd like my images included.  That said, my writing sample is about a graphic novel, so admittedly, it's probably more image heavy than the usual.  If you're going to have a bunch of pictures, you may want to just quickly check with the department before submitting. 

(Also, 2 thumbs up for .hack.)

 Oh my, my WS is also about a graphic novel! High five!

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