archimon Posted January 10, 2017 Share Posted January 10, 2017 Hi guys! I’m currently finishing up undergrad at Rutgers U. in New Brunswick, having majored in East Asian Languages and Area Studies (Chinese focus) and History. I am currently working on my senior thesis, which will be done in the next few months. I hope that this is adequate research experience for at least an MA, though my ultimate goal is a Ph.D in Premodern (especially Song-Yuan) Chinese history, which I would plan to use to get a job as a professor. As far as language skills are concerned, I’ve taken Chinese for 3 of the 4 years of my undergraduate program, skipping the last year (i.e., this year) because I spent the summer of 2016 studying Chinese at ICLP in Taiwan and had, essentially, progressed to a point where my university language courses, which aren’t particularly rigorous (they only meet twice per week at the upper levels - three times per week during the first two years), were no longer of much use. Still, with no background in Japanese, and Chinese that, when I studied at ICLP, had only reached the level of students that had studied there for a full year (they offer an entire year after that before their classes cap out), I’m worried that weak language skills might seriously hurt my application. From having spoken with students that took the additional year, the training in Classical and Modern Chinese that they received was a serious boon, and has allowed them to read primary documents with reasonable ease of effort. There a few paths forward that I am currently considering. First: JET Program I’ve applied to and passed the first stage of the JET program admissions process, meaning that I will need to pass an interview next month to be selected and sent to Japan, where I would work as an assistant English teacher in a Japanese school (or schools). I had been considering JET because it would give me significant experience living abroad, give me applicable work experience teaching (which might be useful if I’m called upon to work as a TA, and could be valuable as training for teaching after leaving graduate school in any case), and allow me to avoid hemorrhaging money for a year while I take a break from school. My fear is that taking a year or more to do JET will allow my Chinese skills to regress to a point where I will need to retake a quarter worth of Chinese classes at ICLP or an equivalent program, in addition to the entire year of additional coursework later on if I were to get my Chinese skills to the point that they need to be for primary research. I might gain some knowledge of Japanese along the way, as well, though this isn’t really a primary consideration - I doubt I’ll learn a truly significant amount. (Perhaps I’m wrong) Second: Return to ICLP Alternately, I had been considering returning to ICLP in order to complete the additional year of language training now, before I would enroll in graduate school. I would not need to take on debt to do this, though adding a fifth quarter if I were to regress while, say, doing JET, I might need to borrow a few thousand dollars. (I would apply to MA/Ph.D. programs in the fall, while in Taiwan) I believe that this might strengthen my application, as it would require less funding from any graduate program I would enroll in for language study (I would already need, if I understand correctly, to learn Japanese in graduate school in order to work with Japanese secondary sources, which would obviously take time and cost money), and I would not need to spend a year or more away working on foundational language skills for my area of interest, premodern Chinese History. If my assumption that my current language skills are inadequate to gain me admission to a good Ph.D. program directly from undergrad is correct, this seems like it might be a good way to address this defect. On the other hand, many people pursue terminal MAs, some of which have funding, before going on to a Ph.D. My question is: Would trying to get into a terminal MA program while doing JET for a year be a good path for me? Can a terminal MA sufficiently address the deficiencies in my language skills to be considered for a top Ph.D. program? Are there other deficiencies that I should be seriously concerned about with my application? Essentially, I’m hoping that some of you can give me some guidance as to what my current chances of getting into a top-20 Ph.D. program would be on the basis of the information given in this this post. (I don’t have GRE scores yet - still need to take them) Is it worth it to spend money improving my Chinese skills in Taiwan for a year? Would it be better to do JET while applying to graduate school, with the hope of improving my language skills for free while in graduate school? (Sorry if there are any spelling or grammar mistakes - I didn’t proofread this very thoroughly) MettaSutta 1 Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
Create an account or sign in to comment
You need to be a member in order to leave a comment
Create an account
Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!Register a new account
Already have an account? Sign in here.Sign In Now