IR44

2017-2018 Application Cycle

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I know it's still relatively early, but it seems rational to go ahead and begin a new thread for folks that are applying in the 2017-2018 cycle. This forum has already helped me a great deal, and I have no doubt that trend will continue. I'm currently studying pretty extensively to retake the GRE (164, 160 on the first try) and I'm also making an effort to at least skim a few articles per day in order to be up-to-date on relevant literature (a mix of IR/Comparative) - though I'm far from having an adequately developed idea for my SoP. Is anyone else having a bit of trouble conforming their purported area of study into just one subfield? I've read that it's relatively important to emphasize one primary subfield in the SoP, but this is sometimes easier said than done. 

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Thanks for starting this thread! I am currently writing my SOPs, that way I can have my professor/adviser review them in August. I am still studying for the GRE. If the results of the practice tests I have taken are correct, then I think I should do pretty will on them.

As to narrowing down one's research interests, I think that it is important to not only read journal articles, but (recent) books. Recent books, because there is always an in-depth literature review, helped me to narrow down my interests in a way that journal articles couldn't. My area is comparative politics with a focus on the post-Soviet world. I am particularly interested in mass and elite political behavior. 

Here are links to articles that have helped me in crafting my SOP. The first, written by a political scientist at the University of Chicago, contains some helpful information. The second, from UC Berkeley, is an example of an SOP, though for their history PhD program. However, I think the overall structure is just as applicable in political science.

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/57d2eeebbe65947fb325749e/t/57db3d47f7e0abec4167cf9e/1473985869102/5+Rules+for+Statement+of+Purpose.pdf

http://ls.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/statement_of_purpose.pdf

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I came across that first article a few months ago, and it was tremendously helpful. You might also check out these three pieces if you haven't already:

http://duckofminerva.com/2012/08/applying-for-phd-in-political-science.html

https://www.google.com/amp/foreignpolicy.com/2012/03/18/so-you-want-to-get-into-a-political-science-ph-d-program-episode-i/amp/

http://chrisblattman.com/about/contact/gradschool/

My dilemma is that I'm looking at a fairly specific issue (peacekeeping missions) that deals pretty closely with existing governing structures (somehwhat comparative) and also the impact of relationships between international actors. At this point, I think I'll just try to sell it as primarily IR-- I'll probably change my mind if/when I get into a program anyway. 

 

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There are plenty of applicants (and students and scholars!) that straddle the line between IR and CP. It's not a big deal to be slightly ambiguous in respect to those two subfields IF there is a obvious reason for it and you have a clear and concise proposed project in your SOP. 

You may also want to be strategic with respect to competitiveness. From past cycles, the comparative subfields were thought by many to be more competitive than IR in regards to available spots vs. applicants. I believe this fluctuates from year to year though. Might be something to think about when declaring your 'first' subfield.

Edited by Comparativist

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To second @Comparativist's comment about being strategic when declaring your subfield... be mindful of the programs to which you are applying, too, if you straddle subfields. If, for instance, you applied to a program very strong in IR, you may have to compete with a number of other IR applicants. It is possible that applying as CP could provide a bit more wiggle room, especially if they have any sort of quota for an incoming cohort in regards to numbers and subfield. I had a professor suggest that I apply to some programs as political theory rather than IR... and I didn't listen, but it did work out in the end (for me). So, just some food for thought.

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That's a very useful observation. I had already thought about this concept a bit, and I think it could be exceptionally useful for programs like Northwestern and Notre Dame who have certain programs (theory) that rank significantly above the rest of their subfields. 

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7 hours ago, IR44 said:

At this point, I think I'll just try to sell it as primarily IR-- I'll probably change my mind if/when I get into a program anyway. 

I wouldn't worry about it too much. So long as you can articulate one or two research puzzles and demonstrate that you are familiar with some of the current literature, you will probably be fine.

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I'm looking at a few tenure-track professors as potential POIs, though the vast majority are tenured. Is it problematic to highlight faculty you'd like to work with that aren't tenured yet? My initial instinct is 1) they may not get tenured at the current university and leave to be tenured elsewhere (though POIs leaving is always a concern). 2) they will undoubtedly be highly concerned with publishing/be generally swamped. Thoughts? 

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5 hours ago, IR44 said:

I'm looking at a few tenure-track professors as potential POIs, though the vast majority are tenured. Is it problematic to highlight faculty you'd like to work with that aren't tenured yet? My initial instinct is 1) they may not get tenured at the current university and leave to be tenured elsewhere (though POIs leaving is always a concern). 2) they will undoubtedly be highly concerned with publishing/be generally swamped. Thoughts? 

I would try to make sure that in your SOPs you mention three professors that you want to work with, and make sure that two of them are tenured. I have been advised to do this by my current professors. 

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I'm not super sure where to ask this question, but this seems as good as any. For my writing sample (for this fall), I'm looking at using a dataset a social scientist used in one of her articles. The data is available and is listed as "replication data," but I'm not sure if this means it's only to be used to replicate her findings and not generate new findings from the same data. Is simply citing the source sufficient, or should I seek formal permission to use the data set? 

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22 hours ago, IR44 said:

I'm looking at a few tenure-track professors as potential POIs, though the vast majority are tenured. Is it problematic to highlight faculty you'd like to work with that aren't tenured yet? My initial instinct is 1) they may not get tenured at the current university and leave to be tenured elsewhere (though POIs leaving is always a concern). 2) they will undoubtedly be highly concerned with publishing/be generally swamped. Thoughts? 

Certainly not problematic to highlight APs that you would like to work with - I did this, and I know that many others did as well. However, I would advise against identifying them as your prospective advisor (or planning on them being your advisor), largely due to the reasons that you mentioned. Additionally, you want your advisor to be somebody with enough clout in the discipline that he or she can adequately promote you and your work, both before you go on the job market (introductions at conferences, etc) and while you are on the job market (making calls for you, writing letters that carry weight); senior faculty are typically better at this than junior faculty.

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6 hours ago, audre.bored said:

How's the process going for everyone now that we're a couple months out from app due dates?

I feel pretty good about my profile. I'm retaking the GRE next week, though, in the hopes of getting a higher quantitative score. 

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Hello everyone! Got a question 🤔 do you know how do the adcomms weigh different application materials? For instance, is writing sample more important than LORs? If you were to rank all materials based on their importance, how would that look like? eg. SOP>LOR>WS>GRE>GPA 

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It's idiosyncratic depending on who is on the committee (some people weigh certain aspects more than others) and how they decide to do it. But I think generally, it goes something like this:

First cutoffs:

GRE = Pedigree = GPA > SOP > than everything else.

As the list gets smaller:

LOR > SOP = WS > CV. 

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Hi everyone I hope all of you are doing great and life is well. I took my first GRE in May, 2017 without studying and got a mediocre 283(140V, 139Q, 3.5 AWA). I want to apply for Fall'2018 session and currently preparing for my retake around in Mid-January or Mid-February. I am having huge problems of stress as I am doing a full-time 7am-6pm Job and find literally no time to study due to mental strain. How did you guys prepare for GRE? I am specifically very weak in Quant and took a TTP and Magoosh subscription for few months. If I give the test on my planned date am I too late for fall 2018 session? 

Any advice would be helpful regarding preparation, how to balance professional and personal life with GRE preparation. 

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Hey @bilaljamil99,

    The stress part resonates within me, and I'm assuming it's common here, so you're among good company.

I'm unable to comment on the balancing life part, but yes, Mid-February is a very tight fit, and even so, you would be able to apply to only those schools still open; March - 1st is the latest deadline I've seen till date.

For the GRE, give it as soon as possible, do not put it off till February. December end still sounds possible. (I'm assuming you aren't applying to the schools closing by December.) 

Verbal preparation from my side was a little different than my peers. I serendipitously ran into Norman Lewis' "Word Power Made Easy" and decided to stick to it and it paid off. The reading comprehension part is only through constant practice; Once you get the basics down from some source or the other (Magoosh is fine), practicing to an inordinate amount will eventually make it such a reflex that you would not miss out any time during the exam. Optimising your RC section timings will be the golden egg. I didn't do it, though, and so through regret, am better suited to give you this advice.

This thread though, does not focus on GRE preparation and it would do you better to look for ones specifically on GRE and then to read the methods presented and form your own version.

Cheers

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55 minutes ago, forruthy said:

Hey @bilaljamil99,

    The stress part resonates within me, and I'm assuming it's common here, so you're among good company.

I'm unable to comment on the balancing life part, but yes, Mid-February is a very tight fit, and even so, you would be able to apply to only those schools still open; March - 1st is the latest deadline I've seen till date.

For the GRE, give it as soon as possible, do not put it off till February. December end still sounds possible. (I'm assuming you aren't applying to the schools closing by December.) 

Verbal preparation from my side was a little different than my peers. I serendipitously ran into Norman Lewis' "Word Power Made Easy" and decided to stick to it and it paid off. The reading comprehension part is only through constant practice; Once you get the basics down from some source or the other (Magoosh is fine), practicing to an inordinate amount will eventually make it such a reflex that you would not miss out any time during the exam. Optimising your RC section timings will be the golden egg. I didn't do it, though, and so through regret, am better suited to give you this advice.

This thread though, does not focus on GRE preparation and it would do you better to look for ones specifically on GRE and then to read the methods presented and form your own version.

Cheers

 

55 minutes ago, forruthy said:

Hey @bilaljamil99,

    The stress part resonates within me, and I'm assuming it's common here, so you're among good company.

I'm unable to comment on the balancing life part, but yes, Mid-February is a very tight fit, and even so, you would be able to apply to only those schools still open; March - 1st is the latest deadline I've seen till date.

For the GRE, give it as soon as possible, do not put it off till February. December end still sounds possible. (I'm assuming you aren't applying to the schools closing by December.) 

Verbal preparation from my side was a little different than my peers. I serendipitously ran into Norman Lewis' "Word Power Made Easy" and decided to stick to it and it paid off. The reading comprehension part is only through constant practice; Once you get the basics down from some source or the other (Magoosh is fine), practicing to an inordinate amount will eventually make it such a reflex that you would not miss out any time during the exam. Optimising your RC section timings will be the golden egg. I didn't do it, though, and so through regret, am better suited to give you this advice.

This thread though, does not focus on GRE preparation and it would do you better to look for ones specifically on GRE and then to read the methods presented and form your own version.

Cheers

2

@forruthy thanks so much for taking time to read my message, My bad for posting a GRE related question here, I actually was asking if Mid-January to mid-February is a good time to apply for grad schools but my question transitioned into GRE lol my bad again. Ummm yes I am not gonna apply in December as I am still preparing for GRE and I am very bad with time management issues. Thanks for your reply btw.

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5 hours ago, bilaljamil99 said:

Hi everyone I hope all of you are doing great and life is well. I took my first GRE in May, 2017 without studying and got a mediocre 283(140V, 139Q, 3.5 AWA). I want to apply for Fall'2018 session and currently preparing for my retake around in Mid-January or Mid-February. I am having huge problems of stress as I am doing a full-time 7am-6pm Job and find literally no time to study due to mental strain. How did you guys prepare for GRE? I am specifically very weak in Quant and took a TTP and Magoosh subscription for few months. If I give the test on my planned date am I too late for fall 2018 session? 

Any advice would be helpful regarding preparation, how to balance professional and personal life with GRE preparation. 

Hi bilaljamil99,

I have also struggled with the GRE, in my case because I graduated 13 years ago and did not do any math at all in my undergrad. Like you, I also have a full-time job that takes up a lot of my time.

My first attempt was a disaster (159V 143V 4.0 AWA) after 2 months of study with Magoosh. I then took a break and focused on doing 1 practice test a day for 6 weeks and was able to improve my score to 158 V 151 Q 4.0 AWA. 

It’s still pretty mediocre but I guess it’s as a good as it gets for someone who’s been out of the standardized test-taking game for such a long time. I know I don’t have a chance at top schools so will settle for mid-ranked.

Good luck!

 

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14 hours ago, bilaljamil99 said:

 

@forruthy thanks so much for taking time to read my message, My bad for posting a GRE related question here, I actually was asking if Mid-January to mid-February is a good time to apply for grad schools but my question transitioned into GRE lol my bad again. Ummm yes I am not gonna apply in December as I am still preparing for GRE and I am very bad with time management issues. Thanks for your reply btw.

I am a bit confused here. The vast majority of phd programs in the US have December deadlines (some do have Jan deadlines but not many) at which point the applications close until the following Fall.

So I'm not sure what you mean by applying in mid Jan or Feb. The applications are only available roughly from Sept to Dec. You'd have to wait until the following cycle.

Edited by Comparativist

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On 10/30/2017 at 6:52 PM, Comparativist said:

I am a bit confused here. The vast majority of phd programs in the US have December deadlines (some do have Jan deadlines but not many) at which point the applications close until the following Fall.

So I'm not sure what you mean by applying in mid Jan or Feb. The applications are only available roughly from Sept to Dec. You'd have to wait until the following cycle.

The United States, definitely yes. PHD, yes... maybe, I don't exactly know. But I'm assuming he's applying for Masters from his profile. And there are a good amount of really good schools with February deadlines.

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Hey guys! Let’s keep this thread alive and also take some stress off by sharing how our applications are going. I have completed my SOP and taken GRE. I have written my Writing Sample but I need to revise it a couple of times until it is ready. I contacted with my letter writers and I hope they will write and send the letters before the due dates.I am still working on my CV but I don’t know what to put on that. If you have any recommendations, I will be happy to hear those. Other than that, I did not fully decide which scholls I should apply to. I have 12-15 schools in my mind but need to narrow it down to 9-10. So this is where I am at. How you guys doing so far? Did any of you submit any applications already?

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@izmir I'm pretty much in the same place, but my schools are set.  Finishing up a few SOPs, giving my various writing samples the twice over.  Basically tying up loose ends. Also, ordering more transcripts and sending GRE scores.  I wish this process was a little less expensive.  I'm only applying to 5 schools, so I can imagine how the costs add up for 10 schools. 

I'll also throw out a question.  I see a lot of posts for IR in this board, is anyone studying anything else lol.  What are your research interests?

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