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Carly Rae - You posted in the History forum.  Look one below in languages.  

Edited by ltr317

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11 hours ago, Banzailizard said:

I appreciate the detailed suggestion.  I will have to tweak it a bit. The main focus of the paper I am using were related to a process rather than an event, specifically the social changes over the whole of the 19th century.   Key themes being the growth and change in priorities of a cosmopolitan Europhile elite (from a limited copying European military methods for defense, to copying economic and social forms), the growth of a disgruntled nativist middle class, changes in the urban structures of Ciro and Alexandra (infrastructure, size, street lay out, building shape), the effects of globalization, and the realignment of social divisions on economic rather than religious, or other traditional lines.  The last three are the things I want to draw connections to in my SOP, as those are among the themes I want to focus on in early modern Europe. However, those are also the areas with the fewest primary souses.

I do have English and American primary sources (diaries and travel logs) and I even draw on official state portraits of the rulers of the Muhammad Ali dynasty to talk about a change in how they portrayed themselves. I use secondary works to talk about Orientalism, Focult with training discipline in the army, the use of history to support nationalism in the post colonial period.  It was an important part of the historiography section to discuss where my paper written by a westerner about Egyptian history fit in to all the other papers written by westerners about Egyptian history.

I might do a rough draft mock-up of both papers roughly using your outline and see how each comes out.  Even just writing about it here though, the second sounds more complete.

I had not thought to talk to my professors writing my LOR about their LOR.  I guess I assumed it was taboo, and that I should be not seen as influencing them so that they could provide a slightly more objective analysis.

Their job is to advocate on your behalf.  Your job is to provide information that will help them contextualize your application better and that means having them know about your writing sample and any other concerns you may have. I have had many, many, many conversations with my letter writers over the years as they want to present my applications in the strongest possible positive light.

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23 hours ago, Banzailizard said:

I felt like I was building momentum on these PhD applications.  My quantitative metrics (GPA, GRE) are solid, I have LOR lined up that I am confident in,  I have been working on foreign language skills (both refreshing German and learning Spanish) for at least an hour a day every day, my SOP is coalescing, and I have reached out to POI.

Then I hit a brick wall momentum wise.  I am trying to determine how much of a detriment some of the structural flaws of my writing sample are going to be, and if they are application killing or not.

The biggest issue is that, while I do use some primary sources, they are not the bulk of the paper. I certainty did not translate any of the primary sources that I did use.  It was about Egypt in the 19th century, and I have zero knowledge of Arabic, Turkish, or other useful languages for that area.  It also does not focus on the time period or geographic area I am interested in.  On the other hand, it is the only paper I have with a substantive historiographic review or any serious use of primary sources.  I also have no papers focusing on my time period of interest anyways so I feel I am a bit stuck with it.  Rereading it I do think the paper is otherwise a solid synthesis of second works, it also focuses on themes I want to highlight in my SOP, but the other flaws seem glaring when I read about what makes a WS good.

It seems to me I have four unpalatable choices 1. abandon the applications, cut my losses, regroup (would need to awkwardly explain this to my boss who has given me reduced hours to work on applications, and the professors writing my LOR )  2. trim the paper only to use what few primary sources I do have (I would be lucky to cull 10 pages from my current 40)  3. do less radical revisions and hope the rest of my application carries the day (seems a potential waste of money and time, ignoring sunk costs). 4. Do something really desperate and write a new paper from scratch (time seems an issue).

I am not a student any more, so I really have curtailed access to academic souses.  I also work a little under 40 hours a week, so that is an added constraint. I am aware I could also focus on a MA.  However, even funded MA's seem at best to be only partially funded, and I do not want to pay or take debt.

@Banzailizard Have you considered the length requirements the program gives for the writing sample? Although I could be applying for a doctorate in a completely different field, most programs that I have considered require samples to be no longer than 25 pages. In my research on the stylistic preferences regarding writing samples, I have found one thing is for certain: do not go over the page limit. 

Otherwise, its important to remember that a writing sample should primarily showcase your writing and research capabilities & (most likely) you are not expected to reinvent the wheel. As long as there are a healthy mix of sources & an articulated thesis you should be fine. Additionally, it's important to frame the paper in such a way that it engages with current discourses. That way it doesn't appear as if it is in a vacuum. If this was a paper in response to a class assignment, the readers have no idea of this, so to help them better understand your intent, you might as well state what the paper was a response to.

If the lack of primary sources is still of concern, I would voice in your SOP your desire to engage with primary sources more intimately. 

 (Just a thought! Best of luck!)  

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On 9/11/2017 at 3:23 PM, historytotheppl said:

I'm a 2017 B.A. looking into PhD programs/advisers that are compatible with my research interests in U.S. public history (+museum studies) and digital history. Does anyone know of anything that might be a good fit? 

@historytotheppl I find this site helpful as a jumping off point if you're just starting to look: http://ncph.org/program-guide/

It'll allow you to narrow by program type, degree, location, etc.

Best of luck!

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23 hours ago, _DesignHistory said:

@Banzailizard Have you considered the length requirements the program gives for the writing sample? Although I could be applying for a doctorate in a completely different field, most programs that I have considered require samples to be no longer than 25 pages. In my research on the stylistic preferences regarding writing samples, I have found one thing is for certain: do not go over the page limit. 

Otherwise, its important to remember that a writing sample should primarily showcase your writing and research capabilities & (most likely) you are not expected to reinvent the wheel. As long as there are a healthy mix of sources & an articulated thesis you should be fine. Additionally, it's important to frame the paper in such a way that it engages with current discourses. That way it doesn't appear as if it is in a vacuum. If this was a paper in response to a class assignment, the readers have no idea of this, so to help them better understand your intent, you might as well state what the paper was a response to.

If the lack of primary sources is still of concern, I would voice in your SOP your desire to engage with primary sources more intimately. 

 (Just a thought! Best of luck!)  

Actually the need to revise down the paper to meet page limits was one reason I looked more carefully at my writing sample.  The sample was a senior thesis I should add. I was trying to select the themes or topics that met qualifications that I have read about as being desirable. The qualifications I was looking for were 1. primary source use 2. connection to my overall application and SoP 3. had the strongest or at least most interesting conclusions. I could then rewrite and make sure the spelling, grammar, and cations were impeccable.  The mix was bad though, I had maybe 5 primary souses out of around 35 total.

I looked into sigaba's suggestion and have found a handful of primary souses that were not online when I wrote the paper 4 years ago. I am going to use those, narrow the time period and the focus of discussion down significantly.  Hopefully that will get me to the page limit I need.  I appreciate your thoughts though.  I wish you the best of luck with your applications as well.

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Hello! I'm still finishing up an MA and planning to apply to PhD programs next season, so I hope you all don't mind me posting, but I am now really starting to think seriously about the process (though maybe a bit too early!). At the start of my MA my interest was primarily in early modern Japanese social history, but I've found myself increasingly dipping into the late medieval period. I feel this is going to prove to be a bit of a struggle, as I find that most of the early modern academics I'd be interested in working with (that aren't on retirement watch or teaching at strange places) deal with the late Tokugawa to Meiji periods. Right now the two programs that catch my eye the most are Yale and Harvard's programs. How important is it that your adviser lines up perfectly with your time period of interest?

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This is probably not going to be helpful to anyone this far along in the process, but for posterity/literature/just in case: 

I noticed a number of people looking for recommendations of faculty working on mass incarceration, which is having a fairly huge moment right now among contemporary Americanists. @Qtf311 suggested "Rutgers, Columbia, NYU, UC Berkeley, UCLA, and PSU" which I would second. Don't forget to give Harvard a shot (Khalil Gibran Muhammad and Elizabeth Hinton are both major figures in the field, and their work is great), Michigan (Heather Ann Thompson is there, and Matt Lassiter seems to be working on a second book on law and order politics), and Cornell (Julilly Kohler-Hausmann recently published a book in the area, and I think there might be someone else there but it escapes me). I don't know Indiana's program very well, but Micol Seigel is publishing a book on policing next year. CUNY might be a good fit for some, I don't fully understand how interdisciplinary departments are there, but Ruth Wilson Gilmore (a geographer) has an affiliation with the center for Place, Culture and Politics, and though I'm not absolutely sure she's working directly on anything related to the history of the carceral state right now, her work is a great resource, especially when it comes to conceptual frameworks. I am sure everybody working in this area is already familiar with her, but it's worth mentioning.

Many of the above and others were involved in the JAH's special issue on the carceral state in 2015, which I recommend taking a look at. 

 

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How are our future colleagues doing? How are you dealing with stress? If no one told you this, you are fine. You will be fine. You are smart, and you will go places. 

Just FYI: Keep in mind that everything that involves the application process is part of graduate school. Looking for fits, writing SoPs, asking for LoRs, writing WS, polishing all of the above, finishing up a thesis while doing applications, having a life, and juggling your own interests. All this will happen later on in your graduate career so OWN IT. YOU'VE GOT THIS. 

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I took the GRE* last week and I have to say, I expected a higher verbal score (still waiting on the writing one). I got 158 V and was planning on breaking 160. I have a 3.89 GPA though, and my institutional GPA is a 4.00, since the lower grades are from my former community college (mostly science and some language ones) plus a B in a study abroad history course. I'm pretty confident in strong LOR, have two paid internships, a completed honors thesis, and am president of my Phi Alpha Theta chapter. That being said, a lot of the upper-level schools mention that the standard verbal score is in the 90th percentile or higher and mine was decidedly not. This is mostly me just venting, but any similar experiences that ended well? I've been told the GRE isn't the be all and end all and I know it isn't, but the "standard 165+ GRE verbal score" makes me nervous. 

*I could retake it, but I'm not thrilled at spending the money for it again.

 

Edited by Lily9

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On 10/31/2017 at 1:17 AM, Lily9 said:

I took the GRE* last week and I have to say, I expected a higher verbal score (still waiting on the writing one). I got 158 V and was planning on breaking 160. I have a 3.89 GPA though, and my institutional GPA is a 4.00, since the lower grades are from my former community college (mostly science and some language ones) plus a B in a study abroad history course. I'm pretty confident in strong LOR, have two paid internships, a completed honors thesis, and am president of my Phi Alpha Theta chapter. That being said, a lot of the upper-level schools mention that the standard verbal score is in the 90th percentile or higher and mine was decidedly not. This is mostly me just venting, but any similar experiences that ended well? I've been told the GRE isn't the be all and end all and I know it isn't, but the "standard 165+ GRE verbal score" makes me nervous. 

*I could retake it, but I'm not thrilled at spending the money for it again.

 

I don't know the schools you are applying to, but some programs release a breakdown of students who were accepted. Oftentimes this breakdown includes GRE scores. I'm sure you've already checked if the schools you are applying to have something like this, but I just wanted to point it out in case you haven't.

You might find information there that eases (or exacerbates) your concerns. 

Edited by astroid88
grammar

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On 10/30/2017 at 10:17 PM, Lily9 said:

*I could retake it, but I'm not thrilled at spending the money for it again.

In the long term, which choice will cost you more peace of mind?

3 hours ago, astroid88 said:

I don't know the schools you are applying to, but some programs release a breakdown of students who were accepted. Oftentimes this breakdown includes GRE scores. I'm sure you've already checked if the schools you are applying to have something like this, but I just wanted to point it out in case you haven't.

You might find information there that eases (or exacerbates) your concerns. 

MOO is that unless one has the money, time, and resources to take steps to improve one's test scores, it gets to the point where the GRE is beyond one's control and reading the tea leaves by bench marking is self-inflicted pain. At that point, one's better off focusing on the application materials one can improve. (Hint: focus on your statement of purpose.)

FWIW, there are a significant number of posts on this BB in which an aspiring graduate students have submitted their application materials only to find typos, mis-remembered names, and inaccurate information. There are significantly fewer posts (well, none that I've seen) in which an aspiring graduate student says "Oh, so that's what factotum means..." (HINT: Focus on your statement of purpose.)

TL/DR. Recommendation. If you want to take the GRE again, bite the bullet, fork out the money, and do the best you can. If you don't want to take the GRE again, don't. In either case, make the decision that will best help your state of mind and most enable you to put your best self forward in your application materials. (HINT...)

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22 minutes ago, Sigaba said:

In the long term, which choice will cost you more peace of mind?

MOO is that unless one has the money, time, and resources to take steps to improve one's test scores, it gets to the point where the GRE is beyond one's control and reading the tea leaves by bench marking is self-inflicted pain. At that point, one's better off focusing on the application materials one can improve. (Hint: focus on your statement of purpose.)

FWIW, there are a significant number of posts on this BB in which an aspiring graduate students have submitted their application materials only to find typos, mis-remembered names, and inaccurate information. There are significantly fewer posts (well, none that I've seen) in which an aspiring graduate student says "Oh, so that's what factotum means..." (HINT: Focus on your statement of purpose.)

TL/DR. Recommendation. If you want to take the GRE again, bite the bullet, fork out the money, and do the best you can. If you don't want to take the GRE again, don't. In either case, make the decision that will best help your state of mind and most enable you to put your best self forward in your application materials. (HINT...)

Not disagreeing with you, but I am curious as to why you didn't mention the writing sample as well. Is the SOP somehow valued more than the WS? 

Now, I'm not advocating for putting less effort into the WS.

Edited by astroid88

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2 hours ago, astroid88 said:

Not disagreeing with you, but I am curious as to why you didn't mention the writing sample as well. Is the SOP somehow valued more than the WS? 

Now, I'm not advocating for putting less effort into the WS.

Four reasons.

  • As a graduate student, one will write more short and shorter essays than longer pieces. It's my perception that the SOP helps readers to answer a vital question quickly:  "Do I want to read this person's writing over the next several years?"
  • I've gotten feed back in the Ivory Tower (and the private sector) that my most effortful SOPs (cover letters) got Powers That Be to say "yes." (And probably "no" to my least effortful SOP in the case of Happyland University. )
  • Tinkering with the WS can cause many a great deal of stress.
    • On this BB, the WS is often a revised/shortened/extended version of a previous work, or a work in progress, and/or one's first foray into the craft of research-based historical writing. 
    • With maximum effort invested already, devoting additional effort to the WS can have diminishing returns and lead to further adventures in the Land of Imodium.
      • Gee, that sentence uses the passive voice. Let me make it active. Okay, that was easy enough. Let me go through the rest of it and get rid of all passive verbal constructions. Done. That took longer than I thought. No, wait. I remember. I specifically needed to use the passive voice in that section. Wait. Where was that section?
      • Eureka! I am the greatest writer ever! This sucker is good to go as is. [One hour later]  I'm a hack...I am doomed. My mother was right...I should have majored in business.
      • Erg. This section isn't as strong as the others. Let me spend a couple of hours fixing it. [Four hours later] FUCK! 
      • Crap. Removing that section on X got me under the page limit but now I realize that without X, my argument changes significantly. FUCK.
      • Hm. My initial analysis of Jones's Keeping Up in the historiographical discussion no longer reflects my thinking on that point. I know. I'm going to give myself thirty minutes to tweak it. [Four hours later] FUCK. And also...
  •  "[Sigaba], I read your writing sample last night...," said the hardest charging, most motivated Americanist in my department half way through my third semester in the program.

 

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3 hours ago, Sigaba said:

Four reasons.

  • As a graduate student, one will write more short and shorter essays than longer pieces. It's my perception that the SOP helps readers to answer a vital question quickly:  "Do I want to read this person's writing over the next several years?"
  • I've gotten feed back in the Ivory Tower (and the private sector) that my most effortful SOPs (cover letters) got Powers That Be to say "yes." (And probably "no" to my least effortful SOP in the case of Happyland University. )
  • Tinkering with the WS can cause many a great deal of stress.
    • On this BB, the WS is often a revised/shortened/extended version of a previous work, or a work in progress, and/or one's first foray into the craft of research-based historical writing. 
    • With maximum effort invested already, devoting additional effort to the WS can have diminishing returns and lead to further adventures in the Land of Imodium.
      • Gee, that sentence uses the passive voice. Let me make it active. Okay, that was easy enough. Let me go through the rest of it and get rid of all passive verbal constructions. Done. That took longer than I thought. No, wait. I remember. I specifically needed to use the passive voice in that section. Wait. Where was that section?
      • Eureka! I am the greatest writer ever! This sucker is good to go as is. [One hour later]  I'm a hack...I am doomed. My mother was right...I should have majored in business.
      • Erg. This section isn't as strong as the others. Let me spend a couple of hours fixing it. [Four hours later] FUCK! 
      • Crap. Removing that section on X got me under the page limit but now I realize that without X, my argument changes significantly. FUCK.
      • Hm. My initial analysis of Jones's Keeping Up in the historiographical discussion no longer reflects my thinking on that point. I know. I'm going to give myself thirty minutes to tweak it. [Four hours later] FUCK. And also...
  •  "[Sigaba], I read your writing sample last night...," said the hardest charging, most motivated Americanist in my department half way through my third semester in the program.

 

Also, the SoP is the first thing they read. You don't write a good one, you'll probably go to the meh or no piles. In the WS they confirm your potential, but it's the SoP that gets them interested. 

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On 11/2/2017 at 7:28 PM, Sigaba said:

Four reasons.

  • As a graduate student, one will write more short and shorter essays than longer pieces. It's my perception that the SOP helps readers to answer a vital question quickly:  "Do I want to read this person's writing over the next several years?"
  • I've gotten feed back in the Ivory Tower (and the private sector) that my most effortful SOPs (cover letters) got Powers That Be to say "yes." (And probably "no" to my least effortful SOP in the case of Happyland University. )
  • Tinkering with the WS can cause many a great deal of stress.
    • On this BB, the WS is often a revised/shortened/extended version of a previous work, or a work in progress, and/or one's first foray into the craft of research-based historical writing. 
    • With maximum effort invested already, devoting additional effort to the WS can have diminishing returns and lead to further adventures in the Land of Imodium.
      • Gee, that sentence uses the passive voice. Let me make it active. Okay, that was easy enough. Let me go through the rest of it and get rid of all passive verbal constructions. Done. That took longer than I thought. No, wait. I remember. I specifically needed to use the passive voice in that section. Wait. Where was that section?
      • Eureka! I am the greatest writer ever! This sucker is good to go as is. [One hour later]  I'm a hack...I am doomed. My mother was right...I should have majored in business.
      • Erg. This section isn't as strong as the others. Let me spend a couple of hours fixing it. [Four hours later] FUCK! 
      • Crap. Removing that section on X got me under the page limit but now I realize that without X, my argument changes significantly. FUCK.
      • Hm. My initial analysis of Jones's Keeping Up in the historiographical discussion no longer reflects my thinking on that point. I know. I'm going to give myself thirty minutes to tweak it. [Four hours later] FUCK. And also...
  •  "[Sigaba], I read your writing sample last night...," said the hardest charging, most motivated Americanist in my department half way through my third semester in the program.

 

I thought you might get into resources as well. For example, I'm from a small liberal arts school with not a huge library, no big writing centers, and not a whole lot of people in my subject area. I have friends at bigger schools with more resources. And boy, are their writing samples very different. 

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51 minutes ago, astroid88 said:

I thought you might get into resources as well. For example, I'm from a small liberal arts school with not a huge library, no big writing centers, and not a whole lot of people in my subject area. I have friends at bigger schools with more resources. And boy, are their writing samples very different. 

An oversight that reflects my academic privilege as an Americanist trained by historians to find primary source materials and to "take the reader by the hand" in my writing.

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So how is everyone else doing?

I hit a stumbling block earlier but, thanks in large part to this thread, I am more or less back on track. I very specifically started this season with some deadlines which I have mostly met. August was for background reading and looking at bibliographies to see where to search. By September 30th wanted my schools identified (in retrospect I wonder if there is an optimal stopping method for this).  By October 31st I wanted all my SOP done: bit behind here, took an extra week, but now they are semi-finalized. Content is set, now just small tweaks. I sent them out again for reviews.   Took a break on a day that I was out of it to do the mindless work of filling in the applications. All done there, other than the stuff that counts. LOR requests are out, 7/12 are submitted. November is for my WS revision. To catch back up I temporarily suspended working on foreign languages. 

So overall, starting to feel the stress of the irrevocable deadline, but keeping it together because the arbitrary (i.e. unweighted with the actual effort or importance of any given task) progress bar I made looks pretty full.

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13 hours ago, Banzailizard said:

So how is everyone else doing?

I hit a stumbling block earlier but, thanks in large part to this thread, I am more or less back on track. I very specifically started this season with some deadlines which I have mostly met. August was for background reading and looking at bibliographies to see where to search. By September 30th wanted my schools identified (in retrospect I wonder if there is an optimal stopping method for this).  By October 31st I wanted all my SOP done: bit behind here, took an extra week, but now they are semi-finalized. Content is set, now just small tweaks. I sent them out again for reviews.   Took a break on a day that I was out of it to do the mindless work of filling in the applications. All done there, other than the stuff that counts. LOR requests are out, 7/12 are submitted. November is for my WS revision. To catch back up I temporarily suspended working on foreign languages. 

So overall, starting to feel the stress of the irrevocable deadline, but keeping it together because the arbitrary (i.e. unweighted with the actual effort or importance of any given task) progress bar I made looks pretty full.

Good for you.  Sounds like you're well on your way to completion of the application process.  Good luck with acceptances.  I'm a little behind you in the process as I just started the SOP.  My research paper and prepping for the GRE the past month set back my schedule somewhat but I should have Dec. 15 application deadlines done a few days early.  The bulk of my apps are due Jan. 1 - Jan. 15 so I still have plenty time for those. 

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This would be a good time for those of you who are lurking to register and to post how things are going this application season. Sure, there's plenty of information to be gained "for free," but why not share what you know? 

  • Have you received especially information from professors and graduate students at your current school?
    • Have you received information that is at odds with the recommendations provided here?
  • How have your attempts to establish rapport with potential POIs worked and not worked?
    • Have you been welcomed warmly as a prospective graduate student?
    • Have you been given mixed messages?
    • Have you been ignored?
  • What is your "to do" list and schedule for the rest of the current term?
  • How are you balancing your current responsibilities with your applications?

But most of all, how do you define yourself as an aspiring graduate student in history? What are your fields, areas, and intervals? What direction do you see the profession going in the next ten, twenty, forty years?

 

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5 hours ago, Sigaba said:

 

  • Have you received especially information from professors and graduate students at your current school?
    • Have you received information that is at odds with the recommendations provided here?
  • How have your attempts to establish rapport with potential POIs worked and not worked?
    • Have you been welcomed warmly as a prospective graduate student?
    • Have you been given mixed messages?
    • Have you been ignored?
  • What is your "to do" list and schedule for the rest of the current term?
  • How are you balancing your current responsibilities with your applications?

But most of all, how do you define yourself as an aspiring graduate student in history? What are your fields, areas, and intervals? What direction do you see the profession going in the next ten, twenty, forty years?

I have been lurking this whole season bc this is the second cycle for me, having failed the first cycle I was afraid that I might give unhelpful info .... so here are only a few things that I did for this cycle but not for the last:

1. Have you received especial information from professors and graduate students at your current school?

I majored in international politics instead of History. (international student) Last year I was not able to get any historian from the Department of History but a historian from my department to write my recommendation letter. In the beginning of this year I came back from exchange programs overseas to my home country, badgered around*, and finally got myself to work as an assistant at a research center affiliated to the Department of History under a few historians, one of whom used to teach me when i was an undergraduate (like, 5 years ago!). When I timidly asked him if he remembered me, well, he didn't remember my face, then i told him the topic of my term paper (Asianism and Japanese kokutai nationalism, bc I saw myself as a student of nation building, identity, and memory with a focus on modern Japan ) and he immediately remembered, "oh you are the one who studies Japan ".

"the one who studies Japan".....I hope this is how the world would remember me 30 years after my death....

After I finished my assistant work that professor wrote my recommendation letters. :) 

So now I've got two historians and my supervisor (whose expertise is in Asia-Pacific studies and intellectual history, focusing on modern Japan and China) to write my letter. 

Also, students from my department and my major who are already doing PhD in Ivies have viewed and given advice regarding my SOPs. Last year I didn't have as many SOP viewers as i do now.

*badgering around = I asked for and got a list of the time and location of graduate level seminars of the history dept. from a friend doing PhD at the history dept. and visited the classrooms to participate in class discussions and one day one professor got interested. 

2. How have your attempts to establish rapport with potential POIs worked and not worked?

I wrote to two (mostly three) POIs from each program I am interested in, most of them replied. If there is only silence from the entire program, I sent out emails again, if still silence, I drop that program, bc I'd have no idea about if POIs are taking students, let along the fit issue. (I dropped only one school this way)
Have you been welcomed warmly as a prospective graduate student?

Yes, definitely. 
Have you been given mixed messages?

I don't think so.

What is your "to do" list and schedule for the rest of the current term?

Finish the SOPs by tomorrow (5/6 finished now, and that's the 6th or 7th version ...) for programs with a ddl in December; finish revising WS by Nov. 20 (I've been revising it for a very long time already); finish two diversity statements by Nov 20, then send all of them to my colleague at work, who's a native English speaker and will help me check my language. 


How are you balancing your current responsibilities with your applications?

I am an NGO researcher and my work (gender, sexuality, international human rights politics) is related to my academic interests (Now I see myself as an aspiring historian in nation building, identity, and gender with a passion for the gendered transition to modernity of Japan and the interplay of international relations and women's history in an East Asian context). My supervisor and colleagues are extremely supportive of my academic career and PhD application. My supervisor started to send me out to do overseas business trips (my first time travelling to Europe! :D) and domestic conferences related to both my research interests and my work this year. And I really learned a lot bc both activists and scholars attended those events. (I am so so grateful for the perspectives I was able to gain) Also, as time goes by, I feel better about my failure last cycle and am gradually coming to terms with that...mhm....closed door.

(I love my job at the NGO and am proud of the work I do, only I fancy a quaint academic career more. )

That said, work can be stressful sometimes. So I also taught myself .....baking.....  The idea is now that I am taking a gap year and mostly working from home, and I am interested in gender and women in the modern history of Japan, I might just check out my potential as a "good wife, wise mother" and claim that, being a single lady, I am only doing it for research, so I could relate a bit more with women in Meiji Japan. (so lame an excuse...) 

I also tried flower arranging but flowers get expensive in winter so I quit, though I do like my cookies and stopped visiting bakery for comfort food when i get all grumpy bc of the stress. 

Also started to work out more, and I lost a few kg and gained defined abs.

That's pretty much it. 

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A little note for people reading my post, I am applying to both American and British universities, so I may have a few differing responses.

Have you received especially information from professors and graduate students at your current school?

A couple professors, who graduated from British universities with PhDs, have said that British admission committees do not care too much about passion and your feelings. Focus on the fit and your strengths in order to get past the first round of cuts then let your writing sample and LoRs woo them. Meanwhile, the American universities are focusing more on passion and drive to complete the program, as long as you fit broadly into their faculty and research interests.

Have you received information that is at odds with the recommendations provided here?

A handful of small things, but these are mostly distilled down to European professors critiquing the American and British systems of education. The most important/different was include theoretical and method works into your SOPs in order to demonstrate a clear and thorough understanding of the historiography and theory structure.

How have your attempts to establish rapport with potential POIs worked and not worked?

Yes, but I have had a warmer welcome and more interest from British universities. The professors are interested in breaking this heavy reliance on the USA vs USSR mythology for the Cold War, while American professors are interested, but still, frame their work within this bipolar structure. Obviously, this makes a lot of research on the Cold War jaded, but also students need to be aware of the pitfalls.

What is your "to do" list and schedule for the rest of the current term?

Finish writing grant applications for British applications this weekend. Exchange SOPs with a colleague then edit the SOPs one last time before submitting them. Nudging my professors to submit the LoRs on time.

How are you balancing your current responsibilities with your applications?

Things are becoming very hectic. I am currently researching my Master's thesis, finishing 5 seminars, and the PhD applications; all of which require a full workload and the utmost attention. The best way is to let things happen at this point. When I get some time in between archive trips and SOP/research proposal writing, I read my articles and necessary course material for the next week. I also mentioned to my current professors that I am in the middle of PhD applications. They all have been very accommodating and helpful with the applications, as well as understanding when I come to class and I'm exhausted while hovering over a cup of coffee. In short, we are almost there! 4 more weeks!

But most of all, how do you define yourself as an aspiring graduate student in history? What are your fields, areas, and intervals? What direction do you see the profession going in the next ten, twenty, forty years?

Another SOP?! Only kidding. Right now, I classify myself as a global historian of Germany from 1945-1991 with a specialization in development economics and aid programs. I have been trying to stay away from the Cold War label to avoid several pitfalls and politicization of my research, as explained in Odd Arne Westad's and Ander Stephanson's work. As for my future, well that depends on which universities (if any) accept me and support my dissertation.

 

Good luck to everyone! We have one month left then we can finally get some rest and have a couple beers! Hang in there!

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On 7/6/2017 at 11:27 PM, telkanuru said:

Jonathan Conant, Brown University

Michael Kulikowsky, PSU

Michael McCormick, Harvard University

Helmut Reimitz, Princeton University

Kyle Harper, University of Oklahoma

 

@hippocleides_doesn't_care I'm at PSU now and Kulikowski is not taking students just fyi

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In response to this question:

  • Have you received information that is at odds with the recommendations provided here?

I will share one piece of advice from one of my professors.  I agonized about fit a lot.  Economic History is already a somewhat small discipline these days in the US.  There are plenty of good economic historians but many are older and focus on post industrial revolution (I am looking for early modern).  The fact that I want to also intersect it with environmental history made a perfect fit even harder to find.  My professor just advised "Just get in somewhere." In other words, find several quality programs that are really good fits, and put your effort into apply to them. Your interests might change and can transfer between programs, now as a known entity, if you made a really wrong choice.  Maybe not useful advice for everyone, but I suffer badly from analysis paralysis so it was what I needed.

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