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I started this thread for a few reasons:

1. I'm tired of listening to all the hacks who stress over the decision to go to Harvard, Stanford, Rochester, or Princeton.

2. Not all of us hit the life lottery like yourselves, so we will be going to non-top 50 institutions. Which schools did you apply to and what is your background?

3. To give individuals not going to institutions in the top-50 an opportunity to speak up.

For anyone going to great institutions, I commend you, as it is truly remarkable accomplishment. However, outside of a few individuals on this board, the vast majority of you are pricks. Although, while I do think most of you are a bit on the egotistical side, and look down on people who haven't exactly been dealt a royal flush in their lives, I am thankful for your existence on Earth, because if it weren't for you, it wouldn't give the less fortunate (Those going to non-top 50's) the motivation to work their asses off.

I'll add more after I get back from a meeting...damn the "real" world.

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I started this thread for a few reasons:

1. I'm tired of listening to all the hacks who stress over the decision to go to Harvard, Stanford, Rochester, or Princeton.

2. Not all of us hit the life lottery like yourselves, so we will be going to non-top 50 institutions. Which schools did you apply to and what is your background?

3. To give individuals not going to institutions in the top-50 an opportunity to speak up.

For anyone going to great institutions, I commend you, as it is truly remarkable accomplishment. However, outside of a few individuals on this board, the vast majority of you are pricks. Although, while I do think most of you are a bit on the egotistical side, and look down on people who haven't exactly been dealt a royal flush in their lives, I am thankful for your existence on Earth, because if it weren't for you, it wouldn't give the less fortunate (Those going to non-top 50's) the motivation to work their asses off.

I'll add more after I get back from a meeting...damn the "real" world.

While I agree with some of what you are saying, I think starting the conversation as you did will make it difficult for a realistic discussion.

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I hate to throw cold water on your post, poppy, but if you're talking programs that aren't even ranked on US News' top 50 (which is as far as it goes I believe on the rankings for poli sci PhD programs), you're going to have a very hard time using the PhD you do get for college-level teaching. There are definitely some strong programs towards the bottom of the top 50 that I think are do-able for people with less than stellar numbers (this would include Georgia, Florida, UC-Santa Barbara, etc.) and even some that are marginally not ranked that might allow you to have some success in academia such as SUNY-Albany and Oklahoma (these are the two non-ranked schools I applied to as safeties under the advice of a well-regarded professor in the field with whom I worked as undergraduate). That said, if you're looking to teach, the reality is that going to an unranked program will more often that not preclude you from this. I'm not saying it's fair, I'm not saying it's right, I'm not condoning it, but it's the reality. One might even say the harsh truth in what you so cynically refer to as the "real world"...hope that helps.

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I hate to throw cold water on your post, poppy, but if you're talking programs that aren't even ranked on US News' top 50 (which is as far as it goes I believe on the rankings for poli sci PhD programs), you're going to have a very hard time using the PhD you do get for college-level teaching. There are definitely some strong programs towards the bottom of the top 50 that I think are do-able for people with less than stellar numbers (this would include Georgia, Florida, UC-Santa Barbara, etc.) and even some that are marginally not ranked that might allow you to have some success in academia such as SUNY-Albany and Oklahoma (these are the two non-ranked schools I applied to as safeties under the advice of a well-regarded professor in the field with whom I worked as undergraduate). That said, if you're looking to teach, the reality is that going to an unranked program will more often that not preclude you from this. I'm not saying it's fair, I'm not saying it's right, I'm not condoning it, but it's the reality. One might even say the harsh truth in what you so cynically refer to as the "real world"...hope that helps.

Eh, there are definitely some great schools in the 50+ range and fantastic scholars who teach there. For example: BU, BC, USC, UNM, UMass, etc. have all placed grad students at good schools in quality locations. I know this is a bit of a tired debate, but there are great schools above and below the 50 mark.

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And this input by the way is coming from a person on this forum who stood up against the claims of some people on the boards who asserted that if one did go to a top ten program, they were going to be f-ed in the job market. And Bobb is exactly right, you're going to have a tough time starting a serious and rational discussion with most people on this board when you make the disparaging comments that you do. I worked incredibly hard to get where I am.

Read the Bell Curve by Murray and Hernstein. Environment is by far a lesser factor in determining ones intelligence and success in life than is natural ability. I really don't like to get into my personal life on these boards, but reading your hasty assumption that all of us who have been admitted to top 50 programs have been "dealt a royal flush" in life really stunned me. In my adult life, I have had to work very hard to overcome depression, coming out of the closet as a gay man, and live in recovery from alcoholism (I decided to get sober 9 months ago and haven't had a drink since, this experience is largely what made me decide to shift from being a political hack to wanting to give back to others through teaching).

So please, just stop making assumptions about people and where they've come from in life. I can't speak for anyone else on this board, but I imagine I'm far from the only one who feels this way.

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I started this thread for a few reasons:

1. I'm tired of listening to all the hacks who stress over the decision to go to Harvard, Stanford, Rochester, or Princeton.

2. Not all of us hit the life lottery like yourselves, so we will be going to non-top 50 institutions. Which schools did you apply to and what is your background?

3. To give individuals not going to institutions in the top-50 an opportunity to speak up.

For anyone going to great institutions, I commend you, as it is truly remarkable accomplishment. However, outside of a few individuals on this board, the vast majority of you are pricks. Although, while I do think most of you are a bit on the egotistical side, and look down on people who haven't exactly been dealt a royal flush in their lives, I am thankful for your existence on Earth, because if it weren't for you, it wouldn't give the less fortunate (Those going to non-top 50's) the motivation to work their asses off.

I'll add more after I get back from a meeting...damn the "real" world.

I really liked how your post started for it is true that this forum is heavily skewed and only those aiming at the very best unis speak up. However, there is no need to be aggressive towards them; and your post gives the impression that people who get in the top 50 do so because by virtue of their birth. It helps when you come from a comfortable environment, but you still need to work your ass-off to get there eventually and that concerns only a minority of the people here. I am sure many a member applying to ivy-like unis would be able to prove that. Most of us do live in the "real" world and are equally anxious about the outcome of our applications.

Please do not turn this topic into something political. Why not simply stick to your initial intention of sharing experience?

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I hate to throw cold water on your post, poppy, but if you're talking programs that aren't even ranked on US News' top 50 (which is as far as it goes I believe on the rankings for poli sci PhD programs), you're going to have a very hard time using the PhD you do get for college-level teaching. There are definitely some strong programs towards the bottom of the top 50 that I think are do-able for people with less than stellar numbers (this would include Georgia, Florida, UC-Santa Barbara, etc.) and even some that are marginally not ranked that might allow you to have some success in academia such as SUNY-Albany and Oklahoma (these are the two non-ranked schools I applied to as safeties under the advice of a well-regarded professor in the field with whom I worked as undergraduate). That said, if you're looking to teach, the reality is that going to an unranked program will more often that not preclude you from this. I'm not saying it's fair, I'm not saying it's right, I'm not condoning it, but it's the reality. One might even say the harsh truth in what you so cynically refer to as the "real world"...hope that helps.

I'm not so sure you are correct. I've looked at the faculty of multiple institutions, and have found numerous members from non-top 50 institutions. For example, look at the University of Nebraska-Kearney, Southern Mississippi, Eastern Kentucky, or SIU-Edwardsville.

Am I saying it's easy to get a job with a PhD from a non-ranked school, NO. However, to say it happens, more times than not is a bit over the top in my opinion.

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Let's write to the relevant posts. When someone says "the other page has a lot of good students talking about whether they will have to go to Stanford or Wisconsin, people who have applied to non-top 50 schools should discuss here", it doesn't make sense to post under it "though you know it'll be really hard to get a job like that". I'm sure that person is aware of what to expect.

I applied to Brandeis and was really hopeful about my chances... But now that I learned Chingo's article places them 24th, and that last year they did not fund anyone... it is time to freak out!

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And this input by the way is coming from a person on this forum who stood up against the claims of some people on the boards who asserted that if one did go to a top ten program, they were going to be f-ed in the job market. And Bobb is exactly right, you're going to have a tough time starting a serious and rational discussion with most people on this board when you make the disparaging comments that you do. I worked incredibly hard to get where I am.

Read the Bell Curve by Murray and Hernstein. Environment is by far a lesser factor in determining ones intelligence and success in life than is natural ability. I really don't like to get into my personal life on these boards, but reading your hasty assumption that all of us who have been admitted to top 50 programs have been "dealt a royal flush" in life really stunned me. In my adult life, I have had to work very hard to overcome depression, coming out of the closet as a gay man, and live in recovery from alcoholism (I decided to get sober 9 months ago and haven't had a drink since, this experience is largely what made me decide to shift from being a political hack to wanting to give back to others through teaching).

So please, just stop making assumptions about people and where they've come from in life. I can't speak for anyone else on this board, but I imagine I'm far from the only one who feels this way.

Just to clarify what I think the original poster meant by "royal flush" (please correct me if I'm wrong): I think it has nothing to do with things that are hard to deal with (be that a disability, being gay, being depressed, etc); I think the poster means either A: Having enough money to afford a good high school and more importantly undergraduate education or B: if not money, having been told that going to a good undergrad is important for getting into a good PhD, that it can be done without it, but that it is much harder to break into that circle than to remain there. Being depressed as an adult and having to come out of the closet are much different than knowing that where one goes to undergrad really matters and having the resources to do so. I think the later is what the poster means by "royal flush."

The tone of the original post will, I agree, be damaging to this conversation.

Edited by yellowshoes
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And this input by the way is coming from a person on this forum who stood up against the claims of some people on the boards who asserted that if one did go to a top ten program, they were going to be f-ed in the job market. And Bobb is exactly right, you're going to have a tough time starting a serious and rational discussion with most people on this board when you make the disparaging comments that you do. I worked incredibly hard to get where I am.

Read the Bell Curve by Murray and Hernstein. Environment is by far a lesser factor in determining ones intelligence and success in life than is natural ability. I really don't like to get into my personal life on these boards, but reading your hasty assumption that all of us who have been admitted to top 50 programs have been "dealt a royal flush" in life really stunned me. In my adult life, I have had to work very hard to overcome depression, coming out of the closet as a gay man, and live in recovery from alcoholism (I decided to get sober 9 months ago and haven't had a drink since, this experience is largely what made me decide to shift from being a political hack to wanting to give back to others through teaching).

So please, just stop making assumptions about people and where they've come from in life. I can't speak for anyone else on this board, but I imagine I'm far from the only one who feels this way.

APGradApplicant, this is a very moving account. I wonder, though, if there is not some truth to what this man is saying. After perusing the web sites of the top departments (tip top - top 5), most of those students, who I think poppy is primarily referring to, are from excellent undergraduate programs (mostly private schools that I would need to be saving at the ripe old age of 22 to put my child through). Perhaps some of them worked their way up to those schools, but really, I must doubt many people at Williams have been browbeaten by society. It is ironic that many of them are studying American politics as good graduate students, when they have likely never known the experiences of broad swaths of the country. I'm reminded of a discussion I once read on this forum to the effect: Political science has nothing to do with politics! We are interested in telling people what the causes of political problems ought to be!

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Just to clarify what I think the original poster meant by "royal flush" (please correct me if I'm wrong): I think it has nothing to do with things that are hard to deal with (be that a disability, being gay, being depressed, etc); I think the poster means either A) Having enough money to afford a good high school and more importantly undergraduate education or B) If not money, having been told that going to a good undergrad is important for getting into a good PhD, that it can be done without it, but that it is much harder to break into that circle than to remain there. Being depressed as an adult and having to come out of the closet are much different than knowing that where one goes to undergrad really matters and having the resources to do so. I think the later is what the poster means by "royal flush."

The tone of the original post will, I agree, be damaging to this conversation.

Precisely what I am saying. Some people have to chose undergrad choices due to price, not it's ranking.

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Also, if "you" actually read what I wrote, I said the "vast majority," clearing indicating that not all of you are pricks. Also, I commended all of you for getting into great programs.

So the "vast majority" of the people here are pricks?! That's not the best way of starting a topic, lol.

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So the "vast majority" of the people here are pricks?! That's not the best way of starting a topic, lol.

That's my point. Poppy, while I agree that it is possible to go to a >top-50 and have a rewarding career, it is not necessary to call anyone "pricks." This is especially true on the internet, where you really do not know anyone. We can discuss the merits of attending these programs and the different paths that we have all taken to this point in our lives, but let us keep it civil.

Having said that, I went to a non-ranked southern state school for my undergrad and MA, my GREs are not as good as many people here, I applied last year and was rejected by all places in the top 45 or so, and now I am currently in a >top-50 PhD program. The training here is terrible, and most of the faculty are either delusional or not active. This creates a terrible environment. The other students are not good peers, and most of them are absolutely clueless about the discipline and what it takes to land a TT job.

So, I am transferring (more or less starting over) to a <25 program. Having understood the process after my experience last year, I was in much better shape application-wise this time. I have won several awards since then, improved my GREs, and gotten much better recommendations and contacts. All of this led to my success this time. While this program is not top-10, it is well recognized as a strong program for my interests. Simply put, I worked hard, moved up, and I am making the most out of my situation. That is what most all of us here are doing. While some may have been dealt some sort of "royal flush" others were dealt "two pair" and have worked hard to get to where they are. I was dealt air, and I am attempting to still walk away from the table with some chips.

Go to whichever program you get into and are comfortable with. If that is the best that you can do, then make the most out of it. I do not think that people will look down upon you. One of my favorite mentors got his PhD at a >100 outfit, and I think he is brilliant and directly responsible for much of my success. You will have to work harder than some, but your program may be a fair amount easier and less stressful. There are always trade-offs. I wish you luck, and with hard work you can easily get a job. Some people do have snobby attitudes, and indeed I have experienced this first hand. The best way to show them off is to outwork and outpublish them and let them wonder how you are more successful than them. Other than that, name calling in anonymity does not improve the situation in the slightest.

Edited by Bobb Cobb
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Your demeanor aside....I agree with you!

I don't buy it that you need a PhD from the top 50 to teach, particularly if you want to teach at a small state school or small liberal arts school. I believe this to be especially true if the program you end up at has professors whose research interests are a good fit with your own. Also, BU, BC, Milwaukee, American, the New School, SUNY-Albany, and Brandeis don't make the US News World and Report top 50 list, but they are all great departments with good placement histories. I think as long as you work hard, get to as many conferences as possible, write a solid dissertation, and pump out a couple publications by the time you are on the market, you'll be fine.

Best and good luck!

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I have applied to a few programs off the beaten path. Many of them have an excellent record of setting students up with APPLIED research interest. If I couldn't get into a top academic program, I would have no qualms going to an applied program. But, ultimately, I didn't place all of my fish in one basket.

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Precisely what I am saying. Some people have to chose undergrad choices due to price, not it's ranking.

I'm one of those people who chose my undergrad institution based on price and not ranking. After attending public school in K-12, I came to my undergrad because financially it was the best fit for me, but I don't feel that has given me any disadvantage in applying to grad school. I've worked very hard here and I am pleased with the graduate institutions to which I've been admitted. Don't assume that someone with high aspirations was born with a silver spoon in his or her mouth.

That being said, I know that there are some quality institutions out there not in the top 50, and I wish you great success.

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That's my point. Poppy, while I agree that it is possible to go to a >top-50 and have a rewarding career, it is not necessary to call anyone "pricks." This is especially true on the internet, where you really do not know anyone. We can discuss the merits of attending these programs and the different paths that we have all taken to this point in our lives, but let us keep it civil.

Having said that, I went to a non-ranked southern state school for my undergrad and MA, my GREs are not as good as many people here, I applied last year and was rejected by all places in the top 45 or so, and now I am currently in a >top-50 PhD program. The training here is terrible, and most of the faculty are either delusional or not active. This creates a terrible environment. The other students are not good peers, and most of them are absolutely clueless about the discipline and what it takes to land a TT job.

So, I am transferring (more or less starting over) to a <25 program. Having understood the process after my experience last year, I was in much better shape application-wise this time. I have won several awards since then, improved my GREs, and gotten much better recommendations and contacts. All of this led to my success this time. While this program is not top-10, it is well recognized as a strong program for my interests. Simply put, I worked hard, moved up, and I am making the most out of my situation. That is what most all of us here are doing. While some may have been dealt some sort of "royal flush" others were dealt "two pair" and have worked hard to get to where they are. I was dealt air, and I am attempting to still walk away from the table with some chips.

Go to whichever program you get into and are comfortable with. If that is the best that you can do, then make the most out of it. I do not think that people will look down upon you. One of my favorite mentors got his PhD at a >100 outfit, and I think he is brilliant and directly responsible for much of my success. You will have to work harder than some, but your program may be a fair amount easier and less stressful. There are always trade-offs. I wish you luck, and with hard work you can easily get a job. Some people do have snobby attitudes, and indeed I have experienced this first hand. The best way to show them off is to outwork and outpublish them and let them wonder how you are more successful than them. Other than that, name calling in anonymity does not improve the situation in the slightest.

Don't shortchange TAMU its actually top 25.

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Don't shortchange TAMU its actually top 25.

I am saying that I am transferring to a program that is top 25. By <25, I mean it is ranked a number less than 25 which of course means a better ranking. These rankings and numbers become confusing...blink.gif. Don't worry, I am very happy with TAMU and its ranking.

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Point of clarification: TAMU "is terrible, and most of the faculty are either delusional or not active"?

Shit no, damn I need to be more clear. I am currently in an unnamed program that is that way. It is not top 50. I am moving to TAMU in the fall, and it is top 25. To be clear, I am bashing the environment in my current dept., not TAMU! All of my experience with TAMU has been great so far!

My main point there was that some departments are dysfunctional, and this could be worse at lower ranked programs.

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So, while I appreciate the concept of this thread, and I recognize that you said "the vast majority", I just feel the need to put something out there. You don't know anything about the backgrounds of the vast majority of us, nor what we are like in person. We are all under incredible strain and I'm 100% sure we don't always censor what we post as well as we could. That being said, in most cases, being able to get into a good grad school is not about the cards you are dealt, it's about what you do with them.

I went to public school from K-12, my parents are divorced, my family was solidly lower middle class. I went to a school with no AP, no IB, etc. I worked my butt off in high school to get good grades and on top of that loaded up my extra curriculars and volunteered while still holding down a part time job. I went to one of those "elite private" colleges that nobody seems to think they can afford and I paid less than in state tuition at the state school in my town. Some of it was loans, most of it was scholarships. That wasn't handed to me. I worked for it, plain and simple, and I didn't do it with tons of money from my parents. I also worked 30+ hours at an outside job during all four years of college in order to pay my own living expenses. I am in serious debt. I will be paying it off for a while at what, given my career goals, is not likely to be a particularly generous salary. It was worth it in my opinion, and it was worth all the hard work to get here.

I know lots of folks applying to grad school this year who are in at top programs. Yes, some of them have the background you seem to assume. Wealthy families, private schools, etc. Many, in fact the majority, do not. Most of these people are folks I went to undegrad with which means they also went to an "expensive private school". Many of them were on scholarship, all of them are in debt, all of them worked hard to get where they are, and very very few were dealth a royal flush. Even those that were, you have no idea what their lives were like. A friend I know who is going to be at a great program in the fall probably meets your definition of being dealt a "royal flush", but what you wouldn't know till you got to know him is that he has had to overcome a serious learning disability to get where he is.

My only point is this. You don't really know the people on this board, or the people who got into top programs. Looking at their numbers and their few posts here is not indicative of who they are and, in general, tells you -nothing- about their background. When you make assumptions about them based on extremely limited information, you are as predjudiced against them as you have said you feel like they are against you, and that's not any more fair to them than some of them may have been to you.

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