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I'm applying to grad school for the upcoming cycle and I'm in a bit of an anxiety-laden state! Would love to hear from other people in this position

I'm a senior at an Ivy-plus institution (think Duke, UChicago, Johns Hopkins etc) and I'm hoping to apply for  a terminal Ph.D. in Mythological literature, especially from the archaic and classical periods. Right now I'm looking to apply to UT Austin, UNC, NYU, Columbia, Princeton, and maybe Duke, but I'm open to suggestions!

My greatest concern right now is that while I did well my junior year, I had a bad freshman year so I have 2 B-'s on my transcript in intermediate Latin; I didnt take it my sophomore or junior years (focused on Greek) and I'm about to return to it for my senior year. My GPA is also not as high as I'd like it to be; i have a 3.6 both overall and in the major, which is probably on the low end for applications to these programs. 

Good luck to everyone!

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I just saw the e-mail that I was accepted into Villanova for the MA program! I withdrew my UGA application so that I could get started on all of the things I need to prepare for Villanova. I didn't ma

Holy cow, just got an out-of-the-blue acceptance to University of Washington. No funding, but it's a place that wants me!!!

When Yale gets back to me, I'll have my poisonous snake nearby, ready to let it bite my arm.

It seems this forum is dead (fitting given the state of the field, perhaps), but maybe we can breathe some life into it since application deadlines have started to pass!

To answer OP, I think that quite frankly grades mean little as long as they aren't bad. Virtually everyone who applies for Classics and Classics-adjacent PhDs has excellent grades so what really matters for your application are your letters, your statement of purpose, and your language preparation (i.e. at least 3+ years of one of the ancient languages and 2+ of the other). If you're extremely concerned about the two Bs you might mention this to one of your letter writers so that they make a point of assuaging any potential doubts about your language skills. That said it seems like you only have a couple years for both Greek and Latin; this might be a bit slim for the programs you've listed. You might consider an MA or post-Bac if you need more language preparation before diving into a PhD. 

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Thanks for reviving this, Pius Aeneas -- I've been keeping my eye on the forum, but I hesitate to revive threads as a new poster!

I too am applying to PhD programs this cycle. I finished undergrad in 2014 (UChicago) and did a terminal MA in philology at UGA (excellent program!), which I finished in 2016. OP, like you I had couple shaky years in undergrad -- my mother died, and my grades hovered in the B range for a while. I applied to MA programs on a whim my senior year, and UGA accepted and funded me.  I regained my love of the field (and academia as a whole) at UGA, and I beefed up my Greek tremendously (been taking Latin since freshman year of high school, so that's been fine, generally). Partially to lower my stress levels and partially to figure myself out, I decided to take a few years off after I finished my MA and am now in my second year as a Latin teacher at an independent school. I presented at CAMWS last year, and my abstract was accepted for the upcoming annual meeting, so I haven't totally lost touch with academia! My mother was a humanities professor, and I've always wanted to pursue research and undergraduate teaching, so I feel like I'm finally back on the right track.

OP, if you are truly concerned about your GPA/general qualifications for these programs, I highly recommend pursuing a terminal MA to strengthen your application for future doctoral work. There are funded programs available, and it was a spectacular way for me to redeem myself academically. I second Pius Aeneas: your letter writers can do some rhetorical gymnastics for you, and your statement of purpose/writing sample can clarify these issues and reassure the admissions committees that you are driven and resilient.

I have applied to a good mix of Ivies and top 25 schools; broadly, I am focused on the ancient novel (particularly Apuleius, whom I've thought about more than perhaps is healthy), and I have secondary research interests in Greek tragedy and the classical tradition. I'm applying to 13 (!) places total, which seems a bit excessive; I've been "out of the field," so to speak, for a few years now, though, so I'm playing the numbers game. Plus, I have been receiving fantastic advice from my letter writers and mentors, so it was hard to narrow down my choices. We'll see what sticks! My first deadline was today (Duke), and I've submitted the majority of my applications over the past couple of weeks. I am on target to submit the final three this weekend. Fingers crossed for everyone!

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On 12/7/2017 at 8:56 AM, Pius Aeneas said:

It seems this forum is dead (fitting given the state of the field, perhaps), but maybe we can breathe some life into it since application deadlines have started to pass!

To answer OP, I think that quite frankly grades mean little as long as they aren't bad. Virtually everyone who applies for Classics and Classics-adjacent PhDs has excellent grades so what really matters for your application are your letters, your statement of purpose, and your language preparation (i.e. at least 3+ years of one of the ancient languages and 2+ of the other). If you're extremely concerned about the two Bs you might mention this to one of your letter writers so that they make a point of assuaging any potential doubts about your language skills. That said it seems like you only have a couple years for both Greek and Latin; this might be a bit slim for the programs you've listed. You might consider an MA or post-Bac if you need more language preparation before diving into a PhD. 

I agree with Pius that the grades aren't horribly bad, but doing extra language work either through self-study or a Post-Bacc would help. (I had particularly rough semesters where I got C's due to extenuating circumstances but those can be explained in one of your letters, as Pius said). I don't have any extra to add but wanted to support this advice because it's precisely what I would have said. 

On 12/8/2017 at 8:29 AM, aigilipos said:

OP, if you are truly concerned about your GPA/general qualifications for these programs, I highly recommend pursuing a terminal MA to strengthen your application for future doctoral work. There are funded programs available, and it was a spectacular way for me to redeem myself academically.

That's the route I'm currently taking especially because in my first MA that I'm about to finish I got all A's except for one class (by 1.5 points because of a dumb mistake, ugh, it's still frustrates me) to show that I am in a far better environment conducive to my learning. I'm applying to a terminal Classical Studies program first so that I can show my improvement and give myself a better chance at a PhD when I apply later. Good luck with all those applications, Aigilipos!

7 hours ago, Pius Aeneas said:

Anyone else out there applying this cycle? The first couple waves of deadlines have passed now and the next wave will be coming with the new year.  As someone currently at a top program I'm happy to answer questions!

I'm applying for Fall '18! I'm trying to polish my SoP and then I have to re-read and edit my writing sample, which, surprise, centers around Percy Jackson and the Olympians but I don't think anyone's approached what I did in the same way (at least, they didn't when I wrote it last year), so I'm going to be submitting it to be published too (although, through a fantasy literature academic journal and not a Classical one). 

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9 minutes ago, ClassicsCandidate said:

I'm trying to polish my SoP and then I have to re-read and edit my writing sample, which, surprise, centers around Percy Jackson and the Olympians but I don't think anyone's approached what I did in the same way (at least, they didn't when I wrote it last year), so I'm going to be submitting it to be published too (although, through a fantasy literature academic journal and not a Classical one). 

I would encourage you to postpone submission until after you arrive at your new program in the fall (assuming you receive offers and accept one). If you haven't had your paper accepted yet, it won't do you any good for this application cycle -- listing papers as "submitted" is close to meaningless -- and there is sometimes the unfortunate belief that reception, particularly pop-culture reception, isn't "serious" Classics. You may as well wait to see what your new program thinks about the paper and whether you should submit it and to what venue. For that matter, it may also be wise for your first publication to be easily recognizable to Classicists both in content and venue. But you may have already thought of these things, so FWIW.

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12 minutes ago, ploutarchos said:

I would encourage you to postpone submission until after you arrive at your new program in the fall (assuming you receive offers and accept one). If you haven't had your paper accepted yet, it won't do you any good for this application cycle -- listing papers as "submitted" is close to meaningless -- and there is sometimes the unfortunate belief that reception, particularly pop-culture reception, isn't "serious" Classics. You may as well wait to see what your new program thinks about the paper and whether you should submit it and to what venue. For that matter, it may also be wise for your first publication to be easily recognizable to Classicists both in content and venue. But you may have already thought of these things, so FWIW.

I have it listed as an "in progress" paper, but if that information is best left out on my CV, I can do that. 


The theme of the paper is how dyslexia and ADHD are used as explanations for being able to read Ancient Greek without studying it and ADHD being "helpful" for battle; it was a bit of an interdisciplinary paper (since it was the requirement for my foundations class in my current degree). So I have a lot of ancient views on disabilities and mental health issues vs. the modern attitudes in Greece (apparently, dyslexia is actually the only learning disability they have accommodations for in schools).   

This is true; I could save a better paper with a more "serious" theme for publication. Do you think it's still worth using as my writing sample, though? It's the most relevant one to my potential program that I have that is somewhat recent. 

 

Thank you for the feedback; it has been very helpful! 

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I probably wouldn't have an "in progress" section on your CV, especially if there's only one paper in it. The trouble is that no one can verify what "in progress" means: an outline? a draft (rough or polished)? a lit review? It starts to become more meaningful for established scholars with track records, but even then most people don't list things until "in press." Further, it's already clear that the paper exists if it's your writing sample, so listing it on the CV is superfluous. That said, however, I think these considerations are more important for job applicants than PhD applicants.

I think the paper sounds very interesting and could be a strong writing sample for the right program, but it will depend on how open the program is to less traditional avenues of inquiry. I suspect that my own writing sample last year, on the post-classical reception of a particular genre, was a liability at several programs, but I have no way of verifying that. I did end up at a place I'm very happy with, though.

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1 hour ago, ploutarchos said:

I probably wouldn't have an "in progress" section on your CV, especially if there's only one paper in it. The trouble is that no one can verify what "in progress" means: an outline? a draft (rough or polished)? a lit review? It starts to become more meaningful for established scholars with track records, but even then most people don't list things until "in press." Further, it's already clear that the paper exists if it's your writing sample, so listing it on the CV is superfluous. That said, however, I think these considerations are more important for job applicants than PhD applicants.

Okay, cool. I'll take that out. I've had a few people give me examples of CVs that had "in progress" as an example but what you said makes a lot of sense. I'm trying to reformat my CV for a terminal MA program in Classical Studies. I've had a lot more museum positions and not all of the positions worked directly with antiquities.

 

1 hour ago, ploutarchos said:

I think the paper sounds very interesting and could be a strong writing sample for the right program, but it will depend on how open the program is to less traditional avenues of inquiry. I suspect that my own writing sample last year, on the post-classical reception of a particular genre, was a liability at several programs, but I have no way of verifying that. I did end up at a place I'm very happy with, though.

I know the director of the program I'm applying to has done presentations on PJO herself (I read through her entire CV before I wrote my SoP), which is why I was less hesitant to use it. I hadn't considered that it might give some of the admissions committee pause. Do you think that will be more of a pro or a con if I used it as a writing sample? 

I'm glad you ended up somewhere you liked, though! 

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Salvete! I figured that since I just submitted my last app, it was time to stop lurking here. 

The more I think about my apps, the more sure I am that I won't be getting in anywhere (my writing sample was a solid term paper, but probably relied too much on primary text and not enough on secondary sources,) but I'm trying to be optimistic and I'm glad there's a community to support each other through this!

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I'm trying to be optimistic too -- holding off the anxiety until after the holidays, at least! ClassicsCandidate, where did you end up applying? I'm sure we've all got similar lists! I'm sure you'll be okay, Passer; there's many more app components beyond the writing sample. Fingers crossed for everyone!

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On 12/26/2017 at 8:43 PM, Passer said:

I applied to a handful of ivies and Berkeley for PhDs, and put in a few MA apps in the US and UK!

 

4 hours ago, aigilipos said:

I'm trying to be optimistic too -- holding off the anxiety until after the holidays, at least! ClassicsCandidate, where did you end up applying? I'm sure we've all got similar lists! I'm sure you'll be okay, Passer; there's many more app components beyond the writing sample. Fingers crossed for everyone!

 

Best of luck to you both! I'm applying to Villanova and possibly University of Wales Trinity St. David since I'm going to do a terminal MA first. I'm still toiling over my SoP (I'm on version 10, I might have to bite the bullet and just send it in...) Ivies and the California schools are what I'll be tackling for a Ph.D. in 2-3 years once I start working on my MA program! So I'm crossing my fingers once I get everything in and will be waiting [im]patiently for the responses. I do have to brush up on my Greek, though, because we have placement tests, too to see what level the students are on (it's been a while since I had formal classes) so I'll be pretty busy while I wait for the responses. 

 

 

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χαίρετε! 

Late to the party, but I'm applying this season to some Ivies, UT, NYU, Rutgers, Stanford, and a couple safeties. 

Not optimistic about my chances. I have an unconventional undergraduate history (a bit "non-traditional"), but I do have an MA to 'make up' for my less than prestigious undergrad career. I'm all ready to apply for teaching jobs, but part of me is still holding out a shred of hope that I'll get into a top school.

I am also interested in mental and physical illness, psychology, and medicine in the ancient world: your paper on ADHD sounds intriguing: what ancient texts did you use for it? 

 

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Χαίρετε! I'm still in the thick of my applications-- some to PhD and some to MA programs, all in the US. I've only applied to one Ivy, but the rest of the PhD programs I've applied to are at that level as well. Feeling pretty similar to @Sapphosgirl , @Passer and others here in terms of not being very optimistic-- I've also had a pretty nontraditional undergraduate experience at least where Classics is concerned, but I've jumped around to lots of different institutions for summer classes, study abroad terms, auditing, etc. to make up for this, and I have a ton of research and presentation experience. I like my statement of purpose I've created so far, but my writing sample is from my thesis, in which I don't think I did as great a job as I could have done in structuring my argument and incorporating my citations effectively. We'll see what happens!

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On 12/28/2017 at 12:22 AM, ClassicsCandidate said:

I'm still toiling over my SoP (I'm on version 10, I might have to bite the bullet and just send it in...)

Oh gosh, I don't even want to think about how many drafts it took me to be satisfied! I had many different versions with increasingly long and ridiculous file names by the end. I subjected my poor referees to quite a few of them over the months, though they were nice about providing comments. I'm happy to proofread if you want more eyes on anything. 

Here's to another deadline passing -- one (or more? who knows at this point) of my schools has a deadline of tonight. Let's hope we all get good news relatively early on! I have to sign my contract for next year in February, so I would like to avoid any awkward conversations with my boss. Maybe the stars will align!

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11 hours ago, Sapphosgirl said:

I am also interested in mental and physical illness, psychology, and medicine in the ancient world: your paper on ADHD sounds intriguing: what ancient texts did you use for it? 

 

Since it was written for a non-Classics program, I did a lot of secondary sources that gave me the information I needed; for the ancient information, these were my sources: 
 

Bruce, P. (2010). Constructions of disability (ancient and modern): The impact of religious belief on the experience of disability. Neotestamentica, 44(2), 253-281. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/43048759 

Echeverría, F. (2012). Hoplite and phalanx in archaic and classical Greece: A reassessment. Classical Philology, 107(4), 291-318. doi:1. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/666924 doi:1

Ustinova, Y., & Cardeña, E. (2014, June 2). Combat stress disorders and their treatment in ancient Greece. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 6(6), 739-748. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0036461

 

All of the other sources I had were about ADHD, the quotes from the PJO books, and dyslexia in modern Greece - I'd like to expand on it a bit more in the future, to be honest, and get it published sometime soon, but it was good for what the course required (a graduate level interdisciplinary paper).

 

2 hours ago, aigilipos said:

Oh gosh, I don't even want to think about how many drafts it took me to be satisfied! I had many different versions with increasingly long and ridiculous file names by the end. I subjected my poor referees to quite a few of them over the months, though they were nice about providing comments. I'm happy to proofread if you want more eyes on anything. 

Here's to another deadline passing -- one (or more? who knows at this point) of my schools has a deadline of tonight. Let's hope we all get good news relatively early on! I have to sign my contract for next year in February, so I would like to avoid any awkward conversations with my boss. Maybe the stars will align!

I honestly couldn't figure out if I was just being overly picky or if I really needed to edit it more. One of my recommenders reassured me that since it's an MA program I will probably be fine but I don't know how to let go of papers when I want them to be perfect! "Done is better than perfect" is something I try to do but when it comes to an SoP that will decide my graduate future, it's a bit harder to follow the mantra! I would love a proofread if you have the time! I'm so anxious, hah. 

Best of luck to you with all of that!! 

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Hey everyone, just submitted my last US application yesterday and so decided to finally post here. I'm from Europe, and generally speaking I applied to study Late Antiquity, with the usual tweaks for each school. If I don't get in any of my choices I'll try to apply to schools in Europe, but most unis around here require you to already have a solid proposal with all the details ready to start working on it as soon as you start, which is not my case. I think generally speaking I'm competitive, but am also aware that there's always a large portion of luck, fitness to the program etc, so we'll see. Mostly I'm concerned about the interviews, since I don't really know if or how I'd manage to get myself to the US if I have the luck to be called to an interview. Best of luck to you all, I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot of each other in the coming dreadful weeks. :)

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In the US, I applied to 6 schools, all in upper end. My safe/reach schools are in Europe, and I'll have to start getting a few of those other applications ready (complete with projects etc, something I've been dreading), but since there's different deadlines/Spring semester entries, the priority up until now has been the US ones.

Everyone was telling me I should avoid this forum if I am to retain any mental sanity, and I am seriously starting to understand what they meant. I thought I'd just do other stuff until late Jan and not even bother checking in. Yet here I am...!

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I'm applying to one American school and one school in Wales because they offer a distance option. However, I've been making a "PhD Wishlist" that I'm going to have to narrow down in the next year or so by researching everywhere. I've found a few other schools in the UK I would like to consider and I'm going to probably look in Germany and Ireland as well as International options; the cost of moving and living are the only things I'm worried about for that, though. I'm glad that the majority schools I've looked at so far seem to not have an application fee like American schools do, so that's a plus! 

Good luck with the further applications with all the projects, it does sound rather intense to apply to so many! Honestly, I'm going bonkers with just two applications, so I'm not sure how people deal with 6-16+ in such a short amount of time. 

I don't know if I could avoid the forum myself, either, to be honest! Do you have anything else to distract you in the meantime? 

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16 minutes ago, ClassicsCandidate said:

I'm going to probably look in Germany and Ireland as well as International options; the cost of moving and living are the only things I'm worried about for that, though. I'm glad that the majority schools I've looked at so far seem to not have an application fee like American schools do, so that's a plus! 

Good luck with the further applications with all the projects, it does sound rather intense to apply to so many! Honestly, I'm going bonkers with just two applications, so I'm not sure how people deal with 6-16+ in such a short amount of time. 

I don't know if I could avoid the forum myself, either, to be honest! Do you have anything else to distract you in the meantime? 

One of the greatest advantages of studying in the EU when you have to pay for your own studies is that courses are much less expensive, but if you're applying to funded PhDs (which I assume you are) then that becomes less important. The application costs were by far the largest surprise. On top of the application fees, which most places told me I couldn't even waive, since that was only for US students, the GRE + TOEFL were at best a cash cow for ETS at worst plain extortion. (25 USD to send a couple of strings of data to some server!)

Yes, it is intense, and to think some people do 10+, so I'm probably even on the lower end. To distract me, I actually am sitting 4 exams on the 6th (!). I've been studying since early December, and three of them I'm confident about, the last one has been a tougher nut to crack. For a while I had the excuse of having to get the applications ready, now unfortunately I don't, so I guess I'll really have to get that studying done! What about yourself?

Edited by anphph
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The American school has a funding offer but it's based on your writing sample and isn't guaranteed, which makes me nervous. The Welsh school I would have to pay out of pocket for, but is essentially half of what I would be paying at the American school if I ended up not landing the funding. So, I have been biting my nails during the entire process, you know? Lots of things riding on my little paper.

Yeah, I never really understood why we have to pay for the GRE to be sent to schools when you already pay so much to take it in the first place!! 

Oh, goodness! Good luck with all of your exams :D

Right now, I'm marathoning Myths & Monsters with my fiancé since their field is mythohistorical folklore, specific on vampires and medical anthropology in regards to vampirism, so this show is satiating both of us for now! 

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On 12/22/2017 at 11:28 PM, Passer said:

Salvete! I figured that since I just submitted my last app, it was time to stop lurking here. 

The more I think about my apps, the more sure I am that I won't be getting in anywhere (my writing sample was a solid term paper, but probably relied too much on primary text and not enough on secondary sources,) but I'm trying to be optimistic and I'm glad there's a community to support each other through this!

I don't know that your writing sample will hurt you, as long as you show that you can engage thoughtfully and competently with secondary scholarship and didn't ignore anything seminal, it's probably not a bad thing that you also showed your facility with the ancient sources. 

Also, the writing sample is just one component of your application--I would say equally important are your letters of recommendation and your statement of purpose. 

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