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Advice needed: taking a gap year


coreyasdf
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Hi all! I'm currently a senior set to graduate in Spring 2018. Here's some info about myself:

Attending: SUNY Buffalo
Major: Linguistics
CGPA: 4.0
GRE: N/A
Subfields: syn/sem
Desired (reach) schools: Stanford, MIT, NYU, McGill

I want to get into a PhD program as soon as possible. The problem is that I think I'll have to take a gap year, primarily because I won't be writing my thesis until next semester, at which point grad school applications will have already been due several months prior.

It seems to me that there's no way around this: I have to take a gap year. My questions--apart from my thesis adviser, how do I maintain relationships with faculty in order to ensure I have great LORs a year from now? Also, what should I do in the interim besides possibly attending LSA/NASSLLI? Are there any good post-bac positions apart from UMD's Baggett Fellowship? Is there any sense in applying for Fall 2018 without a writing sample initially, then uploading some (hopefully substantial) portion of my thesis later on?

Any advice would be appreciated!

Edited by coreyasdf
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If you have some other paper that could serve as a writing sample, you could consider using that, if the only reason you'd wait a year is to finish the thesis first. 

On 9/27/2017 at 7:52 PM, coreyasdf said:

It seems to me that there's no way around this: I have to take a gap year. My questions--apart from my thesis adviser, how do I maintain relationships with faculty in order to ensure I have great LORs a year from now? Also, what should I do in the interim besides possibly attending LSA/NASSLLI? Are there any good post-bac positions apart from UMD's Baggett Fellowship? Is there any sense in applying for Fall 2018 without a writing sample initially, then uploading some (hopefully substantial) portion of my thesis later on?

1. It's probably easier if you have meetings with potential LOR writers before you graduate and discuss your graduate school plans with them. You might even do that now, to see if they think that my advice above about applying with a writing sample other than your thesis could work in your case. If you don't apply in the fall, you should also have meetings with all of your writers at the end of the school year, and use that opportunity to tell them about what you've done during this year, since your first grad school related meeting. Then ask explicitly about how to stay in touch and when to write them again about grad school applications. But since (I assume) you're graduating around May and applications are due around December of the same year, it's not like they're going to forget you, so there's not all that much you need to do. If you do stuff over the summer after you graduate, that would go in a summary email in the fall, around the same time as when you remind them that you're applying and they agreed to write LORs for you, and when you tell them which schools you're applying to, etc. 

2. Again, there won't be that much you could or should do between when you graduate and when applications will be due. There won't be an LSA institute this summer (it's every other year, and it happened last summer). There are a bunch of others (ESSLLI, NASSLI, EGG, the summer school in St. Petersburg, the summer school in Cyprus, the one in the Himalayas) and they are a good opportunity to meet potential advisors at target schools and they are lots of fun, but it's also fine if you can't attend them. I don't really know of any post-bac positions other than the UMD one; you could look into being a lab manager somewhere (I don't know of any that are hiring, but you could cold-email some people to ask), or you might think of a one-year program somewhere if you need to strengthen your background in any subfield (there are some of those in Canada). Or, just get a job. A one year gap is not going to cause you any trouble down the line. 

3. There's no point in submitting an incomplete application. No one will read your thesis months after the application is due. First off, it's not fair to other applicants, and second, the decisions will have been made by that time. Submit another sample, or don't submit at all. 

 

You didn't ask but I'll say this anyway: Stanford is a very different beast than the other three you mentioned as reach schools. You should think about what you want to get out of your grad school experience and try to focus a bit more. 

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