Masha
(Ching Shih)
02/16/04 07:53 PM
Graduate School

As an offshoot of the discussion about partners' job searches, this thread is the place for questions, advice, complaints, and so forth.

I took out student loans for my M.A., which was probably a bad idea. When I went to apply to Ph.D. programs, I made sure that all my recommenders knew that I needed full funding, and a couple of them mentioned just that in my letters of rec. I knew that funding was a make-or-break proposition for me, and I chose my school accordingly.


Emily
(Ching Shih)
02/16/04 07:59 PM
Re: Graduate School

My gloomy \:\) grad school post from the other topic:

The way it's usually explained is "In college you absorb/consume/learn, in grad school you produce".

Of course it depends on the program and the school. For me, I went into it expecting it to be like college but much more intense. Which would be really cool, by the way. But it's really more like an all-consuming, full-time job. You need ambition to know exactly what you want to do and the organization to actually pull it off without procrasting or second-guessing yourself too much. And you have to have the drive to spend all day, every day researching and writing and analyzing and reading. For the two years I was in grad school I spent every waking moment either working or feeling guilty for not working.

Which isn't to say that it's too difficult or not worth doing, not at all. It just doesn't have much to do with the undergraduate college experience. I wish I'd taken a little time in between to figure out what I really wanted and to gain some non-academic perspective.

On the other hand, I know one man who went straight from a very challenging undergraduate school to a low-key graduate program and he absolutely loved it. He even said it was relaxing in comparison. He's in engineering, not liberal arts, so the comparison may be apples and oragnes but still, every experience is different. Just don't feel pressured to make this decision too quickly. Good luck!


Marya
(Ching Shih)
02/16/04 10:45 PM
Re: Graduate School

 Quote:
Originally posted by Emily:
I know one man who went straight from a very challenging undergraduate school to a low-key graduate program and he absolutely loved it. He even said it was relaxing in comparison.
This has been true for me as well - my undergraduate school was a fairly highly ranked liberal arts college and the curriculum and method of imparting knowledge to the students was basically on a graduate school level. I am now in a graduate program that in many ways is not as demanding as my undergrad work was - I find that what I did during those undergrad years at such a hard school more than prepared me for what I am doing now.

As far as funding .... that was a hard one. I stumbled around for several years, working as a bookstore manager, miserable that I could not afford grad school. I couldn't figure out how to swing it as a married person with bills to pay and only one car to share with my partner. We graduated from college with no savings, nowhere to live (had to move out of married student housing 4 weeks after graduation in the middle of winter)Though our undergrad school was tuition-free and we owed nothing in student loans, it took a couple of years for us to get financially stable. Fortunately for me, a part-time job at a local community college lead to a full-time position there and boom - all of a sudden I have tuition assistance. The college pays for me to take two classes a semester while I work, and that is how I am managing it. I also go during the summer, commuting an hour and a half away for four mornings straight then coming immediately back to town where I work teaching adults at night. Talk about exhausting. Talk about having no summer whatsoever.

BUT. I am only paying for books and gas. You can't beat that. Whenever I get down I tell myself that a few years ago I had no idea I would be able to work on a masters degree and afford to own my own house and two cars.

Plus I am enjoying this experience so much! Best thing about grad school: I can focus on what I love and am good at. None of that Natural Science bullshit to wreck my GPA! Yay!

Now, if someone can tell me how to get someone to pay for my doctoral work .....


goo
(Ching Shih)
02/17/04 03:53 AM
Re: Graduate School

I find the work much easier in postgrad as well. I am studying something I love, directly related to my work, and I can use work projects as assessment and vice versa. In addition, I don't have to worry about the 'mechanics' of studying - I know how to read effectively, how to write reports and essays and conduct research - these things are automatic. Well, except when I'm really tired, and I am yet to write my doctoral dissertation...

My employer also pays for my course, but if they didn't I could use all of the expenses as a tax deduction. This is usually quite difficult in undergrad as most students aren't working in a field related to their study, the main eligibility criterion for deductibility.

So far there hasn't been anything bad at all about postgrad - keep the alphabet soup coming.


dazey
(Ching Shih)
02/17/04 08:47 AM
Re: Graduate School

 Quote:
So far there hasn't been anything bad at all about postgrad
goo, really? I won't repost my tale of PhD woe from the other thread, but to me, there are so many bad things that I find that amazing.

My situation now - studying part-time with two supervisors, one of whom is absolutely lovely - is probably as good as it gets. Still, it's a fairly horrendous thing to be doing: make up a subject, choose your own direction, and work to a three or four year deadline. You really have to be extraordinarily organised and motivated to do it well. It's not that I find the work hard - I'm studying something that I love, after all, and ideas are fun and exciting things to work with - it's just that I find it hard to see the work at all for all the floundering about trying to get started.


goo
(Ching Shih)
02/17/04 09:18 AM
Re: Graduate School

I've since read your post in the other thread, dazey - I'm sorry you've had such bad experiences. I've always had breaks from study, which I think makes a big difference - I had a break between school and uni (3 years), and then a break between undergrad and masters (1 year) and then 6 months between that and a PGDip. I've now had another break before starting a doctorate.

I also haven't studied full time since my final year of undergrad - I find it heaps easier to be motivated when I can link study to practice, and I find I am a better time manager the more I have to do (um, right...) I work in a field in which very little research has been conducted, giving me a plethora of topics to choose from, and the organisation I work for is fertile with fascinating research opportunities (a unique microcosm that should really have its own currency, it is so idiosyncratic).

edited to remove a silent 5


dazey
(Ching Shih)
02/17/04 09:49 AM
Re: Graduate School

goo, that's funny, because for me the benefits of part-time are almost exactly the opposite. I work in a field that's totally unrelated to my studies, working with people and for measurable change (doing community involvement work), and study very theoretical, not-real-world-applicable stuff (psycholinguistics of gender). I find that when I want to run away from one, the other is just what I need!

I didn't mean to imply that I'm horribly unhappy with my studies right now, because I'm not. It's hugely satisfying to use my brain at somewhere near its full stretch, and to be doing brand new work in an area that fascinates me. It's just that I think I'll always find the isolation very hard, and the only alternative to that would be to move countries and find work in a lab with others with similar interests, which is simply not possible - and, in fact, I enjoy that now I can think up directions which really are different to what other gender/pronoun people are working on, because there's nobody to tell me that's not the way it's done.

My previous supervisor really was a disaster for me, but that was mostly because she enjoyed spreading rumours around the department that I had lost my mind. I don't think that's specifically a postgrad thing.


sunflow
(Ching Shih)
02/17/04 10:31 PM
Re: Graduate School

Masha, good luck in your hunt, and please report back here about how the funding search goes. I made a similar decision to take out loans for my master's degree, and now I am so far in debt that I can't imagine borrowing more money. Right now, I am happy with my degree in education, and I plan to teach for at least the next several years. Even so, that PhD in English lit continues to tempt me, and I hate to think that I've borrowed so much that it's no longer a realistic possibility. Give me hope!

Masha
(Ching Shih)
02/18/04 08:09 AM
Re: Graduate School

Thanks, sunflow. I'm actually three years into my doctoral program now, still fully funded and supplementing my stipend with teaching at my university. I'll post more about my experience when I have a moment, but now I'm off to a mandatory pedagogy seminar--you know, to teach me how to do the teaching I've been doing for a year and a half.

cat
(Ching Shih)
02/18/04 03:52 PM
Re: Graduate School

Oh, Masha, gotta love those pedagogy seminars, don't you? When my husband had his post-doc at the same institution where he'd been (and taught as) a grad student, he was forced to take a pedagogy seminar with the first-year grad students. Very irritating, esp. since he'd taken a similar one as a first-year grad student.

On the real subject of graduate school funding--I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the best advice I got about grad school was not to go anywhere for a Ph.D. that wouldn't pay my way. If you want to go into academics as a professor, you will be vastly better off to confine your search to Ph.D. granting institutions that have full funding--the job market is just too uncertain, and the harsh reality is that if you can't get into a school that can afford to fund you (at least in large measure), you are less likely to find a job on the other side.

I went to a school that completely funded all graduate students. I was lucky to come out of a Ph.D. program without a penny of student-loan debt; a lot of times the support will dry up the longer you stay, and I managed to finish in five years. But in English depts at least, most high-level programs have some grants, teaching opportunities, etc., which come with tuition forgiveness. Definitely don't count out a Ph.D. on economic grounds, and definitely do look for a place that will pay your way.


Exxie
(Ching Shih)
03/13/04 01:05 PM
Re: Graduate School

I think I just realized that I can never go to grad school. Not that I can't, but that I'll never truly want to, which is hard to accept given that I'd been considering it as a next step and as a means of moving to New York (something I'm not too sure about, but think would be an interesting change). I just went online and looked at some schools and the thought of, not only the application process, but just going to classes, doing research, writing papers, hell - writing another thesis, made me cry. I went through four extremely hard years at the University of Chicago and it has gotten me absolutely nowhere. I have nothing to show for my work except a piece of paper in a leather binder. I can't imagine putting myself through all of that again for what will probably be a comparable lack of reward. Not that any of this should be so surprising to me. I don't believe that grad school is necessary for what I want to do, which is write, and I think it would be only a way of deferring reality for another couple of years - after all, it's only a means to an end and not an end in itself. I guess it's good that I realize this now. I just don't know what I'm going to do instead.

Pflaume
(Ching Shih)
03/15/04 01:58 PM
Re: Graduate School

Exxie, grad school isn't always hard, and doesn't have to involve a thesis. And it can lead to a job. Wanting to be qualified for a job was what sent me into Information Studies to study Archives, and not having to do a thesis was one of the bonuses of the university I chose.

You say you want to be a writer, but your main reasons for deciding against grad school seem to be all the writing you'll have to do. Also, writing isn't something you can immediately earn a living at, if you can ever manage to earn a living with it. Maybe a graduate degree in something leading to a job would be good, because once you're done, you'll be able to pay your rent, and also buy paper and pens (or upgrades to your computer). ;\) My job is currently helping me pay for silver, and jewellery-making courses to go along with it.


blithe spirit
(Ching Shih)
03/15/04 03:32 PM
Re: Graduate School

Exxie - I also wanted to chime in about the good things about grad school. It's true that some departments don't require a thesis -- you can do all course work instead although there will be larger essays required than undergrad. But the really fun thing about grad school is that you can finally concentrate on the subjects that really interest YOU, and there's a lot of flexibility with topics for essays etc. I'm talking about English - other departments may be different. I'm also getting the chance to really hone my research skills too which would be useful for future writing projects. And one of the best things? I get 100 days for taking out library books -- that just rocks!

Masha
(Ching Shih)
03/15/04 04:06 PM
Re: Graduate School

 Quote:
I think it would be only a way of deferring reality for another couple of years - after all, it's only a means to an end and not an end in itself.
On the other hand, this is a very good, smart reason for not attending graduate school. If you can't see yourself accepting the time you're there are important in and of itself, you may find yourself very unhappy.

But, if you're looking at MFA programs, many of them have a very different level of academic expectation. You'll be expected to produce a lot of creative writing, culminating in a manuscript in your chosen genre, but the day-to-day class reading and research papers are not like those expected of undergraduates or graduate students in other departments, on the whole. (Creative Ph.D. programs are, however, much more like English Ph.D. programs, from what I've heard.)

And since my day job is teaching U of C undergraduates, I can understand your reluctance to dive back in. That's a hard four years you just did, and you may just need some time to get some perspective on your career goals.


xenopi
(Ching Shih)
04/12/04 03:19 PM
Re: Graduate School

Go MFA! I've had nothing but fun, even during my mini-meltdowns. Delivering a paper at an academic conference (Ok, the Pop Culture Assoc. conference, but still) last weekend just reinforced my decision for me. I'd have been a miserable wretch in an MA or PhD program - I want to be producing the creative work, not studying Alan Iverson's body as a text (True Stories..!).

I did a critical thesis (smaller, though, 35 pages) and a manuscript-length creative thesis. The critical work proved extremely rewarding and this is from someone who, with newspaper journalism training, had a hard time not condensing every idea into a five-paragraph distillation. I had complete freedom on my topic and honestly, my advisor was much more concerned with my creative work than with the essay, so it wasn't exactly stressful. Many of my classmates don't share this feeling, though, so mileage and variables and such.

If you want to move to New York, have you checked out the New School's MFA? I have a friend who's a graduate, she still has all of her hair.


queenkaleo
(Gráinne ni Mhaille)
04/13/04 09:23 AM
Re: Graduate School

can anyone tell me anything about the graduate fiction writing program at sarah lawrence college? it's awfully expensive. they didn't offer me much financial aid. and i've only applied to one other school.

i'm trying to figure out whether or not it's worth the sacrifice.


Lariet
(Gráinne ni Mhaille)
07/20/04 04:54 PM
Re: Graduate School

I'm actually pondering going back for a masters. My concern is that my bachelors in in journalism, and I would want to get my masters in counseling psychology. I know, it's a hell of a leap. I also know that, in order to make any kind of money in the field, I'd have to have a Ph.D., which scares the hell out of me. Also, I'd have to get loans, which also scares me, and hold down my full-time job, which I know will be beyond difficult. Like I said, I'm still thinking about it. Anyone have any similar (hopefull successful) stories?

VegetarianOnHiatus
(Ching Shih)
07/21/04 10:50 AM
Re: Graduate School

Hi, Lariet. My dad did that. His undergraduate was in math and Russian, and he went back and got ABD in counseling psychology. He's been a psychologist for the past 35 years or so. Loves it.

kers
(Gráinne ni Mhaille)
07/22/04 11:13 AM
Re: Graduate School

Lariet, I did an undergrad degree and a grad degree in English, then turned around and changed career directions completely. I went back to get a master's in education, even though I had absolutely no background in it. It took two years of part-time school with full-time work, but now I'm a (hired!) elementary school teacher and I will be finishing my master's in two years (I'm just taking one class a semester now). And as sick as I am of working and going to school, I'm planning to take a couple of years off and then go back for my doctorate. I love what I'm studying, so it reduces the "suck" factor considerably! Psych may be the same for you.

The great thing about master's programs is that you can come in from a variety of backgrounds (a friend in my English master's program had been an engineering major, for example). You can see if a local school will let you take one or two courses in the department to try it out. This may help you decide whether it's a leap you want to make.

I had no loans from undergrad or grad school (I know! amazing) when I went back for my education degree, and now I'm $15k in the hole. It was definitely worth it, though, because I'm excited about my job and my life again. It was hard to work and go to school, I'll admit; having a desk job helped me because there were lulls at work when I could think about (or even do) schoolwork.

Good luck!


miercoles
(Ching Shih)
07/22/04 12:02 PM
Re: Graduate School

Lariet, what area of counseling are you interested in? Most of the counselors I know (okay, two: a genetic counselor and a family/marriage counselor) just have master's degrees.

Good luck, though! And I can't think of anyone who's gone back to school and regretted it.


Loz
(Ching Shih)
09/10/04 10:01 PM
Re: Graduate School

I've edited this quite a long time after the event, because looking back, I'm not quite comfortable with putting this much detail on the board. I have in fact applied to the programme I originally wanted to do, and though I don't know if I'll get enough funding to go, I know I've made the right decision trying.

Thanks for all the advice then - it was and is much appreciated.


(For those now completely confused, this post originally detailed my troubles finding a balance between the sort of study I want to do, and the type of prestigious American programmes I was being encouraged to enter.)


cat
(Ching Shih)
09/10/04 11:37 PM
Re: Graduate School

Speaking as a non-academic with a Ph.D. who is quite successful in my chosen (or drifted-into field), I can firmly say that it does not make you a failure. Knowing what you want to do and doing it can't possibly be a failure. Stand your ground, Loz! Your ideas sound great and right for you.

I've been through the dissertation mill at a high-powered American university, and let me tell you, it is the exact same sort of bullying, only for longer and on a grander scale. You'll meet faculty who will tell you you're worthless if you're not in the "right" field or getting a job at the "right" university. I decided not to become an academic, because my advisors' valuing of prestige, devaluing of interesting and useful work, and general assery made my blood boil and my self-esteem drop to nothing. It's a wearying, impoverishing, unhappy process, even if you love the work. A good friend of mine from grad school came over from Australia, and I must say I think she found the shock of the American system pretty brutal. Getting a PhD in America is often nasty, brutish, and way too long.

Now I work in a barely linked field that I enjoy (or rather several fields), I'm a freelancer by choice, and I have more work than I know what to do with. And my clients are impressed by my PhD, so it's not been totally worthless. I'm even venturing back into a little very fun academic research, which I am being paid to do.

Would it be possible to apply for one or two US universities and then just--not go? I'm just thinking if you need to do something to get your supervisor semi-on board, enough to write you the letters you need.

Do what you know is right for you. You ask if you're throwing a potential career away by choosing what you want to do. Well, sure, in a sense, but that's OK if you don't want the career. I threw away a potential career when I chose not to apply for academic jobs after grad school, but it was a career that I think would have made me quite unhappy, so I'm very happy with my choice.

To sum up, nobody should ever go to grad school in a program they don't feel totally, completely committed to. It's hard enough if you love what you're doing. It's unbearable if you don't.


FishDreamerAdministrator
(Ching Shih)
09/10/04 11:52 PM
Re: Graduate School

 Quote:
Originally posted by cat:
To sum up, nobody should ever go to grad school in a program they don't feel totally, completely committed to. It's hard enough if you love what you're doing. It's unbearable if you don't.
And that says it all. I don't know the field, Loz, and I'm still sans Masters let alone PhD, but I think you know what you want and you should go for it. The world is a big place and there will always be a need for your skills somewhere, and learning is never, ever wasted.

I know it's a huge decision, but I think you know your needs better than Mr Git. I just hope he's a big enough person to still give you the reference you need if you go contrary to his advice. I can't imagine why he wouldn't.


naomism
(Ching Shih)
09/11/04 11:11 AM
Re: Graduate School

Your supervisor is wrong about an interdisciplinary research being totally worthless. Interdisciplinary programs are all the rage in US academia, especially at research oriented universities.

But really, the bottom line is just what Cat and FishDreamer have said: if the program in Edinburgh will make you happiest, go for it!


Icequeen
(Ching Shih)
09/11/04 11:21 AM
Re: Graduate School

I agree with both Fishdreamer and cat. If you attempt to do a PhD in something that you aren't totally committed to, you will have a really tough time of it and want to drop out.

I don't know about Australia, but here in Canada the program you are talking about going to at Edinburgh has an amazing reputation. I know of several people who have been there, loved it, and come back to a wide variety of jobs that they all love.

I am halfway through an MA in an interdisciplinary field at a university that prides itself on only having interdisciplinary graduate programs, so I'm a bit biased. But a lot of the folks around here think that interdisciplinarity is the way of the future. It makes sense to me. Research is more complete when done with a variety of disciplinary influences. Not everything falls neatly into the category of History (don't worry, my undergraduate is in History so I'm not pulling this out of thin air), particularly if you're not researching dead white men. In fact, History can even be a venue for interdisciplinary research. Still, think about the recent appearances of so-called disciplines that end in "Studies". Women's Studies, Cultural Studies, Canadian Studies, Australian Studies, Labour Studies, Aboriginal Studies etc. Those are really just blankets for interdisciplinarity. And they are attracting lots of attention.

A lot of academics shy away from interdisciplinarity because they think it will make their own research obsolete. It won't really, but it might force them to re-classify it or open it up to being more accessible. I think that as long as we are leading ourselves down a post-colonial path, there is going to be more and more need for interdisciplinarity.

There you have my two cents. It's up to people like us to force academia to progress as the "Old Boys Club" approaches retirement.

P.S. There is a book called Getting What You Came For by Robert L. Peters. It's very American-biased, but it helped me figure out a few things about applying to PhD programs and thiking about what I want to get from them. Even if you're not going to apply to U.S. universities, it might be worth picking up.


cat
(Ching Shih)
09/11/04 01:46 PM
Re: Graduate School

Yes, Icequeen, I agree about interdisciplinarity-- interdisciplinary fields are definitely growing and people are getting jobs coming from them. Also, Loz, bear in mind that a lot of times older faculty think they know what's happening on the academic job market, but they haven't been on the market for twenty or thirty years and have no real idea what it's like. Take statements like "nobody ever gets a job by doing X" with a big grain of salt. (And, in the case of advice from your current supervisor, it sounds like it might help if the grain of salt were sitting on the rim of a margarita.)

By the way, Icequeen, if you're adding a postscript, you can edit your post (hit the icon that looks like a pencil & paper) rather than double posting. Thanks!


miercoles
(Ching Shih)
09/11/04 02:13 PM
Re: Graduate School

I'd just like to second the recommendation for the Robert L. Peters again, and be another voice to emphasize that if you're going to grad school, don't let anyone else tell you what's best for you. Too many advisors assume that you want to stay in academia, or want to be the biggest name in your field, and will advise you accordingly.

Have you talked with anyone involved in the project at Edinburgh? With more details and input from them, you might find it easier to tell Mr. Git, "These are my goals, and this is why the Edinburgh program is best for me."

Good luck!


CheshireCat
(Ching Shih)
09/13/04 03:11 PM
Re: Graduate School

Chiming in with those who want to pursue a graduate degree in something unrelated to their undergrad studies- like many of you, my BA is in English, and I want to purse an MFA in art practice- painting. I am not sure how realistic I am being about this... I only have 6 credits of studio work but I have been working intensively on developing my skills independently for more than a year since graduation, and I've made a lot of progress just in that time. I am attending a portfolio counsel at the Savannah College of Art & Design next weekend, hopefully this will give me some perspective.
Talk about expensive! I am willing to go into some debt for this, especially considering the MFA in studio art is a terminal degree, but I will need at least partial funding. You all suggest making this known to the school? Where is this appropriate? Statement of purpose? Application?
Good luck to everyone in grad school or applying like me. Thanks for your perspectives.


Loz
(Ching Shih)
09/28/04 07:24 AM
Re: Graduate School

Thank you so much for all the advice - it's very, very much appreciated. I think I've come to a workable compromise, one which doesn't involve me making a decision in the next five minutes, which is handy considering I've just started a new job overseas. Anyway, I've got lots to think about, and hopefully I'll be able to let my supervisor know what I want to do rather than what he wants me to do.

Icequeen
(Ching Shih)
09/29/04 08:33 AM
Re: Graduate School

Hi all. I have a ponderance about scholarly writing. I'm about to present a paper at an academic conference for the first time and am worrying that it does not sound scholarly enough. I generally shy away from jargon and overly incomprehensible language but I'm starting to wonder if I've gone too far in the opposite direction. I would love for my academic meanderings to be written in plain language and therefore accessible. But how do I reconcile that with a need to please the scholarly types and therefore make a career for myself?

(I considered making a new thread somewhere called "Scholarly Writing", but I thought it might be better to post here. If anyone thinks that thread ought to be created or it already has been and I couldn't find it, please take action!)


Masha
(Ching Shih)
09/29/04 10:35 AM
Re: Graduate School

We have a thread called "Academic Writing," which was supposed to be a catchall for writing-done-as-a-student and writing-done-as-a-professor. I've bumped it for you.

wembley
(Gráinne ni Mhaille)
11/01/04 06:48 PM
Re: Graduate School

Does anyone have any recommendations for online MBA programs?

I have a B.Eng and M.A.Sc., and I'm looking to get some business training. A significant percentage of engineers end up in management, and I'd like to have more background. Even at my current level, I still spent the last month writing a budget.

Anyways, I've been out of school for 2 years now, and figure that if I'm ever going to do this, the time is now. However, not ready to give up everything and go back to the poor student lifestyle. I can't really do this locally either.

So, does anyone have any advice regarding fully online MBA programs? I'm prepared to put all the work in I would at a regular school, but I need to do it from here (northern boonies). I would also prefer it to not cost a million dollars. I don't particularly care about the prestige, and if I do this online, I don't care about the networking. A lot of the programs I found require exam proctoring, which is not really practical either. I'm in Canada, if this makes a difference.


Library Girl
(Ching Shih)
11/02/04 09:58 AM
Re: Graduate School

Wembley-

I don't have a personal recommendation, but the librarian in me can't resist. www.petersons.com is a great place to find different degree programs, and lets you limit to distance ed programs in your chosen major. It is an american site, but includes canadian schools. So, I did a quick search for an entirely distance MBA program with no on-campus requirement (many schools require a one week on campus orientation) and only found Athabasca in Canada. But I would definitely recommend that you check out Petersons and search some more.

As for the test proctoring, check with your local library-- many will proctor tests for you. I proctor tests for distance learners from other universities who live in my city.


wembley
(Gráinne ni Mhaille)
11/09/04 06:12 PM
Re: Graduate School

Thanks for the recommendation Library Girl.
I checked out the site, but still had to go check each one out. For example, Athabasca actually does have a residency requirement if you go to their website, and that is the part that is really inconvenient for me.

The test procotoring is still a problem. I live in a small town, with a very limited library. It also happens to be in Quebec, so almost everyone here is francophone, which adds an extra layer of complexity.

I have finally decided to enroll at University of Phoenix. I was a bit hesitant, as the fact that they advertise a lot makes them seem a bit like a diploma mill. However I have read so encouraging things, so I'll give it a try. And they were the most set up for working people with random schedules.

At worst, I won't like it, and then I don't have to finish the program. My job in no way depends on this (everyone thinks I'm crazy for doing it anyways). It may not even affect my salary when I'm done. Really, more of a personal learning thing, also it will be useful at work.


Anyways, I'll post how it goes in case anyone else decides at some point to do a fully online degree.


Anne Wentworth
(Ching Shih)
04/18/05 03:35 PM
Re: Graduate School

I'm looking for some general info on applying to MA progams in English. All of the advice I've been able to get from friends/my undergrad advisors/ books has been geared toward PhD applicants. While the thought of havng a PhD appeals, I don't want to teach at a university, nor do I wish to public academically. I'd like an MA to better prepare myself to potentially teach high school english at a prep school, while working on my fiction.

My questions are specifically about the personal statement. How similar to a PhD personal statement ought it to be? I have several friends who are in PhD programs in art history, and their personal statements went into such specifics about their interests and proposed areas of research. I'm possibly wrong, but I was under the impression that an MA program is less about independent research. I know in general what I'd like to study (19th and early 20th British and American) and have some topics or concerns that interest me, but nothing like a proposed thesis.

Any advice would be appreciated.


Masha
(Ching Shih)
04/18/05 06:01 PM
Re: Graduate School

I think you're safe writing a statement that's similar one for a Ph.D. application, addressing your areas of interest. You're right in thinking that they're less about independent research, but many also have a thesis requirement. The MA program I'm working for (while working on my Ph.D.--it's also a program I did a few years ago) includes a thesis, which gives students the chance to do some focused work on a project, work closely with faculty, and revise.

You may want to mention in your statement what your career goals are, and how your research interests inform those goals. You don't need to state your thesis topic, but you want to give them enough information to categorize you in the review process.


crumpet2
(Ching Shih)
04/19/05 09:10 AM
Re: Graduate School

I found that grad school really opened my eyes to faculty politics and exploitation of students. I did my M.Sc. at the same school as my undergrad. I liked my vegetable crops prof and she had money. So I joined her lab. Everything started off fine, but she soon became one one of those absentee profs. I remember standing in the admin office saying that I needed her signature on some purchase orders for supplies for my greenhouse project and the administrative assistant saying (as two other profs smirked my way) "You mean she didn't tell you she won't be back for 6 weeks?"

I had basically no guidance on my thesis or project. She refused to appoint a committee for me. She came up with the dollars for the first year and then suddenly, my paycheck just stopped. Meanwhile my bills piled up. She lied and said it was just a mix-up, and this went on for two months. Then she claimed that she didn't have the money, and that I had never been approved by the government granting comittee for this particular award. Except that the government had been in touch with me wondering why my progress reports hadn't been filed by my prof, and they needed these reports to justify the payment they had made to her account.

I went to the ombudsman, the chair of grad faculty, (my prof happened to be the chair of our department) and made a fuss. Then my prof threatened to fail me on my thesis and sent a note around the department saying my work was shoddy and worthless.

I persisted, and eventually, after having to justify myself over and over to university faculty who treated me like a pile of crap (despite signs on the wall that reminded everyone of how important students are), I succeeded in getting a tribunal process, at which my prof was defended, but they coughed up the cash and said I should indeed have had it 18 months ago. By this time, I had taken a full-time job to support myself and was writing up on the side. I was able to change advisors, and ended up with a committee of three who were all excellent.

I always kick myself for not having done my M.Sc. with another prof, for whom I had worked as an undergrad. He was awesome. I wouldn't have had any money, but it would have been worth it.

I get nauseated just thinking of doing a Ph.D. I am working on a reclassification at my current job which would mean that I could get away without one, and have the same career opportunities as someone with one.


lsugaralmond
(Ching Shih)
04/19/05 09:46 AM
Re: Graduate School

 Quote:
Originally posted by Anne Wentworth:
I'm looking for some general info on applying to MA progams in English.
I don't know how much the USA and the UK differ in this, but when I applied for my MA in English (at a UK university) I did specify my areas of interest, but kept them quite broad. (For example, 'Eighteenth Century Women's Writing' rather than 'Jane Austen') Most of my statement was about what I hoped to get out of the programme and my reasons for choosing that particular university and that particular course. It must have worked, because I got in!


mashenka
(Ching Shih)
04/25/05 07:37 PM
Re: Graduate School

I am trying to decide (and I have to decide pretty soon) if I want to take a year off before grad school. Now, I know most people do this. However, I like stability and I hate uncertainty. One year off will be one more year of uncertainty -- will I get in or won't I? (Getting in and deferring is not a possibility, I've asked). Also, I know my parents would like to see me settled on my chosen path as soon as possible. And to tell you the truth, what scares me the most is not grad school but the application process. As far as I know, it consumes your life. However, that would just be for the first semester; I would then be able to enjoy the second semester fully knowing that my documents are already in and there's nothing more to be done about that.

I definitely want to go to grad school and I have a pretty good idea of what in particular I want to study. I also have a good relationship with several professors. Part of me wants to take some time off. Part of me wants to get settled into a Ph.D. program. And I definitely want to enjoy my final year at university as much as possible.

Also, if I won a Fullbright, for example, or some other prestigious scholarship to study abroad, taking time off would be worth it. But what if I don't, which is more likely? What do I do during that year? I have some ideas (working part-time, traveling, volunteering, some creative and translation projects I have in mind), but what if I end up just drifting and essentially wasting a year?

As you can see I'm trying to figure this out and any feedback would be appreciated. Basically, my question is, has anyone ever regretted taking some time off? Did you find it difficult to get back into the academic swing of things? And does taking time off affect your chances for admission to US Ph.d. programs in any way?


voiceofreason
(Ching Shih)
04/26/05 09:39 AM
Re: Graduate School

I think it really depends on what you do with your time off, and what sort of grad school you're interested in. I took some time "before grad school" and worked in the field that I was intending to go to grad school in (molecular biology). And now I work in a library -- my time in the lab pretty conclusively demonstrated to me that that was not the field for me. I know lots of people who took time to work before grad school and then got into wonderful programs, and some like me who took the time and realized grad school wasn't for them.

I think taking a year off for the sake of taking a year off is not necessarily all that great an idea. Taking a year off because there's something you really want to do or because you want to improve your qualifications for grad school (e.g. by taking classes or getting some kind of useful experience), on the other hand, can be a very good thing.


Icequeen
(Ching Shih)
04/26/05 10:24 AM
Re: Graduate School

mashenka, I took a three year hiatus from academia between my BA and my MA, partly to chill and partly to decide where I wanted to go next. I am glad that I took time off, but I also felt that I had a longer adjustment period to grad school because I had to reorient my brain. It took me a good two or three months to get back into an effective analytical brain mode and they were a tough two or three months. As a result of that, I have decided not to take time off between my MA and my PhD. It would be nice to clear my head a bit, but I don't want to remove myself too much from the academic environment.

So I am of two minds really. I benefitted from the time off in that it ensured that grad school was what I REALLY wanted. It was also nice to get a grip on the "real world" before I went back into the sheltered community of school. But at the same time I felt out of practice when I went back. If you decide to take the year off, I would recommend taking one course (for fun) or keeping up with some academic reading or something. Just to keep your brain exercised in that particular way.


blithe spirit
(Ching Shih)
04/26/05 11:39 AM
Re: Graduate School

I took (GULP) ten years between my BA and MA. This was mostly because I didn't want to get into debt and once I entered the work force, I was having a lot of fun. But I recently went back to do my MA part-time and am now starting a PhD part-time too. I really like the combination of working (and not fretting about rent) and then using a different part of my brain with school. I find too, that I'm a lot less stressed and really appreciate my classes/research in a way that I would probably not have in my early twenties.
It sounds like you know what you want to pursue in grad school - I'd say apply and check it out. You can mostly always (but check with your school) drop to part-time studies which may allow you to do something else interesting at the same time.


cygnet
(Ching Shih)
04/28/05 12:08 PM
Re: Graduate School

I took five years between, and I'm heading back to start my PhD this fall. And I'm nervous as all hell. I've always been a very good student, and I have gobs of hands-on experience in the field, but things like submitting proposals for funding, and designing experiments, and analysis, and conferences, and publishing, scare me pee-less.

I guess it's that I've gotten to do the fun things (fieldwork and learning) up until now, and the prospect of having to do the paperworky writing researchy things makes my mouth dry and my hands clammy. Plus, I know so very many people whose self-esteem is shot by grad school (and asshatted profs), as well as many people who had just terrible experiences, like some of the ones told above.

Ack! Plus, I'm stressing over whether I'm making a mistake and making my poor boyo move across the country and get a new job (and pass a new legal bar) for nothing.


Molly Malone
(Gráinne ni Mhaille)
05/16/05 05:54 PM
Re: Graduate School

Hi guys,

Hope you don't mind if I jump into the discussion and ask a "little" advice. Having never applied for a PhD I don't really get if my experience is the norm, or whatever? I work overseas, so I'm home on a break and thinking about PhD after my next assignment, so I call some schools and find a good match, and now the professor who I would be working under has called me three times to discuss my thesis- and invited me up to meet him and some of the students in June. I have not even put in an application yet, (I meet all the baseline requirements.) I'm assuming this is a good sign yes? No? Nutty Professor?
Secondly,
I really want to do this and start working in Academia (I've had enough of being expatriated, thanks!) but I'm 35 and I feel a little old to be starting an academic career. I will earn about the same as I do now, but the working conditions will be dramatically improved, if anyone will hire a 40 yr old PhD!!! What do you think?
Thanks Heaps!!!!


CheshireCat
(Ching Shih)
05/18/05 01:12 PM
Re: Graduate School

Molly, it sounds like he was really interested in what you are doing your thesis on & wants you to be a student there so he can work with you. My understanding is that grad students are not only getting a degree but they are also very important to faculty as research partners.
When you go visit, I think you will have a better idea of whether the school will be a good fit for you.
Also, I don't think you are old to begin an academic career, especially to begin work on a Ph. D, no small undertaking. Something like that takes a serious level of maturity, and I think your experience outside academia will give you a healthy perspective once you are inside it.

Best of luck! Let us know how it turns out.


dazey
(Ching Shih)
05/18/05 02:09 PM
Re: Graduate School

Molly, as a postgrad student myself and the partner of someone who supervises postgrads, I think that sounds really positive. My partner absolutely loves having interesting-sounding potential students get in touch, both because it's important to her professionally to have students and their publications, and simply because she enjoys having them. And being a PhDer is way, way different to being an undergrad - you are an individual, and your relationship with your supervisor(s) is very, very important. So if this one is enthusiastic, that's a good start.

Molly Malone
(Gráinne ni Mhaille)
05/21/05 12:02 AM
Re: Graduate School

Thanks Guys!!!
Especially about my age, because I was starting to feel well, a bit, "old"
I'm really nervous about this!!! Partly because I have a few academic blips that I need to explain away in my statement of Purpose. Anyone feel like looking at a statement of Purpose?? I've got to get the application in!!!


Icequeen
(Ching Shih)
05/21/05 02:13 PM
Re: Graduate School

Hey Molly Malone! I thought I'd add my two cents about your "blips" that you want to justify. I have a few blips of my own, which don't seem to have held me back at any point. If you are able to explain them without going into great detail, that's a good idea. A selection committee wants to see that you've moved on from the blip-inducing circumstances.

More importantly, one of my favourite profs consistently reassures me that the blip-free students are the most boring ones. He says he would far rather take on a student who has slightly lower marks and evidence of a life (hence the blips) than one who has stellar marks and no worldly experience to speak of. When it comes down to it, the prof has to spend large amounts of time with a student and students with blips tend to be more interesting as people. Furthermore, students with blips often have a better perspective on life (and therefore learning). This is not to say that you should refrain from justifying your blips, just that they might not be quite as detrimental as you think.

Embrace the blips! Be one with the blips! And enjoy grad school!


blithe spirit
(Ching Shih)
05/22/05 08:23 AM
Re: Graduate School

I second everything, everyone else has said. Molly Malone, I'm your age and have just started my PhD part-time. Yes, it will take me years. Yes, I have "blips" and Icequeen is absolutely right when she says profs are more interested in students who have had some life experience. I'm not sure what field you are studying, but if it's English, you may find, like myself, that you are hopeless when it comes to all the latest academic theory/jargon, but hey, you've had all that extra time to read more books, you probably studied more books both in high school/undergrad than your fellow students who are 10 years younger, and you actually remember things like the cold war because you lived through it! And that's all great preparation. I think one needs a certain maturity level to tackle grad school (and the discipline) which comes with age, so frankly, I think it's the perfect time to tackle a PhD. And having a prof who is already interested in your thesis is a HUGE step forward. I've heard of students well into their third or fourth year who still haven't found a supervisor. So yes, do it for yourself, get obsessed with your subject and have a blast!

pinga
(Ching Shih)
05/23/05 12:56 AM
Re: Graduate School

Molly,

just in answer to your question about 40 being too old to do a PhD: being honest, I think in some subjects, in some areas of the world, you might have trouble to find a job and it might be even harder for you than for other PhD graduates because of your age. I work in chemistry and my experience is that at the moment, when they're not hiring many people, they tend to take people who they see as uncomplicated: young single men basically.

That's not to put you off: what I would say is that if it's very important to you to get paying work relevant to your PhD immediately after you graduate, try and get in touch with some people who've just finished PhDs in the area you want to work in, and see how they're finding it. During the PhD is also a good time to get relevant work experience and stuff.


Molly Malone
(Gráinne ni Mhaille)
05/23/05 09:28 AM
Re: Graduate School

Just wanted to thank everyone for their encouragement, I finally got the personal statement done, with all sorts of great stuff (I hope!) in it!!!

Pinga- that was exactly my question. It seems that if I was hiring someone, I'd prefer someone who was a bit younger- able to work longer, etc.

My current job is always available to me, lucky to be in a field facing a shortage, and of course I already have tons of relevant work experience, but I would hope to find work using the PhD soon after. I think I'll contact the school and see what they say.


pinga
(Ching Shih)
06/11/05 03:47 PM
Re: Graduate School

Molly, I'm really glad if my advice was some use. It sounds like you have a pretty good situation. Good luck!

Molly Malone
(Gráinne ni Mhaille)
06/11/05 10:46 PM
Re: Graduate School

Pinga-
It was good to get that advice. Often people ( not here at all!) have said "follow your dreams" well, I'm sort of pragmatic. Working on becoming more dreamy every day \:\)

I sent my application on Friday... now for the nail biting wait...


Molly Malone
(Gráinne ni Mhaille)
06/14/05 06:21 PM
Re: Graduate School

Hoping for a bit MORE advice.

I've got the interview coming up with Three professors. I emailed the scheduler and asked politely if he might tell me who they are (So I can read a bit of their stuff...)
But those of you grad school veterans- What kind of questions are likely to be asked? I'm afraid I haven't done a lot of reading on the latest trends, of which i am trying to do now...so, I'm wondering what is typical for an interview. Do I have to have erudite things to say? (OMG I hope not because I NEVER do!)

Thanks in Advance...


LaSalleUGirl
(Ching Shih)
06/14/05 07:10 PM
Re: Graduate School

Hi Molly Malone ~ I started to type out some suggestions, and then I realized that it might help to know what field/specialty your Ph.D. program will be in. I mentor some of the Ph.D. students who entered the English program after me, and I know from talking to them that the kinds of questions they were asked derived in part from what they professed a specific scholarly interest in. So, rather than needing to know trends from the ENTIRE field of English, they needed to be conversant in recent scholarship in Composition/Rhetoric or in Victorian Women's Literature (or whatever). In some cases, they were asked why they were interested in pursuing x specialty at y university, as well as what they thought they would want to do after completing the Ph.D. Hope that helps!

Molly Malone
(Gráinne ni Mhaille)
06/27/05 06:55 AM
Re: Graduate School

Hi Guys,
Just terribly excited and had to share with someone. I was accepted to Columbia on Friday!!!!!
The interview itself was a cake walk, not at all what I expected, we mostly discussed housing options-which I thought odd...
I'm now in Paris, getting ready for my next contract.. but oh, so excited, and of course, NO ONE in Paris really cares, since it is off thier radar completely.


sunflow
(Ching Shih)
06/28/05 02:56 AM
Re: Graduate School

That's excellent news, Molly Malone. Best of luck with your studies.

Ekaterina
(Ching Shih)
12/01/05 04:20 PM
Re: Graduate School

Thought I'd bump this thread to announce my news. After four years of undergrad, I have decided......to delay the real world a bit. Hence, graduate school. Most likely in interdisciplinary studies.

My undergrad college, if you attend for 7 semesters or more, cuts you a really good deal. If you graduate with a certain high GPA, they'll give you 24 out of 36 graduate credits you need for a masters tuition-free. The catch is that you have to take those 24 credits within a year of graduating, so I'm going straight from being a full-time undergrad student to being a full-time grad student. I found out that my mom's health insurance will cover me until I'm 25 as long as I'm a full time student, and will start working out housing/income stuff in January.

My only worry is that I'll reach 24 without ever having had a 'real' full time job. Will I still be able to get hired then, with mostly unpaid internships? Any advice is much appreciated.


SoIAmGlad
(Ching Shih)
12/01/05 05:24 PM
Re: Graduate School

Congratulations, Ekaterina, it sounds like a rigorous but exciting way to spend the next year.

As for getting hired, I don't think you'll have a problem getting a job, especially if any of your internships appeal to you. You could start out there with some degree of the "real job" stigma waived because you're already familiar with that workplace.

You might find that even with a graduate degree, there are still some entry-level dues to be paid in terms of clerical/assistant level work. Once that's over with, I'll bet that you're a stronger candidate for promotion or higher level positions more quickly because of your extra schooling. Congratulations again!


cat
(Ching Shih)
12/01/05 08:09 PM
Re: Graduate School

Ekaterina, I finished my PhD at the ripe old age of 26 (having entered at 21, so no real jobs beforehand) and used an unpaid internship at my university's press as a springboard to real jobs. If you can use contacts and have any experience at all, plus an advanced degree, employers will understand (and probably be impressed by) how you've been spending your time.

literaryvamp
(Ching Shih)
12/04/05 01:41 AM
Re: Graduate School

I was wondering if anyone knows anything about which Canadian businesses will pay for you to take courses to finish a masters' degree. I hear it's quite common in the states, but aside from universities & colleges, I haven't heard much about it in Canada. Money is so short, and I'm thinking about taking investing in a beginner's bookkeeping or accounting course, so I can work for payroll at a university and grab free courses while still managing to eat. Besides, I should be able to apply that accounting course to gothic literature in some way, right??

literaryvamp
(Ching Shih)
12/07/05 06:47 PM
Re: Graduate School

Or perhaps I'm deluding myself? I thought Staples was one of the companies, but I can't seem to find any information on it.

LibraryGoddess
(Ching Shih)
12/17/05 07:00 PM
Re: Graduate School

Just be careful about course reimbursement. Most companies don't reimburse for everything, and some only pay for a percentage of a few classes, or up to 2 or 3 classes a year. So, you will have to shell out some money anyway. AND, there are usually clauses in there where you have to continue to work for the company for 1-2 years afterward of have to pay them back. So, if you are going to take money for it, make sure you want to stay there.

voiceofreason
(Ching Shih)
12/18/05 04:56 PM
Re: Graduate School

I think reimbursement by corporations varies widely -- and so does the way universities allow you to take classes. I've worked for three colleges/universities, and one only allowed me to take two classes per year, but they could be anywhere I wanted (this was a specialized institution that didn't offer a lot of general education courses); the other two were larger, more general institutions that allowed me to take up to two classes per semester, but only at that university (which was a problem for me because the schools didn't have the programs of study I wanted to follow).

As I finish up my library/info science degree, I'm thinking a lot about where I want to work next, and what my next degree will be. But I'll definitely be taking a break for a year or two -- working full time and taking classes is wearing.


Erin W
(Ching Shih)
11/20/06 01:43 PM
Re: Graduate School

Bumping this up to join the debate of "to postpone; not to postpone" grad school. I finished my BA three years ago and I am just now putting the finishing touches on my MA-en-route-to-PhD program applications. I have a pile of sealed transcripts sitting next to me as I write.

My senior year was too crazy for me to even think about grad school, and I'm glad I didn't go back then, because I wouldn't have been ready. Just a few prep meetings etc. have really opened my eyes to how businesslike and careerlike advanced degree programs are. It really is NOT just another few years of undergrad college fun. Which is fine, because I'm 25 and I know how to work now. I think I'll be a better asset to the program because I understand the give-and-take.

One piece of advice I can give for late-returners is to take a grad-level course as a guest student while you're in the application process. I've taken two and it's provided me with two excellent recommenders who didn't need their memories jogged as to who I was; also I have several recent papers I've written which I can submit as my sample of academic writing. Also, professors love to advise on the subject of grad school apps because it's one thing they've all successfully completed.

Hoping to get my applications finalized before I leave town for Thanksgiving! Wish me luck!


LibraryGoddess
(Ching Shih)
12/14/06 10:06 AM
Re: Graduate School

Good luck, Erin W.

Your suggestion is a good one. Before doing the whole application process and matriculating, most schools will allow people to take up to several courses. For anyone on the fence about wanting to go or not, taking just one course to start out with as a non-matriculated student is the way to go. Then, if you like it, you can start to get the application ready and even take courses the next semester while they evaluate the application.


Brie
(Ching Shih)
02/03/07 11:35 PM
Re: Graduate School

Bumping this in the hope that someone can answer my questions.

I will finish my undergrad degree (BA) at the end of October this year (I'm in the southern hemisphere in case you were wondering why I finish in October). For a while I have been intending to go on to further study, but I have suddenly realised that I should really start deciding what sort of study. For those who have done an honours year (in the British University tradition, not American) did you feel it was worth it? I know I'll easily get in and there is a very good chance I could end up with first class honours. My other option is to apply to a Masters speech language therapy programme (it's two years). At the moment my preference is Honours (although I really want to do both), so basically I would just like to know people's opinions on honours years. Worth it or not?


naomism
(Ching Shih)
03/08/10 10:55 PM
Re: Graduate School

I'm currently deployed to Iraq. Last May while I was in Kuwait waiting to move into Iraq, West Point (where I was an assistant professor for four years) offered for me to come back and teach via a PhD program. I spent last summer and fall cramming for the GRE general and literature subject exam, making trips to Baghdad under some pretty scary conditions (our helicopter was shot at) to take the exams, doing my graduate applications online, etc. Luckily, I had an external hard drive with me with all of my graduate school papers so I had writing samples and my CV that just needed some updating. My recommenders (I had five) got their letters in on time. One of my friends from my master's program (who has a PhD now herself), helped me craft my personal statement.

I applied to nine schools and now I'm playing the waiting game. I will have to make a decision by 15 April and notify my schools. The score thus far:

UMass - accept (I have my master's from UMass)
UWisconsin-Madison - accept
USouth Carolina - accept
UMich - reject

...and still waiting to hear from five other schools.

I got the notice from UMass first. It was such a relief. I felt right then that even if I didn't get into another school, I'd be content going back to Amherst: I know the area, I know the people in the department; I already meet a lot of the requirements for the program since all of my master's work "counts"; despite the climate, I'm excited about the prospect of living there again.

Later the same day, I received the notification that I had also been accepted by UWisconsin-Madison. They are recruiting me hard. I've been in contact with the director who has answered lots of questions and even allayed some of my fears about the two language requirement and how I'll meet it on a short timeline (I have three years to do the PhD). I'm at the point where I'm starting to look at elementary school possibilities (my daughter will be in first grade this fall) and where to live that's convenient to the university and in a good school district (where a professor would like to live).

Getting rejected by UMich was a good thing. I only applied there because my ex-husband lives in Detroit and asked me to do so on the chance that I'd get in and he could see our daughter more regularly (despite the fact that he has since tried to sue me for custody while I'm deployed). Michigan has the top-ranked program of the schools I applied to and it seemed, well, really hard. I'm not a slacker, but I also know the realities of being a single parent and I don't want to have to kill myself in grad school trying to meet requirements and never get to spend time with my kid. Yes, it would have been nice to have my ex nearby to actual do some of the childcare, but then he would have been in a more secure position to sue me for custody again when my program was over and I would be moving back to West Point. Not unhappy about that "reject" at all.

USC - well, I've lived in Columbia before. I applied there because my daughter is spending this year that I'm in Iraq in Greenville, SC. It would be the easiest transition for her since she'd get to see her cousins on a regular basis (Greenville and Columbia are about an hour and a half apart). She goes to a Montessori school now. Private schools would be the only way to go in Columbia as well. However, I'm just not excited about going back to Columbia the way that the possibility of going back to Amherst excites me. I think I can scratch USC off the list.

I have also applied to Indiana University Bloomington, University of Colorado-Boulder, Ole Miss, Penn State and University of Florida.

Any thoughts/suggestions/information about the schools/programs/locations is appreciated.


essay
(Ching Shih)
03/09/10 12:28 AM
Re: Graduate School

Well, what excites you may be the key ingredient here. But I will say that my cousin lives just outside of Madison and after visiting this summer, I would say that it seems a nice part of the world.

An embarrassment of riches is what you have here, naomism. You must be doing something right, and I doubt that you will go too far wrong, whatever your choice.


LaSalleUGirl
(Ching Shih)
03/09/10 11:30 AM
Re: Graduate School

I agree with essay, naomism. It sounds like you've got a number of good choices on the table.

For what it's worth, everyone I know who has lived in Madison (which is number of people, b/c they have one of the best-known grad programs in my field) has loved it. It's certainly a beautiful city, and if you've already done New England, then you can probably handle the winters.

Wait, I just noticed the part where you took the literature GRE. Are you doing an English/Literature Ph.D.? (For some reason, I thought you were a History prof...)


CaitlinM2
()
03/09/10 05:19 PM
Re: Graduate School

Can't speak to the programs, but I have family in Madison (my father grew up there), and based on my visits will echo that it's a nice city with a lots going on for its size due to UW and being the capital. It's also famous for its farmers' market in season.

naomism
(Ching Shih)
03/14/10 08:44 AM
Re: Graduate School

LaSalleUGirl - I have a master's degree in English literature and will be going for the PhD in that field. My BA was a double major in English and history though.

CaitlinM2 - I have been to the farmer's market. I went during the two times I presented at WisCon over respective Memorial Day weekends. Loved it!

...and an update: I was accepted by Ole Miss this week. Oxford is a nice town, the faculty is great though not quite the same fit as Madison would be, and the requirements are the easiest of all the programs I applied to. I have a colleague who's at Ole Miss currently (Faulkner scholar so definitely the right place for him) that I've put some questions to. I really want to know how the elementary schools are (which is another strike against USC). One drawback is that the nearest synagogue is an hour and a half away.


naomism
(Ching Shih)
04/17/10 11:55 PM
Re: Graduate School

After much deliberation (and an acceptance from Penn State) I went with UW-Madison. Their program seems the best fit for me, even if it will be a challenge. Penn State, which has been a front-runner during the admissions process, took so long to notify me that I'd gotten in, that I'd already written them off as an option. I'm still a little trepidatious about all of Madison's requirements, but as one of my friends very sagely put it, "you only get your PhD once." I'm going for the challenge.

Erin W
(Ching Shih)
04/19/10 06:31 PM
Re: Graduate School

naomism, I want to say congrats for the many opportunities you earned and for the good decision you made. I am two weeks away from finishing my MA at a school that, it turned out, was a pretty poor fit for me and my interests. Believe me, no amount of other benefits outweigh the feeling that you're not speaking the same language as everybody else.