For Those Interested In Grad School...

Discussion in 'Education and Academia' started by forzaboston, Mar 30, 2007.

  1. forzaboston

    forzaboston New Member

    Mar 16, 2007
    Washington, DC
    looks like the latest rankings are out...

    id like to go back to grad school at some point. i wonder if i could get into any of these schools...
     
  2. striker

    striker Member

    Aug 4, 1999
    I hope that you are not choosing grad schools on the basis of these rankings!!
     
  3. nicephoras

    nicephoras A very stable genius

    Jul 22, 2001
    Eastern Seaboard
    These rankings aren't that bad, actually, at least for my field.
     
  4. quentinc

    quentinc New Member

    Jan 3, 2005
    Annapolis, MD
    I always thought Princeton had a relatively insignificant grad program?
     
  5. nicephoras

    nicephoras A very stable genius

    Jul 22, 2001
    Eastern Seaboard
    Depends in what field. IIRC, their American history department is fantastic, unless I'm confusing it with another university.

    needs would know
     
  6. SoCalian

    SoCalian New Member

    May 17, 2003
    San Diego, CA
    looks like stanford has a good poli sci program. I would like to stay in California.
     
  7. uclacarlos

    uclacarlos Member+

    Aug 10, 2003
    east coast
    Club:
    FC Barcelona
    Nat'l Team:
    Spain
    My field -- not linked here -- is ... o.k. and more or less on the money.

    My dept. got leaked the rankings awhile back, and we were um... kinda happy, I guess?

    We shot up to 5th. But there was some school in 3rd that didn't deserve to be in the top 20!! It was based on "faculty publications" but I don't think they did a good job of assessing the quality.

    Oh, and in that same category, our faculty had "zero books published"... when we had 4 or 5.
     
  8. quentinc

    quentinc New Member

    Jan 3, 2005
    Annapolis, MD
    Aren't you in linguistics?
     
  9. needs

    needs Member

    Jan 16, 2003
    Brooklyn
    American history at Princeton is excellent (even though friends have told me it's a more miserable experience than other grad schools, as it's in Princeton). I couldn't find a link to their rankings, but it's probably top 2, with Yale being the other. The biggest name there is probably Sean Wilenz, but Daniel Rodgers is brilliant and Kevin Kruse will be one of the big names in history within 10 years.

    As with almost any program in the humanities and social sciences, what matters most in a good grad program is having other really smart grad students around, then who you work with, and then who's on your diss committee.

    The program that's really falling off in terms of American history is Stanford, which apparantly couldn't get enough grad students to make up an American history cohort last year (they only got one acceptance). There's really no one that you'd want to work with there other than Richard White or Al Camarillo, and Al's about to retire. The rest of the faculty has some Pulitzers, but for the most part do really boring work and have a terrible record training grad students.
     
  10. needs

    needs Member

    Jan 16, 2003
    Brooklyn
    Those interested in starting grad school in academic disciplines should know about the job market, the best place to see the reality is here, on this job search wiki charting the development of job searches in a variety of humanities and social sciences...

    http://wikihost.org/wikis/academe/wiki/start

    The lesson ... don't go into American Studies (unless you go to Yale).

    History is listed under "AHA Fields"
     
  11. uclacarlos

    uclacarlos Member+

    Aug 10, 2003
    east coast
    Club:
    FC Barcelona
    Nat'l Team:
    Spain
    Hells no.

    I eat linguists for lunch. I hate 'em. ;)

    But... they are extremely useful for debates pertaining to culture on BigSoccer. 'Course... it goes right over everybody's head, so....
     
  12. uclacarlos

    uclacarlos Member+

    Aug 10, 2003
    east coast
    Club:
    FC Barcelona
    Nat'l Team:
    Spain
    Wow!!!!!!!!

    I'm very familiar w/ the job search wiki. I've used it extensively, but damn... AmStudies... OUCH!!!
     
  13. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    I'm trying to figure out how someone could do 7 years worth of graduate work in AmStuds and only upon nearing the end of the dissertation find out that there aren't a lot of jobs. Either his program habitually mistreats grad students or he decided to skip several meetings where this was discussed. Too bad about the field, though. American Studies was a great idea.

    I'm having great fun with various English department stuff. I found a friend of mine I lost track of in the Creative Writing wiki, and I got a good laugh in the comp and rhetoric section when people were calling expository writing gigs at Harvard and Duke "shit jobs." Anyone who's done the adjunct dance at a community college would find that both irritating and amusing.
     
  14. needs

    needs Member

    Jan 16, 2003
    Brooklyn
    Yeah, I was shocked by that level of ignorance. Did he/she never meet any other students in his/her program?

    And yeah, the privilege evinced on some of the threads is pretty amazing. Not to sound all Marxist, but these are people who exist in blissful ignorance of the conditions of production in which they labor.

    To see some really good outrage, go to the AHA Fields, US/North America, and check out the 20th century US history posting at Chicago, where they made all their junior interviewees write 5-page essays on the state of the field in advance of their interview, and then did something very typical of the U of Chicago (I won't give it away in advance).
     
  15. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Good call. The Kenyon and the University of Colorado - Denver job searches in the same area have some, erm, interesting exchanges, too. A lot less gossipy, but a good bit of bitterness. Some of it justified, some not.

    I'm dissapointed that the English lit searches aren't generating the same dynamic exchanges. I know of two completely botched searches this past year, and wiki has no comments to indicate just how botched they were. I'd be a much better person if this didn't disappoint me as much as it does.
     
  16. needs

    needs Member

    Jan 16, 2003
    Brooklyn
    The CU-Denver job (which I applied for and a friend of mine got) was only annoying in that an affirmative action form email showed up in late February, when they'd clearly already completed their search. As for the Kenyon thread, "cry me a river." So you had to pay for a trip to the AHA to be interviewed then didn't get the job because there was an inside candidate. How special. Welcome to the plight of a majority of people on the market.

    I'm really glad I didn't get interviewed for Chicago's job, in that it would have been really annoying to write that thing and then find out later that they'd cancelled the search because they'd hired two senior people in other fields. I also heard from a friend that one of the interview questions was "How does your work revolutionize the field of 20th century US history?"

    I also enjoy how often "pretentious" gets thrown around, usually in reference to a search committee that's taking its time informing people of who they're interviewing.

    For the record, Worchester State was the only position that really pissed me off, in cancelling their search literally a week after their application deadline. I momentarily contemplated sending them a bill to refund me the fees for having my letters of rec sent.
     
  17. Pierre-Henri

    Pierre-Henri New Member

    Jun 7, 2004
    Strasbourg, France.
    Don't all grad students in humanities react that way ? I certainly did. You know that jobs don't exist but somewhere, in a tiny parcel of your brain, you think : not me, I'll find a job because I'm special. Even if you know that stellar grades mean absolutely nothing, your brain keeps repeating you : yeah, but my stellar grades aren't meaningless.

    And you carry on because you're addicted to work, because you can't imagine a single day of your life without something new to learn, and because writing is your only joy in life.

    And then you defend your diss, you speak during 4 hours in front of very famous and knowledgeable people in your area, you answer the nasty questions coming from the comittee "bad cop" (knowing that it is like a role playing game and that he's being nasty on purpose), you get your paper "summa cum laude" and think, once again, that you are someone special...

    ... and then, after a few days of fun at being officially called "Doctor", you suddenly leave your 6 years-long hypnotic slumber, look at some stats and realize : "Oh my God ! Trite-U received four hundred applications for a single job ! I'm a dead man !".

    Naturally, you knew this all along, but the tiny parcel in your brain simply refused to listen. And you can repeat all of this to young graduate students, they won't listen either. Did we listen to our advisers ? Of course not.
     
  18. needs

    needs Member

    Jan 16, 2003
    Brooklyn
    I completely agree that we all hold in our mind "but not me" at some level when it comes to the academic job market, but most grad students are also aware enough of the realities not to whine about how difficult it is getting a job amidst a wiki of other people going through the same thing. Especially in a field like American Studies which is essentially competing against both American historians and American literary scholars for the few jobs in their discipline.

    My suspicion is that person was in their first year on the job market, which is in many ways the most crushing, when you dedicate hours and hours crafting what you feel is the perfect letter for your dream job and receive no response except a letter in late April informing you of the "tremendous number of qualified applicants" and that "the department has made a hire that best suits its needs." After a few years, and seeing others' experiences, you realize what a crap shoot it really is, and to not let it consume your every waking hour.
     
  19. uclacarlos

    uclacarlos Member+

    Aug 10, 2003
    east coast
    Club:
    FC Barcelona
    Nat'l Team:
    Spain
    Update it!!! Let ppl know!!

    The true lesson to be learned as far as grad school is that any "... Studies" degree is ... well... worthless.

    You're much better off getting a degree in a primary field and tailoring your interests towards a "...Studies"
     
  20. Pierre-Henri

    Pierre-Henri New Member

    Jun 7, 2004
    Strasbourg, France.
    I don't know the american system well enough to talk about it but, here in France, faculties are responsible for the situation. Grade inflation is simply ludicrous (1). I had words with grad students in social sciences who were unable to write a decent french (HS level), who were unable to follow a simple and logical train of thoughts (cause/consequence, fact/opinion, synchronic/diachronic, etc.), who possessed no culture whatsoever, but who repeatedly used their "graduate authority" as an argument.

    Who is responsible ? The students, because they have been fooled, or the faculties that fooled them ? Search committees are flooded by applications for only one reason : because universities stamp diplomas like there is no tomorrow.

    Between 9 000 and 10 000 phds are awarded in France every year (roughly 60% in hard sciences, and 40% in humanities and social sciences). In truth, very few of them actually are good enough to expect a job in academia. Since Phds have almost no value on the private job market, what's the point ?

    Once you know this, the main difficulty is to determine which group you belong to :
    1) the huge majority of academic canon fodders, whose only purpose is to fill the ranks before they are dumped like crap.
    2) the "real" grad students, ie those who have a real chance to land an interesting job.

    And, of course, no faculty member will ever tell you : "we accepted your application because we needed to reach our students quota but, in fact, you're a worthless moron." Faculties simply assume that the students will learn the truth by themselves, in spite of years and years of lies. "What ? didn't you realize that all the good grades I gave to you were phony from A to Z ? Ha, how naïve you are !".

    It's a doc-eat-doc-world, allright. However, this global hypocrisy is something you can't understate.

    ----------------
    (1) french universities are non-selective by law. Unlike top-tier US universities, they have to accept any application. Even the Sorbonne has to deal with thousands of illiterate undergrads.
     
  21. Pierre-Henri

    Pierre-Henri New Member

    Jun 7, 2004
    Strasbourg, France.
    Anyway, I can't rep you, Needs, but thanks for the link. I'm planning to move to this barbaric wasteland Americans call home in the next few years, and the whole list of postoc in humanities will undoubtly help me.

    Of course, the probability of success is scarce (0.25, 0.50 % ?), but I'm sure I can make it. You know why ? Because I'm special :rolleyes: .
     
  22. uclacarlos

    uclacarlos Member+

    Aug 10, 2003
    east coast
    Club:
    FC Barcelona
    Nat'l Team:
    Spain
    In a pm, somebody asked for clarification on this...


    American Studies, Women's Studies, African-American Studies, Latin American Studies, etc.

    You're far better off studying English lit (or any national lit, such as Spanish or French) or History w/ an emphasis on race and/or gender and/or "diaspora studies".

    In fact, race, gender, diaspora, transatlantic are all red hot these days, and will be for sometime. However, they may come under a different name. For instance, Queer Theory was h-uge in the early to mid-90's but is somewhat passe' now. BUT... if you work on queer issues, just re-articulate your ideas through the lens of masculinities, for example.
     
  23. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    I laid low on the gossip, but I let people know the searches were failed, and closed. Didn't name names on who screwed it up. It's not like they're major players.

    I applied for a program at the University of Minnesota called "Comparative Studies in Discourse and Society," which they were trying to build as a cultural studies program. Not sure whatever became of it. Didn't get in: made the mistake of mentioning a literary text in my statement of purpose.

    Edit: I'll be darned. They're still there. I wonder if, in their 15 years of existence, any of their grad students ever found a tenure track job.

    http://cscl.cla.umn.edu/grad/csds/index.htm

    Actually, a friend of mine got a job at a good liberal arts college with an American Studies degree from Michigan State. Of course, it helped that he had a background in journalism, tons of teaching experience, and a book contract for his diss with University of Minnesota Press. He'd be the first to say that luck had a lot to do with it. But he made a lot of his luck by working hard and getting a lot done before going on the market.
     
  24. needs

    needs Member

    Jan 16, 2003
    Brooklyn
    I think being done and having teaching experience is the recipe for being competitive in most fields. This was the first year on the market with a defended diss and I went from having 0 and 1 AHA interviews the past two years to having 7 interviews and eventually two offers.

    In fields like 19th and 20th century US history where there's a glut of PhDs, I know many places won't even consider people who aren't done. That's less true in fields like Latino history or Middle Eastern history where the demand, in some cases, outstrips the supply.
     
  25. NGV

    NGV Member+

    Sep 14, 1999
    Of course, the academic job market in English lit or history is also pretty brutal for most people.

    A general piece of advice - before entering any Ph.D. program in any subject, make sure to ask the department to provide their placement record from recent years. How many people graduated, how many went looking for jobs, how many found jobs, where those jobs were, what percentage of the jobs were tenure-track, and so forth. The more information you can get, the better.
     

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