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PhilosophyGround >> time for PhD for me?


2/12/08 3:04 PM
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twinkletoesCT
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Edited: 12-Feb-08
Member Since: 12/26/2002
Posts: 7044
Modern Self-Defense Center
 
I just passed 6 years since I completed my bachelors in Phil, and now I am JONESING for more. It actually started a couple years ago, but this past summer I read some new articles by Fred Feldman, who mentored me as an undergrad, and it got me alllll fired up to write and study more. I want my PhD!!!!! I want to use the next year to prepare some applications for next January (to enter a program in Sept 09). I found one program (UCSD) that is my DREAM department...all the professors are into Ethics and Epistemology (my two faves). Here's my plan for the next year: 1) Take the GRE's. I test well, so I don't think this will be an issue. 2) Get some letters of recommendation from my old professors (this is probably the hardest part...I should have had them write these back when I was an active undergrad!). 3) Get some letters of recommendation from the middle school and university where I've been teaching in the past few years. Let's show that I've been academically active and that I am an engaging and skilled teacher. 4) Publish a major paper. I have an essay I outlined a couple months ago that would take some major work, but I think I could get it published. If I can get work published, I think this gives me an edge. 5) Read as much as I can find. It's time to brush up on all my old materials, and a lot of new ones. I really want to do this. Anyone have suggestions? ~Chris
2/13/08 12:05 AM
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thesleeper
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Edited: 13-Feb-08
Member Since: 08/31/2007
Posts: 611
Figure out some way to get some facetime with your profs (for the letters of rec). Audit a class, go to their conferences, etc.
2/13/08 2:24 PM
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twinkletoesCT
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Edited: 13-Feb-08
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My profs liked me, and like visitors. My plan was to drop in and chat. They were the chatty type :)
2/13/08 3:13 PM
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thesleeper
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Edited: 13-Feb-08
Member Since: 08/31/2007
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As long as you have a good relationship with them already, that is great. However, they have to be able to say something about your ability as a graduate student and likelihood to succeed.
2/14/08 8:25 AM
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twinkletoesCT
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Edited: 14-Feb-08
Member Since: 12/26/2002
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Right. Thanks!
2/26/08 7:16 AM
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Indrek R.
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Edited: 26-Feb-08 08:36 AM
Member Since: 07/04/2002
Posts: 1768
I was just through the whole application process from Sept-January and am now waiting for the results (which explains my absence from the Atama forum :)) Thus far I've been accepted to USC (WOOOHOOOO!!!!), placed on the waiting list at Pittsburgh and waiting on 5 more. (1) CHOICE OF SCHOOLS: * Philosophical Gourmet Report (http://www.philosophicalgourmet.com) This will help you to get a perspective on the relative strengths/weaknesses of respective programs. * Apply at least into 5 schools, if not more. It takes some extra money, but not that much extra work. Most of the documents will be the same (you only need to tweak the statement of purpose a bit) and going for one school is never a safe bet - you never know what might influence THEIR decision this year or how they might perceive you etc. (2) APPLICATION *I guess in your situation the hardest part is really getting good letters - your old prof's just might not remember you that well, in which case their letters will come out too general. Work on reminding them what you were like, show what courses you took and how you did etc. And do try to get all required three letters from your undergrad profs - they will be mainly interested in this type of assessment of your research potential and skill in philosophy. Let that one from the middle school be an extra to show what you've been up to in the meantime. *With the GRE the most important part is preparation. Just learn as many words as you can with the program GreBible and take as many prep tests as possible - 3-4 weeks should be enough for this. From what I gather anything below 1300 as a sum is not really acceptable in the sense that in some places they might not even take a look at your writing sample etc. * SOP's are easy to write and not that important from what I gathered. They mainly want to see what your academic interests are and that they are a good match for you. * WRITING SAMPLE is the most important part of your file. This will make the final difference. So this is what you should center your attention on, instead of focusing on getting a paper published (which is GOOD IF you get it published in a RESPECTED journal, but otherwise virtually worthless from what I gather). Try to get as much feedback as possible from professional philosophers - your undergrad teachers. SOME VERY VERY USEFUL LINKS: http://schwitzsplinters.blogspot.com/search/label/applying%20to%20grad%20school http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2007/04/phd_admissions__1.html#comments http://leiterreports.typepad.com/blog/2007/09/advice-on-perso.html Let me know if I can help you more and good luck Indrek P.S Where dyu have your BA from?
2/26/08 9:58 AM
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The Dark Canuck
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Edited: 26-Feb-08 10:33 AM
Member Since: 10/03/2004
Posts: 256
I don't have much to add to Indrek's post--I think he covers most of the important points and gives sound advice. I would say that, given the relative importance of your writing sample, if it can be a published paper so much the better. However, I suspect that the real value of a published paper lies in the fact that if it is good enough to be published in a respected journal, then it is almost certainly a fantastic writing sample. That is, I am not sure how much independent value would be attached to its being a *published* paper, as opposed to just being a great paper. But it certainly wouldn't hurt. Indrek is correct that it really wouldn't help much if the journal was some random non-peer reviewed journal however. I was fortunate enough to have a paper published in a fairly good journal (American Philosophical Quarterly) as an undergrad, and it certainly strengthened my application. A quick note regarding the GRE: the importance of your score on this test varies across departments and professors within departments. For some it is a crucial part of the application, while others do not even want the score (as is the case with my department). However, I think the general consensus is this: a really poor score is apt to hurt your application; a really great score probably does not help you very much in the long run; a middling score is unlikely to help or hurt you, especially if your letters and writing sample are top-notch. All that to say, try not to stress too much about this stupid test :) It has been a few years since I went through the process, but I don't think much has changed, so feel free to ask any questions you might have. Good luck. -Edited b/c I am tired and it was even less clear than it is now.
2/27/08 9:18 PM
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twinkletoesCT
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Edited: 27-Feb-08
Member Since: 12/26/2002
Posts: 7086
Modern Self-Defense Center
Thanks guys.

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