The Blog

GradApp Hacker, the Blog


 

How to Remember What You Read

Not too long ago, after one of my lectures on Islamic History, a student observed that I never use notes to teach and asked, “How do you remember it all?” It’s a perennial question for graduate students: how can you possibly remember everything you read? In that moment, my response was, “I just do.” Well,

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Finish Your Thesis (yes, that’s an order!)

If you’re struggling to envision what the end product of your MA thesis should look like, read on! Most MA programs have a dedicated timeline for when drafts of your thesis are due and outlines for what to include in your thesis. If your program hasn’t provided that information, this brief framework from my time

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Aren’t I Your Student?

Are you a student who has ever felt like or been told that you’re not that professor’s student? Join the club. Each type of university has its own set of problems regarding access to faculty or faculty engagement with students. Large, commuter schools just have too many students, so professors have a hard time connecting

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Signs of Abuse in Academia

Note: This is a post about my personal experiences and the way my circumstances dictated how I approached abusive academic situations in graduate school. I don’t have advice about how best to deal with academic abuse because each instance is unique and because our circumstances are probably not the same. But know that you’re not

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What is Imposter Syndrome?

“I don’t belong here.” “I shouldn’t have gotten an A in that class.”“They made a mistake accepting me to this program.” “I didn’t deserve a good grade on that project.”“Everyone else is so much smarter than me.”“I’m a fraud.”“I don’t know what I’m doing.”“I’m not smart enough to finish my degree.”“I suck at research.”“I don’t

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How to Pick an Academic Advisor

One of the most common misconceptions I see among students searching for academic advisors– especially in the Humanities and Social Sciences – is that they need to find someone who works on the same “topic” (geography, time, or whatever else might be the litmus) as them. The “topic” of a project is often defined by

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How I Finished a Master’s Program without More Student Debt

*Disclaimer* Not everyone will be able to follow the same model, but don’t let that stop you from trying to find other ways around taking on more student debt! The Program As an undergraduate I applied to about a dozen grad programs, and I ultimately settled on the Master’s program at the University of Chicago’s

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Are Master’s Degrees Worth It?

Years and years ago (it wasn’t that long ago) when I was in primary school, teachers would often try to scare us by saying (or yelling), “If you don’t learn this, you’ll have to learn how to ask, ‘Do you want fries with that?’!” Let’s leave aside the implication that there is no dignity in

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Wait, I can’t apply to PhD programs this year?

Let’s hear the collective “dammit” from the Fall 2020 applicants!  Here’s the rub: a number of institutions across the country have put a moratorium on new applicants for the 2020-2021 cycle. What does this mean for you?  Well, if you were planning to apply to PhD programs in Fall 2020 (the September-December cycle), you might

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Tips on Writing Samples for Grad Apps

As you start browsing different graduate programs that interest you, you’ll notice that a common requirement for your application is a writing sample. Some programs will require you to submit a 10-page sample while others will want to see as many as 40 pages. Another item you will notice is whether the application states that

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How to Write an Academic Resume (CV, Curriculum Vitae)

I dare say the first thing people look at when they open your application is your CV. It is the easiest way to get a quick overview of who you are, what you’ve done, and maybe what you’re capable of doing. There are three things you should keep in mind when you’re writing your CV.

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How to Ask for Letters of Recommendation

The one part of grad applications that should be at the top of your to-do list is asking for letters of recommendation. Finding the faculty who will write letters for you is stressful (after all, how best to you approach someone to sing your praises?), but it needs to be a priority. You should start

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How to Write a Statement of Purpose for Grad Programs

“Ugh. I hate writing about myself.”  Girl, if you’re letting a statement of purpose stump you, you might have to reconsider graduate school.  Grad school is all about you. It’s about how you read, how you write, how you interpret information, and how you create new knowledge. How do you expect to get through an

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What do you actually do in a PhD program?

One of the most common questions I’ve been asked is, “What do you actually do in a PhD program?”  Well, here it is. First, I’ll run through some generalities about Humanities or Social Sciences PhD programs.  At the end of this post, you will see an outline of what my own program structure looked like

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How to Network for MA or PhD Applications

One of the most important parts of applying to a graduate program is networking. This process often can be the most difficult part of an application process, especially if you have anxiety about emailing professors (or anyone for that matter).  In the “Before Times” when travel was easy, you could make your way to universities

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