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What do you DO with that, anyway?
Jan. 6th, 2008 @ 10:39 am
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January 6th, 2008 06:07 pm (UTC)
Assorted random bits of advice from my two rounds of grad school interviews:
1. Research the faculty and know their areas of interest, major works, etc. Read some of their writing if you can. That's good for you because you'll be able to figure out whose writing you'll like, and it's good for the interview because you'll look like you've taken the time to actually understand the program. Besides, everyone likes to know that someone reads what he/she's written.
2. Talk to as many graduate students as possible. Do they seem happy? No matter what the faculty is trying to sell you on, ill-tempered, ill-funded, or scared grad students mean trouble. Ask yourself, "Do I want to live like they do?" because if you get accepted and go there, you will.
3. Have a good answer for "Why this program in particular?" Remember that unlike a lot of job interviews, grad school interviews are as much about the school being good for you as they are about you being good for the school. Also, too many people just apply places seemingly at random. Schools would like to hear that you chose them for a good solid reason.
4. Do ask about funding. Don't go to a school that doesn't give you funding. A musicology degree won't necessarily pay for itself, so it's never worth getting into debt for no matter how awesome the program (thinks it) is. If they're not willing to pay for you, they don't actually want you. I would also beware of schools that do not fund all their students equally. Do you really want to be competing against your classmates, resenting them and starving (if you don't get money) or feeling guilty and constantly having to watch your back (if you do)? I'd rather spend that energy on my dissertation.
5. Have good manners. Be cheerful and engaging to everyone, even adjuncts and undergrads. Genuinely laugh at people's jokes--even if they're not funny, be gracious. In my program, I've seen applicants come in who don't really engage with anyone except senior faculty with power or the scholar they want to work with. Those applicants never get admitted, and good riddance.
6. If you're invited to sit in on a seminar, don't contribute unless you have read the readings and understand them thoroughly. If you have even the slightest doubt, shut the fuck up. If you do contribute, don't interrupt anyone and don't be antagonistic.
January 10th, 2008 08:19 pm (UTC)
solid advice. i'll put it to good use. thanks!