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Jan. 6th, 2008 @ 10:39 am interview
Current Mood: curiouscurious
I've posted the following inquiry to several communities, but I have received few responses. I thought it wouldn't hurt to try one more post, so here it is!

I am currently expecting an invitation from Indiana University to interview for acceptance to their graduate musicology program. I have never done this sort of thing... What sort of questions should I expect to hear? What kinds of questions should I ask during the interview? How can I further present myself as a qualified applicant? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!
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Date:January 6th, 2008 06:07 pm (UTC)
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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.
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Date:January 10th, 2008 08:19 pm (UTC)
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solid advice. i'll put it to good use. thanks!
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Date:January 6th, 2008 06:47 pm (UTC)
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What he said. I think the two greatest things to know is a) what the school has and b) what you want. They're looking for energetic, driven people who will have enough energy to finish the program. Research the program as much as possible. Know who teaches there and what they do, see if students have webpages, see if they have a page that says where alumni are (or just take note of where people end up teaching), see what they say about facilities, money, jobs, etc. Use the trip to further find out what the school has to offer--funding, job placements, teaching experience, requirements, student interaction, the town, housing, etc. And get as broad a range as possible.

This leaves knowing what you want. You don't have to plan out everything, but do know what topics engage you and why you want to pursue them. Know why this school will help. Know what experiences you've had that will contribute to you and the program. And take the time to honestly ask yourself if you would be happy there for five years. Even the "small" things like the weather become much bigger after a couple years.

Basically ask questions of everyone, including yourself. Good luck, and remember to enjoy it.
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Date:January 10th, 2008 08:21 pm (UTC)
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will do! thanks very much.
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