Questions for persons pursuing a PhD in English for Creative Writing or literature or any related English field.
1. How hard was getting into your respective program?
2. What are your job prospects like?
3. What tests did you need to take to get into those programs/how did you prepare?
4. Would you recommend anyone else do it?
Don't do a Humanities/Social Sciences PhD unless:
- you genuinely want to study it. Statistically you becoming a professor is basically impossible.
- you don't care about being poor. You will likely be an adjunct slave at best for many years, after years of gruelling miserable PhD research.
- you understand your PhD may not reflect your intellectual interests and may actually become an annoying burden that no one ever reads and wastes half a decade of your life.
- you don't care about having to travel a lot (based on which program you get into, and then later while looking for jobs)
- you are totally brilliant to the point that you already know beyond a doubt that you can hack it AND that you want to even bother hacking it for very little real reward
It's horrible on every level unless you are diehard passionate to the point of insanity, and the vast majority of people who think they are end up being wrong anyway.
That's if you can't get into an elite university. Doing an English PhD at West-central Oklahoma Tech is going to make it hard to get a tenure-track job, but grad students at Yale are gonna find something unless they're just total screw ups.
thisssis, when it comes to docter's coats and moats of filling cream, what matters is the arm of the law. The buildings of the circumforance, the areospace its noty our words its the way you say to get them to you know wheere when will what wherever it might weeb. So if you wantr to get to yale you need to be good or rich or have monnections and then it dont matter your coat yoyu have a christmas tulogy
No, I'm an MA at a top 15 (or 20?) and I just finished applying to PhDs at top 5s. At my current school I'm surrounded by a vast majority of postgrads who don't give a fuck and who are gumming up the works by not giving a fuck and still applying in massive droves for all funding choking all the enthusiasm and joy out of everything, and I have been warned many times over by professors at the top 5s that they are being trimmed and scaled back. Also at my current uni the really good theoretical stuff (comp lit program) is being eliminated altogether.
Don't go unless you know for a fact you want to go. Into academia specifically. The ONLY reason I am doing it is the collegiality.
Verbatim quote from one of my recommenders:
>I know qualitatively brilliant, fascinating, original scholars who nevertheless cannot get jobs for years after finishing their PhD.
He went to Yale was a cause celebre.
collqiqually right this one is. we are living in a postsnow winndows without much ado with where one ought to go where one will make the coins if out of one with in one of what wone will would i think so its all entertainment calies and if you look only a few get trough the walls of this what where why whens for funs and then they are in the light too so iether no fun and in the sun or sunscreen but too poor to buy tcikets of anymuch
>if you want to go to Yale you need to be rich or have connections
Good job on the middle class resentment. I know loads of nobodies who got into Ivies by showing they could excel there, and so many of my friends who aren't worth shit for money or high places are going to Ivy League grad programs it isn't funny. The standards are just sky high. Really sad that people need to justify their mediocrity by pretending nobody ever makes it.
i hate to break it to you but nobody cares what grad school you went to. getting into an ivy medical or law school is one thing, but doing humanities masters, they take anyone who can pay the bill...there are endless bozos going to columbia and (not-ivy but still "elite") nyu, those degrees are a joke, but then again so is the idea that someone can be taught to be a grad writer, artist or entrepreneur at a school
this. 100% this. it will be tough, it will be grueling, you will probably need an s/o to help pay the bills, but its very doable and not tough in the sense that working in sulfur mines is tough. it require endurance and intelligence, two qualities sorely lacking here at /lit/. case in point: >>7593467
Unfunded degrees besides medical law and business are dumb at any institution, yeah, but everyone knows that. If you get a PhD, MFA, MA or MS of any kind, you aren't actually qualified for it unless the government or institution foots the bill. In fact, funding is prety much the whole point of getting an MFA. The only people who do that are rich kids who aren't good enough for funding but are afraid of the real world.
Some Ivies do offer masters programs that are almost never funded, but that's not what I'm talking about. For a funded PhD, people absolutely do care who you know, because that's how you get your first job. Academia is like the old guild system that way.
If your profs aren't spelling doom and gloom at least a little bit to give you a reality check, you have some weird fucking professors. The single optimistic, non-cautionary comment I received was "eh, there are jobs" in response to the doom and gloom. Basically he meant that it's possible, but for the very few who are dedicated and don't mind slogging through a lot of shit for it. "There are jobs" for the kind of people who can get into Princeton, be an amazing student and scholar, and really devote their lives to it. But remember that's a pretty goddamn rare few.
That said, look at placement rates/records for graduates of the departments you like. Often they will post them up on their own site.
It's pretty much a common joke of humanities academia at this point that we're all going to be baristas. Constant self-deprecation about it. Google 100 Reasons Not to Get a PhD and some of those big articles that have come out about it recently.
For what it's worth the most brilliant intellectual I've ever met in my life works a 9-5 and dropped out of undergrad, and I know a lot of professors who seem to have died inside 30 years ago.
>I know loads of nobodies who got into Ivies by showing they could excel there,
This is partly true. I come from a modest background and it took a lot of hard work and dedication for me to pursue an unprofitable humanities barista degree, and I was strongly recommended to mention all of this on my applications as proof of my potential or whatever.
But I will say that richer people often have the benefit of being groomed for success and successful attitudes. My CV is barren because I'm basically some nobody, but I'm obviously competing against people who have done tons of volunteer work and extracurriculars and shit.
MA not sure? But school prestige and name recognition really does matter, at least within the tiny dumb world of academia. Obviously I agree no one gives a fuck if I have a Lit PhD from Harvard and I work at Starbucks.
>they take anyone who can pay the bill...
Also what the above person said. Few people pay the bill for a PhD unless they are funded. REALLY few people. Even if you have a mega trust fund it must feel kind of humiliating to pay for your own daycare centre.
I think at most of the Ivies a fellowship is completely guaranteed and standard, and even less well funded public universities still give you mandatory funding. Mine does 4-5 years for PhDs, but it's really bad and they exploit the hell out of you as an indentured worker, and the MAs are totally unfunded because they are trying to shoo shoo them away. Even then it's not working. Tons of applicants for the "I guess I'm kind of interested in Literature????" 2-year after-undergrad daycare centre every year.
>not as pessimistic
does not mean
>not at least a little bit doom and gloom
of course they are realistic about it. thats the point. the bitter bastards we get in these weekly PhD threads are in quite a bit of contrast to the realistic professors i encounter.
It absolutely helps to come from a prep-school background, but I really dislike how people act like nobody else gets in when that's so patently false. They're erasing the achievements of you and all those other people to boost their own egos.
>PhD in English for Creative Writing
There are less than half a dozen decent living novelists right now in English. None of them teach creative writing because you can't "teach" writing.
Have fun learning how to write bad novels from failed novelist-professors.
I have no interest in being a PhD, but have to respond out of principle
>teach people to write well
>inspire people to do close readings of texts
PhDs in lit could be good people, anon.
the other day i downloaded a "TMS" (The Modern Scholar Series aka off-brand TTC) class called The Author At Work expecting a decent class on like "the practice of literature" but I should have inferred from the title that this was about how to be a hack writer churning out commercial fiction...apparently the lecturer is a creative writing professor and has some best selling pop fiction hits...but oh god, it was so bad, so so bad, i had to stop half way through because i didn't want her bad ideas to infect my head when i sit to write...creative writing is a horrible thing, if you need to be taught how to be creative, writing is probably not for you
>Have fun learning how to write bad novels from failed novelist-professors.
what about that spanish guy who writes novels about being a spanish stud who dicks down thick mammies all day in el barrio, he teaches a creative writing class at a school so there bitch
True but honestly I think the truth is weighted heavily in favour of the bitter ones. There was a really good thread here recently on this same topic, but with regard to law school. It was brutal to read. Pretty similar.
Why is Columbia lousy?
Yeah I definitely think you're right. If you have the dream, you can definitely make it.
Depends on the field. For STEM and professional stuff I think it's more ball-breaking. The application consists of references, writing sample, statement of purpose, and GPA + standardised tests.
References = schmoozing with professors so that they write you detailed, amazing letters that stand out from the usual "Did I ever tell you about anon? He was a good student."
Writing sample = show that you are brilliant, have some single paper or article that is fucking amazing. Hard to fake this one since it's such a holistic thing.
Statement = show off prose + clarity of thought, but also mastery of field/subject and how prepared you are
GPA/Tests = A lot of programs will tell you outright that the average undergrad GPA of postgrads there is like 3.7+ or 90th percentile, probably even higher, and GREs (e.g.) are like 95th+ percentile average for the writing parts.
Other minor things help, like having gone to a prestigious undergrad school or doing something that catches attention, like being a native american who escaped the gulags. Yale literally has a "diversity statement," Berkeley has something similar that is as long as your statement of purpose.
Sorry for longposting, I just went through all this crap and figure I might as well try to help someone with it. I might be wrong on anything though so YMMV. The single best piece of advice is to talk to every potential resource you have. Especially talk to all of your professors, get your face to stick in their minds, get them to care about your case and open up, give you real information. Start really fucking early too. I'm a retard and did my GRE about eight minutes before they were due.
>Why is Columbia lousy?
it's not lousy per se, it's just if you're not mentally handicapped and can pay the bill you can get your masters from there, so even tho it's "ivy" it's hardly exclusive or elite (other than it signifies you could pay for it and lived in nyc for a couple years which is worth something i suppose but it's not that kind of "Welcome to the American aristocracy!" level shit of Stanford or something
Decent is not the same as great. Both of the professors I've done workshops with aren't well known outside of the enthusiast/academic community anymore, but one was a real star in the 60s and knew the craft inside and out. He could sharpen up any piece without making it conform to his own style, and that's as much as you can ask of any editor/colleague.
If living in a beautiful New England coastal town, teaching at a prestigious university and publishing for a small but loyal audience whenever you feel like it isn't the lit life, I don't know what is.
If you're coming from a totally different field, or you jumped over to lit from one in like the second half of your last year, it might make you look unprepared and you should strongly consider explaining it.
But if it's the kind of thing where you were doing mostly classics and history classes, but your research is lit focused, or say you did lots of sociology but you want to jump to anthropology, that kind of thing is fine as long as it makes some kind of sense. People drift between fields, or discover by studying history that what they REALLY love is xyz, all the time. Just as long as it makes some kind of sense and/or you explain it.
I know I read at least one Ivy department that answered this question explicitly in a FAQ and it was very positive on diverse intellectual backgrounds.
But always ask your professors. Experienced ones will have reviewed plenty of applications and can tell you common pitfalls or give you their invaluable gut reaction to something hypothetical like this.
why would they want some kind of autistic widget production expert in their elite literature department? at least if u were like chicana or something you'd add diversity, but no one wants or needs more boring asian guys around
I'm contemplating doing this. I have a finance degree and a 4.0 English GPA from a 4 class minor. I'm hoping that combined with a 95+ Lit GRE might prove I actually know a thing or two about literature and the non-lit/humanities undergrad major could possibly be overlooked? Anyone have any insight?