What started as an awareness raising and ethnographic styled walk through Sierra Leone, this site now details the encounters of a not so academic academic who spends more time occupying Wall Street and squats than a university...

Monday, December 24, 2012


So this time of year I have noted at other points has become my favorite.  It is the time when I get to look at the future with hope.  Not the future in general, but mine.  It is school application season.  The time of the year that I can at least hope that this time next year I will be in a PhD program, and the time of year that I always get to engage with my own intellectual interests.  I have put in a number of applications now and still have a few more to go.  UC Santa Barbara, UConn, UC Davis, Hawaii, UC Santa Cruz, Boston College, Rutgers, Pitt, and York (Canada) are all in.  BC and York still have materials that need logisticing, but otherwise there are just a few more to go.  I've got three more spots to fill in my limit and four schools, SUNY Stony Brook and Binghamton, Vanderbilt and Northeastern.  I also have a fall back school in the University of Ljubljana should all go array.  But anyway, I'm almost there.  I'll give a full break down of the costs and finagling it took to bring that down once I've got everything in, but for now I am just about making that last decision and promoting myself at each school.

This Tuesday I just started what should be a few school visits that will help me both decide where to apply and hopefully get in.  Despite having some form of the bubonic plague I jumped in my car and headed up to Storrs, Connecticut to visit UConn and their sociology department.  What I thought was going to be a last minute, one half to maybe an hour's worth of time with a professor or two turned into a four hour red carpet tour of the program and school.  I met with pretty much every professor there on campus at that point and the grad students.  I met with two of my top three choices for supervision and was very happy with them.  One works on social movements and such with a focus on Africa and Ghana and the other has won an award for a published article about a new theoretical way of looking at social movements.  Both were really nice and I felt that I had a good intellectual engagement with them.  The graduate director as well, who works on closely related issues - mostly labor issues - was great also.

The campus itself is getting a major overhaul as they are adding building after building and new professors.  Sociology alone will get 5-6 new professors for next year and one of them would benefit me apparently.  There will probably be more as well in the coming years. While the building they are housed in could use a face lift - it is one of the oldest buildings on campus - it is a classic new England school architecture that is nice.  The school is out in the middle of no where though.  And when I say this I do not mean like Morgantown, WV out in the middle of nowhere (a town of 30,000 in the middle of nowhere), I mean, no town at all in the middle of nowhere.  Like an intersection with a couple shops in it is the whole town.  Suffice it to say, moving there from Brooklyn would be tough.  But then again, I've always dreamed of a cabin in the woods!!  hahaha!!

The program itself has received a face-lift in the last 15 or so years as well.  They have consciously made it more structured.  Not the best thing for me, as they now have two classes required in both qualitative and quantitative methods.  I would like to only have to take one quants class at most, but overall its still really good.  They have moved away from exams as well - a good thing for me - and only require one comprehensive exam to move the next levels of the program.

Anyway, as it is, it was a great visit.  I would do well there and with their staff.  The mere fact that they rolled out a little carpet for me makes me think that I am going to be well considered there.  They'd seen the NY Times videos and went out of their way.  I feel good about my chances.  I was told that they would be starting to make their list in the end of January.  They have pushed their Dec 1st deadline back to January 15th - I would assume because they didn't get enough applicants or as good of ones as they'd like.  They are also likely to be a fall back school for a lot of Ivy type candidates.  The impression I got, was that I should be patient and allow the process to take its course.  That I will be on a list, wait list at worst and that I should just let it all play itself out.  They brought in 11 people last year, which is a lot more than a place like Rutgers that had two last year.  Plus with more Sociology programs in the country there is not the squeeze that there is in Anthropology.

I feel good about the visit.  We'll see where the other schools fall.  I'd certainly like to be in more of a city, but all the same might do well with no distractions!  I am going to go to York in Canada during the first week of January and stop at Binghamton on the way back.  I'll try to sneak out to Stony Brook one day here when I have off from work.  I'd love to get to Cali and check at least Davis and Santa Cruz.  I need to sell myself to these people, bring out my strengths for them.  I'm never the strongest on paper, but in person I carry more merit.  So that's the plan, and its moving forward!

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