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, January 7, 2013

Visiting the future

In the last several weeks I have started visiting schools in an effort to assist my chances of getting in to a PhD program.  I have an extensive list of schools I am applying to and the costs of which are absurd.  But I'm all in - I MUST get in to a program - so I'm going to go sell myself to each one.  The dyslexic football player I am does not seem to look as good on paper as I do in person - as Rutgers reaffirmed to me last year.

So I have been to visit UCONN, York, and Binghamton thus far and will visit Boston College and hopefully Northeastern tomorrow, then Stony Brook on Thursday if anyone is around there.  Rutgers is having an open house on the 29th as well that I will go to.  The only schools left really then would be the west coast schools which I am hoping I can get to, or at least UC Santa Cruz and Davis in the first week in February.  Santa Barbara and Hawaii are a bit too far afield for my current means and time schedule so will have to be left to their own accord.

As it is, I am very happy with the meetings thus far.  (You can read more about UCONN here).  I almost feel like I'm back getting recruited for football again.  The schools have all gone out of their way to show me around and put out the red carpet.  After three visits, York in Toronto is head and shoulders above the rest.  It seems like an ideal program for me.  I met with the closest possible supervisor for me and got on well.  I have some reservations about a few methodology/theoretical issues, but with more information these may be completely resolved.  The fact is that she is an activist and scholar along my mold, just further advanced in her study.  I met with the head of the graduate program as well, and the admin person, and they were wonderful.  Not sure if its because they are Canadian or just that they are nice, but they were great.

I also was up there at the behest of one of my best friends who is doing a PhD in their program and that I know from Central European University in Budapest.  We are now working on very similar things, and frankly I may just want to go there to work with him, nevermind the eleven other faculty members with similar interests.  The program there is shorter - as they value my masters - there is six years of funding, and a flexible core structure that would fit perfectly into my skillset and dyslexic parameters.  Just one method and theory requirement of your choice - quite different from UCONN's two Quants and two Quals plus their courses.

Then of course there is Toronto, which at first glimpse left quite a bit to be desired.  But I as coming from Montreal - which was AMAZING, even under two feet of snow and a wind chill of -14 degrees Fahrenheit - so Toronto could just but subjectively leaving things to be desired.  I mean it wasn't bad, it just looked discombobulated and eclectic, like there was no zoning regulations and you could build anything anywhere not matter what it looked like compared to the thing next to it.  But we had good food, and the rents seem cheep.  I would do just fine there.

From there I went to Binghamton, NY.  I was just in and out and met with some grad students (I'd met with one prof in NYC last week).  They have a really good program for me.  It is very flexible, and you get to set much of it up as per your liking.  But there seems to be some difficulty within the faculty.  I mean the program is completely left and the right vantage point for me, but the faculty seems to struggle at times to work together.  The funding is also an issue.  The give three years of funding and it seems to be causing serious problems with students (I'm hearing the same things I hear from New School students).  The funding is supposed to cover through your comprehensive exams, but it doesn't  seem that anyone finishes them in less than four years.  And it also seems that a really "leftist" program as they describe it does not bode well in grant applications.  One person said grant fund organizations and the government just simply don't fund Binghamton projects and the types of projects coming out of there.  It's tough to hear as well, because Binghamton's core courses would be my electives elsewhere.  Basically, global capitalism, how much it sucks, how unequal it is, and then theories on how to critique it, and the problems with social science's methods.  lol.  So needless to say, it is a great program for me.  But my visit left only more questions and maybe even some reservations.

But, all told, I would do really well there.  They basically said that if you are proactive and assertive that you can get the things done you need to and in a timely manner.  No one has ever accused me of not standing up for and pushing for what I want.  I would do fine there, and intellectually rather well.  Better funding would probably be the trump card.  But we shall see.

Off to Boston tomorrow....

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