Welcome to our newly admitted future-MAPHers! This is our informal current student blog (current students are currently finishing up the tenth and final week of Winter Quarter. They’re just about 2/3 of the way done with their degree, and almost 80% done with Winter). It’s a stressful time of the year, but a week during which we’re all suddenly able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
First of all, congratulations. We hope that we’ll see you April 15-16 for “Campus Days,” which a great opportunity to preview the University and meet faculty, MAPH staff, and most importantly each other. You’ll get a brief glimpse of the diversity, energy, and rigor of our program–and with any luck, campus will already be in its warm, welcoming spring colors.
I’m MAPH’s Outreach Coordinator. I graduated the program in 2010, having spent two years in Washington, DC as an advertising sales representative (which means, essentially, that I went home and screamed as loud as I could every night for 690 consecutive nights). I applied to PhD programs as a kind of escape from the horrors of the “real world,” hoping to spend some years reading books in the safety of the academy. I wrote a personal statement about politics and modern literature, a writing sample about 9/11, and mailed off what I thought were 10 very strong applications.
And I got nine rejection letters over the course of three weeks between February and March.
But I also got an unexpected letter from the University of Chicago. I knew nothing about MAPH three years ago, and I almost immediately wrote off the possibility of coming to UChicago. Looking back, three years later, I can’t really recall the specific reasons that I changed my mind. But I’m glad that I did.
Many of you applied directly to the Program, so you already know a lot about our community, our interdisciplinary approach to humanistic inquiry, and the degree to which our students improve their writing and thinking over the course of nine incredibly short months. At the University of Chicago, you (no bull) will have the most intense academic experience in your careers as students. But equally importantly, you’ll have the opportunity to find out what your chosen discipline–English, philosophy, art history, linguistics, anthropology, and whatever else–means to you. You’ll not only develop critical skills. You’ll also think hard about what the next step will be.
For many of our students, it’s a PhD at a top institution. Friends of mine from the past two years of MAPH have recently been admitted to programs at places like Duke, Wisconsin, Indiana, UCLA, UChicago, Johns Hopkins, and NYU (in English); UPenn (anthropology); Northwestern (philosophy); Cornell and UChicago (Linguistics and Southeast Asian Studies), and the list goes on.
For others, MAPH is an opportunity to decide how to pursue life of the mind in any number of career tracks. Every single one of our students is a committed life-long intellectual. But probably only about a quarter decide that they truly want to get a PhD after doing a year of graduate work. A huge part of my job is to connect current students with alumni and career resources. We have extensive professional advising opportunities, and a new syllabus of curated career events (called Career Core) to help students find work that they can be passionate about after graduation.
We have over 1600 alumni, and each year our vibrant and international base of support grows. We hope that it excites you to be part of a growing community of artists, writers, scholars, ad executives, program managers, political activists, consultants, musicians, acrobats, screenwriters, photographers, and whatever else. (STILL no astronauts–so if any of you have aspirations in the area of space flight, it might be better to attend that Physics Program instead…). But for everyone else, we hope that you’ll accept our invitation!
Finally, please consider looking into these various resources that might give you a better idea about our community. And email us! I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can also email email@example.com. We’re happy to answer any questions that you might have about the program, about UChicago, or about our home in Second City.
Congratulations again, and we hope to see and hear from you soon,
I’ve been hounding you all about this for two months. Friday is Game Day (and by Game Day I mean, obviously, and yes kind of lamely, GradUCon). One hundred of you (roughly) have signed up to attend the full day of professional development events, panel discussions, networking conversations, and free food eating sessions.
If Gertrude Stein had been a MAPHer, she would have gone to see Jeff. I’m not even kidding about this.
Here’s a guest post from the Authoritative Jeff McMahon. We’ll post his lecture later this week. For now, he asks you all to consider stopping by throughout the year. No one who has gone through MAPH during Jeff’s tenure can gainsay his voodoo-like abilities. Check out his course this Autumn, Journalism: Arts Reviews.
2. Why does MAPH have a writing advisor? Professional academics engage each other’s work primarily in writing, and writing is the primary means through which your work will be evaluated at the University of Chicago. Graduate-level writing must meet some demands that may not be required of undergraduate or non-academic professional writing. So MAPH has a writing advisor to help you adapt to the particular forms of writing valued in the Humanities Division.
Instead of flying home last year I had Thanksgiving dinner with my friend and her family, just outside of Chicago. When people asked me how I was enjoying graduate school, they seemed generally confused by the nature of the program, and my use of MAPH-specific terms that apparently don’t get much exercise outside of U of C. I was barraged with question after question. “So…it’s a one-year program?” ”You can DO a one year masters?” “What’s your major?” “It’s a masters in the Humanities? Well, that’s pretty BROAD, isn’t it?”
It really does look like this in Hyde Park right now
We at MAPHCentral are hard at work preparing for the arrival of all 119 new shining faces in less than four weeks. In the meantime, we know that the stress of (let’s just say for argument’s sake) packing up one’s things in Washington, DC, cramming them in a UHaul and driving cross country with one’s Mom (who loves the Beach Boys and only the Beach Boys) can weigh heavily on one’s leisure time in August.
On that ride, you’ll have plenty of time to think of questions. Here are some that typically come up this time of year, as pre-students get (understandably) excited about starting….
“Do I need to sign up for classes yet?” The more intrepid of you, without a doubt, will have already located the University Time Schedules. That’s a great place to start drooling over the academic cornucopia set before you on the table of plenty at the University of Chicago. BUT. Don’t fret about registration. All of that will take place DURING COLLOQUIUMafter your arrival in September. (Good news: there are more things you don’t need to worry about after the jump…) » Read the rest of this entry «
The question that is, undoubtedly, constantly running through your mind as a new UChicago student. In fact, this question brings to mind some very fond memories I have of my summer before MAPH…
I moved to Chicago almost a full month before Colloquium started. I had taken some time away from academia and, consequently, had lived over a year without access to book stacks or JSTOR (gasp!). Several days after my arrival, before I even unpacked my plates, I eagerly walked the 10 blocks or so to campus, found the library on one of the helpful campus directories peppered across the quads, and ran up the awkward outside steps with delight, imagining the hours I would spend rummaging through the stacks, printing off 36-page academic articles (for only 10¢ a page), and diligently getting a head start on the reading for Core. No lie, I was psyched to get into that library.
So, imagine my frustration when I got through the front door and realized that you need an ID card to get in. Well, I didn’t have a card. I didn’t know how to get a card. And my library dreams slowly crumbled in front of my eyes. I silently cursed the little glass gates that were letting everyone but me through into the main library. I inanely did not notice the sign for the ID/Privileges Office that is literally right next to those same glass gates. And I stalked out of the Regenstein, pissed that I had come all this way for nothing and increasingly worried that it would be another month before I could gain access to this privileged space.
How does this story end? How did I come to possess, mere days after this tragic moment, a slightly awkward picture on a maroon and white UChicago ID card? The mentors, of course. Those handy-dandy mentor blog posts, one of which conveniently provided step-by-step instructions on how to get a student ID card. So, I now pass that same wisdom on to you.
A hawaiian shirt might add some real flair to your ID photo…
Go to the Regenstein Library on 57th Street. Walk in the front door. I beg you, don’t make the same mistake I did and let your white-eyed fury at the little glass gates blind you to the ID/Privileges Office that is, literally, right next to them and directly to your left from the front door. Instead, take a deep, calming breath. Comb your hair. And walk into that same ID/Privileges Office, get your picture taken, get your ID within 5 minutes and, for goodness sake, triumphantly march through those glass gates and into….well, you might not want to actually spend any beautiful sunshine months in the library since you’ll be there most of the year. So, just get your ID card, tuck it into your wallet, and go to the lake!
Or, if you do decide to go into the library, at least take a break from reading to scope out some classic UChicago student (probably undergrad) graffiti.
And, as always, stop by the MAPH Office to introduce yourself or you can most definitely e-mail us with questions!
Sure, we’re still waiting for Spring. But hey, that means more thesis time, RIGHT?
Prospective students have to decide by tomorrow whether to come to MAPH. I’ve always thought it is a useful exercise (whether you’re a current student just finishing up the first draft of your thesis, or an alum from the class of 1997) to think about the reasons why you came to MAPH in the first place. Thinking back to my own experience, I came to MAPH frustrated by the PhD application process, pretty panicked about my life, and very disappointed about my inability to make a decision about what I wanted “next.” MAPH settled me down and made me think clearly about what a PhD would entail (and why it might not be a good fit for me). Here’s an excerpt from my piece “Why a Terminal Master’s?” Full text can be found here.
What were your reasons for coming to MAPH? Are they the same now? MAPHCentral would love to hear your comments.
Over the course of the past year working with MAPH I have spoken with a lot of our 1500 alumni. Our graduates live around the world and work in diverse fields—everything from non-profit management to hedge fund risk management. They find jobs in development, investment banking, law, journalism, advertising and public relations, corporate finance, secondary education, and curatorial research. One alumnus ran the 2008 Obama campaign’s finances in Florida. One is studying to be a veterinarian. Others are administrators at charter schools, English teachers, guidance counselors, and of course, professors.
We have no astronauts. Yet.
Why has a program that focuses so tightly on the development of humanistic skills produced successful alumni in diverse fields? It can’t just be that we leave the University with a healthy understanding of the classics and wind up running creative departments at advertising agencies. Rather, the breadth of success serves as compelling evidence that graduate work in the humanities can be (don’t laugh) integral to one’s long term career satisfaction. Graduate work in the humanistic disciplines improves one’s ability to engage in most activities that characterize the professional world.
That said, no one should trivialize the financial commitment of student loans that are associated with graduate school. I certainly don’t. My loans are growing, even as I type. And they’re not going away any time soon. But I don’t cower in fear of them, and I certainly don’t dodge my statements when they arrive. The important thing to think about when considering whether to take the plunge (ie: take out huge loans) is that any graduate work should be seen as an investment in oneself, and an opportunity for self-enrichment that will accrue benefits in the long run.
Good question! An externship is a day-long opportunity for you to interact with a MAPH alum at their “Workplace.” Many of the opportunities are being hosted by MAPH alumni.
Why should I do an externship? Externships are great ways to build up your network. The MAPH alums who volunteered to host have interesting positions at some of the most prominent corporate and non-profit institutions in the city. You’ll get to meet some of the folks that they work with, ask questions, and essentially get a glimpse of the day-to-day operations.
What do I do during the externship day? It’s really up to you and your host. But make sure that you come prepared with questions and an understanding of the organization. Do your homework beforehand. This is an opportunity for you to learn about a specific company and its place in the context of a wider industry.
What about my thesis? You can work on your thesis when you get home. The promise of having a good job after you finish MAPH will make it easier for you to work hard after the day is over. That is, you’ll have a reason to FINISH the stupid thing.
Will it be fun? Yes! It will. And also, probably, interesting. Most of all, it will be useful. You will have the incentive to work on your resume, cover letter, and interview skills. And you’ll have the chance to get into a corporate/non-profit environment for a day. It’s a win, win, win.
Can I put an externship on my resume if I get one? Noooow you’re talkin. You betcha.
How do I apply? Email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Lesley Lundeen (email@example.com) to get started on the process. You’ll need a resume and cover letter, which you should be honing this time of year anyway. Think of it this way: this is an opportunity to interview in-house for a “position” where you know that your “boss” will be excited to work with you for the day.
I know. You came here to do academic work. To share your brilliant insights on pederasty in Victorian Fiction as related to Ancient Chinese Vase-Making. Or whatever. So why are we so adamant about networking and career stuff….and why are the mentors especially hounding us, when they don’t have real jobs in the first place?
These are valid questions. Valid, hurtful, confusing questions.
But they have answers.
No matter whether you are applying for PhD programs, trying to get a full-time job, or merely recognize that you would like some kind of job in the services industry that doesn’t require you to spend 100 hours on your feet per day steaming milk after graduation to pay rent, networking is an important skill to have.
Here are some important things to remember as you start going about the job-search in a more serious way that involves meeting and talking to strangers: » Read the rest of this entry «