Tag Archives: Practical Matters

Everything You Need To Know About Choosing an Advisor: Fall Quarter Edition

This is how I felt at University of Chicago for most of MAPH.

This is the point in the quarter when I was confused and a little cranky during my MAPH year. I felt like I was being told to think about my thesis idea and maybe start talking to possible advisors, but not to talk to any of those people about being my advisor.

While this seemed paradoxical at the time, I now recognize the wisdom of that advice. I wasn’t ready to talk about my thesis idea yet, but horrifyingly, I didn’t know that I wasn’t ready.

Take it from someone who only learns things the hard way: don’t learn this one the hard way.

So if you’re supposed to go talk to professors without talking about your thesis, what are you supposed to talk to them about?

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Thoughts on Your First Week –or– Read this if you are feeling concerns of any kind because it is really going to be okay.

It was a big moment, that first week of classes at University of Chicago. I’d made my way through the first baby deer-like steps of Colloquium, and was now ready to romp through the fields of academe unaided and unattended, happy as the springtime. I hope you’re gleefully romping, too, though some Bambi-stumbles are still par for the course and nothing to worry about. In order to maintain your inner springtime in the face of a Chicago autumn, please find herein some thoughts on navigating Week One of Quarter One of Year One of the Rest of Your Life. Continue reading

FAQ: Several things that I wish someone had told me (or that I had listened to when they did) before I started MAPH.

Halloo, MAPH!

MAPH Central has been abuzz with new students, and it has been heartwarming to see the bonds of friendship being forged.

We have entertained and overheard a number of questions from you, and herein we will endeavor to answer those questions, as well as several questions we will save you the difficulty of having to ask. Let us begin! (Don’t forget the official FAQ, too!)

• I’d like to email/talk to Professor So-and-So. How should I go about that?

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Identify yourself (or just get your university ID)


You can now get your university ID card! It’s easy, safe, and fun!

If you have spent any time wandering around campus, you’ve undoubtedly noticed the imposing bulk of the Regenstein Library (often referred to in the Uof C vernacular as “The Reg”).  You know, the enormous blocks of stacked concrete beside the much better looking glass spheroid building on 57th.  Appearances notwithstanding, the Regenstein Library is a wonderful place, and it is where you go to obtain your university ID card.

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MAPH is coming! MAPH is coming!

We know you’re out there. You’re the ones checking the blog and waiting for the Colloquium syllabus. The ones who have already decamped to Hyde Park. The ones who hear the carillon bells and quaver with anticipation. MAPH Central herein offers various and sundry tips for your pre-MAPH run-up.

The Listserv. Any email you send to maph-etc@lists.uchicago.edu goes to everyone in MAPH. Feel free to use the MAPH listserv for meet-ups, get-downs, furniture swaps, or whatever else you need everyone in MAPH to see.

Thing Theory. UChicago has its own mini-Craigslist of sorts: Marketplace. Find apartments, sell cars, buy…fondue pots? Sure.

Cheap(er) Books. You either are or will soon be wondering if it’s worth it to get a membership at the Seminary Co-op Bookstore. Yes, it is. A membership costs $30, gives you a 10% discount (you will be buying many books very soon), and you can cash out after six months. And don’t forget about the Newberry Book Fair!

Grounds of Being. The coffee shop in the basement of the Divinity School (Swift Hall) is the cheapest place on campus for coffee. It’s student-run, accepts only cash, and proudly bears the motto, “Where God Drinks Coffee.” MAPH Central will give you directions to one of UChicago’s best open secrets. [Note: MAPH Central always has free coffee and tea, though we do not recall seeing God ever drinking our coffee. —Eds.]

Shots. You’ll need to provide records of various immunizations as part of enrolling at UChicago. It’s best to have that box ticked off before you arrive. It’s a pain to scramble around begging someone to stick you in the arm with dead microbes while you are rapidly revving up for Mr. MAPH’s Wild Ride.

Food Trucks. Right around lunch time, a flock of food trucks land on campus. I’m particularly fond of Bridgeport Pasty‘s veggie pasty and the steamed buns from Wow Bao. For a relatively thorough run-down of the food trucks and where they are on any given day, check out the uchiNOMgo Twitter feed.

Seymour. I’m embarrassed to tell you how long it took me to figure out what everyone was talking about. cMore is your student info portal. Check it out. Sign up for alerts, make sure your info is up to date, be aware of its ongoing existence.

Squirrels. They are everywhere. They are my favorite.

UChicago Memes.

We eagerly await your collective arrival, MAPH-zukunft!

Ph.D. Application Advice Panel: What To Take Away

Thanks to all who joined us last week for the Ph.D. Application Advice Panel. I hope you found the information useful as you all mull over potential future endeavors. For those of you who missed the panel (or for those who were there but far too burned out to retain anything), I thought I’d do a blog re-cap of the major advice points from the faculty that participated.

Before getting into the actual advice, though, one thing that all of the participating faculty agreed on is that you should get a lot of advice at every stage of your application process. So, the information from the panel is by no means an exhaustive list of things to consider or a fixed doctrine of must-do tasks. Think of this, rather, as a starting pool of advice from various disciplines that will help you begin the process on the right foot.

(Lots of advice…after the jump)

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Welcome Prospective Students! (CURRENT STUDENTS, CONTINUE WRITING)

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 ajaronstein@uchicago.edu and you can also email ma-humanities@uchicago.edu. 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,

A-J Aronstein (MAPH 2010)

Please also explore our website, where you’ll find a lot of information about the curriculum, our program options, and about the experience.

Making the Most of GradUCon

You know what to do, MAPH

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.

Now what? (What, after the jump)… Continue reading

What’s a Writing Advisor?

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.

1. How do I make an appointment? During Colloquium, you can just send me an email and we’ll find a time to meet. Once the Core Course begins, we’ll use this online signup sheet

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.

(What to ask, after the jump…) Continue reading