Duke

Preparing for Grad School?

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So, it's my second year at university and I've made the decision that I will go to graduate school in philosophy. What are the best ways to prepare, in advance, for applying to a good school? Note: My university does not have a recognizable name at all. I will double major in philosophy and liberal studies.

So I've started a list of some things, but tips are welcome.

  • Get good grades (obvious)
  • Begin studying for the GRE
  • Get to know some professors for letters of recommendation

Anything else? Should I pick an area of interest? Cultivate a non-academic quality?

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So, it's my second year at university and I've made the decision that I will go to graduate school in philosophy. What are the best ways to prepare, in advance, for applying to a good school?

If you are not already a student at the Objectivist Academic Center (OAC), apply here. In addition to getting first-rate instruction on Objectivism,OAC offers help and valuable resources for applying to grad school.

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So I've started a list of some things, but tips are welcome.
  • Get good grades (obvious)
  • Begin studying for the GRE
  • Get to know some professors for letters of recommendation

Anything else? Should I pick an area of interest? Cultivate a non-academic quality?

First, best to you in pursuing this.

I think the things you list make sense. But you might find it helpful to clarify exactly what you mean by "get to know some professors" and "cultivate a non-academic quality." Depending on how you define these things, they could either be drudging duties or exciting pursuits.

For instance, if your goal was to identify one or two professors whose work you find interesting and help them with it (e.g., get on the research team or involved in whatever projects), then I think it would be more rewarding than just joining up with some person for the sake of getting the recommendation. Also, the idea of cultivating a non-academic quality sounds off to me. Why not vigorously pursue a personal interest (or two)?

Do you see the difference? The basic idea is that it is important to be selfish all the time. You are pursuing a longer-term goal, which brings with it immediate things that must be done. But to the extent that it is possible to make those immediate things personally valuable and enjoyable, you will be even more prepared to take the next step. Your mind will be more active, you will have accomplished more, and the process of reaching the longer-term goal will have become a value itself.

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Betsy: That's a bright idea. I will talk to someone in the OAC about how to make my plans. I'm in year 2 of the OAC program right now.

To Scott,

On personal interests: I have personal interests (what I would call hobbies) that I practice every day. However, I don't think they're going to give me an edge in acceptance to graduate school--other than Toastmasters. What school really cares that I'm a Thai boxer? My friend told me that grad schools in Canada look for volunteer hours and work with charity organizations (he's applying to law schools in Canada). If that's what they're looking for, boxing isn't going to help me much. If I find out that extra-curricular interests are important for admissions, I will probably have to take an unselfish approach to them. However, luckily for me, the most important things seem to be a sample peice of writing, grades, and letters of recommendation.

On professors: I was already planning to take the approach you recommend and do directed studies with some professors. The plan is to hit two birds with one stone: In directed studies you can choose which topic you want to study, work one on one with a professor for about an hour per week for guidance, while producing just one major paper the entire semester. I will be able to get some good writing accomplished while showing my skills to a professor. At the same time I'll be able to choose a topic I'm interested in, as long as it is within the professor's area of specialty. This is one of the benefits of a small school, along with many of my upper level classes only having 6-12 students.

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I wish I'd ever get to grad school...

I've decided to drop out of Cal Poly University (again)...so it seems like I'll never finish my bachelor's, let alone make it to a master's degree. I'm so sick of the liberal public education system. It's so terribly frustrating that bureaucracy is keeping me from attaining a decent education.

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I wish I'd ever get to grad school...

I've decided to drop out of Cal Poly University (again)...so it seems like I'll never finish my bachelor's, let alone make it to a master's degree. I'm so sick of the liberal public education system. It's so terribly frustrating that bureaucracy is keeping me from attaining a decent education.

I've heard of a brand new liberal arts school where you might find what you are looking for. I think it's called Founders! :(

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I wish I'd ever get to grad school...

I've decided to drop out of Cal Poly University (again)...so it seems like I'll never finish my bachelor's, let alone make it to a master's degree. I'm so sick of the liberal public education system. It's so terribly frustrating that bureaucracy is keeping me from attaining a decent education.

Why did you drop out? What about the bureaucracy means you should necessarily drop out?

If your desire is to go to grad school, dropping out doesn't do you any good. You can always take the autodidactic approach to your education, while doing the classes required to get a degree. Personally, I learn a lot of valuable information at university. However, an OAC class is many more times valuable, as is self-study for me. You can do them all at once.

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In this particular case, I'm dropping out because nobody at this school can ever answer a question I have; they keep shuffling me from department to department and I never get an answer, and of course one department doesn't know what the next is doing and I often get conflicting information; in addition to the fact that they are trying to remove prior credit that I had been given, claiming it should not have been given to me, so now I have to take additional courses to satisfy degree requirements, which they have also changed on me. At this rate, it will be 3 more years, at least to finish something that should have been done a long time ago. I should have had two degrees by now, but the system keeps hindering me. So I need a different school or....something....I'm not sure what. I just know that Cal Poly doesn't deserve any more of my hard-earned money.

And yes, I had looked into Founders. The only problem right now is I can't afford to move cross-country, let alone leave my dad stranded at work, and never see my new niece and my sister, or my boyfriend (who would move with me if I asked him to, but I wouldn't want him to give up his business to do that).

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And yes, I had looked into Founders. The only problem right now is I can't afford to move cross-country, let alone leave my dad stranded at work, and never see my new niece and my sister, or my boyfriend (who would move with me if I asked him to, but I wouldn't want him to give up his business to do that).

Founders has an internet-based distance learning program.

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And yes, I had looked into Founders. The only problem right now is I can't afford to move cross-country, let alone leave my dad stranded at work, and never see my new niece and my sister, or my boyfriend (who would move with me if I asked him to, but I wouldn't want him to give up his business to do that).

Founders has an internet-based distance learning program.

Just to clarify something, Founders is still in the process of getting this system up and running. I believe the expectation is to have it ready by January to start the spring semester. You may want to contact Founders directly about this. But I certainly encourage you to sign up whenever its ready. It might solve a lot of your concerns.

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Well I've emailed Founders to get more information about their distance learning program. If only there were an Objectivist-based school here, or at least one that didn't have such an obvious liberal bias...it's very frustrating. I'm so sick of the altruist / collectivist / socialist ideas that these universities are so quick to promote.

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Well I've emailed Founders to get more information about their distance learning program. If only there were an Objectivist-based school here, or at least one that didn't have such an obvious liberal bias...it's very frustrating. I'm so sick of the altruist / collectivist / socialist ideas that these universities are so quick to promote.

I'm glad you e-mailed Founders. Sometimes a phone call is a good way to go, too.

I understand your frustration with what most schools offer. However, it is most likely the case that everyone who has gone to college, especially in the last 30 or so years, has had to put up with the same thing. That doesn't make it right or good. However, if it is truly your goal to get an undergraduate and then graduate degree, you are probably going to have to face this. I, along with many others, have gotten through it relatively unscathed. You can, too.

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