For want of a field, the historian was lost.

Posted by Whit Barringer , Wednesday, May 21, 2008 12:22 PM

You may remember that I'm looking at grad schools. Well, the search goes on. Here's the checklist for my search:

  1. Take the GRE.
  2. Figure out subjects that I'm interested in and that will be worth five cents in five years (when I get out of my long-term imprisonment - hopefully).
  3. Figure out schools I want to go to that offer said subjects.
  4. Email professors at said schools who teach said subjects.
  5. Figure out if I really want to work with those professors at said schools who teach said subjects.
  6. Apply to chosen school(s).
  7. Cross fingers.
I'm planning on taking the GRE soon after I get back from D.C. in early June. I don't know when it's offered yet (add that before #1, I guess), but I do know that I have to do it soon. Things are starting to get hectic, and it's not even really summer yet. My summer checklist is far longer than this grad school excerpt, and I'm working full days at my job, so my days are shorter at home - when I am home. I just happen to be home at night all this week because my car is in the shop and it was too expensive to rent a car.

This field stuff is getting to me, though. I know that those wiser than I have told me (warned me, even) that sometimes it takes a while for field interests to gel. As good of advice as that is, I know I've still got to figure out the general vicinity of my focus. You don't go to seminary to get a physics degree, and, while not as drastic, I'm not that far away from being completely clueless as to what I want to do.

Don't get me wrong - the Pickelhaube of Professorship has settled upon my brow and I think it fits rather well. However, my accoutrement, such as the Sword of Specialty, or even the Faulds of Forte, have yet to come into my possession. I am a little worse for the wear worrying about it, and I haven't figured out how to overcome this.

In the meantime, while my brain is whirring and ticking and spontaneously combusting, I have begun the slow and oh-so-envious! task of emailing professor after professor after professor. So far, I have been very daring and emailed professors and grad secretaries and grad recruiters at Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Berkley, University of Oklahoma, and the University of Texas at Austin, all of whom I'm sure are now regretting putting their email addresses online. So far, only those at Austin have gotten back to me and been very helpful at all. Unfortunately, I contacted them about American or International diplomatic history, which I was promptly told by a professor who's helping me that that field was, and I quote, "as dead as Vanilla Ice's career."

Ah well. The search continues.

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