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Monday, November 1, 2010

Monday Ground Up: Guide To Archaeology and Anthropology Graduate School 101


I recently attended a seminar featuring Dr. John Walker, Professor Peter Sinelli, and Dr.John Schultz from the University of Central Florida. The seminar focused on the Do's and Don'ts of applying to graduate school for archaeology and anthropology and was organized by Hominids Anonymous Anthropology Club.

On one hand it was eye opening. On the other, it was terrifying. My only advice is to take all of this information with a grain of salt, as each school is completely different in their requirements for admission. To be honest, I have a mental picture in my head of the universities I'm applying to, the path I need to get there, and the people that can help me make it happen.


It's no secret I owned restaurants before I was 24 years old. I told my parents I would at 18. Yes, I made it happen! It took long hard hours, research, and tons of Starbucks.

What does this have to do with applying to archaeology or anthropology graduate school Lauren?


DON'T ever let people make you think you can't get there or you can't make it happen just because it's hard and takes years off your life.  If you want it, envision yourself getting there. I hate to sound cliche, but Opera Winfrey is one of the most inspiring individuals when it comes to visualizing your dreams. Our president Barack Obama says the very same thing. Placing yourself in a mental picture and actually seeing yourself working on a dig, teaching at Harvard, or curating an exhibit at the Field Museum in Chicago, makes the path so much easier.

Are You An Expert in Applying To Graduate School for Archaeology or Anthropology Lauren?


Of course I'm not! The entire basis behind Ancient Digger is to provide you with my firsthand experiences from beginning to end.  For those of you interested in applying to graduate school for archaeology or anthropology, I wanted to make the process as easy as possible, because let's be honest, it's a bit terrifying when you actually think about the steps you have to take.

Tips and Tricks For Applying to Archaeology or Anthropology Graduate Programs


Let me just remind all of you that this information is based upon the seminar by Dr. John Walker, Dr. Peter Sinelli, and Dr. John Shultz from the University of Central Florida. This information is not set in stone, as everyone of you will approach each task completely different. I would just like to convey the information I received in an easy to understand manner. If you have any questions for me, please leave them in the comment section, as I will do my best to answer them all.

  • Look Through The Triple AAA Graduate School Guide To Find The Graduate Schools With Your Program

This may just be the most time consuming task you HAVE to complete. The Triple AAA Graduate School Guide can be found in the Anthropology department. At least it's where mine is kept. Look at every school, regardless of whether you even considered it. There's so much information pertaining to tuition, scores, etc it would take me years to explain it all.

  • Find out the average GRE scores to be accepted into an Archaeology or Anthropology Graduate Program

As far as the seminar went, the average GRE score for Archaeology and Anthropology perspective graduate students was 1200. Now you know! It's up to you to go above this score in order to be seriously considered for graduate school. Of course, this isn't set in stone, however it's a national average. You may want to contact the Graduate Coordinator for more information. In some cases, they may not tell you. They may just say the higher the better.

  • Take Your GRE Test ASAP: Especially If You Just Completed Undergraduate Math or English Courses

You'll find out your score on the GRE the same day you take it. Once you have them, it's up to you whether you'd like them sent out nationally or to a particular institution. If you're already aware of the minimum requirements needed to apply to a certain school, this will make your decision so much easier.

  • Visit the Campuses Of Those Schools You Wish To Apply

If you're not willing to visit the campus, then reconsider why you're applying to graduate school. It takes initiative to be accepted, so why not get your name out there before you actually send in the application. It does take money to travel, but you have to consider this when applying to out of state schools.

  • Speak With The Graduate Coordinator At Those Schools You Wish To Apply To

While you're on your campus visit, make sure to stop in and meet with the Graduate Coordinator face to face. Depending on whether you previously spoke to this person prior to your visit to arrange a campus tour, just make sure they meet you. Repeat your name at least three times to them and convey your reasons why you're interested in the program there. It also helps to know a bit of the Graduate Coordinator's background and qualifications, which you may be so inclined to bring up. Maybe they went to a school you're interested in. Find out the facts and use them to your advantage. People love talking about themselves!

  • Once You Find The Schools You Plan To Apply To, Write A Letter Of Intent 

A letter of intent outlines the reasons why you'd like to attend the particular institution and the research interests you have. 

  • It's not necessary to have your thesis topic in hand, however you must have some idea of the geographical interests or topic you plan to study. 
  • If you have research documents, make sure you mention where you got them from and  if you have the permission to use them.
  • Are you working on a current project? Make sure to mention this as well as the individuals you're working with and their credentials.
  • What are you expecting to find with your research?
  • What are you willing to contribute to the department?
  • State your weaknesses and be willing to work through them by taking additional courses if required.
  • State your strengths.
  • Make the letter of intent ONLY one page in length.
  • Know where to send the letter. This varies depending on the institution.  This could be a department head, the Graduate Coordinator, or the professor who will be advising your research.
Questions Anyone?


Most Common Questions About Archaeology And Anthropology Graduate Schools

What are the most important factors for an application?

GRE, GPA, Letter of Recommendations From Three Professors

How do I obtain letters of recommendation?

  • Meet with your professor.
  • Introduce yourself.
  • Talk about his work or what work you're planning on doing. 
  • Build a rapport with the professor.
  • Take at least two of the professor's classes so they can get to know you on a more personal and professional basis.
  • Now ask for a recommendation.

Where do I send my letters of recommendation and how?

Most likely your letters will be included in your graduate school package along with your application and other pertinent data. When in doubt, just ask! You may find the letters need to be sent individually, in sealed envelops, directly from the person recommending you to the school.

How do I receive fellowships?

This all depends on your GRE scores. The institution will contact you directly and offer you a fellowship if your scores are amongst the top percentage from the incoming hopefuls.

Are their particular sections I need to take on the GRE exam?

Most cases only call for the General Test, however some institutions will require subject tests. It depends.

Should I have field experience prior to applying?

It definitely helps on your application. Although, your letter of intent will explain the reasons why you haven't partaken in field opportunities, exhibiting you awareness of the fact you do have weaknesses you're planning to work on.

If I want to work with a particular professor at an institution, should I contact them directly or via email?

Nine times out of ten YOU WILL NOT receive a response via email. Why? The professors have hundreds of students and may not check their email often. If you think speaking with the person directly is the best way to introduce yourself, take a chance. There's nothing to lose!

Is there a place I can go to talk to graduate students at particular institutions?

Yes, of course there is. You just have to do some digging. There are conferences year round featuring current graduate students and their research.

Can I send the same letter of intent to all schools?

NO, NO, NO! Every letter of intent must be personalized for the particular institution you're sending it to. Please don't make this mistake!

Where do I send the letter of intent?

Well, you're not randomly going to select a person from the graduate school list. Do your research and ask the Graduate Coordinator or whomever the letter applies to.

Questions Anyone?

Helpful Links

GradSchool.com

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