The Literary Salon

A free salon wherein patrons and passers-by may view or contribute ideas on literary and generally intellectual matters. The blog will strive to maintain its commitment to wit, humour and perspicuous analysis.

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Location: Toronto, now Ottawa, Ont, Canada

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Bars and the Man I Sing

I spent nearly the whole day at York U yesterday. I met two professors and Dr. J, which is always neat. It really is a strange experience going back there (my alma mater, I think), and, with the exception of TAs or Profs, not knowing anyone. I went to a book sale in Founder's College, an annual thing which I highly recommend. As I was digging through the tables, I found a book I nearly went mad searching for, The Poetical Works of William Cowper. I paid, get this, a buck for it!! It's a hardcover from 1924. The only other place I've ever seen anything by William Cowper was in Eliot's second hand bookshop, a century old leatherbound edition going for about 50 bucks! Good thing I held out.

Concerning Queen's University's rejection of moi, I had to share this: I emailed the graduate coordinator and asked her "How may I strengthen my application, for future reference?", which is a polite way of saying, "Hello ass; why the f#$@ did I not get in"?
I won't share the whole email with you, but suffice it to say, Queen's egregiously misread my application. I will only share those points that are patently false:

1) She pointed out to me that the prof I mentioned on my Statement would be on sabbatical next year, something I obviously knew since I had already spoken to him (I mentioned this on my statement). The supervisor doesn't really kick in until the 2nd or 3rd year anyway.

2) She said I have a strong A average, but my lowest mark (B+) is in the area I want to work in. Only Queen's would make a big deal of that. If I have one B+ in a half course and, without hyperbole, fifteen A's (two A- and two A+), that should probably tell you to ignore the B+.

3) Referees: it is puzzling that I didn't get references from people in my field. Well, genius, if the only person in my field I ever worked with was the course in which I got a B+, why in hell's name would I get a reference from that prof? And besides, most schools don't even offer grad level courses in my area, so it's lose lose. She also mentioned that I didn't get references from professors in my strongest classes...WRONG!! One of my referees was the one who gave me my two A+ s. Please look closer next time.

4) Writing sample is not in my intended field: first, it's very close, and second, the graduate chair in November told me that it doesn't matter. Only a school like Queen's would do something like that.

5) PArts of my writing sample were misread: I call Austen a "teenager" and admit that it is an anachronistic term, but for some reason this person thought that I was referring to Kant's ideas on comedy as anachronistic!

In the end, it's too late to matter now, but I was right to question their admissions process. Assuming what was written to me is accurate, it reveals a basic lack of attention to detail and common sense. It's not just me, but many, many people I've spoken to from different fields have told me that Queen's is "weird." Now I can see why.

On a side note, I've been hearing from fairly accurate sources that U Texas at Austin has rejected people, and so far I haven't heard, so here's hopin'.


Anonymous zelda said...

oh man, it's tough to contact sites after and ask "how can i strengthen my app?" - because often they don't have any really good advice.

hang in there!

6:07 p.m.  

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