unravelling at night what she had woven during the day, as a clever ploy to “buy time” and stave off hungry suitors - Odyssey

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From: Advisor <Advisor@bigshot.com>
Tue, Dec 11, 2011 at 1:09 PM
To: PhD Candidate <phd.candidate@email.com>


Just touching base. I’m not in my office much these days—Tuesdays and most Wednesdays are the best days to catch me (I’m around tomorrow at 2:30 or next Tues between 10 and 3). Don’t hesitate to email as well. 

Hope you’re developing the ideas we discussed last month about a modified comp proposal. I suspect at this point it you won’t quite have it ready for us before the Christmas break. No worries if this is the case, but it would be good to have something for us early in the new year for the committee to review and discuss with you. Remember, the proposal doesn’t have to be comprehensive at this stage—just enough for a constructive preliminary discussion with the three of us about your project and for us to agree on any modifications before you develop it more fully and wrap it up for the full comp oral (and completion of comp requirements) later Winter Term.

All the best, 


From: PhD Candidate <phd.candidate@email.com>
Thu, Dec 13, 2011 at 2:21 PM
To: Advisor <Advisor@bigshot.com>

Thanks for the message. I am slowly working away at the proposal. I have been highly distracted this semester by my mother's diagnosis. And I'm not making an excuse, but I had to reprioritize my life and deal with my family so that I can move forward. I'm in my home- town with my mother now. She's being taken off chemo next weekend because her body can't take it anymore. I told you I could cope, but I struggled and couldn't cope as well and balance everything as I let on.

I hope to come back in January with some fresh perspective and work done.

See you in the new year and all the best to you and you family over the holiday.

PhD Candidate

From: Advisor <Advisor@bigshot.com>
Fri, Dec 14, 2011 at 11:02 AM
To:PhD Candidate <phd.candidate@email.com> 


I suspected you were distracted and I'm sorry to hear about your mom's struggles with her illness. While we can tell ourselves to rationally compartmentalize the issues, our reactions tend to be much more difficult when it comes to family and friends, especially where there are complex histories. Try to relax as much as you can over the holidays, look for cheer, and we'll chat in the new year.

All the best, 


From: Not Deterred <undiscouragable@email.com>
Date: 09/2/11
To: Aid
Subject: update

Oh hi,

Apologies again for the misfired email the other week. I hope you have been keeping well.

I just received an email concerning my application to Fancy American School: my name has not been put forth for admission to the What I Want To Do  program. Thank you again for all your advice and support--I've really appreciated all of your detailed descriptions of life at Fancy American School. I do hope that we can stay in touch.

Enjoy the sunshine. Warmly,


From: Aid <aid@supportive.com>
Date: 16/2/11
To: Not Deterred
Subject: re: update


I'm sorry to hear this. I know this is not going to be of help -- but to give you perspective: a friend who spend two years at Fancy American School working with the faculty in the department was not offered admission.

The point is this -- when you have 5 applications per 1 spot, we can speak of something being "competitive," and feel bad when we don't get something; when you have 15 applications per 1 spot -- the story is different.

Do let me know where you'll be next year; and if I can be of help with respect to anything - don't hesitate to write. It'll be love to get together when I pass Toronto on the way to Europe (I think this May /June).


To: Ms. Aid <aid@supportive.com>
Date: 05/03/11
From: Peer


I am sorry to hear that your colleague was not offered admission. That sounds like an awfully intense situation for your friend. I cannot imagine how that they must feel.

I am also sorry to say that such a situation does put my own into perspective. I knew the chances of my acceptance were slim given the size of the pool of applicants. I am, however, happy that I tried and that my name and my interests, are in some capacity, known to faculty
at Fancy American School. That, and I would not have had the pleasure of correspondence with you had I not attempted an application. On that note, I would be delighted to share time and space when you're in This City passing through to That Continent.

I have my fingers crossed that I'll hear something positive from Other Fancy American School. I'll be sure to keep you posted!

I hope this finds you well,


Hidden Discouragement

From: Misplaced Advice
To: Emancipator 
Subject: a long overdue hello


I hope this email finds you well. It's good to be in contact with you after so many years! 

I've been hearing from family members that you would like to have a conversation with me about PhD work. I am definitely interested in your thoughts on the process as well as your experiences as a doctoral student. 

Are you teaching for the summer term? What campus do you teach at? It would be so fortuitous if you were teaching at Story campus; that could make for an easily coordinated cup of coffee. 

Let me know when you're available. I can be contacted at this email address this.email@address.com. 



From: Misplaced Advice
To: Emancipator 
Subject: PhD talk


Thanks for getting in touch.  It's great to hear from you.

I am a full time prof at Story College - Phonics Campus which is at Range Road and 1008.  I teach part-time at Gold Plated University and The Newer University.  I used to teach part-time at The University of Critical Studies but not since 2005.  Right now I am just wrapping up a compressed 7 weeks course at Story College, am at Gold Plated University- BURB campus for one course all Summer and am doing an on-line course for The Newer University for the Summer term.  I am also doing a course for An Important Demographic through The Newer University - I see those students next weekend for a two day intensive.

If you haven't yet committed to a PhD program, I thought we should talk.  I didn't really understand what a PhD was until I was 2/3 of the way through it.  By that point I had too much invested to stop doing it.  I'm not sorry that I did it - it opened a lot of doors and there is a world of difference between having part of a PhD and having a completed PhD.  My big advantage in the job market was my 18 years of experience as an HR professional.  Even though my research sucks, no one else in my field has my work experience and a PhD.

What part of the city do you live in?  We live in Somewhere which is north of Nowhere.

All the best, 


Letter of Reference, Please

From: Wanting
Subject: Re: Letter of reference
Date: 15 January, 2011 3:48:16 PM EST
To: Mr. Meritocracy


I hope you had a fantastic holiday!

I am writing to you to see if you would consider providing a reference for me to This University and That University for PhD studies. I have attached my CV and personal statement. They are due by the end of January.

Thanks so much!


From: Mr. Meritocracy 
Subject: Re: Letter of reference
Date: 10 January, 2011 5:04:17 PM EST
To: The Hopeless


Thank you for your email and attached documentation which I have read. Your CV is impressive and very well presented. Your statement of interest for That University is very clear, and informed by correspondence with some of their faculty. 

If I write a letter of reference on your behalf this would be the first one I would write on the basis of having had known the student only in one course. I can't help but think that a letter from a faculty member with whom you have taken more than one course, and in which your work was highly considered (A),  would be more helpful to you.

I write this with the knowledge that members of Admission Committee look carefully at all components of an application. In a competitive process, the strongest application is the one with the greatest strength in all the components of an application. From then on it is a matter of ranking. Hence my submitting the above suggestion for your consideration.

Sincerely yours,

Mr. M


From: Writer 
Sent: March 30, 2013 3:12 PM
To: Panic
Subject: Fuck

You are playing in the big leagues and although I can’t totally understand your anxieties, I recognise hints of the feelings of self-doubt you express. I don’t know…I’m not sure it will ever go away or that it is a bad thing if it does not go away. Maybe it’s the secret fuel of ambition.

I remember being filled with tonnes of self-doubt and anxiety in my mid to late 20’s. People around me said I always appeared confident but I was convinced that the system was set up to personally screw me over. I knew I could do the aid work job well but could never catch a break, or did not have the right training or know the right people or whatever and just could not get ahead. At some point though, I caught a couple of breaks and eventually started to wonder if those above and ahead of me might also have similar anxieties of their own.

Looking back I realized I hadn’t actually done too badly during those years and maybe those anxieties might have been pushing me along.

Anxieties aside, you are where you are today because you deserve to be there – you earned your way to this point. I have no doubts you won’t keep moving ahead.  

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