On Realism and Graduate School Applications

I applied and was denied admission to the University of Chicago’s Masters Program in Social Sciences summarily and without review of my application. This was, to a certain extent, expected. I am a third-year. I spoke with one of my professors, a well-known political scientist at the U of C, about my denial from the masters program. His advice:

“Here is the reason why you were denied: you posed an existential threat to the established system. Now, I know how tempting it is to make the argument that rules were made to be broken, that there are exceptions to expectations, but I implore you to evaluate the implications of your actions had you been successful. You would have turned over an entire institution, one predicated on a sequential acquisition of credentials. You don’t have to sell me on the fact that some undergraduates are more intelligent than graduate students; I’m trying, here, to sell you on the structural realist argument that how smart you think you are, or whatever intelligence you might exhibit–none of that matters. Okay? Do you see what I’m getting at here? Your actions, their potential outcomes, are defined through systemic constraints–you could’ve been omniscient, for Chris’sake, but because you don’t meet their parameters for admission–acquisiton of a bachelor’s being one of them–they won’t accept you. My best recommendation to you: game the system. Expose it, too. The College needs some shaking up.”


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