I am considering applying to PhD programs, to study sociology. I am a teacher, and would like to study education, particularly how it relates to race and class. However, I’m pretty far out from undergrad ('01), and from my MA ('03). I did very well in college (at a SLAC), and if applying straight from there, I would have had excellent recommendations. However, 20 years later, not so much. (My advisor and I actually kept in touch, but he passed away a few years ago). I tend to test well, so I’m not super concerned about the GRE.
My two primary concerns are:
- I have no idea where to get letters of recommendation; and
- I have no idea where to get a writing sample. I write things all the time for various jobs and volunteer activities, but none would exactly be research-based sociological papers.
I was looking into taking some summer school classes at local universities (I’m in Boston, so there are many on offer), but they all seem to be online still for the summer, and I am wary of paying a whole lot of money without having the opportunity for a professor to get to know me well enough to write a letter of recommendation that rings true (“Was not noticeably dancing to TikTok dances while I was teaching” is not exactly a ringing endorsement? Can you tell I’m a teacher and this is my life currently?).
What do people who apply to PhD programs later in life do? I’m not getting any younger, and would like to be able to apply in the fall, if possible.