Re: Lazy Ask The Mineshaft (All Questions Reconstructed From Memory)

1

I am not a computer, but, shouldn't he ask his advisor/other profs? 'Specially ones who've been on whatever that committee is called that culls picks the sacrificial lambs grad students?


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:05 PM
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What advisor?

It's possible I could find somebody at [ giant public institution ] to tell me, but I'd have to wade through a lot of brush-offs first. And I love you people!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:13 PM
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Some job postings specifically ask for baccalaureates of science.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:14 PM
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How you gonna drop science? You're dumb
Stupid ignorant, don't even talk to me
At school you dropped Math, Science and History
And then you get on the mic and try to act smart
Well let me tell you one thing, you got heart
To perpetrate, you're bait, so just wait
Till the press shove a mic in your face
Or you meet Boogie Down or Chuck D
Stetsasonic or the Big Daddy
And they ask you about the game you claim you got
Drop science now, why not?
You start to sweat and fret, it gets hot
How'd you get into this spot?
You played yourself...
Yo, yo, you played yourself...


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:16 PM
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I take pride in the fact that despite being a physicist, my undergraduate degree is a BA. I had to read fucking Homer and the execrable Aeneid for that shit.

I don't think anyone else gives a rat's ass, though. Practically speaking I'd have been better off pursuing a more BS oriented approach, with a heavier focus on directly related classes. As is, I wound up going after the whole well rounded man of letters ladida and had to bust my ass first year of grad school just to get OK grades competing against people whose entire distribution requirements as undergrads had been filled with a single survey course less demanding than a two line comment by W-lfs-n. I don't regret the choice to go wide rather than deep as an undergrad, but there were real tradeoffs.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:16 PM
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I say no because some schools only give a BA, some only give a BS, it's highly unlikely that anyone on a grad school committee knows which ones give what and which ones offer both if you do different amounts of work.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:18 PM
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In our physics department there is definitely a difference. There's the BA and BS. Nobody wants a BA in physics, it's definitely perceived as having failed some sort of weeding-out process that would qualify you for grad school. I think people end up with the BA if they can't pass some crucial course in the 3rd or 4th year.

They are then seen as being fated to become high school science teachers. OH NO!


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:18 PM
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And I suppose that this means at my school, if you have a BA instead of a BS in physics, you are also missing some important class from your transcript, like DiffEq or something, and therefore would be seen as less qualified by the admissions committee for that reason.

Whereas in your situation, if the difference in terms of relevant classwork is minimal, then what's the difference really?


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:20 PM
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They are then seen as being fated to become high school science teachers. OH NO!

I loved my high school physics teacher, I'll have you know!


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:21 PM
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1: I am not a computer
For both the BA and BS you need to know about Turing.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:22 PM
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9: That's OK, the statute of limitations has probably run by now.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:22 PM
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I have a BS. Go figure.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:27 PM
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Sifu surely isn't thinking of grad school, is he? What a maroon!

         *  *  *

Di, have you been here?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:28 PM
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7,8 I think it really matters what the end goal of the graduate effort is. If it's academic track you're probably better off going with the more intensely focused degree since that provides better grounding in the first two years where academic standing is sorted out and reputations among the faculty are established. If you're going for a more professional long term goal it doesn't hurt to go for the additional breadth at the expense of some depth.

ST's issue, however, appears to be that the BA is the bird in the hand, while the BS takes more work. In that situation I think the BS is probably worth it. Going into grad school with maximum preparation is a very good thing. My experience of the first year of grad school was that it was very much like boot camp. The sheer level of effort required just to keep on top of things was extreme. Even minor advantages in preparation going in were enormously useful because they shaved a half hour or so off the work day, which gets to be a big deal when 100 hour weeks are the norm.

That's physics in the mid 90s, not necessarily comparable to CS in the late aughts. I suspect that there's less pressure to weed people out in CS now than there was in physics then (which was undergoing a nasty contraction in funding). Anyway, ST, I think more prep is better going in, but my advice is conditioned by experience that is not necessarily transferable.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:34 PM
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The place linked in 13.2 seemed interesting till the third column and then immediately insufferable.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:35 PM
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My undergrad physics degree was a BA. No one cared, as far as I'm aware. But I know nothing about what happens in computerland.

The "it's possible I could find somebody at [ giant public institution ] to tell me, but I'd have to wade through a lot of brush-offs first" bit worries me, though. Who's writing your recommendations?

In decreasing order of importance, the things you want for a grad school application are research experience (preferably with publications), good letters from people known to the departments you're applying, and then a good transcript.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:36 PM
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Since we're asking about higher education: I never got the piece of parchment when I got my Masters five years ago (I took the summer after to finish, and never got around to picking it up). Any chance they keep those on file? Can I get it now? Mostly it's so my ego wall is complete, but I figure it's worth asking.


Posted by: Mike d | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:37 PM
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The Violet Hour has damned good drinks.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:37 PM
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More information:

The BS requires three more upper division electives in the particular subfield I'm interested in. As is I will have completed maybe 4 courses that are directly relevant. With the BS I will presumably have completed 7.

The downside of the BS is that I would finish school several months later than I had hoped to.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:37 PM
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Depends on the institution--some places grant the A vs. the S depending on the "three years of foreign language" vs one, or "two years of math/quantitative work" vs one...

But, my grad school never even checked that I had a bachelor's degree. Thus leading to the odd situation of my MS being dated four years (almost to the day) earlier than my BS (finally got around to clearing up a stupid snafu).


Posted by: Tj | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:40 PM
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the things you want for a grad school application are research experience (preferably with publications), good letters from people known to the departments you're applying, and then a good transcript.

The first isn't going to happen, but I'm hoping non-academic experience counts for something. The second is certainly possible, but more likely to happen with more courses taken. The third isn't going to happen, but particularly if I take the BS route there's a possibility of things ending on a high note.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:40 PM
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The place linked in 13.2 seemed interesting till the third column and then immediately insufferable.

I solved that problem by not reading that far.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:41 PM
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13(b): Oh, wow. No, I have not been there. I am bookmarking and trying to figure out who I could persuade to go (my local friends being either suburban moms who don't like to leave the suburbs or raging alcoholics who I don't like to hit the bars with). Maybe I'll go alone.

Also, current status of the SF trip does not look promising. For a few hours today, it looked like I was going to get a whole day to do whatever I pleased. Now, not so much.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:42 PM
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The second is certainly possible, but more likely to happen with more courses taken.

That might be a good reason to go for the extra courses (more so than the BS vs. BA). In my (limited, but so far unreasonably successful) experience, being known to people and having your name mentioned in the social network is a big help (not only for grad school admissions, but for job applications if you would be in academic down the road). Recommendations really do seem to be key.

Is there a GRE subject test in your field? From what I heard when doing grad school apps, it was somewhat important in physics, in that it seemed to be an initial cut on admissions. People didn't care so much about the precise number (since legions of Chinese people get perfect scores through sometimes dubious means), but falling below a certain threshold was fatal.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:46 PM
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19: Tweety, it seems clear that you should go for the BS. A few months later isn't a big deal given that you're a later student anyway, and the additional course material can't be anything but a plus, not just for grad school applications and prep, but for your own mental stimulation. (!)

With those courses under your belt, your grad school application essays (do they have those for sciences?) will be that much more clearly on top of the game.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:47 PM
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The place linked in 13.2 seemed interesting till the third column and then immediately insufferable.

Really? Huh. I guess I just like insufferable.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:51 PM
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Is there a GRE subject test in your field?

Not one with immediately obvious relevance.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:51 PM
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I teach CS at a major institution -- essear at #16 is spot on as to what we are looking for. It sounds like you'll be a much stronger applicant if you finish the BS, not because of the difference in degree requirements but because you'll have more time to make your case -- start some research, cover up earlier bad grades with later good ones, and like that.

The question is how much you care about getting into a better grad school versus the cost of investing more time and money in your undergrad program. A good grad program will take a BA student if there's reason to think they can make up for their weaker background while in the grad program. But have you got the evidence to convince them to do that? A few more A's in upper-level courses might help a lot.

We're actually just putting in a BA in our CS undergrad program, with about the same three-course difference that you report for yours. We want to pull in more majors who might not want to be tied down to the heavier BS requirements, or who might be double majoring in something else.


Posted by: DaveMB | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:53 PM
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I guess I just like insufferable.

Then it really is too bad about your trip.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:53 PM
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24: the way recommendations work at [ giant public institution ] seems to be that if you get an A in the class, the professor will write a recommendation. As far as I can gather, unless you do research it's fairly unlikely any professor will get an actual sense of who you are.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:54 PM
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Sifu, from what you're saying it really seems like the extra classes are a worthwhile investment, particularly if they have the potential to push your GPA up even a little. Not to mention the fact that you are presumably actually interested in the subject matter (and if not, going to gradschool is a mistake).


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:54 PM
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Then maybe you should graduate later and do some research in the meantime, Sifu.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:55 PM
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Then it really is too bad about your trip.

The case isn't likely to go away anytime soon. I'm fully counting on future firm-financed travel.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:56 PM
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I should mention that this isn't CS per se. There's a lot of computation, but a lot of other stuff, too.

Actually, if we're being technical about it, the field I'd be interested in often is under the rubric of CS, but my undergrad degree will be in a different department, so that might agitate for taking more technical courses to prove I have the chops.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:57 PM
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32: research opportunities here are restricted by GPA.

Also, graduating any later than I would if I went the BS track is pretty much not an option.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:58 PM
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35: Lame. Set the GPA-storage building on fire.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 8:59 PM
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As far as I can gather, unless you do research it's fairly unlikely any professor will get an actual sense of who you are.

Try to find reasons to stop by their offices and talk to them. Maybe something you've worked on outside academia, or something you play with in your spare time, is vaguely related to someone's work? Strike up a conversation about it. Go to departmental seminars and colloquia and ask good questions. Not show-offy questions, just good ones.

(In general, I guess the advice is that the best way to get into a good grad school is to act like a grad student while you're an undergrad. My view on how easy it is to do this is probably colored by having gone to the U of C.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:00 PM
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Blume won't marry you without your sheepskin, is that it?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:00 PM
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(I have an academia-related question, too, and one that touches on the theme of insufferability, so this seems like the perfect place to ask. If an individual is finishing grad school and is on the job market, and has applied for a job at a certain university, is it appropriate/standard for him to describe himself as "up for a professorship" at that university? This strikes me as misleading on the verge of outright lying, but I know academics are weird about some things and so I thought I should check here before passing judgment.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:01 PM
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If an individual is finishing grad school and is on the job market, and has applied for a job at a certain university, is it appropriate/standard for him to describe himself as "up for a professorship" at that university?

Oh my god, hell no. If you are at the stage of going for a job talk, fine (if pretentious). If you have merely applied, that is bullshit.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:03 PM
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Blume to Sifu:

Quaeris cur nolim te ducere, Sifu? Diserta sum.
Saepe soloecismum mentula vostra facit.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:03 PM
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is it appropriate/standard for him to describe himself as "up for a professorship" at that university?

No.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:05 PM
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Go to departmental seminars and colloquia and ask good questions.

Yeah, this I need to do more of. Certainly I have some minimal contacts in the field, and god knows I try to butter up my professors when possible. The classes are just big enough that it's hard to find the opportunities.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:05 PM
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39 -- I love that. Any of the 7 or 8 people who sent me unsolicited emails today looking for a job can say they're 'under consideration at an AmLaw 100 firm.'


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:05 PM
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35.1: Crazy wack! But because I think I know where [ giant public institution ] is, I'm tempted to ask whether you've investigated the quasi-affiliated private research institutions in that area to see if some might not have this GPA hang-up. Sorry for harping on this, but the sense I have is that research experience really is kind of a biggie.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:06 PM
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Who would say "up for a professorship" anyway?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:06 PM
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Blume won't marry you without your sheepskin, is that it?

Oh, hey, wow. This whole higher ed adventure may just be a hilarious misunderstanding. Are you sure by "sheepskin" she meant "diploma"?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:06 PM
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Di!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:07 PM
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40: I don't actually know what stage he's at in the process, short of actually landing the job. So maybe he's in the "fine (but pretentious)" category, which is all I was really wondering. The context (social situation in which everyone knew he was finishing grad school and on the market) made actual deceptive intent very unlikely--I shouldn't really have phrased it that way. I'm just looking to get a sense of the level of insufferability involved. It struck me as very high.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:08 PM
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45: I have, and actually talked my way into a research study a couple of years ago, which opportunity I proceeded to utterly fail to capitalize on (part of a larger general project of having everything go to hell, but still). I should ask around. For a variety of reasons, I don't have that many contacts here.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:09 PM
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35: research opportunities here are restricted by GPA.
you sure? Free labor is free labor. Just sayin.


Posted by: BA | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:15 PM
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Just out of not entirely random curiosity, what sort of CS-y things do you do/are interested in doing?


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:15 PM
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For a variety of reasons, I don't have that many contacts here.

Story of my life.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:16 PM
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52: kind of in the machine learning/computational neuroscience kind of general region of things.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:18 PM
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As someone who has served on an admissions committee, I can say that 16 has it exactly right. Or to put it another way, we want evidence that you are capable of working hard, willing to work hard, and academically competent. In about that order too, once you satisfy minimum competence requirements.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:23 PM
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I'm involved in admissions in a CS department, and I agree that exactly what degree doesn't matter so much. But, if Sifu is applying for Ph.D., I'd definitely want to see some evidence of research ability. There are a lot of students who are smart, but don't have the discipline, motivation, attitude, or something, to successfully do research.


Posted by: Anon | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:27 PM
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finishing grad school and is on the job market, and has applied for a job at a certain university, is it appropriate/standard for him to describe himself as "up for a professorship" at that university?

Bwaahahahahaha!


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:27 PM
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Guess I better finish my robot.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:29 PM
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Maybe if you start describing yourself as "up for a grad studentship" at the university of your choice, it'll just happen magically.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:31 PM
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Sifu, Sifu, Sifu. The professoriate doesn't need robots to bring them drinks. That's what the graduate students are for.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:31 PM
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Also, it should be possible to get some research experience, if you are willing to do free labor. If you really have what it takes, find a professor, corner him/her, then ask a few questions about possible research ideas. Then go off and something on your own. It's okay if you are not sure whether or not you are going in the right direction. The point is to show that you can work independently, without being micromanaged.


Posted by: Anon | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:33 PM
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Yes, but the robots aren't as sullen and snarky about it.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:33 PM
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61: yes, but first look at their papers, posters from their grad students, etc.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:34 PM
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24: the way recommendations work at [ giant public institution ] seems to be that if you get an A in the class, the professor will write a recommendation. As far as I can gather, unless you do research it's fairly unlikely any professor will get an actual sense of who you are.

Such recommendations are usually not worth too much. You need to speak up in class, go to office hours, etc.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:37 PM
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63: Yes, definitely be selective.

By the way, I've been trying to hire some undergrads with an NSF REU I have (in CS), and have been having a hard time. It's hard to find an undergrad with the time and discipline. Some are smart, but just don't have the ability to drive something.


Posted by: Anon | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:41 PM
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Another thought: if you have a pretty clear sense of what sort of research you're interested in, the at the same time you apply for grad schools, apply for an NSF graduate research fellowship (and similar such fellowships). Again, recommendations will matter, but a large part of the decision will also be based on whether you pitch a convincing one-page (or maybe it was two?) research proposal. If you can pull off winning one of these fellowships, then you call up the grad school you want to go to, tell them you already have funding, and the odds that they will admit you will suddenly improve.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:42 PM
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Another thought: if you have a pretty clear sense of what sort of research you're interested in, the at the same time you apply for grad schools, apply for an NSF graduate research fellowship (and similar such fellowships).
YES.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:42 PM
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research opportunities here are restricted by GPA

Then I have the solution to your problem: switch to a different institution.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:43 PM
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||
I can personally attest that the brisket referenced in this article is, in fact, FUCKING AMAZING.
|>


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:45 PM
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Hm! 66 and 67 seem wise. Okay.

69: oh man you're so lucky.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:50 PM
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So, is the killer robot actually pertinent to your area of research? Or can you at least use it to intimidate the NSF into giving you grants?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:52 PM
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oh man you're so lucky.

You have no idea. I ended up having it for three meals out of five over the weekend. Unbelievably awesome.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:52 PM
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WHAT IS THIS THING YOU HUMANS CALL ... DIRECT COSTS?


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:53 PM
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WHERE DO THE UNDERREPRESENTED STUDENTS COME INTO THE PICTURE?


Posted by: OPINIONATED SIFU THREEPOH | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:54 PM
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71: it is pertinent, although as currently envisioned it doesn't really break any ground. It just shows I'm capable of working with relevant methods.

It will likely not be that intimidating, in killer robot terms.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:55 PM
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70: Applying for an NSF fellowship may be worth be doing, but be aware that the evaluation criteria will likely to be similar to that for funded admittance to graduate school, and that it will be selective.


Posted by: Anon | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:56 PM
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Killer robots are more a DOD thing anyway. Which is good, because DOD has way the hell more money than NSF anyway.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 9:58 PM
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76 is right, but apply for other support from many sources. Some real jokers get some plum fellowships, so don't let the 'selective' nature fool you.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 10:00 PM
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To give you an idea of what TJ means, I got a plum fellowship.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 10:03 PM
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79: Are you going to build a robot girl who understands you, ben?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 10:08 PM
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I have a friggin' Business undergrad (a BSBA, actually), and I managed to get into a Master of Information Systems program at a reasonably well regarded state school. (Never mind that the actual program was a joke.)

Of course, I had some work experience. That would probably do you better than spending an extra semester at school, although landing a computer position would have to suck in the current environment - half the IT staff from the entire friggin' financial industry is looking for work right now. Still, with regards to looking for work, I can tell you that the BA/BS distinction would mean very little in terms of getting an actual job.

What kind of computery stuff are you into, Tweety? Can you code?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 10:08 PM
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What kind of computery stuff are you into, Tweety? Can you code?

Yep.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 10:12 PM
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Of course, I had some work experience. That would probably do you better than spending an extra semester at school

When reviewing applications for Ph.D. program, I usually don't give much weight to work experience, unless it was in more of a management role or more than ordinary in some other way.


Posted by: Anon | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 10:13 PM
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I managed to get into a Master of Information Systems program at a reasonably well regarded state school. (Never mind that the actual program was a joke.)

But that explains how you got in. Programs like that are money-makers.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 10:14 PM
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Getting a job is really not the issue here. Grad school would be a way of avoiding getting the same kind of job I had before I went back to school (except, presumably, at lower pay and higher annoyance, given the general state of things).


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 10:14 PM
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Grad school would, of course, be much lower pay, and probably also higher annoyance.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 10:15 PM
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86: well, yeah. But with the future promise of slightly higher pay and even greater annoyance.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 10:16 PM
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84: No doubt, I got ripped off. Didn't learn a hell of a lot I didn't already know, but I did get a piece of paper that has something computery enough on it to get me past the HR trolls. And isn't that the point of getting educated?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 10:17 PM
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Anyhow I actually do have a reason to go to grad school outside of sheer masochistic foolishness. I just don't feel like going into it right now.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 10:18 PM
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I'm afraid I know little to nothing about BA vs. BS (my school only offered BAs for undergrad), but on The Violet Hour:

1) Great drinks, damn stiff but never overdone. They provide you with a tiny carafe of the rest of the drink that they made but did not reasonably fit in the glass.

2) The Riviera is fucking amazing, as is the very strongly-flavored Eyes Wide.

3) Bring a good crowd that you want to talk to, as the place is entirely designed about being able to talk to your group but not to anyone else in the place. High-backed chairs, velvet curtains breaking it into smaller rooms, generally kept quiet, etc.

4) Not worth going to on weekend nights; the wait is staggeringly long and the doorman won't actually call your party back.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 10:19 PM
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90: is it true that if you go with a sufficiently large group, they force you all to order the same drink?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 10:39 PM
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91: What, like, bottle service?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 10:42 PM
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92: I would imagine it's more like "carafe service"? I seem to remember hearing some complaints that they wouldn't take individual drink orders from a sufficiently large (6 people? 8 people?) group. I haven't been there with any such group, so I'm not sure.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 10:47 PM
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89: They're not going to teach you the secret to building a KILLER ROBOT in grad school, Sifu.

I have a BA in math instead of a BS, and no one has ever seemed to care.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 10:48 PM
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In fact, they taught me the secret to building my killer robot in the grad class I'm avoiding doing the homework for right now!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 10:50 PM
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Elementary chaos theory tells us that all robots will eventually turn against their masters and run amok, in an orgy of blood and the kicking and the biting with the metal teeth and the hurting and shoving.


Posted by: beamish | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 10:53 PM
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The channeling of Professor Frink in 96 is lovely.

(Cross-posted to Standpipe's place, of course.)


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 10:58 PM
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I had to read fucking Homer and the execrable Aeneid for that shit.

Callow youth. At Old Reed, kids had some respect.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 11:06 PM
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35: Are you sure that they are restricted by GPA in practice? In all cases? Sometimes those restrictions are just there as a first-order filter, to reduce the number of people the professors actually have to talk to. As an undergraduate, I made the mistake of too quickly believing a posted grade requirement for a TA position I really wanted, and giving up. I later found out that the professor in question was willing to make exceptions if approached directly.

It seems to me that it's worth approaching at least a few professors who have research interests similar to the areas you are interested in. You should be able to make a stronger pitch in person that you will on paper to a grad school admission committee, right? Go to their office hours and talk to them. You're interested in doing a research project related to your interests, you want to go to grad school in that area, you do have this GPA problem due to past issues that have been resolved, you would really like to strengthen your portfolio before applying to schools, and you would like their advice. That's the essence of the pitch, I think. If they can't help you directly, maybe they can suggest other ways you can pick up the research experience.

And given that, I would definitely suggest sticking around the extra time for the BS, more to allow you the extra time to strengthen your portfolio than for what they call the degree itself.


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 11:37 PM
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Yeah, I think the fundamentally weird thing about "research opportunities here are restricted by GPA" is that whether a professor takes on a research student is entirely up to that professor. The university might have some formalized "research class" that would show up on a transcript, but that's irrelevant. No professor is going to refuse a promising student because of some stupid-ass university policy. (Maybe for other reasons, but not for that.) Even the funding that would pay you for the research, if it's something the professor wants to pay you for, would presumably be grant money that the university wouldn't be able to regulate in that way.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 11:44 PM
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What's striking to me is the lack of available professors to serve as advisors on the matter. I used to go to a handful of professors all the time with questions vaguely related to the coursework. (Granted, I studied IR, so basically I could say "I read in the news that X and though Y, what do you think?" and be on-topic.)

I'd even bring in non-course-related advice-begging questions, once a rapport was established. Now you all have me paranoid I was annoying them, and that they did an extraordinary job of feigning interest. You people ruin everything.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 11:49 PM
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"thought"


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 1-08 11:51 PM
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91: That has not been the case with any groups I've gone there with, and they've been as large as 8-9 people (though on that occasion we were seated in two distinct groups because the back room with the larger tables was closed). As a group of 5-6 people sitting contiguously, we also didn't run into this problem. Considering they plan on filling most of the available seats no matter what, it would be somewhat arbitrary to make one group of eight order the same thing when two groups of four would not be expected to do so.

Oh yeah, the bartenders have also been quite happy to mix drinks that are not on the menu. They made a delightfully aromatic sazerac for me on one of my visits.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:02 AM
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I should probably go bug professors more, but I dunno... I've tried it, obviously, and it's always seemed like they were a little put out to be dealing with me babbling on about non-course-related whatever. I sort of feel like being a professor here basically entails being fucking busy, and while they would love free labor, the extra overhead of trying to manage some undergrad makes their heads spin. Or maybe I'm projecting?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:03 AM
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99 and 100 are correct. If you can demonstrate to a professor that you will be a net time gain, rather than a net time loss, that's all that really matters.


Posted by: Anon | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:03 AM
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Oh yeah, the bartenders have also been quite happy to mix drinks that are not on the menu

Something that really ought to be unremarkable. It's a bar, fer chrissakes.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:07 AM
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Sifu--that really blows. The professors from the smallest, highest coded courses you've taken? It could be that CS-type professors at U of Huge are just way jerkier than the physics profs at U of Weed.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:10 AM
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I sort of feel like being a professor here basically entails being fucking busy, and while they would love free labor, the extra overhead of trying to manage some undergrad makes their heads spin.

Exactly. You say you want to do research, but will you really put in the effort? Will you disappear when you get busy? Can you reliably put in 20 hours a week? Will your research with me be the first thing that gets sacrificed when you get busy? What about when there is a paper or other deadline? Will you pull all-nighters, sacrifice your social life? When I ask you to do grunt work, will you do it? Will you constantly forget about meetings and require reminders?

After I put in the time and effort to train you, how many semesters will you actually work? It will probably take at least a semester before you actually become productive.

Can you write a technical paper?


Posted by: Anon | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:13 AM
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To Sifu: I'm a faculty in a field related to computational neuroscience, and I would second (third, whatever) essear in #16. Lacking research experience and recommendations from somebody who knows you, you're probably going to have a hard time getting into a good grad school, no matter how good your grades are. If you have research experience then you have a good chance, even if your grades aren't perfect.

So I strongly agree with the advice to get some research experience somehow if grad school is indeed your goal. If your institution has a GPA cutoff, that is really lame of them, but you'll still need to figure out how to get research experience. Offer yourself as an unpaid assistant, talk to lots and lots of people, find someone at another university, whatever. At minimum, you could find some interesting topic in your field and try to do something on your own. (For instance, I was a huge nerd and when I was an undergrad one summer I tried to write a neural-network-type digit recognition system in BASIC. (This possibly dates me somewhat). What I did sucked, but when I then stopped to visit professors in office hours the next year and happened to mention my attempts, they were impressed that I had even done it at all, and it helped me get a spot in one lab.)

In general, people are looking to see that you're independently motivated and also fascinated enough by this stuff that you'll do it obsessively, because these are the skills needed to succeed in grad school. Taking the extra classes to get the BS will help, but only insofar as they demonstrate that; and they demonstrate it far less well than actual research experience, of whatever sort, would.


Posted by: Forza | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:15 AM
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Another thing I'd note is that research experience is useful for you, too, beyond just making it easier to get into grad school. If you end up disliking doing research, that's a pretty strong indication that grad school and academia aren't for you (which is fine; it takes a certain, semi-insane, sort of person to flourish in academia). Better to know that in advance rather than after wasting years of your life.


Posted by: Forza | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:22 AM
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Last bit of advice... don't be too proud for nepotism.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:26 AM
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At minimum, you could find some interesting topic in your field and try to do something on your own. (For instance, I was a huge nerd and when I was an undergrad one summer I tried to write a neural-network-type digit recognition system in BASIC. (This possibly dates me somewhat). What I did sucked, but when I then stopped to visit professors in office hours the next year and happened to mention my attempts, they were impressed that I had even done it at all, and it helped me get a spot in one lab.)

Yeah. Sort of what I'm after with the KILLER ROBOT. Well, that and I want a KILLER ROBOT.

All this self-motivation crap is gonna kill me, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:32 AM
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Anyhow, yeah, the whole research/non-course-related experience being more important thing is no surprise to me. I'm just trying to figure out how to maximize the actual academic piece of the equation.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:36 AM
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All this self-motivation crap is gonna kill me, though.

Then you lack one of the important qualities for a Ph.D. student, at least in Computer Science.


Posted by: Anon | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:36 AM
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Then you lack one of the important qualities for a Ph.D. student, at least in Computer Science.

Oh, I know. I strive for self-improvement, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:38 AM
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I can testify to the fact that being a professor means being really fucking busy. What that practically means in terms of recommendations and research is that I place all kinds of barriers in front of students such that, if a student is willing to navigate those barriers, it must mean that they are really motivated and thus, worth my time. In other words, persistence pays off; you just have to swallow a little bit of pride. I will admit that I didn't fully understand this as an undergraduate, but I think it's pretty common, especially at big state schools. So, my advice is to be a pest. It will feel awkward, and might not immediately pay off, but I have had my mind changed by sufficiently persistent undergraduates who just don't give up.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:41 AM
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116: So F was one of my advisors. Hmph. Small world.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:44 AM
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115: I can't speak for all professors of course, but I really hate trying to motivate my students. I don't mind the occasional pep talk, but I hate trying to figure out why some student is not working hard. Should try to apply some pressure? Bring him in for a talk? Am I doing something wrong?


Posted by: Anon | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:45 AM
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118: no no, you're not understanding. I realize self-motivation is a necessary condition to getting a lot of things I want to do done, and am working diligently on acquiring that instinct.

Actually I am self-motivated, just not very well directed. I need, like, fins.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:47 AM
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@118

I think this is fairly common for professors, since it's hard for us to understand why students wouldn't be as purely motivated by the subject matter as we are.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:50 AM
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119: A professor can give you fins. Also, many people work well in a group, but not so well alone. But as the other professors here have been saying, you first have to show that you are worth the professor's time. Because we are fucking busy. (So why am I commenting on some blog that is completely irrelevant to my career? I dunno, I'm stupid I guess.)


Posted by: Anon | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:52 AM
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So why am I commenting on some blog that is completely irrelevant to my career?

Mmm.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:57 AM
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Now that I've thought about it some more, I remember that it took me a couple years to realize that the stuff my school did to facilitate undergrad research was largely irrelevant. They had a well-organized, searchable website where profs could post research opportunities, but of course, most profs weren't going to bother filling out forms on a site. Most research opportunities seemed to be arranged in an ad hoc manner.

The research experience that worked out really well for me was in the lab of an assistant professor who had been at the university for less than a year. The downside of working for junior faculty as an undergrad is that their name is probably not as big, and so their letters might not carry as much weight. The upside, for me, was that my assistant prof didn't have a full slate of students and postdocs yet. He was thus grateful for any help he could get, he gave me substantive tasks instead of having me do a postdoc's scut work, and there were plenty of opportunities to directly interact with him, which meant that when he wrote my letter he really knew me.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:02 AM
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Seriously, though, everybody was very nice to offer all the advice. It's kind of odd to be the subject of an Ask The Mineshaft.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:03 AM
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So, on the professorial complaint that they're just busy: is this a funding problem?

I ran into a (I think?) tenure-track or tenured former professor at a restaurant recently. (I live in my undergrad town.) After chatting a bit, he insisted I come in to talk grad school plans. Was he being polite? Assuming I was not going to follow up?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:04 AM
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So, on the professorial complaint that they're just busy: is this a funding problem?

What do you mean?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:09 AM
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Funding sucks, but it's not just a funding problem. Being a professor at a research institution is like having 3 or 4 jobs at once. You must: teach, write grants, supervise undergrads and grad students, review papers, review grants, give talks, and serve on various departmental and university-wide committees, including faculty hiring, admissions, faculty senate, curriculum and many others.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:12 AM
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Sifu:

Your #104 is correct. But the payoff of snagging an advisor is huge enough that it's worth feeling like you're a nuisance at the beginning. You aren't the only undergrad 'wasting' your professor's time. It's their job to deal with people like you. Persist and convince them that it's worth it. (Things get much easier when you get to that stage.)

As an undergrad, I felt the same way as you did, plus I have severe problems with shyness and anxiety and self-consciousness, but I still forced myself to talk to professors because I desperately wanted to go to grad school. It was worth it (I haven't gotten into grad school yet, but I have reason to think that my applications will be strong because of the professors I connected with).

Also, in any department there are usually some professors who put more effort into mentoring undergrads than others. Try and find out from your coursemates who these are.


Posted by: Ponder Stibbons | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:12 AM
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126: Good question; I was vague. I mean, is it that a funding pinch prevents the amount of time a professor can spend one-on-one with a student? Could more money create another professorship or two to free up some time for this sort of thing? And is that necessary and/or helpful to both the professor and student?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:16 AM
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Stanley:

You're overthinking things. If he explicitly invites you to go and talk to him, take it up. He could have been polite without issuing that invitation.


Posted by: Ponder Stibbons | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:19 AM
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My 127 explains why professors at big schools are almost exclusively workaholics, and tend to be so gruff with random folks during the workday.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:19 AM
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129: If we didn't have to chase funding, we might be less busy, but it wouldn't completely eliminate the issue that Sifu is facing. So I'd spend less time chasing money, but Sifu still needs to show that he is worth a professor's time.


Posted by: Anon | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:23 AM
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If he explicitly invites you to go and talk to him, take it up

Yeah, it figures. I'll fire off an e-mail once finals are done and he might be around.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:24 AM
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but Sifu still needs to show that he is worth a professor's time

Skimpy outfits it is.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:27 AM
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134: Haha, as a professor, I like the joke, stupid as it as, about the student that tells a professor she will do anything for a better grade.


Posted by: Anon | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:30 AM
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Oh, did I forget to mention that only the grants and publications portion really matters when it comes to the tenure decision?


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:31 AM
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@135 I know a few friends who quite successfully used that technique in college.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:32 AM
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119: As a not-self-motivated graduate student (and someone who is probably infinitely frustrating to my advisers, since I seem to suffer from manic-depressive productivity syndrome), I just have one small piece of advice. I keep thinking that someday, if I want it hard enough, I'll grow a will and be able to work just for myself, and not for the deadline. Four years in, this has yet to happen. I think it's a mistake to believe that you can just acquire self-motivation. (And its oh so important corollary, self-discipline). Unless of course you've done it before and subsequently lost it, or something.

That doesn't mean, however, that you shouldn't become a graduate student, or that you won't be successful. But you do have to be self-aware. Figure out what does motivate you (deadlines, shame, being overwhelmed with too much to do - all of these seem to work for me, but whatever does it for you) and figure out ways of making some of these things happen. As you put it, find some fins, some external motivation. And this really is where choosing the right adviser is crucial. If you're not self-motivated, you need to select someone who is willing to put more time into helping you and understands your issues. This is obviously a lot of work for a prof, so it helps if they're someone who is really into the mentoring relationship. I also think that it is crucial than on some level you click and that you can have clear communication.

I made a bit of a mistake in choosing an adviser in that I went for prestige over a natural fit. Fortunately, we seem to have resolved some of our issues, but not without having wasted a rather lot of his and my time - and I have to say, it's better to have a slightly less prestigious adviser and finish than to have the best and never finish. Hopefully you'll be able to find someone who works for you.

And of course, YMMV as this is highly personal, and in the humanities vs. the sciences to boot.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:35 AM
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Damn. 138 was me.


Posted by: DL | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:36 AM
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Oh, and while I'm posting overlong comments and follow ups, I suppose what I mean by not self-motivated is not self-motivated in comparison to other academics. I think that probably even the least self-motivated grad student has a somewhat disproportionate bent towards workaholism.


Posted by: DL | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:41 AM
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138: Grad students are somewhat easier to deal with than undergrads. Undergrads can disappear at any time. It's also harder to get an undergrad to care about publication deadlines. Also, undergrads don't care much about losing funding.


Posted by: Anon | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:42 AM
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My personal take on my grad-school peers is that they're not unlike my private-sector peers: they're all gonna be THE BEST like EVAR in THIS ONE FIELD. And in reality they're fucked by high expectations. "Aim high; assume low; be relatively happy" is my current and forming plan.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:47 AM
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141: Makes perfect sense. I'm well aware of the flaky nature of undergrads - I was one myself, working in a lab even. From my (limited) experience on both sides of the great academic division, I am always struck by team aspects of the sciences. Off in history, we're rather isolated, slaving away on our individual projects. I miss the pressures of being on a team, even as you work on your own stuff.


Posted by: DL | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:47 AM
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142: That's my plan too! I could probably work on aiming a bit higher, though. I am not the most ambitious person in the world. Although I am sort of aiming for the most comments by a new person in one comment thread in the smallest amount of time, apparently.


Posted by: DL | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:50 AM
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142 might imply inadvertently that I'm in grad school. I am not. But have designs on that fool's errand at some point, pending non-rockstar-dom. So I think about it.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:56 AM
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I'm not that ambitious. I just want robots to be my friends.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 2:02 AM
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Honestly, Sifu... I'd just settle for them not being my enemies.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 2:26 AM
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147: I'll put in a good word.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 2:29 AM
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Whew... cause robots, you know... they're made of metal, and robots are strong.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 2:41 AM
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Dear Admissions Committee,

Ever since I was a small child I have dreamed of becoming a whatever it is one does with the highest degree in your field. Age has brought a lowering of my expectations. Now I hope to aim lower than I have ever aimed before - and fall short. I believe that your institution, which I saw from a passing bus, would make the ideal place for me to began what would have been a downfall had it followed a promising opening to a career.

Sincerely,


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 2:41 AM
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If you invented a killer robot, I would totally accept you as my student. And not just because I would fear retribution from the robot if I didn't.


Posted by: Forza | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 3:16 AM
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Remember the night when you were so persistent and commented and commented and commented until you were the only person in the sidebar and then you took a screenshot of it? Persistence, self-discipline and what-have-you all wrapped up in one neat package. Maybe writing about that would help on any and all applications.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 4:51 AM
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Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 6:31 AM
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I second all the comments about persistence. Also nepotism. The power of schmooze is not to be underestimated - professors are chronically overworked and having your name readily available when some opportunity comes up greatly increases the chances that they'll drop you a note. Academia runs on connections and mutual backscratching to a degree I couldn't have imagined as an undergrad. Successful profs know this and are quite happy to do a little favor for an undergrad in order to build goodwill with someone who may be able to return the favor later. This also means the doing a favor for a prof if the opportunity arises is good strategy even if it's not someone you want to work for or even like.

98: True. Tragic, really.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 7:17 AM
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Sifu, I haven't read the whole thread, but I have some advice. I don't know how relevant it will turn out to be to computational neuroscience, but I'll offer it anyway. The main point of my advice is that you are not confined to your current institution. I'm in the midst of applying for grad school myself, in what might be the single most competitive field for phd program admissions, at least by percent of students admitted; maybe some of the physical sciences attract an applicant pool that's more impressive so those statistics are misleading, dunno. When I started getting ready to apply, lo these three years ago, I only had a puny minor in the subject from my undergrad. I told myself that the highest I could realistically aim was a midrange program. I did a substantial amount of work toward the master's in a terrible program at Large Private U, and took a couple good doctoral courses, because the department at LPU is a good one. There were plenty of famous professors there, but much of the time, being an master's-level research assistant in those labs meant no real contact with them and no chance of getting on a paper, because the professors were surrounded by phalanxes of graduate students. There were exceptions I think, but one of the aggravating things I found about looking for volunteer research positions is that it was very hard to suss out just from interviewing which were the exceptions and which weren't. Eventually I figured out, in a process that was much more halting and agonizing that I'm making it sound, that there are other sorts of institutions where professors are not surrounded by phalanxes of grad students. Unfortunately, in my small survey, at least in some of these places, like in the more applied divisions of LPU, the professors tend to be none too smart. (I still got a paper out working with one of them though.) However! I discovered this year that there is another class of institution where professors are not surrounded by phalanxes of grad students, and that is Small Underfunded Public U. At the SUPU, where I currently work, the professors only have master's students, and many of the master's students are none too competent, but the professors still have high demands to meet for tenure, so when someone comes along who really helps them get papers out the door they appreciate it, and give them authorship. The generic disadvantage to this strategy is that you might have recommenders who are less well-known, but you could maybe overcome it by trying to identify who you'd want to work with in grad school now, and look at who their coauthors are, and try to figure out if there are any among them who might be at some institution where the structure allows you to do a lot of meaningful work, have tons of contact with the professor, and maybe get on papers. I didn't plan this, but at perhaps the single most competitive grad program in the country in my field, two of my recommenders are co-authors with my prospective advisor, including the woman I work with at SUPU. But maybe computational neuroscience is a small enough field that most people's work is known to most other people. One thing I've found helpful--and I have no idea whether this would be appropriate for your field--is to negotiate a role on a paper for myself upfront, pending a reasonable contribution to the project as a whole. It's sort of silly for me to be giving advice considering I'm not a success story yet, and may still not be at the end of this year's round of applications, since I'm not applying to that many schools and they all have acceptance rates under 4%, but several people think I have a reasonable shot.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 7:19 AM
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f an individual is finishing grad school and is on the job market, and has applied for a job at a certain university, is it appropriate/standard for him to describe himself as "up for a professorship" at that university?

FUCK NO. Each job application gets between 200-400 applicants; if he's a junior hire, he's not in the position of being up for anything, but for begging; and by those standards I'm up for 54 professorships, including one at Stanford.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 7:30 AM
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Also, Sifu, it seems to me that you should do the BS, because you like the area and it's only a little bit of extra work, but that you shouldn't go to grad school, because it sucks.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 7:32 AM
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Dear Admissions Committee,

You forgot the part about seeing homeless children from a bus on your trip to [third-world country].

Working as a writing tutor during application season is hell. Seriously, a good quarter of the essays I workshopped had the dreaded third-world epiphany.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 7:33 AM
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Nobody cares whether you have a computing BA or BSc. Do the extra semester if it has good courses that you want to study. If not, skip it.

(I have an MA in computer science and no-one has ever shown the slightest bit of interest in it.)


Posted by: gdr | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 7:37 AM
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Re 155, in my field, if a student does any work on a paper, they usually get co-authorship. Also, students are usually the first authors. It's how we assuage our guilt for making students do all the work.

There is one thing that works in an undergrads favor, and that a professor gets brownie points with the NSF for working with undergrads.

Also, you should try applying for REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) programs.


Posted by: Anon | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 7:42 AM
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Each job application gets between 200-400 applicants

Wow, I hadn't realized it was this bad in philosophy. When my department had a search two years ago, I think we got fewer than 150 applications.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 7:44 AM
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Has the Onion written an article about how great it is that there are all these poor people, so that snotty rich brats can have epiphanies?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 7:59 AM
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Seriously, a good quarter of the essays I workshopped had the dreaded third-world epiphany.

I put in my time at the U's Writing Center as well, and it was just like this.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 8:03 AM
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It's strange how much authorship conventions vary by field. For us anyone who contributes is an author, and names are always ordered alphabetically.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 8:17 AM
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137: Seriously? Like bone the prof for a good grade? I had a fellow TA who had a student drop blunt hints, but he didn't take her up on it partly because he was a decent guy and partly because getting busted would be a career killer.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 8:27 AM
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164: I like this version better:

Bodacious Bimbo tells Professor Schmutzenstein during office hours, "I would do anything you want for a better grade, Professor, anything at all."

Professor Schmutzenstein reflects for a few moments and then says "Would you study?"


Posted by: Anon | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 8:47 AM
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165: In my (second hand!) experience student-teacher affairs don't involve mediocre students trying to improve their grades, but very bright students who are still naive enough to be awed by middle-aged pompous mid-grade intellectuals.

The ego rewards for the teacher make it worth the risk for some people. Me, I could never see the appeal of an affair with a student when affairs with other teachers are so readily available. If I had an affair, that's where I'd look.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 9:06 AM
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Yeah, the student initiated 'screwing for good grades' type of affair seems unlikely (I'm sure it happens sometimes, but not terribly often) just because it would have to be so explicit up front. Given the time constraints in a semester (you need time to actually figure you're flunking the class, and by that time you're probably no more than a month or two away from finals) and limited social access to the professor, anything maintaining any level of plausible deniability seems like it wouldn't be workable at all.

And most people don't do things they can't drag some kind of figleaf over.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 9:13 AM
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168: Indeed -- I imagine it would be more likely that such an affair would begin with the professor using elaborate praise of the student's intellectual prowess to woo, coincidentally doling out good grades at the very same time that the affair is occurring, and then (also coincidentally) suddenly noticing troubling academic shortcomings at the same time as there is a break up or threatened withdrawal from the relationship.

I suppose it's also conceivable that a student could initiate the seduction, engaging the professor in the affair and then doling out or withholding sexual favors based on grading. The timing thing is only a problem if the student goes in planning to pass the course on his/her own merits and then has to make a last minute play. If the student starts the semester planning to seduce their way to an A, it's probably more feasible.

Actually, I don't know why one scenario should be more plausible than the other. Other than that I, personally, have never figured out how one might use seduction to get people to do things.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 9:27 AM
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The ego rewards for the teacher make it worth the risk for some people. Me, I could never see the appeal of an affair with a student when affairs with other teachers are so readily available. If I had an affair, that's where I'd look.

Yeah, you want to be violating ethical norms with someone who has the same incentive you do to keep things secret.


Posted by: Cryptec Nid | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 9:39 AM
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The person I knew who did it more than once was pretty unapologetic about it. Of course she could have been lying, but given her cavalier attitude towards school and sex at the time, it was very plausible. Also, I'm sure it's pretty rare. I would say that I don't think most undergrads would have the guts to baldly ask, but I've been very surprised about what undergrads have the guts to ask.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 9:40 AM
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Other than that I, personally, have never figured out how one might use seduction to get people to do things.

It's not a bad way of getting them to have sex with you. Other than that, I admit I've never gotten any interpersonal leverage out of it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 9:51 AM
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Generic grad school advice, since a certain number of people on this thread are out of their minds:

1) Don't go to grad school. Academia is the single most pathological environment in America today, outside of Hollywood. Grad school is not about learning. It's about destroying your individuality so that you can become a cog in a large-scale research program.

2) If you can't get into a top school, then really don't go. While academia is a meritocracy, it is a meritocracy of credentials more than of talent or achievement.

3) When you go to grad school, your professors will blow endless sunshine about the kind of job you're going to get, and then act puzzled when you end up teaching a 4-4 load in Saskatchewan.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 10:06 AM
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I misread the post title as "Ask the Lazy Mineshaft." "Rude, but accurate" thought I.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 10:11 AM
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Academia is the single most pathological environment in America today, outside of Hollywood.

Thank you for this. Now that I'm trying to break into Hollywood, I don't feel as bad about never going to grad school.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 10:11 AM
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When you go to grad school, your professors will blow endless sunshine about the kind of job you're going to get, and then act puzzled when you end up teaching a 4-4 load in Saskatchewan.

Grad school is great for those of us whose professional goals are to teach a 4-4 load in Saskatchewan.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 10:15 AM
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to further 176: Teaching college is very rewarding, and all the chic places people want to live, like NY and SF, are overrated.

Sadly, in most fields, few graduate schools spend even a minute preparing you for teaching jobs at ordinary schools in ordinary locations.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 10:23 AM
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including one at Stanford.

I'll put in a good word for you.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 10:59 AM
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173: I don't actively encourage many people to go to grad school, but I think this takes it to an extreme. And I've also found that professors are very realistic about the job market. I also think that the top school bit is overrated - go to the top person (who may not always be at the top school). When it comes to the credentials, it seems in my field that "I worked with X" means more than "I went to Y."


Posted by: DL | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 11:58 AM
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This may vary discipline to discipline, but I think the hons. vs. non-hons. is more telling than BA/BSc. If your `serious' about grad school, the expectation is you'll have a first/distinction/whatever in an honors program if your at the sort of place that offers them.

Math is all over the place on the BA vs. B.Sc (and even occasionally, B.Math), but it does seem a bit odd to be in a science and forgo the .science I guess. As far as grad schools go, assuming you've got a strong enough transcript to get past the first cull, I expect they'll look at the particular departments reputation first, then if you're degree name is surprising them, they'll look at the courses you actually took.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 11:59 AM
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2) If you can't get into a top school, then really don't go. While academia is a meritocracy, it is a meritocracy of credentials more than of talent or achievement.

Point 2 is really flawed in a bunch of ways. It should be broken up like this:

2a) Don't go to grad school in the sciences/tech/engineering unless they are paying your way. Seriously.
2b) Don't go unless you've got an idea of why, and what the resulting degree can and can't do for you.
2c) A masters can help you in many job markets. If that's your goal, find one that oriented that way, not an afterthought of the department.

2d) "it is a meritocracy of credentials more than of talent or achievement". Is mostly wrong.

It's more a meritocracy + who you know and work with. But to get noticed, you have to either be really unusually good, or work on really good projects. The good projects skew heavily to top schools. Top schools can also get you through initial winnowing more easily.

That said, there are lots of reasons to take a Ph.D. Some good, some not so good. If your aim is a tenured professorship at a 1st or 2nd tier school (good luck with that, you'll need it as well as being very good) you really want to start off in a top school. Otherwise, you may get a better graduate mentorship and even education elsewhere. You won't get much in the way of coattails though.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:08 PM
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teach a 4-4 load in Saskatchewan

That's something like a Cleveland steamer or a rusty trombone, right?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:20 PM
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Other than that I, personally, have never figured out how one might use seduction to get people to do things.

It's not a bad way of getting them to have sex with you.

Holy shit, so that's what I've been doing wrong this whole time!

Whenever we have threads like this, I'm really happy that my mom was a professor, since she helped me lose all my delusions about grad school nice and early. Similar to the time I went to dinner at my cousin-once-removed's house in my mid-to-early teens and said that I might be considering law. The three (very successful, even) lawyers at the table jumped up simultaneously and said "No!".

I think I may well have ended up in my current profession as much because no one was there to warn me about it as I did for reasons of interest and ability.


Posted by: Po-Mo Polymath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:21 PM
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Soup, you are in the field where everything I said is least true. A majority of the people I know who went to grad school in areas other than math, physics, or chemistry ended up miserable and bitter. Solving the Riemann hypothesis is objective, in a way that being insightful about King Lear is not. Still, even there the process that determines which fields are important or not is a social one.

A master's degree isn't a bad deal, though, if you're not paying. I have the Ph.D. in mind.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:22 PM
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That's something like a Cleveland steamer or a rusty trombone, right?

Only worse.

184: Yeah, that's why I specified `sci/tech/engg'. I really don't know what makes sense in humanities, and wouldn't begin to advise anyone.

In some technical fields, a masters isn't nearly enough for some good jobs, but if you're Ph.D. is something you want to do aiming for industry, you really want to investigate the implications of where you go. Some great academic programs would be a terrible idea.

There are some underutilized programs for funding such Ph.D's but they aren't enough on a lot of departments radars, so it's up to you.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:27 PM
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Other than that I, personally, have never figured out how one might use seduction to get people to do things.

UR DOING iT RONG.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:27 PM
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179: That could vary by field.

185: Are there all that many technical fields that require Ph.D.s? Which ones? Being a quant is the only one that springs to mind. A Ph.D. generally hurts you in the computer industry, and I've been told the same thing is true in engineering.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:32 PM
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such an affair would begin with the professor using elaborate praise of the student's intellectual prowess to woo, coincidentally doling out good grades at the very same time that the affair is occurring, and then (also coincidentally) suddenly noticing troubling academic shortcomings at the same time as there is a break up or threatened withdrawal from the relationship.

That's how it went with a friend of mine and her professor. When she broke it off her installations became totally uninteresting. Funny, he was also married to that woman no one ever actually meets, who doesn't mind if her husband has affairs because they have an understanding.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:37 PM
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Even though I'm in the humanities, what soup biscuit said in 181 largely rings true (minus the bit about the masters). And I wasn't trying to argue against the top schools, but merely point out that you shouldn't set your sights on a school merely because they have high ratings - the department may have just lost some of their best people or otherwise be in transition, be completely dysfunctional, or have some other problem that's obscured by virtue of their being a "top school." Far better to do more research and come up with a place that has someone you really want to work with (because they have the credentials and the topics that interest you), or better yet, multiple people that you want to work with.


Posted by: DL | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:40 PM
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185: Quant is one relatively new area, sure. Ph.D only hurts you in the computing industry if you're thinking about general programming jobs, not if you look at research (e.g. Google hires load of ph.ds too, but small #s in ratio to the industry). The first job I had out of undergrad was a silicon valley start up, I worked in the algorithms group. There were two of us with bachelors, two with masters, and 7 ph.d's...

Same is true in engineering. There are plenty of jobs and shops that aren't interesting in a ph.d, and are leery of hiring them because they don't want to hire someone who is a bitter failed academic. On the other hand, there are jobs you probably won't get close to without a ph.d, because it's really, really hard to pick that stuff up in industry. So sure, there are 500 mech engineers at ford working on parts design, but there are fewer jobs at say, materials groups at intel, that are probably mostly all ph.ds.

Elsewhere: ; seismic. oil & gas etc. hire loads of ph.ds in geophysics, engineering, maybe math.
biochem & genetics: e.g. their actual researchers. You can get lab tech work there with a masters or bachelors, maybe.
NSA etc.: loads
Operations Research: this is huge, and will take nearly as many ph.ds as they can find, Military as well as industry.

Pretty much anywhere you find people doing really new stuff, I guess. And typically in small numbers relative to other hires, But some of the most interesting jobs out there....


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:43 PM
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Dumbest girl I knew in college had a gold-plated GPA, and never studied, rarely did homework. She did, however, wear some impressive outfits to class.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:45 PM
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189: I think that's terrible advice. Maybe the person you want to work with will hate you, maybe they are terrible advisors who never graduate any students, maybe you'll realize after a year of grad school that their area is stupid and you want to do something totally different. Unless you already know that person, and know that you and he or she get along, betting your life savings on the Lotto has a higher payoff.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:46 PM
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191: Maybe you need to refine your definition of "dumb".


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:47 PM
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193: Nope.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:48 PM
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192: Walt. while you're right that I wouldn't want to pin anything on a single person, you have to be careful here.

A few points:
`top school' is not at all synonymous with `best graduate education'. Some very high profile research universities are meat grinders for (particularly junior) grad students.

Some of the most miserable grad students I've met have been working with famous people (who had no time for them).

Depending on your discipline, some of the best groups in your area of interest may be at fairly low profile schools. The groups reputation is more important than the schools, or the departments, if that's what you want to work in. A well established research group isn't quite as subject to the vagaries you mention.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:52 PM
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I can't really imagine the sort of situation where 191 is plausible. I don't know if that's selection bias on discipline, or on schools. Assuming `gold plated' means what I would expect.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 12:57 PM
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She was in biochemistry. Possibly I just didn't know many people.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:04 PM
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It is possible for people who are surprisingly lacking in mental whateverness to do very well in school, but generally they have to work at it. 191 sounds more like someone who was smart but didn't find it socially advantageous to let that show.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:05 PM
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She was just a natural biochemist. She just had to glance at a page of chemistry and she understood it. Probably an evil genius, possibly a changeling or alien.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:09 PM
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Biochem requires a lot of memorization and content knowledge. I imagine that grading is very mechanical most of the time, meaning that any unconscious effect on the instructor of showing a little cleavage and smiling prettily won't transfer to the grade. OTOH, if she were genuinely having an affair with a teacher, she probably would be reluctant to tart it up in class.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:10 PM
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Unless you already know that person, and know that you and he or she get along, betting your life savings on the Lotto has a higher payoff.

This is why you visit grad schools and talk to the prospective advisors before making a choice, and make sure they will take you on and that you can get along with them. (I definitely picked an advisor, not a school, and it worked out well for me, aside from having to spend three and a half years living in the middle of nowhere.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:11 PM
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Testing well is definitely a skill. This can get you through courses, particularly intro courses, with very little effort. But it gets harder as you go on, particularly once you're asked to stand on the foundation you haven't built on those earlier courses. Very few people can carry an entire undergraduate degree that way, at least one with any real depth (if you can pick and choose a general, you might fill up your transcript that way). The ones that can are a) really bright whether they show it or not and typically b) have a horrible shock somewhere down the line.

For most people though, this is something that will get them a low-effort C+, rather than a low-effort F. You can't flirt your way through an entire degree (might help you in some few individual classes). You can't flirt your way to a 4.0 either. Somewhere along the way you're doing something else.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:15 PM
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201 is right too, if you find the right adviser you stick with them. You might have to move for a while part way through, but that's grad school anyway.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:16 PM
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Eh: I knew her, you didn't. Mind you, not biblically. 'Being good at getting good grades' is a real thing.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:18 PM
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'Being good at getting good grades' is a real thing.

This is something like what I meant about testing well. It's a real thing, and we see its effect all the time. Its effect is not to turn an F student into an A student.

So it's typically not a skill that can carry you through every course in an undergraduate degree, at least any degree program I've heard of.

If she really did that well. It suggests it's more likely she was brighter than evident to you, rather than being a magical grade getter. Or perhaps you just have an uncommonly high bar for `dumbest person I know'. Or perhaps she cheated, who knows. $300 will get you a final written these days, I hear.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:24 PM
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You also have to know someone very, very well before you know if 'never studied' is true. She could have been hitting the books day and night -- if you weren't living with her, how would you know?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:37 PM
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I've commented before that I see plenty of what I call "savants" - people who do well on my tests but have no comprehension of the subject matter when I talk to them about it.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:38 PM
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I also knew a very attractive classmate in college who like to play dumb in front of boys and pretend that she only got good grades because she flirted, but who was actually one of the smartest people in the department.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:40 PM
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207: Do you ever run into the same students again a semester down the road? I used to find in math/physics classes that in the class where I was learning something new, I could do it but sometimes I didn't really get it -- when I needed it in a subsequent class, though, the understanding would have developed over the intervening period.

208: Yep. "IQ drops 50 points around guys" is a not-unheard of syndrome, for all sorts of reasons including insecurity.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:42 PM
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No, I've seen people who kind of get it but don't have the confidence to say so, and these people are totally different. I think they just exceptional at learning what to do to get a good grade without actually learning the subject matter. Learning the prof, not the material.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:45 PM
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people who do well on my tests but have no comprehension of the subject matter when I talk to them about it.

Right, and this is sort of what I'm talking about. It's a depressing thing to get back from a student.

Again, I don't want to make cross-disciplinary claims because I don't know, but in the disciplines I am familiar with, this really does tend to fall apart in upper division courses. Somewhat because we do assume you actually understand some of the material from previous years, and how to use it.

It also tends to be difficult to be good enough at this that you actually do well. I see plenty of students where I could say, Student X doesn't seem to understand any better than student Y, but student X gets a C- and student Y fails because a) it's really pretty easy to get a C- on the final (too much, really) and student X tests well. So sure,

I don't see it so much at the upper end of grades. I usually try and have about 20% of a final that would be new or otherwise difficult to do anything with if you don't understand what's going on. If someone was consistently doing well in my classes but didn't understand anything, I'd be pretty surprised. If it's just passing.. no surprise at all.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:45 PM
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One of the most dispiriting conversations I've ever had with a student, one January many years ago.

"Prof. Loftis, how are you! That was a great class I took from you last semester! What was it again, oh yes, it was logic."

"Actually, you were in my ethics class last semester."

"No, no, it was definitely logic. It was all about arguing and stuff."


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:47 PM
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I also knew a very attractive classmate in college who like to play dumb in front of boys and pretend that she only got good grades because she flirted, but who was actually one of the smartest people in the department.

Yeah, this is a pretty common effect too. Also the student who pretends never to do any work but actually slogs out a fair bit. Different effects, but you can get a pretty distorted picture of how `smart' they are, both ways.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:48 PM
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Soup is useful food. I'm not necessarily at all interested in being a professor.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 1:57 PM
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What Tweety doesn't want to tell us is that Skynet sent him back to our time to get a PhD. The killer robot he's "building" is actually here to make sure he follows through in a timely manner, which is why he's a little concerned about getting the BA/BS out of the way ASAP.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 2:02 PM
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Dumbest girl I knew in college had a gold-plated GPA, and never studied, rarely did homework. She did, however, wear some impressive outfits to class.

I truly knew a math grad student just like this, except the boy version. Never studied, could read dense math like it was a comic book, yet was aggravatingly dumb - really not playing. Like always slowing the conversation down, not getting the order of events that everyone else understood, not being able to follow emotions ascribed to a person in a story, etc. In a puppy-dog frat boy I-love-drinking way, not an Aspergers way. (He dated a good friend of mine for three years. I knew him really well.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 2:05 PM
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212: Is that a pseudonymity slip-up that you'd like redacted?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 2:06 PM
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216: Is that really what you would call a `dumb' student though? Some people are really good at something difficult in a narrow when, but pretty generally incompetent otherwise. There are some pretty extreme cases of this in our area(s), heebie, but I don't know that I'd call any of them `dumbest x I know'.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 2:08 PM
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*in a narrow way.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 2:09 PM
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217: I don't think it's a secret.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 2:12 PM
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218: Well, his dumbness was the most aggravating of any that I spent that much time with during that chunk of my life.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 2:13 PM
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221: I guess I've just spent too much time around impressively stupid people. I really can see where you're coming from, as far as it's being really frustrating. We had a guy sort of like that in undergrad --- came from a little redneck town, wen back there to work in the mine or whatever every summer, basically liked sitting around drinking with his buddies when he wasn't doing C* algebra stuff.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 2:16 PM
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Fuck you, soup.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 2:19 PM
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Don't worry about the redaction. I'm at about the same level of anonymity as someone like Hilzoy or maybe Apostropher. My real name is not secret, but not advertised either.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 2:20 PM
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Why does Loftis/Helpy-Chalk "have nothing to hide"? This is very suspicious.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 2:21 PM
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All above points fair enough, but I try to adjust for the learned helplessness, and there are only so many hours in the day, outside of classes and "leadership activities."


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 2:22 PM
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up for a professorship

Reminds me of people who list working papers on their cv as 'under submission to'. I'm thinking of adding a line to mine saying I've been rejected by all the finest journals in our field.


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 2:49 PM
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223 ???


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 2:56 PM
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227:
I never quite know what to do with that one. The tricky part about `under submission to' is that it's perfectly plausible to have a paper that has been accepted with revisions, been re-worked and resubmitted, but is languishing on reviewers desks for 6 months or more. You can't really say `to appear', even if the revisions were minor. Hoping the editor doesn't let things drag out too badly doesn't make it go away.

So such listings don't mean much, but they do give you an idea of what someones been writing up the last year+, which is useful.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 3:02 PM
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192: I think that's terrible advice.

A few people have already made the points that I want to but I'm not one to let that stop me (born and bred academic, apparently) from elaborating.

No, you shouldn't pin all your hopes on one person. I said do the research - find out who you can work with. Yes, it might be hard to figure this out from a web page - as essear pointed out, you need to visit the schools and you need to talk to your undergraduate advisers who presumably know these people (and you) and get a sense of who would work for you. And I think to be really safe, you should also plan on a school where there are multiple people you could work with.

Reputation matters, don't get me wrong. But if you're going into graduate school without having done any research on potential advisers but only on the credentials of the school, you're much, much more likely to be bit in the ass than you would otherwise. You cannot depend on the thought of "Oh, it's Harvard, of course anyone who has a job there is great." A good adviser is invaluable, a bad one soul killing.


Posted by: DL | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 3:46 PM
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228: I assumed that you'd grievously insulted all of us hick-Americans, but I wouldn't swear to it.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 3:51 PM
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231: Oh. Not my intent at all. Just meant he was in a different space than most of the students were, and it frustrated the hell out of his friends/colleagues. He genuinely didn't like any of the stuff the others did (including the other ones from `hick towns'). He and I got along fine, but I was coming from a very different place too.

My point was relative to the earlier: that he was socially inept in that group, but I wouldn't have labeled him `dumbest x' in any sense.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 3:56 PM
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I gathered as much, and I may be completely wrong about what triggered 223, but that was my best guess.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 4:11 PM
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I really don't know what makes sense in humanities, and wouldn't begin to advise anyone.

a) Master's degrees are often there to soak you. Some are good; some take your money and don't care if you learn anything.
b) Do not go into debt for a Ph.D.
c) Keep in mind that i) reputation can be very important if you want to stay in the academy but ii) departments poach other departments all of the time so iii) it's good to know whether your department has the ability and desire to rebuild should it become necessary (you're going to be there at least five years) iv) there are only a handful of people you'll actually work with closely, but it's nice if there are other students working in your area and v) your interests will probably change.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 4:18 PM
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234: Do not go into debt for a Ph.D.

That's difficult in the humanities, isn't it.

But yeah, all of (c) is accurate but probably hard to make sense of if you're just considering going in.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 8:51 PM
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That's difficult in the humanities, isn't it.

It's relatively common to have full-funding these days. One won't live like a king, but neither should one rack up serious debt.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 2-08 8:58 PM
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from soup: accepted with revisions

Oh, I think it's perfectly valid to put something like this on the CV - I've listed papers as conditional accepts (though in my field that generally means it doesn't go back to the reviewers, only to the editor).


Posted by: spaz | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 10:41 AM
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237: Yeah, due to the length of time it takes to publish, even "submitted" can be pretty legit (except in the case of say, Nature, where something like 9 out of 10 papers don't even get sent out for review), as it suggests you've brought the work along a significant way, and if you've published before odds are good you've producing something that some journal will eventually take. "In preparation" is much sketchier, as it could mean anything from simply having thought "maybe I should write a paper on this" to being just about done with the manuscript.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 3:19 PM
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236: It's relatively common to have full-funding these days.

I'm sorry I just saw this. If anybody's there: does full funding mean tuition and fees (relatively normal in my day), plus a decent enough stipend to cover room and board, as it were? The sticker back when was a stipend that was pathetic (say, $6,000/year, maybe $8,000 at best).

I don't like to get into figures, but even the $8,000 max package didn't cut it for food & housing & additionals, not over a minimum of 5 years and probably longer.

Perhaps it's better now. I am just curious.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 6:06 PM
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By "full funding" I meant "tuition and fees, plus a decent enough stipend and/or teaching package."


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 6:54 PM
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Heh. Okay.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 7:00 PM
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people who list working papers on their cv as 'under submission to'

I did this, because I only have one publication and you can't make a section on your c.v. for one entry. And I didn't want to make a "publications and presentations" section that put my article published in a great journal in with my dumb grad student conference presentations.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 7:29 PM
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242: so pretentious! Good article, though.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12- 3-08 10:58 PM
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