Tag Archive for 'advisor'

I Want To Go To Graduate School To Study Stuff!

What field do you intend to specialize in? All of it.

Far be it from me to discourage anyone from going to graduate school, but this Xtranormal video, which has been floating around for quite a while, demonstrates exactly the kind of vague and unfocused thinking that is exactly wrong for graduate school.

Watch the video after the jump.

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What Is Grad School Like? A First Year Grad Student’s Reality Check

I'm under there somewhere.

Hello readers! It’s been a few weeks since I last posted. I’m definitely glad to be back to share my latest experiences as a first year grad student. After 6 months in a doctoral program, my perspective on academia has changed quite a bit. It’s not that I have developed a more positive or negative view of academia; rather, I have been brought back to reality.

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Graduate Assistantship: One Student’s Experience

Assistance needed!

Graduate assistantship (GA) is a great way to help deal with the financial stresses of graduate school. Some schools will not only waive tuition — they’ll even pay you to go to school with monthly stipends! Needless to say, getting a GA is something that every prospective grad student should be thinking about.

Here’s an interesting post about one student’s experiences getting graduate assistantship during his first semester in grad school. Although it’s written by an international student, the principles are applicable to all students looking to get financial assistance from their schools. Click the following link to read the article.

“How To Get Graduate Assistantship in First Semester — Student Experience, Tips”

From the post:

Find out who’s the person responsible for appointing GAs and get in touch with him/her. Don’t directly show your interest in being appointed, go slow. E.g., if the person is an Advisor, seek help in deciding on the courses, getting to know the department and start showing interest in his work. If it’s a professor, ask him about his works, research interests, etc. In the conversation, get to know him, show your interest in learning new things, and show that you have strong communication skills. In short, tell him you have got whatever he wants in a potential GA and later tell your interest in the position and state how it will corroborate to achieve your goals. A person in the second sem has more chances of getting a GA because he is already there for one sem and people know him. So, by letting the concerned person know you, you are putting yourself to the same level as that of a student in the second sem.

The point that the author is making is that visibility and demonstrated interest are key. You’re going to be competing with other current students who are already known by the professors, so your best bet of getting early assistantship is to reach out and communicate with advisors so that they can get a feel for who you are and why you qualify. It’s already an important part of the research process to bounce around some emails to ask questions about programs anyway.

Applying to Doctoral Programs: It’s All About the Match!

Not a good match.

My advisor told me today that Ph.D stands for Piled High and Deep. I’m not quite sure how to interpret this but at least I love what the program piles on. For those that are interested in a research doctorate, whether it’s a Ph.d in Biology, Chemistry, History, English, Sociology, or Psychology, there are various commonalities to the graduate school application process.

The first and foremost important thing to know about applying is that it all comes down to the match! In the world of academia, faculty members view their students as colleagues they will be working intimately with for five or more years. If the student and the professor do not share the same passion, those five years could be pretty unpleasant.

For example, suppose Harvard is your top choice and Dr. Smith at Harvard is studying depression in adolescents. You apply with your perfect GRE and GPA, have numerous publications and conference presentations, and feed blind homeless children three meals a day seven days a week.  A letter arrives in the mail and you have been invited to attend interview day! Yayyyy…time to book a flight!

You and Dr. Smith really hit it off during the interview. The two of you have so much in common. You both are hikers, dog lovers, Harry Potter readers, and super-liberal. It’s a match made in heaven with the exception of one thing; you are interested in ADULT depression.  Sorry dude but you won’t be going to Harvard this year. This may seem blunt but it really all comes down to the match.

Finding the Match:

Now you may ask yourself, “How do I decide if I am good match?” I recommend getting into the literature and figuring out who is publishing research that catches your interest. After doing this, Google them and see what institution they are affiliated with. Next, see if they mentor graduate students. Sometimes this information is visible on the department website but if not, contact them directly. Repeat the above steps and you will have a preliminary list of schools. I did this for days straight and eventually created an Excel document that included the faculty member, their university, admissions data, contact information, and hyperlinks to bio pages and application documents.  This made my life so much easier and I recommend it to anyone interested in pursuing a Doctorate.