The topic of your thesis is one of the most important elements of your graduate career. This will determine the research community you'll become a part of, the "brand" you'll job hunt with, influence grant applications and will be the focus of a major part of your career. It's possible to change your research direction, this is most easily done after getting tenure or between your Masters and your PhD, but doing so would be a set back. This is a decision that is very useful to get right. Beyond the pragmatic elements of your research area, you need to find something that is interesting enough to you that you can pour thousands of hours into it without getting bored. I changed … [Read more...] about Finding A Thesis Topic
Archives for October 2015
I once asked a professor in my department "why do professors take on graduate students?" He was taken aback by the question, and said it was somewhat like asking why do fire fighters put out fires - in both cases it's central to the job. With professors, there is flexibility on how many students they take on. I think it's worthwhile to consider what motivates a professor when they agree to supervise a graduate student. The Sacred Duty of Teaching This is what the professor who joked about the fire fighters was referring to. At the core of a professor's duties is teaching. Although university teaching typically involves undergraduates, graduate courses are a similar dynamic between a … [Read more...] about Why Do Professors Have Graduate Students?
In her recently published book, "The Professor Is In", author Karen Kelsky makes the assertion "Do not take out new debt to attend graduate school." I would go further than this and say do not pay for graduate school. What I mean by this is, only attend graduate school if, after tuition and living expenses are deducted from your stipend it's still a positive amount of money. “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds nought and six, result misery.” - Charles Dickens How funding is arranged differs by field of study. In STEM areas it's often a basic stipend augmented … [Read more...] about Do Not Pay For Graduate School
There's a myth in academia that all successful academics work insanely hard for an ungodly number of hours. This is likely true at the upper echelons of the profession, but certainly is not true everywhere for everyone. This post was inspired by a recent posting on Dynamic Ecology, which was inspired by a couple of comments readers of their blog had left. The gist of the comments was skepticism that anyone was working these hours. One of the commenters had worked as a consultant where he was billing hourly and worked long hours. Only once had he done an 80+ hour workweek - and in his view it would be physically impossible for almost anyone to do them regularly. I have known faulty … [Read more...] about Workload in Academia