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serenade

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  1. On the surface, I say take the RA for all of the reasons you mentioned. I'd ask to clarify what the expected work hour load is for the RA (mine was 20 per week), but as long as it's not unreasonable, definitely take the RA. Maybe the other person wanted to gain teaching experience and so turned it down? You can always teach/TA later, but for the first year, this sounds like a good deal.
  2. Thanks, guys. You've made me feel much better and given me some perspective here.
  3. No, definitely not the only faculty in this field, but the one with whom I've taken a seminar in this field and thus did some of the reading for this list in that class (though my retention level is obviously abysmally low). Thanks for your thoughts. And you're right - thank goodness they're a one time thing (...unless you fail....)
  4. Ditto for me on this. These were helpful, thanks. That's exactly what I thought too, but it looks as though that isn't going to be the case for me, which brings me to the point of reviving this thread (and hijacking it about my own situation - sorry!). I am planning on taking comps in 3 months (to the week, actually) and I had a meeting with a committee member yesterday (not my advisor) who has been on research leave all year so this was the first face to face meeting we've had. To say it did not go well would be an understatement. I went into the meeting with a list of big ideas/themes that I pulled from the reading list and was planning on talking over those, but he instead wanted to get into more specific information. On the one hand, it is basic information that I should have already known and should have anticipated him asking, but on the other, I was caught off guard by the level of specificity he wanted. Ten minutes into the conversation he told me that as of right now, he could not pass me. He told me that he was very worried that I didn't already know this information and even asked if there was another field that I could consider doing (realistically, the answer to that is no). He was perfectly kind about it, but very firm and honest. I felt humiliated that I couldn't answer his questions and ashamed of myself for not anticipating needing to know this information. Since we'll both be traveling and unable to meet in person this summer, he told me he'd like me to submit weekly reports on my reading so that he can give me feedback (we had already started this actually, though only week before last). I also came up with the idea of including in each of those reports a list of key terms/ideas and what I think they mean for that body of reading so that he can ensure I haven't left anything major out that I need to know. Not the same as being grilled one on one in person (which I think would prepare me better than anything for the oral), but it's better than nothing. The two things that give me some shred of hope is that from talking with a past student who took exams with him, the student told me his questions were completely predictable based on the readings/meetings they had done together. The other is that I took his seminar two years ago, for which he very rarely gives out A's and often gives B+'s even to his own advisees (said student above, who is his advisee, got a B+ in two out of three seminars with him, the other being A-). I came out of the seminar with A-, not because I was brilliant, but I think primarily because I submitted a draft of my paper to him in advance, got his feedback, met with him several times, and revised enough to somewhat please him. So I've seen that with him, hard work can pay off, despite the fact that I struggled through that class. I'm also meeting with another student today who took exams with him to ask for help. But I'm still kind of freaking out about the exam, particularly the oral part. After the meeting yesterday, I couldn't bring myself to do any work for the rest of the day because I was so distraught and humiliated. As to the imposter syndrome above, I can hardly think of a more prime example of feeling "found out" or "discovered" than having a professor ask you questions that you can't answer, then telling you they can't pass you (right now). He didn't realize how off target for exams I was until yesterday, which feels like someone finding out that you really aren't as smart or knowledgeable as they thought you were (I think it's easier to hide in seminars when someone else can chime in if you don't know the answer to a specific question), which makes you feel like an admissions mistake, and makes you question how you've gotten this far and not been found out, which leads to a whole spiral of anxiety and other feelings. I was planning on spending this summer studying, of course, but also working on my diss proposal, literature review, and a paper I'd like to submit for publication. But I've decided to put all of that on hold for the summer and worked out a schedule where I could get all of it done in the fall instead after comps in late August. Ideally, I know should be multi-tasking, but I think focusing just on exams is the best decision. It's only three months and better to do a solid job preparing and pass them the first time then multi-task, not do well, and have to retake them. Does that sound like a good idea? So, other than that, basically, this post doesn't have a specific question...it's more just public commiseration! But any advice or similar experiences are always welcome.
  5. Yes, and one of his questions had to do with a particular hobby/fine arts activity that he knows I've done since I was 5 (for the record, it's ballet...not rabbit hunting). Oh it is so on. Btw, my brother finds it hilarious that he caused me enough consternation that I complained to an online forum.
  6. Ok so just as I was about to call the organization to report that a scammer was posing as one of their recruiters, I find out that it was my brother playing a practical joke on me by creating a fake email address. So the good news is my research topic has not been compromised, but...I told him he is dead to me.
  7. So after claiming for years that I would never be stupid enough to fall for a scam email (I get emails in broken English from fake peer-reviewed journals wanting to publish for a fee all the time), I think I've finally been had. I got an email tonight from someone claiming to be from a research institution/funding organization that does in fact exist and is legitimate. He told me that my name had been nominated as an applicant for a study abroad program in a location that does in fact make sense for my research interests. He asked me for some basic information such as research interests/goals for study abroad etc. I thought that since the organization is actually legit and makes sense given my research, that maybe my advisor nominated me so I assumed the email was legitimate. I answered his questions, the only one of any substance being about my research interests, in which I basically summarized my proposed dissertation in a paragraph. I also asked him for the name of the person who nominated me. After replying at 10 pm EST (I found it odd in the first place that I got a professional email from someone claiming to be in the UK at 8:50 EST, which would be 1:50 am UK time), I get an email back an hour later saying that the chair of the research council was enthusiastic about my answers and promoted me to a finalist. That's when I knew something was up. By the time I got to the questions, I was sure it was a full blow scam. These questions asked me about my appreciation for fine arts; to rank my five favorite animals; my opinion of rabbit hunting; to rank my favorite pudding flavors etc. A complete joke. When I clicked on the name of the sender, he was using a gmail address - not one affiliated with the research organization, which lets me know he is posing as someone from there. He did not reply to my question of who nominated me, which I now realize is because no one did because the whole thing is fake. I plan on calling/emailing the actual organization tomorrow to let them know that a scammer is posing as one of their recruiters. Ordinarily, I would chalk the whole thing up to a pathetic scam, but I'm worried now that I supplied a paragraph basically laying out my entire dissertation topic idea. Of course, one would have to actually do the research to write anything substantive about my topic (since I have not even passed my dissertation proposal yet, my ideas are still in the preliminary "idea" stage - no results yet, though I speculated on some of the big claims my project would make). Do I have anything to be worried about?
  8. Totally agree. This needs to happen. Just to provide another anecdotal example, however: when students who TA for my advisor ask him for a copy of the course books, he tells them that he expects students to buy their own. Seems unfair to me, but just be aware some professors do hold this view.
  9. Thanks, guys. So the prof I'm TAing for left me and my fellow TA to proctor the final today. After it was over, I had four students complain to me that the other TA's behavior during the exam was distracting and they had trouble focusing. I'm curious if the following behavior sounds problematic to you and whether you think it's worth letting the professor know about the students' complaints. During the exam the other TA: -paced the aisles of a relatively small classroom (40 students) for two hours straight...up and down over and over and over -alerted the class at frequent intervals with seemingly ill fitting instructions ("you now have an hour and a half left...now would be a good time to make sure your name is on your paper"; "you now have an hour left...right before you turn it in, say the word 'mississippi' in your head 100 times and then proofread" etc etc) -rushed over to students when they dropped a pencil/water bottle to pick it up for them, even if they were on the other side of the room from where he was pacing at that moment -tried to talk to me or write notes to me on the board while I was sitting at the front of the classroom (I generally tried to ignore him) -before the exam even started, he told everyone he was now going to "put the fear of God in everyone" about cheating and gave a monologue about it -made everyone take off their hats so he could inspect them -threatened not to let anyone go to the bathroom -when students one by one came to the front to turn their papers in at the end, he would try to carry on extended conversations with them without even whispering even though other students were still working Do you think it's worth telling the professor about the students' complaints so that he could talk to the other TA about this behavior for future reference? (fwiw, this prof is both of our advisors)
  10. Just out of curiosity, what do you personally do while proctoring an undergrad exam? Pace down the aisles? Just sit at the front? Do work/read? Remind students at regular intervals how much time they have left (or do you find this distracting)? Also, do you make students bring bookbags to the front of the class? Make them take off hats etc? Co-proctoring an exam with my fellow TA today made me realize how different our approaches to proctoring are. Just curious what other people do.
  11. Thanks. This makes me feel a lot better to know that it's appropriate to be assertive in this way.
  12. Thanks, TakeruK and Fuzzy, for your helpful suggestions! I really appreciate it. As to your questions, Fuzzy, the other TA suggested this during a hallway chat between the 3 of us (2 TAs and prof) and as soon as he did, I said that that wasn't feasible for me. So I think the professor gathered from that that the other TA had not run his plan by me before suggesting it. And thankfully, none of us had given the students any indication of turn around time, so that's one less hassle to worry about. But the good news is, as it turns out: crisis averted! Just got an email about an hour ago from the professor saying the more he thought about it, he decided to go back to his original plan of not giving students back their papers at all unless they wanted us to send it to them over the summer/get it back in the fall. But both your suggestions are really great ones, so maybe this thread will help somebody else in the future who runs into this problem. For the record, I was planning on taking option 6, TakeruK, since I think I had a pretty good case. As for my co-TA, well, he gets a bit anxious to impress our professor. The professor is both of our advisors and my co-TA thinks that doing things like showing his prowess to grade papers in 3 days will earn him some additional favor, I think. Also, he taught high school for several years before starting his PhD so I think he is used to his own way of doing things and sometimes runs on autopilot. He means well and apologized profusely to me after the professor walked away when he realized he put me in a bad position. He's just the kind of person who likes to take any chance to impress our advisor without always thinking things through first. Thanks again, TakeruK and Fuzzy!
  13. For 10-15 page undergrad papers, what seems like a reasonable turnaround timeframe for grading as a TA? My professor originally said that we TAs would not have to return our students' final papers at all before the end of the semester. If the students wanted them back, they'd have to give us an address to mail it to over the summer or instead, wait until they got back in the fall. However, today one of my fellow TAs suggested the idea that we get them done within 3 days and give them back before the final exam. When I said that wouldn't be feasible for me, the professor gave us one extra day (giving us 4 days to grade). Because I wasn't expecting this turnaround time, I hadn't budgeted time to grade during the days the professor wants us to, and I have multiple deadlines for other things the days before he wants us to give back the exams, meaning realistically I'd end up with less than 24 hours to grade. Had he told us this in advance, that would be one thing but changing his mind the week before at the suggestion of another TA who has a lighter workload is another. Do you think I can politely negotiate about the turnaround time?
  14. I think this sounds like a good plan. Things like this are often best communicated in person when you can read one another's tone, body language, and expressions. If he's as nice as people have said, it should go well! Good luck and congrats on starting your PhD!