Welcome to the GradCafe

Hello!  Welcome to The GradCafe Forums.You're welcome to look around the forums and view posts.  However, like most online communities you must register before you can create your own posts.  This is a simple, free process that requires minimal information. Benefits of membership:

  • Participate in discussions
  • Subscribe to topics and forums to get automatic updates
  • Search forums
  • Removes some advertisements (including this one!)


  • Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


TakeruK last won the day on May 21

TakeruK had the most liked content!

About TakeruK

  • Rank
    Cup o' Joe

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Location
    Canadian student in California
  • Application Season
    Already Attending
  • Program
    Planetary Sciences

Recent Profile Visitors

15,617 profile views
  1. It's up to you want you want to do. But here's another option: Tell your ISS office right now that you had to leave for an emergency and left your I-20 in the US. They should be able to print a new one, sign it, and courier it to you. This will be faster than your friend doing it because it is fewer steps. Also, the fewer times the I-20 has to change hands, the less likely it will be lost. And by telling ISS this right away, they can help you find other solutions that might be possible too.
  2. I think the Silver plan is enough and it's generally the right balance of budget and coverage for most generally healthy people. I don't know the specific requirements off the top of my head so I don't know if Bronze will cover it. Gold and Platinum are good plans too but I would only consider them if you are going to be using the doctor a lot because of pre-existing conditions since the premiums are a lot higher.
  3. I am sorry to hear that you had a bad experience in grad school in the past. I vaguely remember the existence of your previous posts but not the details and since you want to move on from the past, I won't go back and look it up. I'll just try to help you answer your question here with the information provided here. First, I am not 100% sure what you are asking, but it seems like you felt that inappropriate things happened to you while you were a student and you are asking if you should do anything because of your experience, now that you are leaving. If that's not the case, please correct me! Assuming that is what you are asking, my general advice is that you should talk to some people in the school about your experience. I have no idea why your professors would ignore you in this way, but maybe you are not the only one and letting someone know could potentially start or add to an existing record. I think there are two potential people/offices you can go to. I'll mention them and then give some advice on what to do. One place you could go to is your department chair or the Director of Graduate Studies for your department. If these people are part of the problem, then maybe go to another professor that you do have a relationship with. If you don't have anyone in the department to go to, then skip this step. Another place is to go to the Graduate Office, Graduate School, Faculty of Graduate Studies, School of Graduate Studies, or some other organization that goes by a similar name. Basically, go to the office that oversees all graduate programs on your campus. Let them know what is going on. I think you should do this no matter what, even if you do/don't talk to the department. If you think the department as a whole is the problem then you might reconsider talking to the Chair/Head/Director even if you could otherwise go to them. But if you don't have any reason to do this, i.e. the problem is isolated to the people that affected you only, then I think it's worth talking to them because it's much more likely changes will be implemented by the Department than the University. The main reason to skip this step is if you think the Department will try to cover it up or spin it a different way so that if you tell them first, they will be alerted when the University-level official asks about it. Either way, you should talk to the University-level official. Again, not sure what's going on, but if you don't give them the information, then they won't act on it. At this point, you kind of have to trust the school to make the right call about what to do. Although it might have greatly affected you personally, the school may choose not to do anything because they might not think it is against their policies (or that there isn't enough evidence etc.) Or they might start an investigation. Or they might just collect the information and have this information add to whatever picture they have based on past reports and what might be reported in the future. Basically, what I am saying is that it sounds like you have had a very bad experience in grad school, and regardless of why this is the case, if you are comfortable sharing the experience with someone at your school, you should tell it to the "Faculty of Graduate Studies" equivalent. But you might have to accept that it may not do very much, however, it could do more than just doing nothing. You have to decide what's best for yourself and how much more of your life you want to spend in this compared to moving on to things you're actually passionate about. For me, I would think writing a statement/report for the University and then leaving it be is a good balance of not being silent but also not letting it take over other things that might be more important to me. But the right balance for you is up to you!
  4. @ProfDag: I grabbed a CSS website template from the Internet (with proper attribution, it's one of the publisher's free templates). It sounds more complicated but in reality, with a CSS template, all you need is some basic HTML knowledge. Knowing some CSS (or being able to google for help) is useful if you want to alter the existing template, but otherwise, basic HTML knowledge can get you very far. You just tag each item as a header, body, image, etc and the CSS makes it into the proper style for you. The other website tool I use is Google Analytics, which lets me get data on visitors to the website. It's easy to set up, just include some files in your website directory and a snippet of code to copy and paste into each page. Finally, I host everything on my department's server. My department allows some webspace to each member so I've been doing it this way. This is not ideal for the long term though, since I am likely to be moving more often now and this means my URL will keep changing. I think the free methods as a student is great because of our limited budget and you stay in a place for quite a while as a grad student. And also being linked to your school seems to be more important as a student than as a postdoc or faculty member. Later this year, after I graduate and leave, my plan is to pay for a web hosting service so that I would host my own website.
  5. Wow, I would consider this a huge red flag too. But if the SOP guidelines say to do specific things in each paragraph, then I'd follow the instructions if I were going to apply there. Maybe they get a lot of applications and they just want to be able to scan each paragraph and pick out key phrases (although, if they want to do this, then why even ask for an essay when bullet points would do). Anyways, one question would be whether or not this personal admission counselor is only giving this advice to you/their assigned applicants, or if these are actual application requirements/guidelines.
  6. In my field, LinkedIn is great if you are applying outside of academia. A website is really important for jobs in the field. Like @Eigen, I also notice spikes in my website traffic when I visited departments. Also, during conferences and what I would guess to be at the time of application reviews (I don't know exactly when they happen, but I did see some spikes from the locations I applied to at times that could correspond to the review process).
  7. Second everything fuzzy wrote. If this is a person that you would be able to chat with in the near future (either in person or via Skype) and time is not of the essence, then I wouldn't make the committee request via email. I would still hint at it in the email though, explaining your dissertation work and that you would like to talk with them further about it in person or via Skype or something. After you talk to them, if you still feel like you want them on your committee, then you can invite them to join. If you are asking in person or via Skype, I would suggest that you make the initial information, don't expect them to answer right away (as it could be a lot of work) and instead, tell them that you will send them more information in an email and await their reply. In the email with more information, you should talk to your advisor to find out what responsibilities a committee member has (do they need to attend annual committee meetings, your defense, etc. and does your school pay for these travel?) and let them know. Another good strategy is to check with the Committee Chair or your Advisor first, and then say that they can contact Committee Chair or Advisor for more details if they have questions. In my case, I wanted to invite someone to my committee that was joining the faculty in another department at my school in a few weeks, but I wanted to have my committee meeting in 6 weeks. So, I cold-emailed someone to be on my committee and it worked out. I also intended to work with them on a side project. My initial email was to introduce myself, my interests, and say that I would like to meet with them when they started so that we can work on a project and whether they would like to be on my thesis committee as well (with the relevant info I wrote about above). I didn't know this person directly but we are collaborators-of-collaborators and there is significant overlap in our interests so it made sense to do this. I ran this idea by my advisor of course!
  8. For conferences, I use the affiliation where the work was done. Even after moving to my PhD school, when I presented work from my MS program, I would use my MS affiliation in addition to my PhD affiliation. As for the online academic profiles, you can do whatever you want.
  9. These are very hard to find. In my field, there is only one national level fellowship available to international students, the NASA Earth and Space Sciences Fellowship. However, it does not provide a top-up, it just replaces your stipend (your school may choose to top up in other ways if they want). You need to be at a US school already in a PhD program, so you can't get it in your first year, but you can apply in first year for 2nd year and beyond. Searching online is always something you should do, but such specific information is often hard to find. The best way to learn about these opportunities is to talk to other students and to talk to your advisor. Your advisor has a vested interest in you bringing in external money because it also often means less cost to them. Note: In almost all cases, when you win external awards, your internal funding is adjusted to consider the fact that you have external monies. So, only in very lucky cases will you be able to just keep all of the extra money. Some schools will adjust your funding so that you get a small top-up if you bring in outside money, while other schools will not change your stipend at all. It depends on the source of the outside money, the terms on the outside money and the amount of the outside money relative to your internal funding. For example, the award in my field grants $35,000 per year towards stipend and $10,000 per year for other expenses. The stipend value is listed as "up to $35k for stipend, or the prevailing rate at the school". My school's standard stipend is just below this number, so the award is only made out to the same stipend as everyone else. However, the extra $10k per year goes towards defraying tuition expenses for the advisor ($6k) and for travel and health insurance for the student ($4k). What this means is that although you don't get a higher stipend, you get more money in your pocket because the award pays your share of the insurance premiums. And the extra money for travel (and money saved for your advisor) could mean more money spent on you in other ways.
  10. In most cases, when a student signs an offer letter, even if the letter has financial considerations involved, the student is not legally bound to attend that school. It seems like there are some semantics on what is a "legal contract" that I won't get into because it's not important. Whether or not there is a contract, what is actually important is the terms of the agreement if either party decides to break the contract. In most cases, the answer is nothing. I have never seen an offer agreement that legally requires a student to attend a certain school. That doesn't even make sense---every student can always drop out of their academic program if they want to. The only time I think it really matters is if you have already received the funds for an award or something. Usually these terms are covered in a different agreement than the offer but generally, if you are awarded, say, $5000 for the Sept-December term, and you drop out in October, there are at least 3 possibilities, depending on the terms of the award. Either you will be required to 1) pay back the entire $5000 or 2) pay back a pro-rated award amount for the time you were no longer a student, or 3) pay back nothing (in rare cases). In this case, you do have an obligation---there will be consequences if you decide to not follow through on your end of the agreement. In addition, for things like TA or GA, it is often the case that you do not sign a contract outlining the terms and conditions of your employment until your actual employment begins. For example, at my last school, TAships were contracted positions and every individual appointment is a new contract. So, you might sign an offer letter saying that you are entitled to X dollars of funding as a TA, you only sign a contract when the TA appointment begins (each term, basically). Once that contract is signed, the agreement (at least at my school) is that you will complete X hours of work for Y dollars in pay. For students that left in the middle of a term, they have to pay back all wages paid to them for that TA position because they will not have completed all of the agreed-upon TA hours. I know at least one person that had to do this. On the other hand, if conditions outside of our control prevented us from working (e.g. building flooded, profs go on strike, classes cancelled due to underenrollment), then we will still receive the full pay. All that was just to say that 1) signing an offer letter does not obligate you to attend a school, 2) accepting an award and signing an agreement could pose some obligations and 3) signing a contract for work in return for pay also poses obligations. To @WhyNotGradSchool: I would second @Entangled Phantoms's advice. If you want to attend School B over School A, email School A to tell them that you have changed your mind and would like to withdraw. Then once they confirm it, accept School B's offer. Meanwhile, inform School B that you are withdrawing from School A and will be accepting their offer. If School A is taking a really long time to confirm (they shouldn't, though!), then accept School B.
  11. You don't have to worry about this incident. The only thing you should keep with you is to remember to ensure your citations are correct in the future. Like others said though, I would consider what you did a mistake, not plagiarism. In addition, every school will treat incidents like this differently. If you were in my class and forgot a citation for a sentence, I would probably make the same decision as your TA and just tell you to remember next time. However, even if I did decide to escalate it for whatever reason, the penalty will be very minor. You might lose a tiny percentage of your grade for that essay for a mistake like that (depending on the length of the essay and how critical that sentence is to your work). To me, forgetting a single citation is just a mistake, no different than a spelling mistake or a grammar mistake. In a writing class, it could be a big deal, since the purpose of assigning these essays is to practice your citations / spelling / grammar / writing. But in a non-writing class, I would not even grade for spelling/grammar/citation style unless there are so many mistakes that it makes it hard to read. Finally, your course essays are not public domain. No one else can read what you wrote in your essays and your school is not allowed to release your work to other people. Unless you have submitted it somewhere for publication, no one will see your course work.
  12. Congratulations!
  13. You are not legally committed to anything unless you somehow sign such a commitment. I have never heard of a legal commitment for an academic program though. A deposit is usually non-refundable so you are usually only as financially committed as your deposit. i.e. if you change your mind, you will lose your deposit. I don't know what kind of program you are signing on for, so my only other advice is to check whatever you're signing to ensure that it's not some kind of agreement to commit yourself to also paying further deposits.
  14. There's a good book by Susan Cain, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, which you might enjoy and find helpful if you haven't already read it. I also often recommend Marc Kuchner's Marketing for Scientists: How to Shine in Tough Times. This book is written by an astrophysicist who is also a country music songwriter and wrote a book applying what he learned from the music/marketing world to science. Not everyone necessarily agrees with everything in that book, but there are some really good chapters discussing how one crafts their "brand" as a scientist that is really enlightening and helpful. The chapters on telling an engaging story in your writing or oral presentation are also very nice.
  15. I am also a person that does very poorly "on the spot" but I can manage to get by when necessary. In some discussion groups, I really dislike it when there is no moderation of who speaks, so it's basically whoever can talk over others, or whoever can say something first gets credit for the idea or credit for "participating". It is really tough on students like me who take time to think more deeply about the topic and need a bit of time to craft a response. I really prefer discussion groups where the question is posed and everyone is asked to spend 1-2 minutes thinking about it before asking for contributions. It's even better when there is a moderator to ensure a small group of extroverted or less-shy students do not dominate the conversation. Good science and thought should not be about who can speak the quickest or the loudest or with the most confidence! Unfortunately, it's not really practical to expect a student can change how an advisor runs their group. This is the type of thing I would classify under "advisor fit". Depending on how well you get along with your advisor otherwise, you could consider telling him that you are not able to perform optimally when put on the spot like this. But if he is not a person that different people might have different needs/abilities, then it might not be helpful to you. The good news is that as Eigen and fuzzy both said, with time, you will get better. It took me more than half of my time in grad school to be able to think of questions on the spot and actually ask them at things like seminars or to be actually able to participate in group discussions when it's no moderation (whoever speaks first). I still struggle with being asked questions on the spot though. One strategy I find that works well for me is that when I am asked a question I'm not even sure what they are getting at, is to ask for clarification. It's okay to ask a question back. Later, when you are more experienced, you can also answer a similar question instead of their question. For example if they ask a bad, unclear (or an unfair) question, you can redirect the topic to something you do know (again with more time, you will know more things). You can say something like, "I'm not certain what you are asking exactly, but if you mean [[rephrase the question into something you know the answer to]] then I think.... " ; usually if it was just a poorly thought-out/bad question, you won't get a followup. If it was a question they actually want an answer to, the followup will clarify more things. In any case, this allows you to actually show that you know things and lets you demonstrate your knowledge / avoid having to blather when you don't even know what the other person is getting at. Another tip: Listen to how politicians and school officials deflect bad questions or questions meant to trip them up. Obviously, you can't employ all of the strategies and I would be careful to avoid doing this for sincere questions. But I think that if people like your advisor or other students are just asking questions to "posture", then it's fair game to use some of these tricks back at them.