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Everything posted by TakeruK

  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.
  16. My advisor got tenure a few months ago. Similar to Eigen's case. My advisor announced the decision to the group mailing list and said that group meeting for that week would be a celebration with snacks instead of our usual stuff. A couple of students and postdocs decided to intervene because we didn't think our advisor should have to provide cake for their own celebration and tenure is an achievement worth celebrating! So, we got a cake, and made a nice card related to their research and had everyone sign it. Note: I did tell my advisor that we were planning to get the cake and champagne for them so that they wouldn't also get stuff (and to make sure they were okay with it).
  17. wow! lol! time to plan a revenge prank
  18. I think you will be fine, but it might be a good idea to talk to your advisor about this just to get more perspective. It is a little embarrassing, but trust me, many grad students (including me) have admitted more embarrassing mistakes before! Normally these scammers are in the business of stealing your money, not your research ideas. I am guessing that if you answered the next set of questions, they will probably ask for payment for the application or for the program itself. So I wouldn't worry too much. In the worst case scenario, they might use your text to either scam other people (list your abstract as a fake attendee to their future fake events) or sell it to unscrupulous people looking for academic text. But this is pretty unlikely as this implies they are able to distinguish good vs. bad academic text and if they could, it's unlikely they would be running this sort of scam. So I wouldn't really worry about it. Also a good idea to talk to your advisor in the future before submitting things like this. Even if it is a legitimate thing, I generally would want to discuss how much uncompleted work to reveal in an abstract with my advisor!
  19. Usual disclaimer: I'm not an expert, just another foreign student sharing their experience. 1. You do not have to enter the US where you are going to school. When you enter, they will likely ask you where you are staying that night and what is your ultimate destination in the US. These are normal questions, just answer truthfully. Give the address of where you are staying that night and say that you will be heading to Boston for school. Just tell the truth and there won't be any problems. Whether you get asked for details just depends on the mood of the officer. Sometimes I get asked detailed questions about my field of study, other times I get nothing more than a "Thank you, welcome to the United States." Also, it's very normal for foreign students to enter the US not where they start school. For example, I entered from Canada and Canadian airports have US preclearance, so my original port of entry was a Canadian city. Many other students that come from Asia, for example, will connect in Los Angeles and since you have to cross the border/enter on F-1 at the first US airport, they will enter at Los Angeles and then make their way to the other coast (or elsewhere). 2. No, if you are staying for a long time, you don't need to have booked a return flight. If you are planning to return for Christmas and you already have a flight booked, then bring the confirmation since it doesn't hurt to have it. But I and many other students on long programs enter the US regularly with no return flight. In fact, my status will expire on June 30 (I am graduating) and for my last entry to the US (late April), they did not require a return flight booked.
  20. What do you mean by visa documents? If it is the I-20 or DS-2019, just ask your MA school to print you another copy of them. If it is the visa itself, then I am not sure what to do. Ask your MA school's international office. Since the visa itself would likely be in your passport, I don't think this is the case or you would have even more issues, but I mention it here in case it's in your expired passport or something.
  21. Just want to third @Eigen's and @fuzzylogician's advice! I waited until grad school started before buying my laptop and I'm glad I did for the compatibility issues. Also, many school computer/book stores have back-to-school sales and you can get the Apple education discount through them. I got my computer for $200 off the base price plus a $100 App store gift card which I used to buy some software. I ended up getting a Macbook Pro because back in 2012, I thought I would need a disk drive (used it for a very short amount of time lol); however, the additional computing power is nice. I can use my Macbook Pro to run short pieces of analysis, which is very helpful when I am away from my desktop for work. I try to not do a lot of work on my laptop, but I do occasionally need to do work on it when traveling and when working at the telescope. For more complicated tasks, I connect to my desktop (an iMac) and run the analyses there, then download the results onto my laptop. I'm going to start a new position in the summer, and again, I am waiting to see what configuration I should get. I have requested a iMac or Mac Pro for my desktop computer and I think it will be granted, but still making sure I have my work station set up before I get my laptop (which will be mostly personal use, but I want it to be as painless to do work on it as possible when I travel).
  22. Did you make your poster in MS Word and the handout on Powerpoint, or vice-versa? If poster on Word, handout on powerpoint, you can probably skip the powerpoint. MS Word should allow you to save the poster as PDF. Then, open the PDF and print to the paper size that you want (just as Eigen suggested). No need to fiddle with MS Word and Powerpoint, it's best to go straight to the source file. If you must export to Powerpoint for some reason (e.g. you want to add stuff on the handout in addition to your poster) then try to see if you can select all of the objects in your MS Word document, group them, then "save as image". This will get you the full resolution image. Import that image into powerpoint. If I misunderstood and the poster is in powerpoint and the handout in MS Word, then it's even easier. Powerpoint definitely has a "save as image" option and this preserves the full resolution. Import that in MS Word and you're set. Or, you can also do the printing to PDF / scaled down as above.
  23. I think it's important to also consider the context/reason why these grad school websites suggest making an effort to make friends with your cohort. In my opinion, the reason is that you do not want to be isolated in your program. Grad school can be a tough time and having a strong social support network is important. So, building good friendships in grad school is one (maybe the most common) way of getting this support. However, for you, @SarahBethSortino, since it sounds like you are already going to be in a good place in your new city, with friendships already established, then this might not be as relevant to you. If you find your own support elsewhere, that's great. I would say that friendships in grad school can serve other roles too though. Briefly, here are some reasons to try to make friends with your cohort and/or other students in your program (in different years): 1. They can provide support specific to your department/school and look out for you. For example, when I was starting out, if I have a weird interaction with a prof, I can go to my older friends to see what it might mean. Or, now that I am almost done, I help my younger friends navigate things like picking a committee, preparing for quals, etc. My friends and I, of all years, also can share school-specific resources or help each other out because if one of us needs to know about X, another one might know someone who knows a lot about X. 2. If there's something difficult going on in your life at some point, your grad school friends can help you out. Maybe they can take notes for you in class. They can make sure you're not falling too far behind. They might be able to submit homework/paperwork on your behalf or do random things that you might not be able to be physically present for. And of course, they can still do all of the other stuff that friends do for each other, this is mostly a list of reasons why friends in your department can be helpful that non grad school friends might not be able to do. 3. Friends in grad school (whether it's your department or another school) can relate to your grad school experiences more directly and sometimes it's easier to talk to other students about difficult situations involving grad school. Friends outside of grad school are also great though, as they help put things in perspective. 4. Finally, if you want to continue in academia, your cohort and other grad students will eventually be your future colleagues. At least in my field, they will be the ones reviewing your papers, your grants, deciding who gets invited to conferences etc. They will also be your future collaborators, potentially. A lot of people think about networking only in the context of going to conferences and meeting people, but you can build some of the strongest networks within your own department because you have way more time/chances to create a strong relationship. And your colleagues are also going to go on and do great things and meet more people and they can be the link to someone you need later on in your academic life. This is more related to the second reason why I think these websites suggest you make friends to succeed in grad school (and beyond). That said, I also don't really think it's necessary to go bar hopping and to do all of the partying stuff in order to make friends in grad school. Sure, depending on your department's culture, it might be a really good way to do it, but it's not the only way to do it. Friendships take time to build and I actually spend most of the time building friendships during the work day and on campus. You don't have to be uncomfortable in a bar if you don't like it, and you'll find people that share your feeling too, in grad school. It's not like everyone thinks that going to bars is the only way to socialize. Some of my best friends in grad school don't drink at all, or very rarely. I do think that spending time with your friends outside of work, i.e. when you both choose to invest your personal time into the relationship, is an important part of creating stronger connections though. For me, I do go to an occasional party, play on intramural teams with my friends, participate or plan in fun outings once in awhile on the weekends (e.g. Disneyland one year). There's lots to do that doesn't revolve around drinking, bars, partying etc. I personally take the strategy of saying yes to everything at first, meeting everyone, and then being a little more selective and choosing to spend more of my personal time with people I click with better. And also as @AP pointed out, you don't necessarily have to make friends with only your cohort. You might click/have more chemistry with some of the older students, or the more mature younger students!
  24. Disclaimer: I don't have experience with the education culture in the Netherlands or Sweden, so maybe this doesn't apply. But I think your idea is a good one. In your shoes, I would mention that I worked full time during the second and third years, which impacted my coursework. Then, I would say that I plan on devoting my full effort and energy on my academic program in graduate school because I will not be continuing my employment. That's about the amount of detail and space I think you should use to address it, in my opinion. No need to say that you were skipping classes, and no need to directly mention your poor grades.
  25. Ah okay. In my field, it's almost the inverse! Only the very top tier students get TT positions right after grad school. There has been one graduate in my program, out of the ~40 or so that graduated in the last 8 years that achieved this. And almost all of these students, at my school or elsewhere, will defer the TT in favour of a postdoc. There's nothing like the 2-3 years of 100% research to really jump-start your productivity and prepare you for the tenure clock! Some postdocs are externally funded so you can take your postdoc anywhere you want, and it's pretty common for someone who got both a postdoc and a TT position to take the postdoc at the same institution as their TT position, allowing them to start taking on students and start a research program without starting their tenure clock. Many other very good students will get some sort of prize postdoc fellowship and then a TT position in the next cycle. A large number of prize postdocs at my current institution go on to TT positions after 2 or 3 years here. The vast majority of people who end up in a TT position only get one after 2 or 3 postdocs. But there are tons of postdocs overall. I don't know the exact count for sure, but basically 75% of PhD graduates in astronomy and astronomy-like fields intending to stay in academia will have some sort of postdoc position. A smaller fraction are prize postdocs, which are funded with money awarded from national organizations (NSF, NASA, etc.) or private organizations (Heising-Simons Foundation, Carnegie, other similarly named organizations) or institutional fellowships (Miller fellowship at UC Berkeley, Harvard Society of Fellows, etc.). These postdocs pay really well and allow great independence in research. The majority of postdoc positions are not prize positions and they are more like staff scientists hired to work on a specific project. In astronomy, they still pay pretty well. Most graduates can expect to double their income going from student to postdoc.