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dithius_9

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dithius_9 last won the day on July 22 2010

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About dithius_9

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    Michigan MA/MS
  1. Do you want a masters or a PhD? It's not really possible to talk about funding before deciding this. In general masters are funded only for the lucky few who manage to secure merit-based fellowships or competitive TA slots, and even then only on a year-to-year or semester-to-semester basis. Getting funded for even one term for a masters is great, but is generally no indication of what will happen next term. With a masters *expect* to be unfunded, and rejoice when you are funded. PhD students however can get admitted with much more stable funding arrangements. Often a department will guarantee x number of years (like 1-5) of funding though fellowships/TAs, and leave it up to the student to fill in the rest with nationally competitive awards. Because you are making much more of a time/career commitment for a PhD than a masters, you really shouldn't settle for anything less than a few years of guaranteed funding (exception being you are filthy rich, which given your original question I presume you are not) For a PhD it's very difficult I believe to try to narrow schools ahead of time by what their finding options are as you are generally not privy to the departmental funding opportunities available until you actually get you acceptance letter. Average departmental funding is wholly irrelevant. All that matters is what *you* are offered, and that is entirely dependent on how much they want you. When it comes to nationally competitive awards to fill in the gap years, you have generally the same chances no matter what school you are at, so it doesn't matter so much where you are as who you are. Point is, for a masters, it does pay to scout-out what are your chances to snag a TA or a temporary departmental fellowship by talking to the secretary and fellow students. For a PhD, you just need to apply and see what happens - with an offer in hand you should have a pretty definite idea what to expect funding-wise.
  2. Congratulations to everyone who got final award notices. Even for those who did not receive good news in the end, it is a good feeling to finally be able to start making basic plans for the school year and get on with life. @NYUmom: My school does not have a European center, so I haven't heard anything. Looking at the Dept. of Ed.'s FLAS site, I see that the number of Western Europe centers was 11 in 2005-2010. The two previous award cycles the number was around 7. This doesn't really say anything, but one guess is that the Western Europe roster was getting bloated and needed to be scaled back. I heard an interesting story that the Indiana University Inner Asia center is now holding some 11th hour competition for an unexpected batch of Pashto, Farsi and Dari fellowships that came through. All I can infer is that policy priorities are shifting with the new administration.
  3. I'll just add my 2 cents. 1. Good luck, I commend you for your effort. Doing 75% would really be spectacular, and is honestly about the maximum anyone could be expected to do with a heavy reading load. I think I finished around 60% last semester and I was very proud of myself. 2. My take on #2 is that I do also feel the need to remain chummy with my colleagues (keep tabs on the gossip, assert your presence as a community member, get advice about doing academic-ish things), and this does mandate things like happy hours. For me, this is mostly a survival mechanism (though there are a lot of cool, fun people in my department). We are simply each other's competition, and I get stressed out by posturing and such within the department (yes, it even manages to infiltrate casual social events in very subtle ways). For this reason, I generally seek out interesting, friendly people from unrelated departments to hang out with whenever possible. I learned a lot about theoretical topologies last year from a math student, while not once having to stress about whether she had a better fellowship than me. 3. I've more or less muzzled myself since my first year. In seminars, I get my obligatory share of comments in to demonstrate active participation, and then sit back and let the egos in the room bruise each other up. Now I try to save all of my "blurting out" for written assignments, where is belongs. 4. Yes, passing/generating negative gossip (especially about other students) is a huge liability in a grad program. Although, I haven't met anyone able to resist doing it on occasion. I think faculty are generally a safe target for venting. I mean honestly, they are the weirdest people in the world . I would ad a 5th "resolution" for myself, though this is one I made last year, one whose realization I am still working towards. 5. Graduating and getting a job is my priority. Anything which gets in the way of that objective must be avoided. Grad school is no place for me to hang about -- get in and get out!
  4. Also, remember that once accepted, you will be more than free to modify your research goals (often significantly so). By writing something a little bit sexy now you won't be painting yourself into a corner. My current research is about 6,000 miles, one language family, and 3 disciplines removed from whatever the heck I wrote in my statement.
  5. I don't really have any comment on the general structure other than it does seem logical and appropriate. Also, I have no idea what is "normal" for engineering, but I think that there are some basic principles that transcend any specific field. My main advice would be a] be specific and b] get to the point. You don't need to recite the entire life history of the faculty of the department, but a few well-researched tidbits about your knowledge of their current/past research will go a long way towards demonstrating your sincerity as a candidate. (Don't over-do it though, as it should sound genuine). Also, it's great to talk about your general passion for the field, but again keep it succinct and try to tie it to specific experiences in your past (or present). Finally, I would perhaps just add one more though: try and say something original. Maybe hint at your "dream" research project. Even if it is a wee bit far-fetched, it will show that you possess a mind capable of pushing the limits of your field through original thought (otherwise known as science). Feel free to disregard everything I've said!! Good luck!!
  6. When I took the GRE I seem to remember quantitative questions in which there was indeed extraneous information. This was 4 years ago, however. There are numerous practice tests floating around. I suggest you take a look at a few of those to get a feel for the types of questions you are likely to encounter. Maybe start here?
  7. Is anyone following the FLAS debacle this summer? All the Title VI centers are caught in some kind of prolonged state of limbo regarding federal funding allotments for 2010-14. For my part I've been kicking around on some kind of wait list since March for the academic year fellowship. It's been very confusing for me to figure out what has been going on in departments, to and assess my chances of getting the award at the end of the day. From talking to some colleagues at other departments and universities, as best I can piece together: 1) Some people got offers right off the bat in April, but they came with the caveat "...is contingent on final award notice by the Department of Education sometime in late June" 2) Some departments were able to offer a small number of *unconditional* awards (2-3 instead of 6-10) with the university promising to float the bill in case ED falls though. I would like to see if anyone has heard anything recently from their departments in the last 2-3 months. I would especially like to know if anyone got a conditional award and has since gotten a followup confirmation. That would at least indicate ED is finally getting off their butts (perhaps they forget that students, such as they are, generally have to start the semester in about a month. )
  8. Do what makes you happy. Unhappy dad = unhappy kids.
  9. If you like reading books a lot, sure, go read 'em...what could it hurt? However, I think you are pretty safe to just relax and enjoy the summer if you happen the type that enjoys having a life. I doubt anyone from your department will expect you to read before starting your first year.
  10. Just got an email this morning that I have been awarded the Boren Fellowship! No word on exact funding yet, but I'm very very relieved to be done waiting!
  11. As far as how they pay you, that is up to the department. Some pay monthly, others in a lump sum at the start. Typically the stipend is considered taxable income. Also, the stipend that comes with a fellowship is generally meant to cover living expenses, so there are basically no limits on what you can spend it. It's your money to keep, just like from a job.
  12. Your department should be able to tell you which fellowships students typically apply for and receive. This is much more productive than searching the web, because they have already done the work of finding most of the major relevant programs. Also, ask your fellow students who have been there for at least a year, I'm sure they are a wealth of information. They all have gone through the same process.
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