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About OhSoSolipsistic

  • Rank
    Espresso Shot

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  • Application Season
    2017 Fall
  • Program
    Human Systems Engineering PhD

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  1. A hotspot device. Just switched carriers and probably will end up paying about $5 more per month for mobile, but to also have unlimited, reliable wifi whereever I go is a dream - especially living off campus, far from family (trips home), and occasional academic travel. Constant streaming might be an issue (I heard they throttle after 22 gb/month), but I doubt I'll be watching movies/tv much. I'll deal with my beat up, worn MacBook Air and dated phone as long as I can stay connected and study/research despite the surroundings.
  2. The workload is on the heavy side, but the hours per week sound reasonable and fairly standard for many grad students. But I second TakeruK's hesitations about taking on added commitments during your first semester. On top of getting used to a new environment and developing a good first year record for future PhD applications, the initial transition to grad programs is often noticeably stressful in and of itself. Graduate-level work isn't necessarily “harder” than undergrad, it's just very different and takes time to develop (e.g., backstroke swimmer now learning butterfly for the first time). That's not to say that you shouldn't take on any extra volunteer commitments while you're making that transition. You know the situation and yourself best, and some programs do a good job at mitigating that stress. Is there someone in your program you can ask about typical first-semester stress to get better awareness of your situation?
  3. Research is increasingly multidisciplinary, perhaps especially in applied disciplines. I'll be attending an engineering program even though my academic background is in experimental psychology because my interests are a good fit with my PIs research. Look for professors who's research aligns with your interests and contact them. If you think the connection is a good match and the professor encourages you to apply after reviewing your background, apply regardless of the official degree title or department.
  4. I plan to look for a research-heavy appointment in either a government or academic institution after grad school (I have no interest in industry), so in my SoP I focused on the type of research I want to do but wasn't very specific on a clear career position. I believe most adcomms prefer applicants who plan to become professors, so that might not have been the best general approach, but it was an honest one for me.
  5. I worked as a researcher in an human factors/human systems lab at a gov facility for about 6 years after my terminal masters. I'd say my work experience was more valuable but not by much, and I wouldn't have got that position without my masters. The research lab (and entire division) recruited grad interns and fresh grads from three California State University campuses in human factors/experimental psych MA/MS programs, and all of those programs took at least two (usually three) years to complete with a thesis requirement. The fact that my research lab was particularly publication-heavy was very beneficial, and I'm almost certain made my application more attractive to adcomms than if I spent the 6 years in industry. Industry experience is better than no experience, but experience in a public or academic institution where you're writing and attending conferences strengthens your application much more. I don't know of any positions where you can do both basic and applied research outside of an academic institution, but that's not saying those positions don't exist. Even in universities, I think most HCI work is applied - but I'm looking at it from an applied psych background, so that may not be true for all HFE/HCI disciplines. In my case, I want to stay in the same gov/academic sector, but most of the positions I want require a PhD due to the complexity of the research. I also prefer more autonomy at a level that's difficult to achieve without a doctorate (more of a PI position). I think HFE/HCI is moving toward systems and we'll see a lot more professional opportunities in the next few decades, so I'm not that concerned about employability.
  6. Being hooded at graduation is pretty much equivalent to a neck hug.
  7. I started my master's program not in a lab and switched advisors three times in the first year, and overall it was a positive experience. In my case, there were unexpected availability conflicts in addition to wanting to explore other research areas - both reasons were valid and handled well. Professors are professionals, they understand some movement is going to happen with students and generally don't take it personally. It's usually more difficult to switch if a professor/lab is providing funding for you, has a RA/TA contractual obligation, or heavily invested in you in some other way. Even then, movement between labs is often more of a logistical issue than anything else (e.g. waiting until the end of an academic year). I know there are programs in which labs are more structured due to politics or other reasons, but you should be able to get info on this ahead of time. Look in your program handbook to see if there's any guidelines or policies on this. If not, email the program coordinator and ask for details to be better informed of how your program operates.
  8. I'd contact specific programs and ask. Some have firm pre-reqs before admission, some have guidelines that are fairly flexible depending on your background (e.g., may wave some requirements if you have professional experience in an area), and some will offer a provisional admission that requires you to take pre-reqs when you start that program.
  9. I just withdrew my George Mason University application for the Human Factors and Applied Cognition PhD program. I think I was waitlisted but not sure (interviewed but didn't hear back yet), so I hope this helps someone!
  10. In many departments, the first round of PhD acceptance notifications typically gets sent before MAs for various reasons. I believe most have to do with priority, like some PhD applicants may get bumped to MA offers if PhD slots are full but the department still wants to make an offer, or if funding's an issue, or they lack some requirements but are still a strong applicant, etc.
  11. What applications are you interested in? From a broad perspective the east coast has more overall activity (academia, internships, careers, etc.) in transportation, gov, military, financial, and other human system operations besides those that are heavily focused on the tech/AI/internet industry. There's some healthcare HCI/HSI presence out here too. I've worked as a transportation HSI researcher in the bay area for several years, so there is non-tech industry stuff out here but not nearly as much. I personally would choose Colombia, but I'm only superficially familiar with its Industrial Engineering/Operations Research program.
  12. What do you want to do after your program? It sounds like ASU would fit if you wanted to go into academia due to its more rigorous program, but GMU might be better suited if you're considering other career options since you may have more of a chance to explore. I'm not sure what type of non-academia positions there are in public policy, but you might have more potential connections for civil service/government internships considering Fairfax is close to DC. Financially, ASU might make more sense even if GMU is offering a stipend of $10,000+ more since Fairfax has a much higher cost of living than the Phoenix metro area. Also, ASU is larger so you could choose from a wider variety of non-departmental elective courses if that's a possibility. If passing comprehensive exams is a concern, can you look into the requirements to get a better sense of the challenges? I would contact current students to get a better feel for that and other comparison questions.
  13. Up until yesterday, I had similar thoughts. Looking at it objectively helps put things into perspective for me, it doesn't really help the anxiety but it helps the distortion. If programs don't select you, there's a good chance that there's larger factors at play and it wasn't anything you did, at least not a single glaring factor. Especially if you've made it to the interview stage. And netflixing helps for distraction. A month free if you don't have it already... Orange is the New Black, Breaking Bad, House of Cards, Mad Men. Def the way to go.
  14. Just got accepted to ASU! Does anyone know if funding info is usually stated in the official acceptance letter? My letter is still being processed and I can't find any details about stipend, fellowships, etc. anywhere else.
  15. You likely already know this, but: Many times, professors look for prospective students with specific features that their lab needs at a particular time, which change yearly with the lab's focus and composition. If their lab has a student with an unusual strength/background/whatever who happens to be graduating and leaving this year, the professor may look for a new student with similar features. It doesn't reflect poorly on the other candidates who are vying for that same spot - no one can possibly have every strength or background or sets of experiences - it just is what it is, unfortunately. So often it just really is all about being an unusually-shaped puzzle piece who just happens to fit the lab's or program's jigsaw needs at the right time, and the final selection genuinely is out of an outstanding pool of candidates of which include you. Coping tool: know this, and then binge on a great tv series.
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