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fuzzylogician last won the day on September 20

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About fuzzylogician

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  1. Issue with word for organizing data - technical difficulty

    You mean something like the attached pic? Simplest way I know: Create a textbox. Format "line" to black. Reshape to the right width, copy-paste your paragraph into it. Copy-paste to create a new box, drag it so it's right under your previous box, copy-paste the next paragraph into there. Rinse, repeat. Not exactly high-tech, but does the job. Or, much better: Latex, use package mdframed. Or \fbox{} for short texts.
  2. Is my application that weak?

    Someone is messing with your head, and if he's a permanent fixture in your life, you need to find a way to remove him. Not only was it an unhelpful and mean thing to say, it also doesn't sound like it's rooted in any fact. You have a good GPA and some prior research experience. You have two projects that two separate professors consider publishable and will presumably praise in their LORs. That should allow you to write a strong and targeted SOP. You should have a strong writing sample based on one of these papers. You should have strong LORs, from all I gather. If you write a focused SOP and choose your schools wisely based on fit (+ get a decent GRE score), I don't see any reason why you shouldn't aim high and be successful. Cut the hurtful person out of your life and look forward with confidence. No guarantees or promises, but no reason to be overly negative, either.
  3. Well, again. A self-aware version of #2 seems the most appropriate. #1 doesn't give much of any information at all. #3 has you already settled not only on the target disease but on the way to go trying to cure it, but you should probably be more cautious about making such detailed choices before you even start grad school. #2 gives the general intent and the kind of directions you think might be fruitful without getting overly specific in the wrong places, so therefore seems the most appropriate.
  4. Please don't take this the wrong way, but is "non of the above" an option? Your options all sound incredibly naive and kind of obnoxious. A more self-aware version of #2 might be something like: "My long-term goal is to contribute to the effort to cure neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimers disease by expanding our understanding of how proteins function, through a close study of their structure and by probing their dynamics." As in, acknowledge that other (smart, talented) people have been working on this very difficult problem for a long time already, and be humble enough to show awareness of your own potential limitations -- you may not cure a disease all on your own, but contributing to the effort is something that a reasonable undergrad can aspire to.
  5. Yeah, see, I don't know that I'd go this far. Ask your writers what they prefer; don't assume you know and decide for them. There's nothing stopping them from composing the letter completely independently of having the prompt. All they need is your documents (transcript, CV, SOP, whatever they asked for). They may or may not want the prompt in their inbox three months early. And they may very well prefer if you send them all in one go than one at a time plus an email telling them to expect the prompt.
  6. Yes, though keep in mind: Some applications only send the prompts after you submit. Your professors may not plan to submit your letters this long in advance; while it's considerate of you to give them the extra time, take into account that the prompt might get lost in a sea of more recent emails in their inbox. So, check in with them closer to the application deadline to make sure that they still have the prompt, and offer to resend it if they need you to (most applications allow you to do that even after you submit).
  7. Basics of Fellowships, Assistantships, Grants, and Stipends

    It depends on the fellowship. Obviously it would be premature to apply for dissertation-related funding before you're even admitted, have an advisor and/or topic. The NSF GRFP, on the other hand, does allow you to apply early, I believe. (As a non-citizen, I never worried about these details, but you might want to look them up.) The Canadian equivalents (SSRHC/NSERC) do, too. I would say it's important to make sure you're spending enough time on your applications first, but you might also want to talk to someone at your current department about whether there is anything you should be applying to this fall.
  8. Basics of Fellowships, Assistantships, Grants, and Stipends

    The answer to all of your questions is "it depends!". Some fellowships require a longer proposal (10-15 pages) which is essentially the same as a grant proposal, some require a much shorter proposal (my postdoc proposal was exactly 1 page long, including everything from project description to fit with the institution and sponsor). Some require you to show results directly tied to the project you proposed, some are more flexible. Some are specifically to support dissertation research, others are not. This is something to discuss with advisors, and is highly (sub)field dependent. It's always worth applying for prestigious grants and awards, even if you already have guaranteed funding from your department. It will make you more hirable and might give you extra independence. It might allow you to stay in your program for another year or two if you can arrange it, it might allow you to travel more; there are really not many downsides to having external money.
  9. Basics of Fellowships, Assistantships, Grants, and Stipends

    Two reasons: - If it's external funding, then showing that you have fundable ideas that you can articulate in a way that gets you money is very valuable, regardless of whether or not your institution would have fully funded you anyway. Sometimes you'll also get a higher stipend than you would from your institution, but not always. - Usually fellowships don't require the extra TA/RA work of assistantships, and that means more time to do research and less time spent on other things. That is usually conducive to doing more (and better) research.
  10. Academic CV?

    Unlike the resume, an academic CV can be as long as it needs to be. For a starting student, it may only be 1-2 pages, but it'll grow longer with time, and that's expected. There are plenty of threads you can find using the search function to help you with your question. One piece of advice is to simply look at what other students in your target programs are doing (which is more relevant than what professors are doing, since profs will have a lot more to write about than a beginning student would!). And the other is that you want to use the CV to highlight your accomplishments as best you can, given the purpose you're using it for. For grad school applications, you might have sections like education, awards (fellowships/scholarships/grants), talks, posters, papers, research experience, teaching experience, other (languages, programming skills, service -- depending on what you have and on the field). If you don't have anything to put under "papers", don't have that heading; if you have one poster and one talk, you might have a conjoined "presentations" or "papers and posters" heading, to make this part look "fatter", so to speak. For a while, you may not want/need to have separate headings for peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed presentations and publications, so you might just lump those under one heading. As long as you're not misrepresenting anything, you can make whatever choice looks best to you. As for extracurriculars and work experience, I wouldn't add those unless they are somehow relevant to your application. I'm sure there might be others who disagree with this advice. Same goes e.g. for putting specific (relevant!) courses you've taken, putting your UG GPA, or similar things on your CV. Opinions vary. For me, the main goal you should have in mind is helping your readers use the CV in a way that will maximize your chances of getting in. If your transcript does a good job of describing the classes you took, you're all good. No need to repeat that information in your CV (also, usually, no need to repeat your GPA unless it's very impressive; and even then, I'd remove it once you start your PhD). Don't generate extra unnecessary work for your readers; I assure you that they have enough other things to do, and they'll appreciate the conciseness. If, on the other hand, all the transcript says is that you took "LING 1234" and "LING 4321", I might not have any idea what you know, so it might not be a bad idea to add an extra page that very briefly spells out the actual names of those classes and what you learned (in 1-2 sentences!) -- e.g.: "LING 4321: Graduate Introduction to Syntax" or even an added like "introducing the foundations of modern syntactic theory within the minimalist framework" or some such, so your readers know what you actually learned in the class. This, of course, might be useful for grad school apps, but again would be something to remove later on. So for a lot of details, the answer to whether or not to include them is "it depends!".
  11. Adviser Retiring

    If it were me, I would go with option (2) in the sense of finishing the MA at the current institution, assuming that your advisor will still support you through it. At that point, I would leave and either get a job, or apply for a PhD at another institution. Doing that should allow you to have a stronger profile applying to a PhD, with the support of your current institution, as opposed to if you dropped out and reapplied this year, though in your case it also shouldn't be terribly hard to explain why you're switching. But I do think this would save you a year that I don't see why you'd want to spend starting over at this point. If you do leave academia, this MA should be good enough, and if you go into another PhD program, you'll be in a strong position to do so, although depending on your field and target programs, you may end up having to repeat some coursework (which I personally don't see as a huge minus, but some people do, so there you have it.) I would also take this as a learning experience and look for a place with *at least* two, preferably three, potential advisors. People retire, move institutions, get sick, etc. more frequently than you might think, and you really don't want your entire future to be in the hands of just one person. Any future program you consider should really have more breadth and more ability to support you. In any event, I don't think that continuing without any support makes sense, so (3) is out; I think (1) wastes a year right now, where as later that time could be put to better use; and (4) is a little premature, since it doesn't sound like you can make that decision now. That leaves (2) as the winner.
  12. Basics of Fellowships, Assistantships, Grants, and Stipends

    Getting hung up on wording isn't all that important, and there's also some variation in how these words are defined and used across schools and fields. Scholarships and fellowships are often (but definitely not always!) institution-internal funding sources for supporting students. They usually don't come with any strings attached in the form of service -- that is, you're not required to complete a certain project in exchange for the money. You have flexibility in the research you want to do. They can be merit-based or need-based. Graduate fellowships are not usually need-based, that's something that's a lot more common for undergraduates. Grants are also funds that are used to support student research, but they are often (a) institution-external (e.g. come from the NSF or NIH), and (b) are there to support a particular project with an already determined outline of predicted deliverables. Fellowships can sometimes (in some fields, very often) simply support the student regardless of the particular project they choose to work on. A stipend is what we call that part of the funding that actually goes to the student, as opposed to parts of the money that might go toward tuition/insurance/overhead... Assistantships are money you get for work, either an RAship or a TAship. When you TA, you are responsible for some combination of sitting in the lecture, giving office hours, grading, and leading one or more lab or discussion section. Responsibilities vary. RAships would usually entail doing work on a project for a professor, where they have money that's been earmarked for paying students to do work related to their (already approved) project. Their money might come from external grant or an institution-internal pot. It shouldn't really matter for you, with two exceptions: (a) some grant money is designated as for use only for US citizens or permanent residents, so if you're international you might not be able to get it; and (b) again if you're international, you aren't allowed to work more than 20 hours a week, so the official designation of the source of the money might matter so you don't exceed this requirement. Now, to make life even more confusing, sometimes the official designation of where the money comes from could be different from the actual work you're required to do. For example, in my PhD department, money from all funding sources was pooled into a large pot, and everyone was payed the same amount every semester. There was some amount of money whose source was fellowships and some whose source was earmarked for TAships, but where your money actually came from was independent of whether you happened to TA a certain semester or not. (Everyone had to TA some number of semesters, and you could choose which ones to do it in.) This had tax implications for some (international) students, but otherwise was basically invisible to the students. But as an international student I always made sure I would be on fellowship money*, because that would allow me to work for extra pay (as opposed to TAship money, which automatically assumes I'm working 20 hours a week and can't work any more), and for tax reasons that matters because of a treaty my country has with the US, where fellowship money got a larger exemption than TA money. * And so this is yet another reason why being good friends with your grad secretary is a good idea..
  13. Concretely, two things: One: First year is often the hardest. It takes time to get used to juggling coursework and TAing along with research. The second semester is likely to be better, and second year will probably improve again because you'll likely have less coursework and you'll get better at managing your time. Have you tried talking to more advanced students about their experiences and how they handled the adjustment? Talk, specifically, to other international students who also had to handle adjusting to a new culture, climate, language, etc. This all takes time. It took me about a semester to start feeling acclimated into my PhD program and about a year before I actually understood what all was happening around me. I really started to enjoy myself some time in the second year, I would say. I can't promise that you'll be the same, but it might just be a matter of time for you, too, before you feel better adjusted and figure out how to make things work. At the very least, the few weeks you've been there couldn't possibly be enough to really have a sense of what your life might be like if you stay. Again, talking to more experienced students about how they make their situations work might help. Second: transferring is not usually that simple in grad school. More often than not, you'll essentially be reapplying and starting over from scratch. Many programs won't accept prior coursework, so you may have to redo that, too. That's something to look into. Also worth looking into -- is there a way to Master out of your current program? One way to leave without burning bridges is to get a Masters and reapply for a PhD at another school, stating fit as the reason you didn't stay in your current program. You'd be in a stronger position if you apply next year with one successful year under your belt and with letters from your current school, as opposed to this year, with just a few weeks into your program and presumably no support from your current school. It would, however, mean staying there longer (which I independently think you should do, by the way, as I stated above, to give it a real shot), so either way I think you need to start seeking help to learn to handle the stress. Less concretely, I've seen students get involved in unionizing; I am definitely not telling you not to, but the ones I've seen invested a whole lot of time into it, with not as many results, at least not for themselves and not immediately. If you do it, do it because you think it's the right thing to do in general, but it may not be the way to solve your own problems in the short run.
  14. So, is it possible for you to discreetly look into switching advisors/topics? Advisors can have a huge influence on your life, and not getting along with them can be very hard. I personally think that having good compatibility with your advisor is a *lot* more important than the particular project you're working on (as long as you're not totally bored with it). I'd opt for the seemingly less interesting topic with the great advisor over the awesome topic with meh advisor any day of the week. So I think the question is whether there is someone in your program who you get along with who could be that advisor for you. Since it sounds like you had a good undergrad experience, hopefully you have some idea of what works for you, and now you also have some idea as to what doesn't. Maybe that means just meeting with people or showing up at their lab meetings to see how they interact with students. If that option could exist, it could be worth looking into. If not, another option is perhaps Mastering out of your current program and applying for another PhD program, hopefully this time with a lot more emphasis on finding an advisor that's a good fit for you. That would prolong your time to stability, but would keep options open and it might be a way to get yourself out of the bad place you're in now. Either way, I think you need to change something, because staying in an unhappy situation for years is just not healthy.
  15. Paper Editing

    (this post is over two years old, no need to have a discussion here unless it's a new question/topic, in which case you should probably open a new thread.)