• Content count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

  • Days Won


juilletmercredi last won the day on October 22 2016

juilletmercredi had the most liked content!

About juilletmercredi

  • Rank
    Cup o' Joe
  • Birthday 07/09/1986

Profile Information

  • Gender
  • Location
    Pacific Northwest
  • Application Season
    Not Applicable
  • Program
    Working in industry
  1. Is an ultraportable laptop a necessity for grad school?

    I'm sure it's possible, but it seems terribly inconvenient. Having a portable, lightweight laptop will make your life a lot easier. One alternative is to get a tablet and take notes on that, but by the time you get a tablet with a keyboard to take notes in class or the kind that you can use a stylus with you could probably get an inexpensive laptop for a similar price.
  2. NYC stipend

    Super livable. I got my PhD at Columbia and my stipend was pretty comparable to that. You will need a roommate or roommates and will need to choose an affordable neighborhood to live in. If you go through the university housing you can live in Morningside Heights, nearby Columbia; if you choose an off-campus apartment that neighborhood will likely be out of your reach, and neighborhoods like Harlem and Washington Heights will be more affordable.
  3. Training Opportunities - Social Sciences (Sociology)

    There are LOTS of trainings and opportunities in the health disparities and social sciences. What specifically are you looking for? Pre-doctoral programs, summer projects, travel/research abroad projects, grants, dissertation fellowships, postdoctoral fellowships, etc.?
  4. Unfunded PhD...?

    Don't do an unfunded PhD. In addition to the above, consider that unfunded students are far more likely to drop out of their programs and are less likely to get the kinds of experiences (like publications etc.) that help them reach towards academic jobs.
  5. How important is ranking for a career in academia?

    While reputation is important, in certain fields the absolute order is more important than others. In engineering, there is generally less competition for academic positions because there are so many lucrative/appealing non-academic for engineering PhDs, so students from a wider range of programs are competitive for top academic positions than in some other fields. To that end, I don't think there will be a huge difference coming from a top 10 program and a top 5 program. That said, even if there was you shouldn't ever choose a program where you're not adequately funded, especially if you have the option of a program with good funding. School A or School C sound like viable options for you, and it seems like you prefer School A. You can wait and see (or ask) what funding looks like at School B but I definitely wouldn't attend without full funding.
  6. Would you turn down an Ivy?

    Yes, yes, one hundred times yes. I got my PhD from an Ivy. Departments are going to vary a lot across the same university, so I wouldn't necessarily assume that the department is less nurturing or supportive just because it's at an Ivy. I did my PhD across two departments. One was quite supportive and relatively normal-ish, whereas the other one was less supportive. The overall university vibe, though, was pretty normal. The undergrads were the ones who were competitive and stressy, but the grad students were generally pretty laid-back: definitely about their business and their work, but in a way that was more like "normal more-demanding-than-average job" and less "pressure cooker." We were in a social psychology consortium with Yale and Princeton and I got a similar vibe about their students (Princeton seemed a little more stressy; Yale seemed about on par with us; but this was only outside observation a few times a year, so I'm no expert.) However, I will say that support and good mentorship are absolutely KEY to both your chances of completing the program and your ability to get good jobs afterwards. Sometimes, the attitude at my university tended to be "Well, of course you'll get a job - you go to Columbia" instead of actually taking the time to develop professional skills and helping students network, as if we were supposed to learn that stuff simply by osmosis. Again, departments varied (one of my departments was much better about trying to prepare people for actual jobs than the other), so I would give you this advice for any prestigious program regardless of whether or not it's an Ivy. It's also just easier to deal with all that being a doctoral student brings if you have support and understanding from your mentors and the department around you. Also...depending on your field the Ivy League may not be as impressive as you'd think. I'm a psychologist and while Ivy programs are generally pretty good, some of our best-reputed programs are actually at large public universities like UCLA, Michigan, Berkeley, Minnesota, Wisconsin and UIUC. I would turn down an Ivy for some of those places. (In my field, UIUC is ranked higher than Princeton.) I don't think you'd necessarily regret it forever. There's no real way to know, honestly. I think if you end up somewhere you're happy you won't wonder. And if you end up somewhere you're unhappy you might, but I think that would happen regardless of whether or not you chose an Ivy. But I also believe that because I don't think that Ivy League educations (grad or undergrad) are necessarily the golden ticket for a perfect life in most fields as some people tend to think. I think it does open doors, particularly in non-academic careers, where people may not be aware of departmental/field rankings but are more familiar with overall university quality. But there are lots of other ways to open doors. I mean, don't let imposter syndrome stop you. You are good enough to do excellently at an Ivy. But if you believe the environment is not a good fit for you, don't let a brand-name sticker make you choose a bad fit.
  7. Point where ranking stops mattering (CS phd)

    Well, you want to think about other things like reputation in your subfield and your personal fit with the department and the PI. YOUR top choice won't necessarily be the top 5 school, depending on your research area and your personal preferences. (Maybe you like the lifestyle that UCLA or Columbia offers you better than the one at MIT or CMU!) But this is going to vary a lot by field. In some really crowded fields (like the humanities) smaller differences in rankings/reputation may make the difference between tenure-track jobs and not. In fields where there are fewer competitors for TT positions (like accounting or economics) the small differences matter less. I'm guessing data science is closer to the latter end of the field, just because there are so many super lucrative opportunities for data scientists outside of academia. So I would imagine a graduate of a top 20 program (with the requisite publications et al.) would be pretty competitive on the academic market. I would also advise asking the professors at these programs for placement results from previous years. Where are grads getting jobs?
  8. Decision Methodology

    I'm happy where I ended up. But if I could go back in time and change how I evaluated programs or include new criteria I hadn't thought much about before (or emphasize the ones that I did that ended up being really important), here's what I'd highlight. Opportunities/professionalization for career preparation. I would put this at or near the top of the list. Basically, how committed does your department seem to be to getting their graduates prepared for post-graduation jobs - not just in hiring drones who will help them accomplish their own research or help them avoid teaching undergraduates? Talking to other graduate students (especially those who are close to finishing up) and to the professors themselves will be illuminating in this category. What kinds of professionalization activities do they hold (grant workshops, presentation practices, brown bags, CV/cover letter/teaching statement workshops, etc.)? When you talk to your potential PI, what do they talk about? Do they mention their students writing papers, giving presentations, doing whatever else it is they need to do in your field to get a job? When you talk to the DGS, what are they most proud about in the department? Look to the university, too - does the career services office have services for PhDs? Mine had excellent ones, like an annual conference about teaching at small liberal arts colleges (they invited professors from top SLACs to come in and talk about their jobs and the application process), CV and statement review, etc. They also had fellowship application workshops and a whole office dedicated to helping students get those prestigious national fellowships and grants. Check out the support the department and university has for non-academic career placement, too. Even if you know you want to be a professor, your goals may change by desire or necessity. You don't want to be in a department that's hostile to the very idea of leaving the academy so you can feed your family. You also don't want a department that says that they want or expect people to get academic jobs but offers no kind of help for them to get there. People/vibe, especially are they workaholics? In my experience, I was the most successful as a graduate student not when I was grinding out 80-hour weeks but when I took a balanced approach to preserving my mental health and personal life and doing the best high-quality work I could. I was in two different departments because of my joint program; one department supported that more than the other, and it definitely made me a little lopsided in that I understandably spent more time in the department where I felt like my approach and commitment matched the others' around me. You have to pick what matches YOUR personal mantra of achievement. You don't want to be in a department where everyone demands 100-hour weeks if you were looking for a more balanced approach - but neither do you want to be in a department of slackers if you're a hard-driving student. So talk to the students and the professors about their expectations and experiences of work for graduate students. This will also vary by professor (even within the same department, some professors expect more face/lab time than others). Location/city: I ended up picking a place I LOVED living as a doctoral student, despite the expense. But this was kind of by accident. When I was earlier in my grad career, I would tell aspiring doctoral students to devalue location and think about that as a lower priority on their list. Now, my advice is very different...location is important. You may spend more time than you expect in your grad program (it took me 6 years to finish, and in my program, that was fast). You may meet a spouse there. You may begin or continue raising your family there. You will build a network there, even if only by accident. The point is...you want to have a life outside of your doctoral program, even if it's relatively minimal, and you never know how long you'll end up there, so pick a place that you'd want to live for the foreseeable future and that matches the lifestyle you want to have. If you love to travel you don't want to live anywhere with a tiny airport (or worse, that is 2 hours from the nearest airport). If you want to take Soul Cycle classes you'll need to be in an urban area; if you like the mountains and the rivers then you'll want to be somewhere nearby good outdoorsy stuff...etc. Basically, don't cut off the person you are just because you want a doctoral degree. Furthermore, I never realized how much networking I would do almost by accident. New York is a hub for public health, and just by virtue of making a lot of friends with MPH students (many of whom ended up staying in New York) and doing research that involved community public health organizations, I had a LOT of contacts that come my last few years of grad school I could've hit up for career opportunities had I wanted to stay in New York. As someone who was also considering non-academic opportunities, being in a big city like New York allowed me to do an internship that indirectly led to me getting the job I have now. Professional orgs that have chapters often have chapters in larger cities and some major college towns (in the tech industry, that includes Ann Arbor and Corvallis, but not necessarily State College or Burlington). Even if you want academia and especially teaching, some areas offer more opportunities than others - bigger and even medium-sized cities often have more colleges (including community colleges) where you could pick up some adjunct work, or work in their academic affairs office or do some other kind of program. (I worked with undergraduates at an affiliated undergrad college.) So it's not just about personal life but also about professional development. Cost of living. Corollary to the above. Universities do not often care whether or not their stipend makes any kind of sense in comparison to the cost of living in a city. When I was in New York I knew doctoral students with a wide range of stipends - ranging from as low as $18,000 in some programs at different universities. While you don't need much, having some cash to spend (and maybe save a little) will make your life a bit easier. You don't want to be worrying about the third chapter of your dissertation and how you are going to pay rent at the same time. And you don't want debt. (And honestly, living without multiple roommates is nice, too. Having one or two is okay, but I knew some folks who lived 5-6 deep in apartments in the city...that didn't sound appealing to me.)
  9. There's no one-size-fits-all answer to this question - it really depends on the professor's personality and competing interests. In addition to what was said above, since assistant professors are usually untenured professors, they are generally striving towards tenure. That means different things at different universities. At elite, competitive universities, not every new assistant professor may get tenure (in fact, at many of these places most new assistant professors do not get tenure, and end up moving somewhere else somewhere between their third and seventh years on the tenure track). So the struggle is real, and often these professors are very busy trying to do all the things they need to do in order to be competitive: earn grants, write papers, give talks at conferences, become nationally or internationally known. There are pros and cons: these professors are very scientifically active, so if you are a savvy person you can latch onto this momentum and use it to get your own pubs, grants, and papers at conferences. The cons are that these professors are generally building their labs, their networks, and their advisor style, so you are more or less a guinea pig for them in many respects. (Even that can sometimes be a pro: there are lots of things I did as a doctoral student that my old PI currently has undergraduate RAs doing, or has more staff to do, but I think I became more self-sufficient because of it, and learned interesting skills.) They are generally less well-connected than their more senior peers - but even that's not universally true. I've seen some superstar assistant professors who know EVERYBODY and are thought of very favorably. (One of my close friends is an assistant professor at a large prestigious R1 university, and she's got a sprawling and strong network in our field. She's also good at introducing you around to everybody; I met a lot of bigwigs in the field through her.) Associate professors are usually professors who have 6+ years of experience in the game and have earned tenure. There's a wide range; some associate professors never get promoted to full professor, so you could be working with an associate professor who just got tenure last year or an associate professor who's been around for 20 years. Generally speaking they tend to be in the 7-15 year range, though. These folks typically have more stable funding (but not always!) and more developed networks (but again, not always) than assistant professors. They're also less likely to leave the department than assistant professors...usually. But elite universities often poach superstars, and if you find yourself doing your doctoral degree particularly at an R2 or a less active R1, these associate professors are sometimes angling to get a better position at a higher-tier school. My point is simply that working with an associate professor doesn't necessarily mean they won't leave. (My own former department managed to snag quite a few high-flying associate and full professors from other strong programs, including one full professor who was deeply entrenched with another department and who I thought would never leave.) And full professors generally have been around for 12-15 years or more. They've earned tenure long ago, and also got another promotion. They tend to have the deepest roots and the widest networks. Again, there's no guarantee - it kind of depends on how gregarious and professionally savvy they are. Associate and full professors also aren't necessarily less research active than their less advanced peers; there are lots of folks who have been in the game for a long time and are still very passionate and active in their research. But often the quality is very different; at top programs, full professors and more advanced associate professors may have an army of undergrad RAs, grad students, and postdocs to do most of the day to day research work for them and they do more planning and management and research direction. My advice is always if you go with an assistant professor (especially one who's been around for less than 3-4 years) that acquiring an official or unofficial second advisor who is more advanced is usually a good idea. I had two advisors in grad school: my primary advisor was at the time an untenured assistant professor who had just passed third-review, I think, when I started; my secondary advisor was a full professor who was admired in the field and had been around for quite a long time (he was on my primary advisor's dissertation committee, hee hee). I feel like I got the best of both worlds with their advisement together. Which one has more time? There's no guarantees for that, either. I would say that generally speaking full professors have the most time, but only in the sense that there are a lot fewer constraints on their time. They usually have more assistants in the lab and have an easier time generating money, so in theory, more of their time is unstructured. Assistant professors have to spend a lot of time writing, writing, writing, and at certain types of programs when they hit year ~5 they go on what I call their Tenure World Tour (they have to establish that they are nationally known, so they start speaking at conferences all over the damn place). But some assistant professors are just very good at managing their time and will make time for their advisees.
  10. Keep an open mind about that, too. Remember that while a dissertation is the longest thing that takes the most time out of all the things you'll do, it's not the only or even the most important goal of doing a PhD. Your PI is important for a variety of other reasons, and your interests may change and shift significantly in the time you are in your PhD program. In fact, they probably will - you will learn so much and experience so much that you haven't already. My eventual dissertation topic was almost completely different from what I thought it would be when I was applying to graduate school. (Same general area, very broadly speaking, but completely different population and outcomes.) Sometimes, it's better to do a dissertation/work under a PI who's field is not perfectly aligned with yours but is a good advisor for a variety of other reasons: maybe they've got excellent connections, or maybe they are a really good advisor and give you the freedom to do what you want to do, or maybe they have the best funding and will help you get grants, or maybe they're great at helping you get pubs. You have to take all of those factors into account in addition to the research. That's why it's a good idea to identify multiple people - because sometimes the person whose research is best aligned with yours isn't really the best match for your style of learning and research and work. Go to the open house, and pick 2-3 chemistry professors to speak to (or 3-4, depending on how much time you have). Try to select people based on tangential interests or places where your work might intersect...and then talk to them AND their graduate students. Try to get a sense for how open they are to interdisciplinary work, or work that intersects with theirs, and how independent they allow their graduate students to be. I've known several doctoral students who work under an advisor whose research is actually quite different from theirs, but that advisor is senior, well-connected, well-resourced, and allows and encourages independence from their students while also being a great source of advice and learning. In those cases, the students usually have a secondary advisor in another department (and sometimes another nearby university) whose research is more in their area. You may find someone who is amenable to that setup. Don't ask directly, but put some feelers out. You still may decide that ultimately it's not the right choice for you, but at least do your due diligence in making sure it can't work out. Also, it is VERY early yet, so you may yet receive a response from BBMB.
  11. @TakeruK I thought that might be the explanation, too. But according to our national survey - the Survey of Earned Doctorates, conducted by the National Science Foundation - in 2016, people in the life sciences, physical sciences, mathematics and computer sciences, and engineering made up 58% of earned doctorates in the U.S. The numbers in 2011 were pretty similar. Psychology and the social sciences only made up about 17% of the total (in the United States under the auspices of the NSF, they are considered STEM degrees, but the Survey of Earned Doctorates does break them out) and humanities and arts only made up about 10% of the total. (The other degrees are in education and other professional fields, like business and nursing).
  12. Medical leave denied, what are my options?

    Does your university only allow leaves for medical reasons? They don't just have a general leave of absence that could be for any medical or non-medical reason? If you don't feel ready to go back I agree with your dad - if they don't allow you to take a leave, then I'd drop out and reevaluate your options when you feel better. Talk to your advisor and other professors. But you have to put your health first.
  13. I'm so intimidated by my advisor.

    This will be a very cold comfort, but please do know that those years of getting ripped to shreds actually do help you later on in life. I finished my PhD in 2014 and I currently work in a non-academic industry job. When my manager or senior peers give me feedback on my work, I barely blink an eye, because corporate feedback generally isn't anywhere near as bad as academic feedback (and my advisor was still relatively tame). I'm far better at taking feedback and criticism in both my professional and personal life because of my experience during my doctoral program. Is she giving you actual constructive feedback? Is she helping you identify areas in which you need to improve and giving you the tools to start working on them yourself? You say that you know you aren't making sufficient progress - have you been able to identify why you aren't and what you can do to improve? One thing that helped me get better at taking criticism (I used to be pretty bad at it) is reframing every conversation about my progress as a way to learn and grow. I envisioned that my professor (or whoever) were saying these things because they really wanted me to get better and improve the project (even if I wasn't...100% the speaker was). So if I was in situations when I didn't understand why a piece of criticism was delivered in a specific way, I'd say "Hmm, thanks for that. Do you have suggestions for how to deal with that area?" or "Hmm, so what I'm hearing is [...]. My idea for fixing that is [...]." In other words, turn it into a dialogue, so you're not just listening to an endless litany of your shortcomings but instead you're having a conversation with your advisor as equals (in your own head, at least) about how you can improve some work that you happen to be workshopping right then. You can even say something like "Hmm, I'm not sure how to take that. Are you saying that this section is completely worthless?" If she's at all a self-aware person and you are saying that multiple times, she may take a step back and realize how she's coming off. (But I would only say things like that if she's truly making it sound like specific thoughts or sections are without merit.) Also, this also sounds...cold-hearted, but really the guilt and anxiety is kind of a good thing. If you felt warm and fuzzy every time you came out of your advisor's office you wouldn't make progress and she'd be doing you a disservice. I'm not saying you should feel like a worm either, but use the knowledge that you are falling short as a motivation to identify those areas where you can do better.
  14. Accepting a job from my other advisor without offending my main advisor

    I have named your professors Alice, Belinda, and Celia, because letters are very difficult for me to keep straight in my head. (I will also use female pronouns.) Your university's policy may say one thing. What is the real deal? Because my university's policy also says that the examiners and the school are the ones with final say over graduation, but the reality is that until you have passed Step 3 of the process (defended your dissertation, made your revisions and had your advisor sign off on your completed diss) your advisor has an enormous amount of control over whether or not you graduate. Furthermore, professors who have been around a while know all sorts of petty ways to delay graduation even when they are technically within their bounds. if you think Alice is mean and petty, it may be in your best interest to preserve the relationship at the very least until you have defended. However, Celia's solution does not sound "perfect" or like it will alleviate anything. Honestly, it sounds like she's kicking the can down the road. Alice is being petty and taking her lack of funding out on you. Instead of stepping in to tell Alice to cut it out and do her job by reading your drafts, Celia's "perfect solution" is to make you do low-paid work to help Alice raise her profile to mollify Alice long enough to sign off the requisite paperwork. But Alice will inevitably get petty again. Funding doesn't come quickly, and there's no guarantee this grand experiment is going to work out, get Alice funded, or get her published in Cell. So what happens then? Quite frankly, it feels like the best thing you can do is leave this department altogether and get a different full-time job somewhere else altogether. Barring that, though, I absolutely would not work for Alice for any wage, much less less than what you'd make as a student. First, I would tell Belinda what's going on. She may be able to help you out. At the very least, she needs to know so she can help you if you need to delay your start date or any other complications arise for beginning your job. Then, I'd wait as long as you can. If you can wait until after Alice signs off, that'd be great. But I would at least wait until after your defense. Then explain to Alice (and Alice alone, unless you think Celia being present would help you) that you have thought about it and you won't be able to work for her after graduation. At most, I would offer to work for her for a time-limited/fixed amount of time, with very specific tasks ("I will help set up the first phase of the experiment and help train the new graduate student/RA for 20 hours a week between December 15 and February 1.") If she pressures you to do more, you say "I'm sorry, I can't do that." I absolutely would not work for Alice while you are also working for Belinda. That's a great way to end up doing two full-time jobs. If you are planning to stay in academia - pursuing a tenure-track position, for example - it is theoretically possible to move on without Alice and Celia, but it'll make your life a whole lot harder. The good thing is you've got Belinda, who can write you a letter explaining the dynamics and head off any accusations or suspicions that you are a problem child. If you plan to go into industry, burning the bridge with Alice and Celia is easier.
  15. How to tell committee you're exiting academia?

    OP, I left academia a year after finishing my PhD, when I was one year into a two-year postdoc. I had my graduate school advisors to tell as well as my postdoctoral advisors. Personally, the way I did it was I waited until I had a firm job offer in hand - that I had accepted - before I told my advisors. I had worked a lot of other positions in graduate school so I was able to get around using my advisors as references (although I did put one of my grad school advisors as a reference on some applications - my primary advisor - but I had been frank with him before about perhaps not wanting to go the academic route). Then I presented it as a done deal - "I've accepted a job at X company doing Y thing, I'm very excited. Here are my plans for wrapping up my work and handing over my projects in the next six weeks." To my surprise, everyone (with the exception of one person, whose opinion I did not care about) was pretty supportive. They were also very curious about the applications of our field outside of academia. Few of them knew many students who had gone to non-academic jobs. I got requests to come back and speak about my job to the department/program some day. And I have found that there are actually more academics who are very receptive to this than I otherwise would've thought. I've spoken on several panels now about leaving academia and what doctoral and postdoctoral fellows can expect when they leave. Anyway, my advice is that you give it some time and wait until you are more sure of what you want to do. You also don't have to tell them all at once - you can start with your primary PI and work your way outward.