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juilletmercredi

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juilletmercredi last won the day on August 31

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About juilletmercredi

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    Cup o' Joe
  • Birthday 07/09/1986

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    Pacific Northwest
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  1. juilletmercredi

    Taking history... as a biology major? Help!!

    Graduate admissions committees don't care whether or not you've taken some classes outside of your major. Every professor knows that undergraduate curricula require you to take more than just the classes in your major. They don't expect you to be a robot with no interests outside of biology, either. As long as you have the background you actually need in biology, what other courses you decide to take are irrelevant. You don't have to 'provide reasoning' either. Just go ahead and take the history course, and enjoy it!
  2. juilletmercredi

    Should I or should I not?

    Do you have any research experience? How well-reputed your universities are is almost irrelevant; students go to graduate school from all kinds of undergraduate institutions. What's more important is what you did there. You said that your studies weren't quant-heavy. Most economics PhD programs want to see students with a lot of quantitiative experience - 2-3 semesters of calculus, linear algebra, statistics and probability, maybe even differential equations and real analysis. (Berkeley's website has a list of recommendations for their students.) What does "not quant-heavy" mean for you? Have you taken any of these classes? If you don't have a relatively strong quantitative background and no research experience, your odds of getting accepted to economics PhD programs aren't very good. Why not take a few years to get some research experience and take the math courses you need to be competitive? Reaching out to professors in your departments of interest can only help you if you have the kind of profile they look for in graduate students. Lots of students send e-mails to professors ahead of submitting an application. Since they haven't worked with you yet, really the only thing they have to go on is your application packet.
  3. No, why would you give up? Although it's increasingly common for PhD students to have published in undergrad, it's by no means universal. In other words, you can get into a PhD program without having published a paper.
  4. juilletmercredi

    How to find a sample for your study (social sciences)

    My dissertation was conducted with primarily Black and Latino gay and bisexual men. I went to graduate school in New York, so I spent a lot of time 'in the field' recruiting. We posted flyers at gyms, coffee shops, gay bars, LGBTQ centers, university campuses, and the like. We had a booth at Pride where we signed people up; I visited gay bars with my research lab and passed out palm cards; when there were other parades or social events in the city we stood on street corners and passed out cards. We also posted ads in gay periodicals and on both general-interest websites and LGBTQ+ websites. So basically, we pounded the pavement! We also established connections with an LGBTQ+ center and clinic to recruit participants that way. The caveat, though, is that my dissertation was a sub-project/related project to the larger grant-funded project my PI was doing, so I had the infrastructure of the entire lab to rely on to get the recruitment done - since we were recruiting for the larger project all up and my dissertation was an analysis of a chunk of that data for a specific purpose. (I also wouldn't say that we had no connections with our desired samples, because I'm black and queer and so was a significant portion of my lab, including my PI. So we kind of knew where to go.) If you're doing organizational research, you may want to think about how your research findings could potentially benefit the organization and pitch it that way. Could you release the results and/or write up a summary for the organization after you're done? Could you provide recommendations or insights for them?
  5. 1) Not very common, in my experience. I do qualitative interviewing, and I wouldn't provide my participants with questions ahead of time - I'd be worried about them being too prepared with their responses and not capturing some of the natural/spontaneous reactions I'd be looking for in certain areas. Often you can give a brief, high-level summary of what they can expect to talk about. 2) My answer is colored by the fact that I work in industry, where often the answer is that sometimes you bend the rules of research as long as you understand the impact that will have on your outcomes and can temper your interpretation and recommendations on that basis. So I have done focus groups with 3-4 people before when I've had to, due to the difficulty of scheduling or recruiting participants. However, I wouldn't recommend it, particularly for an academic project (that you may hope to publish someday). Given my experience, I wouldn't recommend doing a focus group that was smaller than four people - at that point, you may as well just do individual interviews. Depending on the project, you may decide to do individual interviews AND a focus group. However, do be careful, because focus groups and individual interviews don't provide you with the same things. So consider your research question and what kind of tool it requires.
  6. juilletmercredi

    Living with parents as a grad student in early 30's?

    ^I agree with the above post that an online MSW may not confer the 'pedigree' that you'd assume came with a Columbia program, and a local MSW in PA may be a better choice. That said, though, I think that your decision to live with your parents should be a personal one. Living with one's parents in one's early 30s is less stigmatized amongst our generation (millennials, as it were); most in our generation knows that the cost of living has risen faster than inflation. These days it's pretty common for young adults to live with their parents while attending graduate school (or saving up for a house). I went to Columbia for grad school and I knew a couple of grad students who lived with their parents in the New York area, and it was...just a living situation. *shrug*
  7. I will warn you that my answer is partially colored by my three years in non-academic research in industry, where not responding to emails within 24 hours is enough to make people concerned that you didn't receive the email or maybe you are sick or dead. Personally, I think more than a week without even replying (sure, I got your email, I am reading it over, expect to be done by X date) is too long, but a lot of academics don't confirm receipt - they only send you mail back when they have something to send you. Even in that case, though, a month is a reasonable period of time to expect someone to review a paper in or at least give you an update on where they are. It's definitely enough time for him to at least respond to you and let you know where he is in the process (even if the response is to say "sorry I haven't responded, I got your chapter, I just haven't gotten around to it yet.") Is this a paper for publication, or a paper you need his sign-off on (like a thesis or MA essay or something)? Or both? I'm not advocating that you do this, but one of the tactics I took for an advisor who wasn't super responsive to requests to review is that by my second or third follow-up (and after ample time - usually about 3-4 weeks) I let him know that if I didn't hear from him I was going to ahead and submit the paper. IF you need sign-off - does your advisor have an office? Does he have an office phone number? If he's not replying to your emails, I'd stop by his office and/or call him on the phone to politely inquire if he has seen your emails.
  8. juilletmercredi

    Phd Research Agenda

    It's a little bit of both. You should have a general area identified when you're applying, but many (most?) graduate students continue to refine and evolve their interests during graduate school - and beyond. You kind of have to, as the resources and opportunities at your disposal only become more clear after you've begun and have met your PI, seen what ongoing projects are happening in your area, learn more about the scientific conversation in your field, etc.
  9. Are you talking about the conference travel matching fund? https://gsas.columbia.edu/student-guide/professional-development/gsas-conference-matching-travel-fund In my experience (I went to Columbia for my PhD), travel funding is not difficult to get. Many departments essentially allow every student to get some funding at least once a year to travel to a conference, and the "application" is more or less a formality. I've never been rejected for travel funding; I had travel funding that supported pretty much every presentation I made from 2008 to 2014 (and in some years, I traveled twice). I will say your department is probably more fruitful than this matching fund, though. My department was willing to provide up to $500 per student, per year. And often, your advisor can also give you funds from their grants to travel to present work, particularly if the work was done in support of a research agenda they have grant funding for.
  10. Yes, if you want to use the chunks of time you have productively, you have to prepare. You can use the shorter chunks you have to prepare for the longer chunks. One thing I had to convince myself of was to just write. Sentences are just a collection of words; paragraphs are made up of sentences. Even if you have a 30 minute span of time, how much can you write? Even if you can only write one paragraph, that's one less paragraph you have to go to your goal. Persisting in writing even small amounts is so important - set aside some time to write almost every day, even if it's only a short period. Set yourself realistic goals. I used Scrivener to write my dissertation in pieces, and Scrivener does easy word counts at the bottom of each section. Give yourself a couple of diagnostic sections to see how much you can realistically write in X period of time (realizing that there's a difference between theoretical writing, like a literature review, and things like methods). Then assign yourself goals at the beginning of each session. So maybe your goal for a 30 minute session is about 100 words. Believe it or not...that's about one-third to a bit less than one-half a double-spaced page (Times New Roman, 12 pt-font, depends on the length of the words). I outlined my entire dissertation from the beginning...and broke the entire thing up into 2-3 page chunks. Once I did that, the task seemed FAR more surmountable. (I also picked that tip up from a book.) I worked backwards from when I wanted to be finished and assigned myself specific sections to be working on on specific weeks/days, with deadlines. I communicated this timeline to my advisor for some external accountability (he didn't give a fig when I finished, lol, but it felt more accountable to me). Of course, this timeline and outline shifted and changed over time, but it at least gave me a roadmap and an overarching goal. I also realized that some of the writing rituals I committed myself to were actually, in truth, procrastination techniques. Figure out what you absolutely have to do to get started writing - I mean, the bare minimum that you can go with. Try writing exercises in different areas, without ideal conditions. How do you do? See, you didn't die. Since you have to change workspaces often, one thing you may want to do is pack a bag with the bare essentials you need to write. Try to purchase or download books/articles electronically and enter them into a reference manager, so you can be as mobile as possible. I wrote a significant chunk of my dissertation at a coffee shop around the corner from my apartment, just for variety. (I wrote probably like less than 5% of it in the graduate student workspace.) One of the most valuable things I learned was from the book Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day, by Joan Bolker. (The title is not meant to be taken literally.) She talks about "parking on the downhill slope" - which means when you stop, make it easy for yourself to get going again. Set aside 5-10 minutes at the end of each writing session to write yourself some messy notes about what you're thinking right then, where you were planning to go with a thought, what article you need to read or reference, or whatever else is helpful to help yourself get going. That way, next time you sit down to write, you don't have to waste 20 minutes trying to remember what the hell you were writing about last time. When it comes to data analysis and processing - document, document, document! Comment all through those syntax files! Literally, every time you run an analysis, write a short comment about what you were doing with that line of code. If you use a GUI system (like SPSS) just start a notes file in a program like Evernote or OneNote and comment what you're doing. That's the way to "park on the downhill slope" with data analysis. That way, next time you start up you can just glance at your notes/comments and remember where you where and what you were doing. I also took the time (~5 min at the end of each analysis section) to write to myself about what I was planning to try/do next, so that when future me sat down I didn't waste time trying to figure out what the hell I was doing and what this code was for! Another tip I used a lot is to save editing/revising for dedicated editing/revising days/sessions. If you're a procrastinator or a perfectionist, the temptation might be strong to edit/revise as you write, or to start editing/revising at the beginning of your session. If you do that, you'll look up 2 hours later and realize you've not written anything new. I put a banner above my workspace that say "JUST WRITE" to remind me to stop constantly editing and to just write. Even if I felt like I was vomiting out nonsense, a lot of the time I was able to take that "trash" and edit/revise it to something better later, when I had dedicated editing time. (Honestly, I wrote a significant portion of my dissertation with a glass of wine nearby. The buzz from the wine helped inhibit my natural perfectionistic tendencies and I was able to write more. Now, I often had to do revisions in the mornings but at least I had some words on the paper!) Recommended books: How to Write a Lot by Paul Silva (someone else recommended it; it's awesome) Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day, by Joan Bolker (again, not meant to be taken literally, but there are lots of practical tips) Complete Your Dissertation or Thesis in Two Semesters or Less (their timelines are, IMO, unrealistic. But the tips and skills are useful) Destination Dissertation: A Traveler's Guide to a Done Dissertation, by Sonja K. Foss and William Waters (They have this recommended activity that involves slips of papers. I thought the method was stupid, but I basically did the activity electronically and that was decently helpful.) The Craft of Research, by Booth, Colomb, Williams, Bizup, & Fitzgerald. Now in its 4th edition. Excellent resource!
  11. juilletmercredi

    Is an Ivy League degree a "golden ticket" career-wise?

    I have a PhD from Columbia. It's not a "golden ticket." It can, indeed, open some doors for you, but that's less because of "the name" in and itself. Don't get me wrong - people are, occasionally, quite impressed by "the name" - but that alone is usually not enough to nab you a job (although it might get you an extra look or called in for an interview, fairly or unfairly). It's more because of the incredible resources that these very wealthy universities have. Columbia has excellent career services for graduate students, for example; you have to be proactive enough to take advantage of them, but they are there for you to use. Columbia has several career fairs every year; the big companies come recruiting here; it's easier to get a non-academic industry job, at say, a large investment bank or a top consulting firm from a university like this than it is from other places. The professors are often very well-connected both within academia and with researchers and policymakers in the public sector. For example, the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is stacked with Columbia graduates, so people very often got internships there out of our school of public health. Lots of grads go onto work for national labs to do research afterwards, so there are alumni networks to draw on. Still, you have to work to take advantage of these connections - the initial spark may be your Columbia student/alumni status, but you have to foster and cultivate the connection. Of course, I have little to compare it to, because I haven't done the counterfactual (gone to a non-Ivy for graduate school). There are other elite universities that are not Ivies where people have similar career connections - Stanford and MIT being other private examples; Michigan and Berkeley being other public ones. So you don't have to go to an Ivy to have that kind of network.
  12. juilletmercredi

    R1 vs R2: Does it really matter?

    Uh, this isn't true. The umbrella term for R1s, R2s, and R3s is "doctoral universities." In order to be considered an R2 (or an R3), a university must have granted at least 20 research/scholarship doctoral degrees in the year the analysis is conducted. Not 20 different PhD programs, but just 20 PhDs. Still, since most doctoral cohorts are pretty small, a program with 20 degrees awarded in the last year probably has at least 2 and probably more like 3-5 doctoral programs at least. http://carnegieclassifications.iu.edu/classification_descriptions/basic.php R2s include the College of William and Mary, Brigham Young University, Florida A&M University, Howard University, Lehigh University, Mississippi State University, Nova Southeastern University, and several other universities that offer several doctoral programs. R3s include universities like Clark University, Georgia Southern, Idaho State, and Kennesaw State, all of which have several doctoral programs. However, I do agree that competitive/top PhD programs at R2s is less common; however, I think the reason is resources. Universities are grouped into R1, R2, and R3 based on the research expenditures that the university made in the last year; science and engineering research staff, and doctoral conferrals in each field - in other words, the amount of resources they have invested in research in general in the last update period. Necessarily, then, on average R1s are going to be more robust environments for research; since doctoral degrees are focused on research, and most rankings of doctoral programs focus on things that overlap a lot with the way the Carnegie Classification folks group their programs...it makes sense that highly-ranked doctoral programs would be mostly at R1s. That said, there's of course probably overlap in the margins.
  13. juilletmercredi

    Learning New Language in Grad Program

    I took Japanese in college. I didn't find speaking and listening incredibly difficult. However, a huge caveat is that I've been watching Japanese-language programming and listening to Japanese music since I was a teenager. I did find Japanese reading and writing to be pretty difficult, especially once we got to kanji (and I didn't stay in that long afterwards, for various reasons). Japanese is a critical language, so there are several scholarships that you could get to support your language learning. The Boren Fellowships support overseas study to increase proficiency in certain critical languages (Japanese included; https://www.borenawards.org/fellowships/boren-fellowship-basics.). You could also apply for a Fulbright grant in Japan and add a language component to it (https://us.fulbrightonline.org/countries/selectedprogram/37). Adding some intensive study in an immersive environment can make it easier to pick up the language.
  14. juilletmercredi

    Research based PhD

    I was interested in mental health and substance abuse research. I also absolutely did not want to get a PhD in clinical psychology. I decided to get one in social psychology and public health instead. Like you, I primarily wanted to contribute to research. There are lots of clinical psychologists that do that, though; there are even PhD programs that are specifically for clinical science (i.e., preparing researchers and academics primarily). But I also had a strong desire not to do any clinical work. I didn't want to even do practical hours. I definitely did not want to do mental health therapy or practice. I knew I wouldn't enjoy it; it would've made me unhappy. Some well-meaning people also told me that it was better to have more options after the PhD. I considered that. But quality of options is important (and IMO, more important than quantity). I did not want a career in private practice or any kind of clinical work, so to me it made no sense to give myself those options if they weren't options I'd be willing to take. There are lots of other things you can do with a PhD in another non-clinical subfield of psychology. I conducted research in mental health and substance abuse in my program. My school had clinicians - MDs and DOs, DDSs, and a few clinical psychology PhDs - and people with PhDs in non-clinical social and behavioral sciences. I never observed or experienced any differently in how 'seriously' I or any of the non-clinical faculty was taken by the clinicians at the clinics from which we sourced our research participants. (I'm not sure that they were even 100% aware of what our PhDs(-in-progress) were in.) Nor did I perceive any difference in how my non-clinical professors collaborated or researched with other professors. There is one exception: there are some kinds of studies in which the IRB will recommend or require that a clinician be involved (an MD in some cases; a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist in others). So sometimes, I suppose clinicians can come on as consultants on grants and perhaps get a lower authorship on certain papers through those kinds of selections. The catch, though, is that you're usually asked that because of your clinical skills and would be called on to offer expertise in that area...and if you dislike clinical work, then maybe you wouldn't want that.
  15. juilletmercredi

    Another regret story - Physics PhD

    I agree that your rumination over the last couple of months points to a potential mental health issue. It's possible that not the specific decision you made - but, rather, the transition to graduate school - is what's driving your depressive symptoms and unhealthy behaviors. Or whatever the reason is that your location near B changed - that could also be contributing here. To understand that, consider the whole picture - and I agree that you should talk to a doctor or mental health professional. With that said: The YOLO approach is not a bad one, if you are pretty confident that you will be very unhappy at Program B. You are right that not starting there is probably better than starting knowing that the program isn't a good fit - not only for the program, but for you. However, I think the best you could hope for, should you choose this option, is applying again for A this fall to begin in Fall 2019. Usually, when you decline a program, they move down their list of candidates to fill your slot. At this point in the year, they may not have funding or a slot for you. I suppose it couldn't hurt to ask, but I think you should expect to be told to reapply for Fall 2019. (As for jobs, though - if you are pursuing academic jobs, nobody is going to care about an extra gap year before the PhD.) I don't advocate for the Honest approach. This is basically the YOLO approach, but with the addition of telling Program B that you're meh about the program. What would that gain you? At B, you run the risk of alienating the entire department before you even begin. Total and complete honesty isn't a moral imperative. It's OK to hold back information that won't help anyone. The third approach is not evil by any stretch. It's pragmatic, and it is actually what I think you should do. It is totally fine to begin a program having some trepidation about it - a lot of people get nervous jitters in the summer before graduate school. I mean, if you knew 100% it was not the right program for you - you shouldn't start it. But this sounds more like uncertainty than a solid knowledge. So it's not bad to to begin it, try it, and see if it could work for you. Dropping out of a PhD program isn't a bad thing IF you can make it clear that you left because the program wasn't a good fit for you. Usually, you can do that by writing a great statement of purpose and having your former advisor or another professor at your former PhD program write you a recommendation, vouching for you.
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