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Everything posted by juilletmercredi

  1. I'm curious - why do you have two Fs when you withdrew from the program? Is it because you didn't withdraw properly from the program and just stopped going to class? I'd try to mitigate this on two fronts. Once, go back to the university where you tried that master's degree and I'd try to administratively get those Fs changed into Ws. I'd explain the situation to the registrar, perhaps providing some sort of evidence/proof of what happened. There's nothing wrong with withdrawing from a master's program once realizing it's not for you. And it doesn't sound like you couldn't handle the work, only that you were disinterested in completing it. If that doesn't work, or will be too slow to make a significant difference, you can write a supplemental essay explaining that the Fs were a result of you withdrawing improperly from the program. I like the bit about how the experience motivated you to go into advising in the first place, so that might support this case, too.
  2. I used TurboTax Freedom Edition to complete my taxes. (I am in the U.S.) They have both state and federal taxes and if you make under a certain amount, which your graduate stipend is almost certainly less than, you can file for free federally and in some states. You can also go somewhere like H&R Block or Jackson Hewitt. They are cheaper tax preparers. But I didn't find working with them to be any less difficult than simply doing TurboTax for free. When you file your first set of federal taxes, you can decide to do quarterly withholding. It splits the amount you have to pay at the end of the year if you owe over four quarterly payments.
  3. Talk to both PIs and see what you can work out. There are so many permutations of what a co-mentorship agreement might look like here and it really depends on the preferences and thoughts of the PIs involved. I'd also suggest a co-mentoring relationship, but it's less because of the above concerns - I'm not really sure how someone could "bar" you from pursuing a line of research in a different lab - and more because of continuity of mentorship (you're already in a good relationship with your current PI).
  4. Thoughts? People do this all the time. Depending on the job, it usually slows them down - so it'll probably take longer to finish than if you were working on the PhD full-time. But if you are diligent about working on your dissertation on the evenings and weekends, and are content with the idea that you will have pretty much zero free time while you finish up, this is doable. (I work in industry and we have actually had several people join our team while the PhD is in progress. Some finished, and some did not. We don't care either way, lol.) Whether or not it's a good idea for you, specifically, is a different question. How good are you about staying persistent with your work and managing your time? How passionate are you about your dissertation topic? (That can make a difference in whether, after returning from 8 hours at work, you feel motivated to actually work on it or not.) Will you have to move somewhere geographically distant from your doctoral program to find work? (That can decrease your odds of finishing, since you don't have ready access to your university's resources.) If you are "almost halfway through," I'm going to guess that you just began your third or maybe fourth year in the program, which at many programs means you maybe just finished up coursework and are looking at comprehensive exams and/or a dissertation proposal. At that stage, it's still a viable option to think about "transferring" to a new PhD program. Is your advisor going somewhere interesting? Is there the possibility of them taking you with them to the new university (assuming it's a different faculty position)? If they can take you, they can potentially negotiate you not starting over. If you went to a completely new program, you might have to start your coursework over (or maybe redo a year), but that might be better than staying stuck where you are. Or...are you just done? Are you only dissatisfied with the program and location, or are you starting to have second thoughts about doctoral study overall? As a student, you probably have a certain number of counseling appointments in your insurance - consider taking advantage of them and talking to a counselor/therapist. They can help with the sad and confused, but also with the career transition decisions as well! You can also spend some time doing some soul-searching yourself - maybe journaling, maybe just thinking deeply - about what your true feelings are right now, and whether you're just fed up with the location, the location + your program, or doctoral study altogether.
  5. Well, just because a program exists to make money for a department/university doesn't mean it's not a quality program that can act as a stepping stone into a PhD program. A program may offer zero funding and may still be very good at getting any student who wants to go into a well-reputed PhD program. I went to Columbia, and while I don't know about the political science department specifically, I do know that a lot of the expensive cash-cow MA programs in social science and humanities departments at Columbia are pretty good about getting their students into great PhD programs (sometimes, their own). I also know several people who have gotten MAs at Columbia and parlayed them into successful professional careers, so they're not useless. However, if you think you need to improve your profile for another cycle of PhD programs, a one-year MA program may not do much for that.
  6. Have you considered taking a leave of absence? If you've spent two years in depression and haven't done much if any work, and your depression is paralyzing you, you likely need some professional support and help to get going again. (A similar thing happened to me during my PhD program, so I'm super sympathetic.) Forcing yourself to work on something that you hate is probably not super healthy for you at the moment, and really, your primary concern should be you and your mental health and trying to feel better. It's possible that the therapy is not really helping much yet because you're still stuck in the same circumstances that greatly contributed to the stress and depression in the first place. So, consider taking a leave of absence. Even if it's just for a semester to help feel better and re-energize yourself for working on your dissertation. That said, when you're ready to advance forward with your dissertation work, here are a couple things you can do: 1) It sounds like you've tried to reach out to your advisor and they are ignoring you. The next step would be to reach out to someone else who can provide you with the academic support that you need to progress. You mentioned a committee, so you can start there: reach out to one of your committee members (preferably one that's in your department) and matter-of-factly state what your issue. It's better if you can have this meeting in person. You explain that you'd like to make progress on your dissertation, but you're finding it difficult because Judith is difficult to get in contact with and hasn't responded to your requests for feedback or meetings. Another person to reach out to is the Director of Graduate Studies. Your advisor is really neglecting her duties to you. If she's famous and well-regarded, the department is unlikely to do anything to her, but at leas the DGS can help you find a stopgap - someone else you can go to at least informally, if not a full formal swap of advisors. It's great if you have records like unanswered or flippant emails, too. Did you pass the proposal defense? 2) What do you hate about the proposal? Were you forced into selecting a topic you dislike, or do you not like the methods/approach, or something else? If you passed the proposal defense, I'd talk to your DGS and look at your handbook to see what the policy is for changing your focus. At some universities, the proposal is treated like a mini-contract, and you're more or less obligated to do what you said you would for your dissertation. That doesn't mean you can't change it; that just means there may be a formal process you need to modify your approach. (That also depends on how different what you want to do is from what you said you'd do.) 3) Has your advisor been like this since the beginning, or did they turn mean and neglectful at some point during the program? 4) Sadly, one of the things that I learned in my own doctoral program is I needed to be the one who tracked all the requirements and deadlines. I learned pretty quickly that my professors (while generally well-meaning) had no idea what they were or even where to find that information. Usually they'd say they didn' t know, but occasionally they'd give me inaccurate information that screwed me up. Even if you had an amazing advisor, I wouldn't rely on them to know the technical details of the committee requirements; I'd try to track as much of that stuff as you can on your own. 5) As for the topic. It's really common in depression to suddenly lose interest in the things that once interested you. Everything seems grey and unenjoyable. This is why a leave might be a good idea - it'll be hard for you to feel passionate about and invested in a topic when you're feeling so low. But since your advisor is leaving you alone you may have plenty of quiet time and space to do this: Go back mentally to the you you were 5 years ago, when you were first entering the program, or even 6 years ago when you were applying. What excited you about your field, your program, and your advisor? What is the reason you decided to make this your life's work? You might even read some articles in your field that have come out recently, or go back to read some seminal texts/works in your field that resonated with you when you were preparing for grad school or in the first couple years. What speaks to you deeply? Sometimes the process of picking a topic requires some deep thought and reflection, and not a lot of activity. Are there any other professors in your department that you trust, even if they aren't in your subfield? Can you talk to them about topics?
  7. It might be less stressful for you to worry about this after you've applied to some programs. Since all universities vary a lot in what they offer, all the answers you'll get are going to be super broad and perhaps not very helpful to you in making decisions. You can get more crisp with the details when you select specific programs to apply to. Another option is that you can start looking at the websites of schools you're interested in - they usually have answers to the most basic questions on their housing websites. That said, again, if you haven't narrowed yourself down to a list of schools you'll just be compiling a bunch of information that might be moot. In my experience, dormitory-style graduate housing (you know, a single room on a corridor) tends to be furnished. Apartment-style graduate housing tends to be unfurnished. But there's a spectrum and that's not always true, so really it depends on the program and school. Some schools offer meal plans to graduate students, but in my experience, most graduate students provide for their own meals the way you would if you weren't attending school (e.g., cooking and occasionally eating out). University cafeterias tend to be the domain of the undergrads.
  8. Everyone does things differently. There are several recent threads about moving across the country that address a lot of these questions (some here, here, and here. There are more; those are just the first three I could easily find.) 1) Whether or not you hire a moving service depends on your personal financial resources and how much stuff you have. If you have a lot of stuff, hiring a moving service will be expensive but it might be worth it vs. packing it all yourself and driving it across the country. I've seen people here suggest using moving pods, like PODS or U-PACK, as a middle ground for cross-country shipping. There are also different types of moving services: you can get a full-service one (where they pack your stuff, which costs more) or just them moving your stuff into the truck and driving it and dropping it off. 2) Whether or not it's more expensive to take furniture depends on how much furniture you have, how attached you are to that furniture, how much money you have or want to invest in buying new furniture, and your personal tolerance for spending a few weeks without furniture. If all you have is thrifted stuff and you are moving 2,000 miles, then it may cost more money to ship it than it would to just buy new stuff. But if you have nice-ish furniture and you're just moving a few states over, it might cost more to replace than ship. When I moved from GA to New York I wanted to bring some bedroom furniture, but I investigated the cost and it was cheaper for me to purchase bedroom furniture there than get it shipped. BUT I was also comparing the cost of a nice heirloom furniture set my mother bought me to buying a bed frame from Amazon and a cheap mattress in town - if i wanted another really nice bedroom set, that would've been more expensive than shipping. 3) Similar answer for the car. Lots of people make either choice. I'd say for grad school it's probably more common to drive just because it's cheaper, and I had lots of friends in grad school who drove with their family members and pets from California or Florida or Illinois or wherever to New York. (More people ditched their cars, because you don't need them there.) Depends on how much you like to drive and whether you can afford the shipping for the car! Shipping a regular sedan costs somewhere between $600 and $1000. I estimate that I'd need to fill up my car 5 or 6 times to make a 2,000 mile move, and even at current gas prices it is WAY cheaper to drive it than ship it. BUT I also don't like driving that much (and my dog hates long car rides), so I'd rather ship it than drive it. 4) Different ways. I borrowed a student loan to cover my moving expenses. You can borrow a personal loan (may have a higher or lower interest rate; if you have good credit, right now a personal loan interest rate would likely be lower than a student loan). Some people get support from family or relatives. Some people saved up in the months prior to moving. Many people DIY as much as they possibly can to save their spend on really important things. If you haven't even applied yet, you have plenty of time to think about this. You can consider setting up a fund for yourself to save up to offset at least some of the costs.
  9. It's very common to feel sudden anxiety and I think that rises as you get closer to the first day, so you're in good company! I had a similar conundrum to you when I first entered graduate school. I was getting a PhD in an interdisciplinary social sciences field, but I really wanted to teach in the discipline I got my bachelor's degree in (which my PhD research was focused on). I spent a ton of time and energy trying to figure out the best course of action. I don't know much about communications specifically, as that's not my field. But what I have absorbed is that interdisciplinary fields tend to be less precious about the exact kind of PhD that you got and more concerned about what you do research on and what you can teach. This also varies a lot by the university. I've noticed communications departments are all over the place: some are professional programs that focus on the technical aspects of communication (and really are more focused on media, like radio/tv/film); some focus on corporate communications in business; others are far broader and take a more humanistic approach to communication, including elements of visual culture as well. Some departments basically include media studies too. Whether or not it would be helpful to take the elective depends a lot. I don't think one random class would qualify you to teach quant methods, so it won't be useful in that regard. However, if you were interested in mixed-methods research or incorporating quant research into your research - or even just using that as a stepping stone into more depth in the area - it could be useful. IMO, though, your plans to expand your research to look at digital studies and global media is probably going to be more beneficial to your career plans than a single quant methods class, especially if you don't plan to do any quant research. Your second question, I think, depends on the orientation of the department. Some folks, when they say "qualitative methods," are referring specifically to things like interviews, focus groups, ethnography, etc. Others mean it more expansively and include the kind of scholarship humanists do. You'd basically have to evaluate each department to get a sense of what they mean when they're looking for candidates that focus on those areas. Also, I don't think this is insecurity at all. You should definitely talk to your department about it! You can bring it up with your adviser once you've established a relationship.
  10. I'm having a difficult time understanding what the current issue is. It seems that the lab sharing issue has been resolved, and your adviser may have an unpleasant personality characteristic (the student-bashing, although that can be interpreted in many ways) that you can't change. The only issue that really leaves is making sure that you are working on the right project to ensure that you can graduate. You said: First, months before starting this project I had a video call meeting with my supervisor and agreed on the topic I will be working on. Considering that season is a factor for the main topic, we both agreed to have a small topic to be busy with while waiting for summer. However, when I had arrived it seems it was made clear to me that I will not be working on that main topic and will be focusing on the small topic instead. Which was already a sign for me to inform my university immediately but I did not since I was too confident that this should not take long and when summer comes, I will be doing on the agreed main topic. But setbacks after setbacks, this small topic is still not done. It's unclear to me how it was "made clear" that you will be working on the small topic and not the main topic. Regardless, you need to seek clarity. Talk to your supervisor and explicitly ask: "When we first started, we agreed that I'd be working on topic A. But recently, I've still been working on topic B that was supposed to be a pre-summer project only. Do you expect me to finish topic B before I can work on topic A, or can I hand off my project to another student, or is there some other way that I can go back to working on topic A as planned?" or something like that. Get a clear answer from your PI rather than trying to read the tea leaves. I don't know how a third-party university can limit the number of supervisees your PI has, and two seems unreasonable for a professor who is trying to operate a thriving lab. Are you already concerned about the level of supervision that your PI has given you, or have you already seen evidence that aren't getting what you need? Keep in mind that taking a few weeks for feedback on significant portions of your thesis is very normal in academia, and expecting daily contact with your PI (or even weekly) is going to be unrealistic. What do you feel like you're missing? Have you made explicit requests for support or assistance from your PI based on your actual needs (and are they realistic)? I'm not sure what your frustration is about the formal introductions, but that's not really your PI's job? You can easily introduce yourself to new faces in your PI's lab. But again, the problem that seems to have stemmed from that seems resolved. It's also not your PI's job to "thoroughly check" a student's manuscript to make sure they didn't make analysis errors. That's the student's job. While every PI is going to want to catch egregious mistakes or things that are obviously wrong, they're not going to re-run all of your analyses and make sure that you did the work correctly. (Or rather, they shouldn't!) At some point, the PI needs to trust that you're going to do the work correctly. If they can't, that probably means fewer projects and authorships for the student they can't trust. That said, it seems like a running theme is you not checking with the university when things aren't working the way you expect. So instead of writing your manuscript with your fingers crossed, you need to check with your university to make sure that they will accept your work. You don't want to waste a lot of time writing only to find out that your topic won't be accepted. PhD students don't usually supervise master's students, so assigning you to one of them may not have been appropriate. It could be that she has time and you just have too-high expectations for how much time she can give you. Whether or not she's interested in your topic is more or less irrelevant; the only relevant thing is will she support it.
  11. No, not necessarily, as long as you can explain it. It's not outside the realm of possibility to say "After my PhD, I took off a year to take care of my elderly father and take care of some other family matters, but I am back and ready to enter the job market again" or something similar. However, the visa situation complicates things. Since you are international, if your goal is to work in Europe, you may find it difficult to re-enter the country for interviews and the like after you leave. And when you are in really heavy application mode, you might find yourself having to come out of pocket to fly in and out of the country. Or, worse, for some roles they may not want or need to sponsor visas, so you might find yourself locked out of certain roles because of that. That doesn't mean you shouldn't return home for some time - but it may mean that you need to return home for shorter than you want so that you can return to your current country for the job search; or it may mean you have to conduct your job search differently after you stay in your home country.
  12. Getting on publications when you're on a project for 2 years or less is very much a matter of luck: you have to enter a project at the exact right time that the research is close to publication BUT is not so close that you don't have time to contribute meaningfully in a way that earns you an authorship. While publications can help you get into PhD programs, they aren't strictly necessary, so I'd focus most of your energy on trying to get into a lab where you can get meaningful research experience. Getting publications usually happens in one of three rough ways: you work on existing project that a professor, postdoc, or other graduate student is leading and gain authorship by helping conduct the research and/or write the resulting paper; you take a "chunk" of existing research that your PI has lying around and spearhead writing a paper on it, often with other students or postdocs; or you start your own project from scratch and write on it. As a master's student option 3 is usually not easily possible. Option 1 is where the luck really comes in. Option 2 is something you can actually talk to some PIs about when you start working in their lab - whether there are cool semi-independent projects they need someone to finish up or restart. Whether or not they can be finished in time to get a publication submitted by the time you apply to doctoral programs depends a lot on the project itself, but you have better chances of it than with option 3. One thing I'll note from your post is you seem to have a trend of putting blame on other folks. You maybe are just that unfortunate in that you had a string of "lazy" partners that offloaded their work onto you, an uninterested adviser, and now the trend is just starting up again. But if this is happening to you multiple times across 3+ projects, I'd start to wonder about your own place in all this, and whether there are habits or skills or practices you can engage in to increase the likelihood that you'll finish projects or get a publication.
  13. I went to a PhD program where international research was very common, and most people had some kind of grant or assistantship that covered their research internationally. Lots of people got Fulbright grants to support their work; some people got NIH grants or fellowships; there are a variety of other less well-known ones that people got as well; and some people got small grants from the university or from their PI's grant to travel. I know a few people who paid small amounts to fund the very early stages of their research - mostly the travel costs - but most people had some kind of outside funding by the time they were doing regular or long-term research projects elsewhere. To be clear, though, most of them weren't traveling internationally for their work until at the earliest their second or third summer in graduate school. They concentrated on finishing coursework and did equivalent domestic projects (or data analysis) before going international. That was primarily to give them the time to get the grants, because as you've noticed, they take time and work! I'd see if you could talk to your PI or university department about the supplies, at the very least. Keep applying for grant funding and see if your university has a 'machine' or support for applying (mine offered very heavy and targeted support for applying to a bevy of fellowships and grants, including helping you find suitable ones that were good fits for your work). And consider if there's another way for you to get some research work done domestically for a time before you start traveling again, so you can do it on someone else's dime and not out of pocket.
  14. I wrote my methods section first, because it was the easiest to write and by the time I was writing, I had already finished my data collection. I was doing data analysis simultaneously, so that part happened more iteratively - as I conducted my analyses I went back and edited sections to make them accurate to what I did. I wrote the results next, as that was second-easiest. Methods, data analysis, and results altogether took me from early September through mid-December to complete (including reviews of drafts and consultation with my advisers), so around 2.5 months. I wrote the intro/literature review next. (In mine, the intro and the literature review are two separate sections, but the intro is very short - like 6 pages). It took me about 2-3 months to do this, so I worked on it from January to March-ish. It was easier to do this because now I knew what I was introducing, so I tailored my lit review to refer very specifically to previous research/theoretical work that pointed to the precise kind of research and analyses I ended up doing. If you write your lit review before doing your methods and results, you may have to go back and edit a lot to tailor your lit review to your work. I didn't do an iterative review process with this - I drafted the entire thing and sent it as a huge complete chunk to my adviser. Perhaps risky, but I knew from previous experience that I wouldn't have months and months of comments back, so that's what I did. Then I wrote the discussion. This was the hardest part to write for me and I hated it, but I think it took me about a month - so I was done in April-ish. That was just enough time for me to get the comments from my lit review back, which I addressed in like 2-3 weeks, and then comments for my discussion, which I also addressed in maybe 1-2 weeks. I did not update my lit review unless I was aware that a new work had been published - so I didn't go looking for works that had been published in the last 2 months since I had submitted my draft. But I was receiving article alerts from journals and people also sometimes sent me articles, so if I received something and I knew where it would fit well, I wove it in.
  15. If I were you, I'd leave academia and find something else. As was mentioned, a PhD doesn't provide job security and a road to financial security. Not in and of itself, and definitely not in the arts and humanities. Academia in those areas is really tight with a much larger supply than demand. And although you can definitely do things with a PhD in the arts and/or humanities outside of academia, those jobs are largely not made for nor exclusive to people with PhDs in those fields. You could probably do them with the degrees you currently have. I am a non-academic industry researcher. I did finish my PhD (I had this crisis inside of graduate school, and ultimately decided to finish) but when I was having the crisis, I loved the same things you love and disliked the same thing you dislike. My current job, NOT in academia, offers me a lot of the things that I liked - just in different formats than what I expected. I don't "teach" in the traditional sense (and not college students), but I manage people and I have lots of opportunities for teaching and advising in different formats (career development for my direct reports, teaching seminars and sessions at work, teaching my client/partner teams about research and different topics areas). I am more than supported if I want to go to conferences - I turn down travel opportunities - and I spend a lot of time writing and doing research. I've found that there are lots of jobs outside of academia that allow you to do one or more of these things, if you broaden your definition - or already have a pretty broad one - of how to scratch those itches. And if you like practical applications, to me that sounds like even more reason to look for non-academic work. You'll only miss that more in graduate school. I got my PhD in public health, and I sorely missed that all throughout - while I loved the research, I wanted to do more of the health education and promotion myself as well. I think the question now is - what do you want to do? It's easier to narrow yourself down to a couple of areas than it is to open the floodgates. Check out Versatile PhD if you haven't already, and get some suggestions there for things that folks from the arts and humanities do after leaving academia (they do a LOT of different things!). Do you want to continue doing research/scholarship in the humanities, or are you willing (or wanting) to go completely different? Do you want nonprofit/NGO/government agency type work or would you be happy to work in the private sector too? (They're not mutually exclusive, but I knew a lot of academics who were reluctant to work at for-profit corporations post-grad school.)
  16. This is more dependent on your advisor and their expectations than graduate school as a whole. Some advisors have unreasonable expectations of graduate students, regardless of whether or not they are getting paid. Sometimes, students have to play along with those unreasonable expectations for a variety of reasons. Fortunately, most advisors are not like that. I did different things with my summers, although I was funded. I always conducted some research with my lab in the summers. Some summers I taught summer classes and worked in summer programs for undergrads - partially to make money and partially because I really like working with undergrads (especially those from underrepresented groups, which was the focus of the program I mostly worked in). One summer, I did an industry internship. The summer before my final year I worked on my dissertation proposal. My last summer I spent cleaning up my dissertation and planning my defense. I frequently did travel during the summers - I went to see family at least once a summer. Lots of other students used summers to take vacations as well. I do know some students who used their summers for research trips as well.
  17. I want to pipe in and say that despite having to pay attention to these issues, renting is not super difficult or scary. I've rented apartments and/or houses all of my adult life (and actually, my family and I have lived in rentals almost all of my life period) and have yet to have any significant problems with maintenance, things falling apart, landlords, etc. You do need to do your research, but I also don't want anyone to read all this advice and feel super overwhelmed! One of the most important things to ask for when renting is about maintenance and upkeep: namely, who does it? If you go with an apartment or townhouse that is professionally managed by a rental company, usually they have a full-time maintenance person (or persons!) who are responsible for repairing things that go wrong. At some places, the maintenance staff even does routine stuff like changing your light bulbs in hard-to-reach places. One of the reasons I love renting is because I don't have to call any plumbers or anything like that: if it breaks, I report it and they send someone to fix it! When you rent a house, this can be more variable; some houses are still professionally managed and have similar systems. But with some house rentals (especially if the owner is renting it themselves) they may ask you to find and pay for a repair yourself and then reimburse you later. Personally, I would not want any kind of arrangement like that (I wouldn't want to get into an argument with a landlord about whether or not I broke it...) but it works for many people. I definitely didn't open/check any pipes when renting, haha. But I do check for electrical outlets flush to the wall and wiring issues - one, because well-maintained outlets (or lack thereof) can be a good indicator of how well-maintained a property is; and two, because I grew up in a house with electrical wiring issues and it's a drag. Insects are also an issue - termites are the worst, of course, but you also don't want a fire ant colony under your apartment (learned that the hard way. How did they get to the third floor???) or, bizarrely, an entire clan of ladybugs (my family home had that growing up. UGH.) In large cities there are also rodents to think about; most people in NYC will have a mouse once or twice, but it's the persistence that's a problem. Laundry in the unit is the ultimate dream of summer, but in some locales that's not possible or feasible on a graduate student salary. In NYC, for example, having laundry in the building itself may be pretty unlikely. However, wash & fold services in NYC are a dime a dozen and cheaper than they would be in other cities, so I'd think about that as an alternative and whether it makes living in a unit without laundry in the build doable. If you can't afford either, look to see where the closest laundromat is. Lugging a bunch of laundry 10 blocks is the worst, but pushing it in a little cart 2 blocks away? That's not so bad. (I also do not go home during the dry cycle. I'd bring some reading. Waiting for your clothes to finish is a great time to catch up on reading!)
  18. It's actually pretty hard to plan this out in advance, as you often have to test out any system that you plan and sometimes the system you select ahead of time doesn't really work for you. Learning how to use Zotero and OneNote ahead of time are good tasks so you're not wasting brain power doing that mid-stream. You may want to check out other reference managers to make sure Zotero is the one you want to go with (Mendeley is a common favorite). I'm not sure that LaTeX is necessary, although it depends on your work style and also what field you're in. (I have a PhD in psychology and did not find it useful.) I'll actually go out on a limb and say that you might want to spend this free time just relaxing and doing some fun stuff. Your time is about to become greatly constrained, and graduate school can be a very stressful experience. When you look back, I'm willing to bet you'll be more likely to regret not enjoying yourself in your last months before graduate school than you are to regret picking up some small skill that can be easily picked up in graduate school.
  19. I do not have direct experience with transferring. I had a colleague in my PhD cohort who transferred to our program after finishing three years in a different program. He had to start over - literally, start over. He finished with me in my cohort after six years. Your advisor passing away, and no one else in the department to adequately advise you, is probably a situation that warrants transferring. But there may be other options that you can quickly consider. You said that you got a new advisor that helped you, but they were unfamiliar with your topic. Is there another advisor in your department who is at least a little more familiar with your area and/or your work? If not, is it possible that someone in the department can serve as your nominal advisor for paperwork purposes, but you could have an outside person with expertise in your area serve as your actual advisor? This usually only works if you have an established relationship with an outside/external researcher, though. If none of those is possible or feasible, then transferring may be your best bet. Many PhD programs may make you repeat some coursework, though. You do need at least one person (and preferably, two people) from your current department who can vouch for you, though.
  20. Michigan has great name value and resources as well. I work for a large tech company and we have more new hires from Michigan than we do from Columbia. Part of that is sheer size, but most of it is because Michigan has an excellent reputation as a research university that prepares great tech talent. I would not enter a master's program with the intention of transferring. You should either enter a program with the intent of staying in it, OR you should wait a year and reapply. The reason is because 'transferring' at the master's level is rarely a straightforward transfer - usually, graduate programs will accept up to a semester's worth of credit from the other program, and sometimes not even that. So you spend a whole year (and $$$) on your classes and then you only use half of that or less in your new program. Plus, the business analytics program at Columbia is only three semesters, so it'd be a waste to transfer when you could just spend one more semester and be done. The only way I would even consider this is an intra-university transfer - for example, going from Columbia's business analytics program into Columbia's data science program. The chances that you can use most of your existing coursework in the new program is much higher. (And actually, looking at it, it's really not - there's no overlap between the required first-year courses in the MSBA and the required core courses in the Columbia data science MS.) But I still wouldn't attempt it, personally - I'd say that if you 100% knew you wanted a data science program, then choose Michigan or wait another year and reapply. I was trying to do a straight comparison between the programs, but it's difficult. At first and second glance, the Michigan program seems more technical and more of a straight/traditional data science program. But Columbia's industrial engineering/operations research department is very technical and well-respected, and a lot of the classes that have names that seem less deep in statistics actually might be quite deep and technical. I think it's probably mostly dependent upon the electives you choose to flesh out your Columbia program - you could theoretically take really technical coursework (like Bayesian Modeling & Computation, Applied Multivariate Statistics, or Data Mining for Engineers) or less so (like Managerial Negotiations, or U.S. Healthcare System, or New Product Development). Michigan doesn't have as many diverse electives - the ones you can take are all clearly focused on statistics and computer science. I think a lot of this is also dependent upon the type of internship you do over the summer, because that's where you'll learn the tools and skills to solidify the knowledge and make you more appealing to employers. But you could get a great internship from either place.
  21. For posterity, this depends on the employer. Most employers aren't going to be willing to wait more than a few weeks. But employers/teams that are used to hiring academics and PhDs are sometimes willing to wait a little longer, although usually not more than a few months (2-3 max, usually). Four to five months would be too long for most employers, but this is a university, and they might be more or less expecting you to start on an academic year schedule anyway.
  22. My PhD is in public health. Yes, JHU's school of public health is ranked #1 in the field, but different schools and programs have strengths in different areas, and I wouldn't automatically go to JHU just because it's number 1. I chose Columbia (#4) over JHU because of its strengths in my research area, and I didn't even bother applying to Harvard (#2) because none of its concentrations or research appealed to me. However, if expense is your primary concern, that doesn't seem to set JHU apart. UPenn's MPH tuition is easily $40K a year, which for a 2-year program will come out to $80K (not including living expenses). JHU's 11-month MPH program is $70K. They're not that different in price. Drexel and Temple are both considerably cheaper for their whole program. If you intend to live in Philadelphia after you graduate, there's also something to be said for the local networking/connections you can make there if you stay.
  23. It's not even just the prestige (and with the prestige of Oxford, I really don't think you'd have an issue breaking into the academic market stateside) but it's also the fact that your research doesn't match at Toronto but does at Oxford. Who are these people who are suggesting that you don't move to Oxford?
  24. Yeah, I'm going to agree with the above sentiments - it doesn't sound like your daughter is shying away because it's too hard; it sounds like she is not interested in economics and doesn't want the emphasis on economics at JHU. The economics won't 'enhance' her career if she doesn't want to do anything economics-related. I'm also kind of curious about your thoughts on what makes a school "transformational". International experience alone doesn't do that. George Washington has one of the best and most well-respected public policy programs in the world. I certainly wouldn't characterize GW as "easier". I do not agree that a top-notch institution doesn't matter after undergrad (on the contrary, your graduate degree matters a lot more than your undergrad degree, especially in certain fields), but GWU is definitely top-notch in this area.
  25. Yes, I would absolutely contact your programs of interest and ask if that changes things. POIs for sure, but I'd also contact the departmental secretary in each department and they can direct you to the appropriate person who can officially reconsider your application.
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