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Posts posted by juilletmercredi

  1. On 2/26/2020 at 6:59 AM, Clintarius said:

    I was accepted to Columbia with guaranteed campus housing for 5 years, which sounds like a pretty good deal. How is the grad student housing/the environment of the Morningside Heights area in general? If I’m in lab late and need to walk home, is it safe? (Petite female, if that makes a difference)

    Same question (although male) + is it feasible to find anything in NYC at a cost similar to that of Columbia housing?

    I know this question is a few months old, but still going to answer in case someone finds it useful. I went to Columbia for graduate school; for three years I lived in off-campus housing in Washington Heights and then for three years I lived in campus housing in Morningside Heights.

    Morningside Heights is very much dominated by Columbia - there's a 10-block radius from 110th St to 120th St, between Broadway and Morningside Dr (and, to a certain extent, extending to Riverside Dr) that feels like Columbia's campus/neighborhood. I am a woman and I always joked that I've walked outside in Morningside Heights every one of the 24 hours of the day, and I never felt unsafe. Public Safety is very good, and I got to know some of the officers and infrastructure at Columbia and I always felt completely equipped to reach out if I needed help from campus police. I never had to, though (not for myself...I worked in student services.). Actually, because I worked in student services I actually had exposure to the sorts of incidents that happen around Columbia's campus, and there's virtually never any violent crime against Columbia affiliates. I walked home from lab (or the libraries) late all the time.

    Living in grad student housing, IMO, is the way to go. You'd be hard-pressed to find an apartment anywhere in the city for the same price you can get it through Columbia, and if you can, it's likely further away than the grad student housing. I lived and attended school there from 2008-2014, so likely some things have changed, but for context: I split a 2-bedroom with one other person for $1850 a month on 172nd St. and Haven Ave., in Washington Heights, four blocks away from the Columbia University Medical Center and about a 20-minute subway ride to the main Columbia campus in Morningside Heights. (I was a dual PhD student - 50% public health at CUMC, 50% psychology at the main campus). We each paid $925, and it was a pretty decent-sized apartment by New York standards. Later, I moved into a Columbia graduate housing two-room studio (bedroom, bathroom, and another room that had the kitchen in it but also our desk) with my husband, who attended GS, on 119th and Amsterdam. I'd guess it was around 600 sqft? If that? We paid $1400/month for it. There is no way in hell you'd find a studio in Morningside Heights for that price. Both were in walking distance to a ton of restaurants, grocery stores, bars, and other amenities, and had two subway stops in close reach. 

    When I was living there 5-6 years ago, the prices in Inwood and Washington Heights were rising but were pretty much the only neighborhoods left in Manhattan where you could expect to find prices comparable to Columbia's graduate housing (perhaps with the exception of some parts of Harlem, like East Harlem and Hamilton Heights). Otherwise, you were kind of stuck either going into the Bronx (which very few Columbia students do) or into Brooklyn (which more do, but you have to go pretty far out into Brooklyn to get something affordable these days. Which is baffling in and of itself - my mom grew up in Brooklyn in the 60s and 70s, and she's baffled that anyone wants to live there now, lol). There are also some further neighborhoods in Queens that might be more affordable...but they're going to be relatively deep into Queens.

  2. Personally, I'd consider about 7-10 years out to still be relevant. Because of tenure, academic departments are slower to change than many other institutions.

    If you're observing that from 2004-2010 graduates were placing into top departments but then - suddenly or gradually - after 2010 the prestige of those placements started to decline...that's data. Something changed.

  3. On 3/30/2020 at 2:38 PM, Sigaba said:

    I recommend looking into opportunities to work in an industry that is trying to navigate the increasing rate of technological innovation. IME, public and private clients are often eager to procure and to deploy technologies that are not quite ready for prime time or, more importantly, are not going to serve well the interests of end users.

    I work in this field. It's called human-computer interaction, or user experience research.

    A rhet/comp degree would be an unusual background; most people who come into this field have social sciences graduate degrees (psychology is common) or computer science-related graduate degrees (you can actually get a PhD in HCI). That's because the research techniques are social sciences methods, and are actually applied versions of psychological methods.

    However, with some programming skills, you might make a good UX designer. There are also design-adjacent roles like design strategist or technical architect that may work at some firms/companies.

  4. I moved from the Southeast to the Northeast for graduate school, and then from the Northeast to the Pacific Northwest for my first job. The first move is more relevant - much like dippedincoffee, I scaled down significantly; I got all of my belongings into two suitcases.

    I agree with @dippedincoffee that buying new stuff where you go might be cheaper than shipping things. I looked into shipping my bedroom furniture (really nice stuff) from my home in the Southeast to the Northeast, but it was cheaper for me to buy an inexpensive but still good quality mattress and bed frame in the new location.

    If you have family that have larger houses, you might consider storing some of your precious but large things with them, and just sending for them when you've moved somewhere a little more permanently. But that also depends on where you're going - if you're going to a small college town you might be able to rent a larger place for relatively cheaply; in a large city, you may have to downsize.

    Renting a trailer is easy. UHaul and other companies like that rent them out. If your car can tow a trailer, you can get one. Hell, renting a truck is also easy - I did that moving from New York to Pennsylvania for my postdoc. Depending on where you live, you could rent a UHaul truck and park it in front of your place for a little bit, packing it over the course of a week or something. (My partner and I did this, but over only two days.)

    You could pack it yourself or you could probably pay people to pack it for you, maybe using a service like dolly or Bellhops (although I don't know how feasible that is during the pandemic.)

  5. I think this depends entirely on what the degree is in and what you expect to be doing - and how much money you expect to me making - after you graduate.

    If this was an MBA or an MPP or an MPA, I'd say that $70K isn't bad. That's how much good programs in those fields cost; they're prestige-driven fields, which means that a prestigious (expensive) degree can translate into a better job and higher earnings. But most importantly, I think a new graduate in those fields can expect to make a salary that's at least in that general range, and so would be able to repay that kind of salary without going hungry. An MBA from Harvard or Columbia or Chicago, for example, could expect to make $100-150K+ depending on where they go afterwards, with a good salary outlook from there on. MPA graduates from top schools can expect $70-80K to start.

    But if it's an MSW, or an MEd? That changes things. The typical social worker, even with an MSW, may start in the $45-55K range, and may struggle to repay a $70K loan balance. A teacher with a master's degree is also probably not going to be making $70K for several more years - and if they are, they're probably living in some of the more expensive cities in the country. Those are also not fields that care overly much about prestige, so getting a Columbia MEd may not net you a higher salary or a better job than getting one from your local public university (with the exception of teaching at prestigious private/independent schools, perhaps).


  6. If you have no research background, I think you'll find it difficult to get admitted to a PhD program. PhD programs - including this one at UBC - are primarily research degrees. Professors want to know that you know what you're getting yourself into, and that you truly enjoy research, are passionate about a specific area and are ready to commit 5 to 7 years of your life studying it. They also want to know that you're going to be useful in their research group, because they need you to do research for them.

    Another way to put this is...how do you even know you want to do a PhD if you have no research experience?

    Publications are a nice cherry on top, and I believe in some natural and physical sciences fields they've become increasingly important even for undergraduates applying to graduate school (which is insane to me). In the social sciences, they're still not necessarily expected, but they do demonstrate that you are capable of doing one of the core competencies of a researcher. They can help make up for weaknesses in other areas, too.

  7. There's really no minimum. Generally, when people say that, they're referring to two years of part-time experience as a research assistant - the junior and senior years of college, probably somewhere in the 10 to 20 hour per week range. But there's really no minimum - the impact of what you did in that time matters more, as well as what you learned and how well you express it. One student may be able to get admitted straight from undergrad with two years of part-time research experience, where another student needs to work full-time for three years after college to get into a program.

    Eight to ten schools is pretty average.

    You should shoot for the highest GRE score you can get. Don't take it more than twice, though; it's not really worth it. Get the highest score you can aim for, and then build yourself up in other areas - the GRE is probably the least important component of your application. (In psychology, a good target to aim for is a 155+ in each section.)

  8. As was mentioned, virtually all deadlines for PhD programs have passed; in fact, the decision deadline for most PhD programs has passed. Most programs will have their incoming cohorts set right now. The pandemic will only exacerbate things; even the few programs that have rolling admissions may be tightening their belts.

    Talk to the Director of Graduate Studies at your department first. There may be other professors in the department who have funding - either you could work as an RA in their labs, or the department may be able to cobble together some support for you. Also chat with your advisor; he may not have any additional funding for you but it's also partially his responsibility to help you find new funding so you can continue.

    You should also get comfortable with the idea of taking an official leave of absence from the program and trying to find employment, even if temporarily, in the interim.

  9. I got my PhD in psychology from Columbia (from GSAS, not from TC). It's not putting down another program to factually state that the psychology programs at Teachers College are not as well-regarded as other top psychology programs; it's just factual. That doesn't mean that the program is not good; or that OP should not go there. It just means the program is not as prestigious. It's important to go into any program with one's eyes open about where one's program stands relative to other ones, as unfortunately it does matter in placement (especially in academic placement.) Most rankings of clinical psychology programs demonstrate that TC's program, while good and a great fit for many students, isn't necessarily considered prestigious. In the U.S. News rankings, clinical psychology at TC is ranked in the 70s.

    It is also true that clinical and counseling psychology doctoral students at TC are not always funded, and when they are funded, it's not always fully. I knew some unfunded students in those programs. I also knew students who were funded; they had lower stipends than the students in most other doctoral programs across Columbia, including in the humanities and social sciences. They also were not eligible for a lot of the internal funding/fellowships that other doctoral students at Columbia could get because they were not in GSAS.

    HOWEVER! The OP is talking about Science Education, which is one of the fields TC is very strong in, so that's all a moot point.

    That said, OP, I'd strongly advise against attending an unfunded program. Education is a field that it is more difficult to get funding in, perhaps, but I have a few people I know who have gotten funded education degrees. As you've noted, New York is incredibly expensive. Columbia is also incredibly expensive. Even if we were generous and said you secured funding by your third year (which is not guranteed), you'd still probably be about $150,000 in debt ($45K tuition and fees + $30K living expenses x 2 years) by the time you get there.

    I would stay at your school, teach one more year, and reapply to more programs with the hopes of getting funding.

  10. On 12/13/2019 at 6:09 AM, Palace said:

    Hi thanks for the reply. Yes English is indeed my second language but that's not much of an issue. What I lack is having an analytical mind. I don't have an analytical mind and that's what makes it difficult to make sense of what I want to write. I do quite well on literature review but when it comes to data analysis everything collapses. Thanks for the reading recommendations. I will read through it. 

    This, I think, is kind of a different question from not being a good writer.

    I find it difficult to believe that, as someone who completed a doctoral degree and has secured a postdoc, you don't have an analytical mind. I'm betting that you do, and you're mostly apprehensive on whether or not you are 'good enough' to produce what your postdoc requires. You probably are, but a postdoctoral fellowship is in part a training opportunity - your PI is supposed to be helping you grow into being an academic.

    So if you're having issues turning your ideas into papers, set up some time with your PI (or hopefully, you have regular 1:1s) and bring your ideas and talk through them. Get input from your postdoc advisor on how to shape these ideas into good projects. I would think of them not just in terms of papers but projects. A good postdoc project will yield more than one paper. Same thing once you are ready to put together an analysis plan.

    Presumably, you are also not the only postdoc in your research group or department? Make friends with some other postdocs and workshop each other's work!

  11. Your advisor doesn't have to know what you do in your spare time. You don't have to tell your advisor everything that you do. Therefore, it won't necessarily raise red flags with your advisor.

    However. I did marching band in high school and considered it in college, and am friends with lots of band geeks. Whether or not you can do this successfully depends entirely on the kind of marching band you are attempting to join. My husband was drum major of his university's marching band, and it was a pretty low key affair that only played at home games and didn't practice every day. That kind of commitment would probably be fine and doable in graduate school.

    But if we're talking about one of the big D1 or HBCU marching bands? They practice every day for several hours a day and travel to away games during football season. (My HBCU's marching band practiced M-F from 5-9 pm and also on Saturdays. That's why I chose not to join.) I think you would find it very difficult to do that along with graduate school, especially in your first year.

    I'd wait until you decide where to go to grad school, and then I'd contact the marching band and ask some questions about practice schedule, travel, expectations, etc. That'll help you decide. There are lots of other music-related hobbies you can do - you can play in the orchestra or concert band, or an ensemble, or a community music group in the city you're in that's built for working adults.

  12. I am assuming that you're in an American-style program, with ~2 years of coursework before comps and dissertation. I will say that I felt kind of similarly in my first two years of graduate school; the challenge was the volume of work I was being expected to do, not the type. I went to a small liberal arts college where close reading, deep discussion, and analytical writing were expected parts of the curriculum, so doing these things in graduate school was not a challenge. I definitely did grow and learned a lot of new material, but I didn't necessarily feel like I had to quickly ascend to a new level of understanding or anything like that. I did get the distinct feeling that some of my colleagues had different educational experiences and that there were areas in which the seniors at my undergraduate college may have excelled, also (particularly the writing and analysis).

    I also don't think graduate school felt like getting into depth on a narrow topic until after my coursework. I didn't feel like I was delving really deeply until comps, honestly, and my dissertation was really the pinnacle of that.

    A doctoral program is largely self-directed, especially after year 2 or so. So if you want to dive into things more intellectually, set yourself up for that. Take an independent study with the theorist in your department, or work on a collaborative project with them that might result in an article/monograph. Work on your own projects that are more theoretical and intellectually deep in nature. There are programs that will allow you to take a semester at another university to work on such a project. Or you can start a cross-university collaboration with a researcher in a related area. A lot of the intellectual fulfillment you'll get will be independent work. Developing a close working relationship with advisors is also self-directed.

    I don't think choosing to do another PhD is a good idea necessarily. Remember that a doctoral program is also customizable and tailored, so if you want to take classes or work with someone in the philosophy or history department at your own university...arrange that.

    Also, most programs will not admit you for a second PhD if you already have one, unless it's in a wildly different field.

     but being on a grad stipend for another 5 years certainly beats working outside academia.

    Hoo boy, I would strongly disagree with that. But I think it depends on your values, wants, and needs. By the time I was nearing the end of my doctoral degree, I was real tired of living on a grad student stipend. But autonomy and theoretical analysis were not important to me (on the contrary; I much prefer applied work). If it is super important to you to do theoretical work, that may be different for you.


  13. The coordinating official (CO) is the final word on this. There's a section in the Administrative Guide on stipend supplementation:

    Each Fellow is expected to devote full time to advanced scientific study or work during the Fellowship Period. However, because it is generally accepted that teaching or similar activity constitutes a valuable part of the education and training of many graduate students and such opportunities may arise during a Tenure year, a Fellow on Tenure may choose to undertake a reasonable amount of such activities without NSF approval. It is expected that furtherance of the Fellow's educational objectives and the gain of substantive teaching or other experience, not service to the institution as such, will govern these activities. Compensation for such activities is determined by the GRFP Institution and is based on the institution’s general employment policies. Fellows are required to check with their GRFP Institution about specific policies pertaining to the GRFP Fellowship and paid activities.

    Fellows are permitted to solicit and accept, from NSF or other federal and private sources, support for research expenses, such as laboratory supplies, instrumentation usage fees, field-station usage fees, travel expenses, conference/registration fees, workshop expenses, or subscription fees. For Fellows on Tenure, support for living expenses associated with off-site research activities will require approval by the CO. Fellows are required to check with their GRFP Institution about specific policies pertaining to acceptance of any non-federal fellowships.

    If your CO's final decision is that this is not allowed by GRFs, then there's your answer. You can talk to them and show them the Administrative Guide and show that support for living expenses is not necessarily barred if the funding is not technically a federal fellowship. Occasionally, coordinating officials have outdated information or are not aware of updates to the Administrative Guide. (I developed a close relationship with my CO because I was always doing something I maybe wasn't supposed to be doing and was an annoying Rules Lawyer, lol.) But you may be unsuccessful, since the definition of supporting graduate education of individuals is broad, and can definitely include work as a research assistant - particularly if you would be getting research credit for doing it, but even if you're not. Research activities definitely constitute part of graduate education, so an RAship can be interpreted that way.

    Arguing that it's simply a "job" or "paid work" that's external to the university is not very likely to work, both because of the nature of the work and because of the NSF's poliices on paid work:

    Outside employment is not governed by the NSF. Fellows should check with their CO about specific institution policies.

    So basically, we're back to "the CO is the final word on this." They could very well mean that at their institution they don't allow NSF fellows to get stipend supplementation from federal sources. You can always ask if you could pursue the RAship without the pay.

  14. I don't know if you've sent the email yet, but for posterity, here are my thoughts. I am a hiring manager in industry.

    1) The entire email is unnecessary. They haven't forgotten that you interviewed, and if they have not contacted you yet, that means that you haven't gotten an offer (yet). The best thing to do after having already sent a follow-up thank-you email is to move on until/unless the company contacts you.

    2) If one insists on sending a follow-up email, it should be short. If I'm hiring for a position, I am doing that on top of my already demanding job, and my time for reading emails is limited. Not going to lie, if I opened this one, I'd very quickly scan it then immediately close it. (Or if I have time, I might respond with a quick "Thanks for your contact, no decisions have been made yet, sit tight until we reach out.")

    I know that this is contrary to what a lot of career sites say, but in my experience as an actual hiring manager, these second follow-up emails are never helpful. I already know that you're qualified for the role; we interviewed you. I don't need people to reiterate the skills that they would bring to the role especially after we've already interviewed them, because we've already made a judgment on that either way. Presumably, all this was either on your cover letter or resume when you applied and/or we talked about in your interview. Ironically, the only thing that is useful in the mail is hearing that are you still interested and excited in the position (e.g., you don't have another offer that I have to worry about competing with somewhere else, or that this is still a role at the top of your list.)

    If you insist upon sending a follow up, I'd suggest that you cut it to this.



    I hope you had a great weekend! Thank you again for taking the time to meet with me on [DATE] and for considering me for the [NAME OF POSITION] position.

    I wanted to follow-up regarding my interview. I so enjoyed getting to know your team and learning more about the role; I am really excited about the prospect of this position. May I inquire as to when you might have a decision? <- because let's be real, this is what you really want to know.

    Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any questions! I can be reached at [PHONE NUMBER] or via email at .

    Thank you once again for your time and consideration.


  15. I work in industry. While a postdoc won't hurt you, it's certainly not necessary for the vast majority of non-academic positions. There are some non-academic positions that function pretty similarly to academic ones, and some of those might prefer a postdoc (think think tanks or policy institutes). But for the vast majority of non-academic jobs - especially if they are not research roles - not having done a postdoc is totally fine.

    Second, if I want to gain industry experience while still in graduate school, what might be some recommended ways to go about it? My research focuses on questions of development in Latin America so I'm considering incorporating ethnographic fieldwork not only at my research site but with NGOs/development agencies working in my geographic area of interest to see another side of things. Would this be the best way to go about it or should I consider internships as well?

    Both? This doesn't have to be an either/or; if you are considering non-academic careers, you should get any kind of industry experience you can in graduate school. Working with NGOs/nonprofits/other agencies while doing your fieldwork is an excellent way; you can build connections and demonstrate your research skills. I know several people in social sciences who have gotten non-academic jobs this way. But you should also consider internships as well.

    Lastly, and maybe this is more personalized to different jobs/fields, but for any of you who are now working outside academia, do you feel that you're still able to do enough research, apply the skills you learned through your PhD, etc. in your non-academic position? 

    It's definitely dependent on what you do. I'm a research manager at a tech company, and I definitely apply the skills I learned in my PhD - both the "hard skills" of statistics, research methodology, etc. and the "soft skills" of critical thinking, time management, planning and executing on a giant project, prioritization, communication, conflict resolution, etc. I would say that the latter set of "soft skills" has been FAR more important in the long run for my success here, and I actually work in a direct research role. I do less research myself now that I am a manager - I manage other researchers - but my research skills are still necessary so that I can advise them and direct their work for maximum impact. I also do research project planning that can be multi-year and cover large strategic areas of the business, so that research agenda planning that your PhD teaches you (perhaps indirectly) - that's super useful, too. Surprisingly, grant-writing was useful, too. Not because I write grants here, but because learning to budget what you need to get your work done and learning how to ask for money and resources that you need is a generally useful skill in business, and I now do that all the time.

  16. I'm not sure why anyone would think they could complete even an EU PhD in 2 years. Certainly not a U.S. one; the standard is much closer to 5-7 years in the science. Four years would be fast.

    No, investors generally don't care whether you have a PhD or master's.

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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).

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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?

  23. 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.

  24. 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.


  25. 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.

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