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belowthree

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About belowthree

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    Ca, USA
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    Computer Science (PhD)

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  1. belowthree

    Getting into grad school through the "back door"

    Our professor once told a student to apply, held open the application program for a bit after the deadline and then promptly recruited her for the lab. It really depends on the school how much latitude a professor has, but in quite a few if a prof wants you they can take you. Sometimes they have to sign a bit of paperwork that includes exceptions to certain policies, but professors know how to do this, and do.
  2. belowthree

    sub 3.0 GPAs

    It's been a year and a half since I started this thread. It's great to see it's still helping people. I think one of my favorite quotations so far is: Oh do I remember that feeling. It's just so true. Application season was one of the most fraying experiences I've gone through, and I just finished a hell of a first year in grad school. There's just something about the application process that's truly terrible psychologically in a completely different way than 40 hour stretches in the lab are. But let me tell you about the light at the end of the tunnel: A year and a half down the line, I've just finished my first year at my new institution. Over the last year I helped put together a new research group, passed and finished all the coursework required for my degree and on Tuesday the NSF agreed to fund the proposal I wrote to the tune of just under half a million dollars. With all the coursework out of the way and funding secured for the next three years, grad school is looking downright cozy. Go get accepted and kick ass everyone!
  3. belowthree

    how does grad school (for theoretical CS) work?

    I'm not really in theory, but I know the answers to some of your questions, so I figured I'd answer the parts I can. A $500,000 grant over three years is a very typical NSF grant size. (All NSF proposals in the small category generally meet this. Typically the proposal asks for ridiculously close to 500k (like 499,938) and the NSF funds whatever they feel like of that. Sometimes it's significantly lower, but almost all grants propose at least $500k of funding.) This typically ends up funding about two students over three years. This may not seem a lot for 500k, but grant accounting can be tricky. Typically 500k gets broken down something like this: * A bit over half goes straight off the top to fund overhead costs. This part helps compensate the university for maintaining buildings, supplying power, that type of thing. So now you're looking at 250k. 250k over three years is about 80k a year. * A bit of that usually goes to the professor for a month of summer funding. The more professors involved in the work, the more months of summer funding that might come out of the grant. (The NSF also limits the amount of total summer funding they'll give, so sometimes this component won't come out of a proposal at all if the professors are already at their summer funding max. This can lead to summer funding for students instead. ) A few spare thousand goes towards travel and equipment budgets each, along with whatever else your grant prep people can come up with. Let's say all this totals 20k/yr. (This estimate is high, usually for a 500k grant these type of annual costs are lower and more money goes to students.) * So now we're at 60k/yr. Which means you've got about 30k per student: ~20k to cover stipends (usually lower), ~10k for fee remission (usually higher, sometimes considerably at private schools or out of state rates for public schools). (You never see this money, but the reason you don't pay fees is because the grant does.) Grad students tend to cost more than 30k/yr a lot of times, but this is about the lowest you can get a grad student to cost. Depending on how things are run at your institution, this part of the grant can be larger. (Again, this does not always translate into more money for you, it may just be your internal fee remission rates are higher.) Whether or not they can shoehorn in summer support depends on how much the professor is making, whether or not they even want you around in the summer (some groups prefer their students get some outside perspectives through summer internships) and the internal costs of fee remission within the university campus you're attending. A rule of thumb is for every 100k of grant money you can fund about one grad-student year of work in CS. (In medical or bio it's completely different because they have all kinds of crazy equipment costs.) TA is a funding mechanism just like any other. You can use it as long as the department is willing to let you, however often departments prefer to fund only the newer students this way assuming students will eventually go and get real jobs on grants. That said, theory funding can be patchy and a good department provides TAships to senior students if needed usually. Typically most departments prefer you not TA your entire stay in grad school. You should be doing research, so you should get funded as a researcher. If your acceptance only mentions 9 months of funding, then you may well only have 9 months of funding. Many many many CS students flock to silicon valley, local companies and a few other hotspots every summer to kick back and spend a few months of the summer joining a team in industry. Summer funding from grants does happen. TAs sometimes even, though much more rarely. Usually summer funding only happens if there's extra money to go around. It can be a very fine line since most groups have a certain number of students they need to fund, it can be extremely hard to hit exactly the right amount of grant money, so most groups are either over or under. Department funds (here's where some of that grant overhead money comes back) can help backfill groups that are under (this is when senior students get TAs) while summer funding can be an excellent use of money when a group is lucky enough to have a bit more money than they needed. (Very easy to do if you get one extra grant accepted you didn't think was going to make it. You don't hear back for six months on these things, so you have to scatter-shot and if you end up being more successful than you expected, you might actually end up with more funding than students, this usually leads to getting more students, but it can also just result in summer funding or intra-department collaboration.) Again, I'm not in theory, so this one I can't help too much in detail on, but I can at least tell you that the theory folks do the typical weekly meetings. Whether or not your advisor chooses the path of your research or whether you chose the path of your own work depends on the relationship you two establish. Eventually all students should change from being assigned work to choosing their own work as your career in graduate school progresses.
  4. where were you admitted? let me know!

  5. belowthree

    How'd the first semester go?

    My approach has been to get them done with as soon as I can. I just need to finish this quarter, get my petitions accepted and then I'll only need one last course for next quarter and I'll be set. If lightening your courseload drives out the date before you can truly focus on your research too far then I think that might be a loss for you. In the intervening period, my plan is simply not to sleep. Ever. And how many credits is a relationship again? A lot, I think.
  6. belowthree

    Still not real?

    The characterization that those of us who call our professors by their first names don't respect them irks me. A lot. I deeply respect the people I collaborate with, both my fellow grad students and the professors I work with. Feel free to continue calling your professors by formal titles if that works for you and them. However, you would be utterly mistaken to assume those of us who respect our professors as colleagues and fellow researchers have any less respect than people who chose to respect them based on their position. I will leave it to others to discuss whether or not respecting a professor as equals is more meaningful than respecting a professor's position, but please don't characterize our choice to call a professor by their first names and accept their offers to work as equals as having anything to do with a lack of respect.
  7. belowthree

    What should I choose?

    Computer Science as an industry doesn't care about your degree more than almost any other field. If you have no interest in research it's unclear why you'd bother with a graduate program. Except as a gateway to a job in America? Getting a master's degree tends to make that easier. I think after that it's diminishing returns. Some companies even take a dim view of people with PhD degrees. Anyways, a Master's degree is usually the right middle ground and also the appropriate degree. That said, Masters programs are flooded with applicants trying to do exactly what you're doing, so gaining admission can be tough. There seems to be very little compelling reason for you to try and get admitted as a PhD student though. You would have no interest in a PhD program in CS if you don't like research and schools would likely have little interest in your application for the same reason. That wouldn't be a good match for anyone.
  8. belowthree

    Masters with no thesis

    Outside of research they absolutely don't care. Coursework-only masters are very common in CS and are often very appropriate for people who don't plan to pursue research. Mostly the only people who bother to do a thesis option Masters degree are folks who are planning on going on to a PhD program or want to keep their options open. A few others do it just because they feel it's more hardcore and they feel compelled to do it. But employers almost never care. Unless it's a research lab of some sort.
  9. belowthree

    Advice would be appreciated

    In my field you usually just pick the lab that does the research you're interested in. I get the impression that in bio people are a lot more flexible about what research they actually do for their PhD. It frankly seems kind of strange. As for determining a PI's track record, you can look up their funding levels, see which review boards they're on, where their students publish and where their students end up with tenured positions.
  10. You should remind yourself that a lot of people find study groups save time. Some people will be especially interested in forming a study group in grad school precisely because everyone is so busy. You might just have to meet at times everyone will be free. I recommend 2am in someone's lab.
  11. Okay I just finished my first quarter taking all my classes S/U and it was glorious. I seriously am wondering why everyone isn't doing this! Do most programs not have S/U options or do most programs enforce that you take letters? Grades don't matter, so why does anyone bother with letters if they don't have to? Well I say grades don't matter, but getting Us is really bad though. Here you get two Us and you're out, you get one and you get a talking to at your yearly review. So they matter exactly that much.
  12. belowthree

    How'd the first semester go?

    5 Ss GPA: undefined Flawless victory? (Only two of those were for real classes, the others were seminars, thesis research credit and other crap.)
  13. belowthree

    Princeton, NJ

    Triumph Brewery also sells beer by the bottle. Hold on to the bottle for a discount the next time you want it filled.
  14. belowthree

    sub 3.0 GPAs

    Hi! That sounds like a bad deal. You should definitely mention in your statement of purpose what your GPA would be without those quarters of incompletes and withdrawls. I'm betting a few people will go ahead and evaluate your application closer to that number than the official one from your university. Anyway, welcome to the interesting process of applying with these circumstances. You might also want to poke a professor at your school and see what they suggest.
  15. belowthree

    CS Grad school- finding your "ranking"?

    Ask your professors.
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