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About xxcheshirecatox

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  • Location
    East Coast
  • Application Season
    Already Attending
  • Program
    Social Sciences PhD

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  1. So far, I've really been enjoying it. Without question, it is very challenging and demanding, but I feel very lucky because I feel like I'm in the right program and that I'm with the right advisor, which is something that I never really felt in my old program.
  2. Chicks and money, obv. But on a serious note, I want it because I took a research position at a University doing program evaluation with just a master's, and I found myself severely restricted in several ways (e.g., going after grants, as I didn't have much support in my subject area and couldn't be competitive without PhD support), and I realized that I wanted to be doing my own research and have more control over my research agenda than I was afforded. I was tired of feeling bound and like I could only rise so high without a PhD and because I couldn't picture myself doing anything else. I love my craft, and I want to continue to grow with it and get better at it. It just seemed like the logical choice.
  3. Do NOT use an old book. You will be screwing yourself. On the subject test that I took in psychology, I recall several of the questions asking about current trends in the field, and these are some of the questions I screwed up on because I didn't think the test would go there, but it does. You need something that is current, or you will be seriously hurting yourself on the exam. My own method was to refresh with notes from my courses and to peruse a current psychology 101 textbook.
  4. I'm not in your subfield, but I just wanted to comment on the lack of a thesis being a negative. For my master's, I did not do a thesis. At the time, everyone told me it was a bad decision and that it would negatively affect my ability to get into PhD programs. Instead of plugging away at a thesis that could possibly just sit in a desk drawer, I got research experience. I published an article with a faculty member and wrote a book chapter. I think that helped me way, way more than having a thesis title under my degree and I consider it an added bonus that I can be more enthusiastic to do my dissertation vs. all of my friends who had to endure a thesis and are likely fatigued with the process (especially if they went straight from a master's program). Many of the newer assistant/associate professors (at least, in my subfield) I've spoken to agree: the master's thesis is starting to become outdated and some departments are moving towards just doing comprehensive exams. Not to mention, I know several successful professors who did not do a thesis for their master's.
  5. For me, it was two things, really. The first was even getting to a place where I wanted to expend the energy to apply. This was not my first application season, and I was well aware of how draining and potentially soul-crushing the process is. Plus, I wasn't sure that I wanted to return to school just yet (or even at all). But after about 6-8 months of reflection, I decided I was ready to take the plunge. I sacrificed my nights and weekends (I work full-time) to make it happen. That wasn't fun. It did pay off, though. Unquestionably, the hardest part of the actual application was the statement of purpose. I feel like this is part of the reason I floundered the first time I applied and didn't get into a program. It really required me to dig deep to come up with something of quality, as I generally suck at writing about myself. So this time around, I became determined to make it better, and I worked on it for months instead of doing it at the last minute. I bought a book about how to write an SOP. I edited and re-edited. And I ended up getting into my top choice. Well worth it, but exhausting.
  6. 1. There's just no pleasing some people. This includes fellow students as well as faculty. Recognize these people and adjust your expectations accordingly, lest you succumb to the trap of killing yourself while trying to please the unpleasable. Instead, try to surround yourself with people that will cheer you on rather than tear you down, even if it's just your peer group, as realistically, you might not have much say with your assignment for your supervisor. 2. Don't sweat the small stuff and know when to say no. It's hard not to in an environment that is so stressful and will take over your entire existence if you let it. Just remember that it's a marathon, not a sprint, and that you need to pace yourself accordingly. 3. As hard as it is, set boundaries. Before you start graduate school, you need to outline what is truly important to you and what graduate school can't have. This could be your significant other, time for hobbies, money to splurge on something that will keep you sane, etc. Either way, be mindful of what you are willing to give up and what you are not willing to give up, as graduate school will take as much as you give it (which is everything, if you let it). 4. A good advisor is one of the best tools you can have when navigating a PhD program. Make sure that you match well with your advisor in terms of working style (i.e., are they a micromanager, are they more hands-off) and personality over research fit, as even the best research fit with a bad personality will make your life a living hell. It's hard enough; don't make it harder by not having some support from faculty Additionally, sometimes you will find that your advisor just serves as a figurehead and that your true mentor isn't your formal "advisor". However you do it, just make sure you become close and have a good relationship with at least one faculty member. It will make your time in the program much easier. 5. Branch out in your research. I know the cookie cutter advice is to write every single class paper on what will be your thesis or dissertation, but I disagree with this advice. While I think most work should be oriented towards a dissertation, about once a year, I pick a different topic that departs from what I usually research. Not only has this been a welcome break from the monotony of doing the same topic, but it can open up the door for new research interests (or hell, even a new course you'd like to teach), and I find that doing something outside of my comfort zone has really pushed me as a researcher. 6. Try to have a few friends outside of your program. I find that it's helpful to socialize with people who aren't academics. 7. Don't focus on grades. Focus on learning new skills. 8. Be realistic; accept the possibility that if you are trying to land an academic position, it might not happen. If you are aiming for the ivory tower, be cautiously optimistic, but anticipate other career possibilities. To this end, if you have the free time, I would recommend learning skills that can be taken to non-academic jobs. This might mean doing an internship over the summer. This may be field-specific, but in my field, I've found that the networking associated with doing internships for non-academic companies/agencies has come in handy (if you can land a paid internship, bonus!). 9. Always, always, ALWAYS be nice to the administrative staff/secretaries. They are the gateway to many things, such as submitting important paperwork and free food.
  7. I have spent a lot of time in California, and I really enjoy the bay area. I was actually accepted to a school in the bay area, but I ended up declining. A lot of it had to do with my impressions of the financial health of the department; not only was the stipend offer pretty low, but there were also other things surrounding the visit that kind of made me raise my eyebrow. I'm glad I ended up picking a program that is in better shape, financially. I'm kind of keeping an eye on the California's higher ed system to see what ends up happening. I had originally wanted to work in the UC system once I graduated, but I'm really concerned about the budgetary issues happening in the state and the financial issues that have been reverberating through the higher ed system...
  8. I factored those three things into my decision-making, but not as much as these things: 1. Research fit with my advisor (this was the single most important factor for me), personality fit with advisor, advisor's level of experience in field 2. The program environment (are the students happy, how do professors work with students, etc.) 3. Course selection (does it offer skills that would be potentially useful for the kind of research you do, is it interesting to you) 4. Program location (is it affordable, will I have to go into debt to live in said program location) I ended up picking a highly ranked program in an affordable location, but I think I would've picked my choice regardless of ranking, solely because it is such a fantastic fit for the type of research I would like to do and the students all seem pretty happy (plus it didn't hurt that I had some insider knowledge into the program from a friend who graduated). I had a bad advising experience whilst doing my Master's and it taught me a painful lesson to make sure that you are happy with the person who will be advising you, as they, for better or worse, will serve as a huge influence on your program progress and will affect your quality of life in the program. It's important to look beyond just the rankings and assess fit.
  9. I accepted an offer early. I had one application out, so I withdrew it, as I had visited the campus and I wanted to be courteous.
  10. I would check and see if they are part of the group of schools that abide by the April 15th deadline. Since there is an offer of funding with your admissions, they might be a part of this group, and therefore, cannot ask you for a decision prior to April 15th.
  11. Hi guys, As usual, I need some advice... I visited my top program and I love the school, so I decided today that I am accepting their offer. My question pertains to an application that is still being reviewed by the adcom for what I will call Program B. I visited Program B, and I really liked them because I thought they were nice people, even though it wasn't ideal for my research interests. My POI spent a lot of time with me and was really attentive. She is also well-known in my sub-field, which is very small. Program B hasn't extended an offer to me, but my POI pretty much told me I was going to be admitted (off the record, of course) and it's a less prestigious institution than my top program, so I'm assuming they are going to offer me admission. However, I know some programs don't do alternate lists, and there are only 4 spots for this program, so I want to withdraw my application. Questions: What are the logistics of withdrawing? Who should I contact to withdraw? I would like to write a polite letter to my POI (she is the head of the doctoral program) to let her know I will be withdrawing my application out of courtesy. I really need to stay on good terms with her. Any suggestions on what to write to her? Thanks!!!
  12. In my opinion, I prefer working with established full professors. I've noticed a huge difference in the amount of students that get first authorship with full professors vs. working with an assistant who is, by nature of the tenure process, dedicated to helping themselves first and foremost. Also, the clout thing is definitely a huge, huge plus, just in terms of networking, letters of recommendation, and getting administrative things taken care of in the department.
  13. I graduated with my master's last May and I took some time off, mostly just to re-charge from my master's and to get some skills at my job. I'm so glad I did. I would've been really burned out. I think taking the time off has made me really eager to go back, and it also helped me tremendously with preparing a competitive application.
  14. I ended up telling my boss. He seems supportive, so we will see what happens. Thanks for the advice, everyone.
  15. Thanks, guys! My problem has sort of solved itself (basically, school B offered me a really... bad assistantship that I wouldn't even be able to live on with roommates), while the other program offered me a fantastic funding package (which helps, as I already wanted to go to this program in the first place!).
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