TakeruK

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TakeruK last won the day on January 1

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About TakeruK

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    Cup o' Joe

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  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Western Canada
  • Application Season
    Not Applicable
  • Program
    Planetary Sciences

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  1. School invited me for visit, but I'm abroad

    I think there are three categories of good questions to ask during visit days. The first is for specifics of the general things you find on the website and/or that particular prof's opinion/advice on things where you have decisions. For example, the website may say something like students are allowed to have co-advisors outside of the department, and you can ask something like "what fraction of students do this?". Or, it may say something like you take X electives---you can ask what electives they recommend, how many students normally take etc. Of course, only ask questions that are relevant to your situation (i.e. if you aren't interested in an outside advisor then don't ask about that). You can also ask about specific outcomes from their own students, e.g. "has any of your students gone into industry" etc. is one question I have asked. In general, most academics enjoy being asked about their opinion! The second category is questions about the future. When I met with department chairs or similar positions, I would ask questions like, "Do you plan on expanding the faculty [i.e. hiring more] in the next 5 years?" If they say yes, or only replacing retiring faculty, I'd usually ask if the general department strategy is to pick a small number of areas of expertise and hire around those, or if they are thinking of building more breadth in their expertise. Through talking to my own departments and on visits, I found that most schools either choose some areas of expertise and do targeted hires, or they have a policy of "let's hire the best people we can recruit" and then department expertise hinges around who they are. If you're meeting with individual profs, you can also ask similar questions but about their own body of research. Are they thinking of going in different directions? etc. Finally, the last category is for people who you are considering working with. You can ask things like how they view the student-advisor relationship. Might be too vague to ask that directly, but you can ask things about important aspects such as what are their expectations from you as their student? What is their advising style---i.e. do they typically want students to follow a detailed plan of research? or do they have the student mostly direct their research topics, or some mixture? Are their students funded through grants or mostly through TAing? etc.
  2. December vs. January Application Deadline

    I would say that any deadline on or after 12/15 is equivalent to a deadline on 1/1. For another data point on quick turnaround, my grad program usually has a due date of 1/1. Evaluations and deliberations are made during the first 2 work weeks of January. Decisions are sent out during the 3rd week and the visit dates occur between the 2nd week of Feb and the first week of March. We don't interview and we generally do not waitlist (you're either accepted or rejected but rejections do get notified later on). We are a small program with a small number of applicants (We make about 40 offers out of a pool of probably 200-300 applicants) and every prof reads every application relevant to their subfield (about 30-40 each?). Those two weeks are quite a busy time for our profs---I know most meeting requests (outside of the standard advising meetings with their students) are met with "please get back to me after admissions!" Ultimately each subfield accepts 5-10 people out of the 30-40 in their pool (some subfields are larger than others) so it's actually not too bad. From talking to the profs, I know they "triage" so it's easy to quickly read over all 40 applications and immediately eliminate the bottom half (for example). So spending some time over 2 weeks to carefully deliberate ~20 applications is certainly doable. In addition, when it comes to grad admissions in my field, the "early bird gets the worm" does seem to work out. It's in the profs' best interest to get the decisions out fast and start the recruitment process in order to attract the best students!
  3. Ye Olde Conflicting Interview Dates Question

    Agreed with the advice you've received about the first school. As for the second school, it's not weird at all that you are now requesting an in-person visit. I don't know how recently you've received the invite from the second school. If it's really recent then you should be fine but if you mean "recently" as in weeks ago and/or the visit date is coming up really soon, then it could be an issue for them to have to plan for you to come in person all of a sudden. But if the timelines are good, you can just let the second school know that due to some changing circumstances, you are now available to visit them in person and would like to do so as long as it's okay with them still! Good luck
  4. What to Do: Summer Before Grad School

    Maybe it's just me but crossing off bucket list items and making memories would still count as relaxing At this point in my life, anything that isn't work is "relaxing". Not sure what this means/implies though, lol.
  5. Site like GradCafe for postdocs?

    @Eigen: I was just at a conference (my first since being a postdoc) and talking to other people who have just started postdocs, we all felt like a support group would be really useful. Postdoc life is pretty isolating at times compared to our graduate student lives, and some people have a buddy system (there is a postdoc peer they call every day and have a 10 minute chat about work and life). I thought maybe a small slack group would be great for the small number of new postdocs in our small area of our subfield, but I'll check out this "Future PI" slack group too since something larger and multi-disciplinary could be cool.
  6. This will make no difference at all. Replace your screen if you want to when you have the money or the inclination to do so (for such a small crack, I'd just deal with it until I replaced my phone). You're over thinking it for admissions.
  7. Managing anxiety of students

    I do the best I can, but ultimately, I try to remember 1) not to beat myself up over circumstances I can't control and 2) remind myself that there are circumstances affecting the student that I may not know about so I try to not judge. I found that the best thing I can do is to be transparent and upfront with things that cause anxiety, such as evaluations and deadlines. I set regular and predictable homework due dates: e.g. every Wednesday at 5pm so they know what is expected and can plan for it. I show students how I grade ahead of time so they know what to expect. I return each week's graded homework before the next assignment is due, so they can learn from it and not have to worry about making the same mistakes again. We also generally have big final projects, and we talk about them at the beginning of the course. We ask for deliverables partway through, e.g. a draft proposal for the project at Week 4, which ensures they get things on track and we can catch issues early on. We make ourselves available with extra office hours for the project near the end. We also use some class time near the end of the semester as in-class work period so that students won't leave the work to the last minute and to encourage students to seek help. We also had a fairly lenient policy for extensions and such concessions. Ultimately it was the professor who made the decision, but I TA'ed for the same person all the years and the policy is always to believe the student when they say they need more time. Sometimes the extension is declined but it was because it would pile up with another extension and that sometimes they just need to let something go. I also don't really see the need to question/doubt students when they ask for accomodations/concessions (see also: https://tenureshewrote.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/to-my-colleagues-on-the-death-of-their-students-grandmothers/). That said, I agree with @rising_star that ultimately, instructors are not responsible for their students' mental health. I think we should not be doing things that cause extra anxiety for no reason or because of our disorganization (e.g. avoid changing deadlines, saying one thing but doing another etc.) However, we need to direct students to the right resources on campus if they need help managing their anxiety. I think we'd likely do more harm than good if we try to diagnose students and try to help them without training or qualifications.
  8. Saying Yes with applications outstanding

    Congrats on your achievement and progress towards an admission offer thus far! For your first question, I think the signs are good but nothing is certain. Schools might invite and pay for students to visit but only admit half of them. Or maybe they will admit 90% of them. Or maybe they will basically admit everyone as long as you are not a jerk on visit day. It's not clear. However, paying for a student to visit probably costs around $1000. Supporting a student through a 5 year program costs like $400,000. So I'd say that for schools that can afford it, if they want 20 new students, it's not a bad investment to pay for 40 to visit and then admit the best 20 (it will cost them $20,000 but admitting a student they regret later costs them 20x that). That said, even a 50% chance at admission is way higher than where you were initially (most schools accept 5% of all applicants) so you've still made it far Second question: I think you have valid concerns but my advice is to take a step back and take it one part at a time. Let's call your two schools, "Interview school" and "Dream school", for short. Interview school has told you that you will have a few weeks to decide if they make you an offer. Although this isn't likely to be the April 15 extension like most US programs might have (although maybe your field isn't one that usually participates in the convention), it's not like you have to decide on the spot either. There will be plenty of time for you to consider several plans of action once you get an offer and a deadline from Interview School. However, as I am also a planner that likes to play out all possible scenarios, it might help if I suggest a few things that could happen after you get an offer from Interview school with only a few weeks to decide. Again, I wouldn't worry about the specifics too much at this time since so much is still unknown. This is just meant to be a brief overview of possible actions: - Find out Dream School's decision timeline. You might do this by contacting them, talking to someone you know there, looking on the grad cafe's Results survey (but this might have old data). - Ask Interview School to give you more time to decide (they might not grant it but you can always ask) - Accept Interview School when you have no more extensions available and then consider Dream School if they make an offer later. This does have some negative consequences but exactly what they are will depend on the specific scenario. So I think you have some options and it makes sense to think about it more when you have more information. Feel free to come back here for more advice with your specific scenario when you know more
  9. Agree with everything others said about the numbers. Responding to this point though, my suggestion would be to ask for feedback from students at least once during the semester. You can just make your own feedback form. There are lots of suggestions online, but I like something really simple. Just three prompts: Start/Stop/Continue. Ask the students to tell you one thing that they wish you would start doing, one thing they wish you would stop doing and one thing they liked that they would want you to continue doing. They don't have to answer all 3 if there's nothing to say. Sometimes, I might do a check-in and ask students to tell me how many hours they are spending on homework/reading/assignments to help calibrate the length of my assignments.
  10. Sorry that you feel this barrier between you and your peers. I can only say that you are not alone in feeling/recognizing difference in financial stability and that most grad student classes will have a wide distribution in how much discretionary spending each student has. During my time in grad school, I went from one end to another. I am married and at first, my stipend had to support two people for almost a year. It took awhile for my partner to get work authorization (we moved to US from Canada) and we wanted to dig into our savings as little as possible so we were very frugal. People would go out and have drinks so we might choose to socialize but in a budget-friendly way by eating dinner at home and then meeting up with our friends afterwards and just order a drink or a some fries or something. We turned down invites to do costly things more often in favour of cheaper things. We kept up social connections by doing things like inviting people to our place for hanging out etc instead of going to movies or stuff. During grad school, my spouse first found some work so we can break even and then eventually found a really good job and our combined income was quite high so we found ourselves in the other end! We could do things like plan trips to disneyland and universal studios (within driving distance, so it's just a day trip). Understandably, these are expensive outings but we wanted to do them before we moved away forever, so we planned them with our friends but didn't expect everyone to accept the invitation. Especially not to both within a few months of each other. I don't think these differences necessarily have to cause friction or insurmountable barriers between groups of students. As you said, the general belief is that grad students are poor so when we were on the frugal side, we can easily turn down things and say we had no money to do X without offending anyone. And when we were on the other side, we never pushed people or made them believe that they were "no fun" if they turned down an invite. I think just accepting people for what they can or cannot afford to do can go a really long way. I didn't resent the students who could go out every weekend when we had little money. If it hurts you when your friends talk about being poor when they seem to have much more than you, then you could consider letting them know how you feel since they probably don't realise it. I also try to understand the other person's point of view. If they are getting this support from their parents, they are probably used to even more stuff so maybe they do feel like they have to scrimp a lot to get the life they have now. I'm not saying you're wrong to feel bad or that they deserve more, but they might not even realise that others have even less than they do and that they are hurting you with their words. But this is probably only worth it if you really do feel like you want to be friends with these people. If not, probably best to find other people who are more like-minded!
  11. Agreed. I just think the downsides of bias in these paid test takers is better than the downsides of adding to test fatigue. The paid test takers may not represent the whole pool of actual test takers, but you can get the paid test takers to also answer current GRE questions so then you can calibrate the paid group with the actual group. I'd imagine that it might be hard to properly calibrate the highest and lowest scoring actual test takers (as the paid group may not represent these populations). But ETS should bear the responsibility and hardship of keeping up their own test metrics. One way they can recruit is to invite actual GRE test takers to do an experimental test, for free, after they complete a regular test. They can invite 1 in every 10 test takers or whatever and since they know the recruit's test score, they can invite people so that the population of paid test takers match the actual test taker population (in score at least, but there are other factors too). Beyond that, I believe there are other things ETS can do in order to get the data it needs without involving actual test takers. They have tons of test data that eventually they should be able to train an algorithm to accurately predict how the population of test takers will respond to a particular question.
  12. I'm not sure what you are referring to. If it's the statistical rigor of the argument here, then it's not an opinion, it's a fact. Nothing in this thread provides any evidence at all of a correlation between intended major and the experimental section. I won't pursue the topic further if you don't want to discuss it, but in a world where people misunderstand and misinterpret data all the time, stating something is not statistically significant when the data does not support it is not just an opinion. That said, I'm not going to force anyone into a discussion about stats, so that's all I'll say unless you want to discuss it further. As for the necessity of experimental sections, I agree with you that in my ideal world, there would be no experimental sections for test takers. (well I would prefer the GRE doesn't exist at all!) But if the GRE does exist, there is definitely a need to test new questions---it would be totally unfair to score applicants without any data on how difficult a question is. But since ETS is a business, testing should be on their own expense and they should be finding other means to test questions without extra burden on test takers (that already pay a ton of money to do them!!). I was not really serious about the two experimental sections, it was just a little cynical "humour" but sorry if that didn't translate to text properly.
  13. NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship Proposals

    Can you send me some more details in a private message? I want to help out as much as I can since it really disadvantages you to not have these connections. We have whole workshops and such to help us prepare at my PhD school and several people win each year in Planetary Science. So if you are interested, let's talk more offline? (But if you are happy with the feedback you already have and don't want/need further feedback, then please don't feel like you need to talk to me about it! Just offering in case you want it)
  14. On the other hand, some programs I interviewed at (different field) purposely chose people who aren't in my area. They were upfront about this. They said it was because people are often more excited/positive about research related to them, so they have every candidate interviewed by non-experts.
  15. @skhann I do agree with everything @Bayesian1701 said. This thread is a good place to vent about frustrations or share experiences. But we should not interpret it to mean anything or accuse ETS of anything. I've read through everything here and remain 100% unconvinced there's anything weird going on with experimental sections! But I do think that the point that getting an extra section in an area you're weaker in can cause test fatigue to be unfairly applied! So my solution would be to have an extra section for both Verbal and Quant! That would be even more test fatigue but at least it's more fair? The even better solution would be to pay people to do these sections though.