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  1. Hi all, I am currently applying to PhD programs. I have a bachelor's in Psychology and a Master of Science in Neuroscience. These days, it is particularly hard to find a PhD in Neuroscience, as the field is becoming increasingly popular and competitive. I am applying to 5-6 different programs - there was no guarantee that I would get accepted anywhere, so of course I have no option but to create multiple options - most of them with an autumn 2022 intake. Unfortunately, the timing is not in my favour as I currently find myself in a situation where I had an interview for my second most preferred option (B), but am still waiting to hear back from my most preferred option (A) by the end of March. I got the PhD at institution B, which I am truly happy about. However, ideally, I would love to go with option A pending acceptance. Option B would require that I confirm my place by the end of March/beginning of April. So, it could be that I don't even know if I have been invited for an interview for option A around the time that I need to provide a reply to B. If I do get an interview at institution A and it goes well, I would probably reject offer B - if I could. What really bugs me is that I am already in contact with my potential supervisor at institution B. He really supported me during the whole process and I will email him on Monday with the good news - he was asking when I'd find out and he's been really engaged and sweet. It kinda breaks my heart to imagine having to cancel option B if option A becomes feasible, at the same time, a PhD is a huge investment of time, energy and effort, and I can't help it but think about what would be best for me (which is also a complicated process, like you'd all know). I am wondering: - If option A becomes a real possibility, how to gracefully reject B, especially given that I like the supervisor so much and that, for now, I will accept option B (they'd need a reply from me very soon), but in reality that won't be my most final decision? - When should I let the supervisor know that I am waiting to hear back from other institutions - when, realistically, I have been invited for other interviews, when I get another offer (if), or now on Monday when delivering the good news that I've been selected for the PhD (it was an application through a central CDT, so my supervisor still doesn't know what's happened)? - Is what I describe above common and do students often reject PhDs a bit into the application/admission process (when they do)? - The project at institution B is a fully funded CDT, so if I reject it, the project is not going to go through. I was told by the supervisor that only I have been invited for an interview (of all candidates), which breaks my heart even more (since, of course, he would love his project to be funded and the only candidate likely to make that project happen is myself). How can I best navigate this additional complexity? - Like I wrote above, I will accept the offer (for now) because there's a lot to lose, but I will still wait to hear back from the other options before I sign a contract. I fear that my email would surely make the supervisor think that I'm accepting the PhD and actually going for it, which wouldn't necessarily be the case (at least for now). Is there a lot to worry about? I am really confused and I feel bad. Any thoughts and advice would be very much appreciated though - I am really overthinking this, and I wake up and fall asleep with thoughts about all these scenarios, emails, responses... Thanks all! :)
  2. A school that I like a lot, but that is not my top choice, is pressuring me to accept by April 1. However, I am still waiting to hear back from my top choice, and am currently waitlisted at my #2...if accepted at either of these schools, I would almost definitely immediately say yes (pending some financial considerations)...is it ethical to say yes to #3, knowing full well that I may change my mind very soon? I like all three schools very much, they all have strong programs in my field, and if I only get into #3, I will certainly go there.
  3. Hi everyone! So I was in this general biomedical sciences program last fall. I did a few lab rotations but then took medical leave for some health issues. Now I want to return to the program and am looking for labs again. The only lab I could say I kind of liked has a few issues. The research topic was interesting, although not my top interest. However, I am willing to accept that due to lack of labs that are a better fit. The real problem though, is that the lab is horribly disorganized. The PI is around 9-5, and she MUST leave at 5 pm to pick up her small kids from school. She sometimes brings them back to with her to the lab if she really has something important to come back for. She takes a very long time to reply to emails, and keeps telling us to remind her of the things that need to be done. If we don't, she does tend to forget (twice she even forgot to show up to classes she was supposed to teach). The lab is very heavily dependent on the one and only postdoc who works there (he actually works in two labs simultaneously). He does a lot of the bookkeeping, a lot of the planning, a lot of the reminding, and a lot of reproofing other lab members (basically a soon-to-graduate MS student and 2 rotating PhD students) because he thinks we are all not professional enough. And he has a point, because so much money and time gets wasted in the lab because of the carelessness of lab members. There was a post-bac trainee who just left one day and never showed up again. There were two other PhD students who also left "unexpectedly" (according to the PI) and due to mental health issues (according to the MS student). The PI is actually aware of these shortcomings. She explicitly told me that her lab is going through a hard time due to lack of members, and that it is not usually that way. She said that if I am interested, I could rotate again in the lab when things have been sorted out. Almost a year after, according to the MS student, things have not been sorted out. I must say that when she is around, she is a very good mentor and trainer too. She seems to be very passionate about her job and very dedicated. She spent about 2-3 hours with me and the other rotating student on our first day to explain her topic and research methods and techniques. She also spent a good amount of time showing us how to perform some of the experiments herself. She has the reputation of being a very tough committee member and that she grills the students about every last detail. I had to leave the program myself for my own issues, but still kept this lab in mind as an option. One professor from a different department but a related field told me to stay away from that lab because he knows how dysfunctional it is and about its failure in retaining students. I described the situation to a postdoc I know from a different field, and he also advised me to stay away. The director of the biomedical sciences program, however, told me that only I can decide. If I see that the lab is a good fit for me, then I should go for it. He said he has nothing against the PI as a researcher or mentor. He also told me that when he was looking for a lab, he ended up in a place everyone advised him against, but now thinks that he couldn't have made a better decision. Sorry guys for the long post, but I am really lost and need some advice. If I don't join this lab, I am thinking of moving to other universities where perhaps I can find a lab that better matches my research interests and doesn't have so many issues. But what if I fall into the same problem again? What if the labs I'm interested in turn out to be not so great IRL? Or what if I don't get along with the PI for whatever reason? I would be grateful for any input
  4. I am trying to make a decision between two philosophy PhD programs (sort of.. the lower ranked school has me at the top of the waitlist). As a little background, my interests are (and these are in no meaningful order because they're all so interesting to me): epistemology, mind, modern philosophy, language, aesthetics, philosophy of religion. The first program is a top-15 program according to Philosophical Gourmet and is extremely strong in analytic philosophy and the philosophy of mind, language, and aesthetics; yet they are truly very weak on modern philosophy, philosophy of religion, and epistemology. A big plus is that it's located in a metropolis (I'm a thoroughbred city-boy). The second is a top-25 program according to the Gourmet. It is very strong in modern philosophy, moderately strong in philosophy of religion, and, to a slightly lesser extent, moderately strong in mind, language, and epistemology. It's located in Notreallyurbanville, and there's not much to do there, despite a small-to-moderate college town. If they accept me eventually, I'll likely get more money than the first school would grant me (not really a chance of negotiating that either). But it wouldn't be that much more and it's not my biggest concern right now. I'm so excited to have gotten into a top-15 program and I'm tempted to just accept their offer. But I'm worried that I won't have the flexibility in the program in case my interests change, e.g. if I decide I want to study Kant or philosophy of religion primarily. Do you think if I decided to study something only one or two people in the department focused on that on the job market I would be seen as weaker than most of my colleagues who study within the school's main strengths (all else the same)? I find myself thinking the answer is yes. And I also find myself thinking I would be seen as weaker than somebody who studied the same things I did and came from a lower-ranked PhD program with more peeps who studied in the area of his dissertation. Since the lower-ranked school has more fit generally, if, e.g. I decided to study Kant or philosophy of religion, I would have more people with similar interests to choose from for my committee. Conversely, if I decided I wanted to study mind, it would still be fairly easy to do so (althought not as easy as in the first program). But then again, it's lower ranked, and in the middle of no where. Any advice? I'm freaking out.... existential crisis here
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