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Found 9 results

  1. Hey everyone, I got admitted to one of the Social Sciences PhD programs I applied to, which was rather surprising for me as I didn't really expect to receive an offer. So now, I am really confused and finding it hard to take a final decision. I am an International student and I would like to learn more about various aspects of the PhD life in USA. So here are some questions, expecting to receive inputs from all, especially from current PhD students and graduated students. Help is highly appreciated 1) So while reading answers to a question about the challenges during a PhD on Quora, A specific portion of an answer surprised me, which says - Low social status. You are at the bottom of the hierarchy of a decrepit, creaking guild system. Undergrads are happier and sexier (no matter how in-shape or good-looking you might be, because it's not about that) than you are. Do not try to be a part of their world; that is just pathetic. Graduate students in other disciplines will generally look down on you and your colleagues will look down on them. Professors you have no choice but to look up to, since they survived the atrocity of a job market that 80% of your colleagues won't. So is it really true that it is considered as strange when Doctoral students talk to Masters students or undergrad students, or vice versa? Are friendships or relationships between these groups considered as weird? 2) How many hours do I need to work on weekdays? and the same for weekends? I know the answer to this question would depend from program to program and also on the year of the PhD. However, it would be good to have an estimate for Social Science PhD students. I would also like to have a general idea of which of the five years is the best in terms of having free time? 3) What do PhD students do in Summer? What is the duration of Winter vacation and summer vacation in US? Is funding for Social Science PhD students common? I like to travel and explore new places. So would summer be the right time to do it? 4) Is it possible to finish a PhD in less than 5 years? Lets say, If I take more than the actual number of prescribed courses in a Semester, or I complete my thesis in less time than expected. Would it be possible to complete the Program in 4 or 3 years? Or are there any other means of completing a US PhD in less time? 5) How difficult is it to stay in the same city for 5 years? Could it get really boring at one point of time? I ask that because I am still young(23) and I would like to explore new places during this phase of my life. So, to rephrase the question in a better way "How often do PhD students travel? How many times in an year on average? 6) What is it like to be a teaching assistant? In general, I am a shy person and I am not sure if I will be able to teach a huge class. I have no prior teaching experience and my personality doesn't fit to that of a teacher, and I am more interested in research. Thus, I would prefer to be a research assistant rather than a teaching assistant. However, I feel that I will have no choice but to be a teaching assistant as it is a condition mentioned on my offer letter. Therefore, I would like to learn more about being a teaching assistant, what are the jobs of a teaching assistant and how are difficult are each of these jobs? 7) Would there be huge work pressure and lots of sleepless nights? To break the question into parts, (A) Which of the 5 years will involve the highest amount of work pressure? (B) How difficult is it to maintain a 3.5 GPA(which is what I need to secure continued funding) (C) How difficult is the coursework? (D) Is fourteen credits per semester too much workload? (E) Which phase during a PhD is more challenging? The coursework phase or the final dissertation phase? (F) From what I have read, a lot of students who enroll into a PhD program tend to leave it in between, so I would like to know in which phase or year of the program does that generally happen? 8) Since professor jobs in Academia are so competitive, what are some other nice options open for Social Science PhD graduates? 9) What motivates people to pursue a PhD? Is it only the love for research in the field? Or are there other reasons too? When people finally take a decision to pursue a PhD, what other possible career options do they leave behind? (Although this is something which differs for each person, I would like to learn what is the motivation of people to enroll into a PhD program while denying Industry job offers they may have had or discontinuing their job to pursue a PhD) Or is it also the because they have no other option in life except pursuing a PhD? 10) What are the average monthly savings of a typical PhD student in US? I know it depends on the stipend, cost of living, and lifestyle of the student. However, I would like to have an estimate of savings per month, and I am also interested in knowing how does one spend one's remaining stipend after paying the rent and utility bills. 11) On average, how many conferences in an year does a PhD student attend? What are the conference funding provisions in general during a PhD in Social Sciences? 12) Do PhD students even have relationships in their university? Is it possible for PhD students to have girlfriends or boyfriends? Or the high work pressure makes it impossible? Have there been instances of Social Science PhD students being in a relationship? (This question is in the context of Single PhD students only) Inputs and responses to the above questions are highly appreciated. Thank you
  2. I just wanted to say I really appreciate what a great forum this is, and how much having a support network like this has made things so much better. This past academic year and a half has been exceptionally difficult for me. I entered my program full of beans and and have since felt like I've let my department and my supervisor down repeatedly. Life got in the way (changing doctors from moving, chronic medical condition deteriorating, spending weeks recuperating part of which was in the hospital, difficult supervisor, sexual harassment, death of a mentor, supporting mentally ill family member; you name it!) and it just spiralled out of control from there. I was / am the grad student department chairs cringe when they see because yet another something has happened. There are days I am convinced my department made a mistake and I just slipped in by mistake. (This is not a post asking everyone to reassure me I'm doing well and all that!) I could not have done it without all of you, taking time to respond, support, encourage, and give perspective to strangers on the Internet. Many of you support each other without judging. A special shout out to the ?admin? and / or just really smart people like @TakeruKand @fuzzylogician and @telkanuru and @rising_star and @Sigaba for replying to virtually every panic stricken, lost, and scared graduate student on this board. I am sure I've missed some people, but know I do appreciate you. My memory sucks from all my drugs, so I shamelessly blame that. If you ever feel like graduate school is just too much and feel like quitting (that's me very often lately), come here. You are not alone. This community will support you...or knock some sense into your head.
  3. Hello everyone! A couple days ago I decided to visit my old research lab, drop by and say hi and meet the new students. While I was there I overhead a discussion between a guy discussing how he was in honors and top of his class back in high school, to another lab member. The other lab member, a bit annoyed, replied that it was nothing special and everyone at the school was top of their class and was honors when they were younger. This bothered me a little bit, because there is an ideal that if you're in a top STEM field, you must be very smart and always have been successful or a genius etc. I of course didn't say anything there, didn't really want to expose my past to everyone, but I think it's important to know their statements are not true at all. First and foremost, I never really had difficulty with school when I was younger, in regards to understanding subjects, I was just lazy. Never put in the effort, never had good grades (both elementary, and middle school). High school is when I was introduced to drugs, women, and well all the beauties of life so to speak. I got heavily involved with weed, then as time progressed, acid, ecstasy, even some amphetamines. I never really liked the high of anything other than psychodelics however, so I primarily stuck with hallucinogens, but I did try basically everything I could get my hands on (curiosity killed the cat). My focus shifted away from school to drugs and women, to the extent I ditched almost my entire sophmore year, with the exception of the first few weeks and test days (I wanted to make sure I was still borderline passing high school). Also got into a lot of law problems due to dumb criminal activities (e.g. one day stealing meds from a pharmacy, another day grafitti, etc.). This went on until, for a compilation of reasons, my high school my junior year decided to expel me from the entire district (the decision went very high up, and they didn't want me in that entire region). So, no school for me! This of course only gave me wayyy more freedom to do the stupid shit I was already doing. The main crowd I hung around with were kids who were expelled from school or recently graduated homeless kids, so now I had even more time to hang out with them. Anyways, senior year I decided to enroll into another school (rather my parents did), As usual, I showed up for the first few weeks, and that's when I met a girl, and not gonna go into detail, but she pulled me out of that crowd. I dropped all the drugs except for weed, started showing up to school (because she was there), and started actually planning for my future (we ended up dating for 3+ years). I decided I wanted to go to college and get a degree in Chemistry. At the time, my GPA was a 2.2, so without an SAT I had absolutely no chance anywhere. I ended up enrolling for the SAT, barely got the minimum score I needed with my GPA to apply, and applied to one university only (stupid i know, but it was the only one I wanted to go to). I got in! Needless to say, old habits and techniques die hard, and my first 2 years didn't go really well. I broke up with my girl, got back into the old crowd again, and shit went down hill. This time however, I decided to pull myself out, I couldn't hang with the old crowd. My mentality had completely changed, and to me, their life no longer seemed pleasent or even tolerable, but a waste of time. I pulled myself out, and by my 4th year I ended up making myself one of the top students in my classes during the semester, and graduated with a BS in Chemistry. I am currently applying to PhD programs across the board to get into my desired programs (which I think I'll get into at least one of the schools). My point in this post is, there is an ideal that I saw throughout society and even among my peers, that people in good STEM programs (e.g. Ivy league schools, or the UC system, etc.), have always been the super smart and talented genius kid. While that is somewhat true from the people I met, I think it's important to note, it is not always true. People from all backgrounds, good and bad, go to these programs and institutions, and just because you made some bad decisions in high school doesn't mean you're future is effectively fucked (as people used to tell me). A few people in my old crowd are actually in the same boat, and are now in the process of getting their bachelors in their desired programs as well. Anyways, their conversation bothered me on a more personal deep down level because I thought to myself, well I didn't go to honors, and was never top of my class. Does that make me an idiot then? Everytime my peers discuss their past, it was always something along the lines of how great and successful their life has been, and I've never really shared mine because I didn't want them to think, wait we have a druggie loser kid who get kicked out of high school here? It might not change how my boss or others view me, but I want them to have the image that I've always been this great smart guy and on their level (especially now that i'm asking for LOR and maybe some connections from my PI). But it's semi-anonymous here, no one knows you, so I thought I'd share my story, and see if anyone wanted to share theres.
  4. Hi Everyone, So I haven't been officially accepted yet but I have recently completed a group interview at Silberman School of Social Work for their Two Year MSW program and I think it went very well. I am excited because I really wanted to get into this school due to its low tuition cost and because I feel the program is right for me. That being said, now that I have a very real possibility of getting into this program I am starting to become very stressed out about what I will do if I actually get in. I ALMOST regret applying this year!! So, my conundrum is that it is a full-time program (no part time option available) and according to the staff you go to class for two days (5 classes total I think) and attend your assigned field practicum for 3 days a week. Total taking up 5 days a week. I don't know quite what the actual hours are like for class and practicum, just that I will be doing something school related Mon-Fri. However, the practicum is unpaid! So, I am really stressing out about how to work while I am in school and the prospect of having to give up my job (I work 40 hours a week 12pm to 8pm at a homeless shelter). I thought about doing overnight, late-night, and weekends. I am trying to avoid overnight work or work that is TOO late because I really do not want to burn out and would like to be able to focus on learning and avoid mindlessly grinding through this period of life. I would have a long commute as well. That being said, I have nothing inherently against going to school full-time and not working in general. Ideally, I would like to give my education a lot of attention. In undergrad I did not work (although I had multiple time consuming internships). I don't feel comfortable not working this time around however because I desperately want to be more independent. I am in my mid twenties and still live with my parents, I also lived with them through undergrad and commuted to school. I am also afraid of taking on too much because I am in a serious committed relationship that I have obligations to as well. My boyfriend is very eager to move in together but I can't afford it right now and if I can't work or must work/make less then I will really have to post-pone moving out (I am afraid this will cause problems in my relationship which is more stress for me). Similarly, I feel like not having a job is a step-backwards for me because I went so long without having my own money and largely relying on others even for basic things. In addition, I don't anticipate having quite as much help this time around either so I really need money to support myself even if I stay living with my parents. Anyway, I realize a lot of this is very much my subjective wants and worries but I want to be honest about my concerns and learn from all of you. Right now, I am considering finding a job that I can work from home or one that is just on the weekends but I guess I might really need to stay at my parents house.. I really don't want to though and am desperate for a change of pace/scenery. Like, I really want to live a different life than I did in undergrad. I know mid-twenties is not THAT old and honestly I know more than a dozen other people who still live with their families because the ny-metro area is just expensive like that but yeah... I honestly would've considered saving up more money and post-pone graduate studies instead of applying when I did so I can at least focus on moving out and stuff.. however it is very difficult to find a well paying job in my desired field and my end-game of becoming a clinical social worker is not possible without the masters/licensure so I can't really make much more money or achieve my goals without trucking on with my edu. I know working and going to school is very possible depending on your program/field of study, financial situation / amount of support, and many other things. My boyfriend doesn't make that much (more than me) but will not be able to support me through school (I know some people do that). I just would like any insight or advice anyone would have for me in this particular situation. Also, if anyone has any real experience with completing this program then please share! Thank you!
  5. Hi, I will be joining Virginia Tech's PhD program in Computer Engineering. Anybody else got admits here ? I have some background in Computer Vision, Machine Learning and Robotics, and I guess I will be pursuing research along these lines. However, of late, I have started picking up different interests, ranging from genetics to anthropology to music. So, I would definitely love to be part of a diverse community to exchange ideas about well, anything under the sun. If anybody out there is looking for a roommate or would like to connect, with a knack for movies, board games, comics, beer, up for a random discussion that can begin with Game of Thrones and end at the International Space Station, please do contact here.
  6. I am pondering the possibility of applying to the University of Cambridge, in England. I know that it is about 50 miles away from London and that it is a university town. But other than that, can anyone give any more information about what it is like living there? Is the access to London easy? Is housing and the cost of living generally expensive? What is the quality of the entertainment in the area? etc. Thanks!
  7. Hey all, I need input on me picking my graduate school for immunology. So i have four interviews University of Alabama Birmingham, Case western reserve, University of Pittsburgh, University of Arizona. I have already been accepted to Birmingham and case. If i don't get accepted to Pitt, should I go to UAB where I like the school and the research but my reservation is that Birmingham is dull and lacks interesting things to do. Or should I go to case where the PI's are cool well establish and there are some with interesting research to me, I like Cleveland a lot more but i feel less of a connection with the research and PI at case. any input is appreciated.
  8. Hi everyone! I'm new to thegradcafe.com but I desperately need some advice, guidance, ideas, etc. I'm really torn as to what my next move is academically and life-wise. I will be graduating in the spring of 2017 with an overall GPA of 3.2, my degree will be a BA in Political Science with a French minor. I want to go on to get an MA & PhD. The two fields I am leaning towards are History and English/Writing. Clearly I don't have a high enough GPA to get into an upper-level school, so to speak. However, I really want to get my PhD from a top 20 school. My GRE scores were: 148 quant, 162 verbal, 5 writing. I plan to retake the GRE in the spring to see if I can get higher scores. So, what next steps would you recommend? Here is what I've considered. -Go home, work for a year (maybe two) and attend a local university to take one or two graduate courses to make a firm decision on what to get my degrees in. Then apply for an MA/PhD program or just an MA and then my PhD at another school. -Begin an MA program at my state school (a good one) and get that degree, then go on to a top 20 school for my PhD. Basically what I'm wondering is this: -With my current academic standing, would it be beneficial for me to take a few grad courses at my local school, excel in them and then attend a matriculating MA program somewhere that better suits my interests? -Is it frowned upon to get an MA at one university and go to a different one for a PhD? -Would working for a year or two while taking classes (and getting the best grades possible) improve my application package for programs? -Should I take some extra undergrad classes at my local university in history or english since those fields weren't my major field? -Is there any chance, if I excel in an MA program and prove to be a valuable asset, I could be fully funded for a PhD program/get assistantships, etc? -Is there a chance I could go to a lower-ranking school for my MA and potentially get funding if my GRE scores were fantastic? -Is it bad to take a few years away from my undergrad, work and such, and then formally apply for an MA program? I'm dead set on getting a PhD so I know I will go back to school no matter what. I'm leaning towards going home to work, save money, and try a grad class or two to confirm it's what I want to pursue. However, what is realistic for me to pursue after I take those classes and excel? Thank you so much for your time and thoughts! Any and all advice is welcome.
  9. So, now that I've been accepted at a PhD program and hope to start in the fall, I'm wondering if anyone out there has a good budget that they created for living on their PhD stipend. I've received what seems like a generous stipend ($25,900 that includes an extra 5 year scholarship). My husband is also starting his PhD and we're waiting to hear about his funding, but hopefully we'll try to make it work with both of our stipends. What worked for you? How much did/do you budget for rent, food, transportation, etc? Any tricks to keeping expenses down?
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