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Pissed because of favoritism

Guest Chiper91

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Guest Chiper91

This is going to be childish but I need to vent about this. I could not find a designated venting thread so I just created a separate thread.

So, my cohort recently passed our comprehensive exams and we became doctoral candidates. The program policies state that in order to get an MA awarded to you, you need to successfully defend your dissertation proposal. Now, one of my cohort mates decided to transfer to another PhD program even prior to taking the comprehensive exams (she passed them anyway). So, in the end she is getting an MA degree without even starting a proposal, let alone defending it and moreover, her advisor or our program director decided to let her keep her summer funding until she transfers to her new program. Usually we work for our funding but in this case, she had been assigned to be her advisor's research assistant. Her advisor is on vacation for the entire summer so she is home chilling with money coming in for nothing (maybe occasionally pick up some book for her advisor at the library.) In the meantime, others are still without an MA degree and teaching 3.5 hour lectures during the summer to keep their summer funding. There are even some students who can't make ends meet on our stipend while this person is getting money for free.

I know my thread is childish and full of jealousy but for some reason it pisses me off so much. Does this happen in every grad school? Do you think this is fair? 

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Getting an MA when leaving is pretty standard. 

It’s not surprising that the requirements are different than for getting one as part of your PhD. 

As to the summer funding... if the advisor had grant money and was willing to pay, that’s not program favoritism. It’s their money, and they think this is a worthwhile expenditure. 

Many things in grad school (and after) are about networking and convincing people that you need or deserve funding for things. Some people are better at selling themselves and their work than others. 

Take this as a learning experience to advocate for yourself. It might be that you could have gotten your advisor to hire you for the summer, or gotten your MA the same way. Did you ask?

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I don't know your situation or your grad school well enough to comment, but if that student gets hired as a research assistant, then she is not having money coming in for nothing. It may sound like she is just home chilling, but she can be helping her advisor to analyse data and write manuscripts at home. After all, there is no free lunch in the world.

Since you have already been accepted into a PhD program, let the "unfairness" of how that student got her MA go. Well, you have gained the experience in writing and defending your proposal, which is very helpful for your PhD program. Same with the lecturing, having experience in that is very helpful for your career. So in this sense, you are gettng more than that student.

I agree with @Eigen that networking with the right people is important. I am not saying that you have done a bad job. Say for me, I might have been pissed off by my cohort too, as I got a postdoc position straight after my PhD. It comes down to some luck, as my current boss has funding and is badly in need of someone with my skill sets. But actually, he has known me for years and is totally aware of what I did in my PhD. Back then, he said a few times that he needed PhD students like me, so I turned to him when I learnt that he received funding. That's how I got my job. Try to connect with more people so you can get to enjoy some "privilege" in future. 

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I've been working from home. Yeah I sometimes head to a cafe to get a coffee and work there, but I'm actually productive, regardless of location. I wouldn't assume that just because someone is at home, they're not working. Not sure what field you're in, but I assume anyone can do lit reviews from home given they have an internet connection, and I guess most people are also able to work with data from home (I mean I've been SPSSing my ass of lol).  


As for MA's and her graduating. I get why this must be frustrating, her not doing a proposal. But this is not uncommon. Besides, having actually done a Master's degree with a thesis, the amount of time spent on that varied so much per student and advisor. Some had datasets given to them, some never made it to data collection because their advisor is a slow ass grandpa who kept changing the design (yes, I changed projects), others spend months every weekday 9 - 6 in the lab, I personally had 4 datasets to work with (most other students only 2) of which one involved difficult stats (others got away with a simple regression) and on top of that a heavily interdisciplinary lit review. Fair? No. But that's just how that goes. 


And it never harms to ask for things, including if there is something like funding available - one lesson learned from my former advisor. Plus, things tend to be more negotiable than they may look first hand.

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