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Transfer neuro phd programs


Uncle Ernie

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Hi forum.

So, I'm half way through my first year at a pretty reputable program (not IVY, not any UC's) in neuroscience. I've been thinking alot recently about the possibility of transferring to another program, or at least applying and obtaining information from target programs. One of the main reasons for transferring would be location of the program I am currently at, and uncertainty in deciding a thesis lab. To some, location is not that important, but after being in a great city as a tech for 3 years and then moving to a crummy suburb, there is really no outlets in the event I am not working and want to do stuff. Also, I have been pretty disappointed in the course work thus far, but am not certain as to how different it is program to program......if I could guess my program would rank 15-25th nationwide for neuroscience, I'm curious if my experience at an even better ranked program would lead to a more satisfying experience.

The idea of staying is not terrible, however, staying for 5-6 years is. I hate where I live. Perhaps it would be a good incentive to finish as quick as possible?

Anyways, I would love to hear some feedback on anybody who has been in the same boat, people who have successfully transferred biological phd programs, or anybody with helpful insight.

Would it be a difficult thing to do? Is this a valid reason to try and transfer? How would I go about it? Do programs take transfer students? How easy are credits transferred?

Much thanks and looking forward to reading any responses.

Ernie

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Hi Ernie,

I'm thinking along similar lines of transferring bio PhD programs. In my case, I like the location and the people, but the Dean seems to not approve of my work thus far. On the one hand I've heard the Dean is not as involved in students' lives after the first year. On the other I'd like to be in a program where the administration felt I would succeed and motivated me to do so.

I'm thinking of reaching out to the programs that already offered me acceptances last year. A couple of them explicitly say that such and such coursework is required unless students prove proficiency so I'm hoping that the coursework I have already done will demonstrate proficiency to them. I think the most prestigious program I was accepted to is the one I'm attending, but that doesn't mean it is necessarily the best fit (though I haven't entirely given up on it quite yet). If I do end up contacting these other programs it will likely be in the next week or so and I will let you know how it goes.

Best of luck to you!

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I will mention that you should be really careful about reaching out to other programs before you've talked to someone in your program about transferring. It's a hard line to walk.

I've heard stories of a peer that reached out to other schools where he had contacts... The first thing the PI's at those schools did was call his adviser and ask what the deal was. It made for very uncomfortable situations all around.

Transferring is not impossible, but you need to be careful how you go about it.

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Hey Tsujiru,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and situation. Seems like we are kind of in opposite situations in terms of why we would want to leave but still, would have to go through similar processes. I contacted a grad program admin of a target school recently to inquire about transferring, credits, etc. Turns out I would have to apply in the fall (didnt apply last year) and take all of their core coursework. So essentially I would have to start over again. I have a feeling alot of programs in the life sciences are like this. I may contact 2-3 other places just to get a feel of what steps would be ahead if I wanted to get out......one thing is for sure, I would not leave to start everything all over again. The first year is the worst and it has been challenging enough to not want to do it over again. Which makes me consider my initial reactions about the experience thus far. There is obviously alot of factors contributing to how I feel overall, and a major one is the amount of hard work and tasks that I care not to do but have to in the first year, before I start doing original research (which is why I came to the school I did). This hard work and bs requirements, coupled with an unattractive social life, coupled with coming from a great city with loads of great friends makes me want out of the area. But, I have a feeling things will change if I put up with the bs until TAing and coursework is done and I end up in a great lab........we'll see. If the thesis lab opportunities change when my rotations are done and I find a target school that would accept my credits thus far, the option to leave would be attractive. Until then, I'll continue being positive and getting everything I can out of the program.

Let me know how you make out. Ill keep you posted.

Ern

Hi Ernie,

I'm thinking along similar lines of transferring bio PhD programs. In my case, I like the location and the people, but the Dean seems to not approve of my work thus far. On the one hand I've heard the Dean is not as involved in students' lives after the first year. On the other I'd like to be in a program where the administration felt I would succeed and motivated me to do so.

I'm thinking of reaching out to the programs that already offered me acceptances last year. A couple of them explicitly say that such and such coursework is required unless students prove proficiency so I'm hoping that the coursework I have already done will demonstrate proficiency to them. I think the most prestigious program I was accepted to is the one I'm attending, but that doesn't mean it is necessarily the best fit (though I haven't entirely given up on it quite yet). If I do end up contacting these other programs it will likely be in the next week or so and I will let you know how it goes.

Best of luck to you!

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Thanks Eigen, I am certainly being careful that I talk things over with my advisor here before moving ahead. I think the prospect that they may start losing students unless they attend a little better to our needs might be enough for the situation to improve, but I'm not making an empty threat either. It was a really close call for me between these two programs and I honestly feel that I could end up happily in either, I just would need reassurance from the one I'm currently in that they won't keep yanking us around unnecessarily past the first year.

Uncle Ernie, you might look into a few of the "research scholars" PhD programs. These are targeted at more advanced scientists, and let you largely skip the coursework. Here is one example: http://biolchem.bs.jhmi.edu/bcmb/Pages/researchscholars/index.aspx

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Thanks for the heads up on the research scholars programs.....never head of them. Wont hurt to look into as a possible option!

Thanks Eigen, I am certainly being careful that I talk things over with my advisor here before moving ahead. I think the prospect that they may start losing students unless they attend a little better to our needs might be enough for the situation to improve, but I'm not making an empty threat either. It was a really close call for me between these two programs and I honestly feel that I could end up happily in either, I just would need reassurance from the one I'm currently in that they won't keep yanking us around unnecessarily past the first year.

Uncle Ernie, you might look into a few of the "research scholars" PhD programs. These are targeted at more advanced scientists, and let you largely skip the coursework. Here is one example: http://biolchem.bs.j...lars/index.aspx

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Did you even visit your school before going? It's unfortunate but it seems that after choosing a school you shouldn't be so blindsided by "hard work" and TA requirements. There are plenty of ways to get out of TAing. Schools with no undergrad student body (Scripps etc.) have no requirements.

Edited by yeahyeah
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Yea I did visit. The location was my only hesitation. I'm not blindsided by the "hard work" and TA requirements; I was explaining how my perception of school thus far is a culmination of alot of things including work.

Did you even visit your school before going? It's unfortunate but it seems that after choosing a school you shouldn't be so blindsided by "hard work" and TA requirements. There are plenty of ways to get out of TAing. Schools with no undergrad student body (Scripps etc.) have no requirements.

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Personally, after meeting with my academic advisor I've decided to stay put. He stressed that I'm in good academic standing (which is kind of a catch-22, if I weren't then I would have almost no hope of being able to transfer, but that's a whole other kettle of fish...) and that ultimately all that matters is how well I do in the lab from this point forward. I agree, and think that I can work out a good lab situation. I think it may just be time to work on growing a thicker skin, since undoubtably there will be trials and tribulations in grad school. I think the most successful graduate students aren't necessarily those who don't experience any setbacks but those who when they do don't let the setbacks get to them.

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