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B!tch about your programs!


maath805
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Hey all. This is a thread where we can just let it all hang out and let loose.

For me, I HATE how my program is disjointed from the university, i.e. it takes FOREVER for stuff to get from the dept. to the university and get approved. I understand it may be just an issue with bureaucracy, but it sucks anyway.

Let it rip!

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Bureaucracy is always a nightmare! For me, my program's office staff is pretty awesome, but when things get to the university level... ugh. For us, to be able to sign up for classes and get the dept to pay for our classes, we have to turn in our forms in person. Or fax. But who faxes anymore?

This is more minor but still annoys me: so we have a relatively small department, but we're expanding, and we're still in a small building. We don't have a graduate student lounge. We have general lounge/lobby areas, but man, it'd be nice to have a grad student-only lounge.

Also, my shared office of first years has no fridge. Or microwave. I have to go down the hall to get and heat up my lunches.

Yeah... I have first world grad student problems.

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My department is WAY off campus which is both a blessing and a curse. Makes you feel like you're in a close knit group within a huge campus, but keeps you away from a lot of the services the university has to offer.

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No, and I feel like a got-dang leper.

Actually, what I'd like is a place to take a catnap. That's all I want. And my microwave and fridge.

We don't have microwaves or mini-fridges in our offices, but there is a lounge sits in the middle of a ring of offices. One doesn't have to go very far to mircrowave something. I used to do it all the time. Walk to to lounge, microwave, walk back to my office. Wasn't a big deal I guess. I could stay in the lounge if I wanted, but I usually had things I was doing.

As for a place to take a catnap, we do have couches scattered about. But I'm not sure how quiet it would be.

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My department has really awful course offerings. This semester I'm having to take 2 out of 3 courses outside of the department. The offering at the grad level is ridiculously awful. My concentration is criminology, and apparently there are only two graduate crim courses: Criminology and Advanced Criminology. Blegh.

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I had no idea grad student lounges and offices with microwaves/fridges existed!

I mean, we have labs to congregate in .... which also have microwaves and fridges and conveniently-located cabinets to stash chocolate in ... ;)

Edited by waddle
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Wow, I just assumed most grad students had a lounge. I mean, even when I was an undergrad working in a lab, there was a lounge located outside the labs. Plus a ton of grad students had microwaves and fridges in their offices. I thought that was the norm.

I guess as long as people are griping, I do wish that my department was more helpful about things. It is sometimes very difficult to find someone who has knowledge about particular things when you're looking for assistance (say, on a project or something). You often get handed off to professor after professor and may not ever land on the "right" one.

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We don't have a lounge, either; there used to be one, years ago, but it ended up getting converted into an office. If you want a microwave or fridge in your office, you have to buy one...or hope that some nice former grad student bought one and left it for the other officemates. Luckily, my current office has both, but my last office didn't.

I love my program, but the Office of Graduate Studies on this campus is a royal pain. For one thing, they've never bothered to update the official version of the rules for choosing committee members, so year after year the Grad Student Bulletin says one thing...while the "real" version of the rules exists as penciled scribbles on a note paper pinned to the Dean's secretary's bulletin board. I've lost count of how many members of my cohort have had to submit 2 (or 3 or more) versions of their committee form to the OGS.

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At least PhD students around your parts have their own offices; at my department, there's one big "research room" with cubicles (really, they are glorified study carrels) that have a computer and two printers. The best part is, while it used to be mostly PhD students in there, we are having a space crunch. So some advanced PhD students got their computers taken away so that research coordinators who worked for professors with grants have a workspace. I officially share a computer with a first-year in my lab and unofficially share it with a second- or third-year student, because I am never there - I prefer not to work in a cubicle farm.

We just got a graduate student lounge this past year. It's only a grad student lounge in the sense that my school is a school of public health that does not have an undergraduate program, so everyone in there is a grad student by default.

But my biggest gripe is the bureaucracy at my university - oh the bureaucracy. It's worse because I am in an interdisciplinary program. It's administered by the graduate school on the main campus of the university, but is taught and advised by the school of public health on the medical center campus about 50 blocks north (a 20-minute train ride, not bad at all). For one example, my stipend check gets processed by student administrative services on the main campus and then gets mailed to the student administrative services on the medical center campus. I live on the main campus, so I asked if I could just pick it up here, and they told me no. I don't mind going back and forth for meetings and classes, but when I have to go up there for stupid administrative stuff like that it makes me upset especially since my financial aid is handled here on the main campus

Edited by juilletmercredi
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My only issue so far is my adviser's age. When I accepted the offer I did not realize that he would be that old. I always think about what would happen to my funding if he gets ill or maybe worse. He is the kindest adviser ever but it just bothers me.

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My only issue so far is my adviser's age. When I accepted the offer I did not realize that he would be that old. I always think about what would happen to my funding if he gets ill or maybe worse. He is the kindest adviser ever but it just bothers me.

I like my adviser a lot, but I really get along with one of the older, almost retired profs here at my institute. He only has one grad student and as a result this student gets a lot of time and advice from him. When I was getting acceptance e-mails from profs, one was a semi-retired professor from another department. I'm sure my grad school experience would have been COMPLETELY different had I gone with him. My current supervisor is very busy and has 12 or so students. I go for weeks without talking to him (which is fine by me to be honest).

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It's sort of funny to hear the cubicle farm being described as a bad thing. When I was a MA student, almost all the grad students had their offices in one of two rooms, with each person getting their own cubicle. I really enjoyed this because it was easy to lay low with headphones on and work but also easy to socialize or borrow books from people. We also each had our own computers, which were the old lab computers from our department.

Adjusting to my PhD program was a pain. Offices are assigned to 2-3 grad students and people never know if you're in there unless you leave the door open. There's maybe two computers in an office, but most only have 1, and those computers are 6 years old and can't run all of the software we use on a regular basis. This is part of the reason I had to buy a netbook...

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I would love to have a grad student lounge. My department is supposedly building on this school year (by converting a room that was rarely used), which would be awesome. Currently, everyone hangs out at this one coffee shop, which serves as the informal grad student lounge. There is a shared fridge but it can be a bit scary. Even so, I still use it as I like to bring my lunch. Plus, I had a microwave in my office the past two years, making it easier to eat lunch rather than eating out.

Things I hate:

- Computers, or the lack thereof

- lack of instructional support

- university admin BS (download this form and fill it in, except that the form is nowhere to be found online)

- university admin BS - financial (as in, our tuition waivers are processed only AFTER fees are due, so you have to add up the amount and deal with having a hold on your account [so no health center/pharmacy use for you!] until the waiver is processed)

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Me: I'd like to request xyz and I have some questions.

Them: You need to fill out the online form and submit it via e-mail.

Me: I've already filled out the form (here it is!), and on your website it says you can submit it in person.

Them: Sorry, you have to go send it via e-mail.

Me: If I send it via e-mail, who will receive it?

Them: I will receive it.

Me: Okay. And then you will print it?

Them: Yes.

Me: And then you'll be able to answer my questions?

Them: Yes.

Me: (holding out printed, complete form)...

Them: Sorry, but it needs to be done via e-mail.

Me: But I'm Right. Here.

Them: It has to be via e-mail.

Me: (grabs blackberry) I'll e-mail a copy to you right now. As I'm standing here. You'll have it within 5 seconds.

Them: Sorry. You have to go home and e-mail it to me (walks away).

Me: HEADDESK.

/end scene

Edited by Andsowego
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I still have no funding. My interests are not the most compatible with my department. I'm doing reasonable well academically but I'm apathetic.

The first-years advisor has never advised before (they just switched advisors last August) and I'm feeling lost, confused and frustrated.

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I haven't heard of a single university that doesn't have similar bureaucracy issues. It's ridiculous.

Totally. I did three degrees before this PhD (2 Bachelor's and a Master's - a different university for each one) but my current university is a nightmare. My three previous universities had their issues, sure, but this one is absolutely the worst of the bunch. Every time I have to visit the registrar's office or the finance office in particular, I have to talk myself into a very zen mental space before I go. I've totally given up on the hope that they might know how to think critically (or even use basic logic). It's at the point where all I can really do is laugh. Otherwise, I'd be sticking my head in a gas oven at least once a month.

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Every time I have to visit the registrar's office or the finance office in particular, I have to talk myself into a very zen mental space before I go. I've totally given up on the hope that they might know how to think critically (or even use basic logic). It's at the point where all I can really do is laugh. Otherwise, I'd be sticking my head in a gas oven at least once a month.

I totally understand! I find myself needing to do yoga before going anywhere in the Administration Building. It's either that or I have to go immediately after the bike commute, when I'm still in a calm space.

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I remember I had a nightmare of a time dealing with my study abroad transcript when I was applying to grad school. I took one single course for my enjoyment that was extra to my degree, and all the grad schools wanted an official copy. However the school I studied at does not mail out official transcripts, I have a copy and they sent one to my university to put on file. The registrar's office refused to stamp a photocopy as an official copy. Apparently it's official enough for them to have in my file but not official enough to certify that it's official. So I ran all over campus and finally had to find a notary to stamp it as an official photocopy. So ridiculous.

What was even more ridiculous is it turns out some of my programs didn't even care to see the official transcript since it was just one course. Now when I apply for things I always ask if they need an official copy of this transcript first.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'll join the crowd too! For me, I hate how my program doesn't communicate all the details in an open, honest way, and students have to find out what you are supposed or not supposed to do on their own, and sometimes in a hard way. I hate how some professors here are passive aggressive, making things overly complicated -- it drives me nuts and paranoid.

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I'm going to gripe about my MA program here, since I haven't been accepted to any PhD programs yet. Those programs will be flawless, I'm sure of it. Unless I get rejected everywhere. Then they suck.

So, grad student lounges. My school's got one. It's locked. If you want to go in, you have to go to an office at the other end of the building and sign out a key. That's a huge pain, and a locked door isn't exactly inviting, so I've never seen anyone in there. I have inquired about holding discussion groups in there in the evening: Denied. It's only available when the office is open. I was curious about why it was locked--it must be good for them to keep it under lock and key. Wrong. 4 institutional 'lounge' chairs, a coffee table, an institutional 'love seat' (now there's an oxymoron) and a cheap-ass microwave. And 400 copies of campus newspaper back-issues.

Next, disorganization. My department doesn't even have a graduate program handbook or some similar thing. There isn't even a university-wide graduate handbook. It's crazy!

Finally, funding. There is virtually none. So when I was applying to PhD programs, I didn't apply to this school, where I completed my MA. I interact with the DGS and some of the program coordinators for various reasons, and they all chided me for not applying... hello!? Why would I? They seem totally disconnected with the reality of how serious of a downfall this will be for their newly-minted PhD program. (Keep in mind that tuition is only about $5000 here in Canada, though. But still!)

So why did I do my MA here? I had to live in this city for personal reasons, and it was the only option. And as it turned out, my supervisor was amazing and supportive and changed the direction of my academic/professional life. I'll take that!

Edited to add: It seems that in Canada, at least in the social sciences and humanities, everyone does an MA before applying for PhD programs. I get the impression that in the US many more people go directly from their undergrad to their PhD.

Edited by wheatGrass
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Edited to add: It seems that in Canada, at least in the social sciences and humanities, everyone does an MA before applying for PhD programs. I get the impression that in the US many more people go directly from their undergrad to their PhD.

Definitely true. I'm a Canadian who only applied to Canadian programs and I was so confused by this forum at first.

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