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Fall 2013 Chemistry and Biochemistry

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well they did say they'd assume i was still interested unless I said otherwise...

a phone call seems too over the top...like a phone call would require a conversation when I really just want to let them now I'm interested which is like two sentences on my part

dont know if an email would be too informal ...

From reading around old TGC threads, it seems like a email would be appropriate, and that letting them know you are still interested can only help you. I'd go for it; it isn't a situation that demands great formality. Good luck!

Edited by cleverfool

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A standard stipend in chemistry (or more generally the physical sciences) will be in the ballpark of 22-33k. Depends on the area's cost of living and the competitiveness of the program, but it is rarely more than what big national fellowships like NSF give (~31k). Princeton gives a butt ton (a highly specific and scientifically determined amount that I don't know but was closer to 40k than 30k at one point) to all their grad students, I guess because the undergrads subsidize them.

 

Here was last year's tally:

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Do those stipends include summer work?  i.e. do you have summers "off" from RA/TA assignments with those dollar figures?  Thanks!

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Do those stipends include summer work?  i.e. do you have summers "off" from RA/TA assignments with those dollar figures?  Thanks!

That is your annual stipend. Grad students don't get time off, that is reserved for real people.

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OK, let me rephrase.  Do you work as a TA/RA during June, July, and first 1/2 of August with that stipend?  Or can you take the summer "off" to focus on your dissertation research, etc...

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OK, let me rephrase.  Do you work as a TA/RA during June, July, and first 1/2 of August with that stipend?  Or can you take the summer "off" to focus on your dissertation research, etc...

Got it. The stipend is set at a given level, but schools work out differently how you earn it--you may be a TA for 6 months and then an RA for 6, but part of that RA time goes towards your research, or you may get "overpaid" to cover a couple months of time for you to work on independent projects. You may (but probably won't) have additional "thesis support" beyond the money those roles provide. Sadly Chem departments are pretty miserly and really make you work for what you do get, which is why average time to graduation in a Chem program can run long or involve less novel research than some other fields (here are some old stats, which make it sounds a little better and a little worse than my experiences with chem grads would suggest...).

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Thanks for the info, that is very helpful!

 

Is there any room for negotiation about time spent as a RA vs. TA before you accept their offer?  I would ideally like to RA as much as possible (minimize TA), do you know if that is commonly discussed (or even possible to negotiate) before acceptance of the offer?

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Thanks for the info, that is very helpful!

 

Is there any room for negotiation about time spent as a RA vs. TA before you accept their offer?  I would ideally like to RA as much as possible (minimize TA), do you know if that is commonly discussed (or even possible to negotiate) before acceptance of the offer?

This one is best to ask to current students on a case by case basis I think. You should talk to prospective advisers about funding, and what research expectations are, and use that in your decision making process. Some advisors are dicks and will have you working on stuff for them and unrelated to anything useful to you (Newton's second Law comes into play on the other extreme). Others will be super supportive about your interests and view mentoring and timely graduation as really important. Of course the only way to really get what you want is to come in with an independent fellowship...

Edited by Usmivka

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Got it. The stipend is set at a given level, but schools work out differently how you earn it--you may be a TA for 6 months and then an RA for 6, but part of that RA time goes towards your research, or you may get "overpaid" to cover a couple months of time for you to work on independent projects. You may (but probably won't) have additional "thesis support" beyond the money those roles provide. Sadly Chem departments are pretty miserly and really make you work for what you do get, which is why average time to graduation in a Chem program can run long or involve less novel research than some other fields (here are some old stats, which make it sounds a little better and a little worse than my experiences with chem grads would suggest...).

 

5 years is not too bad when you consider that physics is 6-7 years and bio seems pretty long too. Other similar fields like materials science are also around 5 years. I think average chem graduation times actually get dragged on longer by the organic and bio guys because lets face it its just simply hard to do synthesis.

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5 years is not too bad when you consider that physics is 6-7 years and bio seems pretty long too. Other similar fields like materials science are also around 5 years. I think average chem graduation times actually get dragged on longer by the organic and bio guys because lets face it its just simply hard to do synthesis.

Yeah, I was surprised those averages were so much lower than first hand experience would suggest. Then again, with max time to graduation on the order of 8 years, you know some poor folks are toiling away over their syntheses. I just don't think that would happen if the departments weren't so reliant on TAs.

 

I will point out that the ACS may not be truthful in the above link. From the NSF, chemists average 6.9 years (1). And check out time to degree vs funding source in each field. But at least you aren't in the earth, ocean, and atmospheric sciences, with average time to degree of 9.8 years...I made a bad career move.

Edited by Usmivka

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Just got into UIUC's organic chemistry PhD program!!! I received full funding with a recruitment fellowship. I think you can schedule your own visitation weekend, but March 14-16 is specifically for underrepresented prospective students.

 

*Soulja Boys* B)

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in the event that one does not get accepted anywhere D: what does one do? I dont really feel like I have a backup plan....I feel like I should...or maybe I should have applied to more "safeties"

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Hey, so I'm going on a visiting day next week and want to prepare a little by reading up on the professors performing research similar to my interests.  To be honest, the school I am going to next week is not one of my top choices but I wanted to visit, anyway.  Since this is the case, do you think I need to really read up a lot on these professors and read some of their papers, or do you think it would suffice to just read through their group lab pages?

 

Thanks.

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Hey, so I'm going on a visiting day next week and want to prepare a little by reading up on the professors performing research similar to my interests.  To be honest, the school I am going to next week is not one of my top choices but I wanted to visit, anyway.  Since this is the case, do you think I need to really read up a lot on these professors and read some of their papers, or do you think it would suffice to just read through their group lab pages?

 

Thanks.

 

I would prepare as if it were your top choice and be able to offer an engaging discussion, ask insightful questions, etc. so that when you do visit your top choice you will have a better idea of how you want conversations with potential POIs to go based on experience... Look at this as a warmup for impressing POIs later who will really matter.

Edited by Faraday

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Got rejected from Northwestern today, which sucks, but isn't surprising. Hopefully I get better news from the other schools I applied to.

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in the event that one does not get accepted anywhere D: what does one do? I dont really feel like I have a backup plan....I feel like I should...or maybe I should have applied to more "safeties"

 

IMHO it's better to improve your application "package" and re-apply next year than it is to go to a "safety school" where you won't be happy and/or won't be as well positioned for your dream career when you graduate...  I personally want to attend a top school (better chances of breaking into the academic world post-PhD) and won't settle for a mediocre school, even if that means I have to re-apply a time or two...  YMMV.

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Does it seem like things are moving kind of slow right now? Schools seem to be taking their sweet time

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Just got rejected from Northwestern like a bunch of people on here.  Kinda sucks because I did an REU there, but I don't really care any more since I already have a better choice.

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in the event that one does not get accepted anywhere D: what does one do? I dont really feel like I have a backup plan....I feel like I should...or maybe I should have applied to more "safeties"

So, it seems that I am in a drastically different place than most other applicants I have seen on here, but here is my story & opinion on that, if you would like it:

 

My history: I did not apply right out of college at all, since I have a pretty low (2.9) undergrad gpa, even though my last 4 semesters were awesome, or at least mediocre (3.6), and so were my major/minor gpas.  I was certain that even with research & presenting that research at various conferences, even with extreme interest, what have you, that I would not get in, anywhere. I thought I would begin by serving my country but also using my scientific background, and attend graduate school either during or after my commitment to my country was complete. As it turned out, I was not accepted into the program in the military I was really interested in, so I applied again, and was rejected again. I had a really sad few months, I worked several temporary jobs, and eventually landed a 'real' job, using some of my skills acquired in school. After entering the work force as a real 9-to-5er, I realized that I want more than anything to go to graduate school and to then use that to do what I really love - science. So I decided that I would apply to graduate school, but I have only applied to one this season, the only one I really want to go to. There are several advisors I am interested in their research and also think I would get along well in their groups. It's where my life is, regardless of whether I get into graduate school. I also applied to jobs that are more related to what I would like to do for a career (rather than the jobjob I have right now), just in case I don't get in. Right now, I graduated from college almost two years ago, I have a good paying job, considerable references from my company, a larger skill set than I started with out of college, and a renewed sense of purpose. 

 

My opinion: You already applied where you could. If you can get more applications in by the funding deadline, maybe it's worth it to try for you. But I think, you've applied where you really want to go, right? And you put everything you could into your applications, right?

So if you get in, pick the best place for you and go bloom!

If not, well, go find a job that will pay your bills for now, make some connections, earn some money, and maybe take a class or do some research, and try again next year!

I can't think of much worse than taking a position at a 'safety school' with an advisor I don't like, or doing research I don't care about, etc, when I could be doing something else I like more. Honestly, my time off from school has taught me so very much, including that I cannot wait to get back to school. I love learning, and want nothing more than to get my acceptance letter in the mail, but ... to quote the gorgeous and smart Jennifer Nettles, "I ain't settlin', or just getting by... I'm tired of shooting too low, so raise the bar high." It's not worth it to me to be accepted anywhere else, so I put everything I have into getting in there. So if I have to apply more than once, if I have to keep working a 'grownup' job, whatever, I want to get into that one school, and getting in somewhere else is not enough for me to be happy.

You should make a list of what really really matters to you, and chase that list with all your might. If that's graduate school, focus on that. Retake classes you did poorly in, retake the GRE, get an internship in something interesting to you, pay off some of your student loans, whatever you need to do to make sure you get in next time. And if it's not grad school, well, that's okay too. Maybe your profs didn't want to tell you this, but people choose not to go to graduate school and have great lives, all the time. Maybe you're one of those people. 

 

Also for what it's worth: go ahead and steel your self for the worst. I have found the hardest thing for getting over being rejected from something you really want is that look in the people who care about you's eyes, that 'what now?' look. I've seen it for both me and for my partner, and it's really bad from both sides. But if you a) have a plan and B) are confident that you can apply again and with better results, because you've made your 'package' better, it's a little easier to take. If you do get rejected, that's just better preparation for the real deal when you do get in, right? Cause from what I can tell, tons of rejection and failure... is the best possible preparation for real graduate research. 

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Does it seem like things are moving kind of slow right now? Schools seem to be taking their sweet time

 Yeah, nothing from UBoston or Washington has appeared in the results search and people heard back from them by now this time last year. Washington said they wont have final desicions until late march, which is a bit ridiculous compared to other chem programs. Though I have heard the who sequestration/fiscal cliff could be the cause of the delay

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 Yeah, nothing from UBoston or Washington has appeared in the results search and people heard back from them by now this time last year. Washington said they wont have final desicions until late march, which is a bit ridiculous compared to other chem programs. Though I have heard the who sequestration/fiscal cliff could be the cause of the delay

Or because it's Wazoo and things move a little slower out in Pullman...sorry, sorry, the Apple Cup still stings ; )

Just because I'm curious, I live in Boston and I'm pretty sure there is no "U. Boston". Which school do you mean?

Edited by Usmivka

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Or because it's Wazoo and things move a little slower out in Pullman...sorry, sorry, the Apple Cup still stings ; )

Just because I'm curious, I live in Boston and I'm pretty sure there is no "U. Boston". Which school do you mean?

 

I meant BU :P

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Just accepted to Columbia! :) Visiting weekends 3/1 and 3/29.

 

Congratulations! How did you find out? I hope I hear from them soon!

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