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Graduate student questionnaire(please fill out!)



101 members have voted

  1. 1. When did you decide you want to go to grad school?

    • High School or before
    • freshman year
    • sophomore year
    • junior year
    • senior year
    • After working in industry
    • After any variation of a post-bacc/non-traditional program
  2. 2. I want to get a feel for how family-friendly the various grad programs are. Please mark your pick

    • I am happily married
    • I am dating(long term)
    • I am dating(short term)
    • I am single and looking
    • I am single and divorced
    • I am single and not looking
  3. 3. What do you want to do after graduation?

    • Go into industry
    • Go into academia(research/teach
    • Go into another professional/graduate program

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Hey guys,


I'm a current undergraduate student. I'm trying to find my way in the maze of graduate education. I would really appreciate it if you all could take a minute to answer my questions. I would just like to get a sample of different cold cut opinions from interested and applying grad students.



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It's not so much that I knew the specifics of my graduate school plans in high school; rather, I knew that I wanted to be a college professor when I "grew up" and that I would need a PhD to do it. I went to a specialized science high school that was big on encouraging students to pursue scientific research. That really captured my interest and I ran with it!


A lot of people's plans change between high school and the end of undergrad, but mine didn't. :-)

Edited by zabius
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I'm in the same boat as zabius in that I've wanted to be a prof since I started high school, although I did consider other career paths throughout high school. I didn't really figure out what I wanted to teach until I got to university. Started in commerce, switched to economics for my BA and then MA, and now I'm applying for PhD programs in public policy and international affairs.

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I've been in a biology lab since sophomore year of high school which I won at first through an internship. So since that time, I got a strong taste of what biology research would entail. How some aspects could be boring, but others intellectually stimulating. So I guess from then on, I decided that I wanted to earn a PhD and go do research. The PI and his lab was in what you consider the private sector. So I wanted to follow in his footsteps. Then in college, I met upperclassmen who went on to do fellowships with the govt (think CDC, EPA, fellowships for undergraduates/recent graduates) and decided I'd like to do that post-PhD. Even now I'm not sure if I'd want to be a professor; however, since I loved TAing during my masters, I cannot and will not count it out just yet. 

My high-school dream was challenged while I was in college though since classes were starting to get difficult (ie. Do I REALLY want to do this for 5 more years?!) but I would feel odd not being in a lab, so I stayed true to the dream. Many people I know graduated college with different aspirations than when they entered -- it's a natural thing, so don't be alarmed that so many people had PhD plan before/after you.

One thing that DID change in college was what discipline. I matriculated freshman year as a biochem major, then I changed to be a biology major, then I considered a bioethics-related major, and finally settled on a biology major again. Even within the biology major, I entered with a genetic focus, then shifted a little to immunology, and finally found a balance between two projects, one sort of ecology based, and one sort of immunology based. So don't be afraid to use your time in undergrad to find out what discipline you want to do. 

Good luck finding your way outta the maze! :D

Edit: Oh hey, it's you! I didn't really look at the topic starter. Yo dmb!

Edited by VBD
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I knew for a long time that I wanted to do research, but I initially thought my calling would be as a doctor. It wasn't until I had two years of experience under my belt in undergrad that I decided as a Junior that I would go to grad school rather than becoming a medical doctor. It just feels more right... I have a feeling you will see lots of people in that boat.

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When I was in high school I got into teaching math pretty heavily.  I TA-ed for Algebra and Calculus classes, set up a remedial summer school program for some 7th graders, and made spare money tutoring kids.  Somewhere in all of that I decided I wanted to work on open-source math learning materials so schools wouldn't have to buy a new book every two years.  Oh to be young and naive again.  Anyway, I figured I was headed for a PhD in Math Ed.


When I got to college I double majored in math and Spanish (the natural extension of immersion/living abroad).  And in my junior year, when I started freaking out about masters programs, my mom asked me about my in-major GPAs.  ~2.7 for math vs. 4.2 for Spanish.  And then I realized what I should REALLY be doing with my time and the rest is history.


TL;DR- I knew I wanted a PhD in high school, but in a wildly different subject than I'm actually GETTING one in.

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Lurker here posting for the first time.


I've known since I was in 2nd grade that I would go to grad school. I didn't have a clue what that meant or how, or anything about the degrees. I just somehow picked up by that age that I would go to college, all the way through until I was a Dr. (not a medical doctor. I never had an inkling to be that). I find it even more remarkable because I didn't have a set of parents encouraging me to go to college, or any help from them in the process. 


While I don't remember everything about being 7, this point sticks out. What I find eeiry is that sometimes, despite my best attempts at derailing my life, I have always found myself back in school unconsciously accomplishing all of the goals I set out for myself when I was 7. I like to say/believe that me as a second grader always has a better grasp on who I am as a person and is clearer about what I want out of my life than I do now..

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Yeah I didn't know exactly what I wanted to study in high school. In my head I'd bounce around from English to graphic design to chemistry to some type of engineering or math. It's just I always knew I would pursue some graduate degree beyond regular college whatever I majored in. I was also influenced by my immediate family most of whom have some type of graduate degree.


If for nothing, then I wanted for the experience of traveling away from home and living independently, because from everyone's stories it sounded like a really great experience and I wanted to have that. Specific ideas about why I wanted a Masters degree or what I was going to study only developed during undergrad. I initially didn't think I wanted to do a PhD at all and felt pretty burned out after my MS. I only made the decision to do a PhD about a year after finishing my MS, when I had a break and a good deal of time to think about what I wanted out of life career-wise. Of course getting all rejections the first time around only strengthened my resolve and made me realize how badly I wanted it.

Edited by TeaGirl
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At the beginning of my Jr. year (undergrad), the question quickly came up: 'What next?' I had no plans for a career or anything - I was just studying what I loved. Since the end was near and I so dearly love learning, I figured I'd check out graduate school. One thing led to another and some things looked promising, so I moved forward with the process... still not knowing what I wanted to do! But it was really interesting to me when I found that the process actually refined and honed my vision of what I wanted to do, both in my education and for a career. It wasn't until I'd already gone through much of the process, including the GRE, that I really discovered what I wanted to do. The application process helped me refine this and focus on specifics. It sort of winnowed away the chaff and helped me discover the desire that had been there all along.

Edited by toby42
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I agree with the recurring idea that I always knew I would go to grad school. I just didn't always know what I would be studying. My dream for a while was marine biology - not the play with dolphins kind, the research wetlands kind. It didn't really work out, and I landed in HF by accident. THAT did work out, and quite well, so here I am! There was more than one change in my major along the way, as you can probably guess. The point here, though, is that I never thought a bachelor's would be enough. Just like some kids grow up expecting that they'll go to college one day, though they don't know the subject, I grew up expecting that I'd go to grad school, though I didn't know the field.

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I picked senior year of college because that was when I decided for sure, but I have a complicated answer. My freshman year of high school, I decided I wanted to go into biology research. My senior year of high school, I was torn between physics and biology research. My freshman year of college through the beginning of my junior year I was sure that I was going to grad school for physics. Then I decided I was going into industry as a software engineer. Then towards the end of my senior year I decided to go to grad school for computer science. 

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