Jump to content

Things you wish you knew before deciding


Recommended Posts

There's still a bit of time before final decisions are made, but I'm wondering that since most (not all) schools have released their decisions, a lot of people have decisions to make.


This is my first round of applications, and I'm wondering if current grad students could share what they wish they had known during this process, whether it be that they wish they had waited to submit their intent to register so they could negotiate for more funding, or wish they had really analyzed the specifics of the program (maybe a weird paper or class that needed to be taken/written).


Thanks so much for all the advice!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

GREAT thread. I am wondering some of the same things.

Like how much should ranking matter in making a decision? I, for example, have offers from Stony Brook (42) and Binghamton (69), both are great fits, but I suspect SB's ranking is entirely thanks Kimmel, so as a world-systems scholar, I don't know how much the ranking mean for me since I won't have much to do with Kimmel.

Money is definitely a big factor. What else?

Advanced thanks for all the advice to come. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I will be attending a few recruitment weekends in the coming month, so I have had this conversation with my current advisor.  I am finishing my MA this semester, so some of the advice may differ for someone coming straight out of undergrad. This is what he suggests: 


1. Try to get a SPECIFIC, DETAILED answer (in writing, if possible) on what courses you will be required to take and how this would differ from someone who went straight through the program (both MA and PhD at same school). 


2. If funding is offered, ask about assistantship options and how these are decided. How many RAs are offered as opposed to TAs? How do these decisions get made? Are there different types of TAs (independent instructors, graders, small session leaders, etc.) and how do these get decided?

2a. Similarly, I would ask about how summer funding works.


3. It may be helpful to ask about office space/lab access and how these resources are distributed. Does everyone get a space? How many people share a space? Does this space only go to TAs?


4. Resources in the department/university for your research is important to know. Access to statistical programs, access to department-only/graduate student-only computer labs, etc. 


5. I would ask about department collegiality. Does everyone get together periodically? Do faculty-grad students interact? This is a good question to ask the grad students themselves. Also ask them about student collegiality - do the students hang out together regularly? Do they help each other out with stuff, or are they more often competing with one another?


6. Get a sense of the timeline of the program (especially in regard to point 1 above). How much time for coursework, when are exams taken, etc. This can all come up very quick, as you often take exams right after finishing coursework (which could be as early as one year). You will want to know how quickly you will need to figure things out, get an advisor, have a plan for your dissertation, etc.


Hope this is helpful!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use