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Grad School Thread

Discussion in 'Business, Careers & Education' started by Teger, Mar 22, 2011.

  1. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Honestly, I think there's a perception that I'm unaware how terrible the PhD job market is. I get it. I've read the articles. I've talked to many people about it. I've always kept in mind that I need to have a backup plan, and since I'll probably stay in Virginia in the near future, I made a concerted effort to apply to schools with very strong instate reputations and alumni networks.

    Actually, the non-PhD track is perhaps the best argument for taking loans and going to UVA, although it's still not a very good one. The downside to Tech is that even though Tech is very, very wellknown in the state, it's located in a hicksville mountain town that has nothing going for it but the University. Hard to make lasting, useful connections when you're moving after two years no matter what.

    That's also why I'm still considering pursuing the History MA option (if I get admitted and get funding). I'd be staying at my school for another two years, but the program has a very, very good job placement and PhD placement track record, and the department has very strong ties to the city.


    No, you don't.

    I am, again, assuming you are talking about teaching jobs. Alumni networks mean close to nothing. The academic job market is national. You have to apply to any open job in any state, 100-200 per year, and be willing to move ANYWHERE to have any hope at all. IF (big if) your best friend ends up as chair of a department somewhere that has an opening, that would help you a great deal, but A) that's not really an example of an alumni network at work and B) no single person ever has the power to hire for AssProf slots, so all he can do is thumb the scale. Single people can veto, however.

    If you want to get the degree, try your luck in the academic market, and then move on if it doesn't work out, that's not a terrible plan. But don't pay a dime for it.

    Harsh truth: people who pay for non-professional grad schools are seen as losers in the academic market. Either that or diletants.
     
  2. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    Tech isn't. Tech isn't bad, but I'd put it more at the upper end of Tier 2, with UVA solidly in Tier 1. UVA would be for what I'd want to study (American/British Lit). That said, I'd say my current school is solidly Tier 3, if that! One of the real questions I have is how UVA treats their MA students. I've talked to several recent graduates and I'm getting very, very mixed stories. One person says take the loans, it's worth it. Another person says that UVA treats non-PHD students like shit and uses their tuition to fund the department. Very mixed!
     
  3. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    No, you don't. I am, again, assuming you are talking about teaching jobs. Alumni networks mean close to nothing. The academic job market is national. You have to apply to any open job in any state, 100-200 per year, and be willing to move ANYWHERE to have any hope at all. IF (big if) your best friend ends up as chair of a department somewhere that has an opening, that would help you a great deal, but A) that's not really an example of an alumni network at work and B) no single person ever has the power to hire for AssProf slots, so all he can do is thumb the scale. Single people can veto, however. If you want to get the degree, try your luck in the academic market, and then move on if it doesn't work out, that's not a terrible plan. But don't pay a dime for it. Harsh truth: people who pay for non-professional grad schools are seen as losers in the academic market. Either that or diletants.
    Huh? I know how the academic job application game is played. I know that I would have to apply everywhere and anywhere, and be prepared to live in the country, in the city or on a mountain. My reference to the alumni networks is simply because if I'm pursuing nonacademic jobs (and hell, I might get to the MA program, hate my life and dread ever pursuing this further), it will help. As for your "harsh truth", yea that's what I believe (and have been told). Very true. The good thing about the Tech offer is that the teaching position it includes is very, very good. Edit: Sorry if I'm coming off as snarky. StephenHero is really irritating me in this thread! Anyway yea, I should just be smart, go to Tech for free and grab a degree and see what happens. Worse comes to worse I can sell clothes again.
     
  4. thekunk07

    thekunk07 Senior member

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    when choosing this kind of grad degree, is important to look at the big picture: which will net you the 30k job you want at 30 years old?
     
  5. Valor

    Valor Senior member

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    Masters programs everywhere are cash cows for universities looking to churn out degrees. You are cannon fodder and nothing more no matter where you go. Also you're a second class citizen applying for PHDs in the US because if you were any good you wouldn't need a master's degree.

    I say this as a masters student at a tier 1 institution, the good thing is my employer is paying for my degree.

    And I don't know what you mean by tiers but if it's not top 10 in general, it's probably not worth anything, especially in a program like English.

    What we're saying is you glossed over what Manton wrote but didn't really understand it.
     
  6. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    when choosing this kind of grad degree, is important to look at the big picture: which will net you the 30k job you want at 30 years old?

    DC comic book writer? [​IMG]
     
  7. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    Masters programs everywhere are cash cows for universities looking to churn out degrees. You are cannon fodder and nothing more no matter where you go. Also you're a second class citizen applying for PHDs in the US because if you were any good you wouldn't need a master's degree.

    I say this as a masters student at a tier 1 institution, the good thing is my employer is paying for my degree.

    And I don't know what you mean by tiers but if it's not top 10 in general, it's probably not worth anything, especially in a program like English.

    What we're saying is you glossed over what Manton wrote but didn't really understand it.


    No.. I read it and I understood it. I think you're implying that 'if you don't get into a top flight program out of undergraduate, you don't have a chance of landing a job', but that's really not that true. I would agree that if you can't get into a topflight PhD program, than you're fucked, but I'm (luckily!) not at that point yet. Even programs that admit right into the PhD after undergraduate still require you to complete the MA, with varying levels of guaranteed/checkpoint funding.
     
  8. AntiHero84

    AntiHero84 Senior member

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    That's also why I'm still considering pursuing the History MA option (if I get admitted and get funding). I'd be staying at my school for another two years, but the program has a very, very good job placement and PhD placement track record, and the department has very strong ties to the city.

    A few years ago, I'd be all about following your dreams and doing what you love, or where your heart takes you, yadda yadda yadda... If you stand a better chance of landing a job with a History degree, do that. Seriously.

    Harsh truth: people who pay for non-professional grad schools are seen as losers in the academic market. Either that or diletants.

    Truth. This is coming from someone who had to find my own funding because the dept. wouldn't provide it. My colleagues were more than helpful, but the faculty superstars wanted nothing to do with me.
     
  9. StephenHero

    StephenHero Senior member

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    Anyway yea, I should just be smart, go to Tech for free and grab a degree and see what happens. Worse comes to worse I can sell clothes again.


    [​IMG]
     
  10. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    Phf, I wanted a real job I would've applied to Law School. [​IMG]
     
  11. deadly7

    deadly7 Senior member

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    Masters programs everywhere are cash cows for universities looking to churn out degrees. You are cannon fodder and nothing more no matter where you go. Also you're a second class citizen applying for PHDs in the US because if you were any good you wouldn't need a master's degree.

    In the sciences, and especially in engineering, I would say this claim is laughable.
     
  12. fftfft

    fftfft Senior member

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    Huh? I know how the academic job application game is played. I know that I would have to apply everywhere and anywhere, and be prepared to live in the country, in the city or on a mountain. My reference to the alumni networks is simply because if I'm pursuing nonacademic jobs (and hell, I might get to the MA program, hate my life and dread ever pursuing this further), it will help.

    As for your "harsh truth", yea that's what I believe (and have been told). Very true. The good thing about the Tech offer is that the teaching position it includes is very, very good.

    Edit: Sorry if I'm coming off as snarky. StephenHero is really irritating me in this thread! Anyway yea, I should just be smart, go to Tech for free and grab a degree and see what happens. Worse comes to worse I can sell clothes again.


    I think that those of us with some experience or knowledge in this domain are simply horrified at the thought of going into debt to go down this path. It's bad enough to give up solid income for XX years in industry. Also, anybody who thinks that they can "play the game" for academic jobs really doesn't understand how arbitrary and unpredictable it is.

    Kudos for your determination, and I hope that things fall into place for you.
     
  13. Valor

    Valor Senior member

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    In the sciences, and especially in engineering, I would say this claim is laughable.

    Do explain, and in what context?
     
  14. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    I think that those of us with some experience or knowledge in this domain are simply horrified at the thought of going into debt to go down this path. It's bad enough to give up solid income for XX years in industry. Also, anybody who thinks that they can "play the game" for academic jobs really doesn't understand how arbitrary and unpredictable it is.

    Kudos for your determination, and I hope that things fall into place for you.


    One of the things I've found so depressing about this whole process is just how arbitrary it is. Scores, writing samples, grades matter so much less than who you know, and who your recommenders know.
     
  15. StephenHero

    StephenHero Senior member

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    One of the things I've found so depressing about this whole process is just how arbitrary it is. Scores, writing samples, grades matter so much less than who you know, and who your recommenders know.
    Teger, you're not being introspective. 1) What do you see as your contribution to society? What skills do you have or hope to have that society demands? 2) How are those skills enhanced by option A vs. B. (This has nothing to do with job placement potential.) It's strictly educational. 3) If your noted potential contributions to society are arbitrarily valued with a selectivity bias, are they valued at all? (as both a student and educator) 4) If your contribution to society in the form of a future teaching position is dependent on a similar degree of luck needed to win a scratchers ticket, how does society as a whole benefit by the prevalence of its members using this thought process to determine how to best spend their lives? Does society win when people chase non-existent opportunities at the expense of supplying other demands?
     
  16. deadly7

    deadly7 Senior member

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    Do explain, and in what context?

    There are people at top institutions (Harvard, Stanford, CMU, etc. etc.) that got an MS/ME from an institution different than their PhD/SciD institution. That is, they got their MS and then were accepted into PhD/SciD programs. If you're a qualified applicant, programs won't necessarily disqualify you for having been in a masters program first. This is purely skeptical, but I would guess that a large number of colleges realize that people often go back for their MS / PhD while working, so they may not do it all at once. I do know for a fact that engineering firms will pay for their top employees to go back and get Master's degrees, apply that knowledge at work for a while, and then will often pay for a 3-5 year hiatus for PhD work. Those programs offer lots of real-world knowledge or utility, much of which can aid in the research these firms do.
     
  17. Gradstudent78

    Gradstudent78 Senior member

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    Go with the 2nd school that funds you without a doubt. Get your masters, do really well at it, and then apply back to school A for the PhD program.

    That said, have you called the first school explaining that you got into school B as well, would prefer to go to their school and see what funding packages they might be able to pull together?
     
  18. deadly7

    deadly7 Senior member

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    Go with the 2nd school that funds you without a doubt. Get your masters, do really well at it, and then apply back to school A for the PhD program.

    That said, have you called the first school explaining that you got into school B as well, would prefer to go to their school and see what funding packages they might be able to pull together?


    He can try, but I doubt that they'll do anything. Unless he was their top applicant, they'll just go "whatever, get one of the waitlist kids that would DIE to get into here on the phone."
     
  19. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    I've called them and basically the answer was 'that's great for you, and we'd love to offer you funding, but we simply do not have the funds available to offer anyone funding, let alone you.'

    I just thought of something new.. should I call Tech and be like blah blah UVA, and see if they bump the offer? Or why fuck with a good thing?

    I don't know if they even can bump their offer.
     
  20. StephenHero

    StephenHero Senior member

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    Yeah. Call them up and tell them Harvard offered you full tuition and tell them you're still considering Virginia Tech as long as they offer 75%. You'll show them.
     

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