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Author Topic: Fellowships and other obligation-free funding
Metasquares
Highlie
Member # 4441

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted January 02, 2007 21:17      Profile for Metasquares   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
If you are applying to graduate school, apply for fellowships. You may not appreciate a fellowship until you attempt to deviate from an institution's expectations, but as soon as you do, its worth becomes immediately apparent. (Aside: do people really view the Ph. D. as job training? I thought we were above that by now and the degree was supposed to be a mere symbolic representation of the intimation with a field and the process of formal research...)

As I said earlier, I am cutting the amount of time I spend doing institutional research in favor of pursuing my interests in music, math, and my own CS research (I'd like to start doing photography soon too) as well as to concentrate on the coursework I need to finish a master's degree by the end of the academic year.

Basically, I'm planning a semester with four regular courses, no independent study course (I can only use one towards the MS), and institutional research only when I have time in my schedule - AFTER independent research and composition lessons. For those unfamiliar with graduate-level course loads, this is not a lot of time at all - certainly far less than the 20 hours per week required of an RA.

In grad. school, as in life, I suppose, funding is freedom. Do not tether yourselves.

Posts: 664 | From: Morganville, NJ | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
Colonel Panic
BlabberMouth, the Next Generation
Member # 1200

Icon 1 posted January 03, 2007 20:54      Profile for Colonel Panic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Meta,

Fellowships do indeed have their benefits. Not only do you participate in the ticket-punching process required in certain fields to actually earn real money, you provide the institution with a computer-monitor-free instructional target for sleeping freshmen.

That value to society alone cannot be stressed enough.

The best fellowhsip programs are not ones to which an individual applies, rather they are the ones required in order to earn the degree. At one time that arrangement had tax advantages. Laws may have changed in intervening years (see Jurassic Period), consult an attorney or tax advisor.

The primary job of a graduate student is to graduate. Individuals in graduate programs who do not understand this basic principle are doomed to wait tables in college bars for the rest of their lives. Dalliances for personal interests are usually frowned upon. Having your initials carved forever in a bar table may be a romantic notion, but it still is not as professionally endearing as a fourth-mentioned by-line in a second-rate assistant professor's first published paper in say ... the Journal of Irreproducable Results.

Just trying to pass on some wisdom here.

And thank you very much for posting something that could be considered geek related. You have made my day.

CP

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Free! Free at last!

Posts: 1809 | From: Glacier Melt, USA | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
Metasquares
Highlie
Member # 4441

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted January 04, 2007 13:40      Profile for Metasquares   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Colonel Panic:

The primary job of a graduate student is to graduate. Individuals in graduate programs who do not understand this basic principle are doomed to wait tables in college bars for the rest of their lives. Dalliances for personal interests are usually frowned upon. Having your initials carved forever in a bar table may be a romantic notion, but it still is not as professionally endearing as a fourth-mentioned by-line in a second-rate assistant professor's first published paper in say ... the Journal of Irreproducable Results.

It's not just about graduating, or no one would go for PhDs at all. The economic advantage is slight at best, and for me, it's quite definitely negative. It's about graduating with the skills required to do serious research in your field, which is supposed to align with at least one of your personal interests. If the field that you are doing research with a group in is not a field you want to go into, it becomes the dalliance.

At that point, you have three choices: put up with it and let someone else control the direction of your life (never!), try to switch fields (which often entails switching institutions as well), or drop the idea of getting a Ph. D., sometimes finishing with a master's for the work you've already done. I'm trying the second so I don't need to accept the third.

In any case, the fellowship is speeding up my rate of progress tremendously. I was previously slated to graduate in four years, assuming a reasonable rate of progress on my dissertation; taking an extra course for the first four semesters slashes the expected time by a year. I may be giving that up due to the nature of the institutions I'm applying to, but I have no regrets if it takes me a year or two longer in a better school.

Also, to be fair, I'm the first author and the paper is being published in IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging, so it isn't like I go without respect over there [Smile]

Posts: 664 | From: Morganville, NJ | Registered: Oct 2005  |  IP: Logged
Colonel Panic
BlabberMouth, the Next Generation
Member # 1200

Icon 14 posted January 04, 2007 18:31      Profile for Colonel Panic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Metasquares:
I'm the first author and the paper is being published in IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging, so it isn't like I go without respect over there [Smile]

Absolutely, positively congratualtion, Metasquares.

Getting first author for a paper like that is quite an accomplishment.

I fully understand your points. But you do need that Ph.D. to get that freedom you deserve. So the longer you wait to get it, the longer it will take to get that freedom.

I also fully understand the "ranking" system (I mean no disrespect by that at all) in academia and how important school credentials are on your C.V. Is it a C.V. in your field, isn't it? I don't mean to assume too much. I was an integral part of such a discussion for 18 years. But that was in the medical/biomedical field.

I'll share part of the sotory. It start's with a woman's remarkable Master's Thesis at an institution that did not grant PH.D. The thesis did get her some interesting offers. And she was able to get into a good Ph.D. program, then some interesting post-doc work with some Nobel winners.

Like you said, that kind of degree doesn't guarantee you a paycheck. And the many years of work toward the degree is also work at a pay level far below what is available on the open market.

She struggled to earn money with that Ph.D. and Post Doc until she ran across somebody on her Master's Thesis review committee. That's when she she got her freedom, a corporate position, running corporate laboratories, with great big corporate blank checks, and posters and papers and lectures from Montreal to Paris to Vancouver, to Barcelona, to Tokyo.

There is no right or wrong here. I simply wanted to give another view earned through personal experience.

I sincerely wish you the best. I have a very deep respect and admiration for people who choose a career in research.

Sincerely,

Colonel Panic

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Free! Free at last!

Posts: 1809 | From: Glacier Melt, USA | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged


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