For Those Interested In Grad School...

Discussion in 'Education and Academia' started by forzaboston, Mar 30, 2007.

  1. striker

    striker Member

    Aug 4, 1999
    If my department (which is in science) is any indication, such complete info would not be available. Of course, you may ask whoever interviews you and get some unofficial answer.
     
  2. needs

    needs Member

    Jan 16, 2003
    Brooklyn
    Here's a link to an alternative to the US News rankings, that allows you to input factors important to you (proximity to urban area, average time to degree, placement rate, etc) to generate a ranking..

    http://graduate-school.phds.org/

    Just on a test run, I don't find this any better than the US News rankings, at least in US history. Stanford came up #2 (with Princeton #1 and Yale #8) in my search. That's nowhere close to a reflection of the field as it actually is.

    The US News rankings aren't any better, as they're compiled by calling up professors asking them to rank the schools in their field, which doesn't work b/c people don't stay up to date on where different professors have moved to. It creates results like ranking Michigan #1 in African American history the year I started, even though three people teaching AfAm history had left the department the previous year.
     
  3. NGV

    NGV Member+

    Sep 14, 1999
    Yeah, I don't know much about the sciences - the fact that people are more likely to go on to postdocs or take jobs in industry may make a difference there.

    But, for a humanities or social science Ph.D., I would hesitate to enroll in a program unless I had a good sense of where their grads from the last few years had ended up.
     
  4. Friedel'sAccent

    Friedel'sAccent Member+

    Jul 7, 2006
    Providence, RI
    Club:
    Reading FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    This is really true. My program, although it's called "Literature," really amounts to a critical theory degree. So for years our students produced brilliant dissertations on things like the deterritorialization of affect in Deleuze but some people couldn't get a job to save their lives. Now they basically make us take two qualifying exams, one in a traditional, MLA-recognized "teaching field" (such as 20th century Anglo-Irish modernism, for instance) and another exam on theory that we want to write about in the dissertation. We have to put in the work and read novels before they let us do whatever we want for the dissertation. I look forward to compiling two separate reading lists next year...:(
     
  5. needs

    needs Member

    Jan 16, 2003
    Brooklyn
    From your location and theory heavy description, I'm assuming you're at Duke.

    Is the department still as disfunctional as it was a decade ago? The change you describe actually suggests they care about their grad students and their future job prospects, which wasn't necessarily true when Fish was there and the department fell apart in self-absorbtion/self-immolation (or so I've heard. You or Dr. Wankler probably know if this is an accurate description).
     
  6. Friedel'sAccent

    Friedel'sAccent Member+

    Jul 7, 2006
    Providence, RI
    Club:
    Reading FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    This is all before my time, but wasn't Fish in English at Duke? From what I've heard, yes, the department was a bit of a shambles during his time here. I actually don't know that much about our English department, though most of the grads from my program go on to get jobs in English.

    I'm actually in the Literature program though, which is Fred Jameson's take on a comparative literature department. Basically, they set us free to write theory provided we do a second exam in a "teaching field" of our own choice and creation.
     
  7. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Yes, Fish was the chair of English at Duke. His next job was as a Dean...

    I'm not sure how Fish's administrative stylings altered Duke, but his modus operandi at his next job (which happened to be where I was working on a Ph.D.) was a bit different -- mostly, at UIC he brought in famous buddies at the tail ends of their careers, giving them very light loads (courtesy of grad students and junior faculty from the less-prestigious universities), allowing said buddies to eventually retire at very high salaries, courtesy of the taxpayers of the state of Illinois. He managed to do a good job of demoralizing most of the people who worked there, save for those who were given lighter loads and other bennies.
     
  8. needs

    needs Member

    Jan 16, 2003
    Brooklyn
    That sounds similar to what I've heard about his MO. On the one hand, he's helped to raise UIC's profile within a bunch of humanities and social science disciplines within their profession. On the other, he's made it a difficult place to exist if you're not among the chosen.

    A friend of mine had an on campus at UIC and he met with Fish as the requisite, sit and talk with a dean, part of the visit. He said Fish never asked him about his work, or said anything about UIC, and just talked about himself for a half-hour.
     
  9. fischerw

    fischerw Member+

    Sep 15, 2004
    Joplin, MO
    Club:
    Colorado Rapids
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I'm starting graduate school in Latin American history in August. Reading this thread was great! I'm so filled with optimism now. Thanks, guys.

    (seriously, though, I try to have a realistic outlook about job prospects. But that's several years away now)
     
  10. needs

    needs Member

    Jan 16, 2003
    Brooklyn
    Where are you going?

    Don't let the job front deter you from enjoying grad school. The only thing you can do is write the best diss you can that points your field in new directions. And while grad students complain a lot (a lot!), it's also a great opportunity to write and think amidst a bunch of colleagues doing the same.

    ps. Latin-America was a pretty hot field this year on the market, especially for people who did transnational, diasporic projects. If your work touches on the US, and you can sell yourself as a Latino historian, more the better.
     
  11. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire

    Congrats to fischerw, and good luck.

    The only complaining that got on my nerves in GS came from the people who complained about how busy they were -- as if no one else was busy. Other than that, complaining is half the fun.
     
  12. Friedel'sAccent

    Friedel'sAccent Member+

    Jul 7, 2006
    Providence, RI
    Club:
    Reading FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Fixed your post. :D
     
  13. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Actually, my post was fine. The things you listed are just the OTHER HALF of the fun to be had in G-school.

    ;)
     
  14. needs

    needs Member

    Jan 16, 2003
    Brooklyn
    That's just the other half of the fun.

    And that quest doesn't go away once you've finished.

    Oh yeah, and congrats to fischerw
     
  15. LizAFC

    LizAFC New Member

    Jun 14, 2000
    San Jose
    There's almost nothing better than a good ranting/raving/complaining session.

    I don't know why, but it always makes me feel better to realize I'm not the only one with stuff to complain about. ;)
     
  16. fischerw

    fischerw Member+

    Sep 15, 2004
    Joplin, MO
    Club:
    Colorado Rapids
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Thanks to all you guys for the kudos. I'll be going to the University of Florida. I've always been a cold-climate guy (even when I lived near the equator I lived at 9,000 feet), so I might be more concerned about Gainesville's climate than I am about ridiculous amounts of work. But a guy can get used to anything, I say. Might need some tips on how to find the free food!
     
  17. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Go to every reception you hear about (welcoming receptions in your program at the beginning of the semester, receptions associated with visiting scholars, art gallery openings on campus, etc). And always bring a few ziploc bags to take home the leftovers that might still be edible when you get them to your refrigerator.

    I can't speak for every program, but the general rule of thumb is that you wait for the reception to end before you start bagging the food. Don't walk in, bag the food, then leave. That's tacky. So don't do that at events associated with your program. If you can raid the Econ department, for example, then it's okay, but never do that in your own program.
     
  18. needs

    needs Member

    Jan 16, 2003
    Brooklyn
    Congrats, I know a few people on the faculty there and they're really doing interesting work.

    I've found that area studies programs are the best bet for good food. Standard disciplinary events are ok, but you're dealing with the standard cheese cubes and veggie tray. But when you hit up middle eastern studies or east asian studies, that's where they really put out some good spreads, even Russian and East European Studies at Michigan had good food, even though all the food was some variation of off white. This is especially true of pot lucks in said departments. Oh, and anthropologists all seem to learn some local delicacy when they go do fieldwork, so they have good spreads.

    Also, any receptions where they're feting a donor, that's when departments go for the top rung on the university catering service.

    Another technique is just to put on a collared shirt and wander around the business school in the late afternoon.
     
  19. striker

    striker Member

    Aug 4, 1999
    Better still, get friendly with people working for your university's catering service. They can direct you to all the better receptions.
     
  20. fischerw

    fischerw Member+

    Sep 15, 2004
    Joplin, MO
    Club:
    Colorado Rapids
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Bigsoccer has done more for me than I ever thought possible. Thanks!
     
  21. uclacarlos

    uclacarlos Member+

    Aug 10, 2003
    east coast
    Club:
    FC Barcelona
    Nat'l Team:
    Spain
    God I love some of the tangents here!!!

    Food. Ummmm good. Fridays are always a good bet, too. That way, you can get a couple of glasses of wine, ride a nice buzz into the night b4 heading off to a bar w/ cohorts. Gatorade is great for hangovers. Good times!

    If you're on some type of social committee, go ahead and volunteer to take care of the wine. That way you pick what wines to serve.

    I straight up called myself Graduate Student Somelier. And I impressed a lot of ppl b/c I always got quality, interesting stuff for a good price. 'Course, that's really easy to do in California...
     
  22. Pierre-Henri

    Pierre-Henri New Member

    Jun 7, 2004
    Strasbourg, France.
    Always be nice with non-teaching staff. Because :
    a) they do an essential job.
    b) more than once, they'll save your day.

    Prof. Emeritus come and go, but a friendly clerk can give you the right paper at the right time.
     
  23. Dr. Wankler

    Dr. Wankler Member+

    May 2, 2001
    The Electric City
    Club:
    Chicago Fire
    Is that on your vita under "service"? ;) I kept similar duties off my vita because I wasn't in California, and the word "kegmeister" isn't going to help anyone find a decent academic position, except maybe as a Residential Advisor at Faber College.

    One would think that this piece of advice goes without saying. But I was struck nearly every year by how many graduate students treated staff (secretaries, administrative assistants, custodians, etc) worse than they'd treat a rented mule. So these are words to live by. Common courtesy on a daily basis will be repaid when you most need it.
     
  24. uclacarlos

    uclacarlos Member+

    Aug 10, 2003
    east coast
    Club:
    FC Barcelona
    Nat'l Team:
    Spain
    Quoted for truth.

    And it's not just the little things that they can do for you. Sometimes, they are guardians of incredible information that can really prove helpful: the dept. is just about to get a lil' bit of money to cover more things in the travel and conferences budget, so go ahead and amend your request to include X, Y and Z b/c nobody else has and you're likely to get it.

    Or they see a problem student heading towards your office hell-bent on giving you a hard time and so they distract them and send a messenger to clear you out b4 they get there.

    Treat them like the professionals they are and you are instantly respected. It's really, really sad but true.
     
  25. striker

    striker Member

    Aug 4, 1999
    If I were in charge of hiring, I would try to fire this non-teaching staff (if this example is part of a pattern). Info of the type you described should be made known to ALL who qualify for use of the fund and not just his/her buddies.
     

Share This Page