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#59679 - 09/10/04 10:01 PM Re: Graduate School
Loz
Ching Shih


Registered: 01/31/03
Posts: 297
Loc: Australia / UK

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I've edited this quite a long time after the event, because looking back, I'm not quite comfortable with putting this much detail on the board. I have in fact applied to the programme I originally wanted to do, and though I don't know if I'll get enough funding to go, I know I've made the right decision trying.

Thanks for all the advice then - it was and is much appreciated.


(For those now completely confused, this post originally detailed my troubles finding a balance between the sort of study I want to do, and the type of prestigious American programmes I was being encouraged to enter.)

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#59680 - 09/10/04 11:37 PM Re: Graduate School
cat
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/02/00
Posts: 1754
Loc: Northern California

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Speaking as a non-academic with a Ph.D. who is quite successful in my chosen (or drifted-into field), I can firmly say that it does not make you a failure. Knowing what you want to do and doing it can't possibly be a failure. Stand your ground, Loz! Your ideas sound great and right for you.

I've been through the dissertation mill at a high-powered American university, and let me tell you, it is the exact same sort of bullying, only for longer and on a grander scale. You'll meet faculty who will tell you you're worthless if you're not in the "right" field or getting a job at the "right" university. I decided not to become an academic, because my advisors' valuing of prestige, devaluing of interesting and useful work, and general assery made my blood boil and my self-esteem drop to nothing. It's a wearying, impoverishing, unhappy process, even if you love the work. A good friend of mine from grad school came over from Australia, and I must say I think she found the shock of the American system pretty brutal. Getting a PhD in America is often nasty, brutish, and way too long.

Now I work in a barely linked field that I enjoy (or rather several fields), I'm a freelancer by choice, and I have more work than I know what to do with. And my clients are impressed by my PhD, so it's not been totally worthless. I'm even venturing back into a little very fun academic research, which I am being paid to do.

Would it be possible to apply for one or two US universities and then just--not go? I'm just thinking if you need to do something to get your supervisor semi-on board, enough to write you the letters you need.

Do what you know is right for you. You ask if you're throwing a potential career away by choosing what you want to do. Well, sure, in a sense, but that's OK if you don't want the career. I threw away a potential career when I chose not to apply for academic jobs after grad school, but it was a career that I think would have made me quite unhappy, so I'm very happy with my choice.

To sum up, nobody should ever go to grad school in a program they don't feel totally, completely committed to. It's hard enough if you love what you're doing. It's unbearable if you don't.

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#59681 - 09/10/04 11:52 PM Re: Graduate School
FishDreamer Administrator
Ching Shih


Registered: 08/27/01
Posts: 2804
Loc: Windy City USA

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 Quote:
Originally posted by cat:
To sum up, nobody should ever go to grad school in a program they don't feel totally, completely committed to. It's hard enough if you love what you're doing. It's unbearable if you don't.
And that says it all. I don't know the field, Loz, and I'm still sans Masters let alone PhD, but I think you know what you want and you should go for it. The world is a big place and there will always be a need for your skills somewhere, and learning is never, ever wasted.

I know it's a huge decision, but I think you know your needs better than Mr Git. I just hope he's a big enough person to still give you the reference you need if you go contrary to his advice. I can't imagine why he wouldn't.

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#59682 - 09/11/04 11:11 AM Re: Graduate School
naomism
Ching Shih


Registered: 11/18/02
Posts: 757
Loc: Iraq

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Your supervisor is wrong about an interdisciplinary research being totally worthless. Interdisciplinary programs are all the rage in US academia, especially at research oriented universities.

But really, the bottom line is just what Cat and FishDreamer have said: if the program in Edinburgh will make you happiest, go for it!

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#59683 - 09/11/04 11:21 AM Re: Graduate School
Icequeen
Ching Shih


Registered: 07/29/04
Posts: 48
Loc: Canada

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I agree with both Fishdreamer and cat. If you attempt to do a PhD in something that you aren't totally committed to, you will have a really tough time of it and want to drop out.

I don't know about Australia, but here in Canada the program you are talking about going to at Edinburgh has an amazing reputation. I know of several people who have been there, loved it, and come back to a wide variety of jobs that they all love.

I am halfway through an MA in an interdisciplinary field at a university that prides itself on only having interdisciplinary graduate programs, so I'm a bit biased. But a lot of the folks around here think that interdisciplinarity is the way of the future. It makes sense to me. Research is more complete when done with a variety of disciplinary influences. Not everything falls neatly into the category of History (don't worry, my undergraduate is in History so I'm not pulling this out of thin air), particularly if you're not researching dead white men. In fact, History can even be a venue for interdisciplinary research. Still, think about the recent appearances of so-called disciplines that end in "Studies". Women's Studies, Cultural Studies, Canadian Studies, Australian Studies, Labour Studies, Aboriginal Studies etc. Those are really just blankets for interdisciplinarity. And they are attracting lots of attention.

A lot of academics shy away from interdisciplinarity because they think it will make their own research obsolete. It won't really, but it might force them to re-classify it or open it up to being more accessible. I think that as long as we are leading ourselves down a post-colonial path, there is going to be more and more need for interdisciplinarity.

There you have my two cents. It's up to people like us to force academia to progress as the "Old Boys Club" approaches retirement.

P.S. There is a book called Getting What You Came For by Robert L. Peters. It's very American-biased, but it helped me figure out a few things about applying to PhD programs and thiking about what I want to get from them. Even if you're not going to apply to U.S. universities, it might be worth picking up.

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#59684 - 09/11/04 01:46 PM Re: Graduate School
cat
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/02/00
Posts: 1754
Loc: Northern California

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Yes, Icequeen, I agree about interdisciplinarity-- interdisciplinary fields are definitely growing and people are getting jobs coming from them. Also, Loz, bear in mind that a lot of times older faculty think they know what's happening on the academic job market, but they haven't been on the market for twenty or thirty years and have no real idea what it's like. Take statements like "nobody ever gets a job by doing X" with a big grain of salt. (And, in the case of advice from your current supervisor, it sounds like it might help if the grain of salt were sitting on the rim of a margarita.)

By the way, Icequeen, if you're adding a postscript, you can edit your post (hit the icon that looks like a pencil & paper) rather than double posting. Thanks!

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#59685 - 09/11/04 02:13 PM Re: Graduate School
miercoles
Ching Shih


Registered: 10/29/00
Posts: 877
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI

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I'd just like to second the recommendation for the Robert L. Peters again, and be another voice to emphasize that if you're going to grad school, don't let anyone else tell you what's best for you. Too many advisors assume that you want to stay in academia, or want to be the biggest name in your field, and will advise you accordingly.

Have you talked with anyone involved in the project at Edinburgh? With more details and input from them, you might find it easier to tell Mr. Git, "These are my goals, and this is why the Edinburgh program is best for me."

Good luck!

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#59686 - 09/13/04 03:11 PM Re: Graduate School
CheshireCat
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/17/02
Posts: 158
Loc: Ponte Vedra Beach, FL USA

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Chiming in with those who want to pursue a graduate degree in something unrelated to their undergrad studies- like many of you, my BA is in English, and I want to purse an MFA in art practice- painting. I am not sure how realistic I am being about this... I only have 6 credits of studio work but I have been working intensively on developing my skills independently for more than a year since graduation, and I've made a lot of progress just in that time. I am attending a portfolio counsel at the Savannah College of Art & Design next weekend, hopefully this will give me some perspective.
Talk about expensive! I am willing to go into some debt for this, especially considering the MFA in studio art is a terminal degree, but I will need at least partial funding. You all suggest making this known to the school? Where is this appropriate? Statement of purpose? Application?
Good luck to everyone in grad school or applying like me. Thanks for your perspectives.

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#59687 - 09/28/04 07:24 AM Re: Graduate School
Loz
Ching Shih


Registered: 01/31/03
Posts: 297
Loc: Australia / UK

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Thank you so much for all the advice - it's very, very much appreciated. I think I've come to a workable compromise, one which doesn't involve me making a decision in the next five minutes, which is handy considering I've just started a new job overseas. Anyway, I've got lots to think about, and hopefully I'll be able to let my supervisor know what I want to do rather than what he wants me to do.
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#59688 - 09/29/04 08:33 AM Re: Graduate School
Icequeen
Ching Shih


Registered: 07/29/04
Posts: 48
Loc: Canada

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Hi all. I have a ponderance about scholarly writing. I'm about to present a paper at an academic conference for the first time and am worrying that it does not sound scholarly enough. I generally shy away from jargon and overly incomprehensible language but I'm starting to wonder if I've gone too far in the opposite direction. I would love for my academic meanderings to be written in plain language and therefore accessible. But how do I reconcile that with a need to please the scholarly types and therefore make a career for myself?

(I considered making a new thread somewhere called "Scholarly Writing", but I thought it might be better to post here. If anyone thinks that thread ought to be created or it already has been and I couldn't find it, please take action!)

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