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The process in other disciplines

Saw a link on applyingtograd today to this, a report on grad school and the grad school admissions process written by a computer science professor:

http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~harchol/gradschooltalk.pdf

It's designed, naturally, for computer scientists and is applicable also to other scientists, mathematicians, and engineers, but seeing as I don't feel like grading papers, I read the whole thing anyway and found it fascinating. There's some general advice in here that applies to us English folk, too, but more than that, this was the best explanation I've seen of how graduate programs in the hard sciences work, which is something I knew far less about prior to reading this. Thought I'd pass it along for anyone else who wants to procrastinate....

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
theagedp
Apr. 24th, 2009 01:35 pm (UTC)
I found this fascinating - because the appeal of the PhD is essentially the same across disciplines.. sort of:
"at the end of the Ph.D. you will be the world expert or close to it in your particular area. You will know more than your advisor about your particular research area. You will know about your research than anyone at your school."
This is why, beyond anything career-related, the PhD so appeals to me. The opportunity to create totally new research and scholarship means carving out a tiny little uncharted niche for myself. It's adventurous, in a sort of geeky, academic way. But it also seems like this drive would have to be a lot stronger in a field like CS. Doing a PhD means foregoing the often very lucrative career paths open to someone with a Bachelor's in CS. There are far fewer non-academic opportunities open in the English world. I would expect the process in CS to be significantly less competitive as a result, though I have no idea if this is true.
The focus on research above all else is the same as the perceived emphasis on the writing sample in our field: ad-coms want original thought.
greekdaph
Apr. 25th, 2009 01:27 am (UTC)
Thanks for these thoughts!

The "world expert" sentence is the one that struck me most, too. It's both terrifying--how will I come up with a topic? how will I know for sure I'm on the right track?--and very exciting. Adventurous, indeed.

And yes, the document does a good job outlining the peculiar drive that would propel someone to leave what could be a lucrative career in order to pursue research. I'm comforted by thinking that English is a little less lonely a discipline--it's always about being in conversation, whether only with texts or with texts and students/colleagues/etc.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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