Last week, I defended my dissertation. While I knew how to prepare the written dissertation, and the public talk, the third component – the closed-door session in which my committee examined me – was mysterious. I’d asked about 8 people over the years what their closed-door sessions were like, and all of them told me that they couldn’t remember. So, while my experience might not be typical, it is at least an experience, and thus potentially a useful data point. Your mileage may vary.
Category: Graduate Life
Writing big projects is hard. Virtually every single graduate student I know struggles with writing to some degree. Some hide it better than others. Some power through it with pure, teeth-clenching grit. Many simply fail. Large, multi-year projects, such as books, dissertations, or theses, require extensive scheduling, planning, and project management. However, few advanced students are equipped with the tools to tackle such large projects.
I’ve heard often as a graduate student that it is important to set aside time to think. However, it seems like all of us struggle with actually following that advice, especially early in our career. As I’ve finished taking classes and have a much more flexible schedule this summer, it is prime time for me to make sure I sit and think enough to plan out my dissertation. However, I’ve found a couple of things are making it rather difficult for me to actually purposefully do nothing but think and I suspect most of us run into these problems.
We’re well into the season of prospective graduate students visiting graduate schools and trying to decide where to spend possibly the next five or more years of their lives working pretty darn hard doing something they hopefully love. There are a lot of things to consider when thinking about graduate schools and lists exist that are much more thorough than I could achieve, but one thing that many students probably don’t consider is health insurance (I know I didn’t).
I’ve been lucky in my graduate career to never need to TA to fund myself. However, my advisor made the excellent point that it is important to know whether you like teaching when considering trying to become a professor and I honestly didn’t know whether I did or not. I have to admit that I was pretty intimidated by the idea of TAing at all since we’ve all heard the horror stories of a crazy amount of work and horrible students. Therefore, when asked what my first choice of a class would be, I decided that the intro to programming class that teaches brand new students Python was a safe bet (my undergraduate career was pretty Python heavy). I figured that I should be fairly familiar with all the topics covered and wouldn’t need to brush […]