[url=http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1078]PHD Comics: Enrollment vs. Unemployment Rate[/url]
I would say that yes the general economy has something to do with graduate enrollments but I don't think it has that much to do with graduation rates, as there is always a post doc position for you somewhere. You can "hide out" in academia through post docs for awhile after grad school, so I doubt people are delaying graduation for that reason.
Yes, but in the middle of bad economic times are they willing to tough it out instead of take the pity MA? That might be an interesting micro-study.
Basically, it's a behavioral economics question about how people make decisions about perceived future utility.
I don't understand what the rationale for leaving a PhD early would be. I can't imagine leaving a PhD prematurely unless I had something really promising lined up or was ignorant enough to think that a PhD wouldn't be an asset later in my career. I have known people who have left for both reasons. I have also known people who are forced out and become career techs or nurses afterwards.
People like to apply economic terms to academia and find that academics just don't follow expected patterns of behavior. Unlike in industry where the criteria for success is clear and everyone is out to make money, the motivations for academics range from ego to politics to prestige to revenge to whatever. I think we are all in academia instead of a different place (and in our specific fields instead of financial services or whatever) because of a passion that allows us to be okay with not making much money and living like the transient underclass that we are.
There isn't much rationale behind leaving a PhD program besides the fact that you just can,t do it. Most people who drop out of PhD programs realize, after a year or two, that they have no clue what they want to study and have no idea what to write their PhD on. Finishing a PhD takes a huge amount of self motivation and the ability to work alone and without help for basically half a decade at the least. The attrition rates in a lot of PhD programs are high simply because the cost/benefit of staying in a five year academic program when you aren't sure you can produce the work needed to get out of it is huge.
I think also that the attrition rate is increased in large part by people who realize for the first time that their career prospects are not as rosy with a PhD than they had thought. I wonder what the statistics are of people who start a PhD and then go to a different professional degree eg. jd, md, do, dds, dvm etc. I would bet it is high.
[quote]There isn't much rationale behind leaving a PhD program besides the fact that you just can,t do it. Most people who drop out of PhD programs realize, after a year or two, that they have no clue what they want to study and have no idea what to write their PhD on.[/quote]
I agree with this. There's also a subset of people who are focused and capable of doing the work, but they just absolutely hate it, often because they're in an unsupportive advisor-advisee relationship.
[quote]Finishing a PhD takes a huge amount of self motivation and the ability to work alone and without help for basically half a decade at the least.[/quote]
And the skillset required to do it successfully is very different from the skillset required to complete an undergraduate degree successfully. The lack of structure is really tough for a lot of people -- it's been tough for me.
Grad school is often not all that fun, like when you're in lab at 7:44 AM on a Saturday morning. (Not that I would complain about something like that.)
My dad did his PhD and the only thing he ever told me about the process was that finishing depends on:
a) Enjoying your research
b) Realizing that at times the research you enjoyed you will also hate.
It seems to be a bit of a love hate thing. In essence though, I don't think most people can finish a PhD unless they enjoy their research from the outset but also have a knowledge of the fact that some moments during the course of their PhD they will absolutely feel like throwing their work into the garbage and enrolling in law school or something.
I want to get an M.S. or Meng in Industrial engineering with a specialization in operations research and decisions analysis. For undergrad I am double major in math and economics. It is my understanding from research that differential equations is a very important math class to take and do well in for engineering. I got a C, but later on I got an A in non linear systems which deals with systems of differential equations (instead of solving one you have to solve many at the same time.) Does doing well in a class that builds off a class that I did poorly in make up for an earlier bad grade? Or do I have to retake diff eqs?
"I don't understand what the rationale for leaving a PhD early would be. I can't imagine leaving a PhD prematurely unless I had something really promising lined up or was ignorant enough to think that a PhD wouldn't be an asset later in my career."
Are you in a Ph.D program? If you aren't, that's probably why you don't understand a rationale for leaving a Ph.D program is and why you can't imagine doing so. I'm in a great program in my field and I absolutely love it. However, I think (not seriously) about dropping out at least once a week! I panicked until I was told by higher-up Ph.D students that this is relatively normal, to a point. Graduate school is difficult and doctoral programs require a singular dedication. You have to be able to sustain interest in a field for 5+ years, including one big project for 1-2+ years. Some people lose interest. Others realize that for them, the investment of time and money isn't worth the outcomes at the end. Still others leave to have families or develop themselves personally. Some people realize that they really don't even like doing research and they don't want to be in academia. There are a myriad of reasons for leaving Ph.D programs and not all of them are bad, nor do they mean that they just can't do it. It just means that they'd rather be investing their time and money in some other way.
Euler321: Not necessarily. One bad grade will not kill your graduate school application -- plenty of students in master's and Ph.D programs right now got Cs or lower in some classes, even ones that are important to their field. I, for one, failed social psychology the first time around -- and I'm in a social psychology graduate program right now. (What's more, I didn't retake the class until first semester senior year, so my new program never saw the replaced, better grade for the class.) I do think that the fact that the rest of my major and my transcript was pretty tight helped me out. I wouldn't retake the class, necessarily, unless you feel like you didn't learn the material well enough to do well in an engineering curriculum.
Juillet, I am not currently in a PhD program but have been working in a lab for seven years. I have significant exposure to grad students, many have started and completed a PhD while I have been working. I am not naive about the challenges and adversity associated with a PhD. That doesn't change my views that a PhD is worth it and dropping out is unfathomable. If you are unable to work in a field for 5+ years or on a single projects for a couple of years, you really won't succeed as a professional, in any field. What do you think that people end up doing after they drop out of a PhD program? I bet they spend more than 5 years doing it.
It might be more interesting work than what they're doing for their PhD (as well as financially rewarding).
Hi, I've been browsing through and have been very impressed by the thoughtful replies. Especially those by the professors who are giving their valuable time to us prospective students. I have a two part question:
I have a year or two of real world experience and through this have realized how much of a passion I have for reading, writing and teaching. As such, a PhD seems to be the way to go. I was a decent student (a 3.47 or so) and have a good GRE (1430), but don't have much to show in terms of research. I am thinking about writing a long (30 page) research paper on my areas of interest. Is this a good idea or a waste of time? I am now interested in how history and political context has impacted culture (literature, film, music) and don't have any writing that I can refer to. If I write a great paper on these topics, I feel that I will can articulate my passion. Will the fact that it wasn't an assignment hurt or help me? I just want to differentiate myself from what will be a competitive program, as my grades weren't great.
Also, are cross-disciplinary PhD's assets on the job market or would it be more judicious to go for a single focus and make it as broad as possible. Like an English degree, but also dipping into history and film. There are good cross-disciplinary programs at Stanford and UC-Berk, but I don't want to hang all my hope on acceptance at those schools. Thanks for your help and pardon my long message!
There are several interdisciplinary PhD programs and some joint PhD like Histoy and Anthropology.
Grad school is waaaayyy more than just "passion for reading, writing, and teaching." It's a different kind of work up here. You need to decide which of the three you enjoy the most. You can do some English literature work in your History PhD, more like visual culture. You can do an English/Comp Lit PhD and use history and film as background. English/Comp Lit and History compelment each other very well. It's a question of which one would you enjoy much more in terms of courses and the study material for the comprehensive exams.
Research is, at minimum, your senior thesis. If you already wrote one, that's perfectly fine and you can use it for a writing sample. I wouldn't go about doing your own research paper without supervision of a faculty member to guide you along how to write a great paper.
Just wondering about applying to dual degree/joint degree programs. I'm interested in an MA in IR or Mid-East/Near Eastern studies, but I've also lately been keen on an MBA with a focus in non-profit management. In terms of the application process, in which scenario is it most likely to obtain an MA + MBA:
A) Apply to grad school, get accepted and enroll, apply for b school during/after year 1
B) Apply to b school, get accepted and enroll, apply for grad school during/after year 1
C) Apply to both graduate and business programs at various universities, see which programs offer acceptance, then decide best fit of MA and/or MBA
In terms of my interests/qualifications if that helps in responding, I'm interested in careers in nonprofit organizations, governmental/diplomatic post, or other positions with an international focus. My undergrad background is political science / near eastern studies. The universities I'm exploring currently for MA/MBA programs (in order of preference as of now) are Stanford, UChicago, UMichigan, Berkeley, Northwestern, NYU, Georgetown, Columbia, Yale, Harvard. I am a recent graduate from one of the listed schools, with a 3.5 GPA while playing a Division 1 sport. Won't apply until fall 2010 to enroll fall 2011, so I can have a solid 3-4 work experience at that point.
Any feedback, comments, ideas greatly appreciated.
[quote]I don't think I've noticed as many grad students here at Caltech smoking as I did at CMU, but that might be more due to the sheer number of people at CMU being on a campus that feels about the same size.[/quote]
Smoking seems more common amongst east asian students. I almost never see any americans smoking, but late at night I always see a bunch of chinese or korean students sitting outside buildings talking and smoking.
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