Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Ph.D. training programs- trying to resist comparisons.

In my sabbatical lab, I am working mainly with graduate students. In trying to relate to them, I have been doing a lot of mental comparisons from my program to theirs. Occasionally I will comment on the differences, but it IS taking a lot of effort to keep my "mouth filter" on the high setting. First off, no one wants to hear how much better it was for you in the good 'ol days. Second, I've been here a few weeks. I really don't know all the details and would be speaking from a position of ignorance. Third, the programs aren't really comparable.

My grad program was large, old, had an institutional training grant, and was associated with a medical school. All students were 100% supported for their entire time of study. The program had many extra-curriculars for the students, and there was good cohesiveness among the student cohorts. We all suffered together. It was rare that the students lingered too long. In fact, at 6.2 years, they were a little worried about me...

My preliminary impression is that these students seems to be staying much longer than might be necessary, and they don't seem to have the journal clubs, "Kandel" clubs, picnics, career and ethics seminar series, etc. that we did. I heard that some of their students have had to take out loans when their advisor didn't get a grant or renewal. I know of at least one that pays for professional meetings out of his own pocket (even when presenting data).

On the other hand, the students in my lab are getting good results, getting papers published, seem to get along well, and  play volleyball together in the evenings.

How about YOU? How did your Ph.D. training program compare to others you know about?


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