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Gradschool Advice

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Higher-profile institutions are better for grad school - more funding security, name recognition
Also good if focused on grad students

Choice of advisor is more important than the choice of school
Compatible research interests are more important than personal connection with advisor

  • you have a business relationship
  • but it's nice if they are also a good advisor

Find out all about potential advisors

  • what they've published
  • what they're working on
  • whether they're tenured (more senior is better)
  • how many grad students (fewer is better)
  • ask CLSP and other profs about them (still active in field? do they have a lot of contacts? potentially good advisor?)

Then email them

  • tell them you're interested in their research (if you are) and want to know more about what they're working on and whether they're accepting grad students.
  • even, is this a good place to go to grad school? where would you go?
  • give them some way of remembering who you are.


Apply for a specific professor
They're interested in what you've done, what skills you have, the fact that you've done research and still want to continue
Show you have ability to do focused research, but also flexible/open to other paths
Looking for people who will advance scientific research and finish their PhD in the field they're applying for.
Not so interested in why you like what you do or your grand vision of the world

Maybe 2 changeable paragraphs in app essay - for different schools.
Be sure to include specific names of professors who you're interested in working with

Mark Johnson's app advice page


Talk to grad students, especially those of the profs you want, and get the real scoop

Sometimes interviews are before funding decisions; "mutual sucking up time", but don't be afraid to ask tough questions!
Visits are in Feb/March.

In grad school...

Remember your goal is to get your PhD, and as quickly as possible (ok if your research has a negative result or not earthshattering)

G.M. says: Having just about finished, looking back I think [that]'s half true. Graduate school isn't about trying to make a huge discovery, but as I get older, I think perhaps research isn't either. More and more I'm convinced that research is about pursuing what is important to you, exploring problems and creating software which you enjoy. It has to be meaningful to you. If you're doing that, everything else falls into place.

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Page last modified on April 01, 2006, at 05:29 PM