Tuesday, July 06, 2004

I used to wonder if I should stay in the "research" field just so I could try to change its structure/environment. But I reached the same conclusion you did -- I wouldn't be helping anything because I would be completely miserable. Plus, it could actually drive me insane. All in all, my graduate school experience wasn't ALL negative, I just feel it could have been much more positive. Or rather, I wish that the positive mentors I did have had as much "power" and "influence" as my actual advisor. But in general I think we are both still pretty optimistic. So there is hope :)

About your hypothetical question -- I would not encourage any of my potential future students to go into a physics/astronomy graduate program simply because they would be woefully underprepared, having no physics beyond General Physics, in the curriculum. If that was the path they really wanted to pursue, I would hopefully catch them early enough to recommend they transfer to a different college or university with a physics program.
Now, about in any other field -- this is tricky. The only current way to a job like the one I will start soon, even though it involves little research, is via a Ph.D. in physics or astronomy. So if a student expressed interest and ability in something like that, I don't think I would shut that door for them, but really talk to them and make sure they know what they're getting into and how to make it the best experience possible. If a student, on the other hand, is really interested in research, I would do a similar thing. I think graduate school has the potential to be very good -- time to focus on research, learn from an "expert" and so on. And I would like to believe that some graduate programs and advisors really help you make the most of your experience. But I think people should enter into it much less naively than I did. I would, however, also present other options for students beyond the typical M.S. + Ph.D. route.

I don't think we'll get very far if we actively discourage students from pursuing graduate school. There must be some way to improve it from within, even though we are sort of working from with-out?

If you were in my position, what would be your hypothetical answer?

- makigirl

PS Thank you :)


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