What graduate school is about: goals and survival skills

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SIGNEWGRAD
Professor Lloyd - 416 Smith Hall - [email protected]
Mondays - 3:30 to 4:45PM
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What is SIGNEWGRAD all about?
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Presentation and discussion
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what to expect in graduate school (especially in a PhD program)
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things you need to know
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how to hopefully succeed
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Presentations by all twenty department faculty on their research (25
minutes per faculty member)
SIGNEWGRAD
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Why this course?
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Graduate school, especially a PhD program is very different
Knowing about faculty research areas is important
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Your thesis area and topic, your research advisor
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Where to get certain kinds of help on your thesis
New students generally do not really know what to expect
What is expected of the students in SIGNEWGRAD?
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Attend class - attendance will be taken; at most two absences
Be attentive, ask questions, participate!
Complete one assignment (at least two pages) for another course
this semester using Latex
Graduate School - The Basics
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Why graduate school?
What earning a PhD is all about
Survival skills, issues
Adapted from presentations and slides by:
A. Condon - University of British Columbia
C. Yiu - Penn State University
S. Eggers - University of Washington
S. Humphreys - UC Berkeley
J. Cuny - University of Washington
The CRA-W Grad Cohort for Women Program
Special thanks to Professor Pollock
Why earn a PhD?
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You want to do research, discover new knowledge
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You need a PhD to get the job you want
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Professor
Industrial research lab
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You want to be able to say that you have a “PhD”
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Could not get the job you wanted
What earning a PhD is about
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Becoming broadly trained at a reasonably high level in
computer science
Becoming an expert in some specialized area of
computer science
Becoming a state of the art researcher in your
specialized area
How to succeed in graduate school
Work VERY hard
It is a ‘full time’++ job
You are largely your own boss
“Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Accordingly a genius is often merely
a talented person who has done all of his or her homework” - Thomas Edison
Redefining success
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Class performance is important, but not as important as before
In research:
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the direction is often ambiguous
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no-one knows the answers!
Learn from all aspects of grad school
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Classes: engage in discussions, ask questions!
Projects: develop assessment, writing skills
Seminars: learn how to frame an idea
... and ask questions!
People: sound out ideas
Papers: learn the art of reading a paper -- use
spare time to find and read interesting papers
What about your courses?
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Learn about likely research areas
Learn about important techniques
Initially, try courses in a broad range of areas
Get project experience
Learn about the profs ... and impress them!
What about research?
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"If you want to make important discoveries, work on
important problems” - P.B. Medawar
"A successful life is one that is lived through
understanding and pursuing one's own path, not chasing
after the dreams of others” - Chin-Ning Chu
"The joy of research must be found in doing, since every
… harvest is uncertain” - T. Smith
Communicate technical material well
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Distill complex ideas down to a few clear, concise
statements
Volunteer to present in seminars
Get (and give) feedback
Practice, practice, practice!
Manage your time
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Prioritize
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Eliminate context-switching overhead
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Decide what is most important
Make time to think about and do research!
For TA duties, respond to emails in batches, rather than being
interrupt-driven
For research, allocate several contiguous hours & eliminate
distractions
Plan ahead for departmental milestones
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qualifying exams, breadth requirements, finding an advisor
Adjusting to grad school
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Common transition reaction: insecurity
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Everybody arrives with different strengths
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Do I know enough?
Am I smart enough?
They went to Harvard …
But really, everyone is in the same boat
Hard work makes up for a lot
Grad school is very “bursty”
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At times, it will demand enormous amounts of time
Give yourself time to recover between the bursts
A positive, proactive approach
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You are in charge of your graduate career...
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You need to make things happen
You CAN make things happen
Always believe in yourself
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it’s normal to lose confidence sometimes
if you always excel, you’re probably not taking enough risks
find others who believe in you too
celebrate each step forward!
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