Tuesday, August 02, 2005


So today I went to one of the workshops set up by the AGEP program. We had a guest speaker (the dean of graduate studies) who spoke to us about graduate school and everything associated with it. Mainly he focused on his experience and how he had ended up as a PhD student. It was amazing to hear that someone of that stature had exactly the same doubts as I do. He said his main fear entering the program was that he wasn't going to measure up. He came from a small school and wasn't sure whether he was "good enough". It is my story!

He spoke about picking your mentor, you know...not to focus on personality, speak to other graduate students, make sure you know where his past students have gone....and then he said that you weren't really expected to know what you want to do, and that you should keep your mind open to other things. He said that when he went into grad school he knew he liked Physics..and that's about it. He landed in a lab by pure luck. Isn't this contradictory to what we go through when we apply to schools? I mean, when I was an undergrad I worked in a lab at UCLA and I distinctly remember telling them that I wanted to study something under the behavioral ecology umbrella...and their response to that was that this was too vague. I needed to pinpoint what I really wanted to do before I applied. So all of these years I have been struggling in deciding what it is I really want to study....but I am interested in everything. Apparently I was mislead. In fact I personally know an undergrad who didn't even want to go to grad school, but nonchalantly ended up applying to schools...since she didn't know what else she was going to do, and ended up attending Yale. She had NO CLUE what she wanted to study..or at least that's what I gathered. It just doesn't seem fair. I've been wanting to attend graduate school since I can remember, and here I am struggling everyday trying to feel like I deserve to be here...when all this time I have been working towards this. I guess I should be content with the fact that I am actually here.


At 8:17 AM , Blogger K said...

I completely understand where you're coming from. I remember when applying to graduate schools that we were to write very specific applications. Most of the time we were to talk to specific faculty members that we would like to work with, so that they could recommend us for acceptance. So I have always been under the impression that we needed to know exactly what we wanted to do before even thinking about applying. Right now I'm doing something that I'm not going to continue with. I don't know if this is going to affect me poorly later or not...

At 10:40 AM , Blogger Soma said...

Yes, it is all so confusing. When applying they almost make it seem like you have all of your project already laid out. Yet now that I am actually in a pogram I am free to "look around" for whatever might interest me, for the next couple of years. It feels so weird because it seems like I was accepted because of what I said on my application.....so I shouldn't want to change it...right? It's so confusing. I know that the application is just so that they get a feel for how you think and to see if you can put ideas together in a coherent manner....but they should really tell you this and not make it seem like you should have a project in mind already. It would have saved me a lot of stress.

I don't think that chaning your mind is a bad thing. In fact I think its great! It gives you more experience for the future so that later on you could make the right choices for yourself. You learn something new from every choice you make which you can carry on to the next job/opportunity. I was actually never interested in physiology. My goal was to study behavior (like I mentioned) but the school that I went to did not offer any studies in this discipline, so I started working with a Physiologist. Fortunately I loved the idea of looking at both physiology and behavior and I decided that for my PhD I wanted to continue with this type of study (hopefully I will still get to do that). Maybe you'll find that what you are working with now will impact how/what you work with later, and that no one else would have looked at it in that same manner because they didn't have the expeerineces you've had. I'm sure everything will turn out great! Everytime you close one door another opens. Good luck!


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