After six and a half years of toil and sweat, I was finally done! One thought that has repeatedly struck me is how much easier graduate school might have been if somehow, magically, some of the things I knew when I turned in my dissertation I could have known when I first entered graduate school. Of course, for many topics this is impossible: the point of graduate school is to learn those by going through the experience. ” After much soul searching, I found my answer and decided to take the test again, passed it, and went on to get my Ph. I did not want to “bring yesterday’s technology one step closer to tomorrow.” I wanted a job that would I find interesting, challenging and stimulating. Graduate school made a lot more sense and became much easier for me after I realized this.However, I believe other lessons can be taught ahead of time. While I had to learn everything the hard way, new graduate students might benefit from my experiences and what I learned. Very little of this guide discusses technical matters. graduate student who didn’t at one point wish he or she had a stronger mathematical background. is a long, hard road with many potholes and washed out bridges along the way. If you think of graduate school as an “Ivory Tower” free of politics, money problems, and real-world concerns, you are going to be severely disappointed.

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This guide covers the character traits and social skills that often separate the “star” graduate students from the ordinary ones. has a better “bucks for the time invested” ratio than the Ph. If you do not have an acceptable answer to this question, then don’t get a Ph. But if you don’t know why you are on this road, then you will get discouraged and will probably leave without finishing, having wasted years of your life. In general, RA’s are more desirable to students since those can directly fund the research you need to finish. Your professors have to raise funds from external organizations.

Who are the students who are self-motivated, take initiative, find ways around obstacles, communicate well both orally and in writing, and get along well enough with their committee and other department members to marshal resources to their cause? salaries, but the difference doesn’t make up for the income lost by staying in school longer. I faced this situation after the first time I took the Doctoral Written Exam (which at the time was the entrance examination into the Ph. These include government agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Office of Naval Research (ONR), and others.

Which students seem to know “how the system works” and manage to get things done? graduate students, but these observations are probably broad enough to apply to graduate education in other technical fields. Obviously, these are only my opinions and may not represent the views of other sane individuals or organizations. Private companies also fund some university research, and as government funding has become harder to get. For example, Intel spends tens of millions of dollars a year funding university research centers.

These traits are hardly unique to succeeding in graduate school; they are the same ones vital to success in academic or industrial careers, which is probably why many of the best graduate students that I knew were ones who had spent some time working before they came back to school. My conclusions are certainly colored by my particular experiences (doing my dissertation work in interactive computer graphics in the Computer Science department of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) but I think they are fairly general in application and should be of interest to readers at other schools and other C. Some points may be controversial, but if they weren’t this would not be interesting reading. These organizations don’t just give money away as charity. Increasingly these days, this takes the form of a contract for a working demonstration that must be shown at the end. If the RA’s cannot successfully conduct the research, then the demonstration will not work in the end and the funding agencies may not be happy.

Parts of this document come from two informal talks I gave at UNC about “the Ph. job hunt” and “observations from spending one year in industrial research.” Both talks had larger audiences than any informal talk I gave at UNC, which told me that students are definitely interested in these subjects! That means once the money is delivered, your professors must come through with the working demonstration. Instead, they find some very capable, young, self-motivated people who are willing to work long hours for small amounts of pay. They may choose to not fund your professor in the future, which will bring his or her research program to a halt.

This guide does not discuss how to be accepted for admission into graduate school. And there are many professors and other researchers chasing too few research dollars these days; it is a competitive market.

I have never been a professor, so I do not have insights to share on how professors decide which students to admit. Thus, each professor wants the best students available.

A computer science graduate school survival guide, intended for prospective or novice graduate students. In hindsight, I think one of the main reasons I successfully completed the Ph. was the fact that I pass the exam on the first try.

This guide describes what I wish I had known at the start of graduate school but had to learn the hard way instead. If I took the Doctoral Written Exam again and failed again, then I could say that it wasn’t meant to be and move on with my life. without taking the test a second time, and five years later I was in a job that was boring and uninteresting, then I would have to lie awake every night for the rest of my life wondering “What if? It’s ironic, but life sometimes works in strange ways. if it is required for your goals after graduate school, such as becoming a professor or a researcher in academia, government or industry. As long as you have an answer that you believe in passionately, then that’s enough.

It focuses on mental toughness and the skills a graduate student needs. In February 1995, on a beautiful sunny day with clear Carolina blue skies, I turned in the final, signed copy of my dissertation. because I wanted to get a research position after leaving graduate school. I would have no regrets because I had given it my best shot and was not able to make it. That initial failure caused me to answer the basic question, providing the mental fortitude to keep going despite the hurdles and problems I would later face. If you don’t have an answer, then save yourself a lot of grief and don't get the Ph. The best answer to this question I have ever seen comes from William Lipscomb, a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry. It is certainly not the Real World and does not work in the same way that the ordinary corporate world does.

The guide also discusses finding a job after completing the Ph. The graduate school staff member did some last-minute checks on the document and pronounced it acceptable. department building, I was sorely disappointed that the heavens didn‘t part, with trumpet-playing angels descending to announce this monumental occasion. Fred Brooks (one of my committee members) commented, “And the sad fact is, you’re no smarter today than you were yesterday.” “That’s true,” I replied, “but the important thing is that I am smarter than I was six and a half years ago.” I wrote the first version of this guide two years after graduating, after reflecting upon my graduate student career. So this test result forced me to answer the basic question “Why the hell am I doing this? I wanted to work with the state of the art and extend it. would give me a chance at landing a research position, the Ph. He said, Academia is a business, and “graduate student” is a job title. However, it is a business nonetheless and as a graduate student, you must treat it that way.