Post Academic

Don’t Be the Van Wilder of Your Grad Program

Posted in Housekeeping,Surviving Grad School by Caroline Roberts on May 12, 2010
Tags: , ,

Image Source,Photobucket Uploader Firefox ExtensionI recently met a PhD student from a large, well-respected program. He stands a good chance of getting a job, and I asked him what his program was like. He said that the program has started pushing people harder to finish on time.

While there are definite financial benefits to lingering in a grad program, which Arnold has mentioned, grad students can gauge the health of a program not only by how many people get jobs but also by how quickly people get done. Shorter time-to-degree indicates the following:

1. Advisors that help move you along.
2. Enough financial support so you can focus on your research and finish the dissertation.
3. Respect for the future, not to mention the sanity, of grad students.

More after the jump! Image from the 1909 Tyee (yearbook of the University of Washington), public domain, Wikimedia Commons.

It’s good news that there’s at least one grad program taking an active interest in helping students through. To a grad student, it might seem like nosiness or unwarranted pressure, but it’s far worse to be ignored. The last thing you want is for your advisor or your program to forget you’re there.

All cases are different, of course. People with great advisors might choose a dissertation topic that takes a few extra years. Or maybe people went through a few advisors before finding someone who was willing to mentor them.

Whether you’re a grad student or a professor, though, you need to ask tough questions if it takes a long time to complete a degree in your program. The program might be perfect in every other way, but remember that a grad program should be treated like a stepping stone to a job, not like a permanent condition.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: