grad students' expectations (was: why I want to be a prof)

Kathleen Ann Sindt kas4e at
Fri Apr 26 10:33:20 EST 1996

ravena at  writes:

> > that the age of guarenteed faculty positions are gone.  These students
> > are coming in incredibly naive, and ill informed about doing science 
> > in the '90s.  There is a conflict between the desire to have students
> > as hands (immoral as it is), perhaps more gently described as 
> > the desire to encourage students to go on in science, and our duty
> > to tell them the way of the real world before they embark upon this.
> > I know a lot of students and postdocs who feel bitter becvause
> > "it wasnt supoposed to be like this".  I felt the same way and
> > I got my degree in '89.  Why do the students still not know how it 
> > really is?

It's called poor undergraduate advising.  

I'm currently participating in a mentoring program started by
our Women's Center on campus and have realized quite quickly
how little undergrads are being told about job availability/options 
in science.  The undergrad female I am mentoring is a highly
motivated ambitious young woman who isn't afraid to ask
questions and consider other options.  Yet, her academic
advisor has obviously volunteered little info to her, and was
NOT even told that most perspective biology majors take chemistry
their freshmen year.  (She came in with AP Biology credit and
was assigned a biology department advisor) Once she realized
this mistake, it was too late to get into chemistry.  This
lesson really taught her that she can't afford to be naive and
now realizes that she isn't necessarily going to be *told*
everything she should know about her future career options.

I entered grad school knowing that the job market wasn't
wonderful anymore and that funding was incredibly tight in
1990.  What I didn't realize was how poorly grad school trains
me for anything besides a "post-doc."  I'm missing skills I
really wish I had.  Had I thought about it earlier - I could
have obtained some of those skills during my grad school career
- though it would have been an untraditional thing to do.  But,
the "system" isn't set up to force students to really think
about how they want to use their degree in today's society.
Nobody has ever asked me what I want to do "in the long run."
Yes, it's my own fault for not really thinking about that
early on, but, then, I also didn't realize I needed to be
thinking about it.  

Anyway, I think the naviety continues to exist because the cold
harsh facts aren't forced into our face and we aren't directly
told or helped or encouraged to tailor our education to our
personal long term goals.  
Kathie Sindt
kas4e at

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