length of grad. student careers

4700gbera at umbsky.cc.umb.edu 4700gbera at umbsky.cc.umb.edu
Thu Aug 1 09:04:25 EST 1996


In article <Pine.A32.3.92a.960731190749.62656B-100000 at homer30.u.washington.edu>, Sarah Boomer <sarai at u.washington.edu> writes:
>This is another very interesting topic to me and I'd love to hear people's
>impression of my outlook, particularly given the one person's comment
>about people perceiving that 6 years was too long.
>
[major snippage]
>So - here are some specific questions for the group:
>
>Is seven years under such circumstances a horrific, disgraceful thing?  Am
>I right to just want to leave science and get my masters in education and
>say it was fun but...

I was under the impression that seven years was the average for biology
fields. It took me seven years, although whenever field work is involved
you never know how long it's going to take you. I did probably do a bit
more than I had to, but it was worth it. I'm going to be starting a 
terrific post-doc in the fall, so taking seven years can't be all that
bad. 

>What is the average time - particularly in a field like molecular/virology
>and are other dept's dealing with these kind of problems?

I dont' think our department has a clue as to how to deal with this sort
of problem. One big problem is with assistantships - heavy teaching loads
really do make it difficult to get a lot of work done. Or working as 
a research assistant and having to stick with a strict 20 hour per week
schedule. I think the most important thing is to have an advisor whose main
concern is his or her graduate students, and getting them through the system.

>How do other dept's perceive issues like weeding the garden (masters
>doorprizes), equalizing committees?

In our department an MS is considered an end in it's own right, not a 
doorprize. Heck, those are the people who are going to have steady jobs!

>What do you all do when the project crashes and burns and the student has
>been a productive, decent, and loving person for 3-4 years?

Another big problem is, as you mentioned previously, the projects themselves.
An advisor really has to guide their students into a proposal that is 
do-able in a reasonable amount of time. And the committee should give
timely feedback (assuming you've kept them up-to-date on your work) and
should not, at the last minute, decide a certain peice of work is incomplete,
despite the fact they agreed to it earlier. 


good luck!!


-gb



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