multiple moves/mentoring

cboake at utk.edu cboake at utk.edu
Mon Jun 17 19:02:20 EST 1996


In article <4q0555$dkq at abel.cc.sunysb.edu>, dkat at psych1.psy.sunysb.edu
(DK) wrote:

> it seems that some serious effort
> should be made to make students aware of the facts before they enter
> Graduate school.  Being the cynic I am, I doubt Universities would see
> this as being in their best interest.  So the question I then come to
> is do we as women want to discourage other women from entering the
> field because it like most of life is not going to be easy?  DK  

These are tough issues.  My university has its head in the sand regarding
job availability, and wants us to crank out MSs and PhDs as though the job
market in all fields were infinite.  I am tending towards a two-tiered
approach -- train mostly MS students, most of whom will be able to get
some kind of satisfying job.  From the MS students, choose the very best
to encourage to pursue a PhD, and explain to those students what lies
ahead.  
  I try to spend a lot of time in my lab (until recently my main computer
was there and I wrote papers and proposals there) and let my students know
what I'm doing.  That is, they get a good idea of just how much of my time
is spent on teaching, administration, preparing proposals and other
non-research pursuits.  I also let them know enough about my past so that
they can figure out how many times I have moved and how long it was
between PhD and tenure-track job. I point out that although intelligence
is a key to the door in academia, motivation and drive get you through the
door.  I also try to give my students lots of positive reinforcement in
the form of public praise when they work hard or complete a study or get
some interesting result.  I want them to begin to feel the positive and
exciting side of science.  I hope that with this mixture of warnings and
praise, I can encourage promising students of either sex.  
  I think that some graduate students are very clear on how many moves are
likely to be required of them, and that others are babes in the wood.  I
don't know why this is; most students don't attend grad school at their
undergraduate institution, so I would expect them to be expecting to move
again.  Furthermore, if they have their eyes open, they see that the
faculty and staff are the only constants in their department (and
generally the faculty came from other places).
--Chris Boake



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