multiple moves/mentoring

Hannah Dvorak hdvorak at cns.caltech.edu
Wed Jun 19 10:05:59 EST 1996


My two cents' worth, from someone who is still a grad student and
certainly was naive coming in...  (Sorry this article's going to be
so long - but I felt snipping any more of it would not keep my 
remarks in context.)

In article <4q7v2t$jp4 at abel.cc.sunysb.edu>, dkat at psych1.psy.sunysb.edu (DK) says:
>
>On Tue, 18 Jun 1996 23:52:56 GMT, you wrote:
>
>>cboake at utk.edu writes:
>>> In article <4q0555$dkq at abel.cc.sunysb.edu>, dkat at psych1.psy.sunysb.edu
>>> (DK) wrote:
>>> 
>I have no memory of saying this or can I find  it in saved posts
>>> > 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
>
>>Only naive students enter graduate school without knowing the
>>facts and the tough road ahead.  How many women on this
>>newsgroup entered graduate school feel they didn't have the
>>facts?

I, for one - see below...

>  
>Apparently you have missed some of the threads.  I have been demonized
>for saying the same thing but in a less mature and polite way (late at
>night and feeling bitchy).
>
>I originally stated -
>
>"Am I alone or does this seem like an odd comment and a small child
>whining about not getting the moon?  If you are in academia, how can
>you possibly expect to not move when you are through with graduate
>school or finishing a post-doc?  What does being male or female have
>to do with it?  Should they move the University that has a position to
>you?   I have known many males and females that have problems getting
>positions in the same locations as their significant other.  More
>often than not, if you are good and the University wants you, they
>make arrangements for jobs for both people.
>
>There is enough sexism to deal with without demeaning it by asking for
>impossible things."
>
>in response to "
>> I really feel that the entire science career track is
>>anti-family and anti-relationship because of the unwritten (or written)
>>rules about having to move so many times throughout one's career in
>>science. 
>> I have known women (and I'm sure there are quite a few men, too)
>>who have been denied post doc fellowships because they didn't pick up and
>>move across the country (which would have been difficult because of
>>family). "  - sarah boomer

I have to say, the only thing I probably _wasn't_ naive about was
the necessity of moving around; this was obvious to me during the
grad school application process, when three out of the five grad
schools to which I applied, including the one I'm at, were >2500
miles away from my undergrad institution.  However, I didn't really
know anything else about grad school - all I knew was that I wanted
to stay in school and keep learning new things, and that I didn't
want to be a doctor.  (And that my parents expected me to get an
advanced degree, but that's tangential to this thread...)  I did
buy into the then-accepted wisdom that there would be a dearth of
science PhD's in the '90s.  Wrong!

[bitchiness discussion snipped]

>>Lack of knowledge comes from poor mentoring/advising of
>>undergraduate students.  Many profs are poor mentors - nobody
>>"trains" you to be a mentor and many simply lack the time to
>>listen and educate.  Also - how can you help a student that
>>refuses to come knock on your door?  Many students swing by
>>their advisors office to get a signature on a piece of paper
>>once a year - not stopping to talk. 
>
>There is a definite handicap for students that do no know the system
>(the simple fact that it is important to speak with your professors in
>class and out for example).  It is usually those who do not have
>parents to guide them through school in their early years and simply
>make it on raw intelligence.

I think you're half right.  My parents were very supportive through
school, and encouraged me to talk with my profs.  But I didn't.  Why?
Simply because I could make it through my classes on "raw intelligence."
Not having to go to them with questions about my coursework made me
feel like I didn't have a reason to "bother" them.  Also, I was still
pretty shy, having been socially ostracized as a "brain" through
much of elementary and high school.

How can students be better advised about grad school?  This is a 
tough question to answer.  I think I'm a good example of someone 
intelligent enough to make it to grad school without being savvy 
enough to know or find out what I was getting into.  However, grad 
school applicants can't make it to grad school without having at
least some interaction with faculty, e.g. in doing undergrad research
or at the very least asking for letters of recommendation.  Perhaps
professors should be encouraged to approach these students when
they find out they're applying to grad school and take the time to
discuss it with them.  I realize this may sound like "hand-holding"
to some, but I think it's part of effective mentoring.

[snip]

- Hannah

--
Hannah Dvorak			hdvorak at cns.caltech.edu
Division of Biology 216-76
California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125



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