Who else is starting university? (or a new academic year)

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Postby emm7 » Thu Oct 01, 2009 12:24 am

Gelert this all sounds hideously arcanely bureaucratic, typical of university admin dept in other words!! What is happening now, will you keep us posted? Have you handed in your PhD yet or are you not allowed to?
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Postby Gelert » Thu Oct 01, 2009 12:41 am

emm7 wrote:Gelert this all sounds hideously arcanely bureaucratic, typical of university admin dept in other words!! What is happening now, will you keep us posted? Have you handed in your PhD yet or are you not allowed to?


I'm kind of caught between one set of regulations which demanded its submission on or before yesterday, and another set of regulations which allows three more years. If I am bound by those regulations then I'm not allowed to submit under the prior ones. If not, technically, I will have missed the deadline and by rights any submission now would be late and invalid, although given the circumstances...

Nobody knows, and nobody knows where the people who would know are at the moment. And bottom line, I suspect nobody cares, apart from an administrator who thought this was a quick way of making £300 for the speshul examination fee.

Catch 22 innit.
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Postby KaliBaby » Thu Oct 01, 2009 7:53 am

Gelert wrote:moral of the story: Academia: Do a taught degree like a BSc or a MA or something and GTFO. Once you cross the divide from student = customer to student = apprentice researcher, it causes all kinds of problems.


I wish I didn't read this!!! I plan to pursue a PhD and finish it before I turn 30 (goal to be a professor). don't shatter my dream!!! hahaha
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Postby xChittyx » Thu Oct 01, 2009 9:09 am

Not beginning, but midway through a part time degree in literary honours. Kind of glad I didn't do it in one year as I know quite a few people stressing out with the addition of other subjects.

Hopefully I do really well, and can apply to get a scholarship for a masters or phd.
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Postby SandGroper » Thu Oct 01, 2009 9:28 am

I'm back at uni again, doing a graduate diploma in extractive metallurgy.

I can highly recommend getting away from uni, Gelert. Earn some decent money for the work you do.
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Postby Gelert » Thu Oct 01, 2009 9:34 am

KaliBaby wrote:
Gelert wrote:moral of the story: Academia: Do a taught degree like a BSc or a MA or something and GTFO. Once you cross the divide from student = customer to student = apprentice researcher, it causes all kinds of problems.


I wish I didn't read this!!! I plan to pursue a PhD and finish it before I turn 30 (goal to be a professor). don't shatter my dream!!! hahaha


Well, your field it's a lot easier to achieve that - postdocs etc. are the exception, my experience with International Politics type areas is that very often people pass their PhD one day and end up as lecturers the next. So I am sure it is a lot more feasible - particularly as you seem committed to the stuff too. But:

I will have completed a masters in conflict, governance and international development. after that, off to save the world


is not part of the job description of an academic.

No matter how many times it is put on grant proposals, or publications for lay people, or how we think it to ourselves at 3am, you will not get any great source of sincere fulfillment in academia if that is your goal. I know plenty of people who start PhDs (often in things like parasitology or cancer research) with the aim of Making A Difference and end up bitter and twisted because the system isn't for that. A wee example is something I highlighted in the conclusion of my thesis; an implication of my work in the applied aspect is that it has the potential to affect the public health of several hundred million people to a greater or lesser extent over the next forty years. It got binned because it didn't fit in with the thrust of the thesis. Even if it had stayed in, chances are only 2-3 people would ever read it anyway.

The entire system's about

1)training as many youngsters as possible - even those who often should be doing something better with their time and tuition fees
2)securing money on research, to spend on improving the research profile of your institution and
3)commercializing your intellectual property for the benefit of your institution.

This is harsh, I know, perhaps too harsh (left the office at 5am finally, back at 9 :lol: ) but anything else about academia (in the UK in 2009 at least) is illusory, and resistance is, unless you're really devious, futile.
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Postby KaliBaby » Thu Oct 01, 2009 12:23 pm

Gelert wrote:Well, your field it's a lot easier to achieve that - postdocs etc. are the exception, my experience with International Politics type areas is that very often people pass their PhD one day and end up as lecturers the next. So I am sure it is a lot more feasible - particularly as you seem committed to the stuff too. But:

I will have completed a masters in conflict, governance and international development. after that, off to save the world


is not part of the job description of an academic.


to a degree... but what if I come up with some alternative and innovative way of thinking that helps solve a critical issue in the development field? (just kidding, I'm not that smart) maybe in a few years I'll agree with you but for now, I want to stay naive and hopeful that I can make a positive impact on the world.
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Postby :x: » Thu Oct 01, 2009 3:45 pm

i'll be starting next week...
philosophy and gender-studies at the humboldt university in berlin.
i'm so excited...
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Postby Gelert » Thu Oct 01, 2009 5:08 pm

KaliBaby wrote: (just kidding, I'm not that smart) .


You're already studying at a postgraduate level, which is not exactly the norm - so don't knock yourself. That's most everybody else's job, and being too selfcritical is as damaging, if not more than not being enough. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impostor_syndrome -

This syndrome was thought to be particularly common among women who are successful in their given careers, but has since been shown to occur for an equal number of men.[1] It is typically associated with academics and is widely found amongst graduate students.


Arguably it's contributed to stalling/ending the careers of quite a few peeps I know.

but what if I come up with some alternative and innovative way of thinking that helps solve a critical issue in the development field?


You might, you might not. The paycheques don't stop if you don't and don't raise if they do. You might find that your office is vacated into the corridor in cardboard boxes the next day. Perhaps because of your breakthrough.

A department at a well known UK University has a ticklist for its academic staff to check off to make professor.

As a result, something like 28 out of 34 staff are at prof level. Academic excellence, let alone solving critical issues on their fields don't feature very heavily on the list. On the other hand, getting lots of publications in journals with high impact factors, grant income, commericalization spinout participation, editorial positions at journals, positions on grant review panels etc make the list.

It's a business, one which you have to navigate like a fish through water if you want to get what you want out of it :wink:
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Postby Antonf26 » Sat Oct 03, 2009 12:22 am

Starting at University of Leeds (this will be my second bachelor's degree - wanted a change in direction)
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Postby City_of_F » Sun Jan 31, 2010 8:08 am

I'm going for my Ph.D...

Currently have about five months left of my Bachelor's and then go directly into my Doctoral program (Master's degree conferred at 46 credits in).

Only five years and about 113 credits left... Been at this for four years now :(
It`s a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don`t keep your feet, there`s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” -Tolkein
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Postby helmut » Sun Jan 31, 2010 11:18 am

I was talked out of going to uni this year by a friend and professional mentor, I'm getting good work in my field at the moment and have also decided to do some travelling so no need to go back to uni for now (i see uni as a way to upskill when i have nothing better to do, and a source of income as i can get an allowance from the government, plus a source of social interaction -hey, it works for me! :lol:) but i've definitely not ruled it out for the next few years. but good luck to all the students on this thread :) hope the year goes well for you.....
*take me to the mediocrity dungeon*
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Postby Hiking Fox » Sun Jan 31, 2010 7:14 pm

Finished my first round of exams and deadlines and now have some headspace before I get busy again in March.
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Postby flightlessbirds » Sun Jan 31, 2010 7:40 pm

Just finished my MSc and am officially now a PhD student. I love the research aspect of what I do but the politics are dreadful. So much pettiness and whining and fighting over the stupidest things. I'm not really sure Academia is for me but I am quite happy to be doing my PhD with some quite decent funding and a great project that lets me frolic in Greenland, drill holes in the ground and have people's eyes take on a vacant look when I try to explain what it is I do.
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Postby Gelert » Sun Jan 31, 2010 9:13 pm

flightlessbirds wrote:Just finished my MSc and am officially now a PhD student. I love the research aspect of what I do but the politics are dreadful. So much pettiness and whining and fighting over the stupidest things. I'm not really sure Academia is for me but I am quite happy to be doing my PhD with some quite decent funding and a great project that lets me frolic in Greenland, drill holes in the ground and have people's eyes take on a vacant look when I try to explain what it is I do.


Hey, that's really cool! Well done...as long as the vacant-eyed people ain't your supervisory team :D

It will all wrinkle itself out in time, this "academia thing, is it for me". Keep your head down and busy writing good papers and before you know it you'll know one way or another. Trouble is you might hit retirement age in the meantime.

The more time one spends in the game though, the more you see and hear of some pretty ghastly politicking and whining. You need skin thicker than your labcoat. Oh, and if you haven't found http://www.phdcomics.com/ yet, find it!

My academic career is currently best described as being "gentleman scientist", not that I'm much of either, but in that I'm living off my savings and being paid months in arrears for the odd few hours of teaching since getting doctored yet I'm involved in more research work in different directions than I ever did before to try and build up my research portfolio.

Job prospects are looking up slightly at the moment, but that's only because Costa's coffee are likely to open a branch in the new lab building being built on campus. Or something.
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