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Thread: Summer before starting PhD?

  1. #1
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    Question Summer before starting PhD?

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    Hi everyone! I'm a college senior who recently finished submitting all my PhD applications. I'm still not sure if I'm going to enroll next year, since I also applied to RA positions and might do that instead, depending on how the next few months go.

    But in the case that I do start a PhD program next year, I'd like to know, what do people typically do in the months between finishing undergrad and starting grad school?

    I want to do something other than sit at home, but I feel like summer internship programs are mostly targeted toward sophomores/juniors (and I missed all the deadlines afaik). I could also stay around campus and try to work for a professor (which is my backup plan) but I'm wondering if there are other opportunities I don't know about.

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    Re: Summer before starting PhD?

    XanthusARES has a post on the very practical stuff you ought to be doing in preparation for the start of the programme. See below:
    http://www.urch.com/forums/blogs/xan...g-program.html

    That being said, to answer your question, based on the stuff I've read here, you shouldn't be doing anything you've suggested above. While the general recommendation is to relax and chill before the start of your 5 year slog, to be practical, you can use your time to brush up on the math stuff that you'll be in direct contact in the first semester; stuff like k-t optimisation, dynamic programming, optimal control and linear algebra for econometrics.

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    Re: Summer before starting PhD?

    Quote Originally Posted by tutonic View Post
    XanthusARES has a post on the very practical stuff you ought to be doing in preparation for the start of the programme. See below:
    http://www.urch.com/forums/blogs/xan...g-program.html

    That being said, to answer your question, based on the stuff I've read here, you shouldn't be doing anything you've suggested above. While the general recommendation is to relax and chill before the start of your 5 year slog, to be practical, you can use your time to brush up on the math stuff that you'll be in direct contact in the first semester; stuff like k-t optimisation, dynamic programming, optimal control and linear algebra for econometrics.
    Being on top of the admin stuff is a good idea. You want a "clear deck" so that you aren't distracted by administrative details once classes start.

    Aside from that, I would recommend relaxing above all else.

    If you feel like you must prepare, order Angrist and Pischke's Mostly Harmless Econometrics. If you find that too intimidating, check out the undergrad version "Mastering Metrics." Even if you are certain you will do macro or theory, it'll be great prep for classes and the logic of writing papers and testing hypotheses. People get too bogged down in math and theory and forget that the goal is to become a good researcher - which requires the intuition developed by reading these kinds of books. It also requires math but both are necessary and neither are sufficient on their own. Moreover, PhD programs are good at training you in the math. The research stuff is often left to you, it almost seems like you're supposed to pick that up solely by watching visiting speakers present papers.

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    Re: Summer before starting PhD?

    Quote Originally Posted by tm_member View Post
    Being on top of the admin stuff is a good idea. You want a "clear deck" so that you aren't distracted by administrative details once classes start.

    Aside from that, I would recommend relaxing above all else.

    If you feel like you must prepare, order Angrist and Pischke's Mostly Harmless Econometrics. If you find that too intimidating, check out the undergrad version "Mastering Metrics." Even if you are certain you will do macro or theory, it'll be great prep for classes and the logic of writing papers and testing hypotheses. People get too bogged down in math and theory and forget that the goal is to become a good researcher - which requires the intuition developed by reading these kinds of books. It also requires math but both are necessary and neither are sufficient on their own. Moreover, PhD programs are good at training you in the math. The research stuff is often left to you, it almost seems like you're supposed to pick that up solely by watching visiting speakers present papers.
    This. Enjoy life. The times you can do this get fewer and shorter as time passes.

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    Re: Summer before starting PhD?

    Honestly, you guys should just take it easy.

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    Re: Summer before starting PhD?

    See? Told you so. The general concensus is to relax and chill before the slog begins. The way I see it, leisure works like how animals eat a lot before hibernation. People stockpile on leisure before beginning their programme so they can maintain their sanity. Or maybe that's just how it is for me.

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    Re: Summer before starting PhD?

    I also agree that this is a good time to travel, take a break, relax, etc. You will become incredibly busy once you start graduate school and will no longer have 'summers off'.

    Once you decide on a program, you might have a conversation with the DGS to see if she/he thinks you have any gaps in your training that you may want to address. But this is an exception. You likely won't be accepted into a school where you are unlikely to succeed based on the training you already have.

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