Sponsored Ad:
See the top rated post in this thread. Click here

Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 38

Thread: Questions to ask current Graduate Students at Prospective Schools

  1. #1
    Eager!
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Newark
    Posts
    73
    Rep Power
    14


    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful. Good post? Yes | No

    Questions to ask current Graduate Students at Prospective Schools

    Sponsored Ad:
    This question is particularly meant for current graduate students out there. With admissions decisions starting to trickle in, I thought it would in everyones best interest to start a discussion about what are some important questions to ask current graduate students of the schools that people are considering. In particular, what are some questions you asked or wished you had asked graduate students are your current institution before you had accepted your offer?

    So far I have come up with the following:

    1) How long does it typically take to complete a Ph.D. at Random University?

    2) Do many people drop out of the program? If so for what reason (failed comps, job offers etc.)?

    3) What are some of the better placements that graduates have received recently (academic, gov., private)?

    4) Do you feel the department is above or below average in helping its graduates find placement?

    5) If you were an RA, who would you recommend working with, not working with?

    6) If you were a TA, what were your teaching responsibilities like? Do you feel the teaching load was too much?

    7) What is your general opinion of how the department treats its PhD students on a scale of (worst: teaching work horse --to--best: up and comming academic who co-author's many papers)?

  2. #2
    TestMagic Guru
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Ann Arbor
    Posts
    2,230
    Rep Power
    27


    9 out of 9 members found this post helpful. Good post? Yes | No
    In no particular order, here are some things I'd ask:

    How easy or hard is it for you to get face time with your advisor?

    Is it difficult to get funding for research needs, like data, software, travel?

    Do you have opportunities to present your research? How often? Who gives you feedback?

    Do faculty members co-author with students? Which faculty members?

    How well are first and second year students integrated into the department? How/by who are they advised before they have committees?

    How are you expected to learn the "tools" of research like STATA, MATLAB, and other programs if you don't know them already?

    Are there any fields where the professors are really helpful to grad students? Where the professors are particularly bad about helping grad students? What fields are perceived as "strong" or "weak" within the department? Are any faculty members planning to leave soon? (Also -- if you know you want to work with one specific person, it is ok to ask about that person, how he is with grad students, etc.)

    How often are classes canceled/not offered for lack of enrollment or lack of faculty?

    What resources/opportunities outside of the econ department do students take advantage of?

    What are some examples of research that current students are working on? Do students talk to each other about research?

    Are students competitive with each other? Do grades matter? Are students ever required to repeat core classes?

    What are the requirements for reaching candidacy?

    What did you do the summer after first year/second year? When do most students start working seriously on research?

    What is your usual schedule? How many hours a day do you spend at school? Weekends? How social is the department? Do people hang out together outside of school?

    Where do first year students study? Do they have offices? What are the first year classes like? Are they well taught? Do they turn out to be useful?

    Basically, you want to get a sense of what your life would be like if you were a grad student at _____ University. And remember that while placement is very important, it's also a long ways off. When comparing similar schools, think about the quality of the experience in the first couple of years. Even when the ends justify the means, you might as well pick the best "means" possible. Try to get a sense of the department as a community, and figure out where you'd fit in to that community.

  3. #3
    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage Cassin's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Posts
    542
    Rep Power
    16


    Good post? Yes | No
    Quote Originally Posted by asquare View Post
    In no particular order, here are some things I'd ask:

    ...
    Try to get a sense of the department as a community, and figure out where you'd fit in to that community.
    One of the most useful posts I've read here. I am going to write some of these questions down (some didn't occur to me like software/travel funding).

  4. #4
    Eager!
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Newark
    Posts
    73
    Rep Power
    14


    Good post? Yes | No
    Yea thanks asquare. Great questions!

  5. #5
    Eager!
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    60
    Rep Power
    15


    Good post? Yes | No
    I agree it's a great list.

    Three questions that stood out in my mind:
    How are you expected to learn the "tools" of research like STATA, MATLAB, and other programs if you don't know them already?

    Where do first year students study? Do they have offices?

    How well are first and second year students integrated into the department? How/by who are they advised before they have committees?
    Are there any graduate programs out there that do a good job with any of these three things? They all seem like a lot to ask for. The last one in particular, formal faculty advising for first or second-years would be especially desirable.

  6. #6
    TestMagic Guru
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Ann Arbor
    Posts
    2,230
    Rep Power
    27


    Good post? Yes | No
    EconScribe, I do think there's between school and within school variation in each of those things. At U-Mich, you learn MATLAB in stats -- there's some formal teaching, problem sets structured to teach you MATLAB and statistics, and a lot of learning from classmates or TAs. But it's more formal than the "teaching" of STATA, which is basically assigning a problem set and telling you to use STATA to solve it.

    U-Mich makes a really big effort to integrate students into the department. There are special seminars for first year students, a little bit of funding to do research with a professor after first year, a "buddy" program that pairs first years with upper year buddies (I think most schools do this) and first years are also assigned faculty mentors. But how well these things work for you depends on how much you pursue the opportunities. I guess that's why I think they are worth asking about, because the last one in particular is a really big part of how successful your experience is.

  7. #7
    An Urch Guru Pundit Swami Sage
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Cambridge, MA
    Posts
    632
    Rep Power
    18


    Good post? Yes | No
    Quote Originally Posted by EconScribe View Post
    I agree it's a great list.

    Three questions that stood out in my mind:

    Are there any graduate programs out there that do a good job with any of these three things? They all seem like a lot to ask for. The last one in particular, formal faculty advising for first or second-years would be especially desirable.
    UCLA does very well on the second question. They have an awesome "grad. lab" for first and second years where you can keep all your books and stuff and study (socialize).

    MIT does quite well on the third point, since the university has a policy that every student has to have an advisor. Glenn Ellison is the advisor for all the first years, and he actually sits down with each of us and discusses what classes we should take, and if we ever have questions about anything, he's always available to answer them. Plus he's awesome.

    I doubt there are very many places that handle the first point very well. The best way to learn MATLAB/STATA is to be a graduate research assistant for an applied professor. You will learn more in a couple days than you would otherwise learn in a couple years of doing problem sets.
    MIT Economics, class of 2011

  8. #8
    TestMagic Guru
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Ann Arbor
    Posts
    2,230
    Rep Power
    27


    Good post? Yes | No
    Quote Originally Posted by Antichron View Post
    I doubt there are very many places that handle the first point very well. The best way to learn MATLAB/STATA is to be a graduate research assistant for an applied professor. You will learn more in a couple days than you would otherwise learn in a couple years of doing problem sets.
    This is absolutely true!!

    I think of every program I know about, MIT probably has the best reputation overall in terms of advising and moving students through the writing process. Antichron's comments echo what I've been told by many others and speak well for the program.

  9. #9
    Eager!
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Posts
    60
    Rep Power
    15


    Good post? Yes | No
    Thanks. I didn't mean to imply there wasn't heterogeneity in the three areas I mentioned, I was more saying that the three areas I listed are valuable yet probably are not most schools' top priority, and I was interested in what schools were successful and how they pull it off (and whether the manner they do it can be feasibly imitated )

    I agree entirely with the comments made regarding MATLAB, work etc. though I think having more transparency with RA job availability would be really helpful. I felt that way at my undergraduate institution as well. It does not seem like efficient labor matching to just keep emailing professors and taking the first that replies to you, which is what I've known people to do.

    Regarding the MIT advising system, what are the incentives for professors to be advisors? For instance, is Ellison's role one that he maintains every year, and that he has fewer obligations elsewhere because of it?

  10. #10
    Within my grasp! Jhai's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Greencastle, IN
    Posts
    312
    Rep Power
    15


    Good post? Yes | No
    I've been told that Stanford GSB is very good at advising, and making sure students stay on track. They get almost all of their students in and out in four years, according to one of my advisers and their job market candidates' CVs. Probably helps that they have you doing research every summer.

    Stanford (regular) let's you flounder, and I'm told that Harvard can be very bad, since they're all trying to publish like crazy there.

Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. European students at American Graduate Schools
    By Gpoppey in forum Graduate Admissions
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 02-03-2011, 01:37 PM
  2. Replies: 23
    Last Post: 10-23-2010, 05:21 PM
  3. Current Georgetown graduate students
    By tangiers in forum PhD in Economics
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 03-31-2010, 08:03 PM
  4. Replies: 6
    Last Post: 03-29-2010, 04:03 PM
  5. Ex post thoughts of current/finished graduate students
    By Karina 07 in forum PhD in Economics
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 08-17-2007, 04:45 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •