Author Topic: Questions about getting a phd  (Read 294 times)

Questions about getting a phd
« on: March 16, 2017, 03:04:52 AM »
I was hoping I could get some informed responses to my questions about getting a phd.

First let me get some of my background out of the way:

I did poorly in high school because of being lazy etc.. I barely graduated. For lack of other options I went to a local four-year university out of high school where I continued the same trend of extreme laziness, flunking everything, taking classes over and over and over again, and eventually being kicked out via academic suspension after three years. Fast forward four years and a 180 happened in my desire for education. I started back to school at a community college (one of my state's best CCs) last year and should be getting my associates degree in computer science this fall. I have a 3.5 GPA at my current school (down from 3.74 last semester). I started strong but lost some steam more recently with a lazy streak and am now trying to pick it back up.

I want to go on to a university to get my bachelor, and then to grad school to do a phd someday. My associates can transfer directly to any school in my state. So here are my questions:

1) I really want to go to a grad school that's got some prestige to it. I know I won't get into the BIG private schools like Vanderbilt, Duke, Yale, Harvard, etc. But I'd like to go somewhere with some level of prestige. I've thought about somewhere like William & Mary, or Rutgers, etc.. Please recommend some schools I can check out.

2) I'd like to pursue my phd in biology, but my undergrad major is computer science. Does the phd have to match the undergrad? Does my bachelors have to be relevant?

3) What does it take to become a phd candidate? What would be required of me, for instance, grades-wise, experience, etc.?

Please note that at this point I'm just asking casually. I'm obviously ignorant of this matter and just need some information so I can start the process of thinking about all of this.

Thanks.
 

« Last Edit: March 16, 2017, 03:06:50 AM by MyelinSheath »

Offline Atheon

Re: Questions about getting a phd
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2017, 03:44:16 AM »
If you plan to complete your bachelor's in Computer Science, then as you do it, be sure to take electives in biology to develop a background, and if you do well in the classes, that's definitely a big plus. It's not necessary for your current major to be related, but for graduate studies the universities want to know that you have potential. Plus in your application essays there's always an angle you can find: such as your CS studies helped hone your reasoning skills, which are important in the natural sciences. Also, make preparations for the GRE... there are plenty of resources available to help you prepare.

There are many universities that aren't of the Harvard or Yale caliber, but with prestige and name recognition, like UC Berkeley or U Michigan, that you can apply to. I'd suggest first applying for a master's program in biology instead of going straight into a PhD program; you need to build up that foundation.

Good luck!!
"Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful." - Seneca

Offline Baruch

Re: Questions about getting a phd
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2017, 07:00:42 AM »
I was hoping I could get some informed responses to my questions about getting a phd.

First let me get some of my background out of the way:

I did poorly in high school because of being lazy etc.. I barely graduated. For lack of other options I went to a local four-year university out of high school where I continued the same trend of extreme laziness, flunking everything, taking classes over and over and over again, and eventually being kicked out via academic suspension after three years. Fast forward four years and a 180 happened in my desire for education. I started back to school at a community college (one of my state's best CCs) last year and should be getting my associates degree in computer science this fall. I have a 3.5 GPA at my current school (down from 3.74 last semester). I started strong but lost some steam more recently with a lazy streak and am now trying to pick it back up.

I want to go on to a university to get my bachelor, and then to grad school to do a phd someday. My associates can transfer directly to any school in my state. So here are my questions:

1) I really want to go to a grad school that's got some prestige to it. I know I won't get into the BIG private schools like Vanderbilt, Duke, Yale, Harvard, etc. But I'd like to go somewhere with some level of prestige. I've thought about somewhere like William & Mary, or Rutgers, etc.. Please recommend some schools I can check out.

2) I'd like to pursue my phd in biology, but my undergrad major is computer science. Does the phd have to match the undergrad? Does my bachelors have to be relevant?

3) What does it take to become a phd candidate? What would be required of me, for instance, grades-wise, experience, etc.?

Please note that at this point I'm just asking casually. I'm obviously ignorant of this matter and just need some information so I can start the process of thinking about all of this.

Thanks.

You are getting ahead of yourself.  I do IT for a living ... do you want to teach?  Research in Computer Science is minimal.  Only go to college if you can pay for it up front, don't go into debt.  For your BSc to to any school that will accept you, preferably in-state so you can live at home ... unless you simply enjoy blowing money.  If you do enjoy blowing money, become a financial advisor or economist ;-)  On your binary behavior ... have you seen a doctor?  Do you have chronic fatigue or something else?  If you are ill, you need medical care.  Unfortunately they can't do much about chronic fatigue (my wife had it) and the auto-immune disease that is behind it, made her manic-depressive.  And manic-depressive will take a severe cut out of any success you might earn in life.

After you get to your Junior year in BSc ... then we can talk about grad school.  Or maybe you just have grandiose delusions ... in which case political office is in your future.
שלום

Re: Questions about getting a phd
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2017, 11:42:57 AM »
"I do IT for a living ..."

:snicker:
We 'new atheists' have a reputation for being militant, but make no mistake  we didn't start this war. If you want to place blame put it on the the religious zealots who have been poisoning the minds of the  young for a long long time."
PZ Myers

Offline Baruch

Re: Questions about getting a phd
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2017, 12:37:11 PM »
"I do IT for a living ..."

:snicker:

30 years IT plus Aerospace Engineering.  As a sailor, what did you major in ... tattoos and girls? -)
שלום

Re: Questions about getting a phd
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2017, 04:45:23 PM »
30 years IT plus Aerospace Engineering.  As a sailor, what did you major in ... tattoos and girls? -)
You missed the pun. Think more scatologically. (I had counted on that.)
We 'new atheists' have a reputation for being militant, but make no mistake  we didn't start this war. If you want to place blame put it on the the religious zealots who have been poisoning the minds of the  young for a long long time."
PZ Myers

Offline Baruch

Re: Questions about getting a phd
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2017, 07:27:04 PM »
You missed the pun. Think more scatologically. (I had counted on that.)

:snicker: - that looked like a candy bar to me ;-)
שלום

Re: Questions about getting a phd
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2017, 01:00:03 PM »
Like another member said, I think you are getting way ahead of yourself.

College is about figuring out your interests, not only building a career. So take time, a couple of years, to figure out what you are interested in and then study that. A jump from computer science to biology tells me you are unsure about what each of these majors entail, and the respective fields you can get into.

To answer one of your questions, no it is not impossible to get into a graduate school to study biology if you have a bachelor's in computer science. But, without necessary background in biology, chances are you will be rejected.

As far as what university, it depends on several factors: your degree/prospective graduate major, location (do you want to move away or stay local), cost (how much can you afford, or are you prepared to take out loans), your grades. Prestigious schools are, obviously, more competitive to get into and require high grades, high test scores, and unique experiences. But, prestige shouldn't be the criteria to pick a school. Yes, it's nice on the resume, but each school has its strengths and weaknesses, so do some research about each school and compare its prospects to what you want to do.

I went to a state university, but my state university was top 10 research university in the US, which aligned with my interests at the time. It was also local, like I preferred, relatively inexpensive, and had a well-recommended (by working mentors) engineering program. Pick the university that works for you, not the one that is good on paper.

Re: Questions about getting a phd
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2017, 06:34:48 PM »
The only reason I want  phd is for the prestige of having one. I pretty much just want one to have one. That's it. Good enough reason for my mind. I don't really care about "what works for me", because I'm not basing this on that kind of criteria. I just want the phd to be able to say I've got one. That's it. I'm going for prestige and nothing else, so the prestige of the school not only matters, but its the only thing that matters to me.

Offline Baruch

Re: Questions about getting a phd
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2017, 07:24:04 PM »
The only reason I want  phd is for the prestige of having one. I pretty much just want one to have one. That's it. Good enough reason for my mind. I don't really care about "what works for me", because I'm not basing this on that kind of criteria. I just want the phd to be able to say I've got one. That's it. I'm going for prestige and nothing else, so the prestige of the school not only matters, but its the only thing that matters to me.

You don't need a sheep skin, or even an education.  You are a future used car salesman.  Get out on that lot and sell more lemons.
שלום

Re: Questions about getting a phd
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2017, 10:13:46 AM »
The only reason I want  phd is for the prestige of having one. I pretty much just want one to have one. That's it. Good enough reason for my mind. I don't really care about "what works for me", because I'm not basing this on that kind of criteria. I just want the phd to be able to say I've got one. That's it. I'm going for prestige and nothing else, so the prestige of the school not only matters, but its the only thing that matters to me.

That's a rather interesting motivation. While prestige and social status are indeed motivations people take into consideration when making major life choices, having it as the only motivation might not lead to the happiness you seek.
Some people need to be beaten with a smart stick.

Kein Mehrheit Fur Die Mitleid!

Kein Mitlied F�r Die Mehrheit!

Offline Baruch

Re: Questions about getting a phd
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2017, 10:40:19 AM »
That's a rather interesting motivation. While prestige and social status are indeed motivations people take into consideration when making major life choices, having it as the only motivation might not lead to the happiness you seek.

He can always be the next Emperor Norton:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emperor_Norton

I smell egomania ... or inferiority complex.
שלום

Offline Mermaid

Re: Questions about getting a phd
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2017, 11:41:06 AM »
The only reason I want  phd is for the prestige of having one. I pretty much just want one to have one. That's it. Good enough reason for my mind. I don't really care about "what works for me", because I'm not basing this on that kind of criteria. I just want the phd to be able to say I've got one. That's it. I'm going for prestige and nothing else, so the prestige of the school not only matters, but its the only thing that matters to me.
You have to really want it. You can't just get a PhD, it's a huge, overwhelming, all consuming amount of work.
We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came.

John F. Kennedy

Offline SGOS

Re: Questions about getting a phd
« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2017, 01:31:57 PM »
The only reason I want  phd is for the prestige of having one. I pretty much just want one to have one. That's it. Good enough reason for my mind. I don't really care about "what works for me", because I'm not basing this on that kind of criteria. I just want the phd to be able to say I've got one. That's it. I'm going for prestige and nothing else, so the prestige of the school not only matters, but its the only thing that matters to me.
Many people don't respect a person with a PhD, even one who contributes substantially to his area of expertise, so just having a PhD is a rather expensive way of trying to be prestigious in front of a lot of people who don't give a shit anyway.  What a PhD does is teach you the tools you will need to do research and add to the current body of knowledge in your field, or to pass on the body of knowledge by teaching at a university.  Most university professors also do research.  Publish or perish is the adage that comes to my mind.  If you do it exceptionally well, you may or may not acquire prestige. 

I think most people would see a guy with a PhD as kind of pretentious if all he got it for was to be prestigious.  And to be quite blunt, in my mind, just getting a PhD for the prestige would be defined as pretentious.  You could end up losing prestige, rather than acquiring it.

Offline Baruch

Re: Questions about getting a phd
« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2017, 03:01:41 PM »
BS - bull shit
MS - more of the same
PhD - piled higher and deeper

I get a raft of shit from some people, just for being an uppity college graduate (MS in my case).
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