Author Topic: Questions about getting a phd  (Read 1178 times)

Re: Questions about getting a phd
« Reply #15 on: March 18, 2017, 09:43:07 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.

Just go buy one from some diploma mill.  Then you can pretend all you want.

Re: Questions about getting a phd
« Reply #16 on: March 18, 2017, 11:02:54 PM »
Just go buy one from some diploma mill.  Then you can pretend all you want.
It's more about what makes me happy. The prestige is not completely the motivation. I have a genuine interest in science. But a phd is not required to have a good understanding of science. It boils down to.....I want to accomplish something great in my life, a phd is a great accomplishment, so I'd like to try to get one.

Offline Cavebear

Re: Questions about getting a phd
« Reply #17 on: March 19, 2017, 01:07:22 AM »
Well, for what its worth, I got kicked out of the state university for low grades in the early 70s.  Too much political activism and not enough studying.  I got a good job anyway because I lied about it.  But I went back in the 90s and succeeded.  I had learned to write, think, and express myself clearly.  I took seminar classes competing with grad students and dedicated undergrads focussed on the subjects and got straight "A"s. 

One professor asked me to be a teaching assistant "The Politics of The Vietnam War".  I declined, having a career job in telecommunications, but the offer meant a lot.

The diploma (Bachelor Of Science in Government and Political Science) had utterly no effect on my career.  No one where I worked ever knew I got it or didn't have it before. 

But it meant a lot to ME personally.

If it helps your career, do it.  But if it doesn't, do it anyway.  It will matter to you all the rest of your life.

Cavebear
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!  b 1950

Offline Baruch

Re: Questions about getting a phd
« Reply #18 on: March 19, 2017, 11:20:09 AM »
It's more about what makes me happy. The prestige is not completely the motivation. I have a genuine interest in science. But a phd is not required to have a good understanding of science. It boils down to.....I want to accomplish something great in my life, a phd is a great accomplishment, so I'd like to try to get one.

I do understand that need for self-regard.  I had been doing computer operations for a long time.  Not programming, not engineering.  I was worried that I might have lost the knack.  So two years ago I studied some advanced computer science .. quantum computing and cryptography.  Took an on-line course (Youtube) of quantum mechanics from Stanford.  Read on-line unpublished textbooks/lecture notes from guys at Cal Tech.  Learned how to do one kind of actual cryptography.  We all like a challenge now and then.  But this only cost me time and effort, it didn't cost any money.  School is very expensive these days.

And there are other kinds of great accomplishment.  Being a son, husband and father are my favorites.  But that isn't for everyone (some of us are daughters, others will never marry or raise children).  Keeping a stead job, now a days ... is a great accomplishment.  Learning a foreign language is a great accomplishment.  I wish you luck in doing something toward realizing that your life is worthwhile.  It already is, you just don't know it yet.
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Re: Questions about getting a phd
« Reply #19 on: March 23, 2017, 03:17:16 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.

No one is going to hand you a prestigious degree; you have to put in a tremendous amount of effort.

A 3.5 GPA likely won't do you any good whether for admission into a prestigious university, or for graduating with Ph.D. -- need to focus 3.7+, especially major GPA. I do not say that to discourage you; just telling you how it is. At William & Mary, for example, you need 3.7 GPA in 7 of 8 courses and no lower grade than B-, and above 3.0 cumulative GPA to graduate with a Ph.D in Computer Science (they do not have Ph.D in Biology). As far as admission, this may interest you (from W&M FAQ):

Quote
Do you have a minimum GPA requirement?
The admission committee prefers to see academic achievement at the 3.5 level or higher, but considers other factors such as strength of curriculum and number of credit hours. If a course has been repeated for a grade, both the original grade and the grade earned in the repeated course will be reviewed.

How do you determine a student's GPA if he or she has attended more than one college or university?
The admission committee will review each individual cumulative GPA from each institution attended.  The admission committee will look at factors such as dates of attendance and grade trends when reviewing multiple college transcripts.

And graduate admissions, from my experience, look at your extracurricular activities and what you do besides studying for exams. Do you work? Do you volunteer? It is good to find a professor and work with him/her, build rapport and get involved in activities. Strong letters of recommendation will go a long way to remedy lower GPA or past academic failures.
"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all." --Oscar Wilde

Offline Cavebear

Re: Questions about getting a phd
« Reply #20 on: March 25, 2017, 02:50:18 AM »
Actually, I think the key to a PHD is to have some really interesting idea in the subject.  That's not as easy as it sounds.  A PHD really requires some new idea.  They don't hand them out for just taking lots of classes.

You learn stuff getting to your Masters.  You get the PHD for going beyond known learning to some strange idea and defending it.
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!  b 1950

Offline Baruch

Re: Questions about getting a phd
« Reply #21 on: March 25, 2017, 09:09:21 AM »
Actually, I think the key to a PHD is to have some really interesting idea in the subject.  That's not as easy as it sounds.  A PHD really requires some new idea.  They don't hand them out for just taking lots of classes.

You learn stuff getting to your Masters.  You get the PHD for going beyond known learning to some strange idea and defending it.

In the US.  It is different in Russia for instance .. a PhD is awarded after many years of professional work, as an award, not as a degree.  Such a person will have done much peer-reviewed research, not just one example.
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Re: Questions about getting a phd
« Reply #22 on: March 26, 2017, 03:04:05 AM »
No one is going to hand you a prestigious degree; you have to put in a tremendous amount of effort.

A 3.5 GPA likely won't do you any good whether for admission into a prestigious university, or for graduating with Ph.D. -- need to focus 3.7+, especially major GPA. I do not say that to discourage you; just telling you how it is. At William & Mary, for example, you need 3.7 GPA in 7 of 8 courses and no lower grade than B-, and above 3.0 cumulative GPA to graduate with a Ph.D in Computer Science (they do not have Ph.D in Biology). As far as admission, this may interest you (from W&M FAQ):

And graduate admissions, from my experience, look at your extracurricular activities and what you do besides studying for exams. Do you work? Do you volunteer? It is good to find a professor and work with him/her, build rapport and get involved in activities. Strong letters of recommendation will go a long way to remedy lower GPA or past academic failures.

Ok, I'll give you the rundown of my education so far:

Prior to last semester, I had a 3.74 GPA. Last semester I made a C in my first computer science class and shot my GPA down to a 3.48. I suppose I can always retake this class and get it back up there.

I'm currently at CC, and my state's CCs have a program that, if you complete the associate of science degree, it will transfer seamlessly as a junior to virtually all public (and some private) universities in the state.

Recently, the head of the computer science department at a university in my state visited our computer science class and spoke about his school and their program. The school itself is not particularly renowned (though it's a perfectly good school), but their school of computer science is very highly renowned. They offer the only undergraduate degree in bioinformatics (the field I'm interested in) in the state. They award full scholarships to students who complete the transfer degree program with a qualifying GPA. Mine is sufficient. I only have 8 more courses counting the ones I'm taking this semester to graduate with my associates degree. Then I'll be transferring.

My dream school is Vanderbilt. This is the school I'm aiming for for grad school. The head of the computer science department of the university mentioned above has two phds from Vanderbilt. He personally tries to help high achieving students get there, and I believe that if I make it clear to the department heads what my goals are, and do very well, they will help me to achieve it.

Of course the damning dark spot on my record will be the horrendous experience I had on my first college attempt back when I first started college. I flunked nearly everything, taking some classes several times and never passing them. I made no progress and it was just a complete failure of unbelievable proportions. I took a four-year gap and started at my current college. Since then my grades have been good.

So, what do you think? Go for it, or give up the dream?

 
« Last Edit: March 26, 2017, 03:07:52 AM by MyelinSheath »

Offline Cavebear

Re: Questions about getting a phd
« Reply #23 on: March 26, 2017, 06:19:23 AM »
Ok, I'll give you the rundown of my education so far:

Prior to last semester, I had a 3.74 GPA. Last semester I made a C in my first computer science class and shot my GPA down to a 3.48. I suppose I can always retake this class and get it back up there.

I'm currently at CC, and my state's CCs have a program that, if you complete the associate of science degree, it will transfer seamlessly as a junior to virtually all public (and some private) universities in the state.

Recently, the head of the computer science department at a university in my state visited our computer science class and spoke about his school and their program. The school itself is not particularly renowned (though it's a perfectly good school), but their school of computer science is very highly renowned. They offer the only undergraduate degree in bioinformatics (the field I'm interested in) in the state. They award full scholarships to students who complete the transfer degree program with a qualifying GPA. Mine is sufficient. I only have 8 more courses counting the ones I'm taking this semester to graduate with my associates degree. Then I'll be transferring.

My dream school is Vanderbilt. This is the school I'm aiming for for grad school. The head of the computer science department of the university mentioned above has two phds from Vanderbilt. He personally tries to help high achieving students get there, and I believe that if I make it clear to the department heads what my goals are, and do very well, they will help me to achieve it.

Of course the damning dark spot on my record will be the horrendous experience I had on my first college attempt back when I first started college. I flunked nearly everything, taking some classes several times and never passing them. I made no progress and it was just a complete failure of unbelievable proportions. I took a four-year gap and started at my current college. Since then my grades have been good.

So, what do you think? Go for it, or give up the dream?

Go for it.  Persistence is worthwhile.  Universities are good at forgiving early grade problems because young adults change.  When I went back to the State University after 20 years, they eliminated my early failures with the stroke of a pen.  "Like it never happened" as one commercial says.

I took hard seminar classes with dedicated seniors and some grad students in the classes and sailed right through.  I was actually "the smartest guy in the room" in spite of having been kicked out 20 years earlier for poor grades.  I was a poor student the first time around; I changed. 

What they care about is "What can you learn now?".

What degree you get is determined by what you want.  I wanted a BS in Government and Politics and I got it.  I could have gone farther without much effort, but I didn't feel a need to do that.

And don't mistake a degree for knowledge.  You can have either or both.

A brief story as evidence...  At a Thanksgiving dinner, I was seated across the table from some guy I knew nothing about.  A bit of conversation regarded human migration to North America and we ended up talking for 2 hours.  He assumed I had a PhD on the subject.  Unknown to me, he was the Anthropology Chair at a State University.  And my brother in law's brother.  LOL! 

He was so shocked that I "only" had a BS in Government and Politics that he bugged my sister for the 3 days he stayed there to make sure I wasn't kidding him.  He said I knew more than most of his grad students.  Well, I'm an avid amateur.  Which is why I mention that knowledge and degrees aren't exactly the same.

So do you want the degree or the knowledge?  Knowledge is easier to acquire.
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!  b 1950

Offline Baruch

Re: Questions about getting a phd
« Reply #24 on: March 26, 2017, 09:32:52 AM »
Myelin ... yes, keep at it, computer science isn't a bad choice, provided you pair it with something real like biology, finance etc.  You are doing better than I did in college, and like Wile E Coyote, I'm a genius.
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Re: Questions about getting a phd
« Reply #25 on: March 26, 2017, 11:58:48 AM »
I hope you guys are right. I'm not sure if Vandy is going to be an option at this point. Like you guys said, all I can do is show what I'm capable of now. I just hope I can get in the good graces of these guys at the university and have them help me make it.

computer science isn't a bad choice, provided you pair it with something real like biology, finance etc.
Yes, I'm adding a biological component to my computer science degree by majoring in bioinformatics.

Offline Baruch

Re: Questions about getting a phd
« Reply #26 on: March 26, 2017, 01:51:13 PM »
I hope you guys are right. I'm not sure if Vandy is going to be an option at this point. Like you guys said, all I can do is show what I'm capable of now. I just hope I can get in the good graces of these guys at the university and have them help me make it.
Yes, I'm adding a biological component to my computer science degree by majoring in bioinformatics.

Today, people who only program, are those who grew up in a mud hut in India.
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Re: Questions about getting a phd
« Reply #27 on: March 26, 2017, 03:38:25 PM »
Today, people who only program, are those who grew up in a mud hut in India.
What??

Offline Baruch

Re: Questions about getting a phd
« Reply #28 on: March 26, 2017, 10:20:47 PM »
What??

If you can't program for $6 per hour, with 10 years experience, forget it.  You can't compete against the artificially high price of the dollar vs the rupee.  An experienced programmer in India, goes for $12 per hour, but he has to give half of that to the job shop.  My job is the same in the US, the government pays a total of twice what I make to retain my services locally.  My speciality being military medical support.  If we gave the work to the Indians, I would be out of a job in a pink slip week.  We haven't gone "late Roman" on DoD stuff yet.
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Re: Questions about getting a phd
« Reply #29 on: March 27, 2017, 01:33:10 AM »
If you can't program for $6 per hour, with 10 years experience, forget it.  You can't compete against the artificially high price of the dollar vs the rupee.  An experienced programmer in India, goes for $12 per hour, but he has to give half of that to the job shop.  My job is the same in the US, the government pays a total of twice what I make to retain my services locally.  My speciality being military medical support.  If we gave the work to the Indians, I would be out of a job in a pink slip week.  We haven't gone "late Roman" on DoD stuff yet.
Not if the most "terrific" president in history has anything to say about it.