I finished my B.Sc. in physics 3 years ago, did a year of research, worked a year in tech, and have spent the last year off the grid living in the bush and running away from reality for a while. Now I’m going back for my master’s or PhD, but I’m pretty rusty. I’m hoping someone out there might read this and have some good advice on the best way to do this.

My options are basically the following:

  1. to do a master’s in a field/at a school/with an advisor that are all
    not ideal to me, because that’s where I have experience and

  2. to spend a year or so doing a second degree in math and then going
    on to do a PhD after that.

My reasoning for the second option is that this will afford me better opportunities for better grad schools in fields I have more interest in. Simply put, I don’t believe I have a strong enough application right now to get into the programs/schools/advisors that I want to get in with.

My undergraduate grades are fine (A-/A average), but not extraordinary enough to carry me by their weight alone. I have two publications and a dwindling number of connections who could write me strong recommendations. Maybe one or two at most, with two others who would write generically positive letters. I don’t think this is enough to get me where I’d like to be.

Grad school seems like too big of a commitment to go somewhere/work with someone I’m not 100% on board with. Is this “greedy” to think this way? Am I being too picky/asking too much? Should I take what I can get now and not waste my time trying make things “perfect”? Every grad student I speak to has the same advice: “Unless you’re 100% sure this is what you want to do, don’t do it,” so I’m kind of going by that.

Is it worth taking a year or so to pad my application with a second degree in math (new networks, fresh good grades, strong recommendations from professors if I can build relationships with them), so that I can get in where I actually want to go? Or should I just suck it up and do the master’s that I don’t care about, do it well, and then go where I want from there (keeping in mind that I’d be wanting to switch fields at this point)?

Thank you very much in advance to anyone who takes the time to read/respond!

I am currently in my second year of a PhD program. I have not yet decided on academia, industry, or entrepreneurship for a career, but in all these cases my success will be strongly influenced by my ability to lead and manage a team of students/postdocs, research engineers/technicians, or co-founders/employees.

I have found that graduate school offers no opportunity for practicing the kinds of interpersonal skills most relevant to leadership (delegating tasks, maintaining motivation, creating an inclusive atmosphere, resolving conflicts, etc.). Note that I distinguish leadership from teaching and mentoring. The closest thing I can think of would be to mentor an undergrad in research. The situation will likely be similar if I do a postdoc.

How can I practice or develop these skills while still in graduate school? Or what would be some important surrogate skills I should focus on instead?

I am from a country where this is quite a decision.

Whether or not to get a job right away graduating is something most engineers, like myself, fear.

I just graduated and I couldn’t get a job so far despite having a high-quality curriculum (speaking 3 languages, programming, experience abroad).

But I have this good offer to start a Master’s Degree at a top university.

What should you recommend?

A professor of mine once told me graduate studies pay in the long term. He decided to go for a Master then PhD studies because of it last longer. According to him, you got to sacrifice a few more years of your life but once you finish it, you are certain your life is going to be better.

I am from Brazil. Tell me about similar situations in your countries.

So I’m in a bit of a weird situation right now.

I recently graduated from university with my BS, but was expecting to continue my education at the school as I was accepted into a BS/MS program at the end of my junior year. I put a tremendous amount of time and effort into my work and knocked out a significant portion of my MS during my senior year.

Since I graduated I had to do some transitioning into the MS program, which consisted of proving that I actually had my degree conferred, filling out some additional paper work — you get the idea. I filled out every form that needed to be completed, met every deadline, and so on (and have tangible proof/records of me doing so).

And yet for some reason, I’m still not in the graduate program (The offer was never rescinded or anything like that). Even though I’ve done all of the work I’ve needed to do and was already accepted, I’m simply not considered to be in the program for some reason and can’t register for classes, receive financial aid, etc.

I tried desperately to solve this matter with the graduate admissions office via e-mail, phone, and in-person meetings, and yet I’ve been continually left without help and without answers every single time. Class registration + Financial Aid deadlines are coming up and yet it looks like I’m posed to miss them due to the admission office’s neglegence towards this matter (And mind you, this is not some kind of fake/phony/fraudulent school. This is a very well-known, reputable university in the US)

It’s honestly gotten to the point where I’m preparing a letter to send to the president of the school, as I’ve run out of people to go to for help. It’s been really frustrating to have done all of this work for so long and then be treated like this, and I don’t know what do to.

I’m not really sure what to ask at this point, but absolutely any help/recommendations would be sincerely appreciated. Are there any actions/repurcussions I can possibly take against the school for this? Or are there any other courses of action I should take to help resolve this matter?

Thank you.

About a year ago when I was a first-year graduate student, my advisor wanted me to follow up on a project left behind by an honors student. I agreed because, at that time, I thought the topic was important and the findings were rather interesting. However, over the past year, I was busy with other projects and my qualifying exam, so this project was put on hold for almost a year. This summer, my advisor urges me to get it done as soon as possible.

I’d be more than happy to, had I not realized the original project is not methodologically sound. My RAs who re-coded the original data share the same feeling: The experimenter made various mistakes and was overly flexible, yet all data points entered into final analyses. I don’t want to spend months chasing after effects that don’t exist. Moreover, due to the complex study design, I can foresee what a nightmare it can be to build computational models in the future.

I suggested radical changes that make the experiment more rigorous and subsequent modeling efforts more tractable, but my advisor refused my proposal several times, arguing that making any changes will only delay the starting time. I feel stuck: On the one hand, I don’t want to pursue this project as it is since it’s most definitely going to fail; on the other, I don’t have the courage (or “moral capitals”) to defy my advisor because I have put off this project for so long. To make matters worse, I only have one advisor, so if our relationship deteriorates, I have no one else to turn to.

Any advice on what I should do is much appreciated!

This question already has an answer here:

I am applying for the Masters in the US for the Spring 2019 session. I don’t understand the concept of GPA.
I have done my masters in Physics. My doubts are as follows:
1. For my three-year undergrad degree in Physics do I need to calculate the score of the last year or all the three years (as in my country what you scored in the final year matters for admission)
2. My Master’s is calculated on a 7 point scale. Like my GPA is 4.33/7. How to convert this on 4 point scale?
3. I come from a lower middle-class family and applying to the US universities will come costly to me. So I wish to email shortlisted university for my profile evaluation. Will they help out? How do I approach them?

I’m a third-year Ph.D. student. A few months ago, I lost my maternal grandfather and grandmother in quick succession. More recently, I lost my close friend in a bus accident and my paternal grandmother was wheeled into the emergency room. These incidents have affected me personally and I haven’t been able to focus on my work as much. I emailed my advisors everytime an incident happened (to take a 2-3 days off) but both of them didn’t bother to reply. Even after I met them face to face, they did not ask me how I’m doing or if I need any help?

This has led me to feel that my emotions are not valued and I’m being used just as a tool to get experiments done. Am I wrong to expect a word of condolence from my advisors or do they think that they might cross personal boundaries?