Today has been characterized by readings for a (required) doctoral colloquium (at which Dr. Terzian spoke) and talking to senior graduate students, in a general way, about their experiences here. A few broad thoughts informed by the happenings of today are below.
- The stats. department's qualifying exam is a four hour math test consisting of eight problems (two each from four classes). The usual passing grade is a six out of eight, and that is no small feat. I've heard nothing but nightmares about this.
- The School of Teaching and Learning uses the qualifying exam as a constructive process where the end result forms the basis for one's dissertation later. It lasts about a month and requires writing answers (long, long answers) in response to questions. Some students say it isn't the worst thing ever (knock on wood).
- The committee is apparently not trying to destroy you.
- Tenure is a long way off, but the goal in the first five years of an academic position is writing journal articles that show a deliberate research trajectory that will carry one's career for the time being. The goal is showing the tenure committee a single body of work.
- When writing, the re-writes are where improvement comes from. Rinse and repeat.
- Dissertations are first and foremost written to answer a question.
- Education gets little respect in the academy. There are several hypotheses for this, including that it is a gendered field (because it has many aspects associated with femininity).
- Do what you like. (Polonius's "To thine own self be true.")
- At research institutions research is respected. (That's about all that is respected.)
Overall, I'm still apprehensive about starting this program... it is sufficiently removed from my last program that I am in the process of finding my footing. Taking REM classes is helping ease my transition, but there is only so long that I can take those classes for.