Wednesday, March 7, 2007

How to Pick a Group -- Part 3

I almost forgot:

  • Ask the advisor, grad students in the group, and grad students not in the group what the group's financial situation is.
I don't know how I missed this after my story about being promised money that didn't exist in Part 1, but anyhoo, this can't be stressed enough. It should be complimented with:

  • Apply for any and all fellowships you qualify for, even if you don't think you stand a chance.
Grad school can drain a lot out of you even when your finances are taken care of. You can imagine what it does when you're working your arse off and aren't being paid what you were promised or are being forced to teach semester after semester. You want to talk about productivity -- start by not teaching too many classes.

Making sure the group is financially sound is also a key aspect of doing good (and fast) research. Believe it or not, science is, in fact, impeded or straight blocked by a lack of funds. This may sound like an obvious statement, and in some respects it is, but in some groups it means very very basic equipment can't be purchased for months since they are living grant to grant. This happened in my last group and it isn't pretty. Take care of the cash. Get stuff done.

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