T Nation

Graduate School and GRE

I’m looking at graduate school right now; I’m tentatively planning on an MS/PhD program in either Science and Technology Studies or a History of Science/Medicine. My GPA is a 4.0 (in-major) and a 3.3 (cumulative … i did poorly in Calc 2 and upperlevel science).

My question is:

  1. Is anyone else here working towards their PhD?
  2. What subject?
  3. What institution?
  4. How’s your funding?
  5. Any wisedom you’d like to impart on me?

Lastly, any recommendations for a GRE study guide? I’m planning on enrolling in a KAPLAN prep course, but would also like to begin studying on my own.

I just started my PhD in organizational behaviour and human resources management at the University of Toronto. Funding is pretty good, at $24,000 + tuition. I see you are placing a lot of emphasise on your grades and GRE scores. If you are applying to one of the top research schools, what your references have to say will probably be more important.

[quote]mauser wrote:
I’m looking at graduate school right now; I’m tentatively planning on an MS/PhD program in either Science and Technology Studies or a History of Science/Medicine. My GPA is a 4.0 (in-major) and a 3.3 (cumulative … i did poorly in Calc 2 and upperlevel science).

My question is:

  1. Is anyone else here working towards their PhD?

Yes

  1. What subject?

Admin. Law

  1. What institution?

University of Florida

  1. How’s your funding?

Good, varies greatly depending on how many undergrad courses I teach or assist in.

  1. Any wisedom you’d like to impart on me?

This is the most important one, continue getting good grades, score high, and go to the absolutely best school that accepts you. I find that while education varies little, school name recognition and other variables mean a lot. I got a masters at Florida Atlantic University, not a bad school,just not as well ranked as UF. I speak from experience, and there is no questions higher ranked schools generally mean more jobs, research opps., etc.

Lastly, any recommendations for a GRE study guide? I’m planning on enrolling in a KAPLAN prep course, but would also like to begin studying on my own.

Having prepared for both the GRE, and LSAT, I can tell you what worked for me. I took a class, not Kaplan, but one that was offered by UF. It was about half the price, and after speaking with numerous students, we did about the same thing in our prep courses.

Further, if you learn good on your own (are you the type that doesn’t like studying in groups) than you might find that buying a bunch of study guides, and working through them on your own will be best. If you need someone to tell you what to do everyday, what to study, etc, then a course would probably be best for you.

Do not make the mistake of assuming that prep courses are some magic bullet. For the LSAT, I took one, for the GRE I did not. I would recommend you download the free sample test on the GRE’s website and take it. If your score is acceptable based on what you need to get in where you want to go, set up a study schedule, and stick to it. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any school specific questions, etc.

Yeah, I’m working pretty closely with a couple professors in my field … I’m pretty sure my references with them will be very good. I’m just starting to field my way through the graduate school application process, and looking seriously at programs.

It looks like your fund package is really very good. where I go now (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) offers so-so fellowships and TA-ships for my field (Science and technology studies; sociology of science, etc). Eventually I’d like to get my masters of public health, but in the meantime, I’m interested in an MS/PhD program in sociology of science/sociology of medicine.

Regarding the GRE, I bought one of the Kaplan books that come with a CD-ROM which allows you to take a few mock tests I also bought another book, but can’t remember which. I only studied for 3 weeks; I simply went through the exercises for 1-2 hours every evening (more on weekends), and a few days before the test I took the prectice tests from the CD-ROM so I would know what it was like. I got good scores, and didn’t feel like I would have done better with an actual course.

Back then I spoke to one of the professors at my institution, who was on the admissions board, and he told me that as long as you have a minimum score, and a decent GPA, what they’ll base their decision on will be your application and references. They all know the GRE is a scam that’s pretty worthless as an indicator of intelligence or verbal/mathematical ability.

In your application, make sure you sound motivated and like you know what you are getting into and where you are going with it. Don’t say that you want a Masters because it sounds like something cool :slight_smile:

Guess what the biggest indicator is of your success in grad school (according to a professor of mine)?

The date on which you turn in your application.

I’m at the U of Illinois at Urbana, working on my dissertation. But I’m in a humanities department, so the specifics I could offer won’t be much use to you.

What I can tell you is that you should just be prepared for what you’re getting into. I live okay, I suppose, but only because I’m good with money. I have friends who live in the type of apartment where you have to duck your head as you walk around [because they’re not good with budgets and are too lazy to work in the summer]. More importantly, be ready to work your ass off. My first few years here, I put in probably 80 hours a week, every week, and then more at the end of the semester. One year, I went about two months without getting one full night’s sleep. I do better now, because I know more tricks, but it’s still more work for fewer rewards than anything you could imagine. Make sure that you love your subject area enough to live this way [or be ready to go to a bad institution, I guess]; I do love my subject and I’m still not sure it’ worth living this way.

Just some advice from a grizzled vet at this shit. Good luck to you.

 Here is the best advice for you right now.  Make sure there is a job market for what you want to study.  A lot of people begin graduate work and don't think about that.  If you want to eventually teach at the university level, most posted positions result in hundreds of applicants, all with the same credentials.

 I originally wanted to be a history professor and changed my mind after one year of MS work. (I did complete the degree)  I am now in law school working on my Juris Doctorate and am much more enthused with the prospect of 98% employment rate of my institutions last year class.

 As for the GRE, get a Kaplan computer set and work on it a little.  Get a good nights sleep before it and take some energy pills right before you go into it.  Its not that hard, but it is long and it will mentally fatigue you.
 Good luck.     

Just show up and take the test. The minimum score for a lot of schools on the GRE is usually 1000 or around there…which isn’t too difficult to achieve.

[quote]mauser wrote:
I’m looking at graduate school right now; I’m tentatively planning on an MS/PhD program in either Science and Technology Studies or a History of Science/Medicine. My GPA is a 4.0 (in-major) and a 3.3 (cumulative … i did poorly in Calc 2 and upperlevel science).

My question is:

  1. Is anyone else here working towards their PhD?

Yes
2. What subject?

Immunology

  1. What institution?

Cornell

  1. How’s your funding?

tuition, health insurance, and almost 26K a year

  1. Any wisedom you’d like to impart on me?

Makes sure you’re dedicated to the subject and as someone else said that there is a job market. Good references are a big help as is experience if applicable.

Lastly, any recommendations for a GRE study guide? I’m planning on enrolling in a KAPLAN prep course, but would also like to begin studying on my own. [/quote]

I wouldn’t bother with the course. I only really studied about 2 weeks and just to get a refresher on the math. Overall I thought that it was rather easy. If I remember correctly they send you a cd-rom with practice tests on it, that should suffice as long as you sign up for the test far enough ahead of time that you can get it in the mail.

[quote]Five wrote:
Just show up and take the test. The minimum score for a lot of schools on the GRE is usually 1000 or around there…which isn’t too difficult to achieve.[/quote]

While that might be true, it really depends on the type of school you are applying to. Many of the top schools won’t even look at your application if you aren’t above the 90th percentile.

[quote]Aleksandr wrote:
Five wrote:
Just show up and take the test. The minimum score for a lot of schools on the GRE is usually 1000 or around there…which isn’t too difficult to achieve.

While that might be true, it really depends on the type of school you are applying to. Many of the top schools won’t even look at your application if you aren’t above the 90th percentile.[/quote]

I’m looking at the Ivies, plus UChicago and a few others (Hopkins, etc). Can’t go wrong busting ass in school, for the GRE’s, and in getting the best recommendations I can … at least that way, if I’m rejected from everyplace, I’ll know I did everything I could.

I’d like to get to my JD at some point, so I dig what a prior poster said about making sure there’s a market for the career area … I’m interested in where sociology and science converge, so the law area I’m into is intellectual property.