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I think one aspect of researching/writing a Ph.D is that it is necessarily very isolating, precisely because you must know more about your topic than anyone else, as you say lapis. The further into your research you go, the harder it is for anyone to follow you.

Honestly, in my experience and that of others I've talked to, doubting yourself occasionally is natural: not because you're not good at what you do but because you are really thrown back on your own critical facilities so often.

DJ biz, I can sympathise. I'm not a scientist, but my work, which was rooted in a cultural studies approach, is being tugged towards the dryer end of policy study. I can see how this will come in handy but it's deadly boring stuff to wade through.

Lapis, I do like thinking of life post-Ph.D submission...
lapis, sybarite, thanks so much ladies! i get so bogged down in this 'do i belong here?' song and dance sometimes. i think one of problems is that i'm crazy about primatology, i absolutely love it. i love primates, i love nature, i love the window into this other world that it affords me. at my core though, i still identify as an activist and i find myself questioning a lot, what am i doing for humanity? how am i helping the world? my long-winded philosophical answer is that by bringing attention to nonhuman primates i can engender interest in conservation which will do two things, perhaps make the world a cleaner more sustainable place for future generations, and also inspire humility. i feel that if people can see themselves as animals and animals likened to humans it may humble them which in turn will cause people to be more thoughtful and caring for one another and also the planet.

i'm pretty sure i bombed that test. ah well, i've got the final still to go and its worth 40% of my grade, plus i got an A and a B on the first two tests, so it won't be a total disaster.....i hope....i'm visiting my boyfriend right now and allowing him to be a total distraction. i'm about to plaster myself to a table in the coffee shop downstairs and try and finish this research paper on social learning. after that, it's on the behavioral differences of chimpanzees and bonobos. everybody loves bonobos!
I need to post here to make myself feel better. I just handed in a paper on the ideological implications of the Flapper in the 1920s... and I don't know if I did it exactly how the professor wanted. It makes me nervous because its different than the other papers I've written, say on Stalin... or the Cold War... or say... more Stalin.... but its only worth 20% I think out of a full year course, so I should be okay. I'm just nervous because its almost exams and I have yet to get back any of the essays I've handed in in the last month, all my profs are SO SLOW on getting them back to us. So I am going into exams not knowing where I stand and i DON"T LIKE IT AT ALL. Bah. Rant over.
i feel your pain! if they are going to be so stringent about due dates then there should be a due date for getting grading papers back to you!! well, i got a D on my math test. shit shit shit. that's how i feel. luckily i got an A and a B on the other two and the final is worth 40%, so if i study like mad, i can still get a B+ in the class. i'm just pissed at myself for not working harder and letting that one slip. now there is no possible way for me to get an A. sigh. but that exam is two weeks off. i'm in research paper hell, just watching the cursor blink at me on the third page of my 12 page paper, not yet completed. not to mention that i have two other 8 page papers due tomorrow. why oh why did i procrastinate?
I feel the pain about procrastination. I just finished all of my papers for the year, and my final exams start in one week. However, having just finished the papers I am finding it VERY hard to begin studying and instead slept until noon today and am now watching the Bionic Woman. When next week arrives and my Vietnam exam is in two days I will be going WHY DID I PROCRASTINATE?! But I am still doing it.
i have a feeling i will do the same thing. i just finished my 12 page paper, the one 8 page paper and i have 2.5 pages to go on the other eight page one. whew. i still need to do reference pages but i think my eyeballs might start bleeding. luckily my final exams are fairly spread out and only one of them is cumulative. i wish i was watching the bionic woman. is it any good?
bonobos chimps rule!! I thought about primatology for a hot minute then realized I am not interested in spending time in Africa, examining gorilla shit.

more power to you. I am all about chimpanzee material culture.
bionic woman is good. I got my paper back, and I got an A. Very pleased. Still procrastinating though.
reading this forum lets me know i'm not alone in my long and frustrating struggle through school. been going three years and i have 5 left to go!!

i cant even think about a Ph.D right now! blink.gif
hey, thanks missjoy! and being in africa, examining gorilla poop is my idea of heaven. but i actually spend my time in south america, examining capuchin poop. it is generally smaller and has a more pleasant fragrance.

well i'm over the second to last hump. 3 exams to go and then i can relax for .5 seconds and enjoy the winter holidays. so close, but yet so far. it's scary for me to be looking down the barrel of at minimum, 5 more years of school. ouch. in the end, i know it will all be worth it.......i hope.

i was talking to some other PhD students about 'imposter syndrome' which apparently alot of grad students suffer from in their first year. basically a feeling that you don't belong, that you aren't as smart as everyone around you and somehow, you getting into grad school was a mistake. it is so widespread, apparently, that some universities offer seminars to first year students on how to cope with it. the more you know......
DJ-biz, if anything, my feeling of being an imposter has increased. I was initially fairly confident starting the Ph.D, because I had prestigious funding and an excellent MA behind me. Three years on, I feel those laurels are stale. Combined with the current 'hands-off' attitude of my advisors and being essentially alone with my ideas and arguments for the last year, I am getting increasingly unsure about the quality of my work.

I like working on my own and generally trust my assessment of what I'm doing, but damn it, advisors are there for a reason. Some advising would be nice. I may send off a polite email requesting a meeting...
Sometimes I feel like an imposter and I'm still doing my undergrad!
sybarite, MAN, i know exactly how you are feeling!!! i know we're supposed to be these independent thinkers and all, but sometimes i feel like i throw an idea out there, it gets shot down, so i put it away. then weeks later while reviewing my work, my advisor is like, 'well, why didn't you do this?!!' i want to scream at her, that's exactly what i did a few weeks ago and you told me not to do it. make up your damn mind!!!! what the hell do you want from me? when i try to branch out on my own i feel totally isolated so i pull back in and i'm chastised for it. it's so frustrating. i'm ready to start OVER next semester and see if i can come into it with a better attitude. maybe it's just the nature of this particular class, all we've been doing all semester is trying to get a poster together for a conference in august. today my advisor said, 'i don't feel like we've accomplished anything at all.' really?!! is that case? did i just submit an abstract last friday or what? was i not waiting around for a different grad student to finish working on our data parser (waiting for a month, mind you) so i could actually run some statistics? hmmm, how the fuck do you expect me to write a paper or even an abstract for that matter with NO results. give me a break here.

whew. sorry. i have intense rage. i'm also getting a cold, perfect timing for exams. i'm soooooo ready for a break.

edie- i should really take my own advice more often, but this is what i try and say to myself. unless you donated a building or an airport, you got into school based on your academic merits. you deserve to be there regardless of how stupid you may feel in comparison to others. it may not be constructive for you to compare yourself at all. you are going to school so that you can learn, not so you can show up the people around you. it's for you and the only reason you should be there is because you love it, enjoy it, embrace it, etc. as frustrated as i get with all the bullshit going on right now, i still get chills watching some cheesy documentary about chimps or geladas (a type of monkey, not the dessert) or macaques or whatever. i get excited, i get intrigued, that's what keeps me going. i'm doing this for me, not for anyone else. i suppose i need to get thicker skin. long story long, none of us are imposters. we got to this point because we deserve it and we've worked hard.

Any Law school Busties out there?
Thanks for the pep talk, dj-bizmonkey!

I know I need to stop comparing myself to others. That is really one of my biggest problems (in a lot of areas). I don't feel stupid, but... well, I'm studying photography, so there's a different kind of pressure- to be creative, original, and technically adept. It's a competitive market, and I'm already feeling that at the undergrad level. Sometimes I wish I could crack a book and study or write a paper, because I feel like I'm more cut out for that kind of academia. When I look around, it seems like most of my classmates know what they're doing, as though their ideas and skills come easily to them... however, I know for a fact that most of them probably feel the same way I do.

I guess the fact that I'm studying abroad now isn't helping. I've had a harder time working here, and have been beating myself up over it.
I applied for a second grad program, and I was hoping to start in the spring. But my freaking recommenders still haven't sent me their recommendations. Only 1 of my former profs sent hers in! WTF is wrong with the others?!! I asked 2 months ago, and I sent reminder emails (and got responses, so I know they know about this).

I had to ask a prof I realllly don't care for (and I suspect the feeling's mutual, but she agreed anyway), and another one who's cool but kind of flaky and no longer at my school. The rest of my profs are on sabbatical and I have no idea how to get a hold of them. UGH. I'm totally fucked.

I need that degree dammit! I need to be able to make money before I can go for the PhD. It's one thing to be a poor student. It's quite another to be poor while already having master's degree from a great school. This blows.

*exhale* Sorry for the rant.
ugh faerietails! that makes me totally insano as well!! i've had two reference letter horror stories. first of all, my advisor was two weeks late sending in her letter for my last NSF fellowship application. second of all, my old boss's (a professor at a different university) sent her letter to my grad program late and it was only three lines long. now we never got along very well, but usually, the upstanding, honest thing to do when some one asks to write a letter for them, is to say, 'you know, i don't really think i should be the one to do it for you.' i mean, come on, we weren't best friends, but i worked my ASS off in the field, 6 days a week, 12 hours a day for an entire year for you woman!! why not base your judgement on my work ethic rather than on some personal bullshit that you have completely fabricated in my mind.

my advisor was almost late sending my NSF letter AGAIN this year. she got all this 'tude about me not reminding her, which i had, twice. it was so bad that i actually had to go back through my gmail and show her the reminder i had sent. come on people, lets get it together.

faerietails, if you are super close with any of your slacker profs, maybe they would let you write your own letter of rec, then they can go over it and sign it or make any changes. i know alot of people that do that.....just a suggestion. as for tracking professors down on sabbatical, if you swing by the department secretary's office they usually have contact information for profs that are on the lamb. good luck!!

in other news, i ACED the first exam of the year. two more to go. i'm shaking in my boots about statistics. anyone really good at math out there or know of a website where i can get some practice tests? i have to get an 82 or above in order to make a B in the course which is ABSOLUTELY necessary. sorry for all the capital letters.

once again: deep.cleansing.breaths.

in two weeks this will be over and i'll be at home snuggling with my manthing. sigh.
Hey guys! Been reading for a few months, first time posting.
I'm studying radiologic technology with about 2 years left -- anyone in a similar situation?

p.s. by studying, I mean devoting my entire life.
i think i'll be able to wrestle my rec out of the teacher who doesn't like me (i think she's been sick). but as for the flaky one...UGH!! she's being flaky.

would it be totally ghetto to photocopy a letter of rec this other teacher from my undergrad wrote for me? thing is, it's a rec for college teaching. otherwise, i don't know what else to do. i really would like to start next semester if it's still possible, but with finals and holiday break going on right now, i don't think it would be possible to get a letter on such short notice. especially since i'd have to track my on-leave profs down. *sigh*
i hate to sound like a broken record, but maybe the flaky professor would let you write your own letter and then you can just get her to sign it. i guess it just depends on how close the two of you are. i've done that before. i hate when it gets down to the wire on this kind of stuff and you are completely dependent on another person. i'm sorry babe, i feel your pain.

i dunno about photocopying a letter, however. my question is, are you a shoe-in for acceptance even without a strong letter of rec? do you need them just to satisfy a quota? if that's all you need, some papers with signatures, then maybe using an old letter would work, as long as your other two were nice and strong. if you are really depending on strong letters to help grease the wheels, then i think you'll have a light a fire under the asses of the professors who are supposed to write for you. good luck!!
One thing that chaps my ass about graduate work is precisely how dependent on referees, advisors etc you become. I worked at several non-academic jobs between my MA and starting my Ph.D, and the relative lack of efficiency in academia drives me up a wall. I know academic work is stressfully split between researching/teaching/teaching prep/ writing/applying for grants... but it's like that for us students too, and if we can get our ducks in a row why can't they?

/vent. Suffice to say, I feel your pain faerietails. I do agree with dj-biz's suggestion. Flaky referee should respect the fact you too need to hit a deadline.

Speaking of... there is an amazing postdoc I'd love to apply for, but I feel it's premature, although it allows for nearly-complete Ph.Ds. What's really holding me back is the impossibilty of getting letters from my refs, over christmas break... yeah right.

I do however have a meeting with my advisors next week! Scary, but I'll be happier once i know more where my work stands.

Glad to see this thread livening up again!
She and I were really cool (we'd always go out for drinks after class), so I would tell her that I'd write it myself, but she won't even respond to my emails! wtf?!!

I'm thinking I'm a shoe-in for this no matter what. I don't think it's a very competitive program, it's a state school, and I already have a MA from a really great school. Soooo...I might just have to photocopy that sucker and hope for the best.

Seriously, if it's this much of a pain in the ass to get letters of rec a mere 7 months after graduating, I'm terrified of a few years down the line when I start applying for PhD programs!

Good luck ladies! Semester's almost over! (although I realize dissertation work knows no vacation...wink.gif)
I also have a reference letter situation going on right now. I just discovered that applications for the MA in Journalism program that I want to apply to is due in January instead of February like the other programs I'm applying to, and I have one month from today to get reference letters from profs. Do I approach them now? Even though they're in the middle of grading exams? Do I email them? What do I do? How do I go about this? Especially since I'm in a rather big undergrad program and not very close with any of my profs, except for one who I did well in his class last year, but not this year, so that puts me in a weird position. I'm getting worried about it, but trying to get through my final exam, which is tomorrow afternoon, and then I'll start on the application. Sigh.
lananans- i would email them today, one month should be plenty of time for them to get a reference letter out. if you're worried about not being super close with any of them, see if you can set up a brief meeting with them after exams are over. that way you can express your goals for the future and they can get some perspective on you as a person and as a possible masters student. go into the meeting with a clear understanding of the program you're applying for and why you are doing it. if you have a solid relationship with that one professor, it shouldn't matter too much that you didn't do so hot this year. he should take your performance as a whole. good luck!!

yeah, sybarite, that shit pisses me off so much too. it's as if when you get your degree (and tenure i suppose) suddenly you don't have to be responsible. my old boss from a field job has had her phd for 25 years and she still breaks all the rules and lets students down constantly. when she gets called on her bullshit, she plays dumb, 'oh i didn't know i had to file that form,' etc etc. it's absolutely ridiculous. and you are totally right, if we can get organized and get everything together, they should be able to as well!!

faerietails, what a bummer. it really sounds like your in a bind, but if you think you've got a good chance of getting in, then you probably will. sorry your profs are being such total flakes.
thanks for the advice dj. I have one more question... what about a prof who I was close with 2 years ago. I sort of struggled in his class and went to talk to him about it a few times and my performance did improve by the end of the year with him, and we had a good relationship. I didn't have a very good mark in his class but I've done well since then based on his advice, and I was wondering if I could go back to him and maybe show him my grades from other classes and ask him for a reference?
i think that would be totally fine, as long as you have a fairly good relationship. it would be a good idea to just set up a quick meeting (20min or so) to talk about your accomplishments in school and your goals for the future and why getting a masters is important to you. the thing is, the vast majority of professors will be honest with you if they feel like they can't write you a good rec letter. if you are really nervous about it, ask them point blank after the meeting, 'based on everything we've talked about, do you feel that you could write me a strong letter of rec?' if they are forthright, which most professors we end up getting close with are, they will tell you the truth. it's never a bad a idea to have lots of options for your letter writers and it doesn't hurt to ask.

i don't know if all your letters have to come from an academic source, but if they don't, old bosses or people that oversaw your interships etc, anything related to your field are also a good resource. i befriended a guy who works for conservation international while i was in the field and if i run out of options, i will sometimes ask him to write a letter for me.
Hi Academic busties!
I am starting graduate work on Jan 6 and I'm super nervous. I got my BS (electrical engineering) in May but I'm switching over to computer science because I think it's a better fit for me (I should have switched as an undergrad but by the time I realized it I was too far along). Because it's a new field my first 2 quarters are all undergrad classes. They waived me out of some classes that I had like 3 years ago but I don't remember much from those classes so taking the "part two" ones might be really difficult. Also, I'm moving to a completely new city - chicago - less than a week before classes start! It's pretty crazy! And I don't have an apartment or a job there yet! Yikes!
I am excited about once I get the prereq's out of the way and I get started on my focus courses in artificial intelligence and image/sound processing. That's what gets my motor running.
Hey gals,

I want to go back and finish my bachelors. I was studying to be a early childhood education teacher (children from birth to 5 yrs old); but after taking most of the classes and volunteering and working in centers, I realize that's not what i want to do anymore. So instead of wasting money and time- I decided to quit for a few semesters, ya know get my thoughts together and decidd what I wanted to take up. Well, a few semesters has turned into 5 yrs and I want to go back to school. I feel like I failed myself, but I just don't have a flippin clue what I want to pursue. Im an open book, blank slate right now. I need to figure this thing out.

Do previous college credits expire?? If I'm changing majors, they probably would only count the core/general ed. classes. Either way it'll be like i'm starting over I guess. I just dont want the on campus experience again. I think I'm a little old for that. Been there done those crazy days.
So many papers so little time.

Stab me in the eye.
Dear God in the Heavens,

If you are just and loving you will let me pass this Pre Calc final today. I just need a 57% to pass the class. Please, please, please. I've been studying all week. I haven't slept or ate. I'm terrified of failure. Help me out here.

Your math-challenged slave,

hey kayte! i have a friend that goes to school in chicago and he absolutely love love loves it! let me know if you're still looking for place to live and maybe i can find out some good neighborhoods that are near the university. computer science, wow. that is so beyond anything that i do, except for using microsoft access and spss to run my statistics. it's cool that you love what you are studying though, that is most important part!

konphusion- i don't think that credits ever expire, the only thing I know of that does expire is your GRE score, which you must take to get into most, if not all graduate programs in the U.S.A. Your score must be from the past five years. good luck with everything!

pugs, i pray to the same god too. if only, if only, i say! if only he wasn't the last damned professor to post grades. grrrrr. i just need a b, dear god of math, please bestow upon me a b.


stab me in the eye, hahahahaha, i feel your pain there too eilleen.
konphusion26, I heard you on not knowing what to do. I do believe that after a certain amount of years they will make you retake the classes. I would definitely talk to someone with the college you plan on attending.

I was very happy and excited to find out that I can take classes for free on an unemployment tuition waver. Of course I don't wish to retake my foundation art classes because that seems like an utter waste of my time, even though I do love art. I think I want to get my degree in art education, eventually. I am currently trying to get permission of the instructors to one take advanced level art classes and two to take the damn classes in general! If I make it to January to take the classes it will be a miracle! I am so stressed out between school (that I haven't even started yet), my crappy retail job complete with new management and customers that can't figure out one week before x-mas why we don't have the stuff they want... oh and I'm curating an art exhibit at this co-operative art gallery. I just wish something could just be completely easy and stress free, just for once.
Well, I could probably call myself an academia nut. smile.gif

I'm a HS student though just trying to make it through this horribly painful academic program called the IB.

All of the classes are college level, and ridiculous.

BUT--I can get up to 32 college credits when i decide to move on to the big time.

I think I'm going to be a latin teacher.

I'm working on a research dossier right now regarding pompeii graffiti showing the status and literacy of women.


Maybe there's another latin inclined lady out there?
Hi morganelizabeth--I did a few IB courses in HS too and they were difficult, but I honestly appreciated them really soon afterwards. We had an oral exam for IB English which scared the bejesus out of me but which turned out to be great preparation for oral exams in university. My friend's husband teaches latin btw and loves it, although it can be hard to find work depending on where you are, as it's so specialised.

Happy 2008 to all academics out there! I have not looked at my thesis for 10 days, although I have been thinking about it off and on. Time to get back to it before all my ideas melt away...
I have way too much time on my hands today since the kids are taking their final exam.... so you all well see me lots of the threads this morning...

I started classes on Monday. I am in a doctoral program in Education... the class I am taking right now is called Play and Play Environments....It's pretty intense... I never knew how much research goes into planning playgrounds and how horrible and dangerous so many of them are.

Goodluck to all of your starting the semester!!!
I did IB in high school as well. The oral exam did scare the shit out of me, but it wasn't toooo bad. Unfortunately I did not take Latin though, so I can only sympathize.

On another note, I just started my last semester of undergrad! WOOOOO! End of week two and I'm already behind.
ambersienna maria
trying to figure out if i want to go back
to being an academia nut.
I started my phd in anthro and quit
since hey,,,it turned out i didn't really
want to live alone in the jungle for a year.
so now...tryin to figure it out.
i do miss taking classes tho!!
I just had to jump in for a second and tell you all that I just submitted my application for graduate school. If everything goes well I will be one of you next fall!

Fingers and toes all very crossed.
good luck kittenb! I decided to take a year off before applying for grad school, but I know it must feel nice to have the apps done. Congrats:)
Yeah, I took about 10 years off b/w undergrad and grad school. tongue.gif
ambersienna maria
ok, so i'm lookin into going back for a 2nd B.A.
I'm interested in becoming a clinical lab scientist.
I'm esp. interested in analyzing blood and whatnots
from crime scenes.
so maybe then get my masters in forensic science.
sounds so interesting/appealing!
going to think about this one for a little.
I am currently working full time and finishing my masters in education. I am taking my last class online and it is already a pain in my ass , the instructor is a fuckin idiot and now she doesn't know what is going on because we made a decision based on her screw up and she still needs to have this explained to her. Fuck you maybe if you were at the meeting on line and actually gave a shit about this class I wouldn't have to repeat myself a million times because YOU ARE NOT PAYING ATTENTION>

I need one last A to have straight A's and I don't want someone else's inability to teach a class to get in my way.

I just want to be done with the degree !!! FUCKKKKKKK!!!!!!!!!!!
missladyj, I had a professor like that when I was going for my undergrad. It was an independent study class there were about six of us. My professor would frequently cancel or just not show up, he missed so many classes that he ended up just giving us all A's which while good for my grade point average, the class was part of our major and would've helped immensely. Its unfortunate that some with some teachers its just a job and its clear they are just going through the motions and could give a shit. good luck.

I just went back to school after several years, for a bit of a career change. I'm taking a few classes at a community college so that eventually I can be a teacher.
Have you all noticed that there always has to be one person in class that annoys the hell out of you? Like you long for the day when he/she is absent and hope that they decide to just drop the class. huh.gif wow, I just need to get that off my chest.
sandee -- That annoying person that you describe exists in my one seminar was absent from class today. It was glorious.
Yes Sandee, I have been in grad classes where I have literally banged my head against the desk because the professor had to spend twenty minutes at the beginning of every class to explain the syllabus to people. Seriously , you can't read a syllabus? and this was a class of teachers or people going in to teaching? Yikes!!

I think I just have a low tolerance for stupidity yet it abounds, in academia especially.

Muffy, I teach high school, what are going to get certified to teach? Good Luck!
sexysandee, it was my first week so I've yet to identitfy which or if any of my classmates are utterly frustrating. Though the other day, it was the first day of sociology, we had been there maybe an hour, my professor left the room while we were supposed to be interviewing a classmate, and one of my classmates I overheard saying she couldn't do this Saturday morning thing and left. I wonder why bother signing up if you can't handle going to a 9am saturday morning class?

missladyj, I am leaning towards art education though I am interested in english as a second language as well. I just started, I'm at a community college right now. I know I have to make a decision before transferring.
Some people are so goofy. I am in a doctoral program and the people are so lazy and complain about every single assignment.

Muffy ~ I am certified Generic Spec Ed K-12, English Secondary, and ESL.... I teach 9th grade English.... it's tons of fun, but again I find that I get frustrated at times with the adults, it's never really about the kids, they are for the most part great. Goodluck wink.gif
sexysandee, thanks smile.gif
I have to present in my seminar today. I am terrified of presentations. But at least this is the last one I have to do in my undergrad! I'm trying to think positive.
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