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Thread: To PhD or not to Phd?

  1. #61
    International 12th Man Kirkut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hendrix View Post
    A good friend of mine was dating this girl from a foreign country who'd received a government grant or some type of funding to be an international student doing a masters in accountancy. He showed me one of her essays. Honestly, she could not even write a sentence with intelligible English. Like, you simply could not understand what points she was trying to make. Yet she was apparently passing.

    I'm not usually a university snob but I was damn happy not to have any qualifications from that institute.

    It's really straight up theft. The tertiary education industry has a lot to answer for.
    Unless it's a good university, I find education to be a scam. It's better to do online certifications from edx or coursera and work on your skills to be employable.

  2. #62
    Spanish_Vicente sledger's Avatar
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    Tbf my supervisor is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met

    She is actually incredible and I love her a bit

    She is French, and she speaks english perfectly

    But her written English is appalling

    Every time she sends me an email I am like "wtf, this is not how you talk. Why do you write like this?"
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  3. #63
    International Coach StephenZA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kirkut View Post
    I'm assuming you got your education either in South Africa or the UK, how is Master's program there? Do you get to choose your courses like in the US?

    Here in the US you can choose whatever courses you like, so getting good grades is not that hard if you choose all easy courses, but companies don't look for grades they're more interested in what you learned from the courses you took.

    For example there is a fluid dynamics course and the instructor is very old with age around 88-89 years old, so he's a bit apathetic whether students learn anything or not and he gives A grade generously. Whereas I took this course on Vehicle Dynamics and the instructor was from MIT. I got a C in that course but I was very happy, the amount of knowledge I had received was huge even though I managed a C, most drop out early to avoid failing.
    I ended up getting my degrees in SA. I would have only been partly funded for the masters course in the UK and I would have ended with exorbitant debt as an international student, staying in SA I have been fully funded. I would have finished my masters 2 years earlier if i had gone to the UK and I also had to consider future opportunity having a degree from UK university... but practical money won out. I may regret that in the future, hopefully not.

    It depends on the type of degree, but overall you don't get much choice in SA qualifications regards subjects. Most masters are pure research as there is not enough students at masters level in general to make course work financially viable for the universities. The masters that are course work based are normally specific to degree type at the bigger universities i.e. engineering masters are generally taught, forensic masters is taught etc.

    SA degrees in general are very rigid; having been accepted into a qualification type BSc, BCom etc. you then pick 4 subjects from a list in 1st year which will be whittled down to 3 then 2 subjects in the following 2 years. Then you pick modules within those subjects to make up credits, but you don't really have choices, student numbers don't allow choice and you have pretty rigid prerequisites for future years, occasionally you get a choice between two modules. I did a degree with plans to major in Maths and Physics. So I chose Physics, Applied maths, Pure maths and CS. My only real choice was Chemistry/CS 1st year. Because of the rigid structure there is basically modules of death that have 60%+ failure rates that you can't avoid if you want to do certain majors. SA degrees also have a unique 'honours' year. In effect our matric/final year high school qualification is more than an O level but less than an A level; so you end up about a year behind when compared to UK university students. The honours degree is effectively a 1 year bridging course to get from final degree to be allowed to do a masters.
    Last edited by StephenZA; 21-06-2019 at 11:41 PM.
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  4. #64
    Global Moderator Teja.'s Avatar
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    A close friend just finished his masters in law at Harvard and picked his courses with specific emphasis on a particular niche field. It basically felt like an awesome vacation/networking year for him to explore all the place was about, build connections and do personal intellectual pursuits.

    He also had merely above average grades in college (like me) but ended up with top level grades in the masters.

    I’m thinking masters in law is different from masters in hard science fields.

    Tbf, he feels it was the best year of his life and had a great time.
    Last edited by Teja.; 22-06-2019 at 02:13 AM.
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  5. #65
    International 12th Man Kirkut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by StephenZA View Post
    I ended up getting my degrees in SA. I would have only been partly funded for the masters course in the UK and I would have ended with exorbitant debt as an international student, staying in SA I have been fully funded. I would have finished my masters 2 years earlier if i had gone to the UK and I also had to consider future opportunity having a degree from UK university... but practical money won out. I may regret that in the future, hopefully not.

    It depends on the type of degree, but overall you don't get much choice in SA qualifications regards subjects. Most masters are pure research as there is not enough students at masters level in general to make course work financially viable for the universities. The masters that are course work based are normally specific to degree type at the bigger universities i.e. engineering masters are generally taught, forensic masters is taught etc.

    SA degrees in general are very rigid; having been accepted into a qualification type BSc, BCom etc. you then pick 4 subjects from a list in 1st year which will be whittled down to 3 then 2 subjects in the following 2 years. Then you pick modules within those subjects to make up credits, but you don't really have choices, student numbers don't allow choice and you have pretty rigid prerequisites for future years, occasionally you get a choice between two modules. I did a degree with plans to major in Maths and Physics. So I chose Physics, Applied maths, Pure maths and CS. My only real choice was Chemistry/CS 1st year. Because of the rigid structure there is basically modules of death that have 60%+ failure rates that you can't avoid if you want to do certain majors. SA degrees also have a unique 'honours' year. In effect our matric/final year high school qualification is more than an O level but less than an A level; so you end up about a year behind when compared to UK university students. The honours degree is effectively a 1 year bridging course to get from final degree to be allowed to do a masters.
    There seems to be less diversity in coursework but it's compensated by the employers not being too picky when it comes to recruitment, because education is standardized mostly. And it's good to hear about research only masters, that gives you more freedom and also a chance to see whether PhD is right for you or not.

  6. #66
    International 12th Man Kirkut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Teja. View Post
    A close friend just finished his masters in law at Harvard and picked his courses with specific emphasis on a particular niche field. It basically felt like an awesome vacation/networking year for him to explore all the place was about, build connections and do personal intellectual pursuits.

    He also had merely above average grades in college (like me) but ended up with top level grades in the masters.

    I’m thinking masters in law is different from masters in hard science fields.

    Tbf, he feels it was the best year of his life and had a great time.
    Most likely he has an aptitude for law, otherwise no one would say that Harvard is easy.

  7. #67
    Spanish_Vicente sledger's Avatar
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    My masters was great. Loved it. Best academic thing I have ever done.

  8. #68
    Global Moderator Spark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sledger View Post
    Tbf my supervisor is one of the most intelligent people I have ever met

    She is actually incredible and I love her a bit

    She is French, and she speaks english perfectly

    But her written English is appalling

    Every time she sends me an email I am like "wtf, this is not how you talk. Why do you write like this?"
    Haha there are so many academics like this. Extremely articulate and obviously right up the top of the tree intellect wise, but just can't put together a properly written email to save their lives, even at the level of basic grammar and punctuation. Just cbf.

  9. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spark View Post
    Haha there are so many academics like this. Extremely articulate and obviously right up the top of the tree intellect wise, but just can't put together a properly written email to save their lives, even at the level of basic grammar and punctuation. Just cbf.
    emails and texts

    get them to review your work and they'll point out a million errors with your english. just an older generation thing that I find pretty weird.

  10. #70
    International 12th Man Kirkut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Daemon View Post
    emails and texts

    get them to review your work and they'll point out a million errors with your english. just an older generation thing that I find pretty weird.
    Nah, writing skills are very important especially in technical field, something I took for granted before completing my Master's degree.

  11. #71
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    If you want to eventually end up in industry as an engineer, you shouldn't, but if you want to end up in industry in R&D, this could be a good move. In my case, I chose to do it because I wasn't initially sure whether I'd want to end up in academia, and about two years in, I knew for sure I wanted to stay in academia. Almost everyone I know that did a Ph.D. in engineering is in an R&D role.
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  12. #72
    International Captain Sudeep's Avatar
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    The key is when you transfer out of academia. Immediately after Ph.D. is pretty easy, but the more years you stay in academia, the more difficult it gets.
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  13. #73
    International 12th Man Kirkut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sudeep View Post
    If you want to eventually end up in industry as an engineer, you shouldn't, but if you want to end up in industry in R&D, this could be a good move. In my case, I chose to do it because I wasn't initially sure whether I'd want to end up in academia, and about two years in, I knew for sure I wanted to stay in academia. Almost everyone I know that did a Ph.D. in engineering is in an R&D role.
    The problem statement is very important too. If it's too theoretical then a job at the industry is unlikely. Also one must love the process of doing a PhD, if it is seen as a means to an end then it get's very difficult to stay motivated I guess.

  14. #74
    Request Your Custom Title Now! Uppercut's Avatar
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    I've never met anyone who loves the process. At best it's a satisfying form of suffering, like running a marathon. At worst it's just suffering.

    Though TBF that's the case for almost all jobs.
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  15. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by zorax View Post
    I have yet to meet an engineering PhD who successfully transferred out of academia to industry

    Getting jobs in industry after an Engineering PhD is pretty common in the United States and Canada. Maybe Europe is different. Much harder to make the opposite transition in the US -- transitioning back to a faculty position after a few years in industry. I did this successfully many years ago, but wouldn't recommend it. Near impossible especially if you have not published during the years in industry.
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