Sunday, July 31, 2011


It occurred to me --- talking to professors about their students and labs researchers about their interns --- that there is a tendency to help those who can swim to swim faster and further, but how much do we help drowning students get ashore (at grad school level)?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great topic. There really should be discussion about this in the community. Five years is a long time and it's really sad if smart students don't get their shot at academia due to bad circumstances.

11:28 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

It depends on whether you view graduate school as an instructional process or a filtering process, and whether you prefer type 1 or type 2 errors.

4:23 AM  
Anonymous Tim said...

As a grad student, I'd be fine being left to drown by my advisor / department if I'd deserve it, as long as I would now from the beginning that this possibility is part of the game - which is often not the case when professors argue that one should go to grad school.

7:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon: yes, five years is a long time, so one-sided errors have a huge cost. Many graduate students seem to internalize this some 3 years into the program!

Peter: Liked your comment that made me parse+think. One would think filtering should have happened at admissions, and rest should be instructional, but that is not true in theory or practice.

Tim: Right! We should communicate to graduate student entrants that they need to take responsibility for the process, and drowning is a real possibility. More so than other degrees, PhD might have a real failure path for some.

-- Metoo

10:42 PM  
Anonymous Tim said...

That's very interesting - I just finished my 3rd year and indeed I feel I internalized the perspective of potential failure (I wonder what stopped me until now).

I still feel I am a much better version of me as compared to 3 years ago (which did not happen while I worked in the industry), academia job or not.

That being said, I still feel there is a bit of cheating on the side of the barricade that filters humans after claiming 5 years of their lives. Filtering should be more aggressive in the initial stage (admission and 1st year) but this probably does not serve well the educational industry.

7:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great, thought provoking post. There just is not enough time to teach someone drowning how to swim when we are already spread so thin. Lately, I have started thinking the same about students with poor English and communication skills. I wonder how senior colleafues are able to mentor international students that fit in this category.

12:01 PM  

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