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 How Much Should a PhD candidate Know?
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Education PhD Suggestion ABD
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Posted on 10-31-09 9:12 AM     Reply [Subscribe]
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Hi All,


I always wonder about the extent of knowledge of a Phd student. We know, a phd student has in depth knowledge of his/her field of expertise BUT is that enough??? PHD is the last stop of academic train and once you are done, you are in the real world dealing with real people and in real time.


I have been going to school for more than 20 yrs and I still feel that emptiness especially when I see gores who are in my age group (34-36) knows a lot and makes me feel inferior. I do possess strong skills in my field of interest but I lack in others.


Let me what you all think on this matter??


SR


 
Posted on 10-31-09 1:00 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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While education makes you extremely proficient in your particular field of study plus makes you confident enough to stand tall with your peers, it still cant develop your social skills or improve your work-life balance or any of the abstract skills one attains when growing up. For that matter, I have seen an uneducated person talking more wise than a person who has developed a parallel runtime system for scalable parallel systems.

It is YOU who has to grow interests and do something about it, besides academics. I have come to realize that hobbies constantly change depending upon where you are living. Make friends, Go out (Hike/Row/Walk/Climb/Watch) , i cant think of any less things to do if you ask me.

Feeling inferior is another thing you mentioned that caught my attention. Why would you feel inferior with someone you are incomparable with? Everyone is different and everyone has their own ideas. You probably think their ideas are better. NO! They simply speak their mind out, you dont. If it is common sense, you can equally speak your mind and see the difference. That being said, why would you worry about something that you probably dont want to get interested in. I would suggest, focus on your strengths rather than worrying about these. May be you'll find the world change around you. And of course Sir, you'd have my Salute after you get that Dr. Tag.  : )

 



 
Posted on 10-31-09 1:11 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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Ya, I had similar thoughts. In fact, I am also a PhD candidate and I spend my whole career in one field but my problem is I am not really good in basics too. I got education from Nepal, from USA but things don’t improve. The thing is the world had become so big and the subject matters are so vague, for me I think I am most Dum guy, but still a PhD student. I don't know, I am doing PhD in general school and I am always laughing what to do with my phd where to go.  All the Caltech, ucberkley, Stanford, with all the good school come to our school to teach but the people like us where to go. Any way, again to the point, don't worry, I am in your line, I feel I don't know anything even if I am a PhD student, at least you think you know little bit in your subject matter but I think I don't know anything but life goes on. Ha Ha


 
Posted on 10-31-09 1:14 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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I agree with sleepless but would like to add some more.
I dont think learning stops once you are out of school. I think life is a lesson, you learn something new everyday.

Regarding phd, i think its a title given to someone who has went through painstaking work to uncover something new, which dose not mean that you should know everything.

 
Posted on 10-31-09 1:18 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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+ i think timer and SR are both being humble,
the enormity of knowledge in your heads makes you extremely humble. I respect that.

 
Posted on 10-31-09 1:38 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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Here is my experiance:


To be a ph.d-


Do course work (B minimum- not hard to get), if you get this it is said that you know things.


Pass written and oral qualifying exams (I found these are tough). This gives you some more confidense that you could qualify.


Work and make advisor happy. Publish some if you can. You will get phd even if you could not publish.


I think we must have to play many tricks to get jobs and deal with life.


 


 


 
Posted on 10-31-09 1:39 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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It's really hard to believe that PhD is the end of tunnel. It is starting form another round of study. For example, there was discussion about what if Mayan calendar expires and what will happen? This question is similar to some extent presented in this thread. However, I strongly of opinion that new calendar will be established as soon as the old calendar gets expired. The case might be relevant in case of learning.

After PhD, it opens the door for post doc. In this post doc, any researcher will learn more if they didn't able to fill the gap. If even in post doc, they are unable to do so , they can do it as becoming assistant professor, the round goes s on and on ..until the curiosity is not fulfilled.

Thus, my argument is going only in academic life may mask the social learning and somehow it may make one independent in their interest, but still he/she could not fill shortcomings originating from the social perspective.
 
Posted on 10-31-09 3:29 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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Well nice question.
The quick answer is, you will get it when you enter the world of confusion (i.e., you start to doubt on your Profs. books or whatever materials you have/get ... that you used to believe absolutely a while ago just by reading them or hearing them from somebody else...) and start to think independently. That takes 5/6 years and by the time you will be bounded by several responsibilities like wife, kids and so on...

PhD is nothing but the transformation of bones from one graveyard to another, so take it easily.

 
Posted on 10-31-09 4:14 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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I have been going to school for more than 20 yrs
and I still feel that emptiness especially when I see gores who are in
my age group (34-36) knows a lot and makes me feel inferior.

I think u are second guessing yourself too much. Please dont compare yourself with goras (its not easy for me to say as i do it myself a lot) but the fact is that some brightest of the bunch goras have recieved well rounded education since they started walking...and these goras have a great habit of READING books and journals and magazines like Wall street journals, NY times and all the international news. The ones you are refering to take politics seriously and they debate a lot with their peers about interesting topics. I am telling all these from experience form many "goras" I knew from several classes. Another thing is that they are articulate in the things they want to say as its their mother tongue. I am not undermining my felllow nepali friends but just giving you some scenarios for your analogy. just start pulling yourself out from your comfort zone and explore things you have never done before.there is this site called meetup.com where u can meet join several interesting groups in your local area and participate in discussions, eat out, parties etc...
just cherish your uniqueness and dont secondguess yourself...Phd sounds great but being socially useful is as satisfying


 
Posted on 10-31-09 8:58 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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Well, This is the only topic in Sajha which has some value. In fact we, nepali students have malnutrition of education. This is because we were basically focused in coursework and that also in a kind of parrot learning and we learned few things by heart but which we can't sell in real world. In real world what we need is the scientific way of thinking and a more practical approch for problem solving which we lack because of our curriculum  and in fact our coursework didn't bear that objective.


 I am also in the same line and just worried for the same question, What after PhD?

Last edited: 31-Oct-09 08:59 PM

 
Posted on 10-31-09 11:36 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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Nice thread and nice questions..
The discussion is good as well.
The big questions about "I always wonder about the extent of knowledge of a Phd student."?? and "What after Phd?"
I am also a Phd candidate here in Korea. I never wanted to do phd after I completed my masters, but you know the conditions back home. As a result, I gave it a go.
One of my professor had said and I think he said well- that when you complete your bachelors degree you boast like you know all in your field, when you do your masters you realize u know a very little about your field and while in phd you think you don't know anything at all. Further more, if you go beyond that like post doc or something, he said you start to feel that nobody knows anything at all. 
Staying at the lab for more than 14 hrs a day, u feel you know nothing.u are not sure about the depth in knowledge you have gained.
Here in Korea, profs are crazy about writing papers,.. papers papers and papers. There is a cut throat competitions among themselves and the grad student need to do that for them. 2 journal papers in IEEE for me - minimum demand..If you are in the field, you can understand whats that.
I knew it was a hard job, but neva knew it was this hard.


 
Posted on 11-01-09 12:52 AM     Reply [Subscribe]
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A good discussion in sajha after a long time. I respect everyone for their serious inputs. Like some users said, seeing things from social perspective and using your intution and rigor to understand the world around is much more gratifying, yielding than PHD study. Of course, academic advancement gives you more insights into different subject matters and makes one more knowledgeable, logical and rational but going in line with that is our interaction and learning with social world too.

Every person we meet; every places we visit and every occasion we encounter occurs in some form of new learning and that's how life goes and we build on our strengths.  

 
Posted on 11-01-09 12:54 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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Good going!! I am planning to apply for grad school for fall 2010. I try to seriously focus on application process but then I start to doubt by asking questions to myself-"Am I really ready for this? What do I want to do with a PhD degree?" I know I don't want to be in academics or more precisely an instructor in college because I know I don't have the qualities to become a teacher. The only possibility I can think of is going in the industry but given the grim economic situation of today, it's not easy in industry either. And since I assume I am not ready, I think of working a year or two before starting the grad school but again what's the point of wasting time if you want to obtain a PhD eventually anyway (yeah 6 years is a long time!!). Life is so confusing...and I don't even know what I really enjoy! I am applying as if shooting in the dark just hoping that my bullet will fortuitously strike some target. 
And as for what a PhD candidate should know, I don't there is a limit per se. Even if you know a lot, you think you don't know anything because knowledge is infinite..the more you know..the more you realize there is still more to learn..

 
Posted on 11-01-09 2:12 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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बुझ्नैलाई भयो अति  कठिन, झन झन  बुझ्यो झन कठिन.

 

 

I don't know who wrote it. But my grand ma used to say this when I was kid.

 
Last edited: 01-Nov-09 02:35 PM

 
Posted on 11-01-09 5:18 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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Thank you all for the constructive feedback. Some were directly related to the post and some not. For example - some said they were confused what they will do after Phd and some said they don't know what they are doing..(one if my european friend said the same thing)


I have a clear idea about what would I do with my degree. I was compelled to post this thread after discussing with fellow men/women. I talked with nepalese grads i.e. masters and Phd. And most said, in real world, our major and job do not go hand in hand. While I said, for UG and masters that's the scenario but for Phd, it is different, we will have to teach or conduct research in respective fields. I don't know who is wrong but I beleive I am right.


Another question - in biosciences, stats carry a big weight (T/F), please explain. 


 
Posted on 11-01-09 6:12 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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This topic is worthy and deserves to be discussed in detail. Let me give the following quotes.


"In reality the difference of natural talents between individuals is much less than supposed. These dispositions so different, which seem to distuingish the men of different professions when they arrive at mature age, are not so much the cause as the effect of division of labour." - ADAM SMITH.
 
"In principle a porter differs less from a philosopher than a mastiff does from a greyhound. It is the division of labour which has placed an abyss between the two." -KARL MARX


 


 
Posted on 11-01-09 6:30 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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ABD = All But Dissertation.

The statistics (in the US) shows that one third of the students who enroll in PhD quit before their general exam and another one third drop out without submitting their dissertation.

I am sure that there are many Nepali students in the US who are ABDs (There are students from other countries as well). Some of them are happy with that status not because they can not graduate but because there is no job waiting for them. As the time passes, frustration will start to bother them.

It is really nice that ABDs have a place--sajha.com--to express their feelings and experiences. One of the best ways for them to sustain positive attitude is to chat with other fellows on the same situation. For that matter, Mr. Snowfed-River gets credit for starting this thread.

I suggest Sajha.com that it provide a separate section just to discuss student issues so that these discussions do not get lost among some "not so important" issues.. I appreciate Sajha.com for its service.
Last edited: 01-Nov-09 06:35 PM

 
Posted on 11-01-09 7:12 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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The original poster wrote


" have been going to school for more than 20 yrs and I still feel that emptiness especially when I see gores who are in my age group (34-36) knows a lot and makes me feel inferior."


May be your are suffering from the so called " imposter syndrome", like a lot of graduate students and people in academics. Though highly accomplished in their respective field, people with this syndrome feel that their success and achievements are just a matter of luck or timing. I am not an expert in this but I know a lot of smart (really smart  and talented rather) young scientists and professors who are suffering from this syndrom to some extent. I guess there is nothing wrong about it. You can google it to know more about it.


http://www.counseling.caltech.edu/articles/The%20Imposter%20Syndrome.htm


 
Posted on 11-01-09 8:33 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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Thanks aardvarak,

Thanks for letting me know about the  " imposter syndrome". and also for the link posted.
I am now able to know what was going on with me since last year.
I was so surprised that it was so common.
It is amazing that everything going in your head, which you think is so unique is so common and has a name.

 
Posted on 11-01-09 10:35 PM     Reply [Subscribe]
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"One of my professor had said and I think he said well- that when you complete your bachelors
degree you boast like you know all in your field, when you do your
masters you realize u know a very little about your field and while in
phd you think you don't know anything at all. Further more, if you go
beyond that like post doc or something, he said you start to feel that
nobody knows anything at all. "

haha. That made me chuckle.

But I have to disagree with a lot of folks here. I will be restricting most of my opinions within engineering but I am sure many people can relate to it. I am not a grad student and neither do I denounce grad students. But I feel like either we have to change people's mindset of what PhD means or change the education system. I used to think when you have a PhD, you know everything in the subject. I didn't know that subject was so loosely defined. For example, in electrical engineering (EE), a person can have a PhD (specializing in digital circuits) and know no more than what an undergrad knows in another field of EE (example, analog circuits).

There is also a disconnect between academia (where you have the most PhDs) and the industry. I've had classes with professors who had PhDs(one was even an IEEE Fellow), but no concrete understanding of how things go in the real world. During my undergraduate degree, I took classes with part time students who had jobs. To my surprise, some of these students knew way more than the professors, who had only theoretical knowledge in the subject matter. These students didn't do very well in exams but during projects, these students knew how to solve problems. For example, we had a professor who could write complex formulas in filter design but couldn't debug code for a DSP board.

Anyways, my point is that our education system is very messed up. We have been led to believe that getting a higher degree is always the better option. You accumulate knowledge and you accumulate more knowledge before you even learn to use your previous knowledge properly. I've met people with a Master's degree who can solve complex circuit problems or write advanced compiler codes but can't solve a simple circuit problem or code a decent program.

Then again, I boast as if I know all in my field.


FF
 


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