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What College or University are you attending, what are you studying and why? - MERGED

Scrofula

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I just saw that Washington Monthly does a Top Colleges and Universities ranking. (For the USA*)

What stood out is their different take on rankings from your usual "here's a list of Ivies, plus some top State U's":

We rate schools based on their contribution to the public good in three broad categories: Social Mobility (recruiting and graduating low-income students), Research (producing cutting-edge scholarship and PhDs), and Service (encouraging students to give something back to their country). We also offer our “Best Bang for the Buck” rankings — our exclusive list of schools that help non-wealthy students attain marketable degrees at affordable prices. For the second year in a row, we rank the best colleges for adult learners, the first-ever ranking of its kind.
Which is how a state school in my hometown got into the top twenty, and my alma mater is ranked above Princeton--there are other ways to evaluate colleges.

In any case, there's some interesting new stats for any nervous American high schoolers or adults looking to "go back".

*(Of course, half the grad students at these schools are international, so it applies to everyone . . . )

Link Again
 

herbavore

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That list was interesting. I had to chuckle that my alma mater which always gets painted as the (pejorative)" UC sjw-factory" right below Berkley (which could not be further from the truth either) did not make the list at all.

My son ended up transferring to Cal State Monterey Bay. Their first group to walk at graduation is always the largest group, comprised of "first in family to attend a university". It is something the school works hard at (recruitment as well as support services and financial aid) and it gave my son a great campus culture to study political economy (real world meets academia!). Because it is relatively new and such an undesirable, unsexy school for CA high seniors that are primarily listening to their older siblings relaying tales of partying at places like Chico, UCSB, UCSC etc., it flies under the radar when people start looking at schools. The teaching staff is far more involved with students, the student body is truly diverse and all majors stress civic responsibility both during education and post graduation. My son worked his way through college which would have put him in a distinct minority at UCSC but at CSUMB it was the more common experience. (He also ruled out UC's higher price tag saying, "If you are paying for prestige in my particular undergrad degree, they just don't warrant it." I always feel like he got a double education--one from attending university and the other from paying for it with no loans, financial aid, nor parental help.

P.S. RE your situation. I wish you could get a JC job (I'd take your class--particularly if it were politics!:D), but they offer so little in terms of full-time employment. I have a lot of friends that went that route and it worked out for the older ones that had their careers mostly in the 70's-90's but the younger ones trying to make it work now are getting screwed.
 

Scrofula

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I'd certainly love to get a FT JC job, but obv. the faculty that have them aren't about to give them up. I saw in grad school that professors never die--they just go emeritus. And the life of an adjunct faculty barely supports a ramen diet.

In any case that ship has sailed.

One of the top students in our department was a CSUMB alum. Like UC Merced, it's newer and just doesn't get any press. (Funny, I never considered Santa Cruz because I didn't take seriously any school that allowed for surfing.)

Anyway, those schools, and JCs, can be the best for some students. I thought it interesting that you'll get so much more faculty attention, help, dedication, etc. from your JC, then from the high-powered folks at an Ivy.
 

Jabberwocky

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Anyway, came to say, I am a FAILED academic, if anyone has questions. Don't worry, I'm not a seething ball of bitterness and rage at all.

Univ. of California, XXXXX, six years doctoral, biochem & mol. biol., forced out (more or less) with a master's. Alcohol played a role, but not in the way you think.

Focus: DNA recombination, replication & repair, specifically meiotic recombination, pachytene checkpoint proteins . . . but in a genetics lab.

I can tell you what not to do in your future academic career.
You gave me an academic vibe listening to you talk in other threads. Yeah, I feel for you. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy. I remember coming across the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS) (https://www.simplypsychology.org/SRRS.html) a while back and thinking to myself that they had got that all wrong. If they added the category "failing/dropping out of grad school in the hard sciences" to that list it would have ranked at least 90 or more points on that scale, potentially maxing out the scale in some cases.

Anyways, I wouldn't feel qualified to comment on this if I hadn't been through it myself. 5 years of undergrad at UCSC (shout out to Herby) with degrees in chemistry and math, followed by a master in chemistry at an Ivy league university only to dropout of the Ph.D program 3 years into it. I couldn't stand the stress I was putting on myself everyday and my academic advisor was an impenetrable wall of perfectionism and hands off management. Seemed like the right thing to do at the time. Well, I got a job in industry and tried to move on with my life but never got over dropping out, so eventually I built up the courage to ask my boss if she would let me finish and she accepted me back into her group. She punished me for dropping out in the first place. I worked my ass off for the next 4.5 years. My time in graduate school lasted like 7.5 years which is ridiculously long and she wouldn't let me go. I was beyond burned out. By the time my advisor let me start writing my thesis after I practically begged her I was in bad shape. Depressed, alcohol abuse problems, social isolation etc, etc. I sat down to start writing and nothing would come out. Total writers block. I went to counsellors and psychiatrists but it didn't help much. 9 months and 1.5 chapters later, by boss terminated my funding and I left the program. Mind you I was good at what I did. Published 7 papers in great journals.

It's been six years now and I've moved on with my life but that shit fucked me up pretty good and I never fully recovered my drive and abilities. My drug use spiraled out of control for a while afterwards. It still gets me worked up thinking about it. Matt Groening gets it when he made this comic strip.

 
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Scrofula

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Damn dude.

Although your cartoon isn't quite disheveled enough: add a few more years to the tally, and a few in the wilderness, take out all the teeth from recent meth abuse . . . .

My bitterness remains balled up, dense as a thousand suns; its exact state indeterminable, due to near-infinite curvature and current lack of quantum description in that regime. Sadly, it's a regime of immense entropy implying total irreversibility.

Actually I'm not surprised Groening went through that--The Simpsons and esp. Futurama are loaded with nerd shout-outs.

But 7 publications as a grad student? In my department, a publication was accepted as a chapter. Ironically, it meant the shortest theses were the most successful. Seven publications was unheard of, an automatic degree and your choice of post-doc.

Also, seven years as a grad student was above the mean, but quite common. BUT, it seemed that when folks reached year eight they entered some kind of timeless zone where no one spoke of it. So who knows, if you told me Greybeard stuck on the 4th floor with piles of fruitflies in his window was actually still writing, I'd believe you.

Anyway good to know I'm not alone. And to be honest, there is a single class of former-human more bitter than us--faculty denied tenure.

Fuck, I'm gonna make that cartoon my profile pic on match.com.
 

Jabberwocky

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But 7 publications as a grad student? In my department, a publication was accepted as a chapter.
You'd think right. To be fair, I was in physical chemistry (surface science) where publishing was more common than in biochemistry. Submitting papers as thesis chapters was a common practice in our department as well. I asked her if she would let me and she gave me a hard no on that. Our boss was a perfectionist. She'd make the first author of the paper write it up, then she would totally rewrite it herself, so she considered it her own work and didn't let us use papers as chapters in our thesis. I was first author on 2.5 of them. Would have been 3 if I hadn't failed/dropped out of grad school. She made herself first author on that paper using my research which was her first first-author paper as a professor [besides review articles].
 

Scrofula

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Maybe if you went a little deeper than "surface science"? I'm hilarious, I know.

True that biology is often slower . . . there's a reason no one uses "giant sequoia" as a model organism. Someone out there really wants to do genetics on Bristlecone Pine senescence. No one has to know that my model-O had a 90 minute doubling time. Ok, technically I had to synchronize them to enter a sporulation program, the mechanism of which no one really understands and that takes . . . a whole week.

But really, I think I'd go true psycho on this PI of yours. The students who go nuts seem to "graduate" much easier than the burnouts or even stellar researchers. Some of the more threatening students have been known to have their theses written for them (that's a note to any struggling students reading this).

Still, you're published, you bastard. Or is it that without the degree, mentioning a publication is actually counter-productive, making you sound overqualified for most jobs? Yeah, I don't like mentioning even a Master's, when I apply for things that require a GED.
 

Scrofula

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True story: grad student who left a "note" pinned to the table with a knife had her thesis finished while "taking a break" in some ward.

Similar to the guy I met at the new student retreat, who was regaling me about aliens until I realized he was a bit too serious. He took a "sabbatical" too.

Somehow I got shipped off to the drunk tank. OH RIGHT, I remember, I was drunk and told my advisor to tell the kids that. Probably would have tried a different tactic had I not been drunk.
 

White_Rose

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I can only tell my story in past tense as I am now retired (officially). I make as much as I want... my time is more valuable now than money so I pick and choose what I want to get involved with.

I graduated U of I CU with a Masters in Electrical Engineering and was never unintentionally unemployed my entire adult life. I did take time (years) off when I needed, but always returned to earning whenever I needed. That may not be entirely possible with liberal arts or social studies degree. Of course YMMV.
 

Scrofula

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That's extremely fortunate for you.

Please don't assume it's because of anything inherent in yourself that you haven't been faced with unemployment.

Disaster strikes anyone, deserved or not, and often in spite of the greatest of fucking efforts, if you've missed the tone of the threads lately.
 

aihfl

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I graduated U of I CU with a Masters in Electrical Engineering and was never unintentionally unemployed my entire adult life. I did take time (years) off when I needed, but always returned to earning whenever I needed. That may not be entirely possible with liberal arts or social studies degree. Of course YMMV.
I am also a UIUC grad for undergrad. I graduated from a major Florida university with a doctorate. I landed what I thought would be my dream job at midwestern state school which was in what you would consider a quintessentially pleasant college town, but the recession had other plans for me. While I worked there it was the number one party school in the nation, as rated by the Princeton Review. During spring quarter, every neighborhood took turns hosting neighborhood block parties. One got out of hand when a bunch of students piled ratty furniture in the middle of a street and set it on fire. The fire was so intense it melted the vinyl siding off an adjacent apartment building. When the cops and fire department showed up the students started shouting _ _ number one party school! I basically drank myself out of my first and second (academic) careers, but I'm still lucky to be employed in the education sector. As my AA sponsor puts it, "You have first world problems."
 

AlisonSkinnern

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Hi, I graduated from the Faculty of Arts, but now I regret that I spent all my time on this. Because it is more for the soul than for getting a profession. Because, I have not been able to make art my life's work, which would bring income. And today I found out that Cirque du Soleil went bankrupt and fired all the artists, which is terrible news.. and it is very bad that because of the pandemic, art people are no longer in demand. Now there is a demand for professions related to networks and new technologies, so I want to take courses to retrain and get a new profession. I think I will choose network administration. And I found a service (cciedump.spoto.net) where you can get help preparing for exams. I just need to find good courses and learn this skill.
 
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