What to do if your "favorite Group(s)" is full and closed ?

ali8
Posts: 103
Joined: Sat Aug 29, 2009 8:20 am

What to do if your "favorite Group(s)" is full and closed ?

Postby ali8 » Thu Jun 23, 2011 4:21 pm

Hello,

This is about M.Sc (but I "think" it applies as well to PhD).

You have been admitted to school Z where there are two groups you are
interested in joining them: Group X & Y.

Now you have finished your courses and you want to join a group to do
some research for your thesis (and for other good reasons also).

Sadly, you find that both Group X & Y are full and 'closed'.

Questions:

1) Can that scenario really happens?
2) If yes, then what should you do then?

Thanks !

Blinky
Posts: 9
Joined: Sat Jan 29, 2011 1:22 pm

Re: What to do if your "favorite Group(s)" is full and closed ?

Postby Blinky » Thu Jun 23, 2011 5:27 pm

Both of them full? I think if you have enough scholarships, i.e. funding, you won't have a problem. If they don't have to pay you out of their own pocket, why not take an extra student?
If you don't have a good scholarship, then it's another story.

But the real question is: did you contact them BEFORE applying? It would be a pretty poor strategy to apply first, get admitted and only then ask if those groups are taking new students.

ali8
Posts: 103
Joined: Sat Aug 29, 2009 8:20 am

Re: What to do if your "favorite Group(s)" is full and closed ?

Postby ali8 » Fri Jun 24, 2011 2:25 am

Are you saying that the only consideration for the Prof to accept you (beyond academic
qualifications) is the funding ??

But, I think, 95% of the admitted graduate students are funded, so they are all equal
with this regard, aren't they?

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midwestphysics
Posts: 444
Joined: Thu Dec 16, 2010 12:37 am

Re: What to do if your "favorite Group(s)" is full and closed ?

Postby midwestphysics » Fri Jun 24, 2011 4:40 am

ali8 wrote:Are you saying that the only consideration for the Prof to accept you (beyond academic
qualifications) is the funding ??

But, I think, 95% of the admitted graduate students are funded, so they are all equal
with this regard, aren't they?


95% of admitted Phd students maybe, but not MS students which is what you're talking about.
Even for the Phd program most places only guarantee funding for the first year, sometimes second year. After that you are expected to find a research group, which is who funds you. So if they're low on funding you might not get in. The issue you're dealing with, in the MS situation, is that they may have funding but they're reserving it for Phd students.

Also, money is far from "the only consideration", but without it you can't even begin to entertain the idea of taking on students who require funding. Therefore, it is effectively the most important aspect.

ali8 wrote:Questions:

1) Can that scenario really happens?
2) If yes, then what should you do then?

Thanks !


I would assume that it could happen, rarely, and maybe even has. Like said above, you need to check these things before you enter and be aware of the financials while you're there.

Imagining being in that situation I would see only two options, assuming these two profs are the only ones in your field of interest. One, find another field with another prof, though I wouldn't do this in a Phd program but maybe in a MS program. Two, leave the school, with their blessing if you can, which if the funding is really that bad they probably will understand. However, like I said, this being an MS situation funding isn't really expected so you kind of have to deal with it. If funding isn't the issue, ask these profs what it is, that should give you real insight into the problem.

TheBeast
Posts: 114
Joined: Mon Mar 07, 2011 12:06 am

Re: What to do if your "favorite Group(s)" is full and closed ?

Postby TheBeast » Fri Jun 24, 2011 11:10 am

Funding issues aside, there's also the possibility that the prof refuses to take more students because they don't think they have enough time to supervise them adequately. For example, a prof may have extensive responsibilities at an experiment located elsewhere or they may just have too many people in their group at the moment. Something important to consider as well is the level of interaction that you will have with the prof. Just because they let you join the group, if they have a large group, you may not get enough face time with them to suit your needs. Talking to current grad students in the group should give you an idea of how much the prof actually interacts with their students, especially those new to the group.

Asking whether a prof's group can accommodate another student should be done during the application phase or when selecting amongst which offers to accept.

Also, the time when you decide which group to join can vary amongst institutions. At my current school, for instance, even for master's students, your supervisor must be confirmed within 30 (or maybe 60) days of your start date at the school. You don't find a group after you have completed the coursework requirements of the degree; the expectation is that you will be doing some research while you take classes.

ali8
Posts: 103
Joined: Sat Aug 29, 2009 8:20 am

Re: What to do if your "favorite Group(s)" is full and closed ?

Postby ali8 » Fri Jun 24, 2011 2:47 pm

Thanks really for the insightful replies.

So what I understand is this:

Assuming a MS program, and assuming I have my OWN funding, then I should do the following:

- Start asking about possible places in my desired group(s) before accepting the offer,
and preferably even before, say while I am applying.

- If the prof(s) tell me that yes, there's a room for me, only then I should accept the offer.

- And when I get an OK from the prof, I won't face the "groups is full" scenario.

I think that makes sense.




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