Does UChicago really treat its grad students badly?

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InquilineKea
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Does UChicago really treat its grad students badly?

Postby InquilineKea » Sat Jan 28, 2012 10:17 pm

http://www.reddit.com/r/GradSchool/comm ... ng/c3lk4r1 has some worrisome messages.

And is there really a "Chicago teaching philosophy" as stated in the thread? (although admittedly, it wouldn't be a minus in my particular case).
Last edited by InquilineKea on Sat Jan 28, 2012 11:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ol
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Re: Does UChicago really treat its grad students badly?

Postby ol » Sat Jan 28, 2012 11:34 pm

(from reddit)
some of the UChicago profs have egos out the ass and will make things quite difficult for their students when there's no reason to.
Every school has profs with egos who will make things difficult. However, I'm gonna bet most profs at any given school are nice and helpful. Don't know about UChicago specifically.

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mrrsnhtl
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Re: Does UChicago really treat its grad students badly?

Postby mrrsnhtl » Sun Jan 29, 2012 1:33 pm

Well, what I've heard about it was that most of the grad.students were failing the grad.qualifying examination so they had to be discarded. Therefore the school becomes a workplace for seasonal graduate workers ?! Probably, it is not true anyway, does anyone have an idea?

CarlBrannen
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Re: Does UChicago really treat its grad students badly?

Postby CarlBrannen » Sun Jan 29, 2012 5:46 pm

mrrsnhtl wrote:Well, what I've heard about it was that most of the grad.students were failing the grad.qualifying examination so they had to be discarded. Therefore the school becomes a workplace for seasonal graduate workers ?! Probably, it is not true anyway, does anyone have an idea?


This is an awful accusation (which I doubt is true). It should be possible to see evidence for this sort of thing; there would be a big difference between the number of students accepted and the number graduating.

If you care a lot about it (I don't), why not look up the figures? The APS publishes data on this sort of thing.

bfollinprm
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Re: Does UChicago really treat its grad students badly?

Postby bfollinprm » Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:18 am

There's a high standard at Chicago I saw during my 10 weeks there--but the professors as a whole seemed friendly in the KICP building.

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Andromeda
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Re: Does UChicago really treat its grad students badly?

Postby Andromeda » Mon Jan 30, 2012 7:53 am

My understanding from those who have been at the University of Chicago is yes, the qualifier is a biatch to pass, but like many universities they hide the true number by answering "this many percent get a PhD who pass the qualifier" instead of "this many percent pass the qualifier," so then it seems not as bad until you get there and realize it (more than a few departments are not particularly honest about this actually). The difference at UoC though is you are welcome to stick around and take the qualifier as many years as you want so there are many stories around of professors abusing the cheap labor of students by not being honest and telling them they're not going to pass and should leave... one student infamously was around a decade but still hadn't passed the qualifier, and hence couldn't get a PhD.

Most of this info though came to me from a professor at my undergrad university who taught there for several years, mind, but left about 5 years ago so there's a theoretical chance things have changed since then.

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InquilineKea
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Re: Does UChicago really treat its grad students badly?

Postby InquilineKea » Mon Jan 30, 2012 11:19 am

Interesting - was this anecdote for the Physics or for the Astro department?

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grae313
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Re: Does UChicago really treat its grad students badly?

Postby grae313 » Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:08 pm

You should really go visit and talk to the graduate students. UC Berkeley had a bad reputation like this but when I visited I was told that it was historically true but the department had taken a lot of steps to change and it was completely not the case any more. I had almost not applied because of my impression of the place as very cut-throat and uncaring. Until you speak directly to the graduate students or people with recent, first hand experience of your particular department, you're dealing with hearsay.

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pter0dactyl
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Re: Does UChicago really treat its grad students badly?

Postby pter0dactyl » Mon Jan 30, 2012 6:10 pm

UChicago grad student here (in physics). My impression is that the qualifying exam is absolutely not meant to weed people out these days. The official policy is that students can take the qualifier whenever it's offered but must pass by the fall of 3rd year, so it's certainly no longer possible to be tricked into sticking around for a decade. But I don't know of anyone who was kicked out due to not passing by the 3rd year. Indeed there was one recent iteration of the exam that had a 100% pass rate.

As for the department as a whole, I can't speak for everyone but I've enjoyed my time here so far. Feel free to ask or PM if you guys have any specific questions.

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InquilineKea
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Re: Does UChicago really treat its grad students badly?

Postby InquilineKea » Tue Jan 31, 2012 11:45 am

grae313 wrote:You should really go visit and talk to the graduate students. UC Berkeley had a bad reputation like this but when I visited I was told that it was historically true but the department had taken a lot of steps to change and it was completely not the case any more. I had almost not applied because of my impression of the place as very cut-throat and uncaring. Until you speak directly to the graduate students or people with recent, first hand experience of your particular department, you're dealing with hearsay.


Good advice. I think UChicago has changed a lot in the last decade - it seems that it has become less "hardcore" than it used to be (thanks to the actions of one of its recent presidents).

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midwestphysics
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Re: Does UChicago really treat its grad students badly?

Postby midwestphysics » Tue Jan 31, 2012 11:49 am

One of my profs went there, all be it a couple decades ago, and had nothing but good things to say about it. Then again he was one of those ridiculously smart people to the point of being sickening :D , so for him it might not have been.

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grae313
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Re: Does UChicago really treat its grad students badly?

Postby grae313 » Thu Feb 02, 2012 12:46 pm

pter0dactyl wrote:UChicago grad student here (in physics). My impression is that the qualifying exam is absolutely not meant to weed people out these days. The official policy is that students can take the qualifier whenever it's offered but must pass by the fall of 3rd year, so it's certainly no longer possible to be tricked into sticking around for a decade. But I don't know of anyone who was kicked out due to not passing by the 3rd year. Indeed there was one recent iteration of the exam that had a 100% pass rate.

As for the department as a whole, I can't speak for everyone but I've enjoyed my time here so far. Feel free to ask or PM if you guys have any specific questions.


Well there ya go.

As for quality of life and general grad student happiness, you really have to go meet a sampling of some current grad students and it's pretty easy to tell if they're happy or not.

enthree
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Re: Does UChicago really treat its grad students badly?

Postby enthree » Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:43 pm

As another UofC grad student I can say the Physics department, at least, looks after its students. My interactions with Professors have only been positive thus far. The candidacy exam is no longer as bad as it used to be (I wasn't around during this period though).

Arbitrary
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Re: Does UChicago really treat its grad students badly?

Postby Arbitrary » Sun Jun 15, 2014 2:53 am

A quick update on the matter:
Starting in 2014, the candidacy exam in the University of Chicago physics PhD program is pretty much cancelled. Instead, you take a placement exam upon arriving, and then a counseling committee decides which courses you need to take, based on your performance. You are qualified once you pass the courses they tell you to take.
Apparently, the faculty wishes to make the qualifying process less stressful by this new system.

Ah well, I was not planning on taking the previous candidacy exam upon arrival on September. Now it seems that I should shake a leg and start studying seriously. Thankfully, there are only things to be gained by taking the placement exam.

tsymmetry
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Re: Does UChicago really treat its grad students badly?

Postby tsymmetry » Mon Jun 16, 2014 2:33 pm

A lot of the grad programs which previously had reputations as unhappy places have changed a lot over the past decade. Harvard and MIT used to be known as very tough places to be a grad student, but it seems that the departments have made an effort to improve the environments. With one exception, the grad students I met at Harvard and Chicago were all pretty happy, especially with their research.

ol
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Re: Does UChicago really treat its grad students badly?

Postby ol » Tue Jun 17, 2014 7:39 am

tsymmetry wrote:Harvard and MIT used to be known as very tough places to be a grad student, but it seems that the departments have made an effort to improve the environments.

Current student at MIT. If anyone is interested in hearing about the environment in the department, please pm me.

Catria
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Re: Does UChicago really treat its grad students badly?

Postby Catria » Tue Jul 01, 2014 12:23 pm

Arbitrary wrote:A quick update on the matter:
Starting in 2014, the candidacy exam in the University of Chicago physics PhD program is pretty much cancelled. Instead, you take a placement exam upon arriving, and then a counseling committee decides which courses you need to take, based on your performance. You are qualified once you pass the courses they tell you to take.
Apparently, the faculty wishes to make the qualifying process less stressful by this new system.

Ah well, I was not planning on taking the previous candidacy exam upon arrival on September. Now it seems that I should shake a leg and start studying seriously. Thankfully, there are only things to be gained by taking the placement exam.


I might apply to UChicago, albeit in the astronomy department since the cosmology I am interested in is offered at the astronomy department. For this reason this is pretty much the only top-10 school that I might apply to at this point.

Is the candidacy exam phased out in the astronomy department as well? Is astronomy a tough department to study in?




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