Choosing your Research ( After getting Admission Fall 2015)

PathIntegrals92
Posts: 190
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2014 12:42 pm

Choosing your Research ( After getting Admission Fall 2015)

Postby PathIntegrals92 » Sat Mar 21, 2015 11:40 am

Background:
I reapplied to grad school after getting rejected last year (fall 2014). During this year off I spent a lot of time thinking about career goals, but I couldn't find any research to do, I got rejected from all jobs that I applied to ( one that require degree+one that requires no degree). I kept going still. One of my plus points is persistence. =)

I applied to PhD physics for CME, I applied to a few masters for EE, and I continued applying for jobs. My career goal is to work in an industry (academia or not) that contributes to the advancement of science/technology. I applied for jobs that reminded me of the research I did in undergrad in hep-th. Of course the job is nothing like hep-th, but the thinking process is very similar with different challenges ( rigorous math not involved).

Present: I got such a job at a tech industry and I am excited about it! However, I also got into grad schools. After visiting a school, I met with PIs in CME/CMT and they all are brilliant people who do exciting research. None of which I understood though :/ I felt soo dumb because I often did not know what to ask.

I did read papers and their websites and I read articles too, but I seem to have trouble grasping it. I still enjoyed my visit. Condensed matter is an extremely rich field with so many opportunities and I really want to do it, but I don't want to force myself studying something because of the opportunities. I want to study something for the sake of studying it. Isn't that what a PhD is?


Is this the imposter syndrom thing happening to me? Even if I do condensed matter experiment, I still want to take quantum field theory, group theory, general relativity, and possibly a string theory course. However, I would have to find an advisor that would be okay with me doing that...One prof I met already told me that she does not like students just taking too many courses, but I still want to learn those thing. I wish I could learn everything.

Basically what happened is that I went from hep-th --> condensed matter --> Admitted to schools --> confused about what research to do in grad school.

TakeruK
Posts: 813
Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:05 pm

Re: Choosing your Research ( After getting Admission Fall 2015)

Postby TakeruK » Sat Mar 21, 2015 12:06 pm

I think being confused and not knowing what research Qs to ask is common at the start of grad school. Yes, there will be some students that "get it" right away but there are also others that won't.

Are you debating whether or not to choose grad school over your job? I think there are two important factors:
1. Are you interested in a career that requires a PhD?
2. Are you excited by the PhD research topics in CME? (You don't have to love it / doesn't even have to be your favourite subfield--but you need to at least be interested/excited by it?

You should only pick grad school if the answer to both is yes (note: even if the answer to both is yes, grad school is not necessarily the best choice!)

As for courses--it's common for professors to not want their students to take too many courses. But some of the courses you mention are kind of standard in the core Physics PhD program and/or you can count them as electives. You should also remember that the PhD program is not meant for taking courses! You can easily find other ways to learn the same material because of your interest (e.g. Coursera, self-teaching etc.).

That is, I don't think the point of the PhD is to study Physics. It's to train us how to do Physics research. Learning things from courses is something you can also do while in a PhD program, or even just working on something completely different.

PathIntegrals92
Posts: 190
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2014 12:42 pm

Re: Choosing your Research ( After getting Admission Fall 2015)

Postby PathIntegrals92 » Sat Mar 21, 2015 12:45 pm

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Last edited by PathIntegrals92 on Sun Mar 22, 2015 11:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

PathIntegrals92
Posts: 190
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2014 12:42 pm

Re: Choosing your Research ( After getting Admission Fall 2015)

Postby PathIntegrals92 » Sat Mar 21, 2015 5:45 pm

To be honest... the more I think about it, the more I want to do the PhD. I just had a huge excitement over getting a legitimate job after many many rejections. I think I can wait a little longer.

now I am curious to see if somehow applications of physics can be used to understand and cure Alzheimer's. The cognitive computing thing is too cool.




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