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  • This has become our largest and most active forum because the physics GRE is just one aspect of getting accepted into a graduate physics program.
  • There are applications, personal statements, letters of recommendation, visiting schools, anxiety of waiting for acceptances, deciding between schools, finding out where others are going, etc.

Sorry_Physicist
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Postby Sorry_Physicist » Wed Mar 12, 2008 3:35 pm

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butsurigakusha
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby butsurigakusha » Wed Mar 12, 2008 3:54 pm

Don't give up hope, yet. I knew someone at my school last year who got rejected by every school. She applied to some more schools, and got in. There are schools that will consider late applications, like UC Riverside and Colorado State. I am sure you can find many others. So if you really want to start grad school in the fall, there are still options.

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al-Haytham
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby al-Haytham » Wed Mar 12, 2008 4:26 pm

One can always take a year off, get some research/work experience and apply again next year. I was looking at the 'do over' thread and it appears that some people have been very successful in doing that. So don't be depressed, when one door closes a new one opens up somewhere else.

peder
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby peder » Wed Mar 12, 2008 4:34 pm

Don't give up hope. I took a 9th semester to finish up my other degree, and I've been doing fulltime research more or less since last summer. And let me tell you, from discussions from schools that have admitted me, it has helped IMMENSELY. Sure, Im a bit older than everyone else (Im 23 once I enter graduate school, 24 in October), but I dont mind the age part one bit. I'll have more papers under my belt than most graduate students have after exiting graduate school PLUS I have more contacts in the field I want to work with... in other words, don't give up the ship just yet!

forecast8
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby forecast8 » Wed Mar 12, 2008 4:49 pm

Wow. I feel for you this has to be beyond frustrating.

I wouldn't sweat not getting into your undergrad school. Attending the same school for both BS and PhD is frowned upon and the committee may have thought they were doing you a favor by rejecting your application.

The only advice would be get into a masters program and improve your application. There are many schools around the country that have no physics PhD but do have a masters program. These schools often will support their masters students with a TA and fee waiver.

But first you should try to understand why you haven't gotten acceptances. If your scores and GPA were in line with the schools you applied to then either your SOP or recommendations flopped.

Going out on a limb and knowing nothing of your background I'll bet that a recommender torpedoed you. There is almost no way to test this hypothesis. Think back to when you asked your recommenders the first time for a letter. How long did they pause before they said yes. If the pause was long enough to remember a month later ... well thats bad news.

myass
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby myass » Wed Mar 12, 2008 5:28 pm

Any words for those who had almost 4.0 gpa at one of top institutions and took 1 year off for research experience (full time research at a national lab)? This is one of my friends. From my perspective, he is much smarter and promissing compared to almost all of my other friends who got in top schools. I am looking for words for my friends, but cannot come up with anything nice. I hate my personality which tries to break down everything into logics. What he needs is not a logic but something else, I think.

Sorry_Physicist, I'm sorry that I'm not giving any suggestions to make you feel better. But I thought I can share words posted here for my friend, who is very much depressed.

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fermiboy
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby fermiboy » Wed Mar 12, 2008 5:45 pm

Sorry_physicist, don't give up hope. I was rejected every school besides my safeties. I would think about taking a year off, but I'm already a non traditional student in his late 20s, so I don't feel like I can waste a year. I'm assuming that you're the more traditional age, so taking a year off to do research and study for the GRE might be a very good plan.

I'm down here at the March Meeting, and last night I had dinner with a very eminent physicist at a top five institution. My undergrad adviser wrote papers with him and they are old friends. He said two things that struck me.

1. He thought it was very good idea to take some time of between undergrad and grad school. That way you're sure that working on a PhD is something that you really want.

2. He also said that it's not clear to him that the best physicists come from the top institutions. The job market is so saturated that there are good people at almost every PhD granting institution. The work you do, and who you work with, are much more important than the brand name of the school. So you might try looking at the UC Riversides, etc, that allow late applications. I was admitted to Arizona and I know that they take late apps, you might want to check that out.

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grae313
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby grae313 » Wed Mar 12, 2008 7:33 pm

If I were you, I would take a year and do research, publish, and study for the GRE. You'll be fine next year.

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will
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby will » Wed Mar 12, 2008 11:29 pm

You should give up now.

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grae313
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby grae313 » Thu Mar 13, 2008 12:33 am

will wrote:You should give up now.


:cry:

peder
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby peder » Thu Mar 13, 2008 12:45 am

Don't listen to Will.

christopher3.14
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby christopher3.14 » Thu Mar 13, 2008 1:42 am

Both Grae313 and I, respectively, have posted our advice on a similar thread, but another plan you can try that worked out extremely well for me is to enroll in a master's program in physics at a local university. (You could also do non-matriculated/non-degree student). If you work hard in your graduate classes and also improve your test scores, you can re-apply to those same schools and show them that you belong and that you've grown as a candidate since last applying.

It worked for me.

So it's not the end of the world. If this is something you truly believe in, then you definitely should not give up.

EDIT* Even top schools allow non-degree/non-matriculated students, depending on the size of the class and the instructor's approval. This includes all the UCs and most public schools, like UCSB and UIUC.

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will
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby will » Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:03 pm

peder wrote:Don't listen to Will.


Why not?

peder
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby peder » Fri Mar 14, 2008 4:31 am

Because you're wrong.

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will
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby will » Fri Mar 14, 2008 10:42 am

And why, exactly, do you think I'm wrong?

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jdhooghe
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby jdhooghe » Fri Mar 14, 2008 11:12 am

will wrote:You should give up now.


You have great people skills.

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will
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby will » Fri Mar 14, 2008 11:32 am

Truer words have yet to be spoken.

Seriously though. Why is it such bad advice? Science isn't about stroking egos or bandaging hurt feelings. If this person wants to be successful, then they need to find something they are good at. It's hard to make a career in physics if you aren't exceedingly brilliant, creative, and provably so before you go to grad school. Perhaps harder than other sciences; definitely harder than any other profession, and the pay is ***. So if you aren't good enough, everyone on the internets telling you that you're a good person and "deserve" success are killing you.

BigBangin
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby BigBangin » Fri Mar 14, 2008 2:14 pm

I am in somewhat of an agreement with Will. Surely, the only reason this thread was started was to see if there were others in a similar predicament. Honestly, I am in the same boat, but I am not going to give up because I am stubborn and refuse to give up so easily. The thread starter certainly got the chip on his/her shoulder knocked off with this grim reality check. Getting into a good grad program is competitive and you just have to work harder if it's truly where you want to go. If you feel humiliated get over it. It's your decision to feel that way.

peder
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby peder » Fri Mar 14, 2008 2:19 pm

Now I submit this: who the heck are you to determine what makes or doesn't make a good physicist? Sorry_physicist is clearly bearing out his soul saying that he's had doubts about the dreams and his passion he's had for a good chunk of his life and all you can say snidely is "You should give up now" ?

What I can't stand, infuriatingly so, is when people mention physicists as ivory-tower know it alls that don't give a care for anything but equations and are inherently better than you because they are smarter than you. Republican Presidential candidate John McCain taps into this same bitterness among the rest of the populace, as you can see here http://cosmicvariance.com/2008/03/12/cu ... -by-proxy/ . And guess who perpetuates that attitude?

People like you, will

It's attitudes like this that make people not believe in global warming, even the data on it is almost insurmountable. It's attitudes like this that make people not believe in evolution and instead believe in the divine power of a creator who put everything on this planet in six days (of course, don't forget that day of rest!). And it is damn sickening to me, because physics shouldn't be about being the most intelligent, it's about a fundamental understanding of the laws of universe that makes us who we are.

Do you know how many bright physicists there have been that have accomplished little to nothing in their lives (or even in graduate school) so ensconced in their preternatural genius that they fail to realize they've made no changing impact on the field? Do you know how many more physicists I know that have discovered something by luck, and even saying luck is being gracious because they were in a position to be lucky though sheer tenacity and drive to do good physics?

Sorry_physicist, don't get people like will get you down. If you are feeling depressed, and are able to turn your emotions right now into something constructive, into a single drive that makes you want to become a better person and physicist, then you bet your ass you'll become a good physicist. But if you truly want it, start now. So what if a couple of professors on admissions committee think you haven't made the cutoff yet? Is their judgment because they don't think you will be good physicist or because they are a finite number of spots at their schools (think about this one).

And there will always be people along the way who say you don't got what it takes to be a physicist. But given a chance to pick between a smart physicist and a tenacious physicist who knows just enough to on how things work, guess which I'd choose?

littlemonster
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby littlemonster » Fri Mar 14, 2008 2:26 pm

I am just as infuriated as Peder. I decided to look back at some of Will's old posts and on the old acceptances thread, he claimed to have gotten into MIT early, and after receiving congratulations, admitted to being a compulsive liar. Is this someone I'd take advice from? Not a chance. There is a difference between being realistic and being rude. While the point that physics as a career choice is tough may be valid, there is something to be said for determination backed by a strong work-ethic.

I agree with grae and others who both suggest researching for a year (or getting a masters), taking the test again and reapplying. I have been told by countless professors that regardless of ability to get into graduate programs, this creates a more mature PhD student, who is well-informed and sure they want to be there. So don't give up hope and don't listen to the nay-sayers-- if you want something, then go for it, because you have nowhere to go but up from here.

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will
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby will » Fri Mar 14, 2008 3:06 pm

Wow, peder. You managed to turn a point about career choice into a meaningless attack on the Republican party, organized religion, and the global warming discussion. Not only is this out of line, it shows an inability to separate emotion from reason. Not something I like to see in physicists.

And littlemonster, it's pleasant that you're willing to dismiss my advice on a character judgment rather than the points I make. Also the mark of a scientific mind, right?

littlemonster
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby littlemonster » Fri Mar 14, 2008 3:36 pm

I simply ask this: how can you trust the advice of a declared compulsive liar?

and once again, who are you (will) to judge what type of physicists we are? I stated that you were rude, and while your point may have been valid (try re-reading), that you had no right to discourage someone else.

I wonder if will only makes these statements because he enjoys the attention he gets after making them?

Doesn't matter: I've made my point-- Sorry_Physicist is intelligent enough to make a decision regarding what advice he wants to take. Best of luck to you, by the way.

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will
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby will » Fri Mar 14, 2008 4:08 pm

You certainly can't trust advice from a compulsive liar without qualification. You can't trust advice from anyone without qualification; nor can you dismiss advice from anyone without qualification.

... Anyway, if all the universities this person applied to rejected him, that's advice in and of itself. Not "try again next year," advice either. I'm not saying it can't happen, or that he'll never get in anywhere, just that maybe he's searching the wrong path. I never said he should off himself or anything; just that if the realization that physics is harder than you thought happens as you're graduating you aren't prepared. The admissions committees know this too.

I'd certainly rather have a tenacious, skilled colleague than work with a lazy genius. Who wouldn't? But you can't squeeze physics from a turnip.

tnoviell
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby tnoviell » Fri Mar 14, 2008 4:30 pm

Regardless of whether or not you agreed with Will's statement, the original poster asked a question, and Will answered it with his own opinion. Rather than blowing up all over him, why not just accept his opinion? No one knows what they right answer is for the original poster - perhaps he/she ought to go out and seek other opportunities to support his resume, or perhaps he/she should give up and seek an alternate career. The point is, who knows? It's solely his/her decision, no one else's.

Sometimes words of discouragement are the words we need to hear to encourage ourselves. Rather than personally attacking him by name-calling, you ought to respect his opinion and move on. We need more of that in this world.

rooibos
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby rooibos » Fri Mar 14, 2008 5:11 pm

will wrote:But you can't squeeze physics from a turnip.


I think you'll be singing a different tune when I finish my thesis, "On the quantum uncertainties of turnips and other taproots" :)

peder
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby peder » Fri Mar 14, 2008 5:19 pm

If I see a person thats hurt and confused, I usually make it a point not to go over and kick him. Other than the fact that's it's wrong, there's a greater picture here.

Tnoviell, I don't know if you know this, but the high-energy physics budget for this year was cut... severely (this seems like a tangent, but I promise I'll wrap it around). It was cut because frankly, our President decided physics was suddenly an important issue in his swan years, but he imposed difficult fiscal restraints. Democrats in congress could not swallow the cuts being made to medicaid and medicare, so what easier to cut than physics?

Now, I'm not one to equate medicaid and medicare to high energy physics, not by a longshot. But I do believe one of the easiest reasons why it was easy to cut without much protest was because:
a) Most congressmen don't worry about the scientist vote
b) Most congressmen don't really care about high energy physics
c) More people would care about high energy physics except that it remains rather arcane to them and physicists don't help alleviate the situation

I've seen many physicists at the university I'm at exude such attitudes with regards to their great minds and the thoughts of lesser people, deriding congress for not having the foresight or intelligence to deal with such issues. And yet, a simple child can tell you that maybe the reason why it's easy to cut high energy physics so easily is because of attitudes like that. Physicists (by and large, with a couple of exceptions) don't endear themselves to the public and as a result there is no impetus to fund science.

So how does this affect me and you? As a result of the cuts in high energy physics, experiments at SLAC and FermiLab had to be shut down, and as a result Graduate Schools had to trim the next of high-energy people they accept accordingly. You don't think that perhaps that will affect some of the people on this forum?

This is by long way of saying, I have a very visceral reaction to those who do the equivalent of belitting another person for not being smart enough. It's striking to me as an attitude that we do have to fight, as we cannot continue to say, "let bygones be bygones." If a person wants to be a physicist, who am I to deny him the right to do so? It's only elitists who think otherwise... and it's those elitists that make physics so inaccessible to the rest of the public.

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dlenmn
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby dlenmn » Fri Mar 14, 2008 8:52 pm

This site is a very supportive place, which is usually a good thing -- this whole process is stressful and it's often nice to have such a place to get support. That said, the supportiveness can make the advice one sided. I don't agree with what Will said -- it's not at all that simple. However, his advice was useful in that it broke with the mold of everyone just saying that things will work out fine and dandy. All of us need to consider the possibility that this path is not for us. You didn't say what exactly your goal was. If you want to make it in academia, know that it is a competitive game of musical chairs with fewer seats than participants and poor payoffs. Not making the cut in the future probably will hurt a lot more than not making the cut now. I'm not saying that you can't make it. Even if I knew everything about you, that is not a call I (or anyone else) could make with certainty. But -- right, wrong, or neither -- several admissions committees seem to have their doubts. This whole process has a lot of problems, so their judgement is by no means the last word, but it says something.

Sorry_Physicist wrote:Is there any reason whatsoever to feel any hope at this point?


Yes. Chances are you have a lot going for you. You are (or will be) a college graduate with a degree in physics in the United States (which, despite its ills, is still a great place to live). If getting a PhD in physics is not the path for you, then I'm sure you'll be able to get a good job doing something else (your hard work in school is definitely not for naught). Despite what people say about "do what you love", sometimes it just doesn't work out. Such is life. Still, things work out alright for most people.

Sorry_Physicist wrote:And, perhaps most importantly, what the hell am I supposed to do now that every single one of my plans has been flushed down the proverbial toilet?


Well, you should start making new plans. Maybe plan to take a year off, and try again next year after doing some research and studying more for the GRE. Maybe you should go down to your school's career services and ask them for some help finding jobs. In ant event, your first step is to find some people who know you and whose advice you can trust (not anonymous people on the internet) and ask them for advice. Make it clear that you want them to tell it to you like it is. The last thing you need right now is a sugar coating because people feel sorry for you. (And we all do feel for your predicament -- I even feel uncomfortable reading over what I have just written.)

It's rough going for you right now, but there's more to life than getting a PhD in physics. Don't give up hope. I wish you luck, PhD or not.
Last edited by dlenmn on Fri Mar 14, 2008 9:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

BigBangin
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby BigBangin » Fri Mar 14, 2008 9:12 pm

I want Sorry_Physicist to give up as well! (referring strictly to these feelings of paranoia and humiliation!) :wink: Take this as a learning lesson of life and be open to all types of experiences and growth which may arise from it.

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will
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby will » Fri Mar 14, 2008 9:51 pm

When I look at the people who write the kind of science books you pick up at Barnes and Noble, I see Michio Kaku, Brian Greene, Lisa Randall, Lee Smolin, etc. Not a lot of pop-science books are written by materials science or mesoscopic disordered systems guys, and yet the government puts a lot of money into these areas. Why? Are they just nicer people?

The high energy funding cut has nothing to do with intellectual elitism or ivory tower academia. It's because there's very little return on investment. Accelerators give lots of people jobs and great science comes from them: these are the things the government is supposed to support, I agree. What accelerators can't shoot out at relativistic velocities is money. Pretending it's about personalities is absurd.

admissionprof
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby admissionprof » Sat Mar 15, 2008 8:29 am

will wrote:The high energy funding cut has nothing to do with intellectual elitism or ivory tower academia. It's because there's very little return on investment.


Huh? Investment in studying the Z-boson at CERN 15-20 years ago led directly to the world-wide web, which has generated trillions in economic output. Probably the greatest return on investment since the transistor.

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will
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby will » Sat Mar 15, 2008 9:48 am

That's a revolutionary advance, and it doesn't really have anything to do with Z-bosons. It's like saying we wouldn't have toothpaste if it weren't for lunar missions, or penicillin if it weren't for scientists being nasty. It's absolutely true, sure, but kind of misleading.

I'm not saying that I disagree, and I'm all about high energy funding, but you have to admit that evolutionary advances in the actual results (and not the peripheral technology) are hard to sell to governments.

admissionprof
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby admissionprof » Sat Mar 15, 2008 11:33 am

will wrote:That's a revolutionary advance, and it doesn't really have anything to do with Z-bosons. It's like saying we wouldn't have toothpaste if it weren't for lunar missions, or penicillin if it weren't for scientists being nasty. It's absolutely true, sure, but kind of misleading.

I'm not saying that I disagree, and I'm all about high energy funding, but you have to admit that evolutionary advances in the actual results (and not the peripheral technology) are hard to sell to governments.


Actually, development of the web was directly related to the experiments whose main purpose was to study the Z (something else might have emerged eventually, but it isn't certain)--the first websites were for the LEP Experiment--so I don't agree that it's misleading. I've spoken with plenty of congresspersons and their aides, and peripheral technology really is the ONLY way to sell high energy physics, the space program, fundamentals of quantum mechanics, etc. That technology is all these people really comprehend.

But this is getting a little off-topic :-)

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will
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby will » Sat Mar 15, 2008 5:25 pm

I don't think we're disagreeing exactly where you think we're disagreeing. In fact I think we're agreeing.

The only point I was making is that high energy physics people are in the tough spot where it's hard to sell their science by anything other than the peripheral technologies. They aren't in that spot because they're intellectual elitist jerks- quite the opposite- it's just a hard sell, which is a shame.

QuantumP7
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Re: Dealing With Rejection

Postby QuantumP7 » Sun Mar 16, 2008 9:19 pm

dlenmn wrote:You didn't say what exactly your goal was. If you want to make it in academia, know that it is a competitive game of musical chairs with fewer seats than participants and poor payoffs.



"What about the working conditions? Surely it is more interesting to be a scientist at a drug company than to be selling home mortgages? It depends on the worker's personality. Are you introverted? Want a job where you seldom have to meet anyone new? Want to sit at the same desk or bench year after year and work mostly by yourself? Get most of your satisfaction from solving puzzles? Have we got the job for you: industrial scientist! If you are extremely introverted, you might prefer to work as a computer programmer."

Is it wrong that this sounds like an ideal job to me?? :oops:




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