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Is Graduate School Really for You?

The Whos, Whats, Hows, and Whys of Pursuing a Master's or Ph.D.

Amanda I. Seligman

Publication Year: 2012

Landing a job in today’s academic job market is no easy feat. Is graduate school the answer? This informed and candid book provides anyone thinking about pursuing an advanced degree—and those who support them—with the inside scoop on what to expect in graduate school. Amanda I. Seligman helps potential students navigate graduate study—not just how to get in but how to succeed once you are there and what to expect when you leave. She weighs the pros and cons of attending graduate school against achieving a sustainable work-life balance and explains the application process, the culture of graduate school, and employment prospects for academics. This book guides readers through the ins and outs of graduate school, and no topic is off limits, including • qualifications and admission guidelines • financial aid and graduate stipends • meeting expectations and residency requirements • coursework, theses, and dissertations • degrees, jobs, and academic careers • tenure, research, and peer review • social life (will you still have one?) Written in a question-and-answer format, Is Graduate School Really for You? eliminates the guesswork. Whether you are considering applying to graduate school, already enrolled, or would simply like to know more about continuing your education, this is the book for you.

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press

Front Matter

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pp. vii-xi

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pp. xiii-xviii

Every year in the United States, hundreds of thousands of students who aspire to earn master’s degrees and doctorates start graduate school.1 Many new graduate students know a lot about their fields of study, perhaps having pursued them as undergraduate majors or worked as research assistants...

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pp. xix

Every current and former graduate student that I ever met has in some sense helped me think about the contents of this book. I would like to offer special thanks to the following people, who shared their ideas, provided...

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1. So You Want to Go to Graduate School

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pp. 1-11

It seems like a miracle that I have survived academic life for twenty years. When I applied to graduate school, I made so many naïve mistakes that it is a wonder that I was accepted into any doctoral program. Despite having grown up in an academic family, I failed to seek advice...

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2. Financing Your Education

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pp. 12-24

One of my colleagues was the first in his family to be a full-time graduate student. The family expected anyone who had been fortunate enough to graduate from college to be self-supporting—to make good money and to brag about it. At family gatherings, when they asked...

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3. Graduate Expectations

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pp. 25-47

Shortly after Thanksgiving during my second year in graduate school, my grandmother died unexpectedly. I do not remember packing to go East or how I got there. I do vividly recall, however, sitting at my grandparents’ dining room table surrounded by an enormous stack of library...

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4. Coursework Is Hard Work

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pp. 48-63

As the director of a graduate program that attracts many nontraditional students, I meet many students who have been out of college for decades or have never known anyone who has earned a graduate degree. Much of my job involves interpreting to my students academic culture...

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5. Dissertations and Theses

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pp. 64-81

Sitting in an airport once, I struck up a conversation with a woman who turned out to be a nun, a Ph.D., and a professor of mathematics at a local university. I was most impressed by her story about her dissertation. While she was still taking graduate classes, she wrote a paper that was so...

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6. The Academic Culture

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pp. 82-101

When I entered my doctoral program, I assumed, too readily as it turned out, that I should call all my professors by their first names. My advisor, one of the most easygoing, genial human beings one could hope to meet, signed all the notes and e-mails he sent undergraduate and graduate...

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7. Having a Life in Graduate School

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pp. 102-115

One of my friends in graduate school did something so awful she did not want anyone to know: she got pregnant. It was not that she was unmarried that made her pregnancy deviant; it was that she was a graduate student. Shortly after the baby started to show, her advisor walked...

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8. Degrees, Jobs, and Academic Careers

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pp. 116-133

One of my friends from graduate school got a great job as an assistant professor at exactly the university she wanted to spend her career in. She solved the two-body problem and found a job in the same city as her partner. Her teenage children adjusted well to the move. She attracted interesting graduate...

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pp. 134-135

One of my students had a miserable first semester in graduate school and working as a teaching assistant. The professor she was working for terrified her. Another instructor yelled at her in front of her students when she overstayed her allotted time in her classroom by one minute. She caught...


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pp. 137-139


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pp. 141-145


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pp. 147-151

For Further Reading

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pp. 153-156


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pp. 157-161

E-ISBN-13: 9781421404820
E-ISBN-10: 1421404826
Print-ISBN-13: 9781421404615
Print-ISBN-10: 1421404613

Page Count: 184
Publication Year: 2012

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Universities and colleges -- Graduate work -- Handbooks, manuals, etc.
  • Graduate students -- Handbooks, manuals, etc.
  • Dissertations, Academic -- Handbooks, manuals, etc.
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