Since this is my second go-round at a UBC graduate degree (or third, when you consider I switched programs this year) that probably equips me with some insight worth sharing about UBC and grad school in general. I promise that not all of these posts will be lists full of advice…I will expand on some of these points in future posts.
Pearls of Wisdom for Potential Grad Students:
- Your relationship with your advisor is likely the single most important factor influencing if you will complete your program or not (and I will definitely post more about this!)
- A good fit with your program is almost as important as a good fit with your advisor but sometimes you can find flexibility when it appears there is none
- You should probably have a better reason to pursue a grad degree than personal fulfillment unless you simply cannot imagine doing anything else or you are independently wealthy
- Grad school really isn’t like a job even though lots of people will try to convince you that it is
- Most graduate programs are not designed for students with professional type careers that work while taking classes and doing research (although there are a few exceptions at UBC)
- Asking for reference letters may feel awkward but most professors understand it is part of their job and don’t mind writing them unless they don’t know you well or you ask for one at the last minute
- Grant applications are a pain but SO worth it when you get funded!
- Sometimes you will be denied funding due to things completely out of your control (like my CIHR application that was denied because my supervisor didn’t have enough publications…)
- Choose a thesis topic that you are passionate about because you will be VERY tired of it by the end of your program and at many points along the way
- Get used to being asked “Why do you want to do a PhD?” and “When will you be finished?” and “So what is your thesis research about?” over and over and over again