Field of Science

A Frog at the Bottom of a Well

My college had a graduate admissions counselor, with whom I consulted about applying to graduate school. Unfortunately, different fields (math, chemistry, literature, psychology) use completely different methods of selecting graduate students (and, in some sense graduate school itself is a very different beast depending on the field). My counselor didn't know anything about psychology, so much of the information I was given was dead wrong.

My graduate school also provides a lot of support for applying for jobs. This week, there is a panel on "The View from the Search Committee," which includes as panelists professors from Sociology, Romance Language & Literatures, and Organismic and Evolutionary Biology. That is, none of them are from Psychology. I do know that different fields recruit junior faculty in very different ways (for instance, linguistics practices a form of speed-dating at conferences as a first round of interviews, while others psych has no such system). I go? Keep in mind that I get lots of advice from faculty in my own department (and also from friends at other psych departments who have recently gone through the process). That is, how likely is it that the experience of these three professors will map on to the process I will actually go through? How likely is it that a one-hour panel can cover all the different variants of the process? How likely is it that there is information that would be relevant to anyone applying to any department that isn't obvious or something I am likely to already know?


The title of this post comes from an old proverb about a frog sitting at the bottom of a well, thinking that the patch of blue above is the whole world. Often (always?) we don't realize just how limited our own range of experience is.
photo: e_monk


susie said...

Our liberal arts college also offers several sources of graduate school counseling, and the most specific comes from the academic department. But as you say, while that information is more on target, it depends on who's giving the advice, how many different areas they represent, and ultimately how connected the faculty are.

On a lighter note (but sadly painfully true), this professor tries to make her naive undergraduate understand what she's getting herself into.

Anonymous said...

I was going to say go, but perhaps you already have a good handle on how things vary from field to field. I find that to be one of the more fascinating and maddening things about academia. I agree that one hour across all disciplines probably won't be able to go beyond the very basics. Departmental specific info is always more relevant.