Thursday, January 10, 2008

My Realization about Grad School

First off, blogs with no photos (many many text only posts in a row) can get boring. So here's a picture from when Joe and I were dating taken with my friend Helena's baby. He's super cute, and like a year older than that photo. They just had some photos taken by our wedding photographer Darla. His name is Eli and you can see them here.

So I realized something today about graduate school. Classes in graduate school are very different from undergrad classes. And its not just that the math is harder or that they have us do way more reading (though those things are both true). When you're an undergrad you go to class and the teacher talks, you take notes, and then you're expected to summarize what these famous academics think and regurgitate on exams and tests. There's some independent thought in the analysis, but you don't actually have to come up with your own theories about how the world works. Then you get to graduate school and your teachers suddenly do not have all the answers anymore. Instead class is structured in a way that its like "Here's what we do know...what are your thoughts on this." They really do train us to become academics. I was told this before by professors that this was the hardest transition but it really hit me today that soon I will be expectd to not only consume knowledge, but also to produce it! I'm not a brilliant mathematician, or a theorist. I'm starting to hope that if I work hard enough I can just test other people's theories or talk about how other people did their statstics wrong and make a career out of this because frankly, the whole coming up with decent theories that aren't majorly flawed and are ideally publishable is very overwhelming.

3 little remarks:

Jessie said...

So my question is, at what point do people stop asking you "what is the source of this information?" and just accept that you thought it up yourself, and that's ok? Because I went to a conference as an undergrad with a paper I wrote, and actually came up with a few ideas of my own, only to have them shot down because they weren't sited somewhere else... I was so frustrated! When is it ok to have your own ideas? I mean, it's not like I didn't support them with my research and analysis, but people couldn't just accept that an undergrad could have original and reasonable ideas. Definitely doing grad school someday, if it means people will believe me. :)

Felicity said...

I have to constantly "produce" information for my students. But since they're little people, I just regurgitate what I know and they just stare in awe. Its kind of awesome at times when you really think about it. If you ever want to feel brilliant, talk to a middle school student.

Aliese Fry said...

I couldn't have said it better myself, felicity...:)

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