Category: Academia

Opportunity Cost

I have been wondering about the pros and cons of grad school education in general, and Ph.D. in particular. One thing that most people do not talk about is the opportunity cost of the decision to go to school for 7 more years (2 Masters + 5 Ph.D). Exactly how much does one loose in terms of lost earnings? More importantly, how long does it take for us to make up the difference?

I am suspicious that the numbers don’t play out well for grad school, else they will be touting it around. More on this later.

PS: First post from Google Chrome!

Holds true for grad school too…

Even adults throw tantrums

Here is an email QoH sent out because we didn’t submit his precious little TPS reports on time.

Subject: payroll changes
From: QOH
To: QoH’s Admin Assistant
CC: All Graduate Students in the lab

Admin Assistant,

Unfortunately, the lab has serious problems, which I could not resolve for several months now. Since I am out of ammunition to communicate my message to students, I think it is best to terminate this ill relationship.

Please process the following changes to the payroll and appointments:

– Remove Grad Student 1 from the payroll, he is no longer with lab
– Remove
Grad Student 2 from the payroll, he is no longer with lab
– Remove
Grad Student 3 from the payroll, he is no longer with lab

Also, please work with departmental advisor to inform Grad Student 4,5 and 6 that I no longer wish to be their advisor, they need to find a different advisor if they care to graduate at all. I think they lost interest in graduate school anyway, so, termination of a relationship with them will simply formalize the existing situation.

If students want to talk to me, we will have to find a mediator, as I do not wish to communicate with them directly. Perhaps this will not be a problem anyway, yesterday I received a very clear indication that these students do not wish to communicate with me anyway.

Best wishes,


Now, I am all from drama and all, but I do think this is pushing this a tad too far. Here is the funny part. He “appoints” one of the senior undergraduate student in the lab as the mediatory and kept relaying information to us through him all day. No one the lab seemed to care since we all knew he was bluffing his ass off. Finally he gives in and send this mail.
Subject: next step
From: QoH
To: Graduate Students in the lab

To my graduate students:

Senior Undergrad has completed his mediation task, he passed a few messages along. I can communicate with you directly now.

The email I sent was not real. Names and email addresses of admin assistant were intentionally misspelled. Well, call it an imaginary draft if you like. Termination of a relationship with a students is much more complex matter than one email. I actually pride myself in taking a good care of my students. Once I fund the student, I work on providing funding continuously, I help with issues with general exams and quals, help finding jobs, etc.

The problem is that I just cannot get your attention. You ignore me often and I keep looking for ways to be listened to. I have reminded about monthly reports enough times. I do not send reminders before they are due. I believe this should not be necessary. I believe that the response “but we are busy working therefore we cannot find time to send a report” is not going to work.


I am starting to think that his 3 year old kid’s management style is starting to rub on him. Tell me this isn’t a high quality tantrum.

Swimmingly well, thank you.

[Image from ]

The quarter has ended and brought along the joys of not having to TA for rest of my natural life, YAY!!! It was not that bad a quarter after all, just too much work that was not personally rewarding. The last week was very busy with setting up the final exam, grading them, figuring out grades for the course, dealing with irrate students, etc.

On research front, I got started on a new project that might end up being my PhD thesis, or at the least my next journal paper. Lets see which way it goes. I am very excited about it. We have had a few meetings with our project sponsors and all of them seem to be motivated to get the preliminary results out by August end. This boads well for my plans of holding general exams before the end of summer.

Things have been going pretty well with MAD. We spend most of the evenings together and seem to be enjoying it. She has been preparing coffee and breakfast for me for the last two days, and I have to tell you it is absolutely awesome when you can just jump out of the bed, brush your teeth and there is a hot cup of coffee waiting at the table. Also, waking up to her smile is a perk by itself.

The groom hunt for my sis is in full motion again, and it is a much calmer and through process this time around. I am optimistic about it. A direct result of this is much needed respite from all the yelling and anxiety in the family. Good stuff.

Oh, and I have taken up playing poker atleast 2 nights a week and I have been doing quite well the last couple of weeks.

Early Morning

  • Had an 8 AM conference call with QoH. He is away for a month taking care of his health issues. I am glad he is taking care of himself.
  • Have office hrs for the class I am TAing, and a short meeting with facilities manager await me later on in the day.
  • Found self wondering if it was worth spending $1.10 on a cup of coffee. Jeez.
  • Have therapy later today. That should be fun.
  • Off to work on a proposal.

oh so true

I was watching The Simpsons and caught this little diamond on grad students. I miss the old episodes of Sipsons when they were actually funny.

Hello All


[Antartica as seen by Rossetta Spacecraft]

So, I have been back in town for a few weeks now and things have been just fine. The whole family thing with the wedding is sorting itself at its own pace. My working relationship with QoH is pretty smooth and we are writing a book together now. The next few months in work world will be difficult but a lot of fun. I hope to work on the book, take my general exam, get a few papers out, and do some good research before the end of summer and graduate by fall. Ambitious, I know, but not impossible.

I passed my quals exam!!


Countdown to Quals

My quals is scheduled for 1.30 PM on Friday, 11/9. I am pretty happy about the committee too. The professors on it this time are fairly harmless. Fingers crossed.

Exam Update

I still don’t have the exact date of my quals exam. I know it is sometime next week, but nothing more. I sent the dept adviser an email about this and she has promised to look into this at the earliest. I think knowing the exact date would do wonders to bring my stress levels down. Right now I will be fine if the exam is on or after next Tuesday. If its earlier there will be a lot of cramming left to do.

MAD has been really understanding and patient as I deal with the exams. She spent a few evenings at my place last week and went out of her way to make sure I was calm. I am really liking her.

Ok, I got to get off my ass and go talk to my therapist in an hour. Not fun.