What No One Told Me About Grad School: Setbacks Aren't Always Bad

Posted by Kristin on 7/30/18 6:08 PM

I tell this story because it seems to be the most encouraging thing I tell aspiring or freshly minted graduate students.

The summer before my senior year of undergrad, I was accepted to the MIT Summer Research Program. I had an amazing experience, met incredible people, and gained a lot of confidence in my abilities. But in the midst of the program, I had a crisis akin to what many grad students will experience in their careers.

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Tags: graduate admissions, graduate school

How to Address Your Weaknesses in a High Stakes Interview

Posted by Grace on 7/23/18 5:53 PM

The interview for any job or graduate school can be the gateway to success. Employers want to see potential in their applicants, and how we respond to interview questions reveals a lot about our creativity and ability to think on our feet. Common questions ask us to talk about ourselves, explain why we are pursuing our respective fields and describe our strengths. And while highlighting our strengths comes naturally to us, pinpointing our weaknesses has proven to be a much more difficult task. When asked to describe our flaws, we are unsure of whether to be brutally honest and risk portraying ourselves as incapable, or to downplay our weaknesses and risk portraying ourselves as immodest. Ultimately, answering this question requires a delicate balance of both.

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Tags: career advice, graduate school

What No One Told Me About Grad School Programs: Long Distance Means Far Away

Posted by Kristin on 7/13/18 6:48 PM

To say that I underestimated moving across the United States is an understatement.

I grew up in a small-ish town in Southern California and went to college a short 50-minute drive away. I thought this meant that I had “moved out,” like a real adult. But I would soon learn that going to your childhood home every other weekend to do laundry doesn’t count.

Like most Californians, I was certain that I was never leaving California. I planned to go to grad school programs somewhere close, but not too close, like San Diego or Los Angeles. I wasn’t even letting my imagination venture as far as Davis or Berkeley. It’s almost endearing to look back at how naïve I was.

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Tags: graduate admissions, graduate school

The (Potential) Impact of the New Tax Bill on Graduate Students

Posted by Lucas T on 12/13/17 6:09 PM

Dear Reader,

I'm Lucas, a graduate student in the Math Department at MIT and a tutor with Cambridge Coaching. Like most graduate students, I have intently followed the discussions about the new tax bill, thinking how it would affect my finances. As of this writing, only the House of Representatives’ version eliminates a provision that would directly affect graduate students, Section 117(d)(5) of the current code. Currently, Section 117(d)(5) says that “gross income shall not include any qualified tuition reduction;” with the repeal, that means that tuition reductions would count as gross income.

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Tags: graduate school

Is An Online Course Right for Me?

Posted by Pat C. on 11/28/16 10:43 PM

Why should I take an online course?

1. It can be a graduation saver

Taking an online course can be a graduation-saver. Having an illness, a family crisis, an unexpected failure in a course or a mistake made counting credits with one or two courses to go can create a situation where being able to take those last few credits without having to be on campus or pay for a full semester makes completing a degree possible. Taking an online course in the summer session can be a way to get a bit ahead on your coursework in order to graduate early. Some students use summer session as a way to raise their GPAs: take a course online and do very well at it and then also take one less course in the following semester which allows you to do better in all your courses. Because online courses are usually asynchronous, you can take one while you are working. 

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Tags: college, high school, graduate school

Five Different Careers You Can Land as an Electrical Engineer

Posted by Sumit on 11/9/16 6:05 PM


If you think that electrical engineers just work with complicated machinery with wires, look again. A major in electrical engineering is a gateway to jobs spanning the medical profession, the financial industry, the computer and smartphone industry, security industry, and telecommunications industry, to name a few. Let’s find out how this seemingly narrow field opens the doors to a wide world of career opportunities. It all starts with the problem solving abilities you develop in math and physics and how you apply those abilities to real-world problems. If you are not enjoying math and science classes now, the amazing array of career opportunities at the end might give you the motivational boost to pick and stick with the field.

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Tags: college, graduate school

Choosing a Social/Natural Science PhD Program That’s Right for You

Posted by Nora Isacoff on 2/22/16 9:30 AM

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If you’re starting to think about applying for a PhD in a social or natural science, you’re probably worried about getting accepted into highly competitive programs. But let’s take a step back! Before you can focus on impressing selection committees, you need to have a clear sense of what YOU want. Outside of the doctoral program bubble, it can be hard to think through what kinds of questions to ask yourself and your potential programs. What criteria will make or break your graduate school experience? How do you start to figure out what you want to focus on? How do you decide where to apply? 

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Tags: graduate school

From Writing MFA Skeptic to the Belly of the Beast

Posted by Sam Ashworth on 5/6/15 11:08 AM

Confused about MFAs? You’re not alone.

I graduated from college in 2009, and immediately set about the business of becoming a writer. I wrote a novel. I rewrote it. I landed an agent. I rewrote the novel two more times. I found consistent work, first as a bartender (every writer needs a trade), then as a college admissions coach and writing tutor in New York and Boston, and lately I’ve moved into editing economic reports and proposals for the World Bank in DC, where I live now. I started reviewing books, at first for the free books, then, thanks to a charitably-minded editor at the TLS, for actual money (not a lot of it, but still money). I became, bit by bit, a working author. I started to feel less obligated to put the word “writer” in air quotes every time someone asked me what I did. And through it all, one question came up over and over. “What about an MFA?” And every time the answer was the same: “Forget it!” I even blogged stridently about it on this site a year and a half ago.

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Tags: creative writing, graduate school

PhD Perspective: Structure from an Academic Tutor

Posted by Christine Hsieh on 2/10/14 8:26 AM

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Tags: graduate school

MBA Admissions: Should You Start a Business While Still in B-School?

Posted by Greg Page on 1/20/14 8:55 AM

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Tags: career advice, MBA admissions, graduate school