Graduate School, and the Next Hurdle: Qualifying Exams

It might be hard to tell from my content blogging, but I’m starting to slowly freak out as I head towards the next major event in my graduate school career: Quals.

The first part of my qualifying exam is coming in late March. I’m currently asking professors if they would serve on my qualifying committee, and writing up my research proposal. The proposal will be submitted to these professors prior to the exam.

The exam itself is oral–I’ll be presenting on my research goals and my topic to a small group of professors.

After a few months, I’ll present again for the second part of the qualifying exam, with an update on my research progression over the summer. And the professors will evaluate whether or not I have the capacity to become an independent researcher.

It’s supposed to be fairly straightforward, but of course, nothing ever feels that way before it happens. I’m sure I’ll have a better understanding of the tests after I actually take them. It’ll also be more comfortable to talk about them afterwards.

This shouldn’t affect my normal post schedule, as I’m trying to be on top of things instead of waiting until the last minute. I’ve already got a post on a great book coming up later this week.

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4 Responses to Graduate School, and the Next Hurdle: Qualifying Exams

  1. Tom says:

    Good luck on your quals. They were a rather stressful time for me even though I knew that my department rarely failed people. One useful peice of advice I got was to think of them as a chance to get the undevided attention of a number of professors thinking about my project. Didn’t stop me from stressing, but did help put things in perspective.

    • Marie Erving says:

      Thanks! Yeah, that is the silver lining, isn’t it? Oddly, knowing that people don’t usually fail makes me more worried. Maybe I just figure if I’m expected to succeed, it’ll be that much more embarrassing if for whatever reason I don’t.

      • Tom says:

        You are welcome. Yes, there is that fact.

        I did know someone in an adjacent field who failed her quals, but she also blew them off almost completely, and even then she just took them again (and has in fact graduated faster than me). The fact that you are concerned about them enough to be making blog posts probably puts you in the unlikely to fail category.

      • Marie Erving says:

        Yeah, I guess it’ll work out somehow. Thanks for the encouragement!

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