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Considering Physics graduate school, but I stutter

  1. Jul 24, 2013 #1
    Long time lurker here, this is just my first time posting.

    I've read through the 'So you want to be a Physicist' guide and just from experience I've noticed that in order to help pay for graduate schools most programs will have you TA for discussions or labs. Given my stutter, I know I wouldn't be able to TA a discussion effectively. That would simply lead to an undue amount of stress for me and the students wouldn't be learning as much. 'So you want to be a Physicist' mentioned that the other major funding is from an RA position, but these apparently won't be offered to first year graduate students. Assuming I can't/am not willing to pay for graduate school out of pocket, is my only option applying to as many fellowships as possible and crossing my fingers?
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  3. Jul 24, 2013 #2
    You might be able to be just a grader only for your TA. I had that assignment for a term or two, I only graded and did no teaching. I prefer to stand up in front of a class and most do, so a grading only assignment might be possible to get (since others wont want it).

    I suggest just applying anyway, forget the stutter. Then when you get accepted hit up the disability office and request something like a grading only position.
  4. Jul 24, 2013 #3

    Vanadium 50

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    I used to stutter, and years of speech therapy enabled me to overcome this. I know of one very senior professor who has a pronounced stutter; he's earned tenure at two places, and has 3 dozen papers with more than 100 cites. I would not count myself out just yet.
  5. Jul 24, 2013 #4


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    It's highly unlikely that one would be denied funding due to a disability.

    As ModusPwned pointed out there is a good chance you could end up with a grading assignment. Further, since I don't know the severity of your stutter, it's worth keeping in mind you don't actually have to do a lot of talking to lead a lab. You could, for example, write out instructions and then help the students out on a one on one basis. Or you could be that cool TA that texts the students while in the lab. Another possibility is a position revamping the experiments, developing new ones, setting up equipment, etc.

    I'm sure there's a way around it. Don't let this keep you from applying to graduate school.
  6. Jul 24, 2013 #5
    Thanks everyone for the responses.

    It's not that I don't think I could succeed at Physics because of my stutter, but I'm just concerned that if I have to TA a discussion I'd be unduly stressed about that on top of all the other stressful things that would be going on in graduate school. Kind off of topic, but what therapy? Was in one of those weeklong intensive programs?

    Thanks. I'll keep that in mind. When would I bring this up? Before I get accepted? Or after?

    Do most people really prefer to do the teaching part? I guess from my perspective it would be hard to imagine anyone wanting to do that. I just don't want to be a liability, I guess.
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