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Other Exam grades and postdoc positions

  1. Apr 23, 2017 #1
    Does grades on transcript matter when you apply for postdoc positions?

    If you fail one graduate level course, will that affect your getting a postdoc position?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 23, 2017 #2

    Orodruin

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    Not really no. Mostly what will matter is your research history, your contacts, your research statement, and your recommendation letters. I have never encountered an advertisement for a postdoc position that asked you to submit your grade transcript.
     
  4. Apr 23, 2017 #3

    George Jones

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    I don't know about your geographical location, but this can make a difference in Canada and the US after the postdoc stage, i.e., when applying for faculty positions. Here, there is almost a continuous range between universities that require from their faculty members: almost all teaching and little research; almost all research and little teaching. For about about half of this range, from all teaching and little research to half-and-half, it is not unusual to see job ads that require applicants to send in transcripts of their marks. I played the game for many years, and I estimate that between 10% and 20% of the jobs to which I applied required transcripts.

    Things are probably quite different in Europe, however.
     
  5. Apr 23, 2017 #4

    Orodruin

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    I should mention that my perspective is purely European (although I applied for some postdoc positions in the US) and restricted to the high-energy physics community.
     
  6. Apr 23, 2017 #5

    Vanadium 50

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    Let's back up a bit. In graduate school, a C is considered failing, and students typically are expected to keep up a B average. When I was a student, we were expected to keep up a B average every semester as well as cumulatively. Two consecutive semesters where we didn't, and we were out. So an F is a very, very strong statement. It's a grade that is so low that it jeopardizes your chances of staying in the program, as it takes 3 A's to counterbalance. The professor knows this, and if he gives an F anyway, it's saying a lot. It also means the rest of the department knows this and is either on board, or that the professor feels so strongly about this that he's willing to cross his colleagues to make this statement.

    With an F, I'd be more focused on graduating than on post-graduation prospects.
     
  7. Apr 23, 2017 #6
    That's good to know. I suppose then that, at least when PhD students apply for postdoc positions, they do not have to submit all their post-secondary (bachelors, masters and PhD) transcripts.

    I've found that contacts are definitely very important, and contacts are usually people who work at institutions where you have given a talk. I've been told that every talk you give,no matter the purpose, is a job interview.

    My question is with regards to postdoc positions in high energy theory.

    Would you agree that the single most important goal of a PhD student is to become an independent researcher who is able to form collaborations on his own?

    How do you become independent? Is it by reading papers from the arxiv on a daily basis?
     
  8. Apr 24, 2017 #7

    Vanadium 50

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    We require transcripts from postdocs. As pointed out, GPA is not that important, but if we saw an F - a very rare grade in graduate school (so rare that I have never seen one), it would get our attention. At a minimum, the professor who gave that grade would get a phone call.
     
  9. Apr 24, 2017 #8

    jtbell

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    The college where I worked until recently is going through its every-ten-year reaccreditation process. The person in charge of it here required all faculty, as well as administrators above a certain level, to have official transcripts sent from the schools that they attended, unless they had been hired recently so the college already had their transcripts in suitable form. This was not necessary for our previous reaccreditations, IIRC. Apparently this is a new general requirement from our accrediting agency, presumably in response to cases of people lying about their academic backgrounds.
     
  10. Apr 24, 2017 #9

    Choppy

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    Not that I have a lot to add to what's already been said, but I think a lot can depend on why you're failing the class too. If, for example, you experience some kind of personal tragedy or health problem right before your final exam and were otherwise doing well in the course, that's something that can be overlooked if you later go back and demonstrate that you're full capable of understanding and working with the material.

    If on the other hand, you're really struggling with a course that's central to your chosen subfield, that's something else. Sure, the mark itself is probably not all that important in terms of competing for a post-doc position. But there does seem to be a strong correlation with course performance and overall research performance. What would concern me most is how much this grade is a reflection of your overall abilities. Are you in the right field? Is your heart in your work? If you can't complete the coursework, are you able to take a point position on a research project?

    Ultimately, if I'm evaluating you as a potential post-doc there are really two questions that need to be answered:
    (i) are you going to be able to complete the project that I need you to do? and
    (ii) among the pool of candidates I'm evaluating for the position, are you the optimal one for the project?
     
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