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Life as a graduate student

  1. Jul 21, 2004 #1
    Hi, I would like to know how is the life of a graduate student, specially for PhD students, so I would really appreciate if someone could answer the following:

    What are your sources of income?

    If you have a fellowship/RA/TA, does your income cover for your expenses?

    If so, what is the amount/percentage of money left after covering your expenses?

    Thanks in advance
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 21, 2004 #2
    I have heard that graduate people lead 'great' lives. They are free all the time, because there is no need for them to take any courses, if they like, they take them, if not, they stay cool in their lab or at home to watch TV. Yup, I like it.


    I used to go teach a pupil but I stoped, my brother told me to stop, so now only he goes out and works some times in a week.
    Part-time job does not bring money as much as Job of the man (the guy in my other post who was hit in the nose). He works full-time and receives about 300000 yens plus bonus every five months or so. His recieved bonus is around 0ne month salary. All the money is transfered into his acount in UFJ. Every month he has to pay several things like living expenses, home internet, tax, apartment-rent etc and in sum about 120000 yens, the remaining 180000yens is still in his account. You just imagine if the guy knows how to use his money in a more "modest" way, he sure will have about 2700000 each year.
    He is richer than us !

    eJavier, If i don't have money anymore, will you send me some to my account ???? Lend me, some day when i go out to work, i'll pay you! Okay ?
    I don't want to be the same as Jimmy's brother....He didn't have food for months and lost weights, and had to wait till his friends got him some donuts or tasteless BigMac.
    I am different from him, If i couldnt eat in the morning or evening, just once, I would be probably unable to walk...Think of me and help me please...
    Okay ?
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2004
  4. Jul 21, 2004 #3


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    I'm a grad student in the US. Here's my dope...

    Your fellowship/RA/Ta covers tuition + living expenses. You can save some money if you live unlavishly. How much you save depends on serveral factors. I don't save much more than 5%... but I spend about $1000 a year on airline tickets.


    In general, grad students lead a not so great life. I work about 60 hours a week in the lab and usually take a little work home. And we have courses to take - they are called Graduate Level Courses. We have no (or a vanishingly small number of) holidays, long weekends, evenings of fun and frolic, etc. But we do have Qualifiers, Orals, Generals, Theses, Defenses, etc. Our social life is so negligible that our advisors could swallow it up, without noticing.

    And my advisor's a really nice guy. I know some less fortunate people.

    If you have a TA and are not yet attached to a research group, you have a better life.
  5. Jul 21, 2004 #4
    Solarflare, is it you ?
    I am not a graduate stujient. some years later i guess.

    You spend $1000 a year ? Where are you living in US ?
    Are you ever going to come to Japan ?
    If you are, fly here, I'll take you around for fun.
  6. Jul 21, 2004 #5


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    No, I'm not Solarflare ! (If you are asking me)

    Sometimes I like to go by Crystalline Entity, though I've never really tried to...
  7. Jul 21, 2004 #6


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    :eek: Only 60 hours a week?! You slacker! Get back to work! :rofl:

    Grad student stipends have increased a great deal since I was in grad school (they've pretty much doubled...then again, so have a lot of other things). If you live modestly and share an apt with a roommate or two, you won't need to resort to eating only Ramen noodles for meals. I found that while in grad school, even on a pretty pathetic stipend, I was able to save a little money because, well, when you're working in the lab, taking classes, writing papers, and reading piles and piles of journal articles, you don't have much time left to spend the money on anything more than coffee (lots and lots of coffee). Of course, some of that will depend on where you go to school. Cost of living can vary immensely among different parts of the US, so if you're going to grad school on one of the coasts, you're going to pay a small fortune in rent, whereas for schools in other parts of the country, you could buy a house for what you'd pay in rent on the East Coast...not that you'd buy a house for grad school, but you could save a lot of money on cheaper rent, and live a lot more comfortably in a big apartment rather than a small hole in the wall. Because all the other grad students are in the same situation, you'll all become resourceful about finding inexpensive entertainment so you can have fun together and have a social life without going broke.
  8. Jul 22, 2004 #7
    May I ask which schools are great for computational molecular biology in the US now?
    Famous or even unknown does not matter...
  9. Jul 23, 2004 #8
    Thanks folks, keep'em coming
  10. Jul 24, 2004 #9
    Having a RA does take more time but usually it is better than being a TA because the work that you do in the lab is almost always relacionated with your research for your thesis. If you are a TA you also need to spend some time in the lab doing your research.
  11. Jul 24, 2004 #10


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    The interesting thing is that if you ask any faculty member who was supported as a TA during grad school, we all answer pretty much the same way...we still got everything done that needed doing, we just got better at working more efficiently and managing our time better. If you have plans to stay in academics, balancing your research and teaching is something you need to learn to do anyway. For me, teaching was a welcomed escape from the isolation of the lab. But that all depends on your view of teaching. It's something I love doing. For me, it brightens my whole week to see just one student have that lightbulb go off in their head as they finally understand some elusive concept. Some people really don't like teaching or just aren't particularly good at it, so they would be better off if they aren't required to TA and instead are supported by an RA or a training grant or their mentor's grants.
  12. Jul 24, 2004 #11
    Actually I have more interest in teaching than in doing research. I like Physics, I love to be able to understand it; but I'm sincerely not interested in doing research, I know that almost all of you think that it's impossible for a person that studied science to not be interested in research or having the ambition of publicate a lot of papers, but I would be much happier if I didn't have to make a research in order to obtain a MA or PhD. I really think that I will not be able to
    "isolate myself" in a lab. :cry:
  13. Jul 28, 2004 #12


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    If you have some kind of major external funding, like nserc in Canada, you should be able to make money as a grad student. nserc combined with some minor grants from my department plus TAing (or lecturing) gives me enough money to live very comfortably. I still live like a student, so I've managed to save about 25% or so of my income per year.

    I think it's a great life. I don't have tons of free time, but I can usually take it whenever I like. Want to go see a matinee? no problem, I'll just work later in the evening. Want a 3 or 4 day weekend? No problem, I'll just work through next weekend. Very flexible. My only fixed hours are from TA duties or teaching, and that's usually 5-8 hours a week clustered on 1 or 2 days.
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