PhD, then what?

  • Thread starter Monique
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  • #26
Monique
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Good question, Dimitri.. I always had the hardest time explaining my degree to Americans.. the system is totally different.

So: First you do High School, there are four levels in which you can do that:
- not sure of the name: about the same as MAVO = 4 years high school
- MAVO: middle continued education = 4 years high school
- HAVO: higher c.e. = 5 years high school
- VWO: higest c.e. = 6 years high school

After getting your high school diploma, you go on according to your level, you can also do a higher level of high school if wanted.

- not sure of the name: you can do LBO for maybe 2 yrs to get a degree, LBO means lower professional education
- MAVO: you can go to MBO, middle p.e. 3 yrs I think
- HAVO: you can go to HBO, higher p.e. something like a college 4 yrs
- VWO: if you have this you can go to a University 5 yrs

Also here one can go from one level to another, three years MBO and 1.5 years HBO for instance. I you have one year HBO one can go to University and start a bachelor.

To illustrate:
I started high school, after one year, you have to take a test to determine the level. I went to HAVO, did that for 5 yrs. Then I went to HBO, did that for 4 yrs. Now, in my opinion this degree is very similar to a college degree, which is on the level of a bachelors, but I cannot call it a bachelors.

Officially I should now start University from the start, but since I had good grades and work experience they let me start with a masters.

A bachelor here takes 3 years and a master 2 yrs. True, a PhD cannot be done without a masters, unless you want to promovate in the project you've been working on as an analist.

A PhD takes about 3.5 yrs, I think it is only thesis work. In the US I think the average is 5 yrs (in biology at least), but a lot of classes have to be taken and a masters is not required.
 
  • #27
Monique
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I think this type of system with different levels is good, since it is tailered to a person's capabilities. There are some problems though with the follow-up of the individual.

I, for instance, easily could have done the highest level of high school (VWO) since I had many 8's and 9's, which means I am performing above the standard of a 7.

Same for the HBO, I could have easily gone to University, but for that I would have had to do 2 yrs of more high school to get VWO, or switch after 1 yr of HBO.

In the US you have got straight-A students, I really always wonder, is that because the people are so smart or is it because the programs are not tough enough??? In The Netherlands it is virtually impossible! to get a 10, even if you answer all the answers correctly, the chances are high that a 9 will be given (an answer is never complete).
 
  • #28
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Originally posted by Monique
In the US you have got straight-A students, I really always wonder, is that because the people are so smart or is it because the programs are not tough enough???
One thing I have come to realize about the US education system, from having spoken to people from other countries and taking some education cousres, is that it is extremely diverse ... at some places an A really means something, at others it doesn't.

As to straight-A's ... even if the students had exactly the same performance, an 'A' sounds like it is designed to encompass a broader range of performance than a "10" in your system, so there would be more A's than 10's just because of how an 'A' is defined (e.g., an 'A' might be equivalent to both a 9 or a 10). But people complain about the educational system here all the time, so I wouldn't be surprised if the programs were easier too. Personally, I think that at most high schools here, all you need to do to get an 'A' is work hard, not necessarily be smart. Colleges can be more demanding, but not always. (My high school was much more rigorous than my university, but I went to an unusually good high school.)
 
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  • #29
RageSk8
But people complain about the educational system here all the time, so I wouldn't be surprised if the programs were easier too.
This is actually a myth propagated by the misuse of statistics. Most European countries have different levels of high school (and even middle school and elementary school). The lower levels are trained for jobs - for instance in Germany, students in the lower levels go straight to work at a factory after they graduate, it is amazingly effective. The error comes in the fact that when international test scores (on math, science, language, etc.) are compared, generally only the higher levels of schools in European countries are tested and then compared to the general, single level American scores. So, of course, American schools end up looking a lot worse than they actually are.
 
  • #30
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I don't know if it is a myth. I certainly know about the different levels of schooling. But, for example, pretty much all of the German physicists or physics students I've known received more rigorous mathematical training (at both the high school and university level) than the Americans I've known --- and these are not just people from the top-notch German schools, either.
 
  • #31
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I used to want to get a PHD because of the prestige, and at the time what I thought was a wealthy living. Of course when I was 6 I also wanted to be a fireman. My how times have changed.

looking back, I probably should have.. I'm sure that route is much easier than medicine(in some aspects).
 
  • #32
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Generally speaking, US high schools are attrocious. I've known many people who had their secondary eduction over there, and who were completely ignorant. They lacked even the basic knowledge about science, literature, history, and other things...

The worst part is, these people were good (B or A) students!

The complaint about many European (and Belgian especially) Universities is that the entry level is far too high. This is simply because we already get a good level of education before that. For example, even non-mathematical directions get some serious calculus and linear algebra.
 
  • #33
crypticdeus
Actually this is one of my main issues as well. A PhD then what? One thing I did think about was the money issue. I live in New York and especially teaching or research assistants get paid zilch compared to amount of work a business major does (gets paid about 42k after graduation). It seems so unfair that all the hard work that people do to continue their education gets degraded that we aren't going to be paid enough or simply employed with benefits, etc.

Average TA or RA continuing with their PhD get paid on average about 11 - 18k which might be "ok" if you live in a dumpster lot with other TA's. You might be 25 - 30 years old earning the same amount, and though you might want to become a researcher/professor or whatever, it still seems unfair. I'm still quite skeptical on the whole PhD thing. Biology and Astronomy are my real passions and I one day want to join NASA to become an Astrobiologist, but at the same time, becoming a Professor and expressing my ideas is a beautiful thing. It just seems that money is always an issue.
 

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