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Hoop: jumped through! - Lindsey Kuper [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Lindsey Kuper

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Hoop: jumped through! [Mar. 13th, 2010|02:50 am]
Lindsey Kuper
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As a Ph.D. student, one of the things I have to do is pass quals, which are a series of exams that are intended to determine whether or not I'm ready to do Ph.D.-level research in my area. Today I finished the paperwork to establish an Advisory Committee, which is the group of people who will administer my area qualifier exam, the last such exam I'll have to take. I'm very excited about this! My committee is Amal Ahmed, Dan Friedman, and Daniel Leivant.

At IU, quals are a series of three exams. (Actually, that's no longer true, since the whole system was overhauled this year, but during this liminal period, it's still possible to qualify under the old system, so for better or for worse, that's what I'm doing.) Unlike the first two exams, which are written tests and not tailored to the individual, this one will be an oral exam and particular to my area. To that end, I'll need to work with my committee to make a list of the things I should be studying, then do a lot of reading and preparing. The actual exam will take place in six months or so. (I also still have to pass one of the two written exams, and that's only offered in August, so over the summer I'll need to get busy preparing for that one as well.)

So, um, I suppose it's not so much that I've jumped through the hoop yet, as that I've established that the hoop exists and gotten a rough idea of its size and shape. Still, it's nice to have gotten to that point.


[User Picture]From: sonetka
2010-03-13 08:39 am (UTC)
Oral quals? I was a little surprised (Andrew had written quals which he could finish within the space of a week, during which week I probably saw him for about 30 minutes in daylight) and then Andrew said "Yeah, it sounds like she's doing them the way they're actually supposed to be done." :) Anyway, good luck getting ready in the next six months and congrats on having gotten the hoop mapped out, so to speak.
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2010-03-15 03:32 am (UTC)
From what I've seen, the quals process varies wildly from program to program, and "the way they're actually supposed to be done" is an open question.

My understanding is that one drawback of the way I'm doing it (which is being discontinued) was that some students didn't begin to think about or plan for the oral exam, which is the area-specific one, until the written exams were over with, effectively allowing students to procrastinate on finding a research specialization and an advisor. This was really a disservice to students, because it's no good to be in, you know, the third year of a Ph.D. program without having one's research area nailed down.

I could put off getting ready for the oral qual until my second written qual is done, and that might even be the most practical thing to do, to increase the likelihood that I'll pass the written one, but dammit, I just don't want to put it off. I like my research area, it turns out; I want to study it, or I wouldn't have picked it.
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[User Picture]From: lindseykuper
2010-03-15 03:35 am (UTC)
Yes, absolutely. List of essential PL papers; go!

I have a few in mind, but I'm eager to hear other folks' suggestions.
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