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Yet another academia thread

Old 09-24-07, 06:19 PM
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Yet another academia thread

So I'm in the first semester of my senior year and am faced with the question of what to do with my history degree. I focus in environmental history primarily, though I have taken quite a few courses on south asian and military history. Many people have told me that getting your masters at the same uni you got your undergrad from is a bad idea. Is there any logic to this? I can't really see any. If I stay here and get a masters in environmental history I think I would be much better prepared to go to law school and focus on environmental law. Plus, I'm fairly certain I could get my current school to pay me to be a grad student here.

Does anyone have any advice or comments that might throw a monkey wrench into this plan? I really like my department and the people who I work with. My adviser is a wealth of knowledge and the area I live in has a plethora of environmentally related opportunities. Plus, I don't really want to move right now. I did 2 years ago when I transfered from the east coast and am incredibly happy with my living situation now.
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Old 09-24-07, 06:24 PM
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Do what feels right for you. Following the herd on ideas often leads you astray.

If you have a good relationship with your Profs and like the area, then by all means, stay! After your masters, get out to another area and get real world experience in your field and then look at teaching at your Alma M and go for PhD!
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Old 09-24-07, 06:31 PM
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My thesis advisors strongly discourage staying around for my postdoc, as did my undergrad advisor for my PhD work. Not because the departments aren't excellent--arguably the two departments that fight for #1 and #2 in my field--but because as you go from place to place, you get to know different faculty and learn different ways of doing and thinking about things. Both the extended network and the broader exposure to ideas and methods justify going elsewhere even if you're already at one of the best places.

Not to say that there aren't times when staying around makes better sense, but there's a lot of value to going elsewhere.
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Old 09-24-07, 06:35 PM
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Right on, I'd considered it from the position of getting a more diverse experience but am fairly certain that I'll be able to work with faculty from other arizona public universities. Adding to that is the fact that this is only my 2nd year at this university and I am still in touch with a select few professors from other uni's back east. I don't think I've "had my fill" of what this faculty has to offer. Of course I have no intention of doing PhD work here, if I choose to go for that.
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Old 09-24-07, 06:37 PM
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Come to think of it, when I took college classes at some excellent undergrad institutions in high school, my profs there told me the same thing. They told me to not bother applying to those institutions, not because I wouldn't get in or they aren't excellent places to study, but because they think I should go elsewhere and meet different faculty and learn from different minds. In fact, one professor simply told me to pick a school that took me far away from home. (When I narrowed down my choice to two colleges, her suggestion weighed on my mind and helped me pick the one that was a 5 hour flight away rather than the one that was a 5 hour drive away.)
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Old 09-24-07, 06:39 PM
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Well, for a short master's stint of a year or two, staying may not be a bad idea. I certainly wouldn't rule out moving on, though.
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Old 09-24-07, 06:49 PM
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Thanks, I appreciate the advice. I think I'll get a clearer picture of what I want to do once I begin looking at what programs are offered elsewhere. One of the biggest issues I'm encountering is that I have environmental needs that a lot of prestigious universities don't allow for.
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Old 09-24-07, 06:51 PM
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Sounds like you're going through this rationally, thinking about what you want to do and considering your options. Sounds good to me. Good luck.
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Old 09-24-07, 11:17 PM
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sometimes you can get into a much better Ph.D program with an M.A. so it might be worth it to stay a year or so
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Old 09-25-07, 02:04 AM
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Yea, that was sort of my line of thinking. Even if I choose not to get PhD, having an MA, particularly one that I don't have to pay for, opens my potential employment and further academic opportunities far more than not having one.

Does the fact that I'm going to graduate with a BS in history rather than the common BA have any bearing? The reason for the BS is that my major is "extended" (much the result of me focusing on environmental history) meaning more history related courses and fewer unrelated courses, particularly in english and math.
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Old 09-25-07, 02:15 AM
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i don't think that BS/BA really matters
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Old 09-25-07, 08:04 AM
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Welcome to law school.

Bwahahaha.

PS - I hope you realize that the "environmental" jobs that actually pay are at firms that represent companies like Exxon and Dupont.

Bwahahaha encore.

PPS - if you want to be an environmental lawyer, getting a MA is not valuable as noted above. Getting two years of working experience with a state or Fed EPA office would be interesting to an employer.
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Old 09-25-07, 09:55 AM
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The end goal of my education isn't profit. I want to be an expert in the field, not another profit-driven hamster on the wheel.

A lot of the reason behind not going to law school right off the bat is that I want to learn more about environmental history and then decide whether an academic or legal path is best suited for me. During summers I work for the USFS and have some exposure to the sort of red tape that surrounds fairly simple environmental problems. I also want to use my continued education to get a more sound basis in the scientific aspects of the subject matter rather than only having a firm grasp of its principles and theories.

SpongeDad, I fully accept that I'll likely be working for a corporation, or the government. I'm quite alright with that. I just want to learn what I'm interested in and find a way to apply that to live a happy life.
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