Friday, October 5, 2007
As I was running errands yesterday I ended up bumping into a student who is a year ahead of me in the same program. At first we talked about what was going on in our lives, but the conversation quickly moved to work.....how it has been going with our supervisors, and how much research we have done lately......this particular student has interests that are fairly similar to mine and has always been there to give me advice. This student has also gotten through the program requirements particularly quickly, and when she told me how close she is to graduating I congratulated her on her success - when I told her how happy I was for her, I genuinely meant it and honestly didn't think too much about it. A lot of bloggers from other universities have commented on how competitive their programs are, but I have not felt this pressure myself (even though I am a very competitive person). So, I found myself quite surprised when the student told me that many people have told her that they are happy for her, but they have actually acted quite bitter towards her. Strange, I thought at first.....then I began to think more about my classmates.....I get along with each of them very well and consider them great friends.....we do talk about our classes and supervisors and many other topics, but I am really not sure how far along they are in meeting the program requirements, and I'm sure that they don't know how my research is coming along either. Maybe I haven't experienced the competition, because we haven't given each other any information to compete against. I wonder if competition will grow as we become closer to graduating and leaving the city that we all moved to for grad studies. I guess only time will tell. When I think about it though, it is silly to engage in a competition in which the winner finishes their research the fastest. Different types of research take different amounts of time to be done well and some people do Ph.D. projects that involve data collection that can be done in a month, while other people do longitudinal projects that could more than a year. Both people get their degree, but was the work equivalent? Is it possible to have a program where everyone does a similar amount of work to graduate?