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Getting What You Came for: The Smart Student's Guide to Earning a Master's or a Ph.D. Paperback – December, 1992
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Top customer reviews
I literally would not have made it past second year without this book. Maybe it's because before my generation, none of my family finished college, let alone graduate school, but I would have been utterly lost as far as selecting a program, an advisor, a committee, and all the little political things that can absolutely upend your PhD career.
This book is an absolute must-have guide because it tells you about all of the pitfalls to these things that may later come back to bite you.
I took off a star because I'm just not sure how useful it is for Masters' and humanities PhD students, but I think there are still some universals in here that can help you get clueful and wise no matter what program you're pursuing. Some people won't need this book, owing to lots of experience with their field or family that can guide them along their way, but trust me: if you need this book, you NEED it, and there's nothing out there quite so extensive or helpful.
Get it and read it before you apply. If it's too late for that already, get it anyway.
Here's what it's not:
It's not a GRE test practice book.
It does not have sample essays for Statement of Purpose/Personal Statement requirements (the section on these essays were actually very brief).
It's not a book on how to network before, during and after grad school.
It's not a treatise on why you should get a graduate degree. (In fact, the author writes to almost dissuade you from making the choice)
Not being any of the above, why would this book be useful then?
It's a huge reality check. If you're contemplating a graduate degree and want to get one simply to add some letters after your name, read this book. The candid anecdotes are necessary for any applicant to have when they're making their decisions. It's also good to read way before you start applying because you'll get a glimpse into the future of what can go wrong before, during and after your grad program.
Personally, I found the book very helpful during my application process. Some parts of it were a bit dated but it was still valuable. As a student in a more professional rather than academic program, this book has some irrelevant information but it was still a good read as it helped me solidify my decision that a doctorate is not on my list of pursuits.
Overall, a great read, especially for anyone contemplating a graduate degree and anyone starting the application process.
I bought this book based on the title without reading the reviews. True to word, this book is a detailed, thorough look at the graduate system with tips and helpful advice sprinkled throughout. At 358 pages long, plus an appendix on buying a computer, this book should have enough data for everyone. Whether you want to learn more about the application process, financial aid opportunities, or the creation of a thesis topic, this book is worth the money.
My personal favorite parts of this book are the thesis-related chapters. "The Thesis Topic: Finding It," and "The Thesis: Writing It," are two out of the four chapters based solely on the process of thinking up, proposing, writing, and defending a thesis. This is excellent because each chapter follows each stage of the creation process. Also of notable value are the chapters, "Dealing with Stress and Depression," and "The Social Milieu."
I would recommend reading this book your senior year or around the time you make the decision to apply for graduate school. So far, the material matches with what my graduate student friends have told me: "start early, talk nicely about professors, have stress relievers, don't become a social isolate, and avoid student loans." One thing that those in the graduate department recommend that is not in here: attend plagiarism awareness workshops offered by the university, go to the graduate writing studio for assistance, and go to the professors' office hours as well.
I have recommended this book to a friend in his senior year. I let him flip through the book and he agreed that it looked helpful. I have also read other books on related topics ("Getting Mentored in Graduate School," by Johnson and Huwe, and two other books on graduate school) and this is the most inclusive book on the topic, in my opinion. However, if you are looking for a book on your field, there might be a book geared more specifically for your field of study. For example, I have also ordered "Writing an Applied Linguistics Thesis or Dissertation: A Guide to Presenting Empirical Research" by John Bitchener. I am pleased to have this book in my collection and it has made a good and accessible reference for my further studies.