McNair Scholars Program - Myth-Weavers


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McNair Scholars Program

McNair Scholars Program

Is anyone familiar with this? My professor just informed me that she nominated me for this which is basically a program to get me a PHD. I'm in shock right now, but having a hard time finding more detailed information on it. I haven't decided if I want to yet, and what a PHD would do for me. I'm kinda losing my marbles over here thinking about it. If anyone here could provide some insight on such a thing, I'd greatly appreciate it, I can't think of anywhere else to ask about this sorta thing. I don't come from anything, so there's no one in my family who can really advise me on this.

Ya. I was in that while getting a Bachelor's Degree. As a first generation (for my family) college student - also from a low income background.

There was pressure to get a PhD for sure. At the time I was working on a Bacheleor's in Social Work. I was told by a SW Professor that Masters was 'terminal' for that field. I think they said - terminal for practice. Meaning - you really only need a Masters to practice. When I told McNair folks that, they got really mad. I was just passing it along - if mistranslated some / lost in translation - retelling. They looked it up and said there WAS PhD programs in Social Work. (none at that university and none close to where I lived, but....)

I think if you only get a Master's Degree (which I did - also wasn't offered at that University) it messes with their stats.

Good group. Trying to get minorities and first generation / low income students to go for Master's and PhDs. They did some University Tours. I think they can help with some scholarships. (I ended up getting my Bachelor's degree early and rushed to get into a Master's Program. So they didn't really help me. But may have been able to help me more if I wasn't in such a rush. But was interesting, aside from the misunderstanding I described earlier.)

It's more informational than anything, at least that was my impression. They may have some scholarship information - perhaps some small amount of $. (I didn't get the impression they had a lot of funding. Mostly for a few positions, transportation for campus visits, information, etc.)

Please feel free to ask anything more and/or PM me. It was just ... maybe a Semester I was in it. Fairly limited experience, but I was in it.

Good deal. Glad to help with some info / my experience.
Maybe some others may find this as well, soon or via Search later.

What would the PhD be in exactly? The value of (and funding for) a PhD depends highly on the field. In the sciences and engineering (my own PhD experience) you usually have grants that not only pay for tuition but also a living stipend, and they are not only valued in academia but also industry and government (to an extend anyway...). In a different field, though a PhD may be a complete waste of time and money (finances wise anyway).

Also: A PhD sounds significantly more intimidating than it really is. If that's a part of what's causing you to be in shock, don't worry!

Very good points, I concur on all the above.
(Though just with two Master's Degrees, not a PhD.)

In many social sciences, master degrees are consolation prizes. For those programs, you are apply for graduate program with expectation that you will be going for a PHD.

Originally Posted by Rakle View Post
In many social sciences, master degrees are consolation prizes. For those programs, you are apply for graduate program with expectation that you will be going for a PHD.
I am not familiar with the job prospects of the social sciences that much, but I can say this: A PhD is mostly about independent research and the publishing of it. In some fields (such as my own) this is important even to areas of industry, consultation, and government work, since there is a lot of overlap and industry often engages in research itself. In those instances a PhD may be a preferred quality or at least substitute for actual work experience for a job application, even at a company.

In other fields the research and applied aspects are very distinct and a Ph.D. is only useful when trying to advance in academia (teaching or research). Sometimes a PhD may even be a little detrimental since it may disqualify you from certain entry jobs (PhDs mandate a higher salary) which in turn may keep you from getting the desired work experience that the industry values over academic credentials (I know some computer science folks who were in that predicament, though I can't testify whether that's actually true in general for that field)

My own two cents, as someone with a PhD in a STEM field. I don't have any particular knowledge about McNair Scholars, but I don't think that's the important focus here.

Did you already want to get a PhD, or are you considering it just because of this nomination? If you were already considering getting a PhD, then you probably have an idea of why you wanted one, what it will gain you, etc. If this is the first time you're seriously considering it, then I would strongly encourage you to really consider your motivations and how a PhD will help you in your career.

I agree with bandersnatch-- my experience was that a PhD sounds more intimidating than it is. It's stressful and time-consuming, but that's true of a lot of jobs. You shouldn't be worried about whether or not it's intimidating or difficult. You should ask yourself: "What do I want to do with/in my life, and would a PhD (in whatever field) help me to do it?" It's typically a 5+ year commitment (in the states, anyway), you won't make great money during that time (and possibly afterward), and you may place yourself in the "overqualified" pile for a lot of jobs. It's likely that you'll feel a lot of pressure to continue in the academic route after your PhD, and won't find much support for pursuing jobs outside of academia (even in the sciences, though that's changing).

That said, you might find that it's a great chance to expand your skillset and experiences (I managed to use my time in grad school to get a lot of quantitative training and work abroad). You'll likely make some great friends (and, depending on the field and university, rich/powerful friends).

I've got a friend who's considering doing his PhD in Econ (about to finish his masters), and I joke with him that "only idiots get PhDs." Because he's interested in making lots of money. I think he'd be much better suited spending 3-5 years working in the field, building relationships and a reputation, etc than spending all that time in classes and lab. There are certainly exceptions to that rule, but I think it's still a fair one.

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