Sunday, September 26, 2010

Figuring Out How to Give Advice that Will be Heard

A friend of a friend recently contacted me to ask advice about applying to a Ph.D. program in math. FoF already prefaces the request with a claim of not caring about the job market and just being in it for a love of the subject.

More worrying, FoF writes:
Basically, I want a flexible program that will allow me to take all kinds of maths (including stat, applied math, computer science, etc), but with a focus on abstract proofs and applied logic. The reason I want to go to graduate school in the first place is because I just want to continue studying the types of math that interest me; I honestly have no idea what I would do with the degree once I get it, so I don't really want to study something that would tie me to a particular field.
FoF is currently looking at applying to Group 1 schools.

I pointed out to FoF that a Ph.D. program is mostly about research and not really about coursework. I gave FoF a link to the Group 2 schools, suggesting that these may be a better fit.

But really, this sort of dabbling in an assortment of subfields is either best done before starting a Ph.D. or else after becoming famous.