General > General Technical Chat

Migrating as a PHD student to US

<< < (6/6)

I'm in the Central US...

Due to low birth rates 18 years ago, many small US Universities and Colleges are hitting severe funding shortages now.  Make sure where you go can cover you if your PI ends up short funded for any length of time.  Most schools have rules to protect you if this occurs, but a few are always shady or understaffed.   Better schools have large endowments.

  I was just downsized from what was once a 44,000 student school ten years ago.   Currently less then  25,000 total students, and only met this years minimum enrollment goal for continued government  funding by 4 students.  Many of that number are part time or commuter students.  They sold the food concession, are looking at selling the public/private partnership  new dorms, and the dorms go unoccupied because investors built nice new structures next to campus with lower costs, when they noticed the new dorms on campus.  Partnership dorms are not making a profit, yet the University has to pay due to the contract.  Tuition is capped by the state, and the permanent  faculty-staff layoffs (>500)  were Legion during Covid. 

     I'm told yearly parking permits will hit 700$ this year for faculty and staff, the parking lots, once ran by the University and heavily subsidized, are now ran by a contractor and owned by the County Port Authority.  I used to pay 200$ a year total, and that was pre-tax payroll deduction, it isn't deductible now, due to the privatization.

If a PI has current students, he/she/it can probably generate these numbers for you.  Be aware, research groups at declining schools face a difficult time getting further grants.  Once the word gets out, and the teaching staff that can migrate do so, the reputation can take a severe hit.  This means in any given group, you may have to work longer, faster, and harder for an upset, depressed Professor.

Choose Wisely.  Without knowing you well, I will not say Go or No Go, but having worked with several hundred grads in my career, its not for everyone, and yet experiences can be fantastic. There is a bit of a lottery to it. Some change groups, some quit, some become world class.  It depends on YOUR attitude.  The great majority of the students I have worked with never write, never call, and never want to come back for a visit.  If I had Ten Dollars for every abandoned desk, issued laptop, and hundreds of unmarked sample bottles I have had to dispose of, because newly hooded Graduates RUN for the door, unless they are Post-Docs or part of a Start-up .  Simply because Grad School is TOUGH! 
Many US States are in severe post Covid Cutbacks. Funding is TIGHT outside Biomedical fields.  Consider Canada. Their funding is always tight, so they have a habit of choosing only the best for Grad School.
If you speak Arabic,  Spanish or German, you may have better options elsewhere.

No matter what, if you are not proficient at Math,  Extreme Patience, Spoken and Written English, Teaching Undergrads, Doing your own Equipment  Repairs, Living on Five Hours Sleep, and Teaching Yourself Everything! Think Twice.  In most states Grad Students do not receive health care, but you may not be taxed on your income, either.  In many places, forty hour week limits do not apply for Grads, you are not considered a paid employee, your reward is your intangible Masters or Doctorate.  Medicine, Science, and Engineering Post Graduate Students usually get stipends, other majors may not be fully funded.

Quitting the graduate  job is an instant fail, and likely trip home.  There is only Do, No Undo.. However, if things are not working out, on campus transfers do happen.  Never say "I Quit" to a PI.

 I know more then one student who got sick and thus have massive health care bills from the lack of insurance.  Ask about this if your field is somewhat Dangerous.   Some home countries cover their overseas students, or subsidize health care.  Don't worry, if you are sick, you will be seen at the ER or Campus Health clinic  to ensure your safety.

Vacation time is precious, most students work long six day weeks, rarely get to their mother country, if at all, and usually take one highly cherished week off a year.  Few travel more then 50 miles / 80 Kilometers from campus, unless their PI takes the group on a trip, or an academic   conference is coming up. . If there is death in your immediate family, you will, however, be sent home with time, prayer, care, and blessings.

That reminds me, if at a highly technical school, if  there is not a well worn, dirty looking, huge machine shop filled with grizzled old guys,,, Run Away.   Once in a while that might be a tight, small shop, with a really experienced specialist.  If you do not find either, RUN AWAY!  :-)    Having a glassblower on campus is a serious benefit.

PIs can be highly variable, from being your new stepmom, to venomous. Most are very, very demanding and "needy"  due to "Publish or Parish"  A few, mostly the extremely brilliant, are just plain mean and  mentally ill

If you can, check out the place before signing up.  Watch the visa requirements if you vacation here for the visit, there may be a delay before you can return.

Some students find work, and stay for long times, often decades,  on a non-immigration guest worker basis.  It does happen.   Marrying an American, well before you graduate, may expose you to a 3.5 year accelerated citizenship if you graduate with a Doctorate.  With our divorce laws, however, don't plan on this method ~!

Our Military, will, under certain circumstances, pay for medical school, nursing,  or other degrees in exchange for X number of years of service, but you must swear allegiance and serve. At the end of that, you likely will have full citizenship.

You know your a research tech when you find desks with warm coffee cups, stale food, abandoned sneakers, and a goodbye note on graduation day. (LOL!)

I have a Non-Doctorate,  Not So Honoris Causa from the School of Hard Knocks, Reading, Rioting,and Rithmatic (Inside Joke)  because while only a Lowly Senior Technician, I had to learn the Grad's experiments as well or better then they did.  Eighteen Years of Academic  Service Here. .  I wish you well.



--- Quote from: EEVblog on April 17, 2024, 12:26:36 pm ---...
$2000 per week/month/year?
And also where you live can make a huge difference in expenses.
Immigration issues aside, baseline problem is can you live on that money in that location?

--- End quote ---

A PhD in a STEM field, doing real research and advancing the state of the art, is stressful and time-consuming. It is a difficult challenge, intellectually and emotionally.

I suspect the OP will have neither the time nor the energy to work on anything else; side gigs for extra money will be out of the question.

To the OP

That's fine that you want to start a business. I presume here you mean a technology business. It's easy to conduct when you're the only smart boy in the town. Otherwise, you'll have to compete, and in that process, do a way more than enough for supporting yourself and your family. Every propaganda teaches us that it's good, necessary, sane, progressive, and is a way forward. Actually, it's a law of nature that works not only in human. A good rat shall spoil as much food as it can and to reproduce as fast as it can so the colony can thrive and expand. Otherwise, it's a bad rat and must die. That's why I think the intelligent design theory about human is nothing more than a propaganda tool. Anyway, you're not alone and that obviously implies that the chances you've invented something that is really novel and is not another BS for profiteering (or even worse) are negligibly low. Though it also depends on your definition for appropriateness.

There are many events in the US. One of them is South by South-West (SXSW) annual cultural event. In 2008 it took place in Austin, TX. I was there right on time, by chance. The locals were saying that they're always busy so no time to travel to music but this time they're happy as music came to them. The event was broken into the three sections, music, movie and interactive. At the interactive, Mark Zuckerberg (a young guy back then) was presenting his new project, Twitter, Facebook, I don't remember. That sort of projects was very popular back at that time. I was unable to understand what's this all about. Not because of the language problem, it's more fundamental. When you're working for a more-less big corporation, it's not unusual to see a couple of screens of e-mails each morning. There are many spammers in the hierarchy, they can't stop or few will notice them and they'll be eventually fired. It's risky to bulk delete all the spam because there can be some really important personal e-mails. You've to walk through that mess and that's annoying. So who in his sane mind will subscribe to that garbage voluntarily? And it's much more effective than e-mail, it's really instant and more people involved. The victim is always bombarded, no way to concentrate on anything.

Sure someone will like that. A long time ago, in one of my previous lives, I was a mechanic in the garage. Once the garage manager approached me with a mighty young boy, who was from the remote region and came here seeking a better life. The manager said the boy is assigned to me as an apprentice so I've to teach and supervise him. No problem. I do remember that when I was a kid and my father was fixing his car, I was always participating because it was very interesting business for me. But very soon I'd noticed that the supervision is indeed strictly necessary, because the boy showed no interest in the nitty-gritty of truck maintenance. Never was reading the books I gave him, never wanted to see what I'm doing. I'd to keep an eye on him all the time, otherwise he would find someone of his age (typically a driver whose truck is being under repair) and talk with him for hours. It's not only the problem that who's talking is not working. But how it's possible to talk with someone for hours. It's more typical of women or in the sea lion company on the beach, where one makes a noise, or emanates a smell, with the only purpose to assure the other that he's near, he's with him. That's the Zuck's target audience. The bla-blaers will be happy and will grow in numbers forming a social environment where I and my children will have to live. Well, not with my help.

Perhaps your definitions are different. Then back to the US. Do you know who's Carl Icahn? He's a well-known vulture capitalist. It was funny for me to see the tactics he's using in his monkey business. But it's perfectly in law, he's a respected businessman there. According to Wikipedia, once he was asked to take a high-ranked position in the government. Or Steve Jobs. Not everyone is of one opinion about that guy. The problem is that there are a thousands of highly motivated personalities from all over the world and the mechanisms to constrain them are underdeveloped because of the country's origin and traditions. So the moments of imposed hyperactivity are evident there. You'll have to play this game, like it or not. Want to live in a society of unsupervised teenagers? But if you're more of adult and don't want to stay at home, think about Europe.

Sorry for the long post. Take care.


[0] Message Index

[*] Previous page

There was an error while thanking
Go to full version
Powered by SMFPacks Advanced Attachments Uploader Mod