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Posted: Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:15 pm
Re: Putting down pedagogical goals in SoP
Posted: Sun Aug 19, 2012 12:18 pm
I understand how you feel and in fact, my only real goal for a PhD is to get a job that I'd enjoy. Research is enjoyable to me, teaching at the college level is also enjoyable, but so would something outside of academia! When I was visiting a school last Spring, I asked one prof what fraction of graduates get jobs outside of academia. I asked because the school / department is well known as a strong Planetary Science institute, but virtually unknown outside of the field. I am imagining that overall "brand name" of the school is more important than the department's when applying outside of academia.
The prof responded that he had a student who did this (the student went into the video game industry) and that the prof was "very disappointed" in the student since the prof had invested a lot of time in training this student and it was disappointing to not see the student use it to further planetary science work. However, the prof says he feels better now since the student might actually be accepting a teaching position at a university soon.
I feel like if I was going to write something other than research as my primary goal, I would have to explain it in a way to show that I am still interested in research and that's probably not worth the space if I only had 1 page. I usually say that I want a PhD in order to gain the skills required to do independent research, which will further my career goals. I might also say, as an aside, that the skills I learn from TAing or participating in things like Physics Outreach programs would be helpful if I know the school/department has a strong history of these things. But for example, one school that I applied to does not have many graduate TAships at all (I think you do about 3 quarters of TAing total in your whole degree) so a statement like that would obviously not be as helpful.