A Note to Prospective Students
For months, applicants vying to get into our various graduate programs sweated over their resumes and statements of purpose, worried about recommenders not sending in their letters on time and generally turned into nervous wrecks. They had one dream only: to impress graduate committees at various departments and universities, including our own.
For the successful applicants, the tables have now turned. On March 21, the Telecom graduate committee will try to impress prospective students. I have no doubt that they will try to recruit us, the current grad students, in the effort to convince new people to join our ranks. I will take no part in this. My goal is to have as few students in the department as possible in order to have fewer competitors. After all, the surefire way to be the No. 1 graduate student is to be the only one.
Speaking of competition, the lack of it in Telecom really bothers me. Everybody is driven to succeed without trampling on colleagues. It doesn’t end there. People here seem to actually want to help each other. This defeatist approach is disgusting and has no place in an academic setting.
This sappy collegiality manifests itself in other ways, as well. For instance, graduate students socialize regularly. Last semester, we had dinner and drinks every Thursday night. This semester, we meet regularly on Tuesday afternoons. Other than that, we also hang out at other, unscheduled times. There is nothing sadder than watching graduate students making time for fun instead of sequestering themselves. Research shows that not overworking oneself actually makes you productive, but I’m sure those who conducted that research are just lying to get their competitors all drunk and merry. I know that’s what I would do. In fact, if you really know me, you’ll realize that’s why I only drink Coke while everybody else consumes alcohol.
Another form of socializing irritates me even more. Faculty, staff and grad students have joint teams in sports like soccer (how un-American) and running (how tiring). This is ridiculous. The only acceptable sport we should engage in together is fencing. We need to introduce a practice prevalent in other departments – stabbing each other in the back.
So, dear prospective students, do you really want to be in such a toxically positive environment?