September 27, 2003
Oughta Leave Ya

I'm finally starting to get nervous about my qualifying exams. I haven't even chosen a an exam committee yet, and already I'm worrying about how little I know. For those now in the know, we Berkeley MCB students don't defend our theses at the end of our 6 years. Instead we have a qualifying exam at the end of our second year. During the exam the student (that's me!) gives two talks on the research he or she might do during a thesis. These talks themselves are supposed to be designed to last half an hour each. But the exam usually ends up last 4-6 hours, since your qualifying committee tries to trip you up with question after question after question. Once dust has cleared, the student leaves the room for twenty minutes. When he or she returns, the student is told whether or not they passed.

If you fail twice, you have to leave Berkeley.


Posted on September 27, 2003 01:02 PM

I say leave before they can throw you out. Don't let them have the satisfaction.

Posted by: jason on September 27, 2003 10:57 PM

Yessir, I am beginning to freak out about my "comps" as well. We have to do ours on a topic that is completely unrelated to our thesis work. Other than that, it sounds the same as what you have to do. I can't help but see parallels between getting ripped apart by a bunch of faculty for a few hours in order to become a Ph.D. candidate, and getting beaten by a bunch of punk kids for a few minutes in order to get "jumped into" a street gang.

Posted by: Doug on September 29, 2003 12:47 PM

Unfortunately, our qualifying exams are double trouble. In addition to the proposal for our primary work, we also do an "outside" that is, like yours, on a topic completely unrelated to the primary work. In fact, it must not only be an unrelated topic, it must be an unrelated field. Which means I'll have to come up with some sort of cell biology "stain-it-and-see" proposal.

Posted by: Jacob on September 30, 2003 10:48 AM

wow, i hope they don't find out that you've been faking your knowledge all along with the crafty usage of mini-microphones, ear-pieces and the wheel-chair bound genius you keep locked in your closet.

Posted by: ahe on October 2, 2003 05:01 PM

No need for a lock. I just take the wheels off his chair.

Posted by: Jacob on October 2, 2003 05:54 PM

Now that's just wrong.
Teehee =)

Posted by: Jolie on October 2, 2003 06:18 PM

ooh. i laughed so hard i peed a little.

Posted by: ahe on October 3, 2003 01:31 PM