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research vs learning vs TA job

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I would like to initiate some general sharing of experience/advice about this curious balance that US grad students need to strike between devoting time to research, learning and the TA job. I am more inclined to know of how things work from the perspective of string theory students.

{I am aware that there are grad schools where students don't have to do a TA}

By "learning" - I mean doing grad courses. Though I guess the best of string theory grad students don't do any grad courses. Thats what I have been feeling from talking to some people! Otherwise how many grad courses a semester or for how many semesters is typical for string theory people?

And for TA responsibilities - I guess officially 20hrs of commitment a week is typical. Though I guess most students don't spend more than 12-15hrs a week on it.

I would like to hear some discussions on how do people strike this difficult balance between these three aspects. When doing courses doesn't it necessarily kill research time? Doesn't the TA job feel like an impediment to everything useful that could be done?

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
asked Jan 13, 2012 in Theoretical Physics by user6818 (955 points) [ no revision ]
I think this question is too off-topic and should be closed (though, in general it's a perfectly sensible question, just not on this forum).

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
Entirely a financial question. There's not enough funding for every PhD student to be supported by fellowships rather than TA.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
@felix The reason for the situation may be financial. But I am more interested to know as to how do the best of students balance the three aspects. I want to know of successful balancing strategies that helped across this situation.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
@user6818: First, it is not an answerable question, see http://theoreticalphysics.stackexchange.com/faq#dontask (_You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page_). Second, it seems to localized (I don't know how string theory makes it different). If you search for general advices, try reading http://matt.might.net/articles/ways-to-fail-a-phd/ or http://www.yale.edu/eeb/stearns/advice.htm.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)

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