My Grad School Transcript

Thinking about the relationship between grad school and non-traditional academic careers.

August 25, 2014

How closely connected is your current academic work to what you did you grad school?

I find it interesting, telling and a bit ironic, that my academic career has been all about teaching and learning, initially in the classroom, now in our Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning. Subjects that never really crossed my mind as a grad student.

This deficit in my graduate student training I think says more about my limitations than it does about the university where I trained, as Brown Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning is one of the most respected and influential centers in all of higher ed.

If I wasn’t thinking about teaching and learning in grad school, what was I doing? To answer this question I thought I’d take the (maybe unusual) step of sharing my grad school academic transcript.  Maybe I might even inspire you to do the same.

Starting in the Fall of 1991, here are the courses that eventually resulted in Brown awarding me a PhD in Sociology.  Thesis title: Economic Viability and Marriage: Life Course Transitions Among Whites and African Americans 1967-1993.

SOC 0101:  Development of Social Theory
SOC 0231:  Health Care Institutions
SOC 0164:  Social Inequality
SOC 0110:  Statistics for Social Science
SOC 0201:  Multivariate Analysis
SOC 226H:  Comparative Analysis of Health Care
SOC 0213:  Health, Illness, and Medicine
SOC 0204:  Sociological Theory 1  
SOC 0205:  Sociological Theory II
SOC 0200:  Field Methods / Social Research
SOC 0223:  Demographic Analysis
SOC 0208:  Principles of Population
PHP C212:  Research Methods in Epidemiology
SOC 226L:  Demography of Aging
SOC 0292:  Reading & Research
SOC 187H:  Households and Families
SOC 0291:  Reading & Research
PHP C214:  The Health of Women
SOC 226N:  Current Research in Demography
SOC 0238:  Mortality & Morbidity
SOC 0291:  Reading & Research
SOC 0250:  Teaching Practicum in Sociology
SOC 226N:  Contemporary Demography
SOC 0292:  Reading & Research

Typing out this transcript is certainly a blast form the past.  Hard to believe that this was 20 years ago now plus.  

This is probably the first time that anyone has actually ever looked at my grad school transcript.  

I seem to have taken lots of courses. This is partly a function I suspect of having come to graduate training in sociology having only ever taken 1 or 2 sociology classes,  (as a history major I needed to catch-up), and of having switched concentration from medical sociology to demography somewhere along the way.

I have no idea what “SOC 0250 - Teaching Practicum in Sociology” was all about. Maybe course credit for working as a teaching assistant?  Not sure.

Certainly my transcript is devoid of any courses related to pedagogy, course management, learning theory, assessment, course design, educational technology, cognitive science, or effective teaching practices.  Nor does my transcript reveal any courses on communications, project management or leadership. Nothing on the history, sociology, or economics of higher education.

These observations should not be construed as a lament.  I believe that I received the world’s best possible graduate education. My graduate education, more than anything else, taught me how to think.  

My graduate school mentors, professors and fellow students taught me how to ask questions, form hypotheses, design experiments, and analyze and present data.  While I no doubt learned lots of things about sociology and demography, the greatest gift that graduate school gave me is a love of inquiry and a passion to learn, create, and share.

I also came out out of graduate school with a deep affection for higher education. Our norms, our culture, our idiosyncrasies, our inefficiencies, our campuses, and our people. My graduate school treated me very well. Funding me throughout my years on campus, and sticking with me as I left campus to get married and start teaching full-time as I finished my dissertation.   

Do you have your grad school transcript at hand? Care to dig it up and share?

How did what you learned in grad school prepare you for your academic (and alt-academic) career?

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Joshua Kim

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