Recipe for Successful Graduate Students
Dr. John Holland was interviewed recently for SIGEVOlution magazine. He was asked what his recipe was for successful graduate students since he has had so many. Here is what he said. I use the same recipe.
1) Have the student find a broad question that really interests them.
I give my students great freedom to find a general topic they are really interested in. This helps provide the motivation that is sometimes lacking in graduate school.
2) Have the students learn a lot about a lot of different disciplines.
I require my students to take at least one additional year of courses to become fluent in another discipline.
3) Have the student find a mentor that will stand up for them no matter how crazy the idea.
Graduate school is the last time in your career that you will have true freedom and time to explore novel and crazy ideas. I encourage students to go out on a limb and explore the fringes of sciences. This is where all the really good ideas come from. I not a believer in incremental me-too science.