I was just wondering, since I’m having so much trouble with my

How hard was it getting your degree?


B.A. - very easy

M.A. - a step up in workload, but by and large fairly easy

Ph.D. - a lot of work, lonely days in a library, but more mentally exhausting than actually difficult. It’s like your brain is running a marathon with your sanity.

M.Ed. - the easiest degree ever, only made challenging by the fact that I was doing student teaching at the same time.


I wouldn’t say my B.A. was very easy. I put a lot of work into it, so that I could get into a good grad school and get some money for it. But you aren’t being very specific on what kinds of problems you have in mind. Do you mean how much fortitude, intelligence, study habits, politiking? What kinds of things do you have in mind?

My PhD was, as Troy says, very difficult. I recommend a book called How to Survive the (or Your) Dissertation. It was written in the 80s by a psych/sociology professor and helped me out a lot. The hard part of the PhD is staying the course. As Troy says, you spend a lot of time doing research, usually on one, fairly specific topic. It is easy to get burned out and there is little or no support structure. The other grad students are engaged in their own struggle and the professors can’t really help you much. Usually, they aren’t even that encouraging. You need good family/spouse support and a strong will. Toward the end you will lose a lot of confidence as your committee members ask for rewrites of chapters and offer what seem to be damning criticisms of some of your main arguments. The PhD is a test to see whether you deserve to be a colleague. As such, it is very demanding.

I was in a PhD program, so I got my Masters after I finished my comprehensive exams and had written my dissertation proposal. I didn’t have to write a thesis, so I can’t really say how hard that might be.

I actually meant the question in general.

I study CS at Ben-Gurion University.

According to one of my prof. who spent a few years teaching in the US, we study about double the time compared to an american CS student.

But that’s not the problem, It’s the intensity.
It’s exams time around here, and I’ve been studying for about 9 hours a day,
every day.
after a few weeks at that, I feel like my brain had turned into mush.

They’re not making it easier on us either, about 70% fail at Discrete math and calculus 2.

I know foreign institutions are different than American ones, so I don’t know how much this accounts for. But I’d have to say that any institution that requires studens to study 9 hours a day, for weeks on end, for end of term exams has a serious flaw somewhere in the teaching process. Whether it’s at your end for not going to class or trying to learn the material when presented originally, or the professor’s for doing such a poor job of teaching that nobody can learn it, I have no clue.

A 70% failure rate is pretty inexcusable. I think in most any decent university stateside, a professor who taught a class that repeatedly hit that kind of failure rate would be severely frowned upon and asked to do something about it (or leave, depending on situations).

70% failure rate? Is there any teaching going on?

We only have about 5 days between each test, and we probably do about 2-3 tests from past courses, we review material only to refresh our memory.
Each test takes about three hours to finish, just like the one we have to pass.

I think 70% failure is something they do on purpose, in specific courses.
In order to make people drop off, making sure only the best get the degree.

They have pretty strict rules around here, lecturers can do pretty much what they want, “academic freedom” and such.

I guess it works both ways, people who actually graduate, get good jobs - since companies are aware of this.

I attended a work draft a few weeks ago, and companies like Intel,
Freescale, applied materials and Amdocs were recruiting.

On the other hand, I’m only finishing my first year, so I can only guess how it really works

70% failure on purpose? Exclusivity for exclusivity’s sake is abhorent in a college environment.

Now, my school isn’t first in comp sci by any means, but it is a decent one. Classes with 70% attrition were the result of tenured professors who despised teaching.

What do you mean by recruiting? Intel, IBM, a bevy of defense contractors, Microsoft and other notable comp sci companies all came down to my school to go to career fairs and do on campus interviews. It is nothing like the late nineties were, but I interviewed with a good amount of companies, and rarely did I study for that long of a period straight.

Yeah, the thing is, advertising only the top 30% even pass isn’t really about exclusivity. It’s a trumped up charge type of thing.

I go to a school that’s consistently top 3 in the nation in my field. I can tell you outright that a 70% failure rate would be looked on as a failing of the school/program/professor in getting the material taught. There’s just nothing served by throwing out 70% of your student population that couldn’t more easily be served by not letting that population in in the first place. Except, of course, to milk the people who get bounced out out of their money.

(Although, come to think of it, I recall something about some countries allowing anyone who wants to the opportunity to attend school free. If you’re in one of those places, then it’s an entirely different beast, and my advice to you would be as follows: If you have to spend 9 hour days, many days a week preparing just to get to the next step, and it’s always an uphill struggle, you may be in the wrong field. No matter how attractive “getting the good job” is, I, personally, don’t think it’s worth turning every day for the rest of your life into a constant struggle. Then again, I say that from the relative privelege and wealth of being an American pursuing an advanced degree, so your situation may differ radically.)

I’m studying CS because that’s what I want, I can always go study in a different faculty, where the grades are always around 90.
I just don’t want to, It doesn’t interest me.

It appears that the reason behind high failure rate is probably money, as always.

If you take a course twice, you pay double for that course, eventually, You stay and extra semester or two.

A little background, around here we don’t go straight to college after high school, we go to the army for a few years, most students are around my age- 24.


That’s not education, that’s a racket.

I think what we need is a happy medium. The schools that Assaf is talking about are too tough. They exclude people arbitrarily (if the 70% figure is fixed). That means people who might be good students and good workers are being failed for not being AS good (in a certain class, at a certain time, etc.) as other people.

However, the American system is too liberal with its grading. It, too, is about money, but the only real concern is whether people are paying for their classes. If you fail too many people, or exclude them from coming to school, then you lose money. I know a dept. that enables students to drop classes they are failing, up to the day before the final, so that those students will stay in school and pay for the class again. That’s just as detrimental as what Assaf is describing since companies won’t really know who deserved a degree and who didn’t. So those who passed legitemately aren’t given a chance to show they are better students and potential workers.

On topic, 9 hours a day is pointless. You aren’t learning anything after the first 2 or so. The diminishing returns on studying fall exponentially after that.