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There is a basic list of ten things I tell prospective students.

1.  If you want to be at a flagship directly out of a doctorate, you 
best do your degree work at a flagship. Schools tend to hire folks 
from comparables (or higher ) in the academic pecking order. check 
out several doctoral programs if at all possible.

2.  Getting a job at the school you did the degree work probably is 
not going to happen....until at least several years later.

3. Find a top-notch, well-respected person to work with and make sure 
that individual is not going to retire on you.

4. Once admitted, go to the high end conferences such as CRLA (and 
including AERA) and build relationships with individuals from your 
academic generation. You will work with them for your academic life. 
The relationships will likely be stronger than with anyone at your 
employing school.

5. If you want to go up the ladder remember that presentation should 
lead to publication.

6.Introduce yourself to folks you hold in esteem at the conferences, 
etc. They don't bite.

7. Think of the doctoral courses as merit badges, you are already 
good at earning merit badges.

8. The big term paper is a different story.  Make sure your courses 
and your completed assignments help to build a foundation for the 
dissertation.  Be sure you love the topic.  Be sure the topic is 
truly cutting edge.  You want to do "new research."

9. As my master's adviser told me...in a traditional program...at 
first you will be blown away by the colleagues in the classes you 
take as they will seem to know so much more and have so much more 
sophistication.  You can handle the work, and in short order you will 
discover that you have as much to offer as any other doc student.

10.  Do not believe anything I say to you.

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