A recent national report claims graduate students are overworked and sometimes taken advantage of by their professors as they struggle to get a masters or doctoral degree. John Mayfield is associate dean of I.S.U.’s graduate college and says while every grad student has to do research, some benefit by taking part in ongoing work in their department. Most people who go for just a Masters degree are hoping to enhance their job prospects, so even if they work as one part of a big research project, it’s an important factor in their learning. Whatever research project is chosen is part of the professor’s major program, but the student takes part for their own benefit — and he explains that most research is too expensive to make up a whole project just for one student. It’s a lot of work to advance beyond the bachelor’s degree, and Mayfield says while it’s an investment by the student, it also enriches both the student and the college in which they study. He says graduate students are “laborers within the system,” though he says even more than their work on projects, the hardest thing they do is thinking up and planning how to do some original research project to earn that degree. Grad students are often seen working on campus, as lab assistants and teaching big lecture classes, but Mayfield says they’re not being taken advantage of — even though he says they should be paid more for the research or teaching work they do. Mayfield says most stories you see about some kind of research program will involve the work of graduate students, and that’s certainly true of the research done at I.S.U.
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