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Comparison - mechanics research in Europe and in America

Can anyone shed some light on the differences in terms of mechanics research here in the US and in Europe? Is it true that larger scale research is done here in the US there's more funding opportunities here?  How do you compare the two? What about difference in terms of research focus and topics?

Also, why is that so much research funding in the Europe reserved for the locals only? For example there's hardly any (full) funding for international students to do research in the UK and many other countries in Europe. When it comes to research, shouldn't funding be provided if one qualifies to perform the research? Wouldn't this impeded research? Please note that I am not trying criticize but I am trying to understand the rationale behind this.  

Discussion is welcomed.


Mahdi Kazemzadeh's picture

Hi Keng;

That is a very interesting and I guess popular question. Your first point, which you are asking about research focus in the US comparing with Europe, is hard to answer. We obviously can discuss this if we narrow it down; however I believe in some European countries like UK and Germany there is quite a bit of focus in satisfying industry (i.e. Academic research lies within the interest of research funders which is industry). This does not mean that there is no basic science & theory work but this would be usually funded by other research institutes rather than University herself. Maybe you could say university transfer the fund from industry to its local research projects. There is lot of factors that comes to play when you discuss funding your own research which is your second question. If you want to pursue a research degree in the UK, there are two clear options. You propose your idea and find an academic who may like to supervise you then you have to explore the possibilities of grants to fund your research costs then it comes your own tuition fees as an international student so you would rather apply for a scholarship or choose 2nd option. That would be you wait and look for a fully funded research to comes up (in the line of your interest)! well this might take some time and doesnt happen always but it works! 

The extremely large number of Universities and research institutes in US compared with Europe obviously leaves you with more opportunitis; however I would like to see what reaserchers from US thinks about this as they will certainly have more clear ideas to share with us!       

Hi Mahdi

Thank you for your reply. 

I agree with you that great research is still being performed in Europe. You are right that it is hard to compare if we don't narrow the point down.  As I have been out of school for a very long time, perhaps you can provide a specific example from your research area.

This question has been brought up so many times especially by those in Asia who are thinking of studying abroad.  I was in the UK from 1996 till 1999.  Since I left, there's been hardly any change at all in terms of policy towards funding international students - scholarships aside (too small a number to make any significance), the main form of funding for international students are in the form of Overseas Research Scholarship (ORS), which pays the difference between and international and local student, but this doesn't cover any living expenses.  Also, I do not know if the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and similar bodies in Europe have made any significant changes to attract foreign talent.  There may be certain opportunities arising in recent years for students from China and India, but the number still pales in comparison with what's being offered here in the US.

There are certainly many factors involved when it comes to destination for education.  This includes school reputation, cost of living, area of research, as well as other non-academic related issues such as ability to obtain visa clearance (due to heightened security since 9/11), language requirements, as well as job prospects after graduation.  However, I think cost would be the main concern for many students who are thinking of studying abroad.  

To give a good example, in recent years, Singapore has taken significant effort to attract foreign talent - generous funding are provided by universities, government and private sectors to perform research in key areas such as nanotechnology and biological science, many of which will benefit the country in the long-term.  It appears that the number of foreign research students in Singapore has been increasing in recent years.  Many of these students are eventually employed in their industries and research laboratories.  Researchers who graduated from other countries also flock to Singapore.  Given the results, one has to admit that their policy does indeed pay off.

There's many points to talk about but I have to make my discussion here short.  Let's continue if interested.  And let's expand the discussion to other countries and not just be specific to the US and Europe.

Thanks again for the reply.

 Dear Keng-Wit

I wanted to comment on your 2nd paragraph.

I am an academic in the UK and find it frustrating that it is so difficult to obtain funding for overseas PhD students. You are correct in saying that ORS awards are about the only funding route available but (1) they do not cover any of the maintenance costs or indeed all of the fees and, more dramiatcally, (2) the Higher Education Funding Council has just decided to abolish them! You can read a comment in the Times Higher paper here

One way to get round this when seeking funding from EPSRC (the UK government funding body for engineering and the physical sciences) is to request funding for a research assistant rather than a PhD studentship. The latter can be advertised as a normal job and if an overseas candidate fits the bill can be employed (providing a work permit can be obtained, which involves stating that no UK candidate was suitable). Then the research assistant can register for a PhD (and will then have to find the fees of course). 

Other options for funding PhD students are usually specific awards from Universities (usually a reduction in the fees paraded as a Bursary or suchlike). We have a Doctoral Fellowship Scheme at Durham which covers everything even if you are an overseas student, but they are v. competitive.

Thanks for this thread.



Mahdi Kazemzadeh's picture

Dear Charles

Just read about this in your post, what is happening to ORS rewards will
significantly influence the number of young overseas researchers in the UK top
universities; I guess you would agree. It is actually at the opposite side of improving higher education
and funding research projects. I suppose that will make it difficult with other
available scholarships as if the number of applicant will go up by closing down the ORS awards. That was a
surprise, anyway thanks for letting us know about that. The other
two ways that you have proposed around this are very practical and helpful. Hope you will post more on this and the various approches to fund research. Thanks.


Dear Dr. Augarde

Thank you for your feedback.  I am dissapointed to hear that the Higher Education Funding Council has decided to abolish the ORS completely. My friends and I have always encouraged our friends and relatives to apply to the US for graduate schools because of the higher chances of obtaining full funding, as well the better prospect of finding a job in the US upon graduation (which is also an important factor). I think the abolishment is not going to make things any better if the UK has good intentions of attracting foreign students.  The part that is unattractive is the need to have fragmented sources of funding instead of a complete package (tuition waver, stipend and health insurance).  Again, the number of scholarships are too small.  I will be interested to know whether the idea of work permits for graduate school can actually work.  Have institutions in the UK started seeking funding from the EPSRC for "research assistants"?  I am assuming that a work permit will only complicate matters as it involves the labor agency - what do you think?  

Again, thank you for replying.


I found this interesting study published in 2006 titled Comparative Study on Policies towards Foreign Graduates: Study on Admission and Retention Policies towards Foreign Students in Industrialised Countries


Mahdi Kazemzadeh's picture

Hi Keng;

This study on admission policies towards international students was very good, I usually review these sort of work specially if they have studied various policies and I found this work very professional, detailed and helpful. Thanks for that.


I am already in singapore, most of researchers are very well funded and labs are very equipped specially in the field of nanobiotechnology.  system flexibility is also very good. the main anxiety may be the reputation. i think they do their best in research but They don't know what others think of them.

Hi Roozbeh,

Who's having the anxiety? The students or the professors? You should just focus on doing good research and not worry about what others are thinking.  If your work is good, it will be read by many.

Since the number of papers is very much. historical names is being used as a filter for middle class works by many people.

Temesgen Markos's picture

I can not speak about the general issue of mechanics research in Europe but let me talk about how graduate students in Engineering are funded in most of continental Europe. The UK can be different.

In most universities in continental Europe, PhD positions are announced as vacancy announcements and there is not as such a fixed entry time for students as in the US or Canada. PhD students are recuruited when research slots become available almost any time of the year. These positions are paid. In the Netherlands, for example, PhD students are legally employees of the university and get any employee benefit just like faculty and supporting staff. In addition there is no formal course work for PhD students in almost all of continental Europe and so there is no tuition fee. Entering PhD candidates get themselves familiar with the research topic and related subjects by reading on their own (in consultation with the supervisor) and attending seminar, national schools etc. Mostly they are hired for a trial period of a year or so and after the evaluation at the end of the trial period they sign a contract for the rest of the PhD duration. Mind you there can also be other sources of funding such as funding from international organizations, from students own country or some other means. But what I described about is the dominant form. Hopefully this gives some idea about student funding in there.

Hi Temesgen,

 Thank you for your insight - I was not aware of the situation in Netherlands. It is interesting to note that graduate students are treated like staff, with similar benefits.  In the UK, there's no course work requirement but some of the Phd students go through the MS program while in their PhD program.  In the US, coursework is a requirement.  I initially find the coursework component uncomfortable, but I think it is an essential component - provided that teaching is good and with a careful selection of courses, I find formal training makes learning the fundamentals clearer and more efficient, and provides preparation for research.  It is also useful when one enters the industry, the breadth that one gains from coursework is important when doing work not directly related your research.

Dear Keng-Wit Lim,

Summary: Let them just audit it.


I spent quite some time in a US school where course-work was necessary for PhD (18 for MS and 24 for PhD; I did 32 hours there.) Now, I am about to (or stretching my hopes to) finish a PhD in Pune University in India, a university where there is neither a coursework requirement nor funding for doing PhD in its engineering faculty.

It is true that I, indeed, had to a teach myself a lot of new stuff during my current PhD. For instance, FEM. It is true that I, indeed, was taught a lot of absolutely useless stuff (and was evaluated with even good grades on that at some exceptional times) at the American university.

Here are my two cents after having gone through experiences of both kinds.

I appreciate your point about formal training being more efficient and giving one a broader perspective ("work not directly related to your research"). Yes, that's true, absolutely.

But I am not at all sure whether formal training will necessarily make fundamentals clearer. Depends on who is doing the teaching, what, and how, among other things---e.g., to what kind of student.

I also am not sure if the purpose of "preparation for reseach" is better served by the usual "learn-by-rote-and-cram-for-grades" kind of atmosphere which typically pervades university class-rooms, including those at the best-ranked US universities (the division of 20% exam and 80% projects still notwithstanding). (If not sure, ask students after a couple of beers. They will admit that person XYZ knew the stuff better, but person ABC scored better grades.... It happens all the time. And, there is more than just an element of truth in such evaluations, too... None is too surprised about it. ... Not even those who later on become professors themselves.)

I think the purpose of preparation for research is better served niether by course-work nor by self-study alone, but better by seminars, special schools and workshops, informal discussions, etc. That is, if the said seminars and workshops are conducted by several experts, wherein each expert delievers the lecture with more care than what is typically exercised for a typical conference presentation (where the stress often lies on marketing one's stuff---not a bad thing by itself, but also not ideally suited as a good "preparation for research." A conference presentation is jut not as comprehensive, and does not touch on fundamentals, as a rule, though there can be exceptions.)

Even as to that formal course-work which could be efficient, I think, the right approach at the PhD level would be to let the PhD students only audit the course-work. They may take the course-work alongwith MTech/ME/MS (even BTech/BE/BS) students. But the PhD students do need to be a bit more relaxed, a bit more questioning of the established ways of thinking and doing things, than what the typical American university atmosphere permits them to do. (The great point about American schools is not freedom of research ideas but availability of great funding.) Now, a relaxed and fresh thinking simply cannot be had unless the pressure to score good grades were not to be lifted off the head of the PhD student.

The current American system does have this major flaw, namely, that despite being practised in a country that had been a torch-bearer of freedom and individual liberties, today, in academia, it actually encourages conformism in very subtle ways and at very deep levels. ... I, for instance, cannot at all imagine my current PhD work standing a chance to be even permitted or supervised, let alone funded, in any single state in today's United States of America (including in California).

Sorry for the long comment. But it couldn't have been shorter. Except for crying out a refrain on the lines of: "Hey! Teacher! Leave the kids alone..." The trouble, then, would have been that it would have been an imprecise, even an unintelligle way of putting things. (Though, such a thing could have been emotionally gratifying to some---perhaps many---in the USA. But not to me.)

... Yes, I do sign off, here!! "No more trouble!" (Yet another American song that I had heard and had to bear with as being an expression of "music" from the Bombay-based crowd at COEP :) )

Hi Ajit,

Thank you for your reply.  I did not do a Ph.D. so my experience is based on my M.S. In research, it is true that one has to learn many things on his/her own.  But taking courses is just another means of learning.  I personally find learning by oneself is extremely boring and therefore I enjoy the interaction with professors and students.  If a student is serious about learning, he or she would not have the notion of studying for the sole purpose of a grade or cramming at the last minute anyway. I am sure that a serious student would supplement lectures with his or her own reading as well.

I think that the "learn-by-rote-and-cram-for-grades" method you described only works up to a certain level and on certain subjects.  There are subjects where such an approach to learning the subject just doesn't work.  I do not believe that one can apply such an approach to studying courses such as differential geometry, or functional analysis.  Why not take a course in which you have no formal background? I am quite certain that one will have plenty to learn. For example, if you already know engineering elasticity, why not take a course in mathematical elasticity in the context of manifolds? Or perhaps a course in real and complex analysis?  Linear FEM may be okay, but nonlinear FEM can be extremely difficult.  And with the current research direction moving towards micro and nano structures, I think engineers who want to get into this kind of research will need some formal background in the sciences such as physics and chemistry. 

It is true that in some cases, courses can turn out to be poor, but one can always get feedback from previous students on the quality of the course before signing up.  Also, in the US, one can opt to drop a class if he or she is unsatisfied.  Incidentally, there are professors who require the student auditing his or her course to actually take the exams portion. I personally find some pressure from exams beneficial to learning. 

I find seminars useful if one has a relevant background. Otherwise, it is probably difficult to follow the presentation. I think the main point of seminars is to give an idea on what's going on in a particular research domain.


Dear Keng-Wit,

A very long reply. 

(i) Course-work for PhD is no different than that for MS---which is bad. (The reason why PhD should not have graded course-work.)
(ii) Course-work, as is done in the US schools, mostly only indoctrinates---rather than producing true doctors of philosophy. Two sub-points:
(a) Some strong evidence towards the resultant narrowing of vision
(b) Example from mathematics. An illustration of the kind of cognitive chaos there is. Discussions with honest mathematicians serve to provide some clues (analysis---good or bad---is mine).
(iii) Other minor points
(iv) Good course-work: Two examples. (One comes from me!!)
(v) A question: Why do people who defend formal marks and ranks, (overlooking even very obvious limitations) usually are toppers themselves? What, precisely, could be the compensations in keeping such positions that I (always) seemed to have missed?


From whatever the post-master's (PhD degree) world that I've seen thus far, including my own experiences, and, including the experiences narrated by: a 4.0 pointer with a best graduating student award (at PhD, from an American university), another student who had topped from an IIT (in all branches) and who had followed it with a PhD at a top-5 US school in a highly competitive branch of engineering, yet another IIT topper who beat nominations from MIT etc. to win a fellowship, etc. etc.... Clubbing together all such experiences, I can assure you the following:

In the US, as far as course-work goes, there really is no difference between that for masters' and doctorates' course-work.

And *that*, incidentally, is one of the ways to see that there *is* a serious flaw in the system there.

The American system is designed to promote conformism, right at the PhD level. Notwithstanding the essential difference of the degree from all the preceding ones.

Please note, I have nothing against course-work per say.

But I do find that in the US, in the PhD course-work, there is this mad rush to cover the "necessary" points but not think about their broader connections, to do "math" (and get it practised and re-practised from the students) but not let them think about its physical meaning, to keep students engaged in course-work till third year in the PhD (sometimes into the fifth year as well, as routinely happens in some reputed schools, esp. in biological sciences) and produce PhDs that are heavily indoctrinated...

I will give examples in support of each.

For instance, this bad state of affairs does percolate "up" and shows up in the course-slides, too. One only needs (open) eyes to see it. Just have a look at course organizations (including the blatant loss of hierarchy in the coverage of topics) etc. For instance, inspect the typical courses on FEM... Examples of good course-work are extremely rare---including from those in the USA. Depsite all the money they pour in it.

Another evidence. I routinely have run into the sort of physicists whose PhD graduates have gone to, e.g., Princeton, *immediately* after their PhD graduation from Pune city, in one of the specializations of Physics. Now, these PhD supervisors (i.e. professors) themselves were nutty enough to tell me on my face (across the table) that they could not informally review my simple paper on wave-particle duality because they didn't know QM well enough. Another piece of evidence. I then contacted an oldie (a professor) from Princeton itself, by email. He returned no reply. If these are not examples of entrenched bias produced not necessarily by personal antagonism, perhaps only due to one's own deep indoctrination, what other kind of evidence would you need to see that course-work doesn't always open up one's eyes but rather works to shut them down?

(If you wish to still maintain your point that *somehow*, in the USA, things *are* different, I have nothing more to say---to you.)

Another evidence. Ask any self-respecting CalTech graduate and he will tell you how Feynman's book (on QED, meant for the layman) *really* opened up his eyes some 10 years into his profession after a PhD etc. (etc. etc.) ... Huh? What's that now? Didn't this guy do that famous American PhD course-work? If so, what precisely did they did teach him if this now is his reaction? Why did it take a Feynman to *really* explain physics to them, if their course-work was so good---i.e. so free of learn-by-rote-and-cram-for-grade methodology.

You might be thinking I am taking examples only from physics, so, in engineering, the situation must be better. Unfortunately, not so. (Bad epistemology does not discriminate departments---just as good epistemology won't.)

And neither is your point about cramming being ineffective for advanced courses quite on the target, if I go by my experience... Here is some indication.... I, actually, had studied some topology on my own, and had gone and asked a guy who was doing a PhD in maths. (He had been scoring straight A's for quite some time). He asked me to identify the purpose why I wanted to do the course-work. I did. He listened patiently for something like a couple of hours, asking me questions in between, and then, at the end of it all, he asked me to leave the course-work alone. He clarified: You already know it better than what they will teach you in the class-room. (This is honest.) I thought he was kidding. But he clarified further: Anything in modern mathematics is damn easy, it's the easiest thing in the universe, he said. You can just cram and get great grades; you don't have to understand anything. You just have to have "logic", he said. (By that, he meant: abstract manipulative skills using deductive processes alone.) He compared such maths to programming. Then, he added something. He had authentic respect for what he called "classical mathematics." Not differentiable manifolds. Or group theory. Etc. Another guy, an IQ wise great guy who had left PhD in mathematics half-way, had also told me something similar. I was giving interview to him, and came to tell him about my eddy current NDT experience, and how I was so comfortable with the EM fields. He then spoke a bit about his own PhD exeperience, his straight As, and then assured me that I could easily cake-walk the course-work in modern mathematics at MIT, Princton, Paris, or Berkeley. But, he couldn't truly respect me unless, he added, I could solve *all* the chapter-end problems in Jackson on my own. (It doesn't matter to me, but to give a flavor of this guy to you, this PhD drop-out has had research collaboration with, and appreciation from, a Fields Medal winner.)

It was only later on that I understood why these obviously honest mathematicians were saying what they did. The reason is this. There is something known as completeness of theory. It is frighteningly absent in modern mathematics. What happens is this. Someone cooks up an abstract scheme that (only) faintly suggests (but does not directly describe) a physical phenomenon of some interest to someone. There can be, say, 5 ways to get down to concrete reality from the certain higher level abstract truth or theory that he is into. The mathematician will pursue only two of them, but leave them a good five-ten steps away from the tie to the concrete reality (lest it all became plain and obvious to everyone---which he is dreadfully afraid of). Someone else closer to him on the Erdos number then comes along and suggests another formal way of organizing what, essentially, is the same theory. Another bunch of fifty papers (with or without collaboration). Another 7 alternatives any of which could have gotten a tie to the concrete reality. But only 3 pursued and left dangling. By now, you have five dangling threads with some deductive work behind it and seven abstract ways left completely unpursued in that abstract jungle of sorts.

Now, as soon as someone comes with a new physical finding (whether theoretically or otherwise), all these guys now get together and gloat---hey, hey, hey, they say, it all had already done by us before. What they mean is not a completed piece of work but those merely suggestive outlines, left half-dangling and half-pursued. But since none else outside their narrow speciality understands their special instance of obscurantism, people simply begin to bow them respectfully. Slowly, the word spreads to the engineering schools that there is something meaningful in that maths. But, actually, there is nothing.

For instance, the entire theory of differentiable manifolds, with or without catestrophe theoretic insights thrown in for a good measure, would not be able to state, within its own theoretical framework (i.e. without rigorously leaving its own framework) the idea that a fracture leads to creation of two bodies out of one. Nor would it be able to add, in any significantly more meaningful way, any more physical insight than what Griffith's pioneering physical insights had led to---namely, that energetics is to be associated with the surfaces just as well as with the mechanical strains *inside* the volume of the body.

The point to realize here is that nothing in the above paragraph would ever be discussed in a single course from this mathematician, period. Yet, American universities would happily offer courses on the above kind of semi-floating formalisms, cook up some examinations on those topics, give some deductive pleasure to some student with IQ, award great grades to him, calculate his wonderful grade point averages, and give him a sort of respectability, so that what he then talks in the society at large serves to give respectability to an otherwise empty kind of intellectualization.

Note, "interaction" with faculty is invovled. So is intellectual effort. But cognition? ... Nah...

What do you do w.r.t. that? (Before that, do you see the point I make above or not?)

What I said above about mathematics, unfortunately, also remains true for a lot of course-work in other areas too.

Out of more than 100 course descriptions on FEM that I have come across on the Internet, from various universities the world over, most of them from the USA, I did not find even five that had adequately covered all the aspects that need to be covered, in an adequately right order. What use is such course-work except gaining prestige in the eyes of the US research/industry community?

Regarding your other minor points.

Yeah. One could drop courses at IIT Madras too, more than twenty years back. These days, you can do that even at COEP. So, what's the big deal with the US schools about this?

I never do like pressure in the context of understanding. ... You probably do not mean pressure, but that purposeful kind of tension. (Leave this aspect of purpose, and the tension becomes anti-understanding, anti-life.) So, unqualified academic pressures are, in an unqualified way, counterproductive, full-stop. But yes, well-designed examinations can also serve as good (i) goal-posts (ii) check-points and (iii) clarification points, and, (iv) theoretical "reinforcement" points. I don't mind having examinations even in purely audited courses, so long as they were well designed. And not awarded with grades (for PhD students), even if they were corrected by the teacher.

Apart from seminars, I also did mention: Special schools and workshops, interaction, etc. Without these, seminars, by themselves could be bad.

I also had mentioned the kind of work where several experts come together in a systematic way, with good preparation beforehand. As an apparently good example of this kind of course-work, pl. see an MIT OCW course here:

I also have grown confident (now) that my own forthcoming course on FEM will be good. You already know about it. (Thanks!)

Both courses are rather at UG senior/intro. PG level. That does tell you something, doesn't it?

It, unfortunately, is so rare to find good course-work specifically created for and at the PhD level.

And, that precisely is yet another evidence in support of what I say. Course-work at the PhD level is basically an unfitting idea. It mostly kills initiative and encourages conformity. Especially the PhD programs in the American schools. Some good points in this regard were made by someone with a name like Lee Smolin (I guess) sometime back. (Though I do not agree with all aspects of his specific program or implementation at the Perimeter or so Institute. But he did state a few good points, abstractly.)

BTW, this is a digression, but seems at least partly relevant. Why is it that toppers always have this psychological block in admitting that grades and courses *can* have some majorly misleading or fallacious (if not outright bad) aspects to them?

I mean, is the possession of good ranks and grades all that well compensating? Why, some days back, I read Zhigang going something like, heck, ranks are good if *you* have them... Well, I sure seem to have been an exception all my life... I topped every one of examinations in every one of subjects in every one of the five different schools that I happened to have attended in the first nine years of my life. (Well, more or less. May be, one or two subjects might have gone to someone else by one or two minor marks in a minor unit test or so, though I offhand don't remember any---I certainly topped the yearly aggregate among all divisions at the school.) Honestly, even then, I had not cared a hoot for examinations, marks or ranks. (It was not at all unusual or atypical for my family to have to search the house over for my "missing" textbook, right on the morning of my examination, so that I could at least read for half hour before examination. ... I would have forgotten about it---not because I was that forgetful in general, but simply because I didn't care at all for examinations. Either they were stupid so one would be engaged in a serious way in a meaningless task of putting up too easy answers, or they would be ill-designed in which case one would be busy mind-reading the examiner. The course-work was always so poor as compared to the reference material.) Point is not whether I had no competition in those schools or whether I, in fact, was a "genius" or not. The most important point here is, marks and ranks really didn't matter to me even then. ...But, yes. With the rest each and every topper (other than me, that is) that I have later on run into in my life, I, as a rule, have had to talk about this obvious lack of sense in the examinations, grades, and the obviousl shortcomings of the formal course-work till I fall blue, and only then do they begin to see what I *really* have to say. IIT Madras' S.S. Bhattacharyya was one notable early exception of a topper, and so have been two-three other people. But I talk here of the general rule concerning toppers---not an exception here and there. There seems to be this great psychological block, as it were, among toppers towards admitting that despite them being a topper, someone else in their class could have been actually more worthy of the recognition that went their way, or something in the formal system that so well uplifted them might actually be carrying a minor or a major flaw or two, even if it be not very directly visible.... The reason I mention this is that, unfailingly, the only people who have ever debated short-comings of course-works and examinations with me have invariably been precisely those people who were toppers themselves. Not others...

Since you here defend the formal course-work (together with examinations) this much, could one have some insights in this curious phenomenon? I wonder about that here... Over to you.

(And, by now, I care not for the size of the posts. Though, I regret a bit about my diversions. I could post it all in another thread and link it here, if anyone so wants. Pl. let me know anytime, and I will shift the material---I do not like compromising a thread's own integrity.)

Hi Ajit,

Thank you for sharing your experiences here.  I don't consider myself brilliant - I find everything difficult and so the courses helped me in several aspects. Even now, I still struggle to understand the same subjects as I try to delve into the more advanced material, but since I am already out of school, I have nobody to ask when I do not understand certain things. Since you already know a lot when you started school, the formal background may not be important for you. 

Incidentally, I did not study in any of the big schools you mentioned. 

Keep posting - your opinions are welcomed.


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