· The differences between careers in specific subfields (e.g., astrophysics, plasma physics, particle physics). Which are the 'successful' fields of research? Which offer the best job opportunities?
· The extent to which one should narrowly specialize within a particular subfield. For some positions (e.g., post-doctoral positions) and fields, specialization is considered an asset. For others (e.g., industry positions) it is considered a liability.
· Alternative areas of study beyond pure science (students need to be assured that alternative areas are worthy).
· Maturity as an asset in graduate school. Although the "traditional" path is to enter graduate school directly from a bachelor's degree program, a year or two of experience allows the student to mature.
· The political nature of science. Graduate school is more than classes. It is: choosing an adviser, defining a thesis project, giving seminars on your subject, networking, and many more activities which require "people skills." Students need to understand in detail how advisers have influence over a student's future.
· The importance of research: Students should know that they will be evaluated in terms of their research productivity as a graduate student and as a postdoctorate.
· Developing a successful grant may take as much effort as completing a master's thesis.
· The importance of student funding as a criterion for judging the quality level of a program.
· The importance of the difference between state universities and private universities in regard to their treatment of foreign students.
· Alternatives to an American PhD that can be pursued abroad. For example, in the British system, a graduate degree requires only a thesis (no classwork) and has a typical time-to-degree of 3 years.
· The importance of working in a field before making the decision to enter that field. For example, bright young college students who become technicians in an area learn a great deal about professional jobs in that area as well as inside information on how the field operates.
· The importance of the university one attends and the standing of one's faculty adviser (the "prestige factor") if one plans to go into academia or research.
· The difficulty of obtaining and retaining tenured faculty positions.
· The typical career structure in science and the range of differences, versus stereotypes portrayed in the media. Some jobs are "high-paying and wonderful"; others are "slave labor."