Moving on Up

As an adolescent I aspired to lasting fame, I craved factual certainty, and I thirsted for a meaningful vision of human life—so I became a scientist. This is like becoming an archbishop so you can meet girls. — M. Cartmill

Well, like any great accomplishment these days, it means nothing if you don’t broadcast it on the web for everyone to provide you with pithy compliments:

I have been accepted into the Social Psychology PhD program at Ohio State University.

Gosh, it feels good to get that off my chest. You can only get so much praise from your parents before you begin to wonder if they’re actually happy for you, or if they just want you out of the house.

This last Thursday, Ohio State paid for a plane flight for me to come out to their campus and tour the program, the college, and the city. And let me tell you, I was astounded.

The Ohio State University (literally, the word “the” is included in the title of the school; and it’s pronounced thee) has around 60,000 undergraduate students and around 10,000 graduates. So whereas I may have been a moderate sized fish in the small pond of Santa Clara, here I would be a sea slug turd in the middle of the Atlantic.

To accommodate for such a population, the campus itself is gargantuan, so large in fact, that it has five libraries (one with 15 floors), three exercise facilities (where the stationary bikes have built in touch screen televisions), its own ice rink, and a corn field (Ohio is in the Midwest).

The professor I would be mentoring under, Dr. Richard Petty (no, Dad, not the racecar driver), is internationally renowned in the field, and, even cooler, is just an awesome man. Very down to earth, kind, and, as you would expect, brilliant.

I saw his lab where I and his other graduate students (there were four of them) would conduct our experiments, and just to give you a comparison, when I did psychology research at Santa Clara, we would be lucky to get 70 participants in a study after 4-6 months. In Dr. Petty’s lab, they’ll have instances where they do 100 participants in a day.


The whole time there, the other grad students treated I and the other prospective students like royalty, inviting us over to their houses, taking us around Columbus, and even throwing a final farewell party for us. Where, as I have learned on prior occasions, vodka and fireball whiskey do not mix well.

Whiplashed by jetlag, I wasn’t in the best of moods when I returned to Portland (not to mention that the first of my connecting flights home I sat in the same row as an emotional infant, while on the second I sat next to an old woman who didn’t want to put the armrest down so she could touch my elbow).

Now that I’m home again, I’ll be waiting to see how much funding the school gives me. And enjoying the fruits of unemployment as long as I can.



Author: jdt

Jake writes weekly posts every Wednesday on the intersection of psychology and philosophy. To learn more about him, or to propose a topic you'd like him to cover, go to

Share This Post On