(Somewhat) educated thoughts on grad school


Image courtesy Phdcomics.com

Grad school is not always an easy ride.  In fact, it can sometimes be a soul-sucking experience.  But it can also be an incredibly fulfilling experience that leaves you waking up excited to head to the lab every morning (seriously!). Given my strong and somewhat contrasting views on grad school, I was very excited when my friend and colleague Atif Kukaswadia invited me to take part in a ‘blog roundtable’, he was organizing to allow graduate students to share their views on various aspects of the grad school experience. In my experience most students don’t really know what to expect from grad school, so anything that helps people understand the experience is probably a good thing.

Atif’s blog roundtable consisted of myself and a number of other graduate students responding to a list of common grad school-related questions, which he published throughout the month of November. This past Friday Atif reached the eighth and final post in the series, and in my opinion he’s created a phenomenal resource for anyone thinking about entering grad school, continuing with grad school, or even possibly quitting grad school (which, depending on the circumstances, may be a very good idea). Below are the topics that we all discussed, with links to the relevant post:

October 31st:

Why did you go to graduate school?

November 4th:

What are the things that are important when picking your adviser/PI?

What about your committee?

November 7th:

How have you/do you deal with criticism and rejection; be it from advisers, professors, peers or funding committees?

How did you deal with rejection when you were applying to schools?

November 11th:

Are there tips for fighting impostor syndrome?

November 14th:

What if things aren’t going so well? What advice do you have for those who might having a tough time – either juggling multiple commitments, losing interest or falling behind?

November 18th:

Is doing a Masters and PhD at the same school frowned upon? What about undergrad/Masters/PhD?

November 21st:

What has surprised you so far about the grad school experience? In which cases did it meet your expectations and when did it fail to do so? (i.e. How is graduate school life different to undergraduate life?)

November 25th:

What does it take to be a successful graduate student? Are there any last minute tips/advice/inspirational words you have for budding graduate students?

If you have even a passing interest in grad school, then take a few minutes and read through the posts that sound most relevant to you. The posts are broken down into easily-digestible chunks, so you can get through them all rather quickly.  And if you’ve already played the grad school game or have gone on to *gasp* supervise grad students, then please add your own two cents in the comments section.  And if you find anything in the series of use to you personally, then please leave a comment or a tweet to thank Atif for putting it all together.

Happy reading!

Travis

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