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Author Topic: Having the time of my life in grad school  (Read 4749 times)
frogfactory
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« Reply #15 on: November 25, 2012, 10:40:23 AM »

My apologies if you clicked in to find a "but..." because, well, uh, there isn't one.

I am a first year phD student, and in many ways I have been very fortunate so far. I am in a department that is exceptionally supportive of what I want to do, while challenging me so that I can do better what I want to do. I am surrounded by brilliant colleagues with impeccable work ethics, who are giving me a real run for my money and making me work harder and better. I am exposed to exhilarating new ideas, methodologies, and theoretical orientations. I am confronting my major weaknesses (conveying sophisticated ideas clearly and concisely; gaps in my knowledge) directly, as I know that profs in the department are keen to help and won't think lowly of me. I don't know what the job market holds for me, but I am very excited about my project. I get paid to think about some pretty wacky but seriously exciting stuff, with implications to make the world a tad better. 

So I am just going to come out and say it. Knock on wood but I am having the time of my life. I know what the job market probably doesn't hold for me, which makes grad school an even more awesomer time.

That's pretty much all. Just thought I would throw it out there to cheer things up a bit on this forum.

This is not the opposite of, but far from what I'm feeling in my first year. I really enjoyed my MA, but now that I'm in the PhD program I have perpetual doubts if this is the right path for me. I also am more stressed out than ever. I already go to bed and wake up thinking about all the stuff I have to do this semester, and I'm not even teaching yet. I'm starting to think this lifestyle is not for me. I felt much healthier mentally when I worked in a job that I would just leave at 6pm and not need to think about at night or on the weekends. I am actually debating whether or not to even finish my first year.
I enjoy learning, but I don't know if I made the right decision. Part of me thinks I should have just taken the MA and run.

Reading your post confirms that I'm not feeling the exhilaration others are feeling. Thanks for the window on how one is "supposed" to feel at this point.

Take this with a pinch of salt, since I left four years into my PhD, but noisemeter's experience is not quite usual. 

On the other hand, if you're taking the PhD just for the sake of learning, rather than for the career options it opens up for you, and it's causing your mental health to suffer, it might be time to reexamine your reasons for being there.

Oh, and, if you do leave, I'd advise not doing what I did and quitting without a job lined up.  It worked out for me okay, but it could have been very bad indeed.
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llanfair
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« Reply #16 on: November 25, 2012, 2:01:13 PM »

NoiseMeter, I'm glad you're feeling this - I did, too.  I was busy, but I was so happy - especially since it was my second career I was starting with the PhD, and I'd been bored at work for too long.  Intellectually, I felt as though someone had rescued me from a stagnant pond and flung me into white water, and oh, it was exciting!

Even the diss-writing was rewarding - I need to get that feeling back for journal articles.  Thanks for your post.
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westcoastgirl
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« Reply #17 on: November 25, 2012, 9:55:42 PM »

My husband's experience was like many of you describe. He loved every second of graduate school, even his last year when he was a stay-at-home-dad and finishing his dissertation. He doesn't stress out easily.

I liked coursework just fine--I do well with structure. I do horribly without it and I'm still in shock that I pulled this thing through. Now I lack that structure in my "research", so it doesn't get any better on the other side (at least for me). Overall, though, I don't have fond memories of graduate school. There was always way too much on my plate to enjoy it and as a result, many things were sacrificed in the process.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2012, 9:56:40 PM by westcoastgirl » Logged

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lohai0
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« Reply #18 on: November 25, 2012, 9:59:14 PM »

I got caught in the crossfire of circumstances beyond my control. Still, in a parallel universe, I loved grad school. I will love being done with grad school even more.
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oldfullprof
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« Reply #19 on: November 25, 2012, 10:36:21 PM »

I always use grad school as an excuse to return to drinking.
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westcoastgirl
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« Reply #20 on: November 25, 2012, 10:54:30 PM »

I always use grad school as an excuse to return to drinking.

I still haven't gotten the distance from grad school as to not to make this an excuse :)
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juillet
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« Reply #21 on: November 26, 2012, 11:18:22 AM »

I went through a wave - my two years of graduate school were wonderful, and then my third and fourth years I was miserable and hated it.  I started feeling better at the beginning of this year (my fifth), and now I kind of like graduate school again.  Definitely ready to be finished, but it's still a nice place.  I have so much flexibility in my time and what I decide to work on, especially since I have external funding, and I have the opportunity to read and think about things that are interesting to me.  Plus I have a great advisor and wonderful, caring professors who are really invested in my success and the success of all of the students in my department.  And because my department is interdisciplinary, we're not all competing for the same jobs.  Even the other doc student in my lab wants something slightly different than what I do, so we forward each other listings and it's a very collaborative department.
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sugaree
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« Reply #22 on: November 26, 2012, 12:20:03 PM »

Everything has its ups and downs, but I too loved grad school. Indeed, I recall during even the most stressful times (studying for comps, writing the dissertation, etc.) when I was buried with papers, citations, and insecurities I knew I would rather be doing nothing else.

Guess I chose the right profession (for me anyway), warts and all.
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where's the bourbon?
dr_prephd
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« Reply #23 on: November 26, 2012, 7:09:43 PM »


And because my department is interdisciplinary, we're not all competing for the same jobs.  Even the other doc student in my lab wants something slightly different than what I do, so we forward each other listings and it's a very collaborative department.

This has been my experience in both of my grad. programs as well. It's nice when you can be supportive rather than cut-throat.
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isingchickennugget
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« Reply #24 on: November 26, 2012, 7:51:50 PM »

well I am glad to hear so many also enjoyed grad school. Whether in real life or online, I find that I hear about miserable grad students so often that I often wonder if I missed a memo if I am enjoying it.

I meant for "more awesomer" to be a joke. You know, like Barney Stinson's "I gots to know."
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lirael
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« Reply #25 on: November 27, 2012, 2:16:01 PM »

I enjoy it too.  It isn't perfect - I am being reminded how much more I like doing research than trying to make the grade in classes, and am looking forward to when the latter is minimized or gone.  And the low-income part is a problem, as I'm the primary breadwinner for someone else as well as myself.  But I enjoy what I'm doing, I enjoy the environment, I enjoy the flexible schedule.  Before the PhD I did an MS while working full-time, and I have much more free time now.  I'm working hard on building my CV in a way that will position me well in the job hunt afterward (and I'm in a field with a decent non-academic job market for PhDs anyway, though I'd prefer academia).

A lot of my friends have recently had bad times in their graduate programs and it's slightly frustrating because they do the "I had a bad experience so nobody should go" thing.
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emich2722
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« Reply #26 on: November 28, 2012, 3:13:43 PM »

My apologies if you clicked in to find a "but..." because, well, uh, there isn't one.

I am a first year phD student, and in many ways I have been very fortunate so far. I am in a department that is exceptionally supportive of what I want to do, while challenging me so that I can do better what I want to do. I am surrounded by brilliant colleagues with impeccable work ethics, who are giving me a real run for my money and making me work harder and better. I am exposed to exhilarating new ideas, methodologies, and theoretical orientations. I am confronting my major weaknesses (conveying sophisticated ideas clearly and concisely; gaps in my knowledge) directly, as I know that profs in the department are keen to help and won't think lowly of me. I don't know what the job market holds for me, but I am very excited about my project. I get paid to think about some pretty wacky but seriously exciting stuff, with implications to make the world a tad better. 

So I am just going to come out and say it. Knock on wood but I am having the time of my life. I know what the job market probably doesn't hold for me, which makes grad school an even more awesomer time.

That's pretty much all. Just thought I would throw it out there to cheer things up a bit on this forum.

Ah, this was lovely to read. It's made me remember how excited I was to move across the country and start a new life as a grad student. I instantly made friends and was TAing from my first semester onwards so I felt very involved in the grad student community. I met some amazing people and had some great experiences. Thanks for the flashback!

In my experience, the students who are depressed or miserable usually became so over time as the result of issues like having no real income, being worried about the job market, having a deadbeat committee or a difficult administration to deal with, and so on. Grad school is hard work for even the most eager students, and I saw people's enthusiasm and energy wane as time went on. For me, grad school was like college. I loved it, but no way would I ever go back. I'm happier where I am now, and all of the annoying parts of grad school that started to wear me down have now gone away.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2012, 3:16:24 PM by emich2722 » Logged
westcoastgirl
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« Reply #27 on: November 29, 2012, 10:48:22 AM »


And because my department is interdisciplinary, we're not all competing for the same jobs.  Even the other doc student in my lab wants something slightly different than what I do, so we forward each other listings and it's a very collaborative department.

This has been my experience in both of my grad. programs as well. It's nice when you can be supportive rather than cut-throat.

My friends and I are in all in direct competition with each other, but I'm being perfectly honest when I say it hasn't been a problem, at least with my close friends. We readily discuss where we got interviews, where we were rejected, etc. Then again, maybe they are just more open with me because I'm not really in the competition (because I don't apply to many places). I just finished a longish email, detailing our stats (my husband is in the same field) to a friend who had asked and who has been sharing.
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Quote from: cgfunmathguy
We're just cyborgs standing in the way of their dreams.
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