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In grad school the focus is primarily on coursework, research and funding. While the advice we receive on these topics from advisors and talks is necessary, it doesn’t help with the other side of grad school: the emotional and social. We are more than just students, and sometimes we can get caught up in the pressure and stress of getting our degree. Some of the most common problems suffered by grads are not getting research topics or forming their committees, but rather the day to day stresses and personal issues.
Stress in grad school has, sadly, become a point of pride for many students. We compare the hours of sleep lost in order to complete assignments, forgetting meals to grade papers, and how long it has been since our last real vacation. GradHacker writers are continually trying to find ways that we can deal with the high pressure, high stress lives that we lead. Many issues stem from the culture of grad school, where losing sleep and overworking are signs of prestige. Many writers have looked at ways to both acknowledge, and break the cycle to make grad school more enjoyable. In the end, aren’t we doing this because we want to pursue something we love and create an amazing life for ourselves?
Taking the Guilt Out of Grad School: Chris Stawski writes that “We are expected, by some unseen force, to always be working, always be reading, and always be writing”, and it is time to break the cycle. Our lives are defined by various deadlines and due dates, but its important to not feel guilty when you take time to enjoy life. By taking a weekend off, or giving yourself a break one night, you’ll be more refreshed and productive the next day.
Empowering Our Grad School Selves: Instead of grad school being another step towards our goals, it can often feel like we are restarting, being thrown to the bottom of the pile, our work amounting to nothing. Andrea Zellner argues that we need to recognize when we are being treated unfairly, and address the problems. She advises not acting like an undergrad, making your accomplishments known, and use body language that shows you are a professional. We cannot feel lesser simply because we are still students, and need to recognize how far we have already come.
Your Senior Year in Grad School: Amy Rubens believes that we need to take a step back from our research in order to truly enjoy the university we are a part of. She suggesting checking out the areas of campus you don’t normally explore, attend the university conferences and talks you don’t normally go to, get more involved in your department, consult the alumni services, and try to enjoy the local area. Since this is your last year, you should find ways to really soak up everything you can!
Be Nice to Yourself: In this post, Katy Meyers argues that as grad students we are often too hard on ourselves and don’t take the time to relax like we really deserving. In order to be nicer to ourselves she suggests taking more time off to rejuvenate oneself, not comparing ourselves to those in the ‘real world’ (because grad school is the real world), and saying ‘no’ to more. Grad school is hard enough, so we at least need to give ourselves a small break and take some time to appreciate all that we are accomplishing.