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Photo of original GradHacker team working away

Katy Meyers is a PhD student at Michigan State University in the Department of Anthropology. With Alex Galarza, she is one of the original creators and a co-editor of GradHacker. Follow her at on her blog and at @bonesdonotlie.

“Let’s not sugar coat this, grad school is tough”

In June 2011, that was the first sentence to the first blog post introducing GradHacker to the world. Three years later, I still think it’s a good introduction. Graduate students live tough lives. They aren’t quite undergraduates and aren't quite faculty. They are expected to ace all their courses, teach classes, get grants, attend conferences, publish or perish, and throughout all this write hundreds of pages on a unique topic that will revolutionize their field. Let’s not forget that some of us are married, are parents, are dealing with external family pressure, have health concerns, and have a life beyond the academy that we need to maintain.

In March 2011, a group of graduate students were involved in the Cultural Heritage Informatics Initiative at Michigan State University. It was decided that graduate students at the university could benefit from a one-day bootcamp that would revolve around learning about and discussing a variety of digital tools including Twitter, Gravatar, WordPress, Zotero, and more. By the end of the bootcamp, it was decided that tricks and tips for making graduate school easier through technology needed to be shared more widely. Beyond that, it was determined that an online community for graduate students to share their experiences, tell their stories, and learn from others was desperately needed. In June 2011, we launched GradHacker, and by November we were officially part of Inside Higher Ed.

Over the past three years, we’ve had amazing authors come and go, we’ve had fantastic discussions with readers, we’ve watched GradHacker evolve from a small group of grad students at Michigan State University to a global community. The blog has changed from a space for sharing digital tricks and insight from upper level students, to a serious space for sharing concerns and bringing to light major issues within higher education. We’re discussing big issues like perfectionism, the trauma of stressmental healthdealing with problematic committee members, and more. It has been interesting to watch the blog evolve and grow over the past three years. And yet our earliest posts remain poignant bringing us back to them over and over.

In the future, we will continue to discuss the tough issues of graduate school and host theme week discussions to get a variety of perspectives on important issues. The podcast will be coming back with interviews and discussions about current events and recent blog posts. GradHacker is going to be facing major changes in the next couple of years as some of the fundamental authors and editors graduate, but we don’t see GradHacker graduating anytime soon. As long as graduate school remains a challenge, GradHacker will be there—to help, to support, to share, and to provide a community for graduate students everywhere.  

What do you want to see in the future? What should we bring back (e.g. crossover weeks or more coverage of certain topics)? Share your thoughts and discuss our anniversary on Twitter using the hastag #GHAnniversary

[Image by Katy Meyers of the first GradHacker bootcamp.]