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A Blog from GradHacker and MATRIX: The Center for Humane Arts, Letters and Social Sciences Online

February 5, 2012 - 11:52pm
Graduate school entails taking a lot of criticism. Now, for the most part this is constructive, meant to build us into the colleagues our professors want us to be. However, it sometimes feels like we are constantly under negative scrutiny, our advisors nitpicking our every action and tearing us apart for their own pleasure. Sometimes when you take leaps you fail miserably, often in front of your peers. Failure is difficult to deal with, especially when the risks can be high, such as fighting for a fellowship or grant money. Failure is also fairly common in grad school. With thousands of grad students in your discipline and economic depression leading to reduced funding, failure is something you need to learn to deal with.
February 2, 2012 - 9:28pm
Valentine’s Day is fast-approaching, and for many singletons out there, just passing by the grocery store’s “seasonal” aisle can be an unpleasant reminder of one’s relationship status. Of course, being single, even during Valentine’s Day, can be a liberating experience and also a time of personal growth and discovery. But what if you’re single and you’d like to start dating? What if you also are in graduate school? As we’ve discovered, dating while you’re a graduate student poses its own challenges. Here is some advice from Amy (who is happily taken) and Katy (who is currently negotiating the dating scene).
January 31, 2012 - 6:43pm
Today, February 1, is Digital Learning Day. As part of the celebration of all things digital learning, we here at Gradhacker are offering an invitation to our readers to participate with us.  Check out these suggestions and resources so that you can celebrate Digital Learning Day with us!
January 30, 2012 - 7:28am
I had worked for weeks on my first conference paper. I had received comments from multiple faculty members, and rehearsed it in front of friends. I had the slides perfectly lined up with the text, and had inserted just enough animations to emphasize my points, but not take away from the entire presentation. I felt ready. I was nervous. I was anxious. I spent the first three days of the conference worried about the presentation. What if no one liked it? What if my computer crashed? And then the time came, and I stood in front of a nearly empty room and gave my presentation.
January 26, 2012 - 5:10pm
  Academic, professional, and personal cross-training will prepare advanced degree holders for a variety of post-graduation situations, including, but not only, employment outside of academia. In fact, based on my experience, cross-training can help one to land an academic position in a glutted academic job market. On the one hand, a diverse skill set might make increase one's attractiveness to search committees. On the other hand, a diverse skill set might create more job opportunities by expanding the kinds of positions for which an applicant can apply.  Cross-training, then, engenders the flexibility needed to navigate challenging employment climates. (As for cultivating the emotional strength and endurance for the job search, that's a different post for another time -- and one that I hope to write for GradHacker soon.)
January 24, 2012 - 6:09pm
One of the first things that I tell my first-year writing students at the beginning of the semester is that writing is hard, and that anyone who says it’s easy is a liar. That might be a bit of an exaggeration, but as Trent stated in a previous post, writing can be difficult for the even best among us. Here are some more distraction-free writing tools that I’ve found helpful for composing just about anything.
January 23, 2012 - 11:04am
The 126th Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association featured nearly two dozen sessions featuring work in ‘digital history’ as well as a THATCamp that remarkably included over one hundred participants. By comparison, two years ago in San Diego the self-identified digital historians managed to fit around one table at a restaurant.       
January 22, 2012 - 9:35pm
I am going to go ahead and blame the 1980s. Namely, the educational push in those days to "boost children's self-esteem." I am going out on a limb here and guess that most of our Gradhacker readers were told repeatedly and often that they were smart, talented writers, brilliant speakers, etc. Yes, school came easy to us, and for this we were praised. And then we became praise junkies: always anticipating what the teacher wanted in order to get a hit. Fast-forward to graduate school: suddenly, there is no way to anticipate what the teachers want. Because they want us to think for ourselves. And thinking for ourselves means putting out those half-baked ideas to get ripped to shreds constructively criticized. Because we've been trained like Pavlov's dogs to equate criticism as an assault on our intelligence, we freak out.  So today's post is dedicated to moving beyond this destructive pattern and learning to embrace the criticism in order to grow as people and as scholars.
January 19, 2012 - 9:49pm
I was sitting down to a meeting with one of my committee members. He was telling me about a phone call he had just received from a colleague asking if he knew anything about a “Katy Meyers” because she was doing some good work online that was worth checking out. Hearing things like that is not only a great confidence booster, but it means that I’m doing something right. My name is spreading in my field, and in a positive manner associated with my academic work. I’m not going to say I’m a genius at managing my identity, but if you Google my name without any qualifiers, I dominate the first page. Creating a recognizable brand is a way of managing your academic identity. You want your brand to be just as recognizable, even if its just in your discipline. 
January 18, 2012 - 9:59am
Researching and writing a dissertation can be one of the most exciting parts of graduate study; that final stage as we move from student to colleague. I behave as professionally as I can in all of my dealings with my committee members,* but recently I encountered a situation that I did now know how to handle at first. Two of my committee members completely disagree about something in the first draft of one of my chapters. After a brief moment of panic, some of which was aloud to one of my supportive peers, I realized that this particular problem has a couple of possible solutions. The easiest and perhaps most common solution when committee members disagree is to do what your committee chair wants. After all, this is the main reason that committees have chairs--someone has to make the final call when ideas conflict. In this post is advice from a professor who has served on many committees.



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