It's finally here, summer. That means long days laying out in the sunshine, late nights with friends and extended trips to far away places away from the hustle and bustle of the university. Oh wait... you're a grad student. Then it means long days of trying to teach summer classes, late nights working on ones own research and extended trips to libraries and other universities to raid their archives and labs for that pivotal missing link that would turn your dissertation into a masterpiece. Fear not though, GradHacker is here. Over the past semester we've had articles that cover every aspect of grad school from how to turn your stress into delicious baking or how to deal with fighting committee members. Not only that, we launched our podcasts which interviews academics on broader issues and discusses the articles from the last few weeks. In case you are new to GradHacker, or just need some inspiration to survive the summer, here are our top posts from the last semester.
Julie Platt's article, the Perils of Perfectionism , has by far been one of the most discussed that we have ever published. She discussed her own experience dealing with perfectionism, and that while it was a benefit to creating great work it also prevented her from finishing in a timely manner and turned into a disadvantage. She explained how the comprehensive exam process, supposed to take 6 months, laster 2.5 years for her. While the completed work was lauded- Julie wonders whether it was really worth all the stress and anxiety of getting it perfect. She concludes "I'm learning that perfection isn't necessary. I'm learning that being my best is probably good enough, and good enough is worth striving for".
In two similar posts, Andrea Zellner discussed ways to make your teaching more productive and effective by employing new Strategies to Improve Online Teaching  and using the 'Flipped Classroom ' method. Her strategies for improving online teaching include not letting the tech hinder your work, addressing potential problems beforehand, find new types of tech to help, be actively involved in the teaching, provide lots of feedback, and play. It is this last part which she notes is so important: "The point is, recognize both how you want to teach the information and how it might be received. I try really hard not to be boring". For in person classes, she suggests trying the Flipped Classroom, a method which has students do the lecture portion online prior to class and the home based activities in the classroom as a group. By doing this students are more engaged with the work.
Terry Brock discussed the issue of Grad School Guilt . He notes how doing any activity that isn't dissertation related gives him a sense of guilt: "In fact, this is how I feel about most things that aren't my dissertation. I feel guilty when I'm hanging out with my friends, out to dinner with my fiancé... or reading...*gasp*…a book for fun. It's not a particularly healthy way to go through life, and it places a great deal of stress on every moment of the day, since even when I'm trying to relax, I know I could be working". In order to combat these feelings, he suggests setting aside blocks of time or days to writing, afterwards reflecting on the productivity. By setting goals for each day and making progress on them, it lessens the feeling of guilt and makes the free time a reward for a hard day's work. The best strategy, and the hardest to achieve, is saying no to new things to limit distractions from dissertating... although this does bring on new guilt.
With the summer fast approaching, and a new school year on the horizon, we at GradHacker are excited about the new articles and discussions that we will be having with you. We are always looking for new writers, new ideas for podcasts, and the opportunity to host more bootcamps. What would you like to see from GradHacker over the summer and in the upcoming year?