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Hope.for.the.best last won the day on July 22 2018

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  1. Hope.for.the.best

    Did anyone tried to discourage you from pursuing a PhD?

    That's basically what you need to tell yourself whenever someone discourages you. I can see you have considered very carefully that you want to do a PhD. You have also found a great supervisor. By all means, follow your heart and go ahead! As you identified, that PhD student was likely just letting out her frustration of not seeing a future in academia. I had a similar version of story. I have been warned by supervisors, fellow colleagues etc. that if I don't exactly know what I want to do after PhD and plan ahead, then I am screwed for sure, because it is difficult to find a good lab even if I am after a postdoc. I did worry about my future, as I have seen PhD students in my department struggling to find a job after graduation, even if they decided to leave academia. In the end, I decided to just finish off my dissertation and see. After all, there is no point worrying about life after PhD if I don't get my PhD in the first place! I still attended career seminars etc., but my focus was to get my PhD done. Then, a few weeks before I submitted, I learnt that one of my supervisors got funding for a cutting-edge project that I am interested in. I approached him and that's how I got my current postdoc position. Obviously, I could not plan in advance that my supervisor would get funding. I am still not 100% sure whether I will stay in academia, but I reckon this job will equip me with skills that are transferable outside academia. Sometimes, you need to take one step at a time and see where you should go next. You can't always plan everything ahead.
  2. Hope.for.the.best

    Good publications but BAD defense/thesis

    You are not alone! I finished my PhD not long ago and I was in a similar situation, especially the toxic advisor bit. If you read my other posts, then you would have known that I got a lot of anxiety from two demanding advisors, which I named as *Andy and *Cecilia. They didn't go to that extreme to get me worked for 16 hours every day, but they got me to do so many experiments (some even irrelevant to my project) that I had to spend my whole Christmas holiday to write the literature review of my thesis! They even threatened to not let me submit my thesis unless I finished a big experiment, which turned out to be technically impossible to do. My defense went very well though and I passed with minor corrections, but they were reluctant to approve my corrections and let me confer. I was fortunate enough to have another advisor (now my boss), who has been extremely supportive and navigated me through this situation. Like you, my current boss is a super star pi in the field who has a ton of money and likes me. Anyway, back to your questions, I would say your PhD is excellent, because you have got high impact papers published from your work. An impact factor of 22 is very high in science. The fact that you are offered multiple postdoctoral positions demonstrates that you have a strong research profile. Publication record is what matters in any academic jobs. As said above, the most important thing is to have your PhD approved (which you have). Whether you barely passed or passed with flying colours does not matter. If I were you, I would be happy that I can finally say goodbye to such a toxic advisor, and embrace the opportunity to work with a renowned researcher in your field. It did take me a while to let go of the mishap in PhD. Now I am enjoying my life as a postdoc with a great boss. I am pretty sure you will too!
  3. Hope.for.the.best

    How different is grad school from undergrad?

    The short answer is very different. In undergrad, you were told what you needed to know for a topic. More often than not, the topic is well known and established, e.g. t tests and ANOVA. In grad school, however, you are expected to figure out something that has never been looked into. That means a lot of reading to understand the background and gaps in literature, a lot of thinking to formulate and investigate some hypotheses and aims, and a lot of writing and presentations to put your findings together. Your advisors will guide you, but don't expect them to tell you everything like undergrad. They will expect you to have the initiatives to look things up. What you are experiencing is kind of like grad school, but be warned that grad school is more intensive. Having said that, your habits of starting work early (instead of last min) and striving a good work life balance are helpful for grad school. It is very important to pace yourself in grad school like running a marathon. You don't want to work too hard to burn yourself out, but not too laid back so you can keep yourself on track. Having gone through the PhD journey myself, I would say setting accomplishable goals every week has been very helpful.
  4. Hope.for.the.best

    Don't like Cohort + Anxiety

    I am sorry to hear the hard time that you are going through. Just like you don't find everyone likable, there are people who just don't like you, no matter how well you have done. It is not necessarily your fault. Please give yourself a pat on the back for finishing the presentation, given your anxiety of public speaking. I am fine with public speaking, but I am anxious with other things, so I can relate to the apprehension you went through. Take comments that are constructive, e.g. replace a wordy PowerPoint slide with a diagram, but don't take those harsh and untrue comments personally (e.g. you put in less effort than your partner). I know it is easier said than done, especially when those people are toxic. One of my PhD advisors is the type who accuses students of not putting in any effort whenever she thinks their work is not to her expectation. So I can totally understand how frustrated and angry it is when others neglect your effort. But then, grad school is full of criticism, so you really need to find a way to not get that affected. For me, I had secretly liaised with my other PhD advisor to do a postdoc in his lab (He is heavenly to work with), so this hope at the other end got me through the last few months of my PhD. Your professor is insensitive by saying that "people with mental illnesses need to have their shit together to become therapists". In my opinion, having experienced a mental illness can be helpful for a career of counselling, because you can relate to the struggles of your clients more easily. Having said that, I think her comment was not intentional and targeted at you though, because she should not know that you suffer from anxiety. I am not sure whether you see a counsellor for your anxiety. If so, it is not a bad idea to book an appointment to talk these through. If not, maybe you could go to your school's counselling centre. Regarding dropping off or not, your graduate advisor would be the best person to talk to, as he/she has seen cases like these before. Hope this is of help. Feel free to post back or PM me.
  5. Hope.for.the.best

    Is this The Right Thing?

    It is difficult to give you a concrete yes or no here, as ultimately it is you who should decide how your career path should go. Having said that, probably you could make a list of pros and cons for staying in and quitting the program. This may help you put things into perspectives, rather than thinking of staying in one day but quitting the other day. It is not a bad idea to talk to your graduate advisor, as they have seen students who are considering quitting. They may have suggestions on how you should proceed, or at least point you to some helpful resources.
  6. It is common to have problems settling in for the very first semester. No need to feel embarrassed. You are definitely not the only one, even if you feel this way. You will not be the first student who has ever gone to the graduate advisor for matter like this. He has seen that enough to not think you less of it. So basically, tell him what you wrote here, that you are struggling to catch up with your physics course. Tell him that you have tried meeting with the professor to clarify but you lack the background to understand the lectures. He should be able to point you in the right direction, e.g. drop the course, do a course that equips you with the necessary background. Please be reassured that you are not lazy/unmotivated by taking this step to consult your graduate advisor. In fact, it is the opposite. You are proactively trying to make satisfactory progress towards your PhD. It is also not a bad idea to clarify how satisfactory progress is monitored in your program, so you are aware what is expected.
  7. Hope.for.the.best

    weed for studying, anyone use?

    Are you staying up late to study, or not being able to sleep (insomia), or both? It would be wise to tackle the underlying issues head on than using weed to cope. After all, weed is a drug, even if it is legal in your area, using it inappropriately is harmful to your health.
  8. Hope.for.the.best

    Inviting toxic advisors to my graduation

    Thank you for both your replies. @enstor2639 You are right that I don't need reference letters from them, as *Ben and other academics in his department can do one if the need arises. I actually bumped into *Andy the other day. He greeted me very nicely and asked about my graduation date. He indicated that he would love to come. I only said I would get back to him later. Yes, he may not keep his promise like offering paid employment, but not inviting him and *Cecilia will just give them another reason to send rude emails. They can justify that I don't regard them as my advisors. To be honest, it is true. I don't care what they think, but certainly this does not look good to *Ben, even though he is aware of their nasty behaviors. So, it seems like I'd better invite them, and pray that they won't come. @Sigaba I have definitely taken the feedback I received to heart. I certainly won't care whether I get invited by someone who cares little about me. The trouble here is the manuscript in question has not been published, so in some ways, I still need to deal with *Andy and *Cecilia. I can't completely burn the bridge just yet. *Ben has already defused the situation by asking me to not meet them in person (he meets them instead), as they are going to let out all their anger/disappointment to me instead of discussing the manuscript. In their minds, I am all wrong by starting a postdoc with *Ben, but not volunteering for them until I finish what they want me to do (not just that one experiment for that manuscript, but many more). They cannot show their anger towards *Ben, as this just makes them look very bad, so they turn to me instead. They naively think that they would look better by assigning blame to their student. My question is more like how I deal with them properly if they come to my graduation, rather than inviting them or not. Anyway, I will try my best to fake a smile if they choose to come, but things will certainly get awkward.
  9. Hope.for.the.best

    Inviting toxic advisors to my graduation

    I know this is probably a ridiculous post, but it is something that has been bothering me. Long story short, my PhD advisors (all pseudonyms), *Andy and *Cecilia got mad at me for not finishing an experiment as a volunteer, but accepted a full-time job from my other advisor, *Ben, in a different department. They sent rude emails to me, cc to *Ben. *Ben was understanding of the situation and talked to them in person. After negotiation, they agreed that I spent some time at work to complete that experiment, so we could finish a manuscript. Turned out, that experiment is technically impossible to do. I thus thought of an alternative and presented that to *Ben. *Ben was pleased with my proposal and asked me to set up a meeting with *Andy and *Cecilia, so we could sit down and discuss. I emailed them twice, only to get a reply from *Cecilia that I should discuss with *Andy, so I followed up with *Andy with another email. However, I received no reply at all. *Ben then asked me to just finish off the manuscript and sent to them. They read the draft and made edits to polish it. Both *Ben and I thought they were happy with the manuscript as it was. Out of nowhere, however, they sent rude emails to me again (cc to *Ben), saying that they wanted that experiment to be done but I ignored them, and I have disregarded their good heart to help me succeed. *Ben was again supportive and met them in person. They finally realized that the experiment was indeed un-doable, and reluctantly agreed that we should just finish the manuscript and send. Since then, they were professional in emails as before. Finally, they are willing to let go of their roles as advisors and acknowledge that *Ben is now my boss. I am still taken aback by the whole dilemma. I can see why they were upset with me working for *Ben (as discussed in my previous thread https://forum.thegradcafe.com/topic/103639-have-i-been-rudeimpolite-to-my-advisors/?tab=comments#comment-1058591759). However, I still cannot understand why they got mad at me for an un-doable experiment, especially when I have provided reasons and an alternative. I even requested for a meeting to go through my proposal. It was them who ignored me and then came back to accuse me of ignoring them. How irrational are they! Now, I am about to have my PhD graduation. It is certainly a courtesy to invite all advisors. Don't get me wrong, I am thankful for *Andy and *Cecilia in helping me to finish PhD, but after all these incidents, I simply don't want to see them again! To be honest, I only want *Ben to be there. I know it does not look good if I only invite *Ben, so do you guys have any good suggestions on how I should cope with *Andy and *Cecilia at my graduation? Yes, a smile and thank you will probably get me through, but I simply can't fake a smile. Even thinking of them now makes my jaw so tensed up that I cannot smile. It is just bad that I dread my graduation when I should look forward to it Thanks.
  10. Hope.for.the.best

    Failed my first exam

    It is easy to fall for your feelings and believe that they are true. Would failing one exam be sufficient to conclude that you are not smart enough for grad school? As you may aware, one exam is considered n = 1, and you need more independent observations to draw a conclusion. The way to get out of this is to objectively evaluate the situation. Were you the only student who failed? Based on the fact that your professor dropped the lowest test grade, it may mean a lot of students failed as well. Of course, that is not to say you should ignore the exam. Try to reflect on why you could not pass - was it because you did not understand the topic thoroughly? Was it because you crammed your study the night before the exam? If you are stuck, it is always a good idea to consult your professor how you can improve. Finding out the reason why you did not do well is key to perform well in future exams. It is perfectly okay though to feel upset about the exam result, but set yourself a time limit to this, e.g. a couple of days. After that, you should divert your focus to your studies. It may sound like I have not said anything useful, but that was how I coped with unsatisfactory exam results. Hope that helps you.
  11. Hope.for.the.best

    I need help surviving my PhD

    I hear you. I have gone through a terribly stressful time leading up to the completion of my PhD. Even though I was not depressed, I got a lot of anxiety, due to the seemingly unachievable deadline and two toxic advisors. I too just wanted to get the hell out of it. Feel free to read my previous posts if you are interested. I second the above advice that you should go to your school counsellor. Or call a local mental health helpline. It would also help if you can talk to friends /family members who have gone through the PhD journey. They cannot help you to finish your PhD, but an understanding ear is all you need for a tough time like this. Looking at your post, I have a few other suggestions. (1) Work out a timetable for the next 11 months to complete your thesis, e.g. finish all analysis by Nov 2018, finish chapters 1 and 2 by Dec 2018. Agree with your advisor a feedback and turnaround schedule. This way, you put things into perspectives, so you feel less overwhelmed. (2) Try your best to take the weekends off. You don't have to go and hang out with your friends if you don't feel like to, although it would be good if you can. Sometimes, even staying at home and doing nothing can help switch your mind off. You can turn some soothing music on if you don't like the silence at your home. Remember, you simply can't work 24/7. (3) Prioritise sleep. Write a feasible to-do list for each day and stop all work 2 hours before you go to bed. Do something relaxing like meditation. For me, a hot shower is what it takes to get me ready for sleep. There are a lot of strategies for a good night sleep online. If you have tried hard but you still can't sleep well, you should consult your doctor. (4) You have not mentioned anything about diet, but it is also important that you eat well. A balanced diet is key for functioning. Feel free to write back/pm me if you want to chat more. Wish you all the best!
  12. Hope.for.the.best

    Anybody else applying to a PhD straight out of undergrad?

    I applied and did my PhD straight out of undergrad (now a postdoc). Yes, many students have been working in the lab as research assistants for a while, which means they have more research experiences, but you will catch up eventually. Don't worry about being younger than most students. Doing a PhD requires a lot of time commitment and it can be challenging to fit that in when you also have family commitments like young children. So it is actually an advantage to do a PhD earlier in your life. I am happy to talk more about my experience if you are interested
  13. Hope.for.the.best

    Impact of school disciplinary action?

    It is very difficult to tell how impactful your previous disciplinary actions are on your career. Apparently, advisors or prosective employers can find out about you by contacting your previous institutions. You don't have to disclose these to your advisors/employers if you don't get asked, but you'd better be honest if you do get asked, like on your application form. If you get caught on lying, you will end up with another bad record on your file, which is even worse for you.
  14. Hope.for.the.best

    Teamwork gone awry

    I think that's where the problem comes from. You have unknowingly "allowed" her to have your data and work on your parts. Since she has done that in the past and you were apparently fine with that, she assumes that you will also be fine this time. I am not saying that she is right. I agree that she should stick to her part and you stick to yours. This is what it means by teamwork. Since you indicated that both of your parts still need a lot of work, you can still do something to "reclaim" your part. If I were you, I would meet with her privately to bring up the issues/concerns. It is very important that you don't go and confront her in front of other colleagues, as this will humiliate her and do damages for sure. Perhaps you could say something like, "I am aware that you have been working on such and such, which is supposed to be my part. I am thankful for your input and contribution, but I would prefer that we work on our own parts that we have agreed to." If she is genuinely curious and wants to take challenges, then she should realize at this point that you are upset, and hopefully, stop "scooping" your part. I would not recommend going to your advisor directly as your very first step, especially if he/she is the type who likes to blame/criticize people. Your colleague would not be happy that you report her to your advisor and then she gets blamed. This is going to create tension between you two. However, if your advisor happens to be like mine, who is very good at dealing with people and managing conflicts, then bringing that up to your advisor on top of talking to her individually is helpful. What my advisor would do in this situation would be approaching her to find out where she's up to, and then reminds her that she should be working on her part. Of course, if things do not work out after you kindly talk to your colleague, then you have to bring that up to your advisor. Hope it works out.
  15. Hope.for.the.best

    Embarrassing incident at prof's house

    Sorry to hear what happened to you, but thankfully, you are fine. Well, accidents do happen, and that's life. I am pretty sure your grad chair was more concerned whether you were okay than the fact that you were naked when he and his daughter found you in the shower. Yes, it's embarrassing, but it was totally out of your control that you got food all over you and then slipped in the shower and hit yourself. I would suggest that you try your best to take things easy and attend the progress update meeting as if nothing has happened. He will probably ask about your injury, just like any other grad students who care about you. If you are not comfortable with going into the details, i.e. thank you for the clothes and shower, then a plain simple "I am fine, thank you" will do. Then focus on what you need to go through with him in the meeting. Remember, that meeting is about your progress, not the incident at his house!

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