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Modeling Successful Failure


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Hi y'all--

I'm teaching two classes currently (university students across all academic years) and also have students from past years who know that I'm moving on this semester and are asking questions, and I'm wondering what your thoughts are on modeling handling PhD rejections well. I want to be able to show them healthy ways of dealing with failure, especially because it seems to be a big challenge for university students (we all get that). I also, though, don't want to simply ignore that trying something and not having it work out sucks and there are necessarily negative feelings to be experienced and processed. 

Is this something you've dealt with? Have you had these conversations with students (at any level)? 

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11 minutes ago, CaffeineCardigan said:

Hi y'all--

I'm teaching two classes currently (university students across all academic years) and also have students from past years who know that I'm moving on this semester and are asking questions, and I'm wondering what your thoughts are on modeling handling PhD rejections well. I want to be able to show them healthy ways of dealing with failure, especially because it seems to be a big challenge for university students (we all get that). I also, though, don't want to simply ignore that trying something and not having it work out sucks and there are necessarily negative feelings to be experienced and processed. 

Is this something you've dealt with? Have you had these conversations with students (at any level)? 

I have nothing to add but this is such an important topic, thank you, and I can’t wait to read the responses.

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5 minutes ago, kendalldinniene said:

I have nothing to add but this is such an important topic, thank you, and I can’t wait to read the responses.

Thanks! I've been thinking about it a lot since results started coming in and my students started asking, but a former student asked me to write a LOR for them yesterday and I thought that maybe it's something we should talk about more openly.  

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2 minutes ago, CaffeineCardigan said:

Thanks! I've been thinking about it a lot since results started coming in and my students started asking, but a former student asked me to write a LOR for them yesterday and I thought that maybe it's something we should talk about more openly.  

Definitely. My lor writers all went to grad school...a while ago, and as a result were shocked last year when I didn’t get in. I think that’s a reflection of just how much more competitive humanities admits are these days.  It’s just so important to go into the process knowing what the odds really are and also how to react to rejections in a healthy way relative to those tough as hell odds. 

Tl/dr you’re doing the lord’s work.

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is there a state of "handling PhD rejections well"? i'd just be as honest as i felt comfortable with how i'm handling the process and present it as one of many possible experiences :) 

i feel like often teachers are reduced to these stoic lecturing voice boxes and (younger) students forget that teachers have feelings and experience life just like they do. when i was in my master's, i was always honest about how busy i was and that we were all stressed out together. i don't think i talked about applying last year with any students, but if i were to talk about it now, i think i'd talk about how crushing the rejections can feel but that i've always had realistic back-up plans in mind. i'd also talk about the extra ice cream and the few extra shopping sprees. 

i don't know if that answered your question lol

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4 minutes ago, mandelbulb said:

is there a state of "handling PhD rejections well"? i'd just be as honest as i felt comfortable with how i'm handling the process and present it as one of many possible experiences :) 

i feel like often teachers are reduced to these stoic lecturing voice boxes and (younger) students forget that teachers have feelings and experience life just like they do. when i was in my master's, i was always honest about how busy i was and that we were all stressed out together. i don't think i talked about applying last year with any students, but if i were to talk about it now, i think i'd talk about how crushing the rejections can feel but that i've always had realistic back-up plans in mind. i'd also talk about the extra ice cream and the few extra shopping sprees. 

i don't know if that answered your question lol

Hahaha you are pure gold.

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I've been pretty open with my students this round. I let them know that I applied and would be spastic until I find out for sure, but I was really honest about the odds and job market, etc. We've even talked about my backup plans, and they were very kind with their thoughts. Most are *sure* I'll get in, but the less idealistic ones were brainstorming all sorts of avenues I could go after I'm finished with the semester (I've already decided to move, regardless, and give up my current teaching gig in favor of something (fingers crossed) more stable). I've been where I am a while and have established a reputation among the writing instructors (I'm the cursing prof who has tattoos and piercings), and a lot of my previous students have expressed sincere sadness at my leaving. 

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