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Preparations for the Fall

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Do folks who are fortunate enough to have been admitted have any plans for preparing? I'm trying to figure out what stuff I'm going to try to learn and refresh myself on, and what logistical/life skills things I'm going to try to work on to prepare. The other forums have some advice but I've run across a few too many "buy a nice labcoat" posts there not to suspect that aspiring philosophers might have some unique insights.

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Honestly, I think that the most important thing you can do is start professionalizing yourself, especially if you're starting a PhD. Everything else will come during the course of the PhD itself.

So, for example, start familiarizing yourself with the best journals in your subfield, and with the top generalist journals, and what kind of work gets published in which journal. Start developing a sense of how fast the turnaround is in various journals (the Cullison/APA list is helpful for that). Create an account on PhilPapers, and sign up for conference and publication alerts. Start looking at the CVs of grad students, postdocs, and assistant professors at a wide range of departments. In particular, look for people working in your inteded AOSes. Get a sense of what they're doing, and how it seems to have worked out for them. Figure out what the important conferences and associations are in your subfields. Start following the gossip on the main philosophy blogs. Start reading through the Job Market Boot Camp on the Philosophers' Cocoon. Start paying attention to what goes on in the forum over at the Chronicle of Higher Education.

That sort of thing.

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Start establishing good habits of self care. Get yourself in a strong routine of exercising, sleeping well, and eating right. It will be easy to slip into bad habits with this sort of thing once you're under way, and then it becomes a lot harder to bring yourself back into good habits. Get that stuff drilled down now and your mental health will thank you later.

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I'm honestly preoccupied just with getting ready to move. I'm going through my things, looking at houses in the area, getting quotes from moving companies in the area, and saving up. 

In addition to all that, like @dgswaim said, I would like to establish good habits as well, especially with diet and exercise. 

I'm also reading Discworld and playing video games because I'm definitely not going to have this kind of time on my hands again for a good few years ;)

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2 hours ago, Nothingtown said:

I'm also reading Discworld and playing video games because I'm definitely not going to have this kind of time on my hands again for a good few years ;)

I know that wasn't entirely serious, but be careful. Thinking this way is a big mistake, and leads to frustration and depression. Make and keep making time for your hobbies, and for fun reading.

FWIW, I've been relatively successful, and I still read about a novel a week, go to the gym five days a week, go on regular hikes, go to the cinema, play computer games when I feel like it, etc. Grad school in philosophy is your job, not your life. I'm also a lot happier than your average job marketeer, despite being in one of the hardest subfields to find a job in (and it's certainly not because I'm killing the market).

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1 hour ago, maxhgns said:

FWIW, I've been relatively successful, and I still read about a novel a week, go to the gym five days a week, go on regular hikes, go to the cinema, play computer games when I feel like it, etc. Grad school in philosophy is your job, not your life. I'm also a lot happier than your average job marketeer, despite being in one of the hardest subfields to find a job in (and it's certainly not because I'm killing the market).

That's really encouraging, because that isn't how grad school has been sold to me in the past, and I would even venture to say it isn't an attitude that many (if not most) grad students share. 

I hope to have time for hobbies! As for reading, though, I always felt distracted reading fantasy in undergrad. Free reading has been a bit hard when I have so much other reading to do, but perhaps that is something I should work on :)

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Nothingtown said:

That's really encouraging, because that isn't how grad school has been sold to me in the past, and I would even venture to say it isn't an attitude that many (if not most) grad students share. 

I hope to have time for hobbies! As for reading, though, I always felt distracted reading fantasy in undergrad. Free reading has been a bit hard when I have so much other reading to do, but perhaps that is something I should work on :)

They're full of shit. People in grad school are always posturing about how hard they work, but that's all it is. They've got some screwed up idea of what the perfect grad student is, and they constantly fail to meet it, and it wreaks havoc with their brain chemistry. 

Being a good student really isn't inconsistent with maintaining a healthy work-life balance. I was a great grad student: I published two papers in top specialist journals, presented at dozens of conferences, won awards, networked like hell, audited all kinds of classes, TAed every semester, applied for hundreds of jobs, etc. It didn't require me to give up on any hobbies or other fun stuff. And I'm not at all exceptional in that respect. Take the time to do your own thing. It'll help enormously with all the negative crap. Just don't let yourself get too distracted from your end goal!

As for making time for reading, I do most of mine on public transit, or for about an hour in bed at night. I often read during the day, too, but that's mostly down to how I feel in the moment. 

One word of advice: breaking your tasks down into smaller chunks and spreading them over time is way more effective than putting in whole days at a time. Read just one article a day, and by the end of a month that's a whole course's worth of reading; write an hour a day, and after a year you've got a draft of a dissertation, or after a few weeks, you've got a paper to send to conferences and journals; and so on.

The trick is to be consistent, and not to overload yourself with just one task. I try to write for about an hour a day (some days I get excited and it's more, and some days I lose the thread, but on the whole that's pretty much what it averages out to). I do that relatively early in the day, and then it doesn't matter what else I do that day; the pressure's off. I can take an hour or so to read a paper, too, and then that's two big things down. After that, the rest of the day is boring admin work, emails, course prep, whatever. And fun stuff.

Edited by maxhgns

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On 4/27/2019 at 4:13 PM, Nothingtown said:

That's really encouraging, because that isn't how grad school has been sold to me in the past, and I would even venture to say it isn't an attitude that many (if not most) grad students share. 

I hope to have time for hobbies! As for reading, though, I always felt distracted reading fantasy in undergrad. Free reading has been a bit hard when I have so much other reading to do, but perhaps that is something I should work on :)

I've been a grad student (Master's) and graduated with top grades. Now, I'm starting my Phd. And I agree with maxhgns... yes, it is difficult but you still have time to do things. It really depends on how well you schedule your life. If you do stuff chaotically, then you will feel like you never have time. I'd say just relax.. chill, its not that bad.

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I'm going to read some books by my soon to be professors to familiarize myself with their work. Otherwise, I'm just going to take it easy. Regarding workload, I think one has to find one's own balance. I don't mind my work-life balance skewing towards work, but even so, I still have plenty of time to have beers with colleagues, play video games, or just relax. I'm sure you'll figure out what works best for you. 

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