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If I knew then what I know now (Officially Grads version)


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My advice to first year Graduate Students: Change your mind and turn around. Don't go to grad school!

1. I wish I would have fully grasped how busy I would become. It is so much more work than undergrad. 2. In that vein, I wish I would have done more prep work, gotten more freezer meals cooked an

1. I wish I had known the first few months were going to be so expensive-- finishing up with moving costs, establishing the new place, the new computer, textbooks and school supplies, some new clothes

What does "mind your P's and Q's" mean?

Yes, it does mean "be on your best behavior." I've been told that it comes from the expression "mind your pints and quarts", a recommendation to keep track of how much you're drinking so that you don't get wasted and do something stupid. This is also a good piece of advice to keep in mind when you're around faculty- don't get wasted.

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Yes, it does mean "be on your best behavior." I've been told that it comes from the expression "mind your pints and quarts", a recommendation to keep track of how much you're drinking so that you don't get wasted and do something stupid. This is also a good piece of advice to keep in mind when you're around faculty- don't get wasted.

I thought "Ps and Qs" was "pleases and questions"??

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Another explanation: In early typesetting, where the letters were cast in mirror-images to then produce the correct letter on the printed page, the reversal of lowercase Ps and Qs was a big problem since they were already mirror images of each other. Thus, "Minding your 'p's and 'q's" was a practical consideration that turned into advice to be aware of the fine details that might have larger and more lasting consequences.

In that light, you could even argue that it's a precursor to "Don't get it twisted."

Edited by poco_puffs
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Thus, "Minding your 'p's and 'q's" was a practical consideration that turned into advice to be aware of the fine details that might have larger and more lasting consequences.

Sweet! So my mom was wrong all along!

Edited by hejduk
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Wellll, the origin of the phrase is still officially murky. Don't discount your mama altogether!

And the wiki supports all the theories so far, including "pleases and thank-yous". Feel free to actually follow up on the references.

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Form a study group! Even if study groups aren't normally your thing. I was super skeptical about forming a study group for my comps, but I joined one anyway and it was tremendously helpful. We were able to divide and conquer a lot of the reading and provide really good, detailed summaries of the key readings that made it easier to study. (Because let's face it...you probably can't actually do all of the reading.)

For tackling the reading - make a schedule for it and stick to it. You have to add your own structure to your comprehensive exam studying period. If they are orals, set up some meetings with your advisor where you can informally practice by spending part of those meetings talking about the readings.

Edited by juilletmercredi
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Graduate school is a soul-crushing experience. I mean, I love it, and there's no reason why I believe you won't either, but you really need to be prepared to adapt and change. You will not be the same person going in that you will be going out. Understand that and embrace it.

I could easily imagine graduate school as a PTSD inducing experience if one tries to grind through it with the wrong mentality. Graduate students tend to be gritty, high achieving individuals, but the strategies that made you successful in the past will not necessarily work in graduate school. It's too strenuous. And If you don't bend or adapt, you'll break. 

Don't feel as if you don't need to rely on others, be it friends, mental health professionals, or physicians (I'm pretty certain I've developed more than one illness over the years, both mental and physical, due to the stress of graduate school). 

Two cents.

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On 9/18/2018 at 2:49 PM, Taylor_Xo said:

Anyone having issues making friends and being social? My school is very catty and not very nice. I'm not getting the warm feeling I had originally gotten. I'm contemplating transferring but I don't know if that's a complete mistake. 

I have, but I you have to remember that for a lot of people graduate school is likely the most stressful time of their life up to this point. Understandably, some people have probably put social graces aside and have entirely focused on surviving. 

It's possible that your peers are indeed simply catty and unfriendly, but try to contextualize their behavior against the extremity of the experience of graduate school. Admittedly, such thinking might not help a lot, but it might help you sympathize with others or perhaps build bridges with them. Suffering sort of loves company. :)

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This thread is very interesting and will likely be helpful for students early in their careers! 

I want to reiterate that finding your support structure while in grad school is a must! Whether the support comes from other students, trusted faculty, friends outside of grad school, family, a therapist, etc., getting support can make all of the difference. Grad school is hard. Having people who are in your corner is a must. I prefer a combination of people who are involved in academia and can understand the specific hardships of grad school and a few people completely outside of academia who can help keep you grounded. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my support network. 
 

I also want to add that you could work every hour of the day and still have things left to do. Grad school is hectic. If you want to be able to “finish your to do list”, then you are in for a rough ride. You have to be intentional with your time. I started setting aside “writing time” every day during which I block off my calendar, close my office door, turn off my phone and email, and just write. Don’t be afraid to say no if you can’t or don’t want to do something. Don’t be afraid to take time for yourself. Time is a precious commodity! 

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Impostor syndrome is a real thing for a lot of PhD and graduate students. Don't panic if you do not understand everything at first. It's absolutely normal. A lot of the things we learn at this stage implies years of reflection and understanding. Your understanding of concepts, realities, topics will mature and evolve with you. Don't panic if you do not get it at first, it has nothing to do with you being stupid or not deserving of being a grad student. 

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Start writing. Immediately. During my PhD, one of the most difficult things was to find a consistent level of writing output on a weekly basis. Some weeks, there was a lot of production and other weeks, not so much. I learned that the way to do it is to set a specific writing goal, and then STICK TO IT, every day. It should be something that is both challenging and achievable. So don't go out and insist that you will write 3 pages per day because in most cases, you might be able to do that for a few days but then you won't be able to keep up. Instead set a goal of something like 300 words to around 500 words (500 words = roughly equivalent of 1 page). If you write 500 words, every day, you will have produced about 15 pages in two weeks time. All those pages won't be perfect of course, but you will at least have a baseline that you can then improve upon.

Do little over a long period of time INSTEAD of doing a lot during a short period time. In my experience, the quality of the text will be better, as well as the quality of your life (in terms of work-life balance). Anyone else who have thought about this?

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