Jump to content

Grad Doom Gloom. Suggestions please!


Recommended Posts

Hello fellow posters!

I just started grad school ( day one! ) and the symptoms have begun. For some of you who are dealing with it well, how do you cope with the reading? I just don't know where to stop ! We do have written exams ( it's a one year masters in the Uk) so I'm not quite sure what direction to take.

Also I'm doing a science masters but my interest has always been on the more philosophical/holistic side and I'm worried that taking such a direction for my thesis might harm my grades, opposed to working in a lab under a supervisor.

Anyone with suggestions please?


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

What kind of symptoms are you having after day 1? Is it feelings of inadequacy, intimidation, uncertainty? Or that you're not sure what you really want to do? The first is pretty normal, we're all wondering how we stack up against each other, am I on a level playing field with my classmates...that kind of thing. But if your pursuing a degree and your interests lie somewhere else than that might be something you can only rectify by making some big changes. The work load is incredible, but it's about knowing what's required of you to do as well as you feel you need to, not necessarily reading and understanding every single word of that book or this article you have to read in a week. I mean if you are physically doing as much as you possibly can in the time that you have without going crazy from sleep deprivation than that's all you can expect of yourself. I'm starting an internship next week and I'm excited but also worried about what that will do to my motivation for reading and studying. However, knowing how much grad school means to me and how happy I am with my program and school...and also the fact that I'm paying for it, I have no choice but to make it work as best I can.

I feel like it's best to know exactly what you want to do before you start grad school, especially when it's only a one year program, you really don't have time to fool around and you should know exactly where you're headed between now and that end date, that is if you want to graduate in that time frame. You should probably hash out exactly what your interests are and have a meeting with your adviser to see what the most appropriate track is for you. Don't try to guess what will be better, your adviser will tell you what you need to do.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For some of you who are dealing with it well, how do you cope with the reading? I just don't know where to stop !

FWIW, in history, one learns that professional academic historians adhere to a handful of basic formats. One learns how to figure out those formats at a glance, how to read to develop an increasingly nuanced understanding of the relevant facts, and how to identify a work's primary, secondary, and tertiary arguments. And then one learns to stop reading a work once those arguments are identified. Developing this skill set requires a leap of faith that you struggled with yesterday will make ever more sense as you plow ahead.

Might it be possible that works in your field have a similar rhythm?

FWIW, one insight that I stumbled upon much later than I'd have liked was the realization that one will never be as ready as one would like for qualifying exams. This insight allowed me to relax somewhat and to focus more on learning as much as I could in the time than I had. It also helped me to spend less time FREAKING OUT about not knowing everything chapter and verse. (To the extent possible, in your waking moments, assume that you're going to pass, maybe even with honors. Visualize yourself writing your exams with poise and confidence. Suppress the question "What do I do if I fail?" Those nightmares will come after you pass your exams.)

The first is pretty normal, we're all wondering how we stack up against each other, am I on a level playing field with my classmates...that kind of thing.

I do not know if this dynamic is "normal," but I strongly believe it is unhelpful, if not self destructive. IME, there's a lot to be gained from not worrying about how one matches up with one's classmates and instead focusing with ever greater intensity on how one matches up to one's own potential and to the skills/expertise/expectations of one's professors. (For example, rather than going round and round with fellow students about what "X" means while trying to avoid appearing behind the curve, go to a professor's office, leaves one's ego at the door, and start a conversation with "Hey, Professor Smith. I think X means this...am I on the right track?")

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I wouldn't say it's destructive, I think it's reasonable to feel uncertain about what you're getting into before you start and one of those uncertainties is whether or not you will fit in intellectually, academically, and professionally with those around you. I'd say after a few weeks once you've experienced everyone in your classes it should be clear how you stack up and then of course it's time to stop thinking about it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. See our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use