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New Graduate Student Fears


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Are any of y'all nervous or anxious about the upcoming semester? Apprehensive about moving to a new city, worried about how you'll get along with your advisor, or nervous about how you'll compare to your fellow graduate students?

 

I figured that this community could probably provide more effective support/reassurance than most others!

 

So, if you're all like

 

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we can 

 

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and be

 

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because

 

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You pretty much spoke my mind there, Mary Queen of Scotch! I have been feeling quite apprehensive and nervous about starting grad school this fall...and now I am going to be joining the summer sessions research program, from the first week of July. So I'm setting off for this totally new place and this entirely new chapter of my life, in about a week...and yeah, it's giving me quite a bunch of mixed feelings :P

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Apprehension is pretty normal for any big life event/milestone/change, so I'm pretty sure our anxieties will dissipate once we actually start school.

 

I think that I'm mostly afraid that I won't be able to compete with my academic peers. It didn't take much effort for me to be one of the top students in my undergraduate program (I'm not trying to boast, I think I just figured out the formula for doing well in my classes pretty quickly), and so I'm terrified that I'm not actually as good as I believe I am. I'm thrilled that I got into such a great program, but now I'm anxious that I'm not going to be able to match the academic prowess of my fellow grad students.

 

Blargh! 

Edited by Mary Queen of Scotch
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I feel as if the thing I'm most having a problem with is the period before moving. Counting down the days before moving, I just want to be there and away from all this. "This" being home, a relaxed/non-productive environment where, whenever I arrive home, I just fall into a routine of immediately sitting on the couch and not doing much besides reading articles online. Mississippi isn't the most exciting or culturally productive state, at least the culture I'm looking for/I'm tired of for so many years, so that may be the problem as well. 

 

Does anyone have the problem of coming home and not feeling very productive, and therefore anxious about the lack thereof? 

Edited by Mississippi Snow
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Agree with both of you again! I also feel I will be outclassed by my peers. I am an international student, and even though I joined arguably the best undergraduate program in my country, it still felt like a breeze and I was never really required to push myself. And now, I'll be joining one of the top graduate programs in the US and I'm afraid about how efficiently I will be able to handle the stress. I fear I will get swamped with too much work and won't be able to make any time for leisure or social activities, which I fear would lead to a burnout. I know graduate school is all about time management and I'm simply worried whether I will get to properly do that...

 

Then, there's the entire process of getting adjusted with life in a country that I have never been to. But I think I wouldn't have any problems with that and I have always wanted to move! It was also one of my biggest motivations to pursue graduate studies in the first place. 

 

Having been getting the same feelings as Mississippi snow as well, to some extent. I pretty much knew that I would be having an unproductive time at home, before going off to the US, so it wasn't much of a surprise for me...nonetheless it does add in to the anxieties. Actually, it was one of the reasons that I decided to join the summer research program, instead of sticking to the fall joining date! Did not see any point in just sitting and waiting at home for a couple of months more. 

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I think that, to a certain extent, some of us might be suffering from pre-grad school Impostor Syndrom.

 

From Wikipedia:

 

"The impostor syndrome, sometimes called impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome, is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be."

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impostor_syndrome

 

 

I mean, think about it. We spend months dealing with the grueling process of applying to schools, being judged, being rejected, feeling worthless when that one school cuts you, being disappointed, only to FINALLY have that perfect school descend down and pluck you from your despair. Okay, maybe that was just me! But really, after being rejected from so many mediocre schools, only to be accepted by one of my top schools? Breeding ground for self-doubt and the feeling that someone there made a mistake!

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Can't agree with you more!! I had pretty much the same experience! Well, to be entirely honest, I wasn't feeling all that confident about the strength of my application profile to begin with. Being an international applicant, my chances seemed really tough and I decided to include a lot of mediocre/safe schools. And, I got rejected from most of them...only to land an acceptance from one of the best schools I applied to! Which, as you so rightly pointed out, is now making me nervous about my potential. Lol, guess I'm suffering from a bit of the ''impostor syndrome'', along with some good old fashioned ''newbie nerves'' :P

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You will continue to feel this way for a long time. You should continue to feel this way. They didn't make a mistake in admitting you, but your future professors and advisors know that you have a vast amount still to learn. I think it's healthy for you to know that too. Honestly, right now, you're probably not very good! Even if you've done a MA, if you've spent years in curatorial fellowships, whatever, being a good Ph.D. student is something that you need to learn by immersion.  If you're going to a good program, that's what your next several years of coursework is for. You'll get there. Take risks with your term papers. Try on new methodologies for size as you encounter them. Maybe most importantly, don't worry about "keeping up" with your future peers, or even worse, competing with them. Most likely, some of your classmates will blow you away with how adept they are at certain things. You'll undoubtedly outpace them in certain aspects as well. Treat your colleagues as the most valuable resources that the grad school setting has to offer. When one of your classmates' seminar paper presentations makes yours look like a 3rd grade modeling clay diorama in comparison--this will happen, so many times--take them out for a beer and pick their brain. Instead of comparing your own work to that of your peers, consider work you admire as a model to examine. Why was it so good? What questions were they asking? How was it organized? How, when, and to what effect did they incorporate visual analysis?  It took me longer than it should have to really understand this, but it's so, so good for you to have kickass colleagues. 

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You will continue to feel this way for a long time. You should continue to feel this way. They didn't make a mistake in admitting you, but your future professors and advisors know that you have a vast amount still to learn. I think it's healthy for you to know that too. Honestly, right now, you're probably not very good! Even if you've done a MA, if you've spent years in curatorial fellowships, whatever, being a good Ph.D. student is something that you need to learn by immersion.  If you're going to a good program, that's what your next several years of coursework is for. You'll get there. Take risks with your term papers. Try on new methodologies for size as you encounter them. Maybe most importantly, don't worry about "keeping up" with your future peers, or even worse, competing with them. Most likely, some of your classmates will blow you away with how adept they are at certain things. You'll undoubtedly outpace them in certain aspects as well. Treat your colleagues as the most valuable resources that the grad school setting has to offer. When one of your classmates' seminar paper presentations makes yours look like a 3rd grade modeling clay diorama in comparison--this will happen, so many times--take them out for a beer and pick their brain. Instead of comparing your own work to that of your peers, consider work you admire as a model to examine. Why was it so good? What questions were they asking? How was it organized? How, when, and to what effect did they incorporate visual analysis?  It took me longer than it should have to really understand this, but it's so, so good for you to have kickass colleagues. 

 

Cheers! Thanks for the reassurance! 

 

Ok, what the hell, I'll throw some cute baby memes your way.

 

3onvoa.jpg

 

 

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i-see-what-you-did-there-baby-meme-264x3

 

i-approve-baby-with-pipe-meme.jpg

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