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First years - how are we doing?


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I feel like I'm constantly swimming against a tide of work with no end in site.

 

Second year here. Yeah, I don't think this is ever going to get better. I look at how much the faculty at my R1 institution work, and I wonder sometimes why I've decided that R1 is the right path for me. On one hand, I know I want to do "cutting edge" research in my field. On the other hand, I know it takes an awful lot of determination and patience, especially in the face of mounting piles of work. I honestly don't know how some people do it--experts in my field who publish paper after paper. Who has the time to write so much? And yet writing is one of the measures by which our success is determined by others. Sigh. Like TeaGirl, I am back to the hamster wheel...

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Hey there,   It's Labor Day and I'm so grateful for the day off.  Last week was the first week of classes at my university.   Some thoughts:   - I've been pleasantly surprised by how nice everyo

I withstood my first committee meeting without anyone noticing I didn't belong!      

First semester of the PhD is done, and grades are in the books.  When I got here, I was horrified of teaching, with imposter syndrome practically tattooed across my face.  I also came in without a mas

So, anybody else feel like they have no ability to self-assess how they are doing?  Normally in undergrad I would have had some sort of graded feedback in my first few weeks.  In my PhD program I just finished my first quarter and won't get a grade for any of my courses until they post in two weeks - just finals & nothing else.  Same with my research - I keep checking in with my advisor and he just sort of laughs at me and tells me to keep processing data.  I am not tooooo worried because I feel like someone would give me a heads up if I were really floundering - but it's strange to be free-floating like I am.  

 

Anybody else in the same boat?

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Fortunately I've had mid-terms for both my courses, so I know that I'm successfully keeping afloat, at least. I do want to do well in my courses...but at the same time as long as my GPA is over the required value needed to stay in the program in good standing, I'm not going to worry over the difference between an A and a B grade.

 

I'm hoping to sort out some kind of written Personal Development Plan once I'm formally admitted into a research group. It's something that I did in industry and found incredibly useful. I imagine that it will be a slightly unexpected thing to request in an academic setting...but I think it will help me and my PI get aligned, and keep my progress in check. 

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So, anybody else feel like they have no ability to self-assess how they are doing?  Normally in undergrad I would have had some sort of graded feedback in my first few weeks.  In my PhD program I just finished my first quarter and won't get a grade for any of my courses until they post in two weeks - just finals & nothing else.  Same with my research - I keep checking in with my advisor and he just sort of laughs at me and tells me to keep processing data.  I am not tooooo worried because I feel like someone would give me a heads up if I were really floundering - but it's strange to be free-floating like I am.  

 

Anybody else in the same boat?

Very much so.  Especially with research: I have honestly managed to do very little, starting with a struggle to get people to take the time to train me, followed by never really having decent blocks of time to actually run any experiments.  I have not talked to my advisor about research since my project was assigned, largely because they don't ever really come through the lab, and I've heard both that no one expects much to get done this semester and that previous new students were asked to leave because they hadn't done enough.  So no idea where I stand on that at all, though I'm hoping after my tests next week I'll have time to poke my head in my advisor's office and ask to sit down with them to go over what I've done and what needs to be done.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hopefully most of us are done or close to done?  Is anyone else obsessively refreshing the webpage where grades are posted? ;)  (I know grades don't matter as much but I really wanna know!  It's that whole "am I really doing well enough" thing.

 

So far, I guess I am, but I have 2 more grades coming in; they are due today.

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I turned in 2 sort of crappy papers - uhm - imposter syndrome? Not really, its just that the time really snuck up on me juggling, housing, fellowship applications, job hunting, professional conference presentations...yeah and that's what happened in my first semester.

 

Well, at least I'm done for the semester. I have only started to like the people and place in my program in the 15th week of school lol 

 

Is anyone else feeling the same as me? Like, it is what it is. I will try my best, but whatever, in regard to coursework? 

 

I will be spending my holiday break reading all the stuff I shoulda been reading ( but I spent that time hustlin' and complaining).

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Hopefully most of us are done or close to done?  Is anyone else obsessively refreshing the webpage where grades are posted? ;)  (I know grades don't matter as much but I really wanna know!  It's that whole "am I really doing well enough" thing.

 

So far, I guess I am, but I have 2 more grades coming in; they are due today.

 

I think I must check for grades a dozen times a day! I know I have an A in one class, & I'm hoping the other will be an A (my third class is pass/fail, I suspect I'll pass). I would be absolutely chuffed if I started out with a 4.0, especially since I'm taking on a much heavier courseload next semester: core seminar, seminar in my subfield, elective in my subfield, & auditing a class taught by the professor I'm doing fieldwork with this summer.

 

Wahhhhhhh I want my grades! (temper tantrum)

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I think I must check for grades a dozen times a day! I know I have an A in one class, & I'm hoping the other will be an A (my third class is pass/fail, I suspect I'll pass). I would be absolutely chuffed if I started out with a 4.0, especially since I'm taking on a much heavier courseload next semester: core seminar, seminar in my subfield, elective in my subfield, & auditing a class taught by the professor I'm doing fieldwork with this summer.

 

Wahhhhhhh I want my grades! (temper tantrum)

 

:)  Great job!  I got an A- in my methods course (stats) and an A in the applied medical anthro course, which I'm hoping to use as an elective in my subfield.  Waiting to hear about another 2 core comm classes.  For juggling 4 classes and an office job, I think I did OK. (I will NEVER do that again!!)

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Is anyone else feeling the same as me? Like, it is what it is. I will try my best, but whatever, in regard to coursework? 

 

Yes, I think it's a relatively sane way to approach things. :)

I bet you did better than you think...

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I'm feeling grade impatient too - especially since I haven't had any graded materials or homework along the way to help me evaluate my own progress.  One grade was posted today - an A-.  

 

I think I'm pleased?  I don't know, I've dealt with a +/- system and I don't know my school's culture well enough to know if an A- means anything besides I'm not being ejected yet. At least, until the next grade posts :huh:

I think I must check for grades a dozen times a day! I know I have an A in one class, & I'm hoping the other will be an A (my third class is pass/fail, I suspect I'll pass). I would be absolutely chuffed if I started out with a 4.0, especially since I'm taking on a much heavier courseload next semester: core seminar, seminar in my subfield, elective in my subfield, & auditing a class taught by the professor I'm doing fieldwork with this summer.

 

Wahhhhhhh I want my grades! (temper tantrum)

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My first grade is an A-, and I don't have terribly high hopes for the final I have tomorrow in my one other class, so we'll see.  That A- is in a class that was essentially pure grad school hazing, though--I was told that the professor was disappointed that this year's TAs didn't make anyone cry--so I'm feeling pretty good about it on its own.

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Hopefully most of us are done or close to done?  Is anyone else obsessively refreshing the webpage where grades are posted? ;)  (I know grades don't matter as much but I really wanna know!  It's that whole "am I really doing well enough" thing.

Final exam done this evening! 

My biggest source of stress this semester was getting into my top choice research group - grades I'm not really worried about as long as they average out to a B or above. One grade has come back...and its fine. The other two I think will be fine as well. 

Coursework. Research. Teaching. I reckon I can only properly be stressed about one of those things at a time. ;) 

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I'm one of the only students in my program that does not have a masters degree so I'm taking a full course load. I have five finals, three within 24 hours of each other. I'm exhausted.

 

good luck!!

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First semester of the PhD is done, and grades are in the books.  When I got here, I was horrified of teaching, with imposter syndrome practically tattooed across my face.  I also came in without a master's degree, and as far as I can tell, in that context, I am in a cohort of one.  :ph34r:   I TA'd three labs this semester, and feel like everything panned out much better than I hoped for to begin with.  I'm pretty sure I learned about 10 times as much as I did in undergrad just from TAing the introductory section.  Aaaaannnnnnddddd.... this is the first time I've managed a 4.0 for the semester in a few years.  I've been kinda checking the transcripts website a few times a day to make sure no one changed their mind.  Chipper human alert.  :D

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  • 2 weeks later...

Grades are back and better than I expected. Just about another week until the new semester which I'm feeling much better about since I have the first one under my belt. I had a tough time adjusting to a small New England city after having lived in big metropolises my whole life but I recently have come to the conclusion that I really love my school and everything is worth it :)

Best of luck in the new semester, y'all!

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How is everyone's new semester going? 

 

I find winter break to be an awkward time span -- it always feels like too little time, but it's just enough that I have to get back into the swing of grad school afterward. I hope you all had a great break!

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I wish I had found this topic earlier. I wrote a post a few days back detailing some of my past and experiences during my first year in another topic (pasted below). Didn't know it at the time, but I am definitely feeling impostor syndrome at points.

 

I haven't posted much since starting my Ph.D. program this past fall, but I just wanted some advice on my current life path. I started out as a bioengineering major (high-ranked institution) but like oh so many other students, did not do so well in coursework (as is reflected by my shamefully low GPA haha). I then decided to work as a research associate in a biochemistry/biophysical lab on a small molecule screen before doing my master's in BME at a fairly low-ranked school. However, my master's thesis advisor suggested that I round out my education by possibly doing my Ph.D. in a different field, but can still be applicable to BME in the future. He was of the opinion that current BME curricula are not focused enough for either grad school or industry. So I applied and got accepted at a decently ranked institution for chemistry. Classes during the first semester were not that difficult, and I managed to do well in all of them in the end (despite being more biochem heavy than actual chemistry). I rotated in a few labs before joining a peptide chemistry lab. I found the research utterly fascinating but started to become a bit intimidated since it's been years since I actually took any significant chemistry (i.e. ochem, gen chem, etc.), which was nearly 7-8 years ago during my freshman/soph years (although my biochem is sufficient). My current advisor did warn me that his lab did have a significant amount of synthetic chemistry and that I would need to catch up in this area before really getting going on my primary research project. I guess some of my biggest concerns include my being intimidated by some of the other students who are purely "synthetic" chemists, my advisor feeling the need to give me such a warning, and just a personally induced anxiety that I don't really belong here. I fully do intend and am catching up in gen/ochem as quickly as possible but just cannot shake this feeling of dread and impending doom. Like I said, the research is absolutely awesome and can definitely relate to work I've done as a BME major, which makes sense from an interdisciplinary viewpoint.

 

1. Another thing I should mention is that I have never taken physical or inorganic chemistry. So should I read up/study on that even though my current lab does not heavily focus on them at all?

2. Anyone have any advice at all for me about this path? Anyone else gone through something similar and willing to impart some knowledge?

3. Assurances never hurt either haha :)

 

P.S. I should note that despite his warning, my PI did accept me without any reservations or conditions in the end.

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Oh my gosh, new semester starts tomorrow. My post doc left me for a job (which I'm super happy for her, but will miss her to death), so now I'm basically the only one running the lab now…with about 8 RAs to handle. Here's to praying the anxiety won't kill me!! AACK! 

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