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Things People Say Before Starting Graduate School


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"It'll take me about five to six years" - Me to everybody else

"I think I have what it takes to earn a PhD... I mean, I do, right..?" - Me to myself every night




 

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I'll be able to keep this to 40 hours a week, just like I did at my "real" job - right? 

I'll have the summers off to do whatever I want, just like I did in undergrad!

Having limited funds isn't that bad, I mean, we'll be fine if we have a good budget. 

I'll never be able to keep up with all of that reading!

I'll stay fit, I mean, there's going to be a ton of time to exercise!

Not drink as much coffee/booze as I did in undergrad (OK, so the ratio changed a bit)

I'm smart, so this will be easy.

(on all accounts, wrong)

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On 5/22/2016 at 1:07 PM, drivingthoughts said:

 

I'll stay fit, I mean, there's going to be a ton of time to exercise!

 

I underestimated that there may, indeed, be a Grad Student 15 which is slightly more disheartening as a 27 y/o than it was as an 18 y/o freshman.

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On 5/22/2016 at 8:07 PM, drivingthoughts said:

I'll stay fit, I mean, there's going to be a ton of time to exercise!

I  disagree with this -  I've got fitter in grad school than undergrad. By scheduling the gym into my day it's become routine and it only means getting up an hour earlier. This one is all about mindset. Actually a lot of these are about mindset. That's not to say that people don't say all these things, because they do, and there's definitely periods where they're true but that doesn't have to be the norm. Good time management and organisational skills can make a huge difference.

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Not trying to dampen the fun or anything :) but actually a lot of these things aren't so outrageous and can be pretty true depending on the program and yourself. For example, I really do think that doctoral stuents should be able to stay fit - grad students are busy but you can certainly take 3-5 hours a week to exercise - and keep up at least some of the hobbies they had before graduate school. It's demanding, but you don't want to fundamentally change who  you are as a person and eliminate everything that's enjoyable about life to you for this pursuit. That's a quick way to burn out.

But yes, I did put on a lot of weight in my graduate program. I shed quite a bit of it after I graduated and got a non-academic 9-5 job. I was actually astonished at how quickly I lost the weight after I finished even though I wasn't trying (I was happy with my size) and didn't change my exercise regimen a whole lot. But I was eating more regularly and healthily, sleeping more regularly, and was on a regular schedule - and was also a lot less stressed. That makes a big difference!

You can also make the conscious decision to keep PhD work to 40 hours a week, especially after coursework and maybe comps, but with the knowledge that you might be trading off some research productivity. (That said, it's the rare graduate student who does more than around 50-55 hours of ACTUAL work a week. You'll hear many of them claim to be working 60-80+ hour weeks, but in reality nobody can sustain that level of work long-term and a lot of that time may be spent procrastinating or doing unproductive stuff.)

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On 6/1/2016 at 4:38 AM, hippyscientist said:

I  disagree with this -  I've got fitter in grad school than undergrad. By scheduling the gym into my day it's become routine and it only means getting up an hour earlier. This one is all about mindset. Actually a lot of these are about mindset. That's not to say that people don't say all these things, because they do, and there's definitely periods where they're true but that doesn't have to be the norm. Good time management and organisational skills can make a huge difference.

Even though I'm not always motivated to, I definitely feel 100% better when I schedule in a bit of exercise each day. I can't believe how inactive I was during undergrad, I never want to be like that again! Even if it's a bit of pacing around while reading, or standing while reading, really anything other than sitting all day is beneficial I think. I'm thinking about getting one of those standing desk contraptions.

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