Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A few observations and unsolicited advice about grad school

1. If you are lucky enough to receive funding for your PhD research, do whatever it takes to get it all done before the funding runs out. Every day after the money runs out is a source of unrelenting stress that wreaks havoc with your mental and physical fitness and interferes with finishing.

2. If you are lucky enough to get the opportunity to develop and teach your own courses, make sure you still set aside time each day to work on your own project. Spending hours every day reading and marking student papers makes it difficult to stay focussed and finish your own work.

3. If you are not lucky enough to be surrounded everyday by interested and supportive colleagues, do whatever you can to build this network outside of the university. Working alone and without encouragement is dehumanising and makes it hard to finish.

3a. If you are not lucky enough to have your supervisor in the same place as you while you try to finish, regularly scheduled videoconferencing is a good option.

6 Comments:

Blogger Chris said...

You can do it, Anne - I have faith in you! I decided not to pursue my doctorate, so I escaped the pain of which you speak, but I saw it with many of my friends who went on to do PhDs.

I hope this comes across as supportive and not patronising... How on Earth does one distinguish the two without tone of voice and body language to express authenticity?

05:59  
Blogger Rob said...

Does anyone else know about videoconferencing - what are the do's and don'ts. Anne makes it sound like old hat but useable videoconferencing appliances for academic contexts other than computing scientists who might be interested in making a glitchy system work - only dates from the end of 2004.

07:43  
Anonymous anne said...

Thanks so much Chris!

And Rob - is that you, oh wonderful supervisor of mine who takes good care of me?

As far as I know, iChat and Skype are the best options - but I'd also like to hear from others on the subject...

09:22  
Blogger e-tat said...

I'm with you on the first three points - and how! - but that one about videoconferencing threw me. I have a hard enough time using a digital recorder for my meetings, so webcams and the like really up the techno-stress level.

Maybe it's necessary given your topic, but I'd argue in favour of simple technology that doesn't get in the way so much. I'm happy with a hard copy and some red penwork. Followed by a long conversation, of course!

Aside from that, don't forget to breathe, read somne Zippy cartoons, and go for an hour's walk.

10:29  
Anonymous Anne said...

e-tat: oh no, the goal is *less* stress ;)

all i mean is that when you don't have the luxury of lovingly going over inked-up and coffee-stained copies face-to-face, then videoconferencing looks pretty good ...

10:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And, if you are lucky enough to work with people who have at least SOME CLUE about what you are doing, be happy, toast to this everyday may be! Remembering, there are people who have people on their committee with not much understanding of what they are doing, and that they only are there (in the committee) because they are professors.

16:32  

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