Been there, done that.

After six years of grad school, there are a few things I've picked up from personal experience and a whole lot of time talking with other female grad students (AKA procrastinating). I've always wished there had been some kind of handbook about how to handle the whole world of graduate school, so I figured I'd start a friendly place to discuss what it's like to be female in grad school, and maybe pass on some wisdom too!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Random Observations from Grad School Life

In the spirit of random lists, I started thinking about some of the things I've noticed during the past six years. (Some of these are repeats from another earlier list posted elsewhere, so, um, yeah. I don't know why I'm pointing out this caveat, but oh well.) Please chime in with any to add!

1.    TA'ing sucks more time and energy than a black hole, with the exception of actually teaching, which is a black hole and there's no escaping (at least until grades are submitted).
2.    Sometimes there's a real reason why some people end up in academia, and it's not always a good one.
3.    Research institutions are very, very different from teaching institutions.
4.    Not all advisers are created equal. See #2. Some rock. Some should never emerge from their offices.
5.    Tuition costs should factor in blood, sweat, tears, and the number of times I have sworn at inanimate objects and myself.
6.    It is possible to live on ramen consistently. It will result in scurvy. Multi-vitamins help.
7.    Having children in grad school requires super-powers, namely the ability to go without sleep for weeks at a time. I do not have this power, and really, I don't want it. I like to sleep, and if I'm going to get a super-power of any kind, it damn well better be flying.
8.    On-campus housing will smell bad. Always. No amount of industrial-strength febreeze will get rid of it.
9.    An apartment with a washer, dryer, and dishwasher can make life worth living.
10. Mindless fun is occasionally the only way that I can remember that there is a life beyond grad school.
11. Seeing your name on your first journal article almost makes up for the hell it was formatting, learning how to submit it, and writing the dang thing to start with. Almost.
12. Picturing people naked in order to feel more comfortable speaking in front of them is a terrible idea. Honestly, who came up with this??
13. Grading tests/papers/assignments is fun for about the first two minutes, the first time you do it. Then the power-trip fades when you realize how dumb the majority of people in college are.
14. Sometimes running away does help.
15. Going to grad school close to family can be good. And bad.
16. I officially worship Pepsi. Other caffeinated beverages are also welcome.
17. Freshmen will always be clueless. The charm of this trait wears off fast, so enjoy it while it lasts.
18. Those few students who listen, understand, and are enthusiastic about my classes make all the difference in the world.
19. Holding office hours on a Friday will ensure that you never have to see anyone.
20. Bribes work, especially when disguised as something else.
21. The amount of highlighting I do in an article is inversely related to how interesting the article is.
22. Sometimes I actually wish I could get sick, just to have an excuse not to work. (*knock on wood*)
23. Poverty sucks.
24. Waking up one morning and realizing my twenties are ostensibly over, and having a really hard time remembering the majority of the last decade, is really depressing.
25. Getting “hooded” when graduating just sounds wrong.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


I've stumbled across a few things to share this week, so in lieu of a more formal post this Mother's Day evening, here are some neat things you might want to check into:

PLoS Blogs talks about women in science blogging. It runs through some awesome blogs that I've really enjoyed looking through. It's a long article, but worth the read, and clicking through to the other blogs. I've found some great stuff :)

My absolute favorite blog (Female Science Professor) talked this week about the difference in language when referring to men and women and presenting their work (and especially how they are portrayed by males in a public setting). Very interesting read, and made me kinda pissed off, actually. Enjoy :)

And my favorite thing this week:


Okay, anyone else find something interesting to share this week? (I feel like I'm in elementary school saying that, but I would love to see if anyone has anything!)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

So What Are You Going To Do With That? Teach?

I have seriously lost count of the times I've been asked this question, and every time it makes me want to tell the asker to go find a cliff. Because, actually, yes, I do intend on teaching. I love being in the classroom, and I try to be a good professor. But that's not the only reason I study what I do, and it's certainly not the only reason why I'm in grad school. Still, whenever I explain my research to people, nine times out of ten I'll be asked what the heck I plan on doing with my diploma. And the added little barb that I'll "only" ever be able to teach about it kind of stings. (Does anyone have a good response to this? I'd love to hear some great comebacks for this question--I know I'm not the only one who has gotten it!)

But this question brings up two rather annoying points about the general view of grad school--something that I didn't really realize before I got into higher education and wish I'd thought about some. One is that most people view research rather poorly. Kind of a 'duh' comment, but not something I like to think about when I look at my own research. When it doesn't have a direct correlation with some awesome outcome that is obviously going to "make the world a better place" (often with the undercurrent of making someone a lot of money) people don't view it as important. Not that my research is science for science's sake, but most people don't understand that, or even want to understand that.

Second, and more importantly, is that people view teaching as a last-resort option or career. Anyone who would *want* to get up in front of 400 students and discuss evolution, Shakespeare, or the Krebs Cycle must be nuts. Um, hello? Why is this? I honestly don't understand. Teaching is so vital to our society and way of life that the fact that it is undervalued and viewed pessimistically really ticks me off. Wanting to teach may not make me a whole lot of money, but it certainly is an awesome career choice. (Okay, I'll get off my soapbox now.)

Anyhow, thinking about this lovely little barb, and how I've tried to deflect it all these years, has made me start thinking about the other things people say and do to belittle grad school. Please, please chime in with more if you've got them!

So, things I've been told about choosing grad school:
-So, couldn't find a real job, could ya?
-What, you wanna be Einstein? (Okay, not asked of me, but someone else I know...)
-Why would you want to do that?
-You must really like to torture yourself.
-Do you like being poor?

Anyone got some good ones to add to the list??