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50 Things Only Grad Students Will Understand

50 Things Only Grad Students Will Understand

Life as a graduate student isn't always easy, but it’s worthwhile (even if it doesn't always feel that way).

Elizabeth Hoyt

October 23, 2013

Life as a graduate student isn’t always easy, but it’s worthwhile (even if it doesn’t always feel that way).

After researching what seemed like a million and one graduate student blogs, the following list was compiled with the common themes present in the daily lives of graduate students.

Read the below to get a laugh, relate and realize that others know what you’re going through.

1. Your meetings with professors are scheduled at the most inconvenient time imaginable. So what if my wife is in labor?

2. Lonely office hours – do students even utilize these anymore?

3. Your life can be summed up in one word: research.

4. The impossible balance between research, school and studying.

5. Trying to remember what you ate today…or was that yesterday?

6. The boredom between courses and qualifying exams…even though you should be studying.

7. As soon as you get a moment to relax, somebody says “thesis” and it’s over.

8. Neglecting to speak out loud for an entire day because your reading took over.

9. Your social life consists of people debating serious issues and philosophical concepts.

10. You consider caffeine to be your favorite food group. The only down side is the twitching and involuntary body movements you now experience regularly.

11. All of your household surfaces are mere extensions of your desk.

12. Carefully grading undergraduate work that never gets picked up by the student.

13. Working wherever, whenever. Your books and laptop are basically tethered to your body.

14. Weekends are no longer filled with fun and excitement. They now contain dread mixed with piles of text.

15. The panic that sets in when you scheduled a task that doesn’t involve school.

16. Looking forward to the week because you only have one 20-page paper to write.

17. Realizing you must choose between sleep, school and a social life. School wins.

18. Being so exhausted that you don’t even have the energy to try to sleep.

19. You actually get excited when you get books for a new semester.

20. Your excitement is short-lived because you realize they don’t fit on your IKEA bookshelf.

21. You start questioning if your life is “normal,” due to eleven-plus hour workdays with no breaks.

22. It’s increasingly difficult to continue a discussion after a person makes a comment you disagree with.

23. You avoid your dissertation advisor like a debt collector since you still haven’t finished the task at hand.

24. Your bucket list consists of making friends outside of grad school, in hopes to maintain some degree of normalcy.

25. Answering the same student questions via email repeatedly.

26. Simple pleasures in life, like purchasing a plant or dry-clean only shirt, become “too much of a commitment.”

27. Feeling as if you’re having a nervous breakdown, then wondering if you’re technically too young to have a nervous breakdown. Better Google it, just in case.

28. Spelling the simplest words suddenly becomes difficult.
It’s m-u-s-e-a-u-m, right?

29. You’re actually grateful when an illness coincides with your schedule.
Thank goodness it was the weekend and I didn’t have to miss class!

30. You either have a million things to do or nothing to do – never a healthy medium.

31. You’ve got a grad school speech ready for when you meet new people: your field, what you study and what you plan to do with your degree.

32. You actually begin to miss having homework during holiday breaks.

33. You feel like a fake and wonder when the other members of academia will catch on and kick you out of the program.

34. Constantly checking your email and, when nothing arrives, demanding someone nearby double check the Internet is working. It is.

35. Your basic human priorities that were once eat, drink and sleep are now replaced with papers, books and due dates.

36. Your thoughts are no longer simplistic – you only have two response modes for conversation: verbal thesis or completely tongue-tied.

37. You give yourself pep talks in your head and one day you catch yourself doing it out loud, in public.

38. You’re constantly trying to come up with clever comebacks to annoying questions regarding grad school. Isn’t it expensive? What kind of job can you even get with that degree?

39. Speaking to people outside of grad school becomes difficult because you now use words that are not applicable to daily life, like “hegemony” or “praxis.”

40. Over-thinking has become a hobby of yours.

41. Anxiety ensues when you’re on break because you keep feeling like you’ve forgotten to do something, even though you haven’t.

42. Rewarding yourself with mundane tasks once you’ve completed a paper, like putting your laundry in the dryer. How exciting!

43. Planning your day around one simple task or errand that you never actually accomplish.
I guess I can do that tomorrow…

44. You now find weird or unfunny things hilarious, like making up ridiculous hypothetical situations involving other students or your professors.

45. Trying to figure out if you aren’t eating regularly because you’re broke or because you’re too busy. You settle on the fact that it’s a combination of the two.

46. You feel fantastically brilliant one moment, which is short-lived because you feel dumb-as-a-rock the next.

47. The professor you want to learn most from seems to dislike you and only you.

48. You realize you have so many books overdue at the library that the fees require a payment plan.
Then you remember the ridiculous amount of debt you’ve acquired to attend graduate school and have a mini panic attack about both situations.

49. Trying to figure out what a dissertation actually is while you’re trying to work on one.
You then console yourself with the fact that nobody else seems to know, either.

50. Realizing your work is valuable and the process was worthwhile, even after you’ve been repeatedly critiqued, rejected and denied by countless scholars, publications and departments you respect.


What other grad school realities have you experienced?


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