Re: The liberal arts experience

1

Extra-curriculars, clubs, non-major classes, diversification.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 11:26 AM
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Seriously consider dropping out and learning some kind of skilled trade instead. You can't outsource plumbing to India -- at least not yet.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 11:28 AM
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Tube socks are not cool.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 11:29 AM
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Seriously with the quasi-practical advice. Looking back on undergraduate life, the degree to which I failed to understand the practical point of anything I was doing was ridiculous


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 11:31 AM
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what thoughts might have been helpful at the very start of your undergraduate careers

You'll have your whole life to get hammered, but your undergraduate education will only last four five six years, so try to give your studies at least equal time.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 11:32 AM
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Don't sleep with your advisor.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 11:33 AM
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1. This is how to get off campus (extremely specific, baby-step info regarding public transportation routes, roads, parks, etc.). Whether it's an urban campus or a small college town, it's really, really valuable to be reminded that the world does not begin and end in a single campus.

2. Corporations want your money, and the college is a corporation too. Every single credit-card offer, free t-shirt, and "payment plan" comes with strings attached. These entities do not have your best interest at heart, whether they are trying to recommend a student-loan provider or where to take your parents to dinner.

3. The irrationality of in loco parentis is matched only by the irrationality and litigiousness of (some of) your classmates' parents. Colleges will do stupid things to cover up crimes and/or to warn students about vivid but negligible risks, while ignoring bigger but less sexy ones. With luck, you will have a decent campus newspaper and/or blog to keep you apprised of which risks are worth altering your life.

4. If you're the reflective type, there is no better essay than William Cronin's "Only Connect..." (pdf).

5. Rising out of college does not mean your life is over.

Actually, that should have been #1.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 11:37 AM
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Listen to Kotsko.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 11:39 AM
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Among non-required courses (and the exent you can among required courses), strongly consider choosing somewhere between most and all of your courses based on the professors, rather than the purported "subject" of the course. A good professor can make interesting what may have initially sounded very boring, and less-good professors will bring much less out of even the most interesting of subjects. This was advice I did not learn until far too late in the game.

But beyond that, choose courses that seem interesting to you. There is nothing that you *need* to learn. Or put another way, the only thing you really need to learn is what interests you.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 11:40 AM
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Among non-required courses (and the exent you can among required courses), strongly consider choosing somewhere between most and all of your courses based on the professors, rather than the purported "subject" of the course. A good professor can make interesting what may have initially sounded very boring, and less-good professors will bring much less out of even the most interesting of subjects.

I could not figure out any way to tell what the difference between the professors was in my non-required courses, because I didn't know any older people in departments other than mine.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 11:42 AM
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You need to cultivate a sensitivity that will allow you to understand the particularities of each students' needs, Labsy.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 11:43 AM
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I wish someone had taken me aside as freshman and strongly urged me to take advantage of TA sessions and professors' office hours. I wish someone had warned me early on against falling behind in coursework, as it is very difficult to catch up once you do. Also, apo's advice in 5 would have come in handy.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 11:46 AM
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You stole my post! I was going to put up something about my brother starting college tomorrow and asking for "If you knew then what you know now..." advice.


Posted by: Becks | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 11:46 AM
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You stole my post! I was going to put up something about my brother starting college tomorrow and asking for "If you knew then what you know now..." advice.

It's possible that not all of the advice we would want to give your brother is advice we would want a student's advisor to give him or her.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 11:47 AM
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You know, people told me about professors' office hours, and I could never figure out what I was supposed to talk to them about -- what was a productive use of their time?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 11:48 AM
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I could not figure out any way to tell what the difference between the professors was in my non-required courses, because I didn't know any older people in departments other than mine.

Depends on the size of the institution, but plenty of profs are happy to meet with prospective class-takers before class-choosing day arrives. So you may not be able to just scan for classes by Prof. Hayes or Hart, but you can narrow your range of could-be-interesting classes, then spend 5 minutes talking to the relevant profs. Of course, teaching ability != office hours persona, but some data is better than none.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 11:50 AM
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"Nothing -- neither getting As, nor getting into that graduate seminar, nor admission to med school, law school or business school -- is as difficult as people say it is."


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 11:51 AM
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I wish someone would have let me know how unimportant, even counter-productive, choosing a major right away is. Students should be encouraged to spend their first year, or two, just exploring as many fields as possible to find something they truly identify with.


Posted by: Hermes | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 11:52 AM
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I did not take advantage of office hours and still to this day do not understand them. I did get the sense that some people I knew just swung by then to chat with their professors, regularly. This is bizarre to me. I taught for a few years and people would drop by office hours with questions on the material, but not generally just to chat. That would have probably have annoyed me, which maybe means it's good I'm not a professor.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 11:53 AM
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I would actually encourage people to put a lot of effort into transferrable skill-type coursework, such as lab science or stats or foreign languages or computer. I did all humanities and it was completely not useful.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 11:54 AM
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"Nothing -- neither getting As, nor getting into that graduate seminar, nor admission to med school, law school or business school -- is as difficult as people say it is."

While this may be true for the Unfogged crowd, I don't think this is healthy blanket advice. I don't think it's accurate, basically. Not all kids are capable of getting an A in all classes, or getting into med school, or whatever. There's a lot of getting-to-know-thyself as an undergrad.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 11:55 AM
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Practical advice = +++

Go to office hours. If you have to, think of a decent question in the second week--the first week is too busy--and show up to talk about it. Do not show up merely to complain about your grade. It's a really good idea to go to office hours to discuss any major paper or project in the first week it's assigned.

Following the profs is all well and good, but beware of the profs who are merely entertaining. A professor who has a reputation for being hard but interesting is a much better way to go.

If you're invited to do something academic--a "leadership training program," a research project, extra credit, whatever--do it. If you're invited to do something social, do it. Go ahead and feel shy, but don't talk yourself out of shit. On the other hand, standing social "invitations"--i.e., getting drunk every ThFSSu night--will prevent you from actually doing more interesting things, so try to keep that shit down to once a week or less.

If you get involved in the procrastination cycle, set a timer and make yourself work for fifteen minutes. Then go do something else. Set yourself a goal of two or three fifteen minute work periods a day, and at the end of the semester expand them into half an hour or an hour at a sitting. Don't ever schedule yourself to study/write/work for more than three hours straight.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 11:56 AM
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The best advice to give your students is:

"The earlier you get behind, the more time you have to catch back up."


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 11:56 AM
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Don't worry about what You're Going To Do With Your Life, since it's almost certainly not going to be what you think it is (and if it does turn out to be that, then you're going to regret having been so narrow and focused anyway).


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 11:58 AM
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Actually, the advice that would have produced the biggest net quality-of-life gain during my undergrad career would have been: hot sex isn't really that scarce a commodity, so don't feel obligated to stay with that psychotic bitch that all your friends hate.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:00 PM
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Pick courses that will provide you with transferable skills, by all means. Pick courses that will lead to the appropriate vocationally/professionally orientated graduate program, but, above all, pick courses in things *you* like and are interested in.

Working hard and doing well is much easier if what you are doing is interesting. If you don't know what that might be, Hermes advice above is good [doesn't really apply in the UK, but whatever].

Also, if you're in the humanities, find out where you can find out about how to write. In the UK at least there are no equivalents of freshman comp classes.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:01 PM
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hot sex isn't really that scarce a commodity

Maybe for you.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:04 PM
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My own advice is to make up your own concentrations for non-major courses: I took 3 anthropology courses, and like 7 lit courses, and it was far more worthwhile than dabbling in 10 separate topics. My 3rd anthro course was actually a grad seminar with an important - and interesting - prof, which was an awesome opportunity.

Oh, and look into cross-institutional opportunities. The aforementioned anthro courses were all at the adjacent, much bigger University, and that kind of thing can really expand one's horizons.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:04 PM
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Point out that college is a time of sexual experimentation.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:04 PM
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Advise the boys that the girls are taking notes and sharing them, so if they make jackasses of themselves during their freshman year (probably in some way that involves alcohol), they will find it difficult to get dates for the rest of college.

(For me, this was throwing up in the social room of the freshman girls dorm.)


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:05 PM
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It's possible to chugalug hard liquor if you don't like the taste, but it's not a good plan.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:06 PM
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More advice I wish someone had given me: Don't be afraid to admit to yourself if you are having difficulties with some of the coursework, and, having admitted it, do something about it.

Also, just because you were smart enough to skate through high school, don't expect you can do the same in college. College requires actual, serious work.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:06 PM
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Don't be afraid to take a class solely on the basis of the professor's amazing beard. I did that and then took two more with the same guy; he was great. This probably also applies to people at Pitt.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:08 PM
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College requires actual, serious work.

You must not have been a political science major.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:09 PM
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Oh, also: if you find yourself feeling miserable for more than a week, for god's sake go to the student counselling center. If the counsellor you get initially doesn't seem to be helping much after a few sessions, ask for someone else.

No, their feelings won't be hurt.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:09 PM
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As someone at the very start of his undergraduate career, I have to say that this thread is pretty sweet.

Can the grad students give special advice for undergraduates who plan on attending grad school? And the academics for undergraduates who plan (maybe) to be academics?


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:10 PM
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Addendum to 35: I honestly find, Labs, that it's really reassuring and helpful to a lot of students if the professors show themselves to be human. I.e., if the advice you give is anchored with a little bit of anecdote: "a lot of people, including your professors, see therapists, so if you need to, don't think you're the only one." Or "Professors understand procrastination because we do it too, and I'm telling you this fifteen-minute work period thing really works." Etc.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:11 PM
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31: Very true. The incident in 30 followed sitting down with a fifth of Absolut and a straw.


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:12 PM
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Can the grad students give special advice for undergraduates who plan on attending grad school?

Yeah, don't.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:12 PM
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special advice for undergraduates who plan on attending grad school?

Take two years "off" before doing that. Get a job. If you find yourself less interested in grad school two years on, don't bother. If you find yourself more interested, make sure it's not just because your job is boring and you "don't know what else to do."

the academics for undergraduates who plan (maybe) to be academics?

Get to know some of your profs, and ask them what they *do* every day. Pay attention to who's on campus most of the time, being involved in campus life and teaching, versus who's never around. Which of the two publishes more? Which of the two has more weight in the department (*not* in the undergraduates' minds). Think about your own personality and attitude towards your academic work, and which type of academic seems more like you/what you want to be. Once you know the answer, come back and ask for further advice.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:16 PM
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You know, I don't think I've ever spoken to anyone who liked grad school. This does not bode well.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:16 PM
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Can the grad students give special advice for undergraduates who plan on attending grad school?

I'm not a grad student any more, but I would stress even more the part about making use of the professors' office hours. At some point you will be asking some of them to write recommendations for you, and it will be much easier for them to do this if they remember who you are. Also, professors are a great source of advice concerning which grad schools to apply to.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:16 PM
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set a timer and make yourself work for fifteen minutes. Then go do something else. Set yourself a goal of two or three fifteen minute work periods a day, and at the end of the semester expand them into half an hour or an hour at a sitting. Don't ever schedule yourself to study/write/work for more than three hours straight.

"Professors understand procrastination because we do it too, and I'm telling you this fifteen-minute work period thing really works."

Sweet Jesus I should have been an academic.

Does anyone have any tips for getting a good acaemic job? I don't want to publish anything or go to grad school.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:16 PM
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If you find yourself more interested, make sure it's not just because your job is boring and you "don't know what else to do."

So, B, if your job is boring and you don't know what else to do, what should you do?


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:18 PM
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I don't think I've ever spoken to anyone who liked grad school.

Only my wife. Nearly everybody else describes the day they dropped out of grad school as one of their happiest days ever.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:18 PM
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Also pay attention to 39. Close attention.

Consider whether you're willing to spend most of your 20s becoming increasingly unhappy. The only known alternative is to be an impoverished workaholic with an extremely narrow life. If that appeals to you, then you might be cut out for academia. If not, there are lots of other things you can do. Spend some time finding out about them.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:18 PM
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36: Have a fallback career plan. The burnout rate in grad school is pretty high.


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:19 PM
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41: I liked the academic aspect of grad school a lot more than the academic part of my undergraduate education. Of course, much of that was due to the fact that I was older and knew what the hell I was doing by that point.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:20 PM
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You know, I don't think I've ever spoken to anyone who liked grad school.

Most academics probably liked grad school at first, then get really sick of it, then graduated and now like their career. (Many people hate grad school off the bat, but they don't go on to academics.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:20 PM
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44: Figure out what you like doing, and do as much of it as you can. Next year, do more. Make it into a big part of your life. Figure out how to make it pay. Switch careers.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:20 PM
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I can't agree enough with the idea of choosing classes based on the professor rather than the subject. I was lucky enough to go to a school that gave us a two week shopping period at the start of each semester, so it was extremely difficult to get stuck with a lousy teacher. And the upshot is that you wind up taking classes and subjects you might have otherwise discovered -- I discovered that I loved urban and cultural history because I randomly took a seminar on the subject. It wound up getting me a job and probably will be my focus when/if I go to grad school.

Also, before she went away last year, I gave my lil sister the college talk, which basically consisted of three things: always pay attention to recurring themes and keywords because those will be the answers to every humanities essay/ID question (especially on the ubiquitous agree-disagree-nuance questions); don't declare a major until you absolutely have to, but give yourself lots of options; and avoid the lacrosse team. Her only feedback after freshman year was that I was right about lacrosse players.


Posted by: Gump | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:21 PM
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Don't be afraid to take a class solely on the basis of the professor's amazing beard

That is an amazing beard. I thought you meant beard.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:21 PM
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Can the grad students give special advice for undergraduates who plan on attending grad school?

Go to office hours and ask the professor about their work, not the coursework. Also, read academic blogs. Follow the links here, or from B.'s blogroll, and see what it's like to be in grad school before you decide to do it.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:21 PM
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A big second for the first point in 35.

It's easy to forget (especially when you're a young prof who still considers themselves sort of studenty) just how much the students don't see you as a real person.

Also, try to begin to instill in them the fact that in the "real world" is just as stupid and arbitrary as the world they already live in. So they should neither get their hopes up nor be afraid of it.


Posted by: orangatan | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:22 PM
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Most academics probably liked grad school at first, then get really sick of it, then graduated and now like their career.

Yeah, but how much of that is The Career, and how much of it is simply what happens when you move into your 30s and 40s?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:24 PM
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If we all hated grad school, why did we go? Do we regret that we went?

I mean that as an invitation for personal accounts, not a rhetorical teaser.

Here's mine: I went because I enjoyed my math classes a lot. I went because I suspected I'd enjoy teaching. I'm glad I went. I'm seriously relieved not to be on the research track, though. I love my little teaching college.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:25 PM
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"Don't hold anybody else's weed. Call your parents 'bourgeois pigs.' They'll love it."


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:27 PM
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I second personal accounts. I was going to ask for those about the undergraduate years before I asked about grad school.

Without them, this thread is just going to depress me.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:28 PM
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I went because I wanted a PhD. AT the time, I spent more time feeling miserable than I should have; in retrospect, having a few years to go to classes and hang out with friends in a lovely city and avoid most of the bureaucratic nonsense that's such a big part of adult life was a fabulous thing. I kept going after my (terminal) MA program because I suspected I'd enjoy teaching, and I do. I wasn't happy in my first job, I'm fairly happy now (but a little restless), and I may very well end up at a teaching/commuter school and be very happy. But it took a lot of therapy and angst to get to this point.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:28 PM
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Yeah, but how much of that is The Career, and how much of it is simply what happens when you move into your 30s and 40s?

Hey! I'm still 29 and a half!

For me, it was immediate and huge. On the other hand, I fell off the research track and got the job mentioned in 56. I think I'd be miserable if I were currently in a research post-doc.

My mom stayed in research and had a light-switch positive experience when she finished grad school, also. For her it was the autonomy and confidence that came with finishing up school.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:29 PM
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For the record, I like grad school.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:30 PM
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Do we regret that we went?

What's with this "went" crap? I don't regret it yet, if only because it's meant that I've gotten to spend seven or eight years doing something I love, and getting paid (albeit not well) to do it.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:31 PM
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41: Grad school is often awesome. But their are parts of it that are soul crushing. And there's a huge amount of variance between advisors, programs, schools, and fields in terms of which way that see-saw sits.

The soul crushing parts make for better stories though, so that narrative does tend to dominate even amongst people enjoyed themselves overall (in our dept. we were recently laughing about the disconnect between the vision of grad school we've given our students and the drunken, procrastinating reality that made up of the actual bulk of it).

But as has been said, it really is something that's not for everyone, and too many people do it simply because they don't know what else to do. You really want to know what you're getting yourself into.


Posted by: orangatan | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:31 PM
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54: On the flip side, though, a lot of undergrads don't realize that the younger profs are often better for them. They might not be the most polished teachers, but the classes will be smaller, (some) aren't as likely to be jaded about dealing with undergrads, you'll get a lot more attention and help if you want it, plus they're usually closer to the most recent scholarly work. But they're also a LOT more likely to talk in jargon, which is good in that it makes you learn it and bad in that you have no idea what they're talking about.


Posted by: Gump | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:32 PM
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58: Undergrad. I decided getting Bs and having a good time was more important than getting As and being less social. My year abroad was awesome. My GPA was unremarkable. I enjoyed my friends, the lifelong nature of which is probably the most important part of the whole thing. I probably should have gotten some therapy earlier. I shouldn't have decided that the women's leadership training program I was invited to join was "too inconvenient" because I was living off campus that year. I wish I'd gotten off campus more often and gotten to know the city I lived in better. I don't particularly regret anything, though, because I honestly think that I did everything about as well as I could have, given the major transition I was making from my family to the kind of person I am.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:32 PM
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yeah, grad school utterly sucks. there's a classic matt groening cartoon on the topic. (that he did before he turned into matt groening.)

i say this as someone who got off fairly light in many ways--finished the degree, got a job, etc.

i don't know how it can be improved much, since the basic source of the unhappiness is the fact that a gazillion smart people are going for a handful of truly enviable jobs, plus a hundred times that many pretty decent jobs, plus another few hundred demeaning and lousy jobs.

and those are the people who actually *get* teaching jobs, which is a small fraction of a gazillion.

so the whole thing is fraught with angst, uncertainty, competition, bipolar swings between maximal and minimal future expectations, etc.

plus vicious pecking orders, insane work-loads, and someone else who is always willing to have less fun than you, whether a fellow student or teacher.

probably not too different from how it goes in e.g. wanting to play classical piano or violin at the international level.

sorry--this really isn't advice for freshmen, it's more riffing on w-lfs-n's advice about gs.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:34 PM
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62: If this is how you can think of grad school--as a job, albeit one that doesn't pay especially well--you'll avoid a surprising amount of angst.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:34 PM
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If, otoh, you think about it primarily in terms of *leading* to a Real job, then you'll be miserable.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:35 PM
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And also, I learned the hard way to avoid unreconstructed Marxist grad students in their 10th year of grad school. He gave me a D on an inclass, 15-minute, three paragraph midterm question about the Brazilian military because I didn't write about economics.

I think he loved grad school, though.


Posted by: Gump | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:39 PM
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My wife really enjoyed grad school, but she had gotten a generic English degree, then spent 5 years doing other things, discovered her passion (historic preservation), then went to grad school for a degree in it (Preservation Planning). So she learned important things that she wanted to know, was surrounded by like-minded, smart people, had an appropriate range of interesting/brilliant profs, and then got a job directly related to her degree (Preservation Planner). That's pretty optimal.

I imagine that most of the grad school angst comes from people who are doing it for less-clear reasons (and, most damningly, because they don't want to leave academia). Undergrad qua undergrad is fun. Grad school is only fun if you know what you're there for. [It seems to me, as I only have a B. Arch]


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:39 PM
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66 and 68: Seconded. It really is the employment uncertainty at the end of the tunnel that fuels everything nightmarish about PhDs.

Medical school, for instance, is hard in a technical "work" sense, but you know there's a job at the end, so it's a whole different game mentally.


Posted by: orangatan | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:40 PM
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I now regret sending this thread off-track, since undergrad is a much more certain and immediate concern.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:40 PM
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the option of treating a five to ten year portion of your twenties and thirties as anything other than an investment in job-training strikes me as something only a very wealthy person could afford to indulge in. a very wealthy person or someone who for whatever reason can share their confidence that the world will take care of them.

i *had* to think of gs as something that might, if it all worked out, lead to a job. i had already washed out of one career, and i knew enough to know that your career prospects in your thirties are not the canvas of infinite possibilities it seems to be in your early twenties.

so it was a gamble whose advisability needed to be revisited fairly often, and whose sunk costs, even many years down the road, needed to be ignored with ruthless indifference to the fact that what would be sunk were the best years of my life.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:42 PM
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All right! Class resentment ahoy! Let the whining about lower-middle class upbringing in the flyover regions commence.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:43 PM
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the option of treating a five to ten year portion of your twenties and thirties as anything other than an investment in job-training strikes me as something only a very wealthy person could afford to indulge in.

But it is a job, and on-the-spot training for a (potential) future one. People complain about workloads at community colleges, but they're always hiring, and even if they're not the sweet tenure we were promised, they're still better than the bulk of other jobs out there. They only suck in comparison.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:45 PM
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okay: serious, useful advice for freshmen, since mostly i have been crabbing about gs:

get regular physical exercise.

maybe play on some intramural teams, that's good too, but just make it a habit to hit the track, road, pool or machines every day.

it's your best depression-fighter, and it helps counterbalance the library-sitting. if you are procrastinating about work, then make exercise your option.

and of course, don't watch tv and don't do drugs and drink, all of which are soul-killing wastes of time. either do your work or get out and do some laps.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:46 PM
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Hmm, rereading, I think it's clear that my description of my wife's experience in 70 is only meaningful to Masters programs; PhD is such a different situation as to be unrelated.

I think it's actually probably important for people to realize that in advance, ie that undergrad is better than Masters is better than PhD. Better, in this case, meaning more enjoyable and less likely to be angst-ridden.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:47 PM
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To Labs's question: I would absolutely avoid cynicism. Freshman are malleable, and often can take flight with the slightest encouragement. To that end, if you believe the life of the mind/liberal education has value, you should encourage them to pursue it. Sampling non-major classes is one good way, exposure to classic "Great Books" courses is another, disciplines that give new "ways of seeing" problems (economics, philosophy, social history) is a third. As for "practicality,' you can do work internships in the summer which will serve you better than wasting your undergrad in some supposedly 'practical' field. For many students, college is their only opportunity to study inherently interesting things, and they should take it.

To destroyer: Unless you are 100% convinced that being an academic is the only way for you to live, you should work first. Starting grad school at 23 or 24 instead of 21 is *nothing* compared with starting a career at 27 or 28 when you figure out you don't want to be an academic. We had a whole thread on this back when w-lfs-n was looking at grad school. Maybe someone can dredge this up...


Posted by: baa | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:48 PM
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and of course, don't watch tv and don't do drugs and drink, all of which are soul-killing wastes of time. either do your work or get out and do some laps.

Gee, thanks, Coach Bitzer.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:48 PM
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For freshmen:

•Take a variety of courses; college may be the last chance you get to dabble
•Don't worry too much during your first year about your career path or major, there's time for that later, and worrying about it will distract you from identifying what it is you actually want.
•If you get a lot of parental pressure, tell them what you need to to keep them placated, but focus on what you want - you'll be stuck with the outcome of your decisions long after they're in the ground.
•A joke that comes in handy in these circumstances: Q: How do you make God laugh? A: Tell him your plans.
•I arrived at college an anxious introvert with a roommate so crazy that he scared people away from my end of the dorm hall. As a result, I hardly talked to anybody my first semester. The upside was that I took an assload of credits my first year and aced all my classes. As a result, I was able to coast later on when I was busy with non-academic things, like having my first boyfriend, and still finished with a good GPA without having to freak out at the end like some of my friends did. The point being: if you can stay sober for part of your freshman year, it may have practical benefits later on.


Posted by: cerebrocrat | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:52 PM
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the option of treating a five to ten year portion of your twenties and thirties as anything other than an investment in job-training strikes me as something only a very wealthy person could afford to indulge in.

You would be wrong, however.

The option of treating a job that pays $10-14k/year in your twenties as a gamble worth indulging only if it's likely to lead to something much higher and more secure later strikes *me* as typical of the naive middle class. The median income for women h.s. graduates over 25 is apparently about $15k. If we assume that a lot more of those women have kids than their peers in grad school, it seems to me that grad school is a pretty sweet gig. Even if you don't get a t-t job afterwards, you've got several years of fairly transferable work experience and the requisite degree to mark you as hireable for jobs that pay at least $40k (which is pretty damn close to the median *household* income).


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:55 PM
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77: I should clarify that my positive descriptions of graduate school were also in reference to a Masters program. I considered enrolling in a PhD program but decided against it.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:55 PM
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get regular physical exercise.

I'll echo this one. Large portions of my undergraduate experience consisted of studying with interrupted by ultimate frisbee, and the frisbee was hugely important.

On that note, I have a tendency to become obsessive about work/school and I think it helped me to not go to a school with a reputation for obsessiveness (like Reed, for example). It was very nice for me that I could be burried in academics, and walk outside and be surrounded by people who were more relaxed than I was.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:57 PM
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For upperclassmen considering grad school:

•What Bitch said in 40, only in a larger font, bold, with many additional exclamation points.

•If they're science majors, make them read this, and if you think you'll be tempted to reread it when you give them a copy, keep some whiskey in your office.

•"Don't do it." If they seem determined, get in touch with their loved ones and stage an intervention.


Posted by: cerebrocrat | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 12:57 PM
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I wish I could tell all incoming students where I teach to tell their parents to FUCK OFF. Most of them live at home, since there are no dorms, and the college experience for them seems mostly to involve mowing the lawn, caring for younger siblings, trying to read after dinner but getting sucked into constant lectures about how they MUST get A's and CANNOT get sucked into going to parties and making friends.

It's not that different from my friends' experiences as undergrads. Parents obsessed with grades would call and yell at them about majoring in the right thing, getting the right grades, etc. I once said to a girlfriend, "But you hate Chemistry. Why are you majoring in it?" and she burst into tears. We had a lot of suicides there, too, all due to B's and fear of parental retaliation.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:00 PM
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Kid in 73: Boy do I hear you, brother.


Posted by: cerebrocrat | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:01 PM
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82: Right. A terminal MA is probably a pretty unalloyed good. OTOH, you'd probably get more out of it if you went and figured out what field you want to work in first.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:02 PM
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Y'all I just made a blueberry cobbler that is totally awesome.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:02 PM
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41: I love grad school. I love it so much it's a problem, because I don't imagine I'll be happier as an Asst. Prof. than I am as a beloved grad student. But I never planned to be a grad student; I fell into it by accident and it turned out to be perfect for me. I've never known anyone who planned to go into academia who ended up liking it.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:03 PM
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Parents are a surprisingly common and effective barrier to good decision-making in college students.


Posted by: cerebrocrat | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:03 PM
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Well, I'm starting law school in a couple weeks, anyone have advice about that?

Also, aren't there some regulars here living in Austin? Maybe I should be worried more about Texas than law school.


Posted by: Jimmy | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:04 PM
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Everyone hate on The Bear.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:05 PM
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invitation for personal accounts

Grad school was pretty good for me. I didn't work in my field (physics), as a postdoc-ass't prof seemed like gambling with 7 years, and I didn't love the field enough to be willing to relocate anywhere for it. My department was pretty friendly and in a midsize affordable city, so the weeks going by were usually OK. Having the degree coupled with transferable skills opened doors for me, so count me as satisfied overall. I wish I had finished in less than 7 years.

To undergrads-- some will work too hard, some not hard enough, some will be too wild, some too careful. Avoid extremes, I guess. If you find that you're sleeping with someone very much crazier than you are, get away. Choose good friends.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:05 PM
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OTOH, you'd probably get more out of it if you went and figured out what field you want to work in first.

Actually, I did do that, and I second it as good all-around advice.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:06 PM
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92: My program is regularly ranked as the "happiest" in the U.S. in English. We make less money and work harder than most other grad students, but we are irrationally blissful. We're treated really well in compensation for doing a damn lot of teaching and administrative work.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:08 PM
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You know, I think the parents thing is more complicated than we usually allow. I mean, this entire thread is predicated on the idea that Advice From Those More Advanced In Years is important and worth listening to, but most of us would say that the advice from people's parents is godawful in college.

I suspect there's a lot going on there about the struggle between Who We Want Our Students To Become/Emulate and their parents' goals for them, or (in the case of students like AWB's) between their parents goals and their lack of understanding about the way those goals involve pretty major shifts in values/habits.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:09 PM
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The thing linked in 84 scared me a lot. Particularly because of the suggestions that one should choose a career field based on what kind of organizational/lifestyle aspects one finds most rewarding, rather than on subject matter. That's obvious, but...it's impossible to make decisions in that way without being able to repeatedly travel decades back in time. Very depressing.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:10 PM
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We're treated really well in compensation for doing a damn lot of teaching and administrative work.

In other words, you mostly see what you're doing as a current job, rather than some promise of "future" payoff, which is as it should be.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:11 PM
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I think cerebrocrat's link in 84 is pretty substantively wrong on an awful lot of things, but that may just be my overall reaction to Phillip Greenspun. My relationship with grad was pretty similar to lw's in 93, except a lot more enthusiastic, because doing the Ph.D. let me play with some really cool big toys I wouldn't have had access to otherwise, and ditto working for a few years at a lab run by industry.


Posted by: Lunar Rockette | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:14 PM
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and of course, don't watch tv and don't do drugs and drink, all of which are soul-killing wastes of time. either do your work or get out and do some laps.

you forgot to warn against blogs, especially blogs with endless comment threads.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:14 PM
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It does seem like Greenspun's intended audience is a few thousand or so insanely smart, driven and amoral male undergraduates, whom he has convinced himself make up the majority of both male and female undergraduates.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:16 PM
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Advice I wish I'd received: "Cala, you're one of the most talented young chemists we've seen in this department in a while. Yes, you're frustrated by organic chemistry, but you're frustrated while pulling an A. You really should accept the professor's offer to help on his research team, and keep philosophy as a second major, even though you hate lab."

Advice that actually could be given:
1) If you're debating between a hard science and engineering major and a softer major, design your first year as though you are going to be the hard science major. It is much easier to move from the sciences to the humanities than it is to move the other way, not because one discipline is harder or better than the other, but because the coursework required in the sciences tends to be very formulaic and only offered at specific times.
2) Take something outside of your comfort zone, something that you never would have thought you'd take. As an undergraduate I did sociology research for a semester because I needed a random course to fit into a timeslot and wound up on a junior prof's research team.
3) Your roommate does not have to be your best friend. It's nice if it works out that way, but it's much less stressful to shoot for 'respectful of each other's space' rather than best buddies.
4) The thing I hear most from high school kids (with three younger sisters, this isn't exactly out of my ass) is that they're going to quit Beloved Activity or Beloved Sport in college just so they're not overwhelmed by Big Scary Coursework. Fuck that advice with a pitchfork. Your coursework has to be important, but it cannot be your entire life. If you loved being on the stage, find a theatre group. If you play the violin, go out for the orchestra. Play intramurals.

I was the happiest in college when I was playing a sport, in the band, working 12 hours a week and barely had time to turn around.

5) No one ever had fond college memories of the library. Conversely, it's the rare person that thinks, having failed out, that going into debt to party daily was worth it. Balance the two.

---
On graduate school. Most of the good advice has been written here and elsewhere. I'm going into my sixth year, and have more or less been consumed by anxiety regarding the job prospects the entire time. There are parts of graduate school I like, mostly teaching and interacting with colleagues and professors, but at this point, if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't.

I should point out in the interests of balance that I'm considered in Cala U to be one of the more well-adjusted students. This does not bode well for the profession.

1) As my undergraduate advisor told me, if you ask yourself, "should I go to graduate school?" and the answer is "maybe", the answer is "no." Take a year or two off; you may be thinking of graduate school mostly because you've been good at school and you like being good at school. It isn't school. There are no gold stars and everyone is smarter than you.
2) If you are interested, try to get a feel for the discipline before you go to graduate school. It's not like undergrad. Attend department talks -- they're usually open to everyone. See that being the best in the business means everyone tells you you're wrong all the time. If you're science-oriented, try to work in a lab for some time. As my cousin said 'if counting fruit flies is what grad school is, maybe I need to rethink it.'
3) I personally think terminal M.A.'s are the work of the devil.
4) The most well-adjusted grad students I know are the ones that treat it as a job. Disciplined work between 8-5, overtime when needed, and ignoring it the rest of the time because they're busy with family or friends or hobbies.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:20 PM
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not sure this is right for the advisor, but:

you have the rest of your life to become intelligent and well read. you don't have the rest of your life to sleep till noon and get baked and have easy access to youngperson sex and clubs with interesting people.

Also, interships matter, classes don't.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:23 PM
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98: Yeah that definately clicks with my experience.

The most miserable people I knew in grad school felt put upon by the fact that they had to TA or RA to fund their pursuits. A definate sense of entitlement.

In contrast I was always a little amazed that someone was willing to give me free tuition and pay me (albeit not much) to study something I found interesting.

I was still awfully burnt out by the end though, so I don't want to sound unrealistically rosy about things either.


Posted by: orangatan | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:23 PM
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The most well-adjusted grad students I know are the ones that treat it as a job. Disciplined work between 8-5, overtime when needed, and ignoring it the rest of the time because they're busy with family or friends or hobbies.

One of the well-adjusted grads in my dept talks about "9-5 philosophy" (after which he invariably adds that it's really "7-7 philosophy"). But that's hard.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:23 PM
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I myself just closed emacs because I didn't want to have to work out a minor problem.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:23 PM
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Labs' approach is kind of what I try to do. I try to give them some sense of how the place really works, what the stakes are in the early decisions they'll make (not many, unless they're dead set on being majors in the natural sciences, in which case it's the exact opposite: first year or fail), and so on. I try to avoid both the cynicism and the gee-whizzness that he describes. I do this also when I'm speaking to groups prospective students, which the college asks me to do most years, so obviously it doesn't bug them. I actually don't know anyone here who goes the overly-earnest route. I suspect a lot of my colleagues just say, "Where's your form so I can sign it?"


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:24 PM
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easy access to youngperson sex

Again, assumes facts not in evidence.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:24 PM
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Advice I wish I'd received: "Cala, you're one of the most talented young chemists we've seen in this department in a while. Yes, you're frustrated by organic chemistry, but you're frustrated while pulling an A. You really should accept the professor's offer to help on his research team, and keep philosophy as a second major, even though you hate lab."

Amen, amen, amen, and hallelujah. That so few advisors really pay attention to when young people, women especially, need pushing on things they're *good* at but a little scared of, is a great tragedy.

For me it wasn't chemistry, it was biology. I still resent the fact that my wanting to take a botany and graduate bio course my senior year was discouraged because it would leave me one (or two, I forget) credits short of a minor. Bad, bad, advising.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:26 PM
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No one ever had fond college memories of the library.

What? Some of my fondest college memories involved all-nighters in the library.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:27 PM
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102.5: No one ever had fond college memories of the library.

As I remember, Apo has fond memories of library sex.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:27 PM
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Fuck internships. Grad school isn't the exclusionary tool of the wealthy, unpaid summer internships are.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:30 PM
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To repeat other people's points, advisors should do a lot more of advising people to do things that OH THE HORROR they might potentially actually fail at. Advisors often take the route of "I'll get flak if I tell him to do something and he ends up not being qualified", so they try to stay on the safe side and wait for the mythical Super-Motivated Super-Organized 18-Year-Old to arrive before they suggest anything challenging.

This is not just good because succeeding in something challenging is better than succeeding in something unchallenging, but because having experience in failure and learning it isn't the end of the world is important for people who have coasted through high school. That's some advice I wish I had gotten.

Also, in high school students don't need organizational skills. In college they do, or they will always be struggling to keep up and they won't get anything out of the classes even if they cram enough to pass them.

I finally figured out how to take notes while reading, and how to take notes while listening to lectures, somewhere in my second year of grad school. I had just never considered putting very much effort into taking notes or organizing myself, because I never saw anyone else doing it, and nobody had done it in high school. But other people were doing it, just not talking about it. Men especially feel peer pressure toward doing the least amount of work possible, or at least boasting about doing so.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:31 PM
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What? Some of my fondest college memories involved all-nighters in the library.

Same here. Except no all-nighters. In bed before 5 AM, that's my motto.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:32 PM
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Y'all I just made a blueberry cobbler that is totally awesome.

Inspired by the America's Test Kitchen video? My 3 yr old daughter got obsessed with that a week or two ago, and was very happy to help make it. Surprisingly, she didn't actually like it, explaining that she prefers blueberries that are "round and whole."

But good lord, is that a good cobbler. Sadly, the abundant & cheap blueberry season seems to have come to an abrupt end, even as strawberries hold out longer than usual.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:33 PM
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I've had an awful lot of education given my "career" as a secretary. I learned damn little through most of it, since I was doing it because my parents expected it and I had internalized their expectations. I spent most of my time finishing the daily "work" of education as fast as I could so that I could do the things I cared about--activism, writing, reading both serious and silly books, learning to talk to people at least a little, learning to work a job. Of course, since even the strongest internalized expectations weren't really strong enough to propel me into a career, I ended up miserable and essentially futureless (But degreed! Lots of degrees!) in my late twenties.

I'm better now, and I am actually capable of studying things that I like for fun (and I have my first serious comp lit "theory" course in the fall). But I won't have a career as an academic, something I think I sort of wanted for most of my life, and I still have no idea about what kind of thing I could possibly do for real.

So, figure out what you want, to the extent that it's possible. And don't get too attached to how you think your life "should" work out; try to figure out a couple of different things to want. If you're going to have a rigid value system (Like Frowner! Lacanian Marxism rules!) make sure that it's not really about punishing yourself.

That sounds depressing. It is, kind of, but at least it's mostly over.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:33 PM
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hot sex isn't really that scarce a commodity, so don't feel obligated to stay with that psychotic bitch that all your friends hate.

The ratio of girls to guys at UNC is what 7:1?

I would have thought that lesson was readily apparent.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:33 PM
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Yup. Try to aim for the paid ones in business your junior year, even if you're a humanities major. When you're 20, you can convince them to take a chance on a bright kid with thinking-out-side-the-box skills. Then after the internship you can point to your valuable work experience.

It sucks that you can't be a journalist or a pundit or do interesting policy things without your parents to fund it, but that's the cards. Better you understand that now than actually believe in upward mobility.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:33 PM
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111: I do, but I was a high school student using Duke's library, so only partial credit there. I did get stoned on the roof of Wilson and the graduate libraries during my undergrad career, and I streaked through the undergrad library on more than one occasion. Those are all good memories.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:33 PM
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105: Christ, if I could have steadily and reguarly worked from even 11 to 3 in grad school I would have doubled my productivity.

All the horror stories I have of nightmarish work loads leave out the fact that I'm entirely to blame for letting things back up to the point that they were necessary.

I suspect this is a dirty little secret of a great percentage of graduate school horror stories.


Posted by: orangatan | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:34 PM
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85: "We had a lot of suicides there,"

phrasing it as "a lot" is kinda creepy


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:34 PM
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That so few advisors really pay attention to when young people, women especially, need pushing on things they're *good* at but a little scared of, is a great tragedy.

OTOH just being good at something isn't necessarily the best reason to pursue it. I was really good at math in high school—or anyway I somehow wound up in advanced classes (ap calc and ap physics (the wimpy version) as a sophomore) and pulled my weight—and everyone, myself included, pretty much assumed that's what I'd do in college too. But I didn't really care all that much.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:34 PM
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There was another sophomore, Joey Yu, and a freshman, Chris Chen, in those classes the same year I was, and compared to them I sucked ass, too.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:35 PM
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It would be nice to be able to teach them that the tragedies of college are relatively short-term (excluding herpes). But, I am guessing that is an impossible task.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:35 PM
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So, figure out what you want, to the extent that it's possible. And don't get too attached to how you think your life "should" work out; try to figure out a couple of different things to want. If you're going to have a rigid value system (Like Frowner! Lacanian Marxism rules!) make sure that it's not really about punishing yourself. This too is excellent advice. Sadly, I think it's the kind of advice that it is impossible for young people of that ilk to understand and follow.

Advisors often take the route of "I'll get flak if I tell him to do something and he ends up not being qualified", so they try to stay on the safe side
I think this isn't what's going on. I think it's more the fear of not wanting the responsibility of telling someone you don't know very well what they really think.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:36 PM
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114: Perhaps I overstated it. I used to have with all-nighters, too. But if that was all I had, well, you can't invite your memories of the library to dance at your wedding.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:36 PM
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Oh, yes, try not to be crippled by fear of failure. We're all doomed and this great nation is circling the drain, so you might as well ask people on dates, study difficult topics, etc, since safety is really impossible anyway.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:36 PM
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No one ever had fond college memories of the library.

Is that really true for everybody else?

I even have fond memories of the Regenstein Library at the University of Chicago where I spent a good part of 6 months of my life diligently not writing a masters thesis -- sometimes just roaming the stacks and picking up random books. Good times!


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:36 PM
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Inspired by the America's Test Kitchen video?

Inspired by the fact that I bought a quart of blueberries at the market yesterday and had to do something with them.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:37 PM
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All the horror stories I have of nightmarish work loads leave out the fact that I'm entirely to blame for letting things back up to the point that they were necessary.

From the golden age of Dilbert


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:37 PM
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The thing linked in 84 scared me a lot.

That was the intended effect.

In many ways, I was/am the perfect candidate for an academic career. I took time off after school, did my homework on selecting a field, program, and advisor, and showed up to grad school with a much clearer picture of what I was in for, and what I was there for, than any of my peers. I am genuinely fascinated by my subject area, I'm not particularly materialistic (for an American), like being around young people, like both research AND teaching, and if you can believe it, even enjoy the challenge of pursuasion required for grantwriting. Anyone who knows me would say I'm temperamentally well-suited to being an academic.

And even still, there's no way I'd do it again, largely because of it's impossible to understand the significance of the kind of costs in terms of life-altering paths that Greenspun writes about until your sunk costs are immense.


Posted by: cerebrocrat | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:39 PM
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Mmmm, blueberries.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:39 PM
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I still resent the fact that my wanting to take a botany and graduate bio course my senior year was discouraged because it would leave me one (or two, I forget) credits short of a minor.

One of the best decisions I ever made was blowing off trying for an English minor that would have required me to take specific, dull courses instead of the interesting English courses I actually cared about. Minors are dumb*


*Exaggeration** for effect.

**This word looks wrong however I spell it. Deal with it, haters.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:39 PM
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119 / 111: I actually didn't remember apo saying that, but I extrapolated from everything else he's said.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:39 PM
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I think this isn't what's going on. I think it's more the fear of not wanting the responsibility of telling someone you don't know very well what they really think.

I'm thinking more like if the student actually suggests something that might be difficult, there's a reaction of trying to make it clear to the student that this is much more difficult than she imagined and she should perhaps rethink. If there isn't a clear reason for reacting this way - if the advisor is just reacting this way out of surprise because he thought the student would be less ambitious - the student should more often be allowed to try this and see if she succeeds. As long as it's made clear that organizational and planning skills are more important than they were in high school.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:40 PM
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i have pretty fond memories of the night-before-exam cram sessions with my roomates at the dennys


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:41 PM
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133: Yeah, the problem was that I was advised to leave behind the other subject I was really interested in (and the one in which women are somewhat underrepresented, and that is more lucrative) because someone lacked the imagination to realize that I certainly ought to be able to keep my hand in, and that worrying about my credit load at that point was irrelevant.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:41 PM
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I loved my college library. I even love the UMN library, which is less congenial. I didn't love the Macalester library. I loved the library at East China Normal beyond words or measure and would gladly be there right now. (No doubt locked in for the night.)

125: You know, I think that telling people "Are you sure you aren't doing X out of some deep desire to punish yourself?" can actually be rather useful. I had a couple of conversations like that in and around my college years and they were a little bit revelatory. An awful lot of nerdy, self-punishing types keep that knowledge just on the edge of consciousness. I don't think, of course, that I was very pleasant to the people who said those things.

But then again, maybe my fondness for unpleasant truths is really just the self-punishing thing again.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:42 PM
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Inspired by the fact that I bought a quart of blueberries at the market yesterday and had to do something with them.

OK, but you used the Cook's recipe, right? Because it's, like, the best.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:44 PM
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OK, but you used the Cook's recipe, right? Because it's, like, the best.

I have like three issues of that magazine and don't subscribe. I used the Joy of Cooking recipe and I liked it.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:45 PM
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91: Re: Law school: Get your books early and check for the posting of the initial assignments, as you'll be expected to know them on your first day of classes. Learn to underline the "important" [i.e., those that encapsule legal concepts] words in your notes; you'll have to do that for the bar - and it doesn't hurt to do so on exams. Get into a study group. Learn how to do research online and in the library. Study guides to accompany your textbooks are often useful and generally sold at the bookstore. [The used ones that are piled up on the resale shelf are usually not the better ones - people keep those for bar review.]

Then think seriously about going into another line of work, as law is fascinating, but the clients will make you crazy.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:45 PM
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91: You poor sap. I suppose it's too late to get out now.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:46 PM
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I'm thinking more like if the student actually suggests something that might be difficult, there's a reaction of trying to make it clear to the student that this is much more difficult than she imagined and she should perhaps rethink.

I think when I do this it's usually because I'm trying to avoid encouraging the Frowner types (which I myself am and have been) from pursuing something they think they Should rather than thinking about what they actually enjoy. Or at least I'm trying to test out that possibility.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:46 PM
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I think that telling people "Are you sure you aren't doing X out of some deep desire to punish yourself?" can actually be rather useful. . . . I don't think, of course, that I was very pleasant to the people who said those things.

I'll keep it in mind. The pleasantness thing oughtn't matter too much in the advisory role.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:51 PM
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But then again, maybe my fondness for unpleasant truths is really just the self-punishing thing again.

Its intent in all this is to incorporate new "experiences", to file new things in old files---growth, in a word---or, more precisely, the feeling of growth, the feeling of increased power.

An apparently opposite drive serves this same will: a suddenly erupting decision in favor of ignorance, of deliberate exclusion, a shutting of one's windows, an internal No to this or that thing, a refusal to let things approach, a kind of state of defense against much that is knowable, a satisfaction with the dark, with the limiting horizon, a Yea and Amen to ignorance…

Here belongs also the occasional will of the spirit to let itself be deceived …

This will to mere appearance, to simplification, to masks, to cloaks, in short, to the surface---for every surface is a cloak---is countered by that sublime inclination of the seeker after knowledge who insists on profundity, multiplicity, and thoroughness, with a will which is a kind of cruelty of the intellectual conscience and taste. Every courageous thinker will recognize this in himself, assuming only that, as fit, he has hardened and sharpened his eye for himself long enough and that he is used to severe discipline, as well as severe words. He will say: "there is something cruel in the inclination of my spirit"; let the virtuous and kindly try to talk him out of that!

(Beyond Good and Evil 230) Of course recognizing your drive to truth, etc, as actually an expression of cruelty is—itself an expression of exactly that cruelty!
Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:52 PM
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Bolding added.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:53 PM
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Further to 142: I should say that law school is pleasant and relaxing. Lawyering, less so.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:53 PM
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You know, I wasn't actively discouraged. But I'm sure I'm one of the stats of 'why can't we keep young women interested in science?' And at 19, I really hated lab work because it was dull. I loved the theory. And I was worried about what to do with my life and how to balance it with a family and whether other women could do it, and from the undergraduate advisor there was only silence. Fair enough, he wasn't interested, and it's not his fault I walked away, but it would have turned out a lot differently, I think, if I'd had a mentor.

In philosophy, a young junior faculty read my paper and asked if I'd ever thought of going to graduate school. I said, "I don't have the means to take out any more loans", and he explained that people actually paid YOU to study and live and made it sound exciting.

One of these days I'm going to see that guy at an APA and smack him.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:53 PM
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134: Here.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:54 PM
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1) You may have a lot of AP credits. This may mean you do not need to take required distribution classes in the College of Arts and Sciences. Take those classes anyway. You may regret, later in life, never having taken a real, college-level History, English, or Political Science class.

2) At some point, you will be depressed, miss a lot of class, and get behind on assignments. This is normal. Go see a doctor. Your professors will understand, and give you some leeway. When you get this leeway, follow through on finishing the work as soon as you can. The longer you wait to come back to it, the harder it'll be.

3) You may think you're clever because you realize that the career you're preparing for is probably not going to be your career forever. This doesn't mean you can blow off your preparations.

4) If you're getting better grades outside of your major than you are inside, you may want to take some time and re-think what you're doing.


Posted by: ed bowlinger | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:56 PM
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148: You know, my college roommate, who some of you have met at a meetup, got pushed out of being a bio major by an idiot advisor -- for some reason she'd not taken the placement exam to get put in the science-majors' calculus track, and her advisor treated that as an unfixable problem. She ended up as a polisci major, and had to spend another couple of years taking undergrad bio classes after graduation before she could go to bio grad school.

So, kind of the same story you had.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:57 PM
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Peep spent 6 months in Regenstein not writing a masters thesis, and then moved to Columbus? I did it after moving from Columbus. Not that there's any nexus or anything.


Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:58 PM
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I have like three issues of that magazine and don't subscribe.

Ah, poor memory, or poor assumption on my part. I recall you citing their knife sharpening article, or something.

I've been getting it for 6 years, and so far there've been 2 recipes that weren't manifestly better than others I'd tried.

But hey, blueberry cobbler, how can you go wrong?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 1:59 PM
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w-lfs-n, Nietzche makes me suffer, and I don't mean that in a good way. It goes something like this "Oh, am I feeling resentment of the strong and brave because I am cowardly and weak? Oh, I knew I was doing something wrong again. Wait, but feeling like I'm doing something wrong again is just another sign that I'm doing it wrong. Again."

The thing is, in the hands of...well, I don't even know how to characterize them, but two of my betes noires, Nietzche turns mainly into a way to say "Shut up, Frowner, you're unhappy because you're weak and pathetic unlike the bold and free. So I can be as mean and unpleasant as I want because I am bold and free, and your feelings don't count."

And as you know, I'm already inclined to distrust my feelings and perceptions (which is why I'm more comfortable with a fairly strict Marxism-derived kind of whatever-kind-of-thing-it-is-that-I-believe). So really, when I read "embrace your suffering" kinds of things, it gets harder and harder for me to tell whether I'm getting anything out of suffering or whether it's just stupid, and it gets really hard for me not to blame myself for getting nothing out of whatever suffering is going on.

This is probably gendered, also probably the most personal thing I've ever written on Unfogged.

Shorter version: Nietzche: Not for Frowners!

(I mean, it's fun to read and all...)


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 2:01 PM
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Frowner, you will like my treatment of Nietzsche.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 2:08 PM
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I didn't love the Macalester library.

Hey! I loved that library!


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 2:11 PM
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Peep spent 6 months in Regenstein not writing a masters thesis, and then moved to Columbus?

Yes, except there were a few stops in between.

Does this mean I'm living "i don't pay" 's life backwards? I guess that makes sense...because I do pay.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 2:15 PM
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156: What, did you love the people chatting in the quiet room, or the way there weren't really any comfortable chairs, or the depressing book collection or the horrible corpse-glow light in the upper floors?

Or is this too unkind? I did not love Macalester, despite my initial belief that it would be more politically congenial than my actual alma mater. I am told, however, that some people really like it.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 2:16 PM
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Also: Don't gamble. If you do gamble, don't gamble with large percentages of your monthly income. No one will feel sorry for you, and spending the rest of the month without smokes and booze sucks most mightily.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 2:19 PM
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keep in mind that the advice you give to someone studying engineering, say EE, (and their career prospects) are very different from what you'd tell someone majoring in the humanities.


Posted by: BA | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 2:21 PM
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I loved the main floor, the Reference Department really--I worked there for three years. But I loved all the little dinky study carrel rooms, and the periodicals stacks in the basement that operated on this flywheel crank system where you could crush people if you weren't careful, and the weird areas of human knowledge you could stumble into when shelving in the stacks.

--[redacted, oddly spelled, RL nickname]


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 2:22 PM
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154: Really? I find the Philosopher, Psychologist, Anti-Christ terrifically cheering and liberating. Perhaps one has to be dogged by thoughts of God, rather than capital, to enjoy the Nietzschster.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 2:23 PM
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Weird. Please redact.


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 2:24 PM
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161: I am choosing to interpret this as a love for libraries rather than a love for Macalester, even though I know that is not, strictly speaking, true.

At St. Mediocre, where I went to school, the basement of the library had all the shelves on tracks with these enormous difficult-to-turn wheels. Most of the shelves would be jammed together, and when you found the one you wanted you would turn the wheel and the shelves would move apart. I was astonished. I also loved the chairs, and the way you could pull two of them together into sort of a nest-like arrangement, in which you could slump with a stack of books and magazines, idling away the time you'd thought you would devote to St. Anselm.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 2:27 PM
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162: Coming as I do from a sort of punk-rock background, I tend to be hyper-aware of how the "transgressive" and the "liberating" coalesce into new norms, and being rather flinchy I tend not only to overestimate the power of norms but also to really worry about them. So it's hard for me to read Nietzche for itself and not as one-more-thing-about-which-there-is-a-proper-"Theory"-opinion.

I've found that I'm happiest reading people when I encounter them sort of outside Theory--like my hero Franco Moretti, whose Signs Taken For Wonders I bought totally at random in a used book store. I had not always-already read Moretti.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 2:31 PM
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Oh yeah, if your classes are "boring," then there's no reason you can't explore the subject more deeply and write a really impressive paper anyway.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 2:32 PM
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166: I suppose the sickly professor of Altphilologie must present a different mustachioed face to punks than to metalheads. [Throws up secret devil sign.]


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 2:35 PM
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re: graduate studies

I suspect this rule won't fly for humanities. However, for sciences, engineering, mathematics ... don't even think about going to graduate school unless they are paying (all of it, and enough to live on cheaply; RA/TA included unless the hours are crazy). This might be negotiable for a masters degree that you have a clear need for in industry (then a company should pay, unless you are doing this to bootstrap out of a bad position). It goes double, though, if you are looking at an academic career.


Posted by: anonaprof | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 2:39 PM
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advice to freshmen:
remember that you are here at the behest of two powerful institutions with interests that are compatible with each other, though less so with your own.

your university is the first of these two. it wishes to turn you into a life-long atm machine. it will do so by branding your experience, in every sense of the word 'branding', so that you will become a Loyal Alumni Donor.

your parents are the second powerful institution. one of their aims for you is that you should be able to get a job. but another of their central aims in sending you to the best college they could arrange, is so that you can marry someone of your own social status or higher.

the older you get--e.g. of your parents age or older--the more you see that colleges are a mechanism for insuring that class lines are maintained through the generation.

so try to get engaged to the right sort of people, not the wrong sort. it doesn't have to happen before graduation--as you'll find out, your chances for meeting people after college are very slim, so even into your thirties your college experience will largely shape your marriage pool.

that's how both institutions like it, because there is solid evidence that two-alum couples are more likely to give, and to give on a larger scale, than single-alum couples.

go state!

all of that stuff about majors, minors, interests, careers--beside the point. you are at a marriageable age.


Posted by: kid bitzer | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 2:40 PM
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Don't do it if you're in the humanities either. If they can't pay for you, they may really be interested in you*, but not as interested you as they should be.

*amended from 'they're not interested after a discussion with a prof who was of the opinion that one should take out loans if the program was good enough, if the problem is just that they have a small endowment.' I think prof is crazy and/or wealthy.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 2:42 PM
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169 is cool.

Labs should take this advice, but limit it to just looking the undergraduate in the eye and saying "You are at a marriageable age".


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 2:45 PM
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So am I the only one who enjoyed the Ph.D. experience? I mean, some of it was quite unpleasant, but overall, it was not so bad, and a means to a quite enjoyable end. But then again, I don't mind spending long hours working in academia, and somehow it hasn't negatively impacted my social life.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 2:51 PM
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Of course, what others have said about getting paid and really loving what you're doing are pretty much the key to not feeling like you've wasted n years of your life. If you think grad school is a just a job (or worse, a means to a job), it'll be the worst job you've ever had.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 2:56 PM
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Start thinking of what you want to do afterwards now. It's ok if you don't now, but don't wait until you graduate to start thinking about it. If you do know, use that knowledge to figure out which classes to take. Balance that with classes you're genuinely interested in. Avoid boring professors. Don't think you have to graduate in X number of years; your life won't end when you turn twenty. Party sporadically; when you do, party hard; don't not party. Do try and get some work experience before you finish. Get involved in non-academic activities. Hit on as many classmates as you can; one of them will eventually bite.


Posted by: unarmed | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 3:00 PM
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I am one of those people who thought throughout his undergraduate career that he wanted to go to grad school, was told "Don't go" by a professor, and didn't go.

I still would really like to be Learned, and possibly even to teach. But my impression is that the first is not a necessary outcome, the second is not a sufficient reason, and I'd be just as happy if I set aside more time to read, wrote something every once in a while, and some day pitched a class to the community college.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 3:01 PM
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one other thing, regarding undergraduate. If your program offers a co-op option (or similar paid-work semesters), take it. It doesn't matter if it takes you 5 years instead of 4, you'll be much better off --- especially if you push hard for placements that will stretch you (and hopefully move you to different cities each time).


Posted by: anonaprof | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 3:03 PM
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159: i have a friend who dropped out and now makes a six figure income off of internet poker. he plays for maybe 4 hours a day and is pretty much living the dream.

otoh, he's probably an exception.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 3:05 PM
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172: So am I the only one who enjoyed the Ph.D. experience? I mean, some of it was quite unpleasant, but overall, it was not so bad, and a means to a quite enjoyable end. But then again, I don't mind spending long hours working in academia, and somehow it hasn't negatively impacted my social life.

I'm enjoying it immensely, as are most of the people I know. We just enjoy kvetching.


Posted by: SEK | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 3:07 PM
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174, you come dangerously close to the "Work Hard/Party Hard" slogan. I was recently given a special issue of my school's newspaper for incoming freshmen, and there was a half of a fucking page about how "Work Hard/Party Hard isn't just a slogan here, it's a way of life."


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 3:07 PM
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a six figure income off of internet poker

I know a guy (who, admittedly, didn't attend grad school) who quit his job as a video game artist and is now living on a boat, making six figures off website subscriptions for people to look at his furry porn drawings.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 3:09 PM
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for what it's worth, I really enjoyed graduates school (two degrees). But I was working with interesting smart people, I was relatively well paid, I like research, and didn't really find it stressful most of the time. Some of my colleagues were definitely having less fun (and oddly enough, while they appeared to do a lot more work than I did, they didn't seem to be very productive --- this may be related).

As for the Work Hard/Party Hard slogans. First off, drop `party' and replace it with `play'. Find what works for you as a real break, it doesn't have to be boozing it up, ever, if you don't actually like that. Secondly, the point is to properly play as a break from work . The whole reason is that if you don't do this your work will suffer. If you don't put the work in, though, you aren't going to get much out of the whole thing. If work becomes a break from partying, you've pretty much lost it. Might as drop out and go work in a nightclub or top restaurant (those people really know how to party, unlike college students).


Posted by: anonaprof | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 3:17 PM
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It's the usage of 'hard' that I find so objectionable, not the idea of relaxing to offset the strain of work. It's used as if there is a moral superiority to maximal fun.

Oh and also it invariably means nothing more than "don't judge me for getting so drunk all the time, because I get good grades."


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 3:23 PM
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170: I think prof is crazy and/or wealthy.

My first graduate adviser suggested that students shouldn't work - and that included TA'ing. How to manage this? "My wife put me through grad school."

I forbore asking whether he'd ditched her immediately after receiving his degree, as had happened to several women I knew, including a former sister-in-law who didn't believe it when my ex-brother-in-law announced at the wedding that all he was marrying her for was residency and to coast through school.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 3:23 PM
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When maximizing fun, remember to integrate over time.


Posted by: dob | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 3:36 PM
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Since most of what I've had to contribute to this thread is doom and gloom about graduate school, I should probably say out of fairness that the things that made me unhappy about it *at the time* were mostly specific to my situation; I do think it's possible to enjoy grad school as an experience unto itself, but it requires some luck. That's part of the problem - it's very easy to find yourself committed to a problematic department/advisor, and hard to see it coming in advance. And for many PhD's, it's a long enough process that even if it was a good decision when you made it, your values/interests/circumstances may change enough over the while that at the end you find yourself not where you want to be careerwise, having paid a large opportunity cost to get there.

Also, I agree with sentiments above about things that are stupid:
- terminal Masters degrees, for most purposes
- minors, or double-majors, unless they just kind of come together anyway while you're taking what you want to
- not previously mentioned, but definitely MD-PhD's. Crazy, and for no good purpose.

Now I'm going to try to think of something positive to say.


Posted by: cerebrocrat | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 3:36 PM
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184 is great. There, that was positive.

Also, I forgot to say that all the sanest grad students I knew were married. Although, per 183, maybe best not to let your spouse put you through school.


Posted by: cerebrocrat | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 3:40 PM
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Oh, more good advice in re. academic careers after grad school: keep in mind that you are most likely going to have to pack up and move somewhere where you don't really know anyone, and you're going to have to do this at a time when most people your own age are fairly settled. There is neither shame nor failure in deciding that as you have aged your priorities have changed and deciding instead to look for a job locally, or focusing your job search geographically. Even if it means you have to "step down" and pursue a teaching job rather than the research job you're "really capable of."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 3:53 PM
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179, 182:

If you have a problem with the terms "hard" or "party", then replace them with the adverb and noun of your choice. 181 I think gets my point: becoming an android concerned solely with academic work is not very advisable. It is possible to balance your workload with doing things you find leisurely, be them getting hammered or reading García Lorca. Still, partying is something I think pretty much everyone enjoys, and not everyone parties in the same way. I just meant that partying (or if you will, having fun) should not become the top priority (hence "sporadically") but should not be overlooked.


Posted by: unarmed | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 3:57 PM
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187: For sure. This has been a big issue for me.


Posted by: cerebrocrat | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 3:59 PM
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"noun" s/b "verb", as that's how the word "party" was used.

My apologies, o learned commentariat.


Posted by: unarmed | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 4:00 PM
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189: It was for me until I closed my eyes and jumped, and realized I really am just a whole hell of a lot happier now.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 4:00 PM
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188: My responses weren't really directed at you. I saw an opportunity to rant about something tangentially related, and I took it.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 4:34 PM
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46: You fucking bitch. I thought we were friends.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 4:44 PM
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193: What? You're a successful grad student, you should be proud.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 5:09 PM
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I wish they had told me to take complex analysis instead of Fourier analysis.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 5:18 PM
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194: I am proud. My only serious periods of depression / existential despair were related to finances and to breaking off a particularly intense relationship.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 5:25 PM
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196: oh man I was seriously bummed when I had to give up my favorite hooker, too.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 5:25 PM
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197 is hilarious. That's not the sort of thing I usually say because I have a little Standpipe standing on my shoulder whispering into my ear all day long. But he's not around right now. In fact, he's not around here much at all recently, probably because there's too much damn affirmation going around. Among various other nefarious things. And he's right about that, dammit.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 5:31 PM
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197: You were right to intuit that the "and" in "related to finances and to breaking off a particularly intense relationship" was not meant to imply two separate incidents.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 5:40 PM
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5) No one ever had fond college memories of the library.

Memories of the library are among the few fond memories I have of college. I can't believe, given that I've hated every level of education since grade school, that I went to grad school.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 08-13-07 6:13 PM
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When maximizing fun, remember to integrate over time.

Actually, fun is a constrained optimization problem. You need to set up the lagrangian and take the derivative.


Posted by: cw | Link to this comment | 08-14-07 5:08 AM
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For discrete fun, one will need a knapsack.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-14-07 6:20 AM
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No, fun is an action extremization. DiffEq solving.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 08-14-07 10:10 PM
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Don't not be a square.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 08-14-07 10:11 PM
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